A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Remedial Maths for the Labour Left

Exam Question 1:

The latest ICM poll puts Labour on 31%, Tories on 40% and the Lib Dems on 22%.

Let's assume all the Lib Dems are to the left of Labour (even though we actually know the majority of them are tweed-wearing West Country farmers or the kind of lumpen proletarians who could just as easily vote BNP (think the charming politically correct platform Simon Hughes won the Bermondsey by-election on).

Let's also assume all the Tories are to the right of Labour.

Let's also assume that any change of political orientation can only win votes (even though we know that the 14% of voters who came back to Labour between 1983 and 1997 might be alienated by a move back to the left).

If your objective is to regain a Labour poll lead, which is easier, targeting Lib Dem voters or targeting Tories? (assuming you can't do a bit of both)

To regain a poll lead Labour could try to win back 4.5% of the electorate from the Tories, most of whom actually voted Labour as recently as May 2005. This would give Lab 34.5%, Con 34.5%. These people predominantly live in the marginal seats that decide the outcomes of General Elections.

Or it could try to convert 9% of the electorate from the Lib Dems, most of whom did not vote Labour in 2005 and some of whom have never voted Labour, implying that we could somehow win over nearly 4 in 10 current Lib Dem supporters. This would give Lab 40%, Con 40%. These people predominantly live in safe Labour seats that we will win anyway, or in seats where Labour is so far behind in 3rd place that it is unlikely to ever win.

Now explain the political strategy advocated by people from Compass leftwards.


Anonymous Pat Kelly said...

lumpen proletarians who could just as easily vote BNP (think the charming politically correct platform Simon Hughes won the Bermondsey by-election on).

That would be a reference to the campaign against Peter Tatchell whose website: http://www.petertatchell.net/politics/simonhughes.htm during the recent LibDem leadership contest described Simon Hughes as "the best of the Lib Dem leadership candidates" and "the contender most likely to move the Liberal democrats in a progressive direction."

Some people, even when badly mauled in the past, have a little political grace and decency. Others clearly do not.

10:50 am, August 23, 2006

Anonymous Duncan said...

Luke - I'm a little shocked and baffled that you think of the political spectrum and the political parties in this way: the Lib Dems (the descendents of the SDP/Liberal Alliance, after all) as being to the left of the party, and that we should keep clear blue water between us and them. Even were I a little more 'mainstream' in my Labour positioning, I would want us to be distinctly and clearly to the left of the Liberal Democrats, who - after all - are anti-socialist, anti-Trade Union, and opportunistic on home and foreign affairs.

More importantly though, I think that while we think of party programmes in terms of 'left' and right' - the electorate at large think of them in terms of right and wrong. They may very strongly disagree with me about immigration or Northern Ireland, and think I'm wrong about those - but think I'm broadly right about Iraq and the private finance initiative. It wouldn't make them to my left or right. I would see it therefore as my duty not to try and work out what they wanted to hear about immigration and Northern Ireland and spout it, whatever I actually believed: I'd try and persuade them I was right about that too. I suspect you believe in persuasive, campaigning politics too (after all you are happy to take an unpopular stance on issues you feel strongly about) so I don't think it should really come down to maths for any of us.

10:52 am, August 23, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't think the Lib Dems are to our left, for the reasons you set out. But I get the impression Compassites do.

You are correct in that my politics are based on what I believe to be correct, not necessarily popular, but it's handy in persuading less convinced colleagues that generally moderate positions win elections.

12:07 pm, August 23, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Pat, if you want grace regarding Lib Dems you have come to the wrong blog.

12:13 pm, August 23, 2006

Blogger A soft socialist said...

Lib dems are left? Thats why they are cutting taxes.

They are just nutty, read that orange book or their mini manifesto on crime.

They'd never get another vote.

4:22 pm, August 23, 2006

Blogger Jon Rogers said...

I think the point you are missing, comrade, is that the declining turnout in elections by Labour supporters reflects the disillusion of our core support with the fairly crap and ineffective New Labour policies which your mates in the Government are obsessed with.

The New Labour crew are now completely incapable of inspiring enthusiastic support from anyone including their own former cheerleaders.

So, time for the Labour left. Or the Tories, but I prefer socialism :)

Or do you think that we can win a fourth term by abolishing inheritance tax and continuing with the engaging farce "Carry On Privatising"? (oh and bombing Iran or whoever else George Bush wants to bomb this week)...

11:26 pm, August 23, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Jon, if you had actually read my previous posts you would see that despite the fact I am firmly on the right of the Labour Party I am not in favour of either abolishing inheritance tax or further choice/marketisation of public services. But hey, don't let that get in the way of a good generalised smear.

Why do you think the policies you advocate would be any more popular now than they were when they caused us to almost come third in 1983?

8:33 am, August 24, 2006

Blogger A soft socialist said...

Luke, for goodness sake some more 'labour' policies and a bit of renewal does not mean entryism and 1983.

Something simple like a fully elected house of lords and extending the minimum wage to all workers as well as raising it to a more reasonable level is hardly militant.

11:13 am, August 24, 2006

Blogger Geraint said...

I do love the way New Labour think that anyone slightly to the left of them wants to return to the 1980s, they know it is a load of Rubbish.

As for the polls, they been wrong before (Predicted a Labour victory in 1992) the Tories need to have a big lead to get a slim majority, and by 2009/10 anything could have happend to cut the Tory lead or give Labour a lead.

What we should be more worried about is what might happen in the up coming Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections and what the "Blair-effect" might be on them!

2:05 pm, August 25, 2006


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