The newly released report – Labour Together 2019 Election Review https://electionreview.labourtogether.uk/ – points to a fundamental rethink of Labour’s approach to organising how it connects with the electorate and builds a coalition of support. Given the fault line identified by the report, building that consensus will be no easy matter.
Reconciling the values of the “progressive core” with those of the rest of the electorate is a tough challenge. Nevertheless it must be done to propel Labour to victory at the next general election where, the report points out, the party will require to increase the number of its MPs by 123 just to achieve a majority of one. That is “something no major party has ever done.” However the report’s commissioners write in their preface that the report “is not a council of gloom and despair for our party but a call for realism … The next election will be a change election and Labour must be the agent of that change … to tackle insecurity, inequality, the climate emergency and all the other problems that afflict us particularly in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.”
The report identifies some key building blocks of a strategy for building the necessary coalition of support. Firstly, it needs to bring together the diverse strands of values across two basic divisions. Core Labour support comes from groups identified as Progressive Cosmopolitans, Centre-Left Pragmatists, the Green Left and Anti-Tory Heartlands. That demographic holds views fundamentally at odds with the rest of the electorate around salient issues like immigration, law and order, national pride and identity.
Secondly, Labour needs to convince voters that it’s policies are deliverable which it failed to do during the 2019 general election campaign. Voters need to feel that the policies are rooted in people’s lives, hopes and concerns.
Thirdly, the leadership team has to be projected in a very positive light, showing them as credible and trustworthy, capable of dealing with events as much as delivering on the policies.
The report refers to the need for far better, more coherent messaging between the central party and on the ground campaigners. Improved party digital infrastructure, data and training will be key to these improvements.
According to Labour List – https://labourlist.org/2020/06/labours-new-general-secretary-read-election-report-twice-over-line-by-line/ – David Evans, the incoming general secretary has found the report extremely useful, so we can expect to see changes coming in due course.
The report does point out that the changes will need to be implemented as a long-term project and envisages a continual level of engagement, rather than only campaign based activity around election times. It describes this as a relational as opposed to a transactional approach.
You could say the basic message to the party is “get your boots on and your gear ready, we have a mountain to climb and we are starting now.”
This blog article is the personal view of a member of the Meon Valley constituency Labour Party (CLP) and may not represent the official policy or views of the Labour Party.