Posts Tagged ‘open left’

Labour renewal must transcend tribes to put voters, not members, first

27/07/2010, 02:15:41 PM

Amid all the “who’s up and who is down” commentary on Labour’s leadership contest, it’s easy to forget that the contest is about selecting a Prime Minister in waiting, not a leader of the opposition. In today’s FT, Philip Stephens argues that if Labour’s defeat had been a little more crushing, our reflections would be more realistic. In today’s Telegraph, Mary Riddell warns against knee-jerk tribalism in opposition and urges Labour to resist retributive instincts that are stopping leadership candidates from agreeing with coalition policies now and again.

The election result surely shows that political tribalism is now dead in the water and that relying on a core vote strategy is ‘ballot box suicide’. But equally unrealistic is an obsession with winning back skilled working class C2s that ignores Labour’s vote share collapsing across all lower social classes. Whoever wins the leadership is going to need to make some big and symbolic repositions to show that Labour has listened, learned and most importantly, changed.

Time is of the essence. Labour had the chance to renew in office but left it too late. By the time the manifesto was published, the frame through which voters judged Labour had already been set. The Tories made the mistake of burning through three leaders before they were prepared to renew their ideas and reposition their offer to voters. We can’t afford to do the same.


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