Ten hard truths for Labour

Following Tristram Hunt’s call for “a summer of hard truths” Labour Uncut is running a short series laying them out. Here’s Kevin Meagher with his top ten.

1. Fundraising must be the next leader’s top priority. The party is broke and its funding base in the affiliated trade unions looks increasingly precarious. Miliband hated raising money and avoided doing so. The next leader will find it occupies more of their time than anything else. That’s if they’re serious about running a political party.

2. Manage effectively. No-one in politics can line-manage. They really can’t. Decisions are subject to constant change because competing courtiers love sticking their oar in. And no-one takes responsibility for things because no-one wants to be left holding a problem when the music stops. (That’s why the “Edstone” passed through ten planning meetings without anyone pointing out how mental it was). And because virtually no-one in politics has ever worked anywhere else, they think this dysfunctional way of operating is normal. Blair, Brown and Miliband were all hopeless managers in their own ways. The next leader needs to learn to delegate and performance-manage his or her team. Let the general-secretary run the party machine and if they’re crap, sack them. Oh, and stop hiring inexperienced kids for important roles that they then guff up. Radical idea: advertise key jobs and hire the best applicants.

3. Avoid expensive US consultants. The hero worship of US politics by seemingly everyone who works for the party is actually closer to a creepy infatuation. Its staggering no-one on the NEC had the decency to demand that “Obama guru” David Axelrod repay the £300,000 he was paid for contributing nothing of value to the election campaign he was supposed to be masterminding. It could have funded another dozen organisers on the ground. (Members should remember this and take it out on the dozy NEC reps responsible for agreeing to hire him). For future reference, the party has enough talent and experience to run its own campaigns and doesn’t need any more Yank snake oil salesmen.

4. There is no progressive majority. If Labour isn’t convincing former Conservative voters to give it a try, then it isn’t winning. Actually, it isn’t even competing. The dozens of marginal seats that remained stubbornly blue in May need to turn red if Labour is ever going to govern again. That’s the strategy for 2020 right there. Screw deals with smaller parties, tactical voting and smart-arsed game-playing about what percentage of the electorate the party needs to creep across the finish line. Concentrate on bread and butter economic issues to the exclusion of everything else. Oh, and ditch the gesture politicking. The shroud-waving about how “immoral” the government is. (Clue: no-one cares). The noisy feminism that repels most women voters. And the endless appeals to the idle young, who can’t even be bothered to vote.

5. The party’s blend of ethnic support is unbalanced. This is awkward, but there’s no other way of saying it. The balance has now tipped too far towards the Muslim community, at the expense of enough Sikhs, Hindus and Jews voting for the party. (The latter, disastrously so). Is this why Labour never has anything to say about ISIL and home-grown Islamic extremism? And our Muslim voters are often in safe seats, stacking up whopping majorities, while we lose seats where a few hundred Skihs or Hindus could make all the difference.

6. No-one in the Scottish Labour party is fit to run a whelk stall. How many chances should the Scottish party be given to bugger things up? The first big electoral test for the new leader is whether or not they can make any headway in next year’s Scottish parliamentary elections. Better to run things from London than leave it to the hapless locals if no-one there has a half decent plan to get the party back in the game.

7. The Northern powerhouse is a good thing. Labour has foolishly ignored the radical devolution of power and accountability contained in George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse proposals. This is a mistake, especially as the concept of an east-west growth corridor linking our major northern cities is a carbon copy of John Prescott’s earlier Northern Way. It’s happening. It’s a positive move. Stop sounding so po-faced about it and back it.

8. Spring clean the Shadow Cabinet. How many MPs work on the Labour frontbench? About half of them! The shadow cabinet is stale and lazy. Time to reward the strivers and the expense of the skivers. Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Caroline Flint ran ministers ragged during the last parliament, but they were about the only ones who did. The next leader should be brutal in rewarding scalp-hunters at the expense of coasting grandees and the makeweights. And gender balance is gloriously irrelevant: pick the best team.

9. Don’t patronise business.The next leader needs to make an early, big intervention to change the rhythms of the party’s relations with business leaders. They are looking for strength and clarity. They saw neither in Ed Miliband. They don’t want gushing praise, they just want to know they’re not dealing with buffoons and that Labour frontbenchers are open to new ideas and don’t see business as a magic money tree.

10. Comprehensive Spending Review. Scheduled for November. This will be the first major test since the election of the party’s tone and how it reacts to further cuts. Avoid being predictable at all costs. Explain how foolish cuts – like the abandonment of rail electrification projects – undermine economic growth and do nothing to improve the UK’s productivity. The new leader and shadow chancellor should set out the unintended consequence in a cool, rational way. They must not simply walk onto the punch and find themselves mouthing the words “these heartless Tory cuts”. After all, if it didn’t work in May, it never will.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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13 Responses to “Ten hard truths for Labour”

  1. John P reid says:

    this is brilliant it all needed to be said, i would point out that where expensive U.S advisors weren’t worth the money, there is stil something to be said to listening to them,there’s ways around paying, asking american Co-op fabians etc

  2. David Walker says:

    Here’s my top ten hard truths, for Labour MPs to mull over. This may help them understand those whose votes they seek and the reality of the situation they now find themselves in.

    1. Most people are quite selfish.

    2. Most people feel that the rest of society is even more so.

    3. Most people are somewhat racist.

    4. Most people assume that those who are from another race don’t really like them.

    5. Most people broadly dislike those who are from a different social class to themselves.

    6. Most people assume that those who are from a different social class than themselves do not really like them.

    7. Most people only want to debate, in order to win the argument.

    8. Labour will one day return to government, because people will realise how much they hate the Tories.

    9. Soon after that, the Tories will return to government when people realise that they also hate the Labour Party.

    10. You, yourself, are part of the problem and not part of the solution. You got into politics to change things, but all that happened was that politics changed you.

  3. GTE says:

    And you’ve going to have to keep lying about the debts.

    1. Pensions – 9,200 bn
    2. Borrowing – 1,500 bn
    3. PFI
    4. Nuclear clean up
    5. Guarantees and the losses on the contracts.

    After all, if people knew what was going on they wouldn’t pay, like Greece.

  4. Tristan says:

    What a bunch of crap.

  5. DavidNcl says:

    0) Immigration.

  6. MK says:

    10 more truths:

    1. Labour needs to improve it’s economic credibility (also see 2). It’s arguably the party’s biggest weakness. There’s no easy way to do this as the public’s memory of Labour’s 2008 crash will persist.

    2. Labour needs to pick as leader someone who voters can see as a PM. One big reason why Labour lost is people couldn’t see, and didn’t want, Miliband as PM.

    (1 + 2 – without a good rating on these two metrics, Labour won’t win an election any time soon).

    3. People who haven’t voted before tend not to vote in further elections. Turnout in 2015, the most exciting, diverse, and important election since 1992, was only 6% higher than the most boring election in UK history, 2001. Betting that millions of

    4. It is pointless electorally to formulate policies that appeal to the Labour base. Those are people already voting for Labour.

    5. The majority of people in seats Labour needs to win – Nuneaton, Hastings, Bedford, Warwickshire North – are middling, ordinary people living ordinary, middling and hold middling political views.

    6. The British people has never elected a far-left PM, or Labour party fronted by the far-left faction of the party by the standards of each election’s political era.

    7. The British people overwhelmingly oppose Labour’s stance on welfare. The party needs to stop being defensive around welfare and develop a distinctive policy that doesn’t amount to the same-old same-old.

    8. As with welfare, Labour most abandon defensive positions on health, education, and other public services, and advance reformist policies designed to improve results and make these services fit for the 21st century.

    9. The British people overwhelmingly oppose Labour’s stance, real or perceived, on immigration. There’s no easy way to rectify this.

    10. The vast majority of Tories are decent people and are not infact on some kind of mission to hurt “the poor” and “the vulnerable”.

  7. john P Reid says:

    david Walker i don’t think most people are racist, and think people of another race are too, as for selfish define it, there’s nothing selfless about grafting for years and having nothing for it ,just because of some forgotten myth, that we are all equal

    the pensioners who’s fathers were miners who lost their jobs, who voted tory for the first time, because they thought the tories were better at the economy aren’t selfish, and when people run tired of the Tories, ther’ell aways be Ukip or another new party, no party has a right to consider they’ll always be in the top 2,

  8. Robert says:

    The tears and fears of Progress sorry is this a progress site or a labour site, of course it’s an off shoot of the right wing Progress party

  9. Tafia says:

    MK – 6. The British people has never elected a far-left PM, or Labour party fronted by the far-left faction of the party by the standards of each election’s political era.

    Corbyn isn’t far-Left. He’s no more left wing than Wilson or Callaghan – and Wilson won more elections than any Labour politician.

  10. John P Reid says:

    Robert the progress party?,it’s.a Magazine, and you can be progress and labour, as you’re not labour you wouldn’t know, same as your writing on labourlist,would be better suited too the greens

  11. MK says:

    Tafia – “Corbyn isn’t far-Left. He’s no more left wing than Wilson or Callaghan – and Wilson won more elections than any Labour politician.”

    Corbyn is far left by the standards of British politics today. Burnham, etc, represent the centre-left, and Corbyn is on the far-left (on the far-far-left you have the communists – but they’re not very significant). He may not be much further left than Wilson or Callaghan in absolute terms, but relative to the centre of political gravity in Britain at the time, he is.

  12. Robert says:

    John your so right wing your not even sure what party your in, Progress is a political group or party within a party and if you think otherwise then you really are not the person I thought you were.
    progress is the right wing arm of the Blair-rites.

  13. Ian B says:

    John P Reid says:
    July 29, 2015 at 11:04 pm
    Robert the progress party?,it’s.a Magazine, and you can be progress and labour

    Progress is “just a magazine” in the same way as Militant was “just a Newspaper”

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