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.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Voices from beyond the beltway

A comrade engaged in a similar defence of the last few Labour seats in a South Eastern authority sent me an email after my post below. This guy is not a defeatist - he's out there working hard for a Labour win - and he's also someone with very similar politics to mine so he's arguing for a change of campaigning strategy and organisation, not a lurch to the left (which would get us nowhere in his part of the world). I thought it was worth reproducing:

"Dear Luke,
I am a lurking reader of your blog, and I wanted to say thanks for your piece today about the party needing to be nationwide. ... I don't think the national party (dominated by people from Labour areas) realises how bad it is out in the shires now. In the SE we have some CLPs putting up only one or two candidates for 50+ seat councils, and many local parties have almost given up hope. In the SE we are contesting only50% of seats, so we are way behind before we even start. And in several places I know, we will lose some of our few seats because no-one is willing to stand to replace retiring councillors. The LDs message of "Labour can't win here" is killing us, as people defect, even in areas with Labour councillors. There are at least 100 constituencies and maybe a lot more where that has worked and switched 5,000+ voters from Labour to the LDs. That's at least half a million and I think it could be a million votes lost nationally - and several percentage points in national polls and voting figures (which makes our position look even worse than it is already). I know it will never be easy out here, but for 8 years I have been pleading with the party to start attacking the LDs. They have said for years, "If we do that, it makes them look credible." Well, that idiocy has come home to roost now. After Thursday, have a look at the shires below the Mersey-Humberline - you will see a lot of councils with no Labour members, and great Labour deserts."

9 Comments:

Anonymous Andrea said...

"In the SE we have some CLPs putting up only one or two candidates for 50+ seat councils"

there're authorities (not necesserly in SE) with no Labour candidates at all..for ex Rutland

"I know it will never be easy out here, but for 8 years I have been pleading with the party to start attacking the LDs"

yes, especially when they tried (with Kennedy) to present themself as a centre-left alternative even if many of their elements aren't centre-left at all (at least IMO).

6:15 pm, April 30, 2007

 
Blogger Commissar said...

"not a lurch to the left (which would get us nowhere in his part of the world)"

The last thing the Party needs is for policy direction to be based around the idea of winning over the South East vote.

We've done enough to alienate our core vote in recent years, another two steps to the right and we may get a few more councillors in England's Garden but lose a hell of a lot more in the old industrial towns and cities in the north

6:56 pm, April 30, 2007

 
Anonymous adrian mcmenamin said...

Luke have followed up on this here

7:21 pm, April 30, 2007

 
Anonymous Stuart said...

One of the reasons I am supporting Hazel for Deputy is I know she is committed to addressing the problems faced by CLPs that have no realistic prospect of winning parliamentary representation, and for whom securing the election of Labour candidates at LA level is a creditworthy local achievement.

A national party needs nationwide organisation and every Labour voter, wherever he or she lives, is entitled to have a Labour candidate to vote for at local elections.

More is required of the party when it comes to supporting local CLPs in these areas.

12:08 am, May 01, 2007

 
Anonymous obscure CLPs need help said...

"One of the reasons I am supporting Hazel for Deputy is I know she is committed to addressing the problems faced by CLPs that have no realistic prospect of winning parliamentary representation, and for whom securing the election of Labour candidates at LA level is a creditworthy local achievement."

What are her plans exactly? I can't see anything on her website. Does she have solid proposals or is this just something she said at a meeting?

7:23 am, May 01, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Commissar

I'm sorry, but what you wrote is idiotic beyond belief.

There are 7 Labour MPs in Kent, 5 in Sussex, 3 in Essex, just to start with - all in marginal seats. If you start saying you don't want to win over votes in the South East then before long you are out of government and can do nothing for any other region.

People in the South East are not some alien breed that are all plutocrats and Labour is not a party that only exists to represent some regions and not others.

7:38 am, May 01, 2007

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Luke this is another really good thread but I don't agree with you and I think commissar is correct.

There is a near-obsession about electoral strategy being solely about numbers and that these numbers are really all about 'middle England' or 'the Shires'. The cummulative impact of this enduring focus has been to gradually hollow-out the heart of constituency parties 'everywhere else in the UK thats outside the South East'.

Much of the supposed 'problem' of Brown's Scottishness is actually about the fact that he is not some sort of 'Essex' type man.

The frightening, growing, greedy, grasping budget that is the disaster of the LONDON Olympics is now exacerbating this 'outside the south east' alienation.

On your point about the Lib Dems - by all means attack them but learn from the counter-productive use of negativity against the SNP in Scotland. For a long time now the Labour response has been based on negativity and fear of what the SNP will allegedly bring. That works for a while, but now it seems the Scottish electorate just do not believe it. A leader in the hitherto pro-Labour 'Sunday Herald' (a top Scottish national)
was a masterly treatise on why they now recommend a vote for SNP because of Labour's negative politicking.

You have to have something over the longer term that is more than just fear and negativity - otherwise you do indeed just lend credibility to your opponents - as well as damage your own.

9:56 am, May 01, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, anybody who knows anything about the Scottish press would know that the Herald is the Scottish Tory bastion going back a century or more.

Furthermore, it's journalists have one vote each (ok, two if you want to be pedantic), just like the rest of us.

As for the impact of negative campaigning, let's wait and see what the votes show.

12:04 pm, May 01, 2007

 
Anonymous the Ghost of Nye said...

The problem here is that nobody is asking the obvious question...why are we down to so few activists? It isn't because of any lurch to the left which, Luke is always warning us in his excellent and analytical writing style, would be the death of Labour. It is almost the oppostite. Surely it is because we have lost touch with ordinary voters of all classes, who have lost faith with us, because we have abandoned any sensible centre left policies on, say, housing, public provision of public services, or employment rights to actually protect British industry. Nor have we any coherent strategy for a graceful withdrawal from Iraq. There is little appetite for Cameron but until we can shift back from the centre right to the centre left, where people know and trust us, he will reap the rewards of our drift by default as we simply have no machine to combat the Tories. Why is there no Labour organisation? Because we stopped offering hope of a better Britain and a better world about two years ago and despite strong economic performance, people lost faith and drifted away.

5:40 pm, May 01, 2007

 

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