Saturday, May 24, 2008

Luke Akehurst: Sad to Have Missed the Name Calling

Luke Akehurst is back from his hols and moderately to strongly FOR attack tactics, even though they seem to have led to nothing useful in Crewe. It seems to me we might have done far better in that contest with little or no negativity, fewer leaflets, more mea culpas, more local issues, and a great celebration of the Dunwoody G. legacy.

We would also have benefitted reputationally going forward by being a bit more subtle with any necessary attacks. The Lib Dems used a Conservative-gone-native and his view of ET to keep their attack on the Tory at arms length.

Luke's answer for the next two years is to follow the John Major example and skewer any policies, philosophies or aspirations the Tories are bold enough to present ... plus simultaneous triangulation to win key blocks of votes. Seems to me that if that second part's the answer it's because the wrong question's being put.

PICTURE: Where menage Akehurst spent by-election day.


labourparty said...

That sounds like what has been done in the past, and may very well be planned for the future.

I've got to agree that it would be a huge mistake to go down that path, though.

It is almost always the 'narrative' which determines the outcome of national elections. To come from the tag of 'loser' or 'bottler' to winner is pretty hard, even for a Tory. For Labour, it's really, really hard because the people who write the narrative don't support Labour anyway.

Add a renewed Tory election machine - make no mistake they have one again - and Labour is in real trouble. Organisation is the key, but there's little sign it's understood.

Chris Paul said...

Having said that I can say for certain that what we have seen in London and Crewe machine-wise have been national with for example telephone canvassers the length and breadth of the land chipping in, plus a Lib Dem style rallying of ground forces with good planning for a by-election, plus Cashcroft's deep pockets.

Could they do it in 600+ constituencies? Could other parties respond if they did raise their game that much?

The triangulation thing won't work for the LP any more. That bird, for what it was worth, has now flown IMO.

Ted Foan said...


I was interested in your comment on Luke's blog:

"Very low turn out in "our" areas. And no-one who wanted to give us a kicking would be put off by the toff line, the con man line. Though they might have been by a serious mea culpa plus promise of bold representation against any government."

There was a 58.2% turnout in the Crewe & Nantwich by-election - pretty high, yes? How do you know that it was lower in "our" (ie Labour) areas? The Conservatives took 49.5% of the vote with Labour on 30.5%. With a 17.6% swing to the Conservatives, your assertions just don't add up.

Also, what does this " promise of bold representation against any government" mean? What are you saying exactly?

Anonymous said...

Yes, my impression knocking up on the day was that we got high turnout in our areas - motivated by the very class messages the campaign used - and got completely annihilated in their areas.

The messages put forward on the day really resonated with our voters who were repeating them back to us on the doorstep. I found many Labour-inclined voters who'd never voted before who went out to vote for us. If our campaign was organised around an acceptance that we didn't have time to win back people who had switched to the Tories and we couldn't demotivate occasional Tory voters who turned out in force in May, but we could try to motivate our own occasional voters - if that was the basis of our campaign, then it clearly worked.

Clearly appealing to that group of people will not be enough on its own to win in many marginal constituencies, but if you had told most people that Labour would get over 12,000 votes in a by-election in Crewe, it would've seemed like we had a chance of winning the thing. That we lost by so many has more to say about how motivated Tory voters were, which is about wanting to give the government a kicking, and good Tory organisation.

I think we have to attack the Tory party more, not less. We have to go into more detail about why people from their backgrounds and with their experiences aren't qualified to understand the problems facing our country (caricatures are all you have time for in a by-election, but we have two years now). And we have to show why the few policies they do have aren't fair and would benefit the rich and not the low-paid. Use the narrative about 10p etc to our advantage.

Luke Akehurst said...

Quite right, Tim. We need to attack more. We need to get our teeth sharpened and attack, attack, attack. We need to spin more, triangulate more and smear more. And most of all, we need to hope that the stupid voters out there don't catch us doing it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not suggesting we need to triangulate more.

Chris Paul said...

Glad to hear it Tim! And good to see you back Fake Akehurst.

I don't know where Real Luke got his impression about turnout by wards and EDs ... perhaps he'll explain? I didn't repeat that here as I knew that 60% turnout plus 30% turnout does not compute with virtually 60% overall. And the "our" areas construct doesn't particularly work though there is a national problem with Labour inclined voters having a very low to zero turnout in some areas.

I think the message about ET or DC not knowing how to represent the working poor was clearly right very clumsily made.

As I said the LDs used Walklate to do it better.

And the fact ET was pretending to have had it tough - overseas holidays only almost every year, 86 orphan siblings etc - and the fact he had never organised anything was more telling than the fact that he was stinking rich. Which he was.

We never had a sniff of an overseas holiday OR a holiday in any sort of paid accommodation, even a tent, and we were two, even three to a room at one point. And we didn't even have it tough.

The Burke's peerage line had an easy rebuttal with Doddy, Cilla, Prezza etc also listed.

I look forward to seeing more of the literature once it is loaded on the by-elections blog.

One question to Tim F:

Would the result have been worse than 7,800 majority to the toffs (ironic) without the stunts and the negative lines? Or better? In your opinion.

Anonymous said...

"Would the result have been worse than 7,800 majority to the toffs (ironic) without the stunts and the negative lines? Or better? In your opinion."

Without the stunts? No different.

Without the negative lines? Worse.

Chris Paul said...

Thanks Tim. And how do the stunts and attack lines leave us nationally?

Anonymous said...

I live in a key South East marginal and I don't think ordinary voters here are much bothered what's going on in Crewe. I certainly don't think anyone will remember it in 2 years time at a GE.

I doubt if we'll be using the word "toff" here. It doesn't have the same resonance. But dividing lines between local Tories who haven't worked a day in their lives and Labour candidates who've grown up in the areas they seek to represent are relevant to floating voters who are proud of the area they live in and who work hard to support their families.