Feeling flat after Eastleigh

March 4, 2013 8:54 am

It’s difficult as a Labour supporter not to feel a little bit flat after the Eastleigh result.

Strategically it was great for us in terms of the impact on the other parties. The Lib Dems seem to be in with a shout of holding some of the seats the Tories need to take from them in order to form a majority. And UKIP have destabilised the Tories, undermined Cameron’s leadership and caused a strategic dilemma for him – he has voters he needs to attract back on both his left and right flanks and it will be difficult to simultaneously win both as they want different policies.

Eastleigh probably makes it more likely that we are in with a shout of an overall majority in 2015, or at the very least that the Tories are out of the running for an overall majority of their own.

So why the flat mood?

Because our 4th place and 9.8% of the vote were exactly that – 4th place and 9.8% of the vote.

I should say that I stand by my recommendation at the start of the campaign about throwing the kitchen sink at it.

If we hadn’t have given it a good go, with an energetic ground campaign and a great candidate in John O’Farrell, we might have not got 9.8% but instead been squeezed down to the 2.7% we got in Christchurch in 1993, the 2.0% we got in Newbury the same year, the 1.7% we got in Winchester in 1997, or the 3.7% we got in Romsey in 2000.

All these by-elections were won by the Lib Dems and were in the same or neighbouring counties to Eastleigh and none affected our ability to win the subsequent 1997 and 2001 General Elections.

So in comparative terms we actually managed to resist the formidable Lib Dem “squeeze” – the flood of targeted letters and Focus leaflets aimed at encouraging tactical voting. Anyone who has not been on the receiving end of a Lib Dem by-election machine will have no idea it was possible for a political party to print and deliver such a volume of leaflets with such rapidity or such single-minded messaging – every single one of them says it is a two horse race and the party being squeezed can’t win here.

I don’t know about the recent allegations about Lord Rennard’s personal behaviour, but his political morality as the guy who perfected the technique of winning elections without any positive message or attributes as a party at all and purely by tactically squeezing the third placed party is certainly questionable.

We know this squeeze worked because Lord Ashcroft’s exit poll says that 23% of the Labour voters we had in Eastleigh in 2010 voted Lib Dem this time. They can’t have shifted because they had a more positive view of the Lib Dems now than at the height of Cleggmania, it’s the tactical squeeze that did it. That’s aside from potential defectors from the Lib Dems who were dissuaded from doing so for tactical reasons.

We also know from our canvassers that there were many more people in Eastleigh who identified with Labour and wanted to vote for us than felt they could in the end – because they bought into the idea that we were a wasted vote. And the more that happens, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

It’s astonishing that the Lib Dem appeal to vote tactically against the Tories still works after they have been in power with the Tories for three years.

But it does and that suggests there is a powerful section of the electorate who are basically anti-Tory and will back the party that can claim most credibly it is best placed to beat them. Luckily in most places that is us. But there are some bits of the South and South West where it is still happening.

I find this morally problematic on two levels. If we aspire to form a government and be a national party it isn’t good to achieve this with a polarised country where there are entire counties where we are lucky to get 10% of the vote. That’s as bad as when the Tories have governed with no mandate from Scotland, Wales or the big cities. Nor do I want people like the people I grew up with in Kent, who identify with Labour and want to vote for us, to feel we are not a realistic option at the ballot box.

Oddly UKIP were able to resist this squeeze and surge through to second place. Despite starting from a weaker place than Labour, without our history of OK-ish performances in Eastleigh, people who went for UKIP didn’t have the same sense that this was a wasted vote.

This worries me because it suggests that despite the unpopularity of the government we are not the natural repository for protest votes against it in every part of the country. And we have a problem if people’s self-perception of how right-wing an economically mixed area of the South like Eastleigh is is such that they think UKIP can win but Labour can’t.

As John Denham has written, Southern voters aren’t culturally, economically or politically a totally different breed to the rest of the country. In the bits of the South where strong Labour parties have been consistently maintained, such as Reading, Swindon, Southampton, Hastings, even the little garrison town of Aldershot where I stood in 2001, Labour holds its own. The problem in Eastleigh was that our attempt to graft on a ground presence in just three weeks was too late. The Lib Dems’ local machine has worked the area to death for two decades. They already had a full set of canvass data and a leaflet written for every day of the campaign before we even selected a candidate.

Rebuilding a Labour presence across the South so that we get all the votes we deserve and don’t lose them to pernicious calls for tactical voting isn’t essential to winning the General Election so I don’t expect the national Party to prioritise it. They have to focus on our 106 key marginals.

But it is a moral imperative that voting Labour should never be seen as a wasted vote and that we should be a vibrant, visible campaigning force in every community and constituency.

My lesson from Eastleigh is that unofficial mutual and self-help to build up CLPs and spread campaigning best practice in the South for the long-term, which initiatives like Third Place First, Southern Front and Movement for Change are leading is more important than ever.

We can’t afford to have any no-go areas if we are serious about One Nation Labour.

  • AlanGiles

    “23% of the Labour voters we had in Eastleigh in 2010 voted Lib Dem this time. ”

    Perhaps – dare I say it? – because they feel Labour has nothing more to offer than a rejig of the Coalition’s main policies (which in themselves are a rejig of the last Labour administrations policies) and they are not taken in by the undeliverable promise of “one nation”. You would have to be faux naif to swallow that one, with the current lacklustre shadow front bench.

    You have to offer a real alternative for hope that is credible and deliverable.

    • John Ruddy

      So why would they vote Lib Dem? Using your argument they should have voted UKIP (which maybe some did – but not this quarter of our voters)

    • John Ruddy

      So why would they vote Lib Dem? Using your argument they should have voted UKIP (which maybe some did – but not this quarter of our voters)

      • aracataca

        Precisely John. The Lib Dems clearly offer ‘a real alternative for hope that is credible and deliverable’ like …………..er, the abolition of tuition fees.

      • AlanGiles

        I don’t support the LibDems (just in case my regular stalker gets any ideas!), but I think the question you in Labour have to ask is, why, when you have the LDs as part of a very much disliked, mistrusted and inept coalition, only 4088 were impressed by all the PR about 1N enough to vote for you. 23%, is quite a large figure, and if I were Ed Miliband I would 1) be very worried and 2) Try to find some feasible policies that will appeal to the eklectorate more than 1N and “too far too fast”.

        • John Ruddy

          Which doesnt answer the question as to why if voters feel that Labour doesnt offer anything except a rejig of the coalitions policies, they would vote for a coalition party?
          I get the feeling that you are twisting the facts to suit your argument.

          • AlanGiles

            Well, to me, it rather suggests two things:

            1) That people feel, as all three parties are so close together in policy it’s better the devil you know .

            2) that Labour must realise that they have a lot of work to do if they intend to win a convincing majority. Plainly 1N and 2far 2fast isn’t really resonating with a great section of the public – and 23% less went for this rather than the 2010 “Future Fair For All”

            There is the problem – slogans – unless Labour are prepared to think of some original and appealing policies, sloganizing doesn’t guarantee votes – as you have seen

          • John Ruddy

            Well, thats twice now that you havnt answered the question.
            If those voters thought Labour was too similar to the coalition – WHY WOULD THEY VOTE FOR A COALITION PARTY?
            Your argument is a reasonable one for switchers to UKIP – but not to the Lib Dems.

          • AlanGiles

            Don’t shout John :-) My impression is that people just find all the 1N waffle incredible.

            They know that the Coalition isn’t working well, but only 4088 people thought Labour could do better.

            I don’t know anybody in Eastleigh, but I dare say personalities came into it as well. Perhaps incipient Tories didn’t like the cut of the candidates jib (or found her incredible as well), despite the snide remarks from Paul Richards last week, the LibDem candidate might have came over as personally more credible to them than the alternatives?

            It’s not my problem why people didn’t vote Labour, but I should have thought and hoped on your behalf that given the low standard of the Coalition, Labour should have garnered more than that number of votes. It certainly pushed the boat out with publciity and important visitors but…….

          • aracataca

            Here the original point has been completely abandoned without of course any attempt to address John’s point about its logicality.

          • AlanGiles

            If you are unable to understand what I have written, that says rather more about you than it does me. By his own admission Mr Akehurst tells us that 23% of the people who voted Labour in 2010 didn’t do so last Thursday.

            It rather suggests that people are not overwhelmed by the current Labour party – which is or should be, a big worry to them, when we currently have a deeply unpopular government.

            I have made some suggestions why this might be, if you don’t like them, you are not obliged to read them. But even if you could shut me up, it doesn’t solve your problem does it? – the lack of credibility in the current Labour rhetoric.

          • aracataca

            Maybe? Maybe not?

            But this doesn’t answer John’s point as to how your argument (namely Labour are just like the coalition) explains why the voters switched to the Lib Dems. It’s nonsense Alan.

          • AlanGiles

            Well John Ruddy seems to have been satisfied with my last response to him. It just seems you need to get a bit of chalk to work it out:
            To repeat myself: Better the devil you know…
            Which means that given a pretty poor Conservative candidate and the Lib Dem they chose the LibDem presumably because they liked the candidate (perhaps more than the party), but the gravaman (look it up) of my argument remains the same:.

            Miliband claims he will create a “one nation” society.
            A very honourable ambition, but one he stands little chance of achieving, and if he IS to achieve it, he will need to do better throughout the country. It seems less than 5000 people were enthused in Eastleigh, – and as others have said, there can be no no-go areas for a party with such lofty ambitions.

            Remember the figures: 23% fewer votes compared to 3 years ago and a total vote of 4088. That is not good for the main opposition party two years prior to the next general election.

            I think very few people believe there could be a 1N society in this country, though, like a cure for the common cold, it is something most people would hope for, it’s a nice dream, but whether it ever happens is doubtful.

            Now please Bill, can you please stop these pointless little follow up messages . As I said Labours problems are not my problems now. If I were still a member I would be very concerned about this situation

          • AlanGiles

            Well John Ruddy seems to have been satisfied with my last response to him. It just seems you need to get a bit of chalk to work it out:
            To repeat myself: Better the devil you know…
            Which means that given a pretty poor Conservative candidate and the Lib Dem they chose the LibDem presumably because they liked the candidate (perhaps more than the party), but the gravaman (look it up) of my argument remains the same:.

            Miliband claims he will create a “one nation” society.
            A very honourable ambition, but one he stands little chance of achieving, and if he IS to achieve it, he will need to do better throughout the country. It seems less than 5000 people were enthused in Eastleigh, – and as others have said, there can be no no-go areas for a party with such lofty ambitions.

            Remember the figures: 23% fewer votes compared to 3 years ago and a total vote of 4088. That is not good for the main opposition party two years prior to the next general election.

            I think very few people believe there could be a 1N society in this country, though, like a cure for the common cold, it is something most people would hope for, it’s a nice dream, but whether it ever happens is doubtful.

            Now please Bill, can you please stop these pointless little follow up messages . As I said Labours problems are not my problems now. If I were still a member I would be very concerned about this situation

          • AlanGiles

            Well John Ruddy seems to have been satisfied with my last response to him. It just seems you need to get a bit of chalk to work it out:
            To repeat myself: Better the devil you know…
            Which means that given a pretty poor Conservative candidate and the Lib Dem they chose the LibDem presumably because they liked the candidate (perhaps more than the party), but the gravaman (look it up) of my argument remains the same:.

            Miliband claims he will create a “one nation” society.
            A very honourable ambition, but one he stands little chance of achieving, and if he IS to achieve it, he will need to do better throughout the country. It seems less than 5000 people were enthused in Eastleigh, – and as others have said, there can be no no-go areas for a party with such lofty ambitions.

            Remember the figures: 23% fewer votes compared to 3 years ago and a total vote of 4088. That is not good for the main opposition party two years prior to the next general election.

            I think very few people believe there could be a 1N society in this country, though, like a cure for the common cold, it is something most people would hope for, it’s a nice dream, but whether it ever happens is doubtful.

            Now please Bill, can you please stop these pointless little follow up messages . As I said Labours problems are not my problems now. If I were still a member I would be very concerned about this situation

          • AlanGiles

            Well John Ruddy seems to have been satisfied with my last response to him. It just seems you need to get a bit of chalk to work it out:
            To repeat myself: Better the devil you know…
            Which means that given a pretty poor Conservative candidate and the Lib Dem they chose the LibDem presumably because they liked the candidate (perhaps more than the party), but the gravaman (look it up) of my argument remains the same:.

            Miliband claims he will create a “one nation” society.
            A very honourable ambition, but one he stands little chance of achieving, and if he IS to achieve it, he will need to do better throughout the country. It seems less than 5000 people were enthused in Eastleigh, – and as others have said, there can be no no-go areas for a party with such lofty ambitions.

            Remember the figures: 23% fewer votes compared to 3 years ago and a total vote of 4088. That is not good for the main opposition party two years prior to the next general election.

            I think very few people believe there could be a 1N society in this country, though, like a cure for the common cold, it is something most people would hope for, it’s a nice dream, but whether it ever happens is doubtful.

            Now please Bill, can you please stop these pointless little follow up messages . As I said Labours problems are not my problems now. If I were still a member I would be very concerned about this situation

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

            No I am not. You still have not explained how being unhappy that Labour are just like the coalition led to Labour voters voting for the coalition. I said your point would make more sense if they moved to UKIP. But thats not what you said.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

            No I am not. You still have not explained how being unhappy that Labour are just like the coalition led to Labour voters voting for the coalition. I said your point would make more sense if they moved to UKIP. But thats not what you said.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

            No I am not. You still have not explained how being unhappy that Labour are just like the coalition led to Labour voters voting for the coalition. I said your point would make more sense if they moved to UKIP. But thats not what you said.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

            No I am not. You still have not explained how being unhappy that Labour are just like the coalition led to Labour voters voting for the coalition. I said your point would make more sense if they moved to UKIP. But thats not what you said.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

            No I am not. You still have not explained how being unhappy that Labour are just like the coalition led to Labour voters voting for the coalition. I said your point would make more sense if they moved to UKIP. But thats not what you said.

          • aracataca

            This is what I thought John. He hasn’t justified his original point at all he’s just abandoned it and given a completely different explanation of the vote switch.

          • AlanGiles

            Alas, John I dont think you will ever be happy to we all fall (or pretend to fall for the BS about 1N). You will wait a damned long time before I will believe that pigmy could produce a giant change in national outlok. However lets try again:

            23% of your voters went to the LibDems and not to UKIP?. Well perhaps they were decent men and women who didn’t like the xenophobic and frankly racist tone of the UKIP campaign?. Perhaps they are sensible enough to realise that even if there were to be a UKIP majority at Westminster (one day) they would leave the EU, and, despite it’s (many) faults what would come after for this country?. The brave little Island walking alone?

            I repeat for the third time (more for your pal aracataca’s benefit) that, as I see it, voters last week felt that they had a choice to make between the two coalition parties – perhaps even who they disliked less. (Hence “the devil you know”[being better than the devil you don't know] reference, Bill.). Miliband is an unknown quantity who, when not spouting slogans doesn’t seem very good at communicating and commenting on matters which concern a great many people.

            Labour are being very timid on so many issues, for fear of upsetting Murdoch and the Mail. I have already citied the lack of willingness on Labour’s leadership to comment on Philip Hammond wanting the welfare budget slashed further to pay for defence, or Johnson and Cameron “concerned” about bankers bonus’s (they can’t manage on the basic salary, the poor paupers).

            Given that you have the three “main” parties peddling essentialy ther same sort of menu.
            So UKIP beat the MAIN opposition party into 4th place. I am putting it to you that if the public had been enthused by the 1N nonsense it would have been reasonable to have expected more than 4088 to fall for it. That they didn’t should ring alarm bells. They would rather keep the LibDem, or seek their remedies with UKIP than trust Labour.
            Were I still a member I would be very worried about that.
            To sum up: the UKIP message resonated with many more people than did Labour’s. Both UKIP and Labour are offering things they can’t deliver, but UKIP were able to con more than Labour. This could be, perhaps because Farage (who I personally don’t like) seems stronger and more credible than Miliband?

            As I don’t own a research company and I am not a psychologist, I can’t fathom the minds of individual voters in Eastleigh, but at the end of the day, even with a quite well known candidate, lashings of London visitors and glossy leaflets, less than 5000 found you attractive.

          • John Ruddy

            Which is now a different explanation than the one you originally made – which was about not liking the coalition.

          • AlanGiles

            Either you or me are being exceptionally dense today. I think I have made it clear what I mean.

            I can understand the tribalists not liking it, but the bald fact is only just over 4000 people were impressed with “one nation” claptrap. As Akehurst has told us that 23% of your 2010 cohort deserted you this time, we must assume that 1N is not having the impact Miliband hoped for. Surely everybody would be rushing for this Nirvana is it seemed feasible?

            The fact that we have a deeply disliked and mistrusted government and yours is the main opposition party, AND we are more than half way through this Parliament should start ringing alarm bells.

            I cannot put it more simply than that, unless I resort to the wording of “Jill and John” books

          • John Ruddy

            I dont disagree with you on the fact the 23% of our 2010 voters left. You claim they were not impressed with the coalition, so they voted for a coalition party. That simply does not make sense.
            You have not explained why someone who didnt like the coalition voted for the coalition.
            If you said they voted to make sure the tory didnt get in, I could understand and agree with it. But you talked about the coalition.

          • AlanGiles

            Exactly John – that is the point.

            The Coalition is terrible. It’s like comedy government – or rather tragic, but given all that, all but just over 4000 of the voters did not feel Labour’s message sufficiently strong to think it worth voting for.

            Now, why could this be?. Surely everyone is in favour of motherhood, apple-pie and “one nation”?

            There were 14 candidates, some of them (e.g. the Beer & Crumpet Party) plainly not serious or credible – yet look how many people voted for them INSTEAD of the main opposition party.

            If Labour is to win a convincing majority, it will have to do better, not just in it’s heartlands, but in places where it normally fares less well. A semi-famous candidate, visits from the party leader and other major figures, the social networking and publicity machine. To see 23% of your 2010 vote disappear?.

            I honestly would not be too sanguine (and there is no point in shooting the messenger), but the truth is, I suspect, that Farage is probably seen by a lot of people as more credible than Miliband. At least Farage says exactly what he means, in plain langauge, even though I would find it hard to agree with most of what he says.

            On the other hand I am still waiting to hear Miliband’s views on the welfare versus defence question raised by Hammond the other day.

            That sort of issue, I put it to you, is of more relevance to ordinary people coping with life as it is for them, rather than some jam tomorrow undeliverable promise of “1N”

          • aracataca

            NB Note the implication that you are exceptionally dense John.
            An astonishing suggestion as you simply questioned his original argument that people voted Lib Dem rather than Labour in Eastleigh because Labour’s policies were too similar to that of the coalition which clearly doesn’t make any sense.

          • aracataca

            Thank you Alan I think we know who is being ‘exceptionally dense’ here.
            Here you have shifted to a criticism of the One Nation theme.
            However, in your original comment you said that Labour lost votes to the Lib Dem candidate in Eastleigh because its policies were the same as those of the coalition. Can you accept that that particular argument doesn’t make any sense?

          • AlanGiles

            I can see how peevish it is making you, but the fact is, despite risky promises of “one nation” and the “Crudas Policy Review”, despite all the PR and visits from big names, all the undoubted effort that was put in despite the unpopularity of the government despite everything…. Labour only managed to get 4088 votes. Rather suggests your party are not seen as credible in some issues. End of.

          • rekrab

            John, they still voted for a party that abandoned every thing they ever stood for? in all honesty who can believe a word the lib/dems say, seems to me also, that labour was the worst pick of three evils on the day. Now that has to be addressed.

  • disqus_DnHiwGrWq7

    In a first-past-the-post system, you can’t really blame the Lib Dems for squeezing Labour voters tactically. To sustain wider support in the South, Labour needs a proportional or at least alternative vote system. We are paying the price of lukewarm support for this in the 2011 referendum.

  • Charlie_Mansell

    An excellent analysis and spot on conclusions. I would add:

    1. Agree that we need to fight areas like this. However membership is elderly and young members tend to go to uni and then head to the cities and stay there. We need to attract a wider range of supporters to be more active and possibly join as well. However my impression is that almost all the Movement for Change http://www.movementforchange.org.uk/ training has focused on more urban areas rather than suburbs and small towns where it could make a much bigger difference

    2. UKIP voters were not squeezed because their motivation was to ‘protest against social and cultural change’ and not to ‘keep any party out’. They tended to blame every main part for that to some degree or another. In Eastleigh the Lib Dems contact rate was probably 50-60% and they could target their contact on top of their leaflets to that group of voters motivated to keep the Tories out.

  • NT86

    It’s not particularly hard for UKIP to do well. Voters want some semblance of a party that speaks their language on immigration and Europe in a fluid and precise way.

    The Lib Dem victory was partially helped out by them keeping the Tory vote down, but consider the other factors. The presence of a toxic Maria Hutchings, Labour supporters donning a nose peg but crucially the local Lib Dem party machine working overtime so that something stuck.

    The last point is critical. You really think the LD’s could have done this in another southern territory where Labour happen to be quite influential on a council? Imagine if Amber Rudd, the Tory MP for Hastings and Rye, resigned last month. You’d bet that the Labour activists in the area would similarly flood the place and fight tooth and nail to win the seat back in such a scenario (not forgetting that a PPC has already been selected). If that was the by election which ran on Thursday, a very different set of articles would be published by now.

    It’s about local factors and what the voting trends have been like most recently.

    • kb32904

      I saw Sarah Owen up against both the presenter & Mark Reckless on Sunday Politics yesterday & she came across as a very credible, open & approachable lady – a good choice I think.

    • aracataca

      What an awful lot of sense.

  • http://shkspr.mobi/ TerenceEden

    Imagine if Labour had actually delivered on voting reform – or actively supported the recent referendum.

    I would vote Labour but, as the Lib Dems have proved, it would be a wasted vote in my constituency. I suspect that holds true in Eastleigh and much of the country.

    Once again, Labour creates a rod for its own back.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    I have said it before and I say it again. Labour has got a bad reputation economically. Beacause we allowed the tory lies that somehow the whole banking crisis (a whorld-wide phenomenum) to be blamed as a “Labour Recession” Labour is seen by enough voters as the cause of the woes and therefore the last choice.
    Cameron did very badly. Yes there are many anti Tory voters who voted Lib-Dem in the awful negative aspect of the British system i.e. tacticle voting. However there are many more who are fed up with all politics and they would have voted UKIP. There is even yougov evidence that many of those (nationally) who say that they would vote UKIP do not regard Europe as an important issue.
    The fact that we came forth is appauling. Lib-Dems were not only fighting against the backdrop of their last MP resigning because he is about to go to jail, or even that there is a scandel in the LibDem party. The real issue is that the LibDems were elected because of their promises in 2010, and they broke every one of them. They also projected themselves as the only alternative to the Tories, before joining them in coalition and bringing about the most toxic policies, the very ones that they were elected to oppose.
    Worse they secured the polsition of a minorty Tory government that failed to get the full mandate required, and then the LibDems made the oppostite of their princples possible by joining the veyr same Tory party that they claimed to be the only possible opposition to.
    In spite of all of that. They are still seen, at least in Eastleigh as worth voting for to keep out the Tories.
    We need to have a clear political position, and some policy directions and a few flagship policies. We need to communicate our position and have a leader who can punch through the message.
    Above all, we need to regain the New Labour reputation for being economically sound. That does not mean that we have to reproduce New Labour policies.

    • AlanGiles

      “we need to regain the New Labour reputation for being economically sound.”

      ….and then frittering it away on prosecuting unwinnable wars?. A return to NL (if it ever really left) would mean, in effect two Conservative parties, or three, if you include the LibDems

      • Jeremy_Preece

        No Alan that is not what I am saying. If we think back to 1995, a couple of years before the next general election, Tony Blair was projecting a very clear idea of his political position.
        Most people in Britain understood what Tony Blair was about, whether they liked it or not there was no doubt as to what he meant.
        At the same time Tony Blair came over a leader, a future prime mimister, and he contrasted with PM John Major who came over as dull, washed up and directionless.
        Above all else, the Tories had blown their reputation as being good with the economy. There was lettle doubt as to where the next election would take us.
        Today, while the Tories have failed and chocked off economic growth, and lost the AAA credit rating, which was their justification for extreme austerity, Labour has allowed itself to be blamed for the world-wide recession, and so to many appears unelectable.
        Today the Labour leader seems to be unable to land a punch or to cut through and deliver his message.
        Most people don’t understand what Ed M’s policy and position is, and few understand what One Nation actaully means.
        After two years or so, it is time that we were clear about where we are going, and I am saying that we need our leader to step up and lead, and get his message through to the voting public.

        • AlanGiles

          I take your point Jeremy, that it was a world financial situation, starting in America which started the economic crisis, and possibly Labour have not made that point often enough, however, I think the truth is that the reason the public are not enamoured of Labour today is because, frankly, Ed Miliband and many of his team, don’t seem to be up to the job of finding a new path. Most of what they suggest is either a rehash of old policies or even filching policies from other parties (e.g. The Mansion Tax – LibDems).

          They seem reluctant to challenge the government on really crucuial issues – for example Philip Hammond’s call for even more money to be taken from the welfare budget for defence. Not a word in three days, ditto the “save our bankers bonuses” from Cameron and Johnson 4 days ago. If and when they do respond, the 24 hour news system will mean it will be off the public radar – these sort of issues should be dealt with as they arise.

          All Labour seem to say is “too far, too fast” and “1N”. Pointless slogans, on LL writers obsess about AWS, which I think is not a great vote winner, even amongst women.

          In 95/96 Blair’s favourites were “make a difference”, “it’s not fair” and “for the many not the few”. Slogans worked then, but I think the public are a little less gullable now as to what politicians can actually do. Blair made promises he never kept (e.g. renationalisation of the rail system, and that risible promise that “my government will be purer than pure”.

          The public are a lot more sceptical now. Does anybody really believe that Miliband could or would create “one nation”?

          • Dave Postles

            ‘Not a word in three days, ditto the “save our bankers bonuses” from Cameron and Johnson 4 days ago.’
            They should refer to the Swiss plebiscite – Minder’s proposal – even the Swiss middle class have more idea than Labour.
            It’s going down the pan again: Europe rejected in favour of the US timidity on ‘remuneration’/’compensation’.

          • Jeremy_Preece

            Actually Alan, what we really need is a full power alternative to an austerity policy that is going nowhere, that has never worked in history, and can only cause stagnation. One which the Tories are using as a smoke screen in an attempt to justify the nastiest most toxic policies of all time.
            We need a flagship policy on investment.
            I must say that I personally am furious that only John Prescot seems to have shouted about the banker’s bonus. What a gift it should be for Labour. Here Boris and Cameron are fighting Europe as bad for trying to put a realistic curb on outragous bonuses.
            Both these Tory slime-balls are also cutting fire police welfare and so on and praising the RBS for “only” paying £6.7 million in bonuses! This is a bank 81% owned by the state at taxpayers money, and this payout is to reward these creeps for “only” loosing £5.2 billion.
            Not only is this outrage something that real people are angry about, it is also a case of the Tories opposing Europe – when the EU is doing what is right and what is known to be right by the majority of the voting public.
            It takes a real leadership talent to miss an opportunity like that! It also explains why when I go talking to people in the run up to our County Council elections keep telling me that our leader is useless.

            Actually Alan, your example of All Women Shortlists is a good example of how people in the bubble of Labour Party committee rooms, can get totally self focused and fail to look outside to what the public are trying to say.

            Just don’t get me started!!!

          • aracataca

            LL writers obsess about AWS, which I think is not a great vote winner, even amongst women…

            No doubt you have exhaustive data to back this statement up. Can you give us the reference for it?

          • AlanGiles

            For God’s sake. Stop playing the innocent. Emma on “the integrity of the AWS” recently (though she STILL couldn’t explain Jack Drohmey to me), another article yesterday about AWS and lotteries.

            Tip: Go to the search box at the end of this page and find other examples for yourself.

            I talk to a lot of people who have extra, sometimes severe, problems in their lives thanks to the current – and previous – governments, male and female, and I can assure you in several years of so doing not one man or woman has ever come to me because s/he is concerned about how many women there are as M.P.s. The problems are caused because too many MPs of both sexes vote as they are told by “the party” and not with their conscience.

            I still maintain that sex of the MP is unimportant – integrity is. Sadly quite a few women MPs have proved they are no better in this department than men – we all know the names, Blears, Margaret Moran, Jacqui Smith, Barbara Follett, Dawn Butler et al. In the case of Moran, convicted on 14 criminal charges, I am sure had she been male, her “depression” would not have saved her from prison. So perhaps being a female MP does have some fringe benefits.

            Now please Bill can you find somebody else to play with?. Your pretend naivety begins to bore.

  • postageincluded

    No Labour doesn’t need PR, that’s just a way of giving the LibDems the casting vote in every election in perpetuity.

    AV is a different matter. It’s not PR, and it squeezes out centrist opportunists like the LDs, and presents the voter with a clear choice between left and right. That’s why I supported it. And yes, it’s a pity Labour didn’t come out in favour of it, but as most of the AV supporters saw it as a route to getting PR and permanent LibDem rule, it’s hardly surprising that most Labour supporters rejected it.

    • FMcGonigal

      Neither AV nor PR would give “the LibDems the casting vote in every election”.

      The two big parties could simply stitch up a deal to squeeze them out. In my view this unfounded fear of giving the Lib Dems the balance of power was decisive in the AV referendum. But you are right that AV would give the voter the chance to “squeeze out centrist opportunists”.

  • postageincluded

    If you don’t like Tories then you really wasted your vote in 2010 by voting LibDem. For your LibDem vote you not only got a thoroughly Tory government, but the Tories also used your failure to vote for Labour as an excuse for gerrymandering.

    That’s not so much a wasted vote as an abused one.

    • http://shkspr.mobi/ TerenceEden

      Labour fielded a 12 year old boy as a candidate who managed to go from a 16% share of vote down to 8%. The Tory candidate won on over 50%. That’s on a 72% turnout. Please explain exactly how I let a Tory government in?

  • postageincluded

    “Labour can’t win here” is a crude but effective message and needs to be countered by something equaly crude:

    – “Vote Clegg Get Cameron”.
    – “If it looks like a Tory and it quacks like a Tory…” (picture of LibDem candidate with yellow duck logo)

    I’m not an ideas man and it’s not really in my comfort zone to be that crude, but it could win votes and it could be fun too. We shouldn’t pussyfoot around the LDs.

    But it is possible to appeal to the voter’s better nature too. “Stand up and be counted”, could be a tag that could appeal to some voters – tactical voting is a shameful little secret to a lot of them and suggesting they vote on conviction and feel good about themselves for doing it could win some of these voters over.

    • aracataca

      We were saying this a couple of years ago- well not quite so crude-ie vote orange, get blue. For some inconceivable reason this particular tactical message seems to have been placed firmly on the back burner.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=715486331 Alex Otley

        Some people want to go soft on the Libs in the hope of getting into a coalition with them if there’s another hung Parliament. The trouble is if Labour legitimises the Liberal Democrats then Labour will continue to be locked out of seats with lots of tactical voting.

        • AlanGiles

          The way things are going it might make good sense not to rule out a Coalition. I think the days of landslides are going to remain a thing of the past now. People distrust politicians so much, Alex, I suspect they prefer to see governments without too much strength. They recall the excesses of the days of Mrs Thatcher (and it has to be said, Blair – that will win me a few “down” marks” from the tribalists!).

          Having only left office in 2010, and with many of the old team still in place in the shadow cabinet, and some of them not exactly in the top rank, I doubt Labour will be rewarded with a massive win – certainly not if they are too timid to speak up about – for example – Philip Hammond wanting cuts in the welfare budget to pay for defence. The top brass have had nothing to say about that, or Boris Johnson and Cameron speaking up for bankers bonuses last week.

          Labour will probably win because Cameron and co seem determined to lose, but I wouldn’t think it will be an overwhelming majority.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=715486331 Alex Otley

            The more recent landslides had a lot to do with the strength of the Alliance/Lib Dems splitting votes and amplifying the majority. Under FPTP the size of the majority doesn’t correlate very well with the popular vote when you have more than 2 significant parties. So what really matters is what happens to the Lib Dems at the next election. If the Lib Dems improve on their current polling at the expense of Labour then we will be in hung Parliament territory. If Lib Dem support collapses to ~10% and the Tories get close to Labour then we could be heading towards a 1960s type situation. if the Lib Dems stay down and the Tories are unable to make any headway then Labour will be looking at a very comfortable majority, though not a landslide.

        • rekrab

          Alex, I’d expect any future coalition with the lib/dems wouldn’t have Clegg as leader, by 2015 I think Tim Farron will be the new lib/dem leader and he’s a different kettle of fish.

          • Dave Postles

            If you say so, Derek, but I wouldn’t trust him or any of their cohort. They have all adhered to a deliberate ploy to trash Labour when we all know it was the banks and international finance.

          • rekrab

            Yep! I accept that entirely Dave.My train of thoughts are this, the lib/dem have their Blair transformer who has completely and utterly collapsed to the tory call and as the time goes on more and more will abandon their cause while the like of Tim Farron will raise their voice to once again echo the protest party’s plight, all in all it’s a move to further a grass roots vision that can and will cement a change of government, all we need is labour to be labour and I’m certainly wishing for our time to come.

          • Dave Postles

          • rekrab

            Wow! and such a beautiful voice.

            Just ignore McCartney though LoL!

          • Dave Postles

            ‘Just ignore McCartney though LoL!’
            Easy!!!

          • rekrab

            Ouch! “A finale reminder” great lyrics here.

          • Dave Postles

            Aaah. I didn’t know you cared. Bless.

          • rekrab

            For sure I care.I care about the man just down the lane who has just lost his council job, one which he held for 30 years,I care about the old-lady who lives alone, at number 176 and how she keeps herself warm because the cost of fuel energy is so high, I care about the single mother in the top flat with 3 children, trying to do the best she can when all the odds are against her.I care, I care for the workers who are now below inflation earnings,I care about the hospital I attend as it falls into total chaos over profit for people attitudes, I care for the near by forest being polluted by all manner of hazardous waste. I care, I really do care.

          • Dave Postles

            My facetious response, Derek – too quick on the humour button.

        • robertcp

          Alex, tactical voting is only an issue where Labour has no chance of winning. It does not affect Labour’s chance of getting a majority or being the biggest party..

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=715486331 Alex Otley

            Yes I agree. But in a place like Eastleigh it keeps Labour out of contention permanently. It’s not possible to build up much of a support base if even pro-Labour people are unwilling to actually vote Labour.

          • robertcp

            Alex, I have checked on Wikipedia and Labour came close to winning Eastleigh in the 1950s and 1960s but it was a safe Tory seat from the 1970s until the Lib Dems won it. It looks like FPTP is developing into several two party systems rather than the Lab-Con two party system of the 1950s and 1960s. UKIP might move into the top two in some seats in 2015, which will be serious for the Tories.

          • robertcp

            Alex, I have checked on Wikipedia and Labour came close to winning Eastleigh in the 1950s and 1960s but it was a safe Tory seat from the 1970s until the Lib Dems won it. It looks like FPTP is developing into several two party systems rather than the Lab-Con two party system of the 1950s and 1960s. UKIP might move into the top two in some seats in 2015, which will be serious for the Tories.

          • robertcp

            Alex, I have checked on Wikipedia and Labour came close to winning Eastleigh in the 1950s and 1960s but it was a safe Tory seat from the 1970s until the Lib Dems won it. It looks like FPTP is developing into several two party systems rather than the Lab-Con two party system of the 1950s and 1960s. UKIP might move into the top two in some seats in 2015, which will be serious for the Tories.

          • robertcp

            Alex, I have checked on Wikipedia and Labour came close to winning Eastleigh in the 1950s and 1960s but it was a safe Tory seat from the 1970s until the Lib Dems won it. It looks like FPTP is developing into several two party systems rather than the Lab-Con two party system of the 1950s and 1960s. UKIP might move into the top two in some seats in 2015, which will be serious for the Tories.

          • robertcp

            Alex, I have checked on Wikipedia and Labour came close to winning Eastleigh in the 1950s and 1960s but it was a safe Tory seat from the 1970s until the Lib Dems won it. It looks like FPTP is developing into several two party systems rather than the Lab-Con two party system of the 1950s and 1960s. UKIP might move into the top two in some seats in 2015, which will be serious for the Tories.

        • postageincluded

          Going soft on them anywhere seems bad strategy to me. It’s very unlikely that they will be in a position to choose between us and the Tories and force another coalition; the electoral arithmetic rarely allows it. Why should we play for the least likely outcome?

          I also suspect that they will only opt for LibLab if it is their only option – and then they’ll grin and bear it, however badly we’ve mauled them. There is absolutely no need to pull any punches.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

          Aren’t we going to be anyway, Alex? Are we ever really going to be a force able to win in Torbay, Bournemouth West, or Winchester?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

        I think we will use it when it makes sense to. The problem is that the effect of using it here would have been to get Blue or Black(shirts) lite

  • Dave Postles

    If you feel that you could vote Labour, then you should vote Labour. The popular vote is still important, especially in combating this horrible Coalition – because every vote against it (for any left-of-centre) opposition is another cry for justice for the poor, people with disabilities, the unemployed, the under-employed and any suffering from disadvantages who are about to be demeaned further from 1 April. Those who voted LibDem in Eastleigh seemingly have no conscience nor care for anyone but themselves.

  • Reconstruct

    Once again I am amazed that the writer can call John O’Farrell a ‘great candidate’. The average reader of Labour List may find nothing offensive about his comments wishing the IRA had succeeded in murdering Margaret Thatcher, but that is a signal of a great disconnect: for most people it’s just a revolting mindset. How could such a man have become a Labour candidate?

    More, why is it so difficult for Labour List to acknowledge that this really was a problem – moreover, one which unacknowledged will tend to hang around in the folk-memory.

  • Dave Postles
  • http://m-b-0-y.myopenid.com/ MBoy

    No mention of O’Farrell’s new book which is coincidently coming out this week? LOL. Labour got taken for a ride…

  • Dave Postles

    It’s left to extra-Parliamentary pressure groups again, which is becoming the norm.

    http://www.taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/truth_and_lies_report_final.pdf

  • robertcp

    You said what I was going to say.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671392656 Lev Eakins

    So long as your party clings to the present electoral system, we will continue to use the traditional squeeze message that wins elections. If you want this to stop, you should support changes to the electoral system.

    You’ve had this chance repeatedly over the last 15 years: firstly in government when you said you would change it but didn’t, and more recently in opposition where you had two chances to support change, with the AV referendum and with HoL reform.

    You said “No” in both power and in opposition, so I have little expectation that your complaint that the electoral system is unfair will be met with any sympathy from your leaders.

  • Monkey_Bach

    People voted UKIP as a protest against the other parties. If voters really knew how spell-bindingly dotty and rabidly right-wing most UKIP ideas and policies, such as they are, that party, such as it is, wouldn’t poll well anywhere. UKIP are apesh*t! And speaking as a monkey I should know!

    For those interested in a penny tour of Bedlam, check out UKIP’s ideas as per social security.

    http://www.ukip.org/media/pdf/UKIPwelfare.pdf

    Eeek.

  • PaulHalsall

    I just wish Labour cared for the North, urban Scotland and Wales, and inner London as the Tories do for the Daily Mail prejudices of lower middle class suburban south-easterners.

  • rekrab

    Sssssh! he’s still sleeping.

  • rekrab

    Sssssh! he’s still sleeping.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    Being realistic – there are always going to be seats where even if we had a well organised and active party, we wouldn’t get far. I remember from my younger days that our neighbouring Windsor and Maidenhead seat had a lively and active party, but if they won a single council seat it was a miracle and in a very good year. There really are only three wards that we are competitive in here. We only ever won the old railway town and the newer suburbs and the villages really don’t attract natural Labour supporters. And of course Labour supporters will still vote tactically. The LD candidate came over as a pleasant man with deep local knowledge and not particularly Orange Book-like from the statements he made, so I can understand why some Labour voters would have thought – well, we aren’t getting it, but better him than the Tories or the BNP in blazers

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    Problem is Labour just doesn’t agree on voting reform, and I wasn’t, as a supporter of a better voting system, prepared to support a worse one in AV

  • markfergusonuk

    I think you’ll find it was the public who said no to AV, not Labour – and very convincingly, may I add…

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