Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

The leadership candidates aren’t asking any of the big questions, let alone answering them

29/07/2015, 04:54:58 PM

by Patrick Hurley and James Noakes

Over the last few weeks, we’ve watched with mounting horror at the farce that the Labour leadership contest has become. We know we’re not alone in this.

But we despair not just because of who is or isn’t in the race, the (yet again) flawed tortuous process or the ridiculous behaviour of some supporters of all candidates. No, our despair is primarily because none of the candidates for the leadership seem remotely capable of setting out a truly radical centre-left agenda for the way we live now.

Corbyn may want to talk about the issues but he doesn’t want to face up to the present day context (too many of his supporters class centre-left as Tory anyway it seems), Cooper and Burnham, solid performers both, are not setting the world alight. A defence of tax credits and commitments on NHS supply chains might be all well and good, but they hardly get the blood racing. Liz Kendall could be on to something with her focus on raising early years funding rather than subsidising university students, but in all honesty, the gruel is thin all round.

Much like the past five years, too often we are faced with tactics rather than strategy – the candidates seem too keen on reacting to events rather than in giving the party some actual leadership. Some may say this is inevitable perhaps given such a public process; a voracious, hostile media; and a PLP leadership vacuum facing buoyed Tory benches. However, that is not good enough for any candidate. Moreover, this appears to be the best that the Parliamentary party has to offer.


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Labour’s rhetorical ratchet is destroying the party’s electoral hopes

29/01/2015, 09:18:26 AM

by Atul Hatwal

When Ed Miliband became leader of the Labour party, a rhetorical ratchet was installed in the machinery of Labour politics. Since then, the only direction of travel permissible for Labour’s public statements has been to the left. The only criticism of the leadership allowed has been from the left.

Now, as the party’s poll lead dissolves, the consequences of this ratchet for Labour’s electoral chances are becoming increasingly clear. Two incidents from the past week – one on policy and one on process – exemplify the depth of the party’s problems.

First, on policy, there was Andy Burnham’s performance on Newsnight.

Labour has a perfectly defensible and reasonable policy on the use of private healthcare in the NHS: it can only be used to supplement rather than replace public provision. In practice, it means that the private sector would only be used to clear backlogs. It’s how the last Labour government operated.

But, faced with the need to demonstrate how Labour policy has progressed since 2010, the ratchet has forced Andy Burnham to the left, beyond the point of incoherence.

Because of the ratchet, a centrist dividing line on health based on Labour competence versus Tory incompetence is impossible. Instead, Labour has opted for an ideological frame of public good versus private bad with Labour promising to roll back the private.


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George Osborne is all slogan and no strategy

03/12/2012, 07:00:29 AM

by Dan McCurry

Their economic policy is from the 30s,

Their health policy is from the 40s,

Their education policy is from the 50s.

The electorate may be in the present, but the Tories are not.

They’re all old money, and no new blood,

More horse riding, than commuting,

More tractor, than hatchback,

More bone china, than chip wrapper,

The strange thing is that they could have been quite good. The most brilliantly targeted message to have emerged from politics in recent times, was George Osborne’s, “we’re all in this together”

In just five words it encapsulated teamwork, fairness and duty, in order to overcome our problems. But it was a slogan, rather than a strategy. If it were a strategy, then they wouldn’t have increased taxes for the poor and decreased them for the rich. If they had been fair to all, then this government would not be the architects of omnishambles, they would be the builders of Jerusalem.

It’s quite baffling that they came so close to being a successful government; that the strategy was right there in their hands, but somehow they just couldn’t follow it through. The problem is that they only have experience of their own narrow clique. They seem to have little or no experience of the world outside of Westminster and Bullingdon.


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False choices about Labour’s recovery

10/05/2011, 03:00:41 PM

by Sunder Katwala

If there has been one thing that has been symptomatic of Labour’s struggle to find a viable future strategy for electoral success, it is the penchant of too many in the party for daft debates about which voters the party does not want.

New Labour began by building the biggest tent British politics had ever seen, and ended by worrying endlessly about whether appealing too strongly to traditional Labour voters or Guardian readers would kill the project off. Meanwhile, the party’s left flank fretted about whether the support of marginal swing voters stopped Labour being Labour in government. If those were the problems, 29% of the vote would have been a solution. Neither Labour’s traditional base nor New Labour switchers saw the point of having Labour in government at all.

Well, here we go again.

The latest daft question: if Ed Miliband and the Labour party want to win the next election, should they seek to win votes from the Liberal Democrats, or from the Conservatives?

Uncut’s own Dan Hodges set up this choice at the New Statesman.

On the one hand, there is the compass analysis. The compass crystal ball has not proved infallible in the aftermath of the last election, but it now seems to mean pessimistically admitting that Labour will probably never ever win again under first past the post, so must negotiate a way to power with the Liberal Democrats.

On the other, we keep the New Labour flag flying by treating the collapsing Liberal Democrat vote as a distraction to be ignored entirely, because the only votes that count are those won from the Conservatives.
Another senior Labour insider put it this way:

“Ed has a clear choice. He can chase after a non-existent progressive majority, or he can try to bring middle and working class Tory voters home to Labour. Or, to put it another way, he can try to win on his own, or lose with Chris Huhne.”

It would be difficult to imagine a sillier debate about “electoral strategy”.

Perhaps the one thing that everybody serious about finding Labour’s path back to power could do is to refuse this framing, and to laugh at anybody who tries to start this debate. Neither Neal Lawson nor Dan Hodges are right about Labour’s route back to power. (more…)

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