Monday, February 05, 2007

Luke Akehurst: With the Old Aged Swingers In Tow



Triangulation tells us where to train our heavy artillery. Winning the odd battle. But what about the war?

Luke Akehurst quotes the case of the newly boundaried Dagenham and Rainham constituency and tries to use this as a stick to beat those of us in the Party who are not convinced that perpetual triangulation to hook swing votes is sustainable or desirable.

Luke says that people in MARGINAL seats will notice bloggers and deputy candidates arguing about the policy dog whistles aimed at them and close their ears. But it's people in NOT MARGINAL seats hearing this stuff and telling us where to get off to that concerns me.

Obviously we want to get first past the post and preferably 350 seats but we don't want to be screwing over 315 of these and giving tidbits to the other 35 ... or do we Luke?

As one commentator Nick said the minutae of policy and even to an extent the broad brushes are lost on many voters. They notice the biggest headlines, wars, the price of a pint, potholes and dog poo ... and, hold the presses, most could stand more honest to goodness Labour policies from the Labour Party! They don't like having NO CHOICE and that causes some to stay at home and not follow their tribal instincts.

From my point of view Tony Blair has been a class act as PR man, but he went too far with product reinvention in 1997 and continued to go farther. That's why we're right out on the right of whatever being Labour possibly is. If only he had been marketeering for the progressive democratic socialist programme the country was crying out for!

The core vote - that alleged 32% or thereabouts - that we and the Tories each have as instinctive, tribal voters is partly dying out, partly finding ready to dabble, partly finding themselves ready to ship out for good.

Good luck in Rainham and Dagenham. But anecdotal single constituency "reasons" are hardly enough for a generalisation. Swing voters are excellent if they come down on the right side in the end but the cost of wooing them in both policy and financial terms is a hard one to bear. In Manchester Withington - won in 1987 (close in 83) on unselfish principles and lost in 2005 on selfish triangulation at the centre - the picture is entirely different.

Perhaps Manchester Withington is Labour's wake up call rather than the aberration of urban intelligensia that New Labour spin central bashed out by way of excuse for the 17% swing to the Lib Dems.

8 comments:

Adele said...

Chris the whole world doesn't revolve around Manchester Withington. Its about getting the right policies whilst showing people that we still have the governing gene and the same passion for social justice that we had in 1997.

That doesn't mean a shift to the left nor complete triangulation. Politics is less polarised now and more about single issues and community campaigning than left/right politics. Thats why new labour has been so successfull.

In Withington it will mainly be to do with local issues and getting the right candidate who actually has a clue about the area. Then hitting the lib dems hard over a prolonged period of time.

Chris Paul said...

Adele: I'm saying that the whole world doesn't revolve around Luke Akehurst and his theories. Or Dagenham and Rainham. Believe it or believe it not the loss of Withington is to do with the application of such theories. As well as other known factors.

el tom said...

"Chris the whole world doesn't revolve around Manchester Withington"

Of course not Adele, we all know that Gorton is the real centre of gravity...

Adele said...

Tom, got it in one. Gorton is of course the centre of the universe! Despite the fact I live in Fallowfield not Gorton. Better bars there dontcha know.

However, to contradict myself and make a point about Withington, if you don't get rid of Leech this time, that seat will be Lib Dem for 20 years. Pressures on kids!

Crumpsallian-in-exile said...

yer damn right the world doesn't revolve around man wit! Its 48 per cent mosaic group e (for which read guardianistas) which make up only 4-5% of the population as a whole. This is all in liam byrne's fabian pamphlet, Why Labour Won
Lessons from 2005 which I reckon is required reading for anyone who cares about Labour's future (and that includes so-called leaflet labour adele!)

Having said that ' shift to the left' v traingulation' arguments are always so narrowly defined. shift to the left is usually seen as closed shop, nationalisation, disarmament.

What I do think is needed is to stop compromising our principles and start converting people to them. this may mean stoping bringing in policies by stealth and actually talking them up - and the reasons behind them.

This came up at a jewish Labour Movement meeting with Hazel Blears ( and pize for obscure Labour meeting goes to...) on Sunday. Traditionally Tory Jewish blocks in the Bury/Salford area have become Labour and will stay Labour, because people have become ardent welfarists in the last 10 years. If the Boundary change had happenned ten years ago, stringer would have been concerned about taking on one and half tory wards. As it is, they are just as secure as the one's he is losing.

politics by stealth/ not doing enough to boost union membership/ deliberately pissing off public sector workers means we permanently live in fear of losing elections and triangulation becomes a self-fullfillig prophecy. there's got to be a better way

Chris Paul said...

lovely post c-i-e ... sincerely ... please do come again ... mosaic group e might just be an important early warning segment ... going soft under a crust of more, er, crusty and trusty loyalists, and those damned swingers ... there's got to be a better way ... as you say the false dichotomy of shift to left vs electability depends on scaring the horses with the former, which, by definition, would include the tiniest shift rather than the re-militantisation of Labour ...

Crumpsallian-in-exile said...

let's put it like this. I moved down to Brent in May, where we lost the council. When they heard manchester had secured the council as primary sponsors for academies, they balled their eyes out. If Brent had been allowed to do it, they could have kept a lot more activists, and may have saved the council. A tiny shift from the top could have a huge effect on the local party.

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