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How does Labour need to change?

It seems to be dawning on Labour that they did not appeal to those voters with "aspiration".

In truth Labour supporters are probably as interested in doing the best for themselves and they family as anyone else. The problem is that Labour made "aspirational" and "caring" mutually exclusive. That is why Tory voters didn't talk about it in the company of socialist zealots who have taken the Labour message to its extreme. A caller on LBC yesterday told how he berated his mother for voting Conservative, it is the voters who are in the wrong, how can anyone not vote for the only party that cares. The bemusement turns to anger among those who demonstrated over the weekend, for no other reason than that their ideology had been rejected.

Labour has tried to make it shameful for ordinary voters with no strong political allegiances to vote Conservative with the message that the Conservatives only look after the rich and powerful, unlike the caring Labour party. Ask who introduced tuition fees and most will say Conservatives, ask who first increased tuition fees, again it was Labour. Poor Nick Clegg has been crucified for not being able to stop the third increase being under a coalition government. Ask students who want to scrap tuition fees who they will vote for and it's Labour. Who introduced PFI for the banks and the rich and powerful construction and services industries to make shedload of money - Labour. What Labour says against what it does, is as unreliable as any politician's promise regardless of party.

Also, in the face of Labour telling them how badly off everyone is, and the NHS is collapsing, ordinary voters have felt that they haven't done too badly, and they use public services all the time, they largely accept there will always be problems, nothing is perfect. Voters are not stupid, there have always been problems, even when Labour ruled for 13 years, just different problems.

The middle ground voters determine who wins elections, not the extremists. The middle ground does not want a message that says to them if they prosper they will be the target of Labour policies to constrain their success. That needs to change.

Labour needs to promote the idea of reducing poverty by improving the lot of ordinary workers, not thinking the poor will feel better just because the gap is narrowed. Only politicians think people worry about the wealth gap when, for most, their standard of living is actually going up. The poor want access to wealth, not more welfare and Labour needs to embrace that idea, instead of pretending that more welfare brings down the wealth gap.

Most instinctively understand that it is the middle income earners who actually bear the brunt of taxation and until there is a global solution to taxing international earnings little is going to change. Gestures towards attacking the super rich and NonDoms have resonance but little value or substance, so feed into the Labour ideology of moral high ground to secure votes of the converted. Encourage responsibility of the rich and powerful, not set them up as public enemy number one.

If voters really believed that NonDoms and the rich and powerful were responsible for every problem in the UK then Labour would have won hands down, just like the SNP won hands down because Scots believe the English parliament is responsible for every problem in Scotland.

So Labour just need to get rid of the idea that success is a dirty word and find a way of attacking the wealth gap other than by a race to the bottom. They also need to find a scapegoat whose votes they don't need. Forget worrying about ideology and moving towards Tory centre ground and abandoning core values, leave that for the old guard like Kinnock and Livingstone and the Union dinosaurs to bemoan - move on as our dear departed leader would say. We need effective opposition against every party in power and it gives no comfort to see a Labour party rudderless and hanging on to ideas that belong in the last century.
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Comments

  • I think the big mistake they would make would be to discount the factors that seemed to have lost them the election. Scotland would have been an issue whoever was leader and however left or right wing they were. The establishment/press scaremongered at every opportunity. Strategically, the only choice was to say as clearly as possible that there would be no deals with the SNP. But this did not stop the scaremongering and that aligned with the other message that the recovery would be jeopardised seemed to have swayed the significant numbers of don’t know voters. That and the fact it was a nice day.

    I think Miliband only made one error in the whole campaign. That was when he said Labour did not underspend during the debate. He was right to say this as he meant in the context of the time, when borrowing was well down on the previous Government’s levels and the NHS and Education were being well funded. But he needed to answer that they did and explain why than just say no. The collective gasp from the audience echoed across the country.

    He fought a better campaign than Cameron, but didn’t have the full weight of the establishment behind it who pulled out every stop to influence the easily influenced. The Labour party needs to understand that and dust itself down, rather than gaze too far down it’s navel.
  • edited May 2015

    I think the big mistake they would make would be to discount the factors that seemed to have lost them the election. Scotland would have been an issue whoever was leader and however left or right wing they were. The establishment/press scaremongered at every opportunity. Strategically, the only choice was to say as clearly as possible that there would be no deals with the SNP. But this did not stop the scaremongering and that aligned with the other message that the recovery would be jeopardised seemed to have swayed the significant numbers of don’t know voters. That and the fact it was a nice day.

    I think Miliband only made one error in the whole campaign. That was when he said Labour did not underspend during the debate. He was right to say this as he meant in the context of the time, when borrowing was well down on the previous Government’s levels and the NHS and Education were being well funded. But he needed to answer that they did and explain why than just say no. The collective gasp from the audience echoed across the country.

    He fought a better campaign than Cameron, but didn’t have the full weight of the establishment behind it who pulled out every stop to influence the easily influenced. The Labour party needs to understand that and dust itself down, rather than gaze too far down it’s navel.

    if labour just shrug it's shoulders and say its the press' fault they lost then they're in worse trouble than they feared and they will not win another election - possibly ever.

    Nick Cohen's written a great piece that appeared on the General Election thread.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/09/labour-left-miliband-hating-english
  • for all this bluster about the 1% of wealthiest, the 99% dont seem to see it as a problem. they took the wrong scaremongering route.

    at the end of the day, Milliband and Balls were party of the team that presided over a period of time which involved a crash. they were always going to be pissing in the wind i feel.

    time will change them. they will get back in power when the country has had enough of the Tories and not when they have great new ideas.
  • It's much more than that. Labour lost and lost badly. Very badly. They didn't see the magnitude of the loss coming and in some defence nor did the pollsters.

    There does need to be a post mortem.

    The first and most obvious is in its leader and front bench team. Time to sweep away the old and get in new and fresh blood. The baggage of Brown and Miliband needs to be gotten rid of. There is plenty of talent in the parliamentary Labour Party and time enough to put the government under pressure and get their message across to the electorate.

    Like it or loath it, politics is about image and sound bites. The right choices are crucial now. Get it wrong and the 2020 election is already lost. Get it right and there is room to flourish.
  • edited May 2015
    As long as the global system doesn’t differentiate between money and wealth, there will always be financial dips and people will always blame who is in power rather than the real reasons. To protect this country to some degree from bursting bubbles we need to re-balance the economy away from financial services – which I don’t see happening anytime soon.
  • Get a credible leader for a start.
  • That is a big problem for them. Do they actually have anyone who is credible enough to be leader?
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  • Focus on Scotland ?
  • Things haven't got bad enough for a Labour win yet. 5 years of the Conservatives should do it.
  • edited May 2015
    dizzee said:

    Great post. I think a lot of people are focusing on how labour have lost their way, which is true. However, nobody is acknowledging the fact that David Cameron has done a really good job in the last 5 years and if he and george osbourne have another good 5 years then I would say that he and the conservatives have been exactly what this country needed and can go down as a brilliant prime minister and government.

    This is true. And the Conservatives will do even better in the next election if so. There are serious dangers though - we could now be closer than ever to losing Scotland and the uncertainty around the European vote and the ultimate possible departure from Europe could be Cameron's nightmare scenario. Cameron also has to make sure everybody benefits from the recovery that would have to continue through this parliament to ensure they stay on board.
  • edited May 2015
    Cut the unions loose and be financially competent ( ie ditch the 30 grand tablets of stone).
  • edited May 2015
    E-cafc said:

    That is a big problem for them. Do they actually have anyone who is credible enough to be leader?

    Of course they don't, because if they did, we would all be told they weren't credible by the establishment in some sustained form of character assassination. I think Ummuna would be their clever choice.

  • Maybe the decision to segregate Muslim men and women at a party rally at an Islamic centre. Senior Labour party figures spoke at the event, even though men and women had to sit on opposite sides of the room. Was not such a good idea.

    What next
  • dizzee said:

    Great post. I think a lot of people are focusing on how labour have lost their way, which is true. However, nobody is acknowledging the fact that David Cameron has done a really good job in the last 5 years and if he and george osbourne have another good 5 years then I would say that he and the conservatives have been exactly what this country needed and can go down as a brilliant prime minister and government.

    I'm not sure I'd be as kind towards Cameron and there are plenty of areas I'd be happy to see a change in direction policy-wise on but I think the general principle here is correct - Ed Miliband and his propaganda machine were simply not honest, either as HM Opposition nor in their campaign about what the Coalition had and hadn't gotten right in their 5 years in power. He took a deliberate policy of opposing pretty much everything the Coalition did, even if their policy in that area was more or less identical. He also kept pushing the narrative that the Tories are only the party of the rich and powerful, which only made him look completely out-of-touch to the millions of voters in key-seats who are not rich or powerful but have seen their situation or standard of living improve over the last 5 years.

    Compare this to when Cameron acted as a guard of honour to the last person to become Prime Minister after an election - Tony Blair. And for all the issues that happened under Labour, Tony Blair had achieved a lot in 10 years, a lot of necessary work and left office with a pretty astonishing record. Tony Blair rightfully makes it into the top 5 of any ranking of post-war PMs or even post-19th century PMs. The fact is that the Tories were willing to acknowledge all the great work that Blair had achieved as Labour leader and how that they would continue that work.

    Contrast that to Miliband's narrative that he would slam all areas of policy into reverse. Whether or not you agree with what he was saying, this will spook voters - if you're halfway along a 6 hour journey to the beach, you don't turn the car around when you're 3 hours in just because you wanted cheese sandwiches instead of ham (or egg cress if you're a veggie).

    I think it is a great shame that Labour carried on like this over the last 5 years - being largely belligerent and antagonistic instead of presenting both useful opposition when needed and offering support, albeit with caveats, when policy areas align (and there are several policy areas where Labour align with either the Tories or Lib Dems). However given the angry mood amongst the social media warriors, who unfortunately are far too influential on Labour's direction, it is unlikely they will choose someone to lead them who will present a more optimistic leadership than Miliband. The 'oppose Tories at all costs' narrative will likely shout down the more level-headed and rational voices in the Labour Party who would, sensibly, see a move away from belligerent Leftism and to more reasoned Centrism as the route back into power. This would be a real shame, as the lack of decent opposition for the last 5 years has seen some pretty bad legislation get passed because there has been no meaningful input from the opposite benches to temper the Tory excesses.

    The scalping of Balls and Dougie Alexander, as well the some of the other notable members of the Old Guard signalling they are going to step away from the leadership of the party, such as Harman, represent a great opportunity for some young blood to reinvigorate what should be the party of the working and the disadvantaged. The unions will likely to install someone who is 'their man' and thus to continue the nakedly anti-Tory, hard-left line. It is up to the PLP and the membership to counter that with someone who would actually stand a chance at rebuilding their seats, both north and south of the border.
  • Interesting point from the article that kentaddick linked, we have elected precisely one (1) Labour Prime Minister in the last 40-odd years. Whatever they are doing wrong, they've been doing it for a while and, amusingly, the one 'Labour' PM that was elected in that time is generally seen as being more Tory than the Tories!
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  • edited May 2015

    disbanding would be a good start ;-)

    You joke but that might be their only option if some of them want to start winning elections again. The Labour elite know (as they are mostly admitting now!) that they will not win unless they push their policies more towards the centre. The trouble is that there are still, unbelievably, some (eg Ken Livingstone) who say they lost because they are not far enough to the left. That issue is compounded by the fact the Unions, which keep them in dosh, also want a much more-left leaning Labour Party.

    So, blend in a federal Scotland with almost no say in English & Welsh politics, more balanced constituency boundaries and populations and Labour, as is, may well have plausibility and purpose challenges. Some might decide to quit and set up a more centrist party.

    David Lammy, for example has said Labour had become “too tribal” and lost the election because the “middle”, between rich and poor, did not think Ed Miliband was on their side (which he wasn't). How could someone like Lammy, with those views, contemplate sticking around in the Labour Party if Andy Burhnam is elected leader and there's more of the same old, same old?
  • Another profound change for the party would be to allow their constituencies to elect local candidates. It's a reflection of how the metropolitan liberal leadership distrust their northern working class voters that they take this choice out of their hands.
  • Lord Sugar has quit Labour this morning, over its' "negative" stance on business.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32692668
  • Lord Sugar has quit Labour this morning, over its' "negative" stance on business.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32692668

    to go back to his job of portraying business people as backstabbing arrogant twats and generally how not to behave when running a business.
  • In the 115 years of the Labour Party's existence it has been in power for 33 years - and 13 of those were down to Blair's electability after shifting New Labour to the right. The McDonald and Atlee governments were of their time and place and were effective in bringing about social change.

    The country (England) is predominately right of centre and I do not expect a left of centre Labour Party to be elected again in my lifetime unless it is a protest vote against a Tory party that's cocked-up big time.

    I've always been a firm believer in FPTP and strong governments but perhaps it time to look at our electoral system to avoid unwittingly descending into a one party state.

    As for Labour - I really don't know where they go from here without turning into another Tory party.
  • The easy part for the SNP was taking the labour seats, unless they make the most of having so much presence at westminster, they might well lose a chunk back.
  • edited May 2015

    seemed to have swayed the significant numbers of don’t know voters. That and the fact it was a nice day.

    I think Miliband only made one error in the whole campaign. That was when he said Labour did not underspend during the debate.

    Muttley, if Labour think that one of the reasons they lost, was because it was a nice day. They won't be back in 5 years time.

    Also, I presume you meant to say overspend not underspend ?

    Miliband said on Question Time that he didn't accept that Labour had overspent.

    NB I still keep reading many Labour supporters saying that the Tories blame Labour for the global recession.

    If Labour can grasp the simple concept that no one blames them for the global recession !

    Many people though blame them for overspending in the good times and not keeping more money back for "a rainy day".

    If this was ever accepted, that would be another good starting point.

    Finally, this time last week most Labour supporters were very supportive of Miliband and Balls and how competent they were.

    One week later and most appear to be pleased that they're gone.

    More honesty, would be another good starting point. (Accepted that most of them lie).
  • bobmunro said:


    As for Labour - I really don't know where they go from here without turning into another Tory party.

    I probably could have replaced my post with this.

    What about Labour and UKIP joining up to increase votes like the Liberals and Democrats did, LabKip.
  • bobmunro said:


    As for Labour - I really don't know where they go from here without turning into another Tory party.

    I probably could have replaced my post with this.

    What about Labour and UKIP joining up to increase votes like the Liberals and Democrats did, LabKip.
    The only thing wrong with that is the old "being fundamentally opposed to everything you say and do" thing.
  • bobmunro said:


    As for Labour - I really don't know where they go from here without turning into another Tory party.

    I probably could have replaced my post with this.

    What about Labour and UKIP joining up to increase votes like the Liberals and Democrats did, LabKip.
    Join up with UKIP and save the North. Join up with UKIP and lose London. Bit of a quandary really.

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