Labour’s lost voters – lego politics or grand design?

13th July, 2012 3:07 pm

Another day, another initiative. Today it’s a new project called ‘5 million votes’ from a group of E-milibandistas. The project is designed to identify why Labour ‘lost’ 5 million votes between 1997 and 2010 and how it can win them back. It makes a big opening declaration:

“We believe strongly that triangulation, whilst successful in the 90s, has reached its limits.”

Ah, that triangulation that the Clinton, Blairs and Schroders used to do. For what it’s worth, I don’t think that Blair was really much of a triangulator in reality – he just believed different things to the soft left. But let’s not get diverted. The reality is that the ‘five million lost votes’ approach is about triangulation or it’s about nothing. And there’s nothing new in the analysis – the soft left and others have been down this road a hundred times already, each time ending up at a dead end.

It started after the 2005 election. Labour won a majority in that election – by the skin of its teeth. For a decade or more, the left had been told that it had a choice: change or face continual defeat. When the tide started turning on New Labour then straight away, the left sought to exact psephological revenge. If New Labour was no longer popular then, ipso facto, its entire electoral argument was false. Never again.

So some in the Compass campaign group decided to taste the forbidden fruit of polling even if that meant banishment from the ideological garden of Eden. They spotted that Labour had lost support amongst ‘ABs’ and ethnic minorities. Of course, that must be Iraq. It had lost support amongst DEs. That must be because New Labour wasn’t social democratic enough. And so it went, a demographic was identified and a motivation ascribed to them. This morning, in an otherwise pretty fair analysis, Polly Toynbee fell into this type of analysis:

“There are ABs disgusted with Iraq or disillusioned with City worship; trade unionists angered at public sector privatising; and working class voters who don’t think Labour stands for them.”

So the basic reason Labour ‘lost five million votes’ was because it wasn’t liberal and social democratic enough. The purpose of this approach was to reclaim triangulation from the party’s right. Yes, triangulation was right but the right was wrong – the party should triangulate left. But it wouldn’t be called triangulation; it would instead be called ‘reconnecting with the core’ or some such.

The problem is that the right had the evidence on their side. After the 2005 election, YouGov started to compare the attitudes of ‘Labour’s lost’ voters versus those it had kept. The liberal social democrats tended to stay with Labour. Those who were sceptical about welfare, immigration and wasteful state spending tended to desert the party. What’s more, the group that Labour ‘lost’ were closer to the views of the rest of the population. While at Demos, I commissioned a large scale poll through YouGov asking precisely these questions. Triangulating left is just not an option if your strategy is ‘moving to where voters are’. As it happens, I’ve come the conclusion that such a strategy is highly flawed as I will come onto.

Whatever you think of that Demos poll, it backs up the findings of any systematic analysis of why Labour ‘lost’ voters. It also picks up the loss of trust in Labour’s leaders which is a major factor also. The Smith Institute in Winning back the 5 milllion looked at party support regardless of individual attitudes and came to the conclusion:

“Any simple shift to the left to gain votes from the Lib Dems and win back Labour’s core vote does not add up. Whilst the Lib Dems gained most in votes from 1997 to 2010 (1.6 million votes), in the same period some 2.5million voters went firmly rightwards (to the Tories, UKIP and BNP).”

So my friendly advice is if you want the Labour to adopt a softer left stance as the names on the ‘Five million votes’ website would all appear to do then I wouldn’t go down the Labour’s ‘lost’ votes road – you won’t like the evidence. The analysis has been done many times and the results are the same each time – if the analysis is done properly. It ends up in one of two places – triangulation and a pitch right or ignoring the bulk of the evidence and fitting the numbers to your pre-ordained theory.

Instead, I would spend my time challenging the entire way that the party does ‘strategy’. There are two basic approaches – the ‘lego approach’ and the ‘grand designs approach’. With the ‘lego approach’ you try to build a majority by stacking together blocks of voters who you fire targeted messages at. The problem with this approach is that, unlike lego, all the bricks don’t fit together. It’s difficult to bring together the block of universal ethic of welfare support with the block that wants to slash welfare whatever the impact. People who think the public sector is entirely wasteful and they are sick of paying so much tax to support it don’t naturally fit with those who want to defend public sector pay and pensions. ‘5 million lost voters’ strategy is the ‘lego approach’ – and you’ll never complete the final model.

The grand designs approach is infinitely preferable. Just like the Channel 4 show of the same name, you imagine your dream home and you plan to build it. As costs increase, the weather plays havoc and the logistics are more difficult than you thought they would be, you work out where you can compromise and where not.

So you concentrate on your national vision. Be yourself. Don’t start off in a mood to compromise but do have some flexibility along the way, albeit with red lines. This is the leadership model. You have to answer how the window or the under-floor heating will work but that’s just part of the process on the way to creating something amazing. If I were Ed Miliband, I would be a grand designs leader. To be honest, nothing else works. Tony Blair was himself and people bought it up to the second term. Ed Miliband has to be himself. What’s the point of being leader otherwise?

Will it generate a majority? We’ll see. This is art not science. It is emotion first and rational calculation second. Ed will either be the man for these times or he won’t. Alongside, he should build an organisation that will be aimed at 40 million voters, not 5 million. His vision should be general not micro-targeted and driven by conviction not calculation. Sure, it should be communicated with his audience in mind but it should be his politics, his personality, his policy.

While I’m sure we’ll disagree on a number of the details – the national challenges we face are far form simple – that is the sort of leader worth backing. The recent evidence is that he is ‘grand designs’ rather than ‘lego’ and that’s no bad thing. And my guess is that significantly more than 5 million will come to that conclusion too – majority or not.

Value our free and unique service?

LabourList has more readers than ever before - but we need your support. Our dedicated coverage of Labour's policies and personalities, internal debates, selections and elections relies on donations from our readers.

If you can support LabourList’s unique and free service then please click here.

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]
  • Alan Giles

    Anthony, you say:

    It’s difficult to bring
    together the block of universal ethic of welfare support with the
    block that wants to slash welfare whatever the impact. People who
    think the public sector is entirely wasteful and they are sick of
    paying so much tax to support it don’t naturally fit with those
    who want to defend public sector pay and pensions”

    Of course, you are right, but the trouble is,
    it is an argument you expect to have with Conservatives. Do you
    expect things like this to be written on a Labour blog –
    because it was within the last hour

    The Purple Booker 2
    comments collapsed CollapseExpand

    “Without the fit and successful and the
    strong everything fails. We have to transfer money away from the
    weak and the unfit to the fit and the strong or we are all doomed.
    Like Sparta we have to discard the sub-standard and the broken.
    There is no choice. It’s nature and Labour.”

    If this person is to be
    taken seriously and really does support the Labour Party, do we
    really want people, holding those rather sick views?.

    Frankly, the more I read things like that, I begin to wonder exactly where the Labour party is heading.

    •  Alan- As you say, offensive and personally I would just ignore.

    • JoeDM

       Surely there is a place for economic realism even in the Labour Party !!!

      • Alan Giles

        If anybody could defend the remarks made in the post I was complaining about (and yes I see it has 2 “likes”), then all I can say is that people of this country have hardened and coarsened to a degree I never thought would be possible in my lifetime.

        At one time we (and especially Labour supporters) were known for compassion, tolerance and kindness in this country.

        I know you are not a Labour Joe, and I mean no disrespect when I say that it is the kind of attitude one expects from the right, BUT this is a Labour site and that foul post was  made by somebody who claims to be a Labour supporter, albeit on the far right of Labour.

        This is one of Labours big problems (Franwhi touches on it) – people of my generation joined the Labour party because of it and our principles, which was to try to make life better for people especially the disadvantaged in any way. Thanks to the influx of politicians who know only university and Westminster, we have some socially ignorant MPs and they have encouraged through their populist spiel (I will never forget Blunkett on Radio 4 talking about “immigrant children swamping our schools” (2003), or  Frank Field refusing to accept that there are people out of work, not out of devilment but because of on-going health problems, or living in an unemployment blackspot, but because they are not attractive to employers. Finally we had Tony McNulty (ex Minister and MP and lets hope it stays that way) and ex MP and Minister James Purnell, holding up their hands in horror about “benefit claimants playing the system”, at the same time they were massivly fiddling their expenses.

        When Purnell, McNulty, Cooper and all those who aided and abetted Freud’s “reforms”, ill thought out and ignorant as they were, a line was crossed, we lost our integrity, and it is not improved by the current spectacle of Liam Byrne, twisting in the wind like a willow sapling – on the record as saying he supports three quarters of the Coalition Welfare Reform Bill, yet making very loud noises about the quarter he claims he doesn’t. “Claims” – but given his opportunism, does anybody really believe Byrne or take him seriously?. He reminds you of a sort of James Bond villan as interpreted by the Goons: “Today the world, tomorrow Birmingham” (he wanted to flee Westminster to become Mayor of the second city earlier this year, which gives some indication of how interested he is in his Westminster job).

        Until Ed Miliband dispenses with his services, it is hard to believe that the party is really serious about improving life for people, who, through no fault of their own, are ill and/or disabled.

        Of course, having written how I feel I will now get more insults and abuse – from “Labour” supporters – on LL, but that is what I genuinely believe and if the new party boys don’t like it – tough.

        • john p Reid

          we also lost our integrity cahsing thigs likeleving urope after we’d had a referndum in 1975 wherethe public voted to stay in and we toldthem their opinion was worng we were also more conerned with slogans like Anti racist mathematics and save the whale, and it put us out of power for years, i’m sure evenCooper or Field joined the labour party to make peoples lives better ,but weren’t bogged down ith chasing false slogans that o no cared aobut when the real people suffered a destroyed NHS , homelessness in cardboard city and a generation who never got an education in the 18 years of tory rule, yet we infighted over how the public had voted for the 74 manifesto, and hadn’t in 1979 so we could get the policies of the next 10 years, there aresome of us who were rpoud of the 13 years of new labour ,who were ebarresed/ashamed by Bluketts time a the home office,

          • treborc

            Sorry John I cannot read that ?

          • JoeDM

            I think I get your gist. Good night was it last night? Or are you still getting used to that iPad keyboard? 

            You can only have the public sector welfare and health service spending that many on LL would like if you have a vigorous and vibrant private sector to provide the tax receipts to pay for it.    The problem for Labour is that, apart from the period of ‘prudence’  from 97 to the 01 election, they seem to ignore this fundamental economic truth.

          • Alan Giles

            Mr Reid. I remember 1975 very well. I remember Peter Shore being virulently anti-EEC (as it was), I remember many Labour MPs being pro – and anti. Everybody was allowed to campaign on their own personal view. Which is as it should be.

            The question of Europe is not party specific. Austin Mitchell (Labour) is anti-EEU, Ken Clarke (Conservative) is ultra-pro.

            Not for the first time you make a somewhat pejorative remark concerning anti-racism policy, which we should be proud of, and I don’t recall us having a “save the whale ” campaign, but again is enviromental policy a bete noir of yours as well?

            You might have cause to be proud of the first years of New Labour – minimum wage especially, but let’s be true about it. Certainly, post 2003 the Blair government squandered money on unwinnable wars, and became mired in the sort of sleaze the Conservatives indulged in in the 90s. By sleaze I mean the lack of integrity in personal financial matters, rather than the night time cavortings of Blunkett 

        • John Dore

          The Purple booker 2 should not of been
          given a response, an obvious troll.


          There is nothing wrong with “Purnell, McNulty, Cooper and all
          those who aided and abetted Freud’s “reforms””, the only thing
          that is wrong is your pathological loathing of anything that aims to fix the
          PROBLEMS that we have that YOU WON’T RECOGNISE. it is disingenuous to make a parallel with the PB2’s comments and welfare reform. 

          All politicians recognise the need to do the right thing in the UK even if they are ideologically opposed. All parties recognise the need for welfare reform. I believe in helping people, the welfare state, progressive taxation and an element of nationalisation, but it has to be real in the context of what we can afford and the people taking the P.

          Reform is happening
          whether its Labour or Tory. Why not concentrate on fair reform? Perhaps dealing
          with the FECKLESS who spend lifetimes taking and making it harder for those who
          need public services and those who have to pay for them. I don’t want to penalise those who are suffering. What I cant understand is 750,000 people who travel thousands of miles and work hard v those who wont. Moreover those who scream when its mentioned you might have to travel to find work.

          What we need is a new deal with the public that says always work over dole, even if it pays the same. An education and mentoring program to help.

          • Alan Giles

            Ah “feckless” again – in capitals. With all due respect, I always expect to see your rantings in green ink on my screen.

            Perhaps when you have sobered up, you might tell me where all these jobs are that you are certain exist. And can you expect a family in, say, Birmingham moving to Cornwall for the chance of a six month contract.

            You refer to my “pathological” etc etc etc. I would remind you Purnell, who fiddled his expenses implemented the reforms of amateur David Freud AFTER Freud had joined the Conservative party as a peer. Purnell was content to let ATOS work on a payments on resulgts basis, to the extent that terminally ill people were judged fit for work.

            If you think that is acceptable then you really are in the wrong party, and if anyone is going to start flinging words like “pathological” about they should make sure their capitalised  replies don’t sound so frankly unhinged.

            Good afternoon.

          • John Dore

            More excuses Alan, same old tripe. you’re the one in the wrong party. I don’t vote GREEN.

          • Alan Giles

            I bow to your superior knowledge about “tripe” Mr Dore, since you are the main purveyor of it on LL.

            “Green” doesn’t need to be capitalized, by the way.

            Quite frankly, I have such a low opinion of you, I don’t give a toss what you think about me. If I wish to vote Green I will do so, and reading your arrogant tosh (and a few others here who claim to be Labour supporters) makes me wonder if it is worth voting Labour if people like you are now representative  of the party.

          • John Dore

            The volume of it you generate here (tripe) means that one gets to know rather a lot about it.

            I sincerely hope that your opinion of me is zero, you are so warped that I take that as a compliment. I take great satisfaction in exposing you. Nothing I say is controversial. What you do though is constantly twist things to your “sacrosanct” sorry that should be blinkered and one dimensional way of thinking. 

            In the voice old  Ben Kenobi…. Open your mind oh mighty blinkered one. The force is practically non existent in you oh winged one who lives in a pear tree.

          • John Dore

            Mark you are an absolute killjoy, he brings it on himself.

          • Jocelyn

            I think I should point out that General Practitioners and the British Medical Association have publicly stated that the Work Capability Test is a disgrace and should be withdrawn immediately. If they aren’t qualified to criticise ATOS and similar who is? The welfare reforms introduced by Purnell , Cooper, Iain Duncan Smith, Christopher Grayling and the Blue Baron himself, David Freud, are hopelessly flawed and unfit for purpose. 

            Mr. Giles is right.

            You are wrong.

            That’s not me saying it but the experts.

      • Jocelyn

        That’s not economic realism it’s eugenics!

  • So my friendly advice is if you want the Labour to adopt a softer left stance as the names on the ‘Five million votes’ website would all appear to do then I”

    Well done for raising a straw-man and then knocking it down again Anthony… 

    I don’t think we’ve actually listed any set of ‘soft left policy solutions’ that you’re talking about. Maybe you could point to them?

    • Polly Toynbee is one of the names on your site. The positions she advocated in the quote above would be regarded as broadly ‘soft left’. I didn’t see you object to her column or argument so it seems safe to assume that’s where you are coming from.

      But this is a bit of a sideshow. The big argument I make is that the 5 million lost votes approach inevitably leads to triangulation. If not, why bother – for historical interest?

      • Well, Jessica Asato and Marcus Roberts are also among the names listed. They’re not necessarily in the same place as Polly, so it’s a silly argument, based on a straw-man.

        • Evasive as ever….

          (incidentally, I would say Marcus is soft left)

        • Chilbaldi

          Sunny – asato’s name sticks out like a sore thumb on that list. The rest of you are all
          Soft lefties.

          I find it amazing how the soft left always manage to twist the evidence to suit their argument, despite evidence to the contrary. Fact is that neither this soft left stuff nor new labour is the answer. As Antony says, a grand vision is needed based on today’s circumstances. Not 1997’s, and not whichever make believe time the compassites etc inhabit. Ed Miliband is doing quite well at finding that narrative at the moment – he has certainly grasped the public mood at this point in time.

          • treborc

            yes Miliband is doing brilliant, so he asks Blair Cruddas and Purnell to write the Policy review.

          • John Dore

            Nowt wrong with Purnell or Cruddas. Blair can offer advice, he is after all very experienced.
            Miliband is not a stupid man who squanders his time being an irritating t w a t on the internet all day. He’s genuinely trying to do something.

          • Alexwilliamz

             What is a soft leftie? I’m try to work out if it is really a euphorism for ‘liberal’ with left leanings. Certainly not sure from this article.

          • Anthony Painter

            It’s a traditional social democrat in very broad terms- with probable liberal elements. In the early 1980s Kinnock most probably defined this view- though he would have described himself as a socialist for obvious reasons.

          • But surely that’s where Labour ought to be – and what would at one time have been viewed as the centre, in Labour terms. Tony Crosland was both of those things yet at the time was thought of as a right winger. Actually, he wasn’t, but it does rather suggest a shift to the right in terms of who is now seen as soft left!

      • I tend to think Polly is a bit like me and many like me – who have found ourselves both moving to the left because of the failure of neo-liberalism, and also because of Labour’s move to the right, have seen the way they are perceived by others alter even though their politics haven’t fundamentally changed

        Polly was in the SDP and stood for them for Parliament

  • Rachelmeganbarker

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve said, so this is a small point; I do actually agree that a blanket “shift to the left”…and really any blanket explanation for lost votes…is the wrong way to go…

    but the idea that “in the same period some period some 2.5million voters went firmly rightwards (to the Tories, UKIP and BNP)”; votes going to these parties does not necessarily mean these voters turned to the right; in the case of the BNP especially, in so far as they have a coherent economic policy, their policies are quite left wing; their ultra right wing views on immigration etc shouldn’t lead us to group them with other right wing parties or think that those who vote for them want, for example, decreased spending on education or the NHS. And although UKIP does have a far right stance on economic policy, they still attract a lot of the same working class demographic who vote for them for anti-EU and anti-immigration reasons, and we should not assume this means they share the whole of UKIP’s policy platform.

    • Anthony Painter

      Hi Rachel, you raise an interesting point. Many of the people who went for the BNP were economically left and culturally right. However, the evidence is that it was the cultural concerns that were the primary driver so I think, in general terms, it is right to characterise the BNP vote as a right-wing one but it’s not clear cut as you fairly point out.

    • treborc

       All those Millions people keep telling me went to the BNP, well  if anyone thinks that group is to the left or have anything to say on anything is barking mad.

      The BNP are a far right not a far left group of Nazi sympathizers and nothing else.

  • SR819

    Yes we shouldn’t think that people who abandon us for the BNP are going right in the traditional (neoliberal) sense. In fact a lot of the working class voters who vote BNP claim that Labour don’t represent them anymore, and have abandoned their core philosophy of looking after the working class. Even their right wing views on immigration are sometimes framed in economic terms. They complain about the undercutting of wages and the erosion of working conditions brought about due to mass immigration. Of course there will be some who vote BNP because they are racist, but we should engage with those who do so as a protest vote.

    There was an interview with Matthew Collins, a former NF activist now anti-Facist campaigner and his views are quite enlightening. I think our combination of extreme social and economic liberalism did make some working class people think we didn’t stand up for them or their views. This is one of his answers from the interview:

    Do you feel you were let down by the left?

    My school was mixed, and middle-class teachers lectured us about anti-racism, but no-one ever affirmed it was ok to be where we
    were from. They were all going on about diversity, let’s celebrate your
    neighbour who is different to you. Well, why not celebrate class? We’re
    all going home to dads on the dole tomorrow.

    John Denham was starting the make the right noises when he said that we should focus on class as a major determinant of life chances. We have a growing Black and Asian middle class which shows that those barriers are being broken down. Unfortunately, for all the advances we made helping ethnic minorities, we failed the working class, and to reclaim their trust we need a return to good old fashioned class politics. And the only way we can do this is to solve the problem of working class representation in parliament.

  • SR819

    Having said that, I do think we have work to do to convince people of the left argument, as these results from a YouGov poll:

     The proportion supporting the “left” is worryingly low, but we shouldn’t accept that and trial to the right, but rather fight to change the views of the public, challenge the right wing propaganda about benefit scroungers etc.

  • Forlornehope

    As nobody is seriously proposing returning to a “planned economy” with the “commanding heights” taken into state ownership what we are left with is really an argument about the level of public spending.  If we are to be honest with the voters we have to be clear that we want a higher proportion of national income to be spent on benefits and services than the coalition.  Now if you chose to tax the top 1% of earners at 100%, rather than 50% it would only add 25% to the take from income tax.  That of course is if they hung around to actually pay it.  So, our higher state spending means that a lot of people are going to have to pay more tax.  Let’s start off by being honest – you want Scandinavian style state spending, well you have to pay Scandinavian style taxes.  Until we face up to this and start making the case, we are just pissing about.

    Whatever your opinion of Gordon Brown, if there was a great big pot of gold to be had by closing loopholes etc., he’d have found it.  He didn’t so it doesn’t exist.

    • treborc

      In the end labour has to tell the people which way it wants to go and explain to people, it’s not going to work if we have to guess where labour going, the Liberals have sold out for being in power, I hope labour is  better then that.

  • John Dore

    Blair won those 5m voters, he can offer Ed significant advice on the direction to get them back.

    • T Blair

      I would advise Ed Miliband to go into the next election with ineffectual John Major as Prime Minister, leading a government divided against itself, which has presided over a devaluation of the pound and had become loathed and hated by all and sundry. That’s how I won. That’s how Labour can win again!

  • robertcp

    Soft left is probably a good description of my politics.  I was attracted to the SDP in my teens but was a strong supporter of Labour when Neil Kinnock was the leader.   I had reservations about New Labour but was pleased with policies such as the minimum wage, devolution, the fairness at work legislation and high public spending.

    The Blair government really started to go wrong after 2001.  The worst part was Iraq but there were also tuition fees, authoritarianism and a lack of compassion.  The result was that I voted Lib Dem in 2005 to show my total contempt  for New Labour.

    The economic crisis in 2008 showed that Brown’s neo-liberal policies were a massive blunder.  His tendency to triangulation was also depressing.  However, I voted Labour in 2010 mainly to stop the Tories getting a majority.

    All of this suggests to me that many working class voters stopped voting in 2001, the liberal-left deserted Labour in 2005 but many had drifted back by 2010.  This process has been accelerated by the coalition and Ed Miliband returning Labour to something like social democracy.  This should be enough to stop the Tories getting a majority in 2015 but maybe not much else.   

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Putting a figure of “5 Million” seems meaningless, especially as the size of the electorate increases with population growth, and there is greatly increased choice for voters with many more small parties standing.  Social attitudes are changing very quickly, and very few people are likely to vote for a particular party on a persona sense of class or family history.  That is all a good thing, I believe.  People should make up their own minds.

    What the numbers since 1945 do report however is that the electorate mostly sit somewhere between the two parties when there is an identifiable difference, so any form of leftward movement by Labour and a return to the economic incompetence of the left and the wantonly destructive values of the unions will be electoral suicide.  The British people do not want those sorts of idiots running the country, and the same applies to the right with the economic ruination by the unregulated free market and the selfishness of big business.

  • Alexwilliamz

    I think a number of people who would have been traditionally labelled working class did leave, because they felt the party no longer represented them. The problem is your article just underpins the very ‘associations’ that the opponents of the left have created. Namely that a left leaning government means high immigration (this is a liberal rather than left per se position), welfare and wasteful public spending. The last is a trait of most governments often with the ‘waste’ ending up in the pockets of business and private companies. Technically if a truly left government existed which could some how secure full or at least very high levels of employment and a fairer income structure then actually welfare would be massively reduced.

    Let’s grasp the welfare issue, this is actually the outcome of trying to balance an out and out capitalist system (which few seemingly want) with some form of social justice. The more economically liberal we have become the greater burden is seemingly put upon the welfare state. Add consumerism to the pie creating a lifestyle which is unaffordable (and often unnecessary) it more people fall into an outgoings exceeding income problem.

    Where Labour has failed and most spectacularly by actually joining the other side in the rhetoric sometimes is challenging these ideas about any other path than the economic liberal model leading to doom. This has led to the balance well and truly going the other way and millions of people feeling disenfranchised and lost. Given no hope and no confidence in the political non solutions offered by those standing for government. There anger is all too easily targetted at the symptoms without recognizing the cause.

    It may be right that some fiddling around with triangulation or whatever this politico talk is mumbling on about, lego or grand designs feels like more of the same. It is time to wake up to the fact that most people have given up on politicians and until some thing genuine and new comes along they will muddle through either not voting or virtually flipping a coin switching when they lose patience with whoever is currently in power.

    Maybe we should get down to fixing on a design or at least what sort of building we want before worrying too much about how to deliver it. People are hurting out there and its going to last a long time until those who can do something about it get their act together. As an opposition to government we should be jumping up and down about this scandalous government and I think it is time to put some real solutions or at least bold direction together. People are getting impatient and I for one do not want to see one more minute of this current lot. However Labour have to be offering something better and different, a simple rehash of what the current gvt are doing and a warming up of what we did last time are not going to cut the mustard.

    I wait in hope rather than expectation. Still nice to have these little chats about ‘strategy’.

    • Anthony Painter

      “people will muddle through through either not voting or virtually flipping a coin”

      Yes, I suspect that is the case….

  • There are clearly different groups of people who we could attract. However, we do need to remember that there is a right wing alternative for disaffected Tories – UKIP . I don’t think that group have any intention of even considering voting for us.

    I do think that there are a lot of people who have stopped voting for anyone – they won’t be easy to win back but there are certainly far more of them than Tory waverers to us

    • “there are a lot of people who have stopped voting for anyone”

      Nail on the head, mate. The ‘five million lost votes’ approach can give the impression that there’s a coherent protest block withholding votes tactically. But that is to overlook the fragmentation that has occurred, with once firm political affiliations now eroded. The votes are up for grabs but disillusionment with mainstream politicians is a major obstacle for established parties.

  • franwhi

    Yeah Mike is completely right about the growing number of non voters who have turned their backs on Labour and exiled themselves to political no mans land.  Like my 75 year old dad who was a Labour voter and activist for  50 years until you know when -(WMD)  Now has disavowed Labour, given up on all politics – will never vote for another party (not even SNP although we live in Scotland) but will never vote for Labour again in the time he has left.  He won’t be won back but it’s a bitter pill to swallow ‘cos maybe you don’t want his demographic back anyway. Thanks Labour ….for nothing   

  • workfaretruth

    Labour endorse the coalition governments so called welfare reform policies. Labour endorse Workfare and the Universal credit, and companies like Atos. I fail to see how the people behind this five million votes campaign, think that by Labour supporting policies which are proven not to work, cost billions,whilst increasing poverty for many, they will regain five million voters. People are not stupid, and those currently campaigning against social injustice at the deep end of the cuts are certainly not fooled.   

  • Daniel Speight

     Painter is right in that both the left and most certainly the right of the party are chasing this god of triangulation. It gets taken to extremes by both sides. From the left it can be the chasing the ethnic vote by turning our backs on secularism in politics, and by the right in chasing support and funding in the City.

    What it really points out is the nub of the problem. Should the Labour Party design its policies to suit the prevailing winds of public opinion, or should there be some ideological basis to the party’s policies?

    “New Labour” thinking looks very much to the former idea and to achieve this it waters down any sort of ideology to a wishy-washy slightly liberal view of world. This is after all what the ‘third way’ and Progress are all about, and is the split between “New” and traditional Labour believers.

    The traditional Labour approach was that the party had some principles and core beliefs which stuck no matter how much individual policies had to be updated to match the times. The problem with the “New Labour” approach is that it can no longer differentiate itself from the Liberals or the Tories who have never had to worry about any ideological base, being parties that in recent decades have always been opportunist rather than principled.

    Sure, we have to admit that a principled approach puts the party at a disadvantage, but that was accepted when the party still felt it was on a ‘moral crusade’. The recent disavowal of this position I think dates to those around Blair and Brown being so impressed by Bill Clinton’s campaign for the US presidency. The modernization could be more accurately viewed as Americanization of the Labour Party so as to be more like the US Democrats. Unfortunately much of what was good in the party was thrown out with the bathwater and all we ended up with is this Damien of a child.

    • Alan Giles

      The traditional Labour approach was that the party had some principles and core beliefs which stuck no matter how much individual policies had to be updated to match the times. The problem with the “New Labour” approach is that it can no longer differentiate itself from the Liberals or the Tories who have never had to worry about any ideological base, being parties that in recent decades have always been opportunist rather than principled.”

      Good morning Daniel. You put it so well. When Harold Wilson said “the Labour Party is a moral crusade, or it is nothing” it summed up my feelings perfectly. Morality in this context should mean that we don’t bully the sick and ill with draconian “punishments”, supervised by a “payments by results” private company. 

      For too long, we have had the nudge and wink  strategy of throwing things that we know the tabloids will appreciate – if that means implying that most benefit claimants are wasters, then so be it.  Appealing to baser instincts (“British jobs for British workers”, and all the rest of it.

      I still feel any party can only succeed if it has a set of core values which are sacrosanct. One of the objectives of a party leader should be to try to lead, rather than meekly follow public opinion. Some things should be non-negotiable.

      At the moment the LibDems are mistrusted by it’s own supporters and beyond because of their association with the Conservative party, whose own leader is greatly disliked by a large section of his own party.

      Given that, Ed Miliband is in a stronger position than Clegg and Cameron in that he is relatively free of dissent, so now is the time to put his own stamp on the party, and I am genuinely sorry he seems not to be so doing, and instead is looking wistfully back to a recent past, which for all the good it did, it was negated by appalling warmongering and trying too hard to appease right-wingers.

    • JoeDM

       The problem with triangulation is that no one is satisfied.   You hear the words you want to hear but you don’t see any real action to back them up.

      • treborc

         The problem is the word triangulation sounds to much like strangulation, and a lot of people have no idea what the hell Triangulation means they understand strangulation something labour did to our ideology.

      • Lord Deedes

        I tried triangulation once with my girlfriend and one of her female colleagues from work. I have to say that I was very satisfied although my girlfriend got very jealous afterwards and accused me of seeing the third party involved in out triangulation on the side without her.

  • “Ed will either be the man for these times or he won’t.”

    Of course, it’s not just a matter of personality or even of ‘leadership’. But it must be said – Ed has done well. He is alone among leaders of UK mainstream political parties in recognising the sea-change that commenced with the 2008 economic crisis. He has acknowledged what is starkly apparent to all but the willfully blind: the Iraq disaster was a mistake.

    And Ed has shown himself to be capable of cutting compromises within the party – colluding with Blair’s vanity with the offer of a ‘prestigious’ non-job while refreshing the relationship with those neglected by New Labour by speaking at the Durham Miners Gala.

    There may come a time when Ed will have to be ruthless, possibly in dealing with the anti-Labour elements within the party who flexed their muscles and tested boundaries during the Ken Livingstone mayoral campaign. But so far, the indications are good and from conversations with other party members and with people of no particular political interest it seems to me that Ed is hitting the target.

  • Anthony Painter

    Lots of interesting comments – thank you. But can I pose a controversial question: why do we assume what working class voters should want and why do we assume that Labour should be their natural home just because that was its history? Surely working class voters have just as complex attitudes, behaviours, motivations as anyone else? And is Labour’s problem that it *assumes* (i) what working class people think (ii) that it is best placed to fulfil these supposed demands?

    What I’m getting at here is that Labour treats the ‘working class’ as a *group* rather than as individuals who happen to have a particular socio-economic characteristic. We don’t treat people who happen to be middle or professional class in the same way so why do we, what I guess I would describe as, patronise the working class?

    I guess this is one of the problems I have with ‘Lego’ politics – it assigns people a block and then assumes who they are on the basis of that.

    • Daniel Speight

      But can I pose a controversial question:

      Poor Anthony,  one of the lost boys in Neverland.

      How can the party of the labour movement possibly treat the working class as group? How can it think it could ever represent that class as a whole? Why would it ever claim to be born out of that class? And how would it ever dare to say its policies are for the betterment of that class as a group?

      No, in Neverland there are no such groups. Everyone is an individual and a political party’s job is to win over the largest number of these individuals in competition with other parties trying to do the same. You achieve this by saying and doing whatever is needed to win.

      It almost makes me want to quote Galloway quoting some obscure Marxist philosopher from the twenties, but I will resist. How come Ernie Bevin with no education could know so much more than these so-called educated Labour writers.

      • Anthony Painter

        Back to form Daniel….

        Would like to hear the thoughts of others also.

        • Daniel Speight

          Back to form Daniel….

          Possibly Anthony, or maybe I’ve just seen too many false prophets this last twenty years or so.

          • treborc

             I tend to agree it’s more about trust that the five million no longer vote for anyone.

      • Anthony Painter

        (Ps Treating people as individuals is not the same thing as saying they are free of social influence, class etc)

      • Smee

        I’d keep an eye peeled for ticking crocodiles if I were you…

    • ThePurpleBooker

      I’m sorry Anthony but I disagree. The Five Million Votes campaign has people in Progress, some backed David Miliband, some are close to or are Blairites. I think you are reading too much into things, though I agree with some of the sentiment that you make but a campaign trying to help us get back the votes we lost (even in this case it is the liberal leftie vote) is not a bad thing and should be welcomed.

    • Part of what is going on is simple ‘in group/out-group dynamics’. An in-group can see a multitude of distinctions within itself and barely any in the out-group. So, in this case, the group you are referring to can see a multitude of nuance and range within the middle class but homogenizes the working class. Of course the same happens all over the place. Men see distinctions within the category men  but homogenize women. Women do the same with men. The working class do the same with ‘the rich’, saying ‘they are all corrupt, evil’ etc. Labour do it to the Tories believing them to be all the same. Tories do it to Labour, etc, etc. On and on it goes. Its the basis of stereotyping.

      The truth of the matter is we have a multitude of identities these days. We no longer live in distinct social groupings, where we interact with people suffering from exactly the same issues. We live in the internet, we immigrate and travel, we have a range of different professions living in one street. 

      Hence I agree that triangulation is pointless as it depends on an outdated and flat notion of who people are. Creating a compelling vision of the future, however, will allow people to come to you, to find themselves in it, in their own way, without being told who they are. 

      • Anthony Painter

        I would agree with every word of this. Thank you.

        • However – it is also the case that politics is becoming more geographically divergent. Have a look at Danny Dorling’s work – I think its an effective counterblast to the postmodernist claims

      • James Parris

        ‘The truth of the matter is we have a multitude of identities these days.’

        Didn’t ‘we’ always? This is the kind of reverse nostalgia that imagines the present is always more complex than the past.

    • woolfiesmiff

      I’m a very definite working class bloke. Trouble is, I started off as self employed and now have a small successful business. The last Labour government declared war on people like me. They bought in the utterly stupid IR35 rules, AWD and other rules and regulations that made it highly difficult for working class people to get the same benefits as large corporates. I now think that all 3 main political parties are statist/corpratist vested interest led. None of them represent or even listen to the working woman and man.

      I’m sick and tired of being “led” by politicians in the pay of Banks, Unions, Big corporates, & especially the European Union. 

      I will NOT be voting Labour.

      • Labourer

        But you will be sending your children to state schools and having your rubbish collected by your local council and seeing NHS doctors and going to NHS hospitals and enjoy the protection of state or locally employed police, fire brigades and armed forces and drive on roads paid for by taxes and… erm… well, you get the picture.

        What you want is a free lunch.

        No such thing these days, cocky.


        • working class man

           I only send my children to substandard underachieving state schools because I am taxed so much I cant afford decent education because state rules and regulations mean there are no private schools to offer competion to the state sector to drive up standards and drive down costs.

          I am forced to use the dreadfull NHS because I am taxed so much I cant afford tp go private and state rules and regulations mean that there is no competion in health care to drive up standards and drive down costs.

          I dont want a free lunch, I merely want free choice, something the state wont let me have as a matter of policy.

          • Labourer

            You can afford much can you? And never will be able to afford much I suspect. But that isn’t down to the government of the day, cocky, it’s down to your own inferiority. We live in a meritocracy don’t you know. Anyone can be Prime Minister. If your children were clever enough they’d could go to Eton by means of a scholarship and if only you were clever and adroit enough you’d be just like Richard Brandson! We all have the chance to be millionaires and own our own private schools and hospitals if only we work hard enough and really want to succeed. 

            Stop your grizzling and moaning.

            You’re always going to be a basic rate taxpayer.

            Get over it!

          • Honest John

            You’re never going to be able to afford private medicine that will cater to all your need, mate, or be able to afford to send you children to a private school. You might as well complain that gravity takes away your “choice” to fly or make water run uphill. 

          • Honest John

            You’re never going to be able to afford private medicine that will cater to all your need, mate, or be able to afford to send you children to a private school. You might as well complain that gravity takes away your “choice” to fly or make water run uphill. 

    • Trudge74

      The question is whether or not economic status affects how your life prospects and opportunities turn out. Trying to deal with such inequities may well be the challenge labour traditionally ascribe to. However what if the very people disadvantaged did not recognise this or believed some other causes (a racial group conspiracy, a handful of freeloaders, immigrants etc etc). What then? Do you abandon the truth as you believe it? Maybe there has jut been a failure of both trust and message and even an abandonment of values.
      Ideas can be changed, people used to think cigarettes were actually good for your health, maybe more work needs to be done on research, evidence collection and actually fighting fr the truth than running up the short term deadened of election strategy. We seem to have got things the wrong way around, strategy should come second to purpose and aim.

  • Losange

    All this business about Labour “triangulating” rightward in order to win votes is too nebulous to mean anything at all since policies are not discussed or understood by the public. If David Cameron before the last election had said,”Vote for us and we will cut income tax by 5% for the richest people in the country while simultaneously clawing back money from disabled children, force the terminally ill who might live for more than six months to look for work in Jobcentres as a stopgap before they perish, and drive poor families out of their homes by cutting their housing benefit if they have a spare bedroom and worse!” do you really think five million people would jump out of their seats, applaud, and transfer their votes from Labour to the Tories?

    Labour cannot EVER compete with the Conservatives as far as right-wing initiatives go.

    Cameron has already outlined the kind of future welfare reforms he favours, i.e., stripping the under 25s of any right to housing benefit, limiting child benefit to three children impoverishing large poor families, time-limiting benefits so that they progressively are reduced the longer they are claimed and so on and so forth. All catastrophically disastrous notions that will ruin and cost lives, as is the case in North America where a lot of this nonsense gets imported from.

    Labour cannot possibly outbid the Tories as far as cruelty and injustice goes.

    It shouldn’t even try.

    Many Coalition agendas are undoubtedly going to crash and burn: the Work Programme and Universal Credit are going to crash and burn; the health service and social care will worsen; the economy is not going to bounce back and recover; people are going to get poorer; unemployment will remain impossibly high indefinitely; every indicator will signal decline – more homelessness, more poverty, more hardship, more misery.

    To win Labour has to offer something DIFFERENT than this not an imitation or watered down version of something that has been seen to fail so conspicuously and disastrously.

    Triangulating to the right isn’t an option any more.

    • Trudge74

      Even if doing so does not win it should do so as a moral obligation as the party it claims to be and also to provide people with a genuine choice. If people don’t want it, carry on campaigning and recognise that hat is democracy and next time people should recognise the truth we are all about. It is no surprise the political involvement has slumped in equal measure to oeople’s belief in the integrity of politicians. The last time they genuinely believed things could be better a certain party leader frittered the opportunity away with foreign wars and pursuing ersatz privatisation when he shoud have known better.

      • Losange

        Agreed. Better to stand for a cause we believe in, like free human beings, and lose a battle than win the war by kneeling like slaves and adopting dogmas, doctrines and agendas we recognise in our hearts as contemptible and beneath us. 

  • sandywinder


    When politicians jump into bed with prostitutes, like
    newspapermen, bankers and Eurocrats, returning home to your wife with an
    economically transmitted disease is not going to cut much ice, unless she is
    not very bright. Fortunately for Labour most
    people are not very bright.

  • Hugh

    The analysis you mention s also flawed because it starts from an assumption you surprisingly share: “It started after the 2005 election. Labour won a majority in that election – by the skin of its teeth”

    No, it didn’t. It won a comfortable majority; it just didn’t repeat the previous landslides.

    The rest, though, is spot on. The main problem is that, as you say, the vision must be genuine and  driven by  conviction. The overwhelming evidence is that Ed doesn’t have either.

  • Robert_Eve

    How does any sane person vote Labour or Lib Dem?

    • Lucy

      How does any moral, compassionate, and intelligent person vote Conservative or UKIP?

      • Flatpackhamster

        This post is the problem with a hefty chunk of the Left in a nutshell.  The thinking goes – “I think this.  I am a good person, and kind, and clever.  Therefore everyone who does not think this is a bad person, selfish and stupid.  ”
        And then you wonder why nobody votes for you?

        • Brumanuensis

          As opposed to the initial poster, who was being perfectly reasonable in implying that people who vote Labour are mentally unstable.

        • Trudge74

          As gainst presuming some kind of ‘rationl’, ‘pragmatic’ this is how the world is paternalistic superior understanding that many of the right seem to believe they possess. The post was a response to presumption and probably a little tongue in cheek. But hey if you want to be blind to one side of the debate then how can you be anything the than the same a that you seek to criticise.
          Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle (but a bit more left of middle)


        • Lucy

          There you go flaunting your dumbness in public again. Didn’t you notice the question mark at the end of the sentence, thicko? I was inviting moral, compassionate, and intelligent Conservative voters to explain why they vote Tory in elections not denying that such voters possess any of the qualities mentioned you clot!   

      • guest

        What is it about you lefties, anybody that disagrees with you must be wicked.
        The nasty people allways come from the left Stalin/mao/pol pot/Che and the list goes on even Hitler was a Nat SOCIALIST and dont try to deny it, just take a look at the 1933 manifesto which has much more in common with the left than the right. Go check it out.

        • Lucy

          See my response to one of your thick siblings below, Dumbo. How do people so impossibly stupid manage to get through the day I ask myself? You’d be a damn sight more use as an organ donor.

          • treborc

            Cool down a bit, would you want a organ from one of them.

          • Heaven forbid! The very thought of it has the old ticker beating all afresh.

          • Proffesore

            No Tory could ever donate a heart to extend the life of a sick person after his (or her) death for obvious reasons.

          • treborc

             I do not know it depends on how much you can pay for it, and if he can  find somebody on the dole to  donate it.

          • guest

            Calm down ‘Millie Tant If you go around shouting nasty things it just proves the point that lefties are the real Nasty people.
            Job done,thank you.

          • Lucy

            Why do you people flaunt your shortcomings? What makes you think I’m left-wing? You’re jumping to that assumption because, presumably, I sounded critical of the Tories. Pure confabulation. This lack of logic and analytical ability makes you easy prey for rags like the Daily Mail and such like. Be off with you. Get yourself down to your local newsagent to score yourself another fix of diabolic tabloids.

          • guest

            Your not a leftie? Yeah right.
            Don’t be ashamed of what you are.
            Mind you with Labours record on running the Country it’s quite understandable.

          • Lucy

            I’m sorry but I cannot take anything seriously when written by a person who doesn’t know the difference between the second person possessive adjective “your” and the contraction “you’re”? Or the apostrophe to indicate the possessive, i.e., “Labour’s”? Or how to use capital letters in sentences, i.e., “country”?

          • John Dore

            That is so elitist, I can barely write, does that make my opinion worthless?

          • Lucy

            Were you as eloquent as the bard reborn your opinion would still be worthless Mr. Dore.

          • John Dore

            Congratulations you have qualified to join the AOI. Look out for a low flying Partridge and wave it down for an application form.

          • Lucy

            The truth like love is often painful, although I would hazard that you are a stranger to both of these things.

          • guest

            I was wondering when you would start pointing out lazy gramatical mistakes. Oh dear,lose the argument attack the author.
            I see you don’t refute what I said.
            Sorry miss Tant,I will try to think before typing. Hehehe

          • Lucy

            No wonder so many immigrants get jobs in this country so easily these days – they speak and write the English language better than the natives!

          • guest

            Oh an another thing. You love calling people stupid but I ask you…….how clever is it to vote for a political party that Allways leaves the country in a mess when it gets kicked out of office?

          • Brumanuensis

            As opposed to the Conservative Party whose record includes:

            In the late 30s, appeasement.
            In 1964, a crippling balance of payments problem
            In 1974, industrial strife and rampant inflation
            In 1997, dilapidated public services and chronic unemployment in large areas of the country.

            A proud record, to be sure.

          • guest

            1930s hardly anybody wasn’t an appeaser (apart from one notable politician I think he was a Tory …Winston somebody) 1974? jeez bit of a cheek blaming the torys, as for 97? the books were the best since just before the great war interest rate going down unemployment going down wages going up, i mean the place was so bad people were leaving in droves…no wait.
            In conclusion Tory have a better overall record, to deny that just makes you look foolish.

          • Brumanuensis

            Nye Bevan, Michael Foot and Clement Atlee were all appeasers were they? Interesting.

            Considering the Tories engineered the industrial dispute that led to the Three-Day Week, I hardly think it unfair to assign them the blame for the chaos. As for ’97, the bit where we ran deficits in 16 of the previous 18 years escapes you. Ken Clarke ran larger deficits in 1993, 1994 and 1995 than Labour ran in all bar one of the years between 1998 and 2007. He didn’t even spend the money on public services, seeing as the government was paying more, as a percentage of GDP, to service its debt, than it was under Labour.

          • guest

            As I say you look foolish.
            At least labour took over a going concern.One thing I do know about the 30s, your masters the Unions were dead set against rearming.  Do you realy think Labour have done a better job than the Tories overall……realy???

          • robertcp

            You are entiltled to your opinion but aren’t you on the wrong website?

          • Proffesore

            Guest ought to try:


          • guest

            Didn’t Foot want unilateral disarmament in the 30s and slag off Baldwin for rearming? Typical leftwing trick of. Hipocracy.

          • john p Reid

            bruanuenis,guest’s done you there

          • guest

            In fact what a bunch of hipocryts Labour were in the 30s on the one hand calling people appeasers whilst on the other opposing rearmament

          • Lucy

            You mean like the Tories did in 1997 after managing to get the national currency devalued?

          • treborc

             I do not know I never voted Tory

          • Americano

            I know what you mean. The American economy was well and truly fu*cked over by that well know Socialist President George Walker Bush! 

        • treborc

          fecking hell a Tory

        • “anybody that disagrees with you must be wicked.”

          You just haven’t put two and two together. We are right. Therefore, assuming you’re not stupid, to disagree with us is wicked.


          • guest

            I suppose you think leaving the Country in meltdown on each occasion you have left office is th RIGHT thing to do?
            Interesting theory.

          • It’s the bankers who constantly threaten to leave the country – if those in government don’t pander to them hand, foot and finger.

        • Charles Brooker

          Yea. We lefties are rude to some right-wing morons on LabourList today and invading Poland tomorrow! Phallus-head!

          • guest

            Phallus head? Shut up bogey nose!

          • Alan Giles

            Reading some of the “comments” of our Guest, it looks as if the ghosts of some of the more outre’ figures from “Round The Horne” has materialised overnight.

            Perhaps ‘Guest’ doesn’t know how to spell “J.Peasemold Gruntfuttock” – whose lady wife Buttercup could also be outrageous.

          • Charles Brooker

            Lingam bonce!

        • Proffesore

          Daft. You might as well say that because Hitler had one ball every testicularly challenged gentleman must also be a murderous fascist megalomaniac!

      • robertcp

        My view is that any moral, compassionate and intelligent person could vote for any party that is not fascist or racist.

      • alexmasterley

        Moral, compassionate, and intelligent people vote for the Conservative Party because it is one of the few political parties that acts on a rational basis, tries to keep government spending close to the amount that is collected in taxes, doesn’t pander to special interest groups but tries to treat all voters fairly and acts in the national interest.
        Quite a lot of moral, compassionate and intelligent people believe that morality, compassion and intelligence amounts to more than gouging as much as possible out of the rest of the country to pander to those who vote for a political party and are appalled by the way Labour politicians often deride whole sections of the nation such as “the South” and are disgusted by the way that Labour has diverted funding for resources (particularly education and healthcare) away from non Labour voting areas in a completely parisan move, even though there is just as much need in those non Labour areas.  

        They might also believe that if a government has employer and employee NI of over 10% each, top tax rates of 50%, VAT rates approaching 20% and a whole host of duties on a whole host of other goods, and yet they still can’t run a balanced budget, then perhaps they don’t deserve to be in power.

        • Sanders

          Sounds like turkeys really do vote for Christmas then.

        • @ everyone taking part in this childish nonsense:

          Moral, compassionate and intelligent people vote for all political parties: no single party has a monopoly on morality, compassion or intelligence.

          • Stroppy Pleb

            Sling yer ‘ook! We don’t want no pussies ‘ere!

        • Linus Penrose

          Pretty much every social advance from ending slavery and achieving universal suffrage to state education for all children to the national health service and similar originated from work done by the Labour or Liberal Parties. I really can’t remember anything very progressive and helpful to the majority of ordinary people in the United Kingdom springing from any Tory government. As far as I can seen the Conservatives have very little in the way of morality, compassion,  or intelligence about them and therefore very little to recommend them to men and women in whom those qualities burn bright. The Tories have always and always will represent money, vested interests and selfishness which is why they always want to transfer power stealthily to employers and landlords and similar, usually under the guise of “deregulation” which process IS what is happening now, incrementally, little by little, drip by drip. 

          No matter how much elbow grease you use you cannot polish a tu*d.

          • alexmasterley

            Ending slavery?  Wilberforce was an independent.

            Amongst the social innovations given to the world by left wing governments we can include the French Reign of Terror,  the 1935 Stalinist Purges, Mao’s Long March, the Final Solution of the German National Socialists and the Pol Pot’s Killing Fields.

            The Tories do not represent money, vested interests and selfishness in the way that you describe simply because they have to rely on an electorate to vote them into office.  They are supportive towards industry and commerce because without them there would be no livelihood for any one, no food, no medicine, no machinery or means of transport.  Conservatrive voters don’t have to look much further than post-WWII Eastern Europe to realise how messed up countries can become when they are ruled by left-wing governments.

          • Proffesore

            The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was passed by a Whig (Liberal) government opposed pretty much tooth and claw by the majority of the Tory party.

            All that nonsense about the French Revolution, Stalin, Mao, Nazism, and Pol Pot takes the biscuit because it ignores the reasons why revolutions occurred in the countries of those concerned, i.e., terrible unendurable social injustice and privation caused primarily by disdainful and cruel ruling elites, which allowed the monsters named to hijack causes and corrupt them. If you want to discuss tyrannies you ought to make mention of the hideous regimes that flourished in Bourbon France, Tsarist Russia, China, and Cambodia, as well as how reparations demanded by the Treaty of Versailles humiliated and impoverished Germany after its defeat in the First World War allowing Hitler to come to power.

            None of these revolutions would have happened if the powers that be had not been inhumane and unjust and not one single of these powers was left wing.

            As I say almost every social and progressive advance made in the United Kingdom over the last many decades has sprung from left-of-centre thinkers and legislated for by Labour or Liberal governments and subsequently often threatened by Conservative administrations when they think they might be able to achieve low ends.

          • alexmasterley

            So gulags, non-judicial executions, shooting people who try to jump over the Berlin Wall, that’s all fine for the left wing? The repression under all these regimes was far worse than anything that preceeded them, so I wouldn’t bother pretending that they had any moral justification. In my moral and compassionate world, there wouldn’t be any justification , irrespective of what went before.

          • Proffesore

            As I indicated I consider Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot… no mention of North Korea? Missed one there!… in fact ALL tyrants to be monsters. The point you are failing or unable to grasp is that that the regimes and individuals, which and whom preceded them, were as bad if not worse than the villains you mention.

            You are entirely selective since you omit right-wing monsters from you list who equally did terrible things to their own countrymen and other often with help and support from North America, e.g., Benito Mussolini, Maximiliano
            Hernandez Martinez, Fulgencio Batista, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, General
            Humberto Branco, Colonel Hugo Banzer, Anastasio Somoza, Sr. And Jr., General
            Jorge Rafael Videla, General Efrain Rios Mont, Roberto Suazo Cordova, François
            & Jean Claude Duvalier, Alfredo Stroessner, General Augusto Pinochet, General
            Manuel Noriega, Vinicio Cerezo, Alfredo Cristiani, Chiang Kai-Shek, Ngo Dinh
            Diem, Park Chung Hee, Ferdinand Marcos, Mohammed Zia Ul-Haq, Sir Hassanal
            Bolkiah, General Sitiveni Rabuka, General Suharto, Halie Selassie, Ian Smith, P.
            W. Botha, General Samuel Doe, Mobutu Sese Seko, Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, Hussan
            Ii, General Francisco Franco, Antonio De Oliveira Salazar, George Papadopoulos,
            Turgut Ozal… etc… etc.

            I would add Hitler to this list whom you falsely seem to believe was a Socialist when in fact Nazism was based on the beliefs of far-right racist movements like the Völkisch German nationalist movement and the anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary culture that fought against the communist revolutionaries in post-World War I Germany.

            In reality lists like this are pointless since evil abounds independently of political affiliation or belief. For every left-wing monster you name I can name you a dozen or two dozen right-wing monsters.

            I notice you catalogue wrong-doing mostly by people persuaded by Communism but fail to present a list of all the good works and humanitarian advances promoted and achieved by people from the right-wing of politics.

            Which is telling.

          • alexmasterley

            “all the good works and humanitarian advances promoted and achieved by people from the right-wing of politics. ”

            Your bias obviously blinds you to what is happening in the real world:

        • John Dore

          “Labour has diverted funding for resources (particularly education and healthcare) away from non Labour voting areas in a completely parisan move, even though there is just as much need in those non Labour areas.”
          Can you provide the evidence for this?

          • alexmasterley

            Sure just look at the funding settlements for local government, education and healthcare under Labour and you will find that not only are the settlements skewed towards Labour constituencies (are children in Northern cities harder to educate, do the have more limbs that need treatment) and away from Tory and Lib Dem voting areas, even rural areas where incomes are lower than many Labour voting cities.

          • treborc
        • Proffesore


          The Tories are not moral.


          The Tory mastered Coalition’s has deliberately legislated to take money away from young, helpless and disabled children while at the same time gratuitously choosing to give a 5% income tax cut to the most powerful, self-sufficient and richest men and women resident in the United Kingdom.


          (It may not be moral but it ain’t half Tory, dude.)

          • alexmasterley

            Proof of nothing. The top tax rate under the Tories is 5% higher than it was for 12 years out of 13 under Labour.

            Any cuts in benefits are to reduce the deficit which is just borrowing that would have had to be repaid by children who haven’t been born yet.

          • Proffesore

            Trying to argue that taking milk out of the mouths of disabled babes while simultaneously putting coin in the pockets of the top few percent of the population who are least affected by trial and tribulation during a terrible recession is a moral choice which shows conclusively that we’re “all in it together” is going to be an impossible sell as far as the great British public goes. Why do you think Labour has a 10%+ lead in the polls?

          • alexmasterley

            If socialism was based on compassion and morality then socialists wouldn’t be trying to divert resources within the the UK but would be telling the all members of the UK population (including the poor) that they should be giving up what they have to feed and clothe the 5 billion people on the planet who are poorer than them.  

            But that is not what socialists do.  They think that they can summon up enough of the electorate to give them a majority at the polls by promising them a share of other people’s earnings, wealth, whatever.  

            They don’t have to get a majority, just enough to get them into power despite the apathy of the rest of the country.  Almost by definition where wealth and income is less than evenly distributed the majority of the nation will have less than the average income/wealth, so it is an easy but somewhat cynical stunt to pull, but it has very little to do with morality or compassion.

          • Proffesore

            “If socialism was based on compassion and morality then socialists wouldn’t be trying to divert resources within the the UK but would be telling the all members of the UK population (including the poor) that they should be giving up what they have to feed and clothe the 5 billion people on the planet who are poorer than them.”

            Nor does any Christian Church that I know of including the fabulously wealthy Catholic Church or our own declining Church of England!

            What utterly specious and ridiculous things you write. I judge you to be a young and inexperienced person and so forgive you for your silliness.

          • alexmasterley

            Whether or not the christian church behaves in a moral and compassionate way (FWIW I think it probably does with the relative paucity of resources it has compared to government – my local church has strong links with Mityana in Tganda sending visitors from here to fund and help with projects and bringing Ugandan teachers over here from training, but that is just one church, others may be different), the behaviour of the church or any other organisation is not relevant to the question of whether the Labour Party is based on some sort of morality or whether it is driven by factionalism and envy.

            The absence of a proportional sense of responsibility to help those even less fortunate than the most disadvantaged in the UK (which is give or take a few percent the greater part of the world’s population), gives the lie to the idea that the Labour Party is driven by a sense of social justice rather than the ability to bribing a little over one half of the population with the idea that they can improve their living standards at the expense of the other half of the population (while the Labour bosses who actually bring this about engineer extraordinary wealth for themselves).

            UK socialism has never been about creating social justice as much as encouraging class hatred.

          • Proffesore

            You are without question a young and inexperienced person.

            Here’s an interesting question for you: What has the Conservative Party done historically to improve the lot of the poor?

          • alexmasterley

            You are without question a young and inexperienced person.”

            Wrong on two counts.

            “Here’s an interesting question for you: What has the Conservative Party done historically to improve the lot of the poor?”

            Got rid of several Labour governments that wrecked the economy (the economic damage hurting  everyone, but obviously hitting the poorest most).

            Maintaining inward investment and industry throughout the 1980s and 1990s largely replacing dead end industries that were going nowhere.

            Increasing spending on the NHS year on year (fact). 

            Maintaining progressive taxation, national insurance lower limits.

            Giving more generous state pension increases  than Labour.

            Sounds like you have something aginst the Conservatives.

          • treborc

            same as when I was born then paying off the debts of two world wars, that’s life it seems

          • Winston_from_the_Ministry


          • Proffesore

            Perfectly factual and true though.

          • Limp Richard

            I felt like that when first introduced to Quantum Electrodynamics.

    • Brumanuensis

      An interesting question Robert_Eve, but having consulted my sentient flower-pot Mr Jonathan Primrose, I’m fairly sure it’s possible.

  • llanystumdwy

    New Labour only won the 2005 election because of the flawed electoral system working in their favour. It won just 36% share of the vote – less in fact than the Tories won in 2010 who were forced into a coalition because the system worked against them. Even in the 2001 election, Labour had fewer votes than Neil Kinnock had in the election he lost in 1992. 

    No wonder Blair, Brown and the New Labour elite did not want electoral reform. They cared nothing about the 5 million lost votes only keeping power. That is why the voters are turning away from the main parties in droves.  Milliband has to demonstrate that he represents something better than this and distance himself from the New Labour past.

    • treborc

       Yes and so far Miliband has  done sod all to bring back the lost voters, of course we are not lost for a start, we do not trust people who call others rich public school boys, especially when your just as rich, and especially when a number of the labour party have been to public school.

      The lost five million are not lost, we woke up and found the colour red was more blue and that we have been taken over by career politicians who have address books would sell them selves to the highest bidder.

      Lost no we are not, wiser yes

      • llanystumdwy

        Well said treborc, I couldn’t put it better.

  • Dude503

    Just a couple of points:

    1)  You are only considering one-dimensional politics, that of  Left-Right.  However, the dimension of Authoritarian-Libertarian is of increasing concern to many people too.  Any analysis which does not address the latter is deeply flawed.

    2) Thatcher had the support of a great many working class people – and why was that?  Because many working class people want to better themselves, not spend their lives being patronised by some ex-student union rabble rouser.

    • Chilbaldi

      Number 2) also applies to this Blue Labour rubbish, which assumes that a majority of working class people want to hark back to the golden age of yesteryear when they left their doors unlocked and could stroll down to the market to buy some jellied eels. Fact is most working class people dream of getting on in life, giving their children opportunities to better themselves, and buying a nice house.

      • treborc

         No we do not, you might dream of buying your house then again your  new labour semi bloody Tory

        • Chilbaldi

          evidence points otherwise treborc. And I am certainly not ‘new labour’.

          • Chilbaldi

            AND I can’t get over the fact that wanting to buy a house makes me a Tory. This is what we are dealing with mates.

          • I don’t think that people do think that at all. I bought my first house when I was 24. It wasn’t a palace, a cosy terrace in Yorkshire, and I wasn’t on a high wage and lived alone, so it was a struggle.

            But now,  I live in Merseyside, an equally low price area. And I’m not at all sure if I would have been able to afford my own place today were I in that position.

            In other parts of the country, I’d never be able to afford it if I had stayed on my own, until I inherited money from my parents – and for many this is now not happening as cash from family homes is spent on care.

          • treborc

             It comrades but mates will do, I suspect your a little confused  the Tory party is that way

          • Chilbaldi

            Are you a comrade though? I thought you had resigned your Labour membership?

          • John Dore

            No he’s a green and a fool. Makes me sick with his constant whining trolling.

          • treborc

            I’m not green Troll bore, but I might be , then again I might be a commie comrade

          • John Dore

            Doing a great job as one of the board idiots, keep the lunacy up, politics alone isn’t everything.

          • Honest John

            Wanting to own your own home ISN’T a Tory thing.

            Not giving a sh*t about the plight of millions of your countrymen for whom home ownership will always and forever be impossible, no matter how hard or how long they work, IS a Tory thing. And, sadly, for too many years under Blair and Brown a New Labour thing. 

          • Chilbaldi

            Agreed. Which is why we need to tap into and enable this and other aspirational goals of the working classes, rather than talk down to them and hark after yesteryear.

          • Honest John

            Building more social housing while retaining a “right to buy” tenants option would be the best way to go.  Shapp’s idea of increasing social rents to 80% of a comparable private rent, utilising private money and the capital receipts of future council house sales to build more social housing absolutely will not work. Only investment of monies supplied by central government or local authority borrowing can fund the kind of massive injection of capital into social house building that is needed to break the logjam.

          • John Dore

            More social housing yes, but don’t sell it off, we don’t have to own at all.

          • treborc

             Sounding more like a socialist

          • John Dore

            No, I don’t carry those hangups.

          • treborc


          • You say that like it’s a bad thing… you do know this is the “labour” party, right?

          • John Dore

            No he is a confirmed socialist.Moreover he’s a stupid one.

          • treborc

             yes sadly I was once told by John Prescott who had housing as part of his remit, what government would spent 21 billion on anything, according to him to bring all council houses up to date and habitable would cost £21 billion, we were asking for two billion from government for a emergency housing  due to the increase in Immigration.

            he then pointed out labour saw Council housing as pushing slum estates , he said all you would have would be estates that would end up as sink hole estates and would be worthless.

            two billion or 21 billion is peanuts these days after the banking crises.

      • LaurenceB

        The “nice house” is probably now out of reach forever after the banking collapse. Most young people will have to rent to have a home and in meeting their rent will never be able to save a deposit big enough to enable them to buy. The idea of a property owning democracy is in decline.

        • John Dore

          Why do people need to own, its a Thatcherite obsession.

          • LaurenceB

            House price inflation and cheap money fuelled the obsession in the UK, e.g., buy a house and in 10 years time it will be worth two or three times what you paid for it because demand outstripped supply and cheap money was easily available to fund ridiculously large mortgages. And when the bubble bursts you end up where we are now – in the clagg.

            These days are over now and hopefully as more and more people become renters we will end up with a more European attitude towards housing, i.e., a house is primarily somewhere to live and not a chip gambled on the spin of a roulette wheel with hopes of big unearned returns.

      • I don’t think that is the aspect of Blue labour which Ed and Jon Cruddas are interested in – far more the sense of a harsh and isolated society where the worst aspects of individualism have destroyed the sense of community and belonging which many also find valuable . Its not all about material aspiration.

        • john p Reid

          well said mike

        • treborc

           He also was critical of the Labour government’s failure to deal with
          welfare reform saying that working people did not feel it fair that
          unemployed people should get ‘something for nothing’. He said work gave
          people dignity and benefits should be designed to get people into work
          not keep them at home.

          The problem is words like hard working, squeezed middle came into being due to New labour and it was used a lot by Blue labour hence it died as the difference between three ideologies were difficult to find, New Blue or Tory.

          I do not mind people telling me I’m a scrounger any more because I can point I won my ESA so I  know I’m disabled , I did not know this until I had my medical, also of course I have never had the dole, I worked for thirty one years, at the moment I work for two charities unpaid of course, and I help out at a community access group.

          One of my tasks is to help a young lady who is now sixteen, she has a breathing tube, and she has heart condition in which only one half of her heart works and he scares the hell out of me when she goes blue.

          She will never work, doctors believed she would have died by five, she is in a special school, so when labour new labour Blue labour and what ever you call this labour bunch who tell people about, working or doing something  the contributory principle my question is simple should we kill this young lady inject her, refuse her a life.

          How does a country which is the fifth richest we are told deal with people who will never be contributory which i take to mean working for a living.

          blue labour failed because it was way to close to new labour.

      • Ludus57

        This is absolutely right, but the problem is that in voting Tory, the aspirational working class is voting for a party determined to ensure that social mobility is denied to them. The current figures on social mobility, which is almost at a complete standstill speak for themselves.

    • Anthony Painter

      My argument is specifically a rejection one-dimensional politics and judging people’s politics by their class. I think Labour’s major problem is judging people by their class and assuming what their politics are on that basis.

      • Generally agree. I think region is also very important . I come originally from Bucks, and in towns like High Wycombe, there are working class wards with Tory councillors. I am now in Merseyside, where class and politics pretty much do go together in the sense that Bootle produces results that the average dictatorship would be proud of – 94% Labour in one ward in May – but also that Labour regularly win wards which are middle class and in High Wycombe would be overwhelmingly Tory

    • treborc

       Every miner in my area  voted for her, they knew you know……..

    • Gary Barker

      I’m afraid it is you who has the one dimensional view if you think the difference between Left and Right is Authoritarian and Libertarian. Think more along the lines of interests of the people v interests of business and you would be far nearer the mark.

  • Brumanuensis

    I’m glad the Smith Institute have done work on ‘West Midlands Discomfort’. It was notable, on election night, how the swing from us to the Conservatives in non-metropolitan areas was almost always around 9%. I would have said more about the number of people (1.6 million) who didn’t vote though, as I’m always suspicious of straight extrapolations of where votes went, based on raw overall figures.
    I don’t think it’s helpful to set up ‘Grand Designs’ and ‘Lego’ strategies as dichotomous. You have to emphasise different elements of your programme for different people, during a campaign, otherwise you end up appealing to no-one. After all, most people agree Durham Cathedral is a very beautiful building, but invariably they’ll like different things about it.
    There are two other problems with a ‘Grand Design’ approach. First, it’s a one-shot strategy. Once you’ve used it, you can’t re-use it 5 years later, which means any subsequent election campaign feels like a let-down (compare 1997 and 2001). It’s hard to be consistently messianic after all. The other problem is that the public need to be in the right mood for a ‘Grand Designs’ approach to work. I can think of three elections that have been won on this sort of strategy since 1900: 1906, 1945 and 1979. All the others tend to be more legoish affairs. There’s also the fact that targeting 40 million people, whilst admirable in a way, leaves you in serious danger of coming across as anodyne (see Thomas Dewey’s disasterous campaign for US President in 1948).
    Finally, I’m a bit suspicious of making this all about Ed. I like Ed, but I don’t want him to become synonymous with the Labour Party.

    • Anthony Painter

      It’s strange to question the dichotomous nature of these two approaches and then outline a series of election victories that were one or the other. They are different and imply a very different form of political communication, organisation, programme, argument. All campaigns seek to have elements of both but what is important is the primary driver.

      Of course, the content is important too. But that’s for another day.

      • Brumanuensis

        That’s a fair point. What I meant was that those campaigns predominantly conformed to one of those types or the other; they always contain elements of both however.

        Could you just illustrate briefly, because I’m having a little trouble picturing the difference, how the two strategies would differ in communications terms?

  • alexsandr

    New labour was built on the lie we could have better public services and not have to pay for them.  First this was funded with odd stealth taxes, then by a massive PFI programme. People always want something for nothing.  Now the cost of this largesse has been exposed, the idea of massive public spend paid for on credit has been shown to be a sham.
    What can a party of the large state do when there is no money?  Coming up with a credible answer to that will  be the key to Labour being re-elected – ever.

  • Eeyore

    Leadership from principles is wot wun it for Maggie; unfortunately we’ve not seen anyone since with a grand strategy capable of rising above party pettiness.

    If Ed tries it now it will fail. He does not carry conviction in anything he says. It’s not just him – the entire generation of PPE/party intern/no-hope candidature/safe seat MPs is the same. They understand only the minutiae of the Westminster game and lack contact with life as we ordinary punters live it. We are increasingly immune to the dog-whistles they aim in our direction and are determined to either abstain or register a protest vote (UKIP or BNP, depending on whether we tend to the right or the left – and don’t anyone tell me that Hitler’s followers were right-wing: the clue is in the name National Socialist Party).

    If only the Tories hadn’t gone for the poster-boy and picked David Davis  instead. We’d have had a proper Tory government with a majority that would not still be racking up a further £128bn of debt a year while the armed forces bleed.

    • Lord Deedes

      David Davis? An common-to-garden oik born to a single mother, educated in a state school – where his A level grades were too low to go to University – and brought up in a council house? David Davis? Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of out nation? Shurely shome mishtake?  

  • Jeremy Poynton

    There’s the possibility of course that many many people sussed that Labour were led by a bunch of very nasty people. Simple really. 

    • Lord Deedes

      And David Cameron and George Osborne dress up as clowns and do magic tricks and make balloon animals for children in oncological wards in NHS hospitals in their spare time I suppose them being so nice and all.

      • Jussi

        To be fair, the way labour have gone about opposition has been very unedifying. Ok they cant help having some unpleasant people at the top, but its the constant nasty comments, coupled with the fact that they seem to have a sense of entitlement that i find vile.

  • Cato

    Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis was always banging on about politicians, bread and circuses (and homosexuality) a couple of thousand years or so ago. 

    “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” ( Ecclesiastes 1:9.)  

  • guest

    The only way to get back 5 million voters is to somehow find a way of allowing 5 million more immigrants into the Country,that ain’t gonna be as easy as before.

    • John Dore


    • Alan Giles

      If you must pepper this board with your wit and erudition (“ain’t gonna”), would you be good enough to use proper English and also have the courage to use your name rather than cower behind “Guest”?

  • Tony

    I’m afraid Labour let us all down, except of course for those with their snouts in the trough.

    You need some people of principle and intelligence and I don’t see one.

    I am despairing at the mess you left us with the Olympics and sponsorship.


  • alexmasterley

    The Labour majority in 1997 was due to the 2 Minutes of Hate against the Tories.  Thirteen years later the voters found that Labour were no better and probably more incompetent (Prescott?).

    The same tactics at work again (Tory toffs, out of touch etc) but it may not be so effective a second time round.

  • evad666

    Has anyone been out and asked the People why so many are no longer prepared to Vote Labour? I suggest it may well shock you. Remember Gordon Browns treatment of Gillian Duffy.

    • Batty Carmichael

      What did Gordon Brown do to Gillian Duffy? Was he two-timing Sarah? Struth!

      • evad666

        quod erat demonstrandum,

  • Mister Michael

    the 5 million were never Labour’s in the first place. They were the architypal “floating voters” who flip-flop between parties dependant on flavour of the month.

    In the mid 90s, Tony Blair was that flavour of the month. During the subsequent 13 years, the floaters spread themselves between 4 or 5 different parties.

    Labour will only gain the 5 million (or part thereof) if they have something difinitive to say. At the moment, that is sadly lacking.

  • John Luke Matthew St Paul

    I think you should all remember that Jesus Christ was a Socialist!

  • Of course you could always try a bit of moral leadership coupled with reality-based thinking, rather than following the most bigoted, base, right wing Alf Garnett types.

    Stop pandering to the right wing tabloid stereotype of feckless poor people and fix the cause of unemployment which is not laziness but a bad economy coupled with a punitive, mean-spirited welfare system. Stop blaming refugees who flee persecution and instead stop the EU dumping cheap casual labour on our shores. Stop sucking up to the City and the rich and listen to Nobel prize winning economists who say that austerity is suicide. And for God’s sake stop sniping at each other and get the Tories out!

  • uxx

    why not try to convince 5 million voters that Labour and it’s MP’s are honest ?
    That’s where your problem is.


LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends