Posts Tagged ‘Grassroots’

We should be punishing the Tories in local elections, says Edward Carlsson Browne

10/08/2010, 12:30:49 PM

The jury is still out on new Labour’s worst mistake in government. It could be the Iraq War, tuition fees, 10p tax, regulating the banks or failing to call an election in 2007. It could be that the Blair-Brown feud was allowed to continue for a decade. Those who believe the rot started early might argue that it was when we decided to accept a donation from Bernie Ecclestone.

In my opinion, it was none of these things. I believe that the greatest failing of the last government, in which Blair and Brown were both culpable, was that they stood by as our ranks were decimated in local government. Our support fell every year until 2009, when we reached our lowest number of seats since local government was reorganised in 1973. Our slight rebound this year was our second worst result in this time.

Even in the 1980s, when the party was less popular than gonorrhea and ward meetings were slightly more painful, we could win local elections. We were ahead in national equivalent vote share estimates for half of that decade. Since 2006, we haven’t hit 30% in the same measure. (more…)

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The American way? No We Can’t, says Dan Hodges

05/08/2010, 01:30:25 PM

Last week I bumped into an old comrade from the Greater Manchester congestion charge campaign. Like Vietnam veterans we speak sparingly of those days, pausing but rarely to wrestle our demons and remember the fallen.

Asked what he was up to now that he was back on civvy street, he replied that he was working as “deputy field manager” for one of the leadership teams.

“What the hell’s a field manager”, I asked?

“Well it’s like an organiser”.

“So why isn’t it called an organiser”?

“Well, it’s what the Americans call an organiser”.

“Have we got loads of Americans over here stitching up the electoral college, then”?

“No. It’s what Obama used”.

Ah. “What Obama used”. The political equivalent of ‘It’s What Diana Would Have Wanted’.


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Saturday News Review

12/06/2010, 07:30:04 AM
The Leadership Contenders

“It’s a delicious prospect. The man who once met a black man being pounded to oblivion at the despatch box by a black woman. The old Etonian son of a stockbroker being ejected from Downing Street by the daughter of a welder. The husband of the daughter of a baronet being given his marching orders by a single mum from Hackney. As spectator sports go, it would certainly beat the World Cup.”  – The Independent

“Until now Mr Miliband has been private about his family life, facing criticism from his opponents that he lacks warmth. But in an emotional interview, he described the personal experiences that have shaped his politics. He and Louise tried IVF. “Emotionally, it was incredibly exhausting. You don’t want to talk about it to people because you are going through this very intense personal thing and you don’t really want everyone saying, ‘Oh, how is it going?’ Or, ‘I am so sorry’. Or, ‘What is the latest news?’ he said.” – The Times

“Whether you like it or not – and why wouldn’t you? – Britain is a dizzyingly diverse place. You can find every colour of skin, style of dress, class, creed and cuisine on every high street. Which is why it’s depressing that a Martian visiting the House Of Commons would assume our ruling class was cloned in a test tube. Hundreds of bland, white public school boys rolling off a conveyor belt in the Home Counties.” – The Mirror

“The bookmakers’ favourite to win the Labour leadership, today urged Frank Field not to betray Britain’s poor after he called for the government to drop Labour’s main target for cutting child poverty. Miliband made his remarks at the first official Labour hustings in east London. Field, appointed by David Cameron to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the causes of poverty, said the Labour target was mathematically unobtainable, had not been achieved anywhere in the free world and revealed he would look to develop better targets. He is due to report at the end of the year.” – The Guardian


“Loosening the rigid labour market is seen as vital to ensure Spain’s long-term economic recovery and to ease market fears of a Greek-style debt crisis by proving Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero’s unpopular government can act. But talks between the Socialists, business leaders and unions failed to come up with a consensus draft on Thursday after two years of on-off talks and the government has decided to present a draft labour reform unilaterally.” – Reuters


Darling: 'Safe pair of hands'

The Ex-Chancellor

“The obligatory description of the ex-chancellor is that he is a “safe pair of hands” (generally accompanied by reminders that a trucking magazine once awarded him the title of “most boring politician” two years in a row). It’s meant somewhat pejoratively, but “safe pair of hands” turns out to mean sleek, tanned, straight-talking – and yes, safe, in that one can easily imagine panicking bankers and prime ministers turning to him for answers and calm. Funny, too, though his jokes about previous Guardian interviews have a certain take-it-on-the-chin ruefulness: two years ago Darling said, bluntly, that Britain had to brace itself for the worst economic climate in 60 years.” – The Guardian

Being in Opposition

“Some Labour figures appear relieved to be in opposition. Quite a few to whom I have spoken since last month’s election seem to think their party did rather well. It didn’t: it won 29 per cent of the vote. So far, Labour’s leadership election seems to be taking place in a parallel universe. The candidates talk about reconnecting with the voters, but the crisis in the public finances (which Labour would have had to tackle if it had retained power) rarely gets a look-in. They are more interested in connecting with Labour members. Now that the general election is over, it is safe to talk about immigration, Iraq, bankers and high earners. But there’s no need to mention the c-word. The cuts can be left to the other parties and Labour can retreat to its comfort zone.” – The Independent


“David Miliband yesterday declared Labour should learn from the party’s stunning general election result in Scotland.  The Labour leadership contender, who has pledged to rebuild the party, also welcomed further powers for the Scottish parliament.  He took his campaign north of the border, where he met MSPs and party activists.Miliband also watched Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray take on Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions.” – The Independent

The Trial

“‘In my judgment, the conduct alleged against these defendants is not covered by Parliamentary privilege and is triable in the Crown Court. ‘Unless this decision is reversed on appeal, it clears the way for what most people accused of criminal behaviour would wish for: a fair trial before an impartial jury.” Judge – The Daily Mail

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How the ward was won: Paul Cotterill

09/06/2010, 10:48:36 AM

In the district elections of 2007, a team of just four activists helped to secure a Labour victory within a safe rural Tory seat never before held by Labour. We saw a 44% increase in the Labour vote since the last time the seat was contested in 2003.

It would be easy to be overly triumphant, and to make claims that ‘all local campaigns should be run like this’.  In fact, we followed the general campaigning guidance issued from the Labour party centrally and regionally. But we do believe that other specific lessons might be learned from what we managed to achieve.

First, we had a different approach to the press. The standard Labour campaigning message is that all opportunities to raise the profile of the party, and especially the candidate in the local press should be seized.  In the Bickerstaffe campaign this was not done, and there were no press releases or calls to the press of any kind.


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Nick Palmer on how to mobilise the army of the unaffiliated

25/05/2010, 08:41:07 AM

This is a really good time to be recruiting new members – indeed, people seem to be recruiting themselves. In Broxtowe alone, we’ve had a couple of dozen newcomers who signed up entirely spontaneously after the election. People who left us a while back are putting Iraq behind them, dismayed by the change of government and seeing us as the only anti-Tory game in town.

That’s great – a core of party activists is absolutely essential. But we also need a strategy for involving people who don’t, for whatever reason, want to join. Being a member of a political party is unfashionable, seen by many as rather like joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses: it doesn’t make you a bad person, but many people think it’s not very cool. We can deplore that but we need to recognise it. And it’s not just us – Tory membership has been falling, even in the year up to the election that they expected to win.

I was MP for Broxtowe from 1997 until three weeks ago. Broxtowe, a mixture of towns and villages west of Nottingham, is traditional Tory territory and the demographics are changing against us, with more and more prosperous commuter housing. In 1992, the last close-run General Election, they won it by a 14% (10,000 votes) margin. This year, they won it by just 0.7% (389 votes), with a swing since 2005 of 2.6%, one of the lowest in England. We lost, but seemingly we’ve still been doing something right. (more…)

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