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.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Learning the wrong lessons

An interesting debate about organisation is raging inside the Labour machine.

In the sensible corner are Victoria Street apparatchiks who want to invest in full-time field organisers, having seen the impact of putting staff into Brent & Harrow and Enfield & Haringey on Labour's unexpected GLA wins there. It's impossible to deliver the kind of ground campaign that will save Labour marginal seats without people on the ground to mobilise volunteers, tailor the campaign to local specifics, run canvassing and produce literature.

In the senseless corner is a certain Cabinet Minister who thinks we should make our organisers redundant, ignore the difficult but essential task of rebuilding local parties and their activist bases, and spend the cash saved on glossy direct mailshots.

Enough to make you weep.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what might go down well, and neither you, the Victoria Street Spads or the Cabinet are capable of it - a bit of humility.

The lovely Madame D. Chiang-Kai-Portillo MP doesn't get it either, calling our new Mayor an accident waiting to happen. We'll see; he can't do a worse job of it than his divisive predecessor.

5:26 pm, May 04, 2008

Anonymous Hovedan said...

It really is an irrelevance whether you have people on the ground or not, if you show a big v sign to the electorate by scoring the 10p tax own goal. At last, Ministers are now admitting that we got it seriously wrong. Even in comfortable middle class areas such as Hove, there is economic uncertainty. If the Government is listening, my advice is to do what it can to cut taxes for middle class and working class voters, and if that means cutting fuel duty, so be it. We need to help people not punish them. I know that the left of the party will object and the Greens will accuse of us not caring about the environment - but the longer we ignore our suburban supporters and working class voters, the longer we allow the tories to shape the agenda.

5:50 pm, May 04, 2008

Anonymous Gus Baker said...

I think Hovedan is partly right about cutting fuel duty, but for green reasons I'd prefer to see a tax rebate for businesses (truckers etc) rather than an all out cut.

From what I can tell, bad party organisation cost us dear on Thurdsay.

Our CLP got thousands of really good glossy leaflets barely 3 days before polling day.
Most of them are now in the dump.

7:05 pm, May 04, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

If Labour have to resort to a tax cutting agenda, then better to go into opposition and let the Tories do it instead. There's no point in being in government if even the most elementary social democratic ideas are going to be abandoned.

The 10p tax decision was a disaster, but overall tax cuts are not the answer. People are really not that stupid - it will appear to be a desperate measure and will do nothing to improve the outlook for Labour.

And cut the amount of money coming in overall, and something will have to give - unless a higher tax band for those earning most is also mooted.

If the electorate really has moved to the right, then the inevitable consequence is a Tory government.

7:09 pm, May 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

care to name which cabinet minister?

8:02 pm, May 04, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

The electorate have moved to the right on some issues but deep down there are still socialist principles that Labour have chosen to ignore.

We can't expect to burden the very wealthy with our welfare system but we must expect them to make a contribution. Too many don't pay anything at all.

There should be tax cuts and they should be aimed at those earning less than 30k per annum. The current tax system is criminal and discourages hard work and rewards lazyness.

Duty on fuel should be cut by 20% as the current prices are crippling business and workers. There is nothing GREEN about fuel duty, people don't use their cars less if fuel is more expensive...there is more than enough data to prove this.

At the same time we shouldn't be cutting public services. We should be looking at at streamlining the public sector so it operates more efficiently. Less managers, more people doing the actual job and less paper work. We need to stop measuring and spend more time actually doing the job. Blair was too eager to show performance targets and statistics and as a result our teachers, police, armed forces, nurses and doctors spend more time filling in forms than they do actually doing the job they were trained to do.

Just look at how student loan system is managed. It's dogged with red tape making it expensive and clunky. I sometimes wonder whether it would be just cheaper to make higher education FREE again.

When I go into hospital I want the professionals treating me to be concerned about my health and not performance targets set by unqualified managers.

Go back 20 years and this country had FREE further education, FREE means tested university education and FREE prescriptions. Yet here we are paying a fortune on tax yet our services keep on getting cut. Something is very wrong with this country.

All Labour have done is continue where the last conservative government left off. They have cut and privatized more public services than the last conservative government and all thanks to a 200 seat majority.

We went to war based on a lie and thousands of Americans and British have lost their lives as a result. Thousands more, myself included are sick or injured. What also about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people that have died as a result of this conflict, lots of these being innocent people caught up in shelling.

This wasn't a protest vote, this was the British people saying they do not want to be run by Gordon Brown. They don't like him and they don't trust the Labour party. And can you blame them.

8:41 pm, May 04, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Rich - some of the at I agree with. You should read Bob Marshall Andrews' contribution in the telegraph today!

With regard to taxation, I think thjat rather than tax cuts per se, we need to look at much higher thresholds, taking the low paid out of tax, and more progressive taxation for the highest earners - who really can afford more than 40% for income over 100K

The issue about targets and letting professionals get on with their work is something I fully agree with.

Carrots rather than sticks need to be used to promote public transport. And I think the European model of road pricing makes more sense than universal high fuel duty.

9:23 pm, May 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The much smaller party did very well in London. Anyone would think that the vote share went down and Ken got a drubbing. Er actually he won over a million votes.

A pretty fantastic result - far better than the rest of England.

As for ministers who think they run and win elections - they should try a bit harder on the policy front before thinking that glossy direct mail is the way forward.

Campaigning has not changed much since 1945 and for good reasons. Basic organisation is about talking and communicating to voters.

100000 letters wont do it.

12:10 am, May 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, while I agree, I think that some of the publicity we had in Enfield-Haringey was not good.

A lot of that was London-wide stuff - and it just didn't cut the mistard: things like lots of block cap text and a sans serif typeface are just elementary mistakes.

But not bothering to have an anti-Lib Dem squeeze message on Joanne McCartney's publicity was frankly bonkers.

Still, she won, and that's what matters in the end.

5:44 pm, May 05, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Merseymike, yes I read it. And I think it is this why so many voters like myself have moved to the conservatives.

I have done my homework and I do think Cameron has more balanced views than say Mr Howard....who would never have got my vote. I didn't vote for the BNP in the end because I took the time to go to a local meeting and quiet frankly I was appalled at the racist remarks coming from some. Not all, of the members. I would much prefer to vote for a Labour but as yet I can't see why I would want to.

People forget that most working class people when they vote they vote very carefully. After all we are most likely to feel the effects of political changes and therefore voting is very important.

Labour have lost their core support because they have refused to protect workers and their jobs. A lot of middle class support has also been lost because they too are seeing the impact of yet another government unwilling to tackle real social issues.

I do sometimes wonder how much money we waste just on red tape and sometimes think it would be just better to get the job done rather than wasting money on tenders, contractors and statistics. Too many people have their fat fingers in public sector contracts and in turn are influencing the way in which local authorities operate.

The private sector is not always more efficient. The very fact that they have to make a profit sometimes makes them unsuitable for the public sector. Just looking at the cleaning of hospitals and the failures of private sector contracts. How much does it cost to employ an army of full time cleaners @ £7.00 per hour compared to an army employed via contractor. Pay your staff well and most will work hard and do a good job. Employ them from agencies and you'll get miserable workers on low pay.

I'm not sure whether the conservatives will be any better? But I'm willing to give them a go. In the mean time the Labour party will have to reform or face another 20 years out of government.

7:32 pm, May 05, 2008


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