Is this Labour’s New Year strategy memo?

January 5, 2012 12:53 pm


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According to Sam Coates from The Times it’s from Ed Miliband’s comms chief Tom Baldwin. Coates was also leaked Labour’s media grid in late December too, which suggests at least one leaker…

Take a look at the memo and judge for yourself.

  • Anonymous

    I do not know or care that much leaks this leaked that,  it’s all planned to make the people think Ed has something to say, but you see him on TV and you think that’s it, he’s the best the party has.

    But of course we will know in 2015

  • Ben Cobley

    Sorry to say it but the Defensive part of this at least is something of an exercise in self-delusion. For example it says that Ed has put the party back on its feet by bringing in all these new members and keeping the party united etc. However the large majority of new members (around 50,000 I seem to recall, including me) joined before he became leader.

    And how can an internally-riven party that was almost dead on its feet by May 2010 be “kept united”? So far, by drifting without sense of direction and keeping our arguments to the fringes.

    The council election results were pretty awful given the collapse in Lib Dem numbers, and I can’t see how Ed himself can justifiably claim credit for any successes given his consistently poor polling.

    No one who knows anything about politics is going to be much impressed with these sorts of messages unless they are backed up with hard-nosed policy (which it seems they won’t be until next year after the epically-long policy reviews – which, if they are to be worth it will suggest some completely alternative directions).

    The prescription presented here is for basically more of the same drift and same old whingeing. It does not augur well…

    • Anonymous

      Concentration camps for the sick and disabled , could be a Miliband winner, well according to some.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with what you say about running ahead with messages without clear policy direction Ben; it makes it all very confusing and unconvincing.

      I have to say the conference speech and the one I heard directly from Ed M at
      people’s policy forum was far better- it had real conviction and substance.

      Hope you are well, and happy 2012; have to sign off now.


      • Ben Cobley

        Hi Joanne, nice to hear from you. I agree about the conference speech and some other contributions Ed has made. They have got thoughtful people thinking and agreeing with him – but he has not followed them up with much. PMQs has become a weekly humiliation, and the sense of drift continues. There are some bright spots in organisational terms but not much else.

        Anyway, happy 2012 to you too and speak again soon

        • Mike Homfray

          PMQ’s is irrelevant and Ed just needs to stop playing games. Ask difficult questions about detailed issues, and cut the attempt to be anything like the smarm boys
          The elction isn’t until 2015. So for now, its start to develop themes, because the last year will make the difference when we can come up with concrete policies

          • Ben Cobley

            Mike, that’s a rather blase little post you’ve made there. Try telling PMQs is irrelevant to the 650 MPs who sit through it every week looking for a morale boost, or to the political hacks and commentators that read the weather from it and set the media agenda. Yes, it isn’t the most important thing in the world, but irrelevant? Not true at all.

            You also say the election isn’t until 2015. Now I was under the impression we had a coalition, and coalitions sometimes split. We could have an election any time.

            For myself, just about all I ask of Ed and his people is they give an impression they know what they are doing. If you don’t do that at the very least (and it doesn’t necessarily mean being smarmy or macho or New Labour or whatever), you can’t expect the general public to trust you with running the country.

          • Anonymous

            Having been a fellow blogger alongside Mike for a while Ben, I don’t think he’s being blase- just straight to the point and fairly blunt.He’s a passionate supporter and worker for the party in his local area; too few of those online I feel!

            I think you are both great contributors, and personally I learn a lot from hearing about stuff going on within the party at local level; also your experience with the media Ben; something I’m not familiar with.

            Hope you don’t mind me putting in a good word!!


        • Anonymous

          Hi Ben- ditto.

          But I do agree with Mike below that too much emphasis is placed on PMQ’s; and unfortunately Dave C is the consummate performer, a bit like a very experienced salesman or actor.
          It doesn’t always play well with substantive points; seems to be
          more about style and “winging it” at times.

          I do think those who attended public school for most of their lives have that ability to feign confidence, or have an air of arrogance; sometimes that might be genuine confidence- or other times just knowing how to sound authoratitive!

          That, combined with a background in PR/TV skills makes a formidable opponent for anyone.
          I think he could talk the hind legs off of a donkey; it wouldn’t matter what the issue!

          So I do think Ed should play on his strengths, and stick to substantive points, not getting into point scoring or a verbal tousle.
          Where he sores over Dave is coming across as less shrill, and much calmer;
          he doesn’t flap in a crisis or get flustered and angry.

          But those substantive arguments have to be well prepared and followed through, not superficial; just keep quietly repeating the necessary points and gain the moral high ground……DC just tends to get very angry and defensive very quickly- that’s when he throws back all the insults- which deflects from him.

          Ed needs to gow a thick skin to this and just keep pressing the points home.It must be almost impossible up against such a smooth and slick operator, but I think Ed has the qualities to develop this.

          It will take confidence and self belief; but if on solid ground re points and principles- just keep going and let the other side get more flustered.
          I think Dave C is not as sure of himself as he’d like to make out; for example, he is so defensive and lashes out easily. 
          That can be a sign of doubt and insecurity.

          Maybe it’s all part of the macho style of politics;
          I wish it was far less emphasized as the hilight of the week.
          Also a bit of a display for the media, and little else!

          Remember that “worm” during the TV election debates-
          which reflected audience reaction to different moments
          between the 3 leaders? What came out most strongly is that
          the public hate big displays of conflict, and prefer
          consensual type of discussion.

          I think we need a bit of both; but knocking 7 bells out of each other each week as a ritual seems fairly pointless, and maybe adds to the cynicism
          felt about politics in general.

          Interesting times anyway Ben; but rather depressing also for Labour at present; I do think far more urgency is needed- but also the right decisions and direction.

          Thanks, and really good to read yours and others’ views here too.

          Best wishes, Jo

    • Redshift

      I have to disagree on the council election results. We slaughtered the Lib Dems in many places and made significant in roads against the Tories – more in some areas than others.

      We can debate about how much of a success that is but it is certainly not ‘pretty awful’

      I think you have a point about it not being about Miliband taking credit but clearly he hasn’t been that badly to have cost the party either. That is clear from both the polls and election results.

      • Ben Cobley

        Hi Redshift.

        Down South remains a desert for Labour, and overall I believe the Tories increased their share of the vote (which I think is just about the first time a ruling party has achieved that in the first poll following a general election). I don’t think you can call that success.

        As for Ed not costing the party, I’m not sure. At the moment those who have heard of Ed generally define him by having apparently stabbed his brother in the back. Whether true or not, he has let that version triumph by not presenting anything approaching an alternative version. By all accounts he is a lovely fella and intelligent too -out here on Planet UK though people are not seeing that.

        • Anonymous

          Re Ed, Ben- yeah, too true…..

    • Newsbot9


      Do remember that the Tories did very well in the local elections because of the referendum. Tory voters who would otherwise not have come to the polls did so to defend FPTP.

  • Dominic Pendry

    A cunning ruse to persuade The Times to run any news about Labour’s approach?

  • Anonymous

    Gosh, I’m sorry to say- hardly visionary stuff;  sounds a bit like superficial arguments and presentation? Maybe this is the norm?

    I hope there’s much more to it all than that, otherwise it just looks like strategic positioning rather than anything carefully thought out.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is what most political memos look like on all sides-
    but it’s uninspiring and looks top down.

    If this is what politics boils down to, then it’s certainly not for me!

    It does contrast with the passionate articles written on LL, and info from Compass etc.
    Is there a stark difference between grassroots activity and frontline politics/media?

    Maybe we could do with a map, something along the lines of “guide to politics?!”

    Interesting, anyhow Mark…..


    • Mike Homfray

      Jo: the point is that this is a memo about strategy, because that’s Baldwin’s job! I’d be mnuch more concerned if it was about fundamental change of policy.

      • Anonymous

        Hi Mike, thanks for deciphering for me- I was confused that this might be the final
        picture to be rolled out!

        (I think there are many bits to be filled in first; we seem to be going from A-Z and all over the place; it’s not yet joined up or coherent.
        And still waiting to hear about outcomes from gathering of views from Refounding Labour?)

        If you know anything concrete- please let us know; as you are a local activitist in your area Mike?

        As you know I’m a big supporter of Ed M, but there does seem to be some kind of communication problem, and bringing people along with the party in process of transformation?

        This is the very time when they should be building some sort of
        “people’s movement” alongside party policy perhaps?
        But the danger is, an appearance of impasse and things
        being put on hold for far too long, in my view.

        Glad someone knows what is happening though Mike!

        All best wishes,


  • dave stone

    There’s some good points in this, particularly in section 3, towards the end, where it is pointed out that families with children and the most vulnerable are being made to pay for the failure of the neoliberal experiment.

    The Tories, with their multi-millioniare front bench, are sitting ducks on this and Labour should stop pussy-footing about and hit the target hard.

    Throw Cameron’s “We’re all in it together” back in his face.

    • Anonymous

      The Tories, with their multi-millioniare front bench, are sitting opposite more millionaires.. starting with Ed..
      Class hatred always rebounds. Try a different slant..

      • Newsbot9

        Of course your 1% will punish the 99% for protesting your leeching and welfare systems.

      • dave stone

        Ed a multi-millionaire? Come, come now, you’ve been at the drinks cabinet again.

        And as for class hatred this is no such thing, it’s merely the rough and tumble of everyday politics. If you don’t like the heat then you’d better pop off for an afternoon lie-down.

        • Anonymous

          Just single..

          At my age I need a lie down every afternoon. And a massage. And a gin..

          • dave stone

            Chinchin, old chum.

            Just hope you agree, hypocrisy should be exposed when ever it rears it’s duplicitous head.

            After all, now that families with children, along with the most vulnerable, are being made to pay for the failure of the neoliberal experiment it would be wrong to allow the multi-millionaire heavy Tory front to get away with  declaring “we’re all in it together”.

          • Anonymous

            I agree. I hate hypocrites. Like Ms Abbott.

            And people who are not in it all together. Like all civil servants , all those getting inflation increases whilst the rest are getting nothing and those who say one thing and do another..

            Harrman for one. And Miliband with his tax avoidance, ditto the Guardian  etc..and millionaire Milibands.. And millionaire Myners. And various Union Leaders who earn over £100k and live in council housing.. And of course Ms Abbott – hypocrite of the year (so far).

            As for the Tory front bench, they’re all paying 50% tax, so helping pay for the deficit..

            I would rather have a competent millionaire run us than a bunch of incompetents claiming to be socialists and being lying thieving hypocrites..

          • dave stone

            You seem to imply that the Labour shadow cabinet claim to be socialists, if so it’s news to me.

            I’m not sure about Ed but most of them appear to have been duped by the failed neoliberal experiment – probably on account of a lack of experience in the private sector.

            And they still seem to be dancing to the old tune, it’s about time someone told them: the music has stopped.

          • Anonymous

            Since when has a “socialist” leader been elected as PM?

            Michael Foot tried – dismally.

            If you want socialism, try another party.. Labour has not been “socialist” since the 1960s.

  • Mike Homfray

    Yes. What some of us have been saying for some time now. Stick with the programme and ignore the nonsense – Rentoul’s desperation in backing Yvette Cooper as an alternative really does show how bad things are for the Blairites

    • John Ruddy

      Especially as she’s not really a Blairite as far as I can see.

      • Mike Homfray

        That’s exactly the point – almost totally a Brownite, yet Rentoul can live with her more readily than he can with someone who he views as not in tune with NL at all. That’s why I will stick with Ed, because of those who hate him – they are exactly the people who should be frozen out of the party as much as possible

        • progressenger

          Is freezing any group out of the party a good idea for getting back into power? 

  • Anonymous

    On the defensive side, certainly Ed Miliband is nowhere near as bad as Duncan-Smith was – a man who came from nowhere and went back there PDQ. He was a compromise candidate that satisified nobody, and, as Mike points out below, if the party was so stupid as to take Rentoul seriously, Ms Cooper would be Labour’s IDS, bujt: Ed needs to stop pandering to widespread public prejudice (for example on welfare) by allowing the expense fiddler Byrne making hypocritical speeches on the “evils of scrounging”. That is just laughable and offensive/ Ed needs to appoint somebody not tainted in that way if that is the message he wants conveyed and shuffle Byrne off somewhere he can’t make as big a fool of himself.

  • Anonymous

    (The only thing I dislike about LL Mark are those bloomin’ adverts-
    especially on the “plastic surgery” front!! Sorry to say; I’m sure
    it pays a few bills….)


  • arthurfowler

    Oh please – Coates is one of Baldwin’s old buddies at NI. It’s a deliberate leak in a forlorn attempt to attract a bit more media attention

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