Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Don't Trip Up: Was I Suggesting a Core Vote Strategy?

Writing at some length at Labour Home about the complexity of the supposed "swing" to the Tories and the need to do the business for fairness I am a little surprised for this to be described as a lumpen core vote strategy and linked with some worthy Wiseman wishes and thepowerlesslowpaid's slogans by one Stephen Farrington of Cardiff.

Someone incidentally who eschews "class politics" yet appears to believe that socio economic group C1 is "professional" rather than working class, never mind group B which actually includes teachers, midwives and many other public services workers. All kinds of white collar working people.

Here is the piece in full with a couple of typos corrected:

The sum of all changes in voter choice in limited local government elections, plus a much closer run thing in London, is clearly a swing from Labour to the Tories. But this simple sum hides a multitude of calculations.

There has been quite a lot of talk on blogs, in the mainstream media, and from politicians including Prince Charming Cameron of a shift in individual voters from Labour to Tory. But is this really what occured on Thursday?

In the valleys of South Wales the swing from Labour was to essentially Labour-ish Independents by those who would not vote Plaid, or Lib, or Tory and who will be back to vote Labour come the General Election as Hopi Sen pointed out the morning after the night before.

In other places we saw tactical Tories who have been voting Lib Dem to spite the "socialists" for as many as ten years going back to the Home of the Blues.

And in others perhaps an increase in the number of tactical Labourites who held their noses and voted for the Libs in the face of a Tory regrouping.

There were areas where Local Government Labour has not maintained the conversation with core voters sufficiently to prevent a stay-at-home or some dabbling in protest on national issues. Principally the 10p Tax Gaffe.

In those same areas and elsewhere Tory campaigns picked up and many slumbering voters were probably shaken awake after years of staying home.

And in Manchester in so far as there was a Tory revival beyond the usual minor swings on national issues this came in unexpected ways. In Cheetham Hill and Whalley Range the most extraordinary things happened.

Young Asian "Tories" leapfrogged from fifth to second in the former and fourth to third in the latter, quadrupling their party's votes. But these are not Tories. They pushed out bland (and yet quite ridiculous) Tory leaflets with one hand and a communalist message with the other.

These guys were standing not to give a particular community or political persuasion voice. Not a nation or even a province. This came down to harnessing votes from villages in a particular valley in North Punjab.

And even more exceptionally the campaign in both wards saw Tizb_ut-Tahrir leaflets also doing the rounds - the Stand Up for Islam ones showing Brown with Bush and claiming the Qu'ran is to be banned - and in Whalley Range these were distributed with a side order of threats by Tory campaigners.

That really is exceptional. Shameful that Cameron's party can't control such hotheaded tactics.

But all the other scenarios and calculations are pretty widespread surely? We probably don't have the detailed numbers in many wards to track what is happening. It is a good deal easier to tackle the sums that show in the bare results than to understand the workings. But working to deal with the superficial sum of Labour to Tory swing will not and cannot work.

The masturbatory triangulating "roundheads" of the party must now throw their hands up and stop playing games with themselves for the benefit of 8,000 or 80,000 key voters. The rot has now spread well beyond these, but it is not too late to turn things round.

As Fabian General Secretary Sunder Katwala has proposed here Labour simply need to get back to doing the right thing and being seen to be doing the right thing. In a unified way, which may well mean looking to pick agreements rather than picking fights.

In 1997 Blair swooped into Number 10 NOT on the basis of some nuclear physics level mathematics by swing voters but on a national feeling that it was time to flee from selfishness, harsh market economics, fat cats and me me me. And to bring public services back up to speed.

Ironically we're now getting to a point where the same flight from selfishness, harsh market economics, fat cats and me me me may appear to be a flight from Labour to the more hard-of-thinking commentators. Though I don't know why anyone would trust Charisma Boy not to slash the public services.

Good works in redistribution, poverty reduction, economic stability and growth have been achieved but these pesky triangulators have been advising that these be kept fairly quiet and essentially trying to find and press the selfish buttons of key voters.

While simultaneously pissing off layer upon layer of Labour's natural coalition of workers' interests.

Let this stop right now. Let's get back to really living the best of the soundbites. "For the many not the few" we say. But then as we introduce a minimum wage we also give the rich and super rich completely unnecessary tax breaks. To the extent that they become so rich and so greedy that they can yacht off to tax havens.

There is no need whatsoever for a change of leader. But as a party we do need to make sure Gordon Brown has an up-to-date map of the territory beneath our feet and that his compass is not deflected by alchemists and those masturbatory triangulators.

Their activities have rather inevitably made them go blind and weak at the knees.

No comments: