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.