Labour should announce fewer policies, report recommends

Elliot Chappell

A new report has advised the Labour Party to “make fewer policy announcements and concentrate on a handful of those already announced” as part of an effort to “communicate a confident, ambitious and compassionate Labour Party”.

Published by Labour in Communications, a group made up of Labour supporters working in communications, Fit for the Future made a number of recommendations on how the party can regain power at the next election, including:

  • “Integrating and investing in digital, placing it at the core of the communications strategy;
  • “Reintroducing a pledge card of announcements to tie together different policies;
  • “Embracing and developing relationships with businesses of all sizes;
  • “Creating a political cabinet with a mandate to deliver Labour’s message to the public, comprised of senior figures from within the shadow cabinet and regional leaders where Labour is in power;
  • “Holding shadow cabinet meetings outside of London on a rotational basis to detoxify the party’s London-centric image; and
  • “Refocusing Labour’s message to the public to be centered on our vision for the country, and not our own internal issues.”

In a foreword to the document, released on Wednesday, former Labour leader Neil Kinnock urged Keir Starmer to “restore relevance to our message, show that we have deep commitment to our country and communities and practical answers”.

“Labour is at a turning point. At the last general election, our packed policy platform, our communication style, and – as the evidence shows – the personality that Labour presented brought rejection,” he wrote.

“There is a wealth of young and creative talent in groups such as Labour in Communications which, in this report, provide several of the ingredients for up-to-date, forward-looking ways of making a convincing political appeal.

“Equipped with this, and with the output of candid reviews being undertaken across the Labour Party, the irreplaceable hard work of campaigning can be given greater focus, coherence, and effectiveness.”

Kinnock, who served as the Labour leader between 1983 and 1992, will discuss the recommendations made in Fit for the Future and other topics in a virtual question-and-answer session on Friday afternoon.

Commenting on the launch of the paper, Labour in Communications co-founder Nabhan Malik said: “Britain is waiting for a Labour government which will help solve some of the big challenges we are facing, such as falling living standards, growing job insecurity and shrinking public services.

“This report is designed to help make that Labour government a reality, by equipping the party with the tools and ideas it needs to get fit for the future and ready to fight the next general election.”

The paper made 22 recommendations in total, divided into those related to policy, social and digital, delivery, broadcast and print, the shadow cabinet and “brand”.

The group stated that Labour has announced over 200 non-Covid related policies since Starmer became leader, and argued that “simply announcing fewer policies would ensure that the ones they do announce would get more cut through”.

“The party announces one policy and before it has finished announcing it, it has moved on to another, without linking the two together,” the report said.

Labour in Communications also warned that “policy demands cannot be announced in a vacuum” and that they need to be “relevant in the moment, salient in the eyes of voters and they need to fit a wider narrative”.

The authors urged the Labour leadership to focus on answering the question: “Why are you in politics and what are you setting out to achieve?” The report added that a “wider narrative will stem from there”.

“Policy announcements should be a proxy to reiterate the party’s values and core philosophy, but too often it feels like the announcements are made to mask the fact there is a clear lack of vision coming from the Labour leadership,” it stated.

The group emphasised the opportunity the upcoming conference will give the party to “dominate the news agenda”, advising the leadership to “give more thought to the overall narrative they want to convey and then weave any policies into it”.

Labour in Communications, founded earlier this year, is a network of around 1,200 Labour Party supporters working in the corporate communications, public relations, public affairs and government relations sectors. Its 26-page report includes input from former and current Labour MPs, local councillors and advisers to the party.

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