Posts Tagged ‘Labour doorstep’

The cult of the Labour doorstep does more harm than good

08/03/2016, 10:31:28 PM

by Jon Bounds

For the ‘sensible establishment’ supporters of Labour’s pre-Corbyn core comes a new standard to which the rest of Labour’s membership must be held: time on the doorstep.

The idea that knocking on doors providing up to date voter data (oh, and having ‘conversations’, although in what form we’re never really told) is the only route of activism available to the foot-soldiers.

Having an opinion is frowned-upon until a certain amount of dues-paying doorstepping has been completed.

A Red Wedge-style series of fund- and awareness-raising gigs with high profile names is dismissed as meaningless in electoral terms. Unless enough doors have been knocked on.

Labour far outshone the Conservatives in doorstep conversations in May last year. But, if knocking on doors alone won elections, it wouldn’t be the Labour party in power: it would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In coalition with meter readers and Betterware franchisees.

Social media may be an echo chamber, but its connections and volume still matters.

It’s where people are — but crucially most see no substantive delineation between platforms, between local and national issues, nor between ‘real life’ and the real people they communicate with online*.

That’s why Tom Watson’s digital project, and what it comes out with is so important: we do need to be able to understand how the psychology of people plays out as a whole. That includes conversations around unity in the media, and on the web. And it includes targeted digital interactions.


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South Shields, Vincent Hanna and a compelling message

13/05/2013, 09:15:06 AM

by John Braggins

A lot has been written about the South Shields by-election and whether Labour should’ve done better half-way through an unpopular coalition government. And if so who or what was to blame – the lack of organisation, the previous MP, the local party or even the party leader?

First, the facts: Labour’s vote was 50.5% – down 1.5% from the 2010 general election; the Tories’ vote was 11.5% – down 10% and the Lib Dems vote was 1.5% – down 13%.  UKIP, of course, picked up 24%.

So in an ultra-safe Labour constituency in the midst of one of the worst recessions in living memory in which many voters still – rightly or wrongly – blame Gordon Brown and the last Labour government, Labour lost less than 2% of its 2010 vote.

Labour should’ve done better, absolutely, but to blame the lack of electoral data collected before the by-election started is to ignore the fact that there was the lack of a compelling message to galvanise South Shields voters.

I learnt this most graphically at the 1987 Greenwich by-election. The by-election was caused by the death of the popular Labour MP, Guy Barnett and Labour was expected to romp home with an increased majority and indeed the first published poll gave Labour 60% of the vote. The campaign lasted seven weeks, canvassed virtually every household and provided enough data to run an excellent polling day system.

Around 11am on polling day, Vincent Hanna who had pioneered exit polls in by-elections and developed the BBC’s by-election coverage into an art form, came into the party HQ with the news of the first exit poll. “If you want to maximise your effort” he told the assembled campaign team, “pack up and go home”. He continued “from the 11am figures I can tell you that for every two Labour doors you knock on today, one will go out and vote SDP, so if want my advice don’t knock on any doors.”


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