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, June 22, 2008

Not helpful

WWW.LabourHome.org has been running a little survey about the popularity of the Cabinet.

They asked me to link to it to get more responses.

I didn't because I couldn't see it would be anything other than ammo for our opponents.

It isn't based on a scientific sample, but on a self-selecting group of respondents. It's impossible to know whether Tories or Lib Dems have completed the survey pretending to be Labour supporters in order to make the results look worse.

Unsurprisingly it has ended up as a big story in the News of the World (http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/2306_brown.shtml) with the results portrayed in the worst possible light for Labour.

LabourHome is run by Alex Hilton, who is a Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. Alex is a decent guy and I respect his site being a forum for a genuine debate that won't always be what the Party leadership wants to hear. But in this case and in some of the recent posts over there I can't help wishing that he'd think more carefully about whether the polls etc. he is running can in any way benefit Labour. As a PPC as well as an individual Party member he does have some responsibility for what gets done by the Tories or the News of the World with these survey results.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't agree with you on this one. The genie is out of the bottle and you can't hope to use 20th century politics and campaigning in 2008. That is exactly what you are advocating by criticising the poll. OK it's not scientific, but the results reflect very accurately every day from Labour Party members I know. You can't hide from reality, if Alex didn't do it on Labour Home then someoneelse would somewhere else.

10:33 am, June 23, 2008

Anonymous Labour Matters said...

In defence of Labour Home, I think you're failing to understand what is happening here, and blaming the wrong messenger.

Firstly, it's irrefutable that the poll isn't scientific, nor necessarily a poll of Labour members alone, but it's not worthless despite all that. Repeated over months, the poll could be a reasonable barometer of opinion.

That the News of the World should choose to use it's findings to run yet another "nobody likes Gordon" story isn't really a surprise, nor should it worry Alex at Labour Home unduly.

The fact is that the press has constructed a narrative of a Labour Party bankrupt of ideas and support, which is out of touch, and lead by a man who has personal failings which make him unfit for office. They will bolster this narrative any way they can, whilst at the same time play down real divisions and sleaze in Tory ranks.

So last week alone, Andy Burnham came under fire for supposedly sexist comments; Tom Harris for "living on a different planet"; Brown was "gutless" for not taking on David Davis (whilst his speech on the subject got little coverage); and, now it's Labour Home's turn to become a stick with which to beat out the narrative.

In short, the media have decided that the story is that Labour's a busted flush, and they have been writing in that vein for months now. If you want to know why, The Telegraph today gives the game away today when it says:

//It all began to fall apart at last year's Labour Party conference when the awful reality dawned on every journalist present (even those whose sympathies were with Brownism): neither Mr Brown nor his ministers had anything of interest to say. The 10-year wait for leadership, the promise of a thrilling new version of reforming radical government, the arrival of New Labour Mark II, the revelation of Gordon's preciously guarded solutions to our problems (so long frustrated by Tony Blair) all amounted to - nothing.//

Got that? ..."the awful reality dawned on every journalist".

Now, I'm all for a debate as to how Labour can best counteract a relentless press bent on our destruction, but I can tell you now that writing less, or doing so only with extreme self-censorship, isn't going to do it. We need more positive coverage, even if we have to produce it ourselves, but let's not kid ourselves that the journalists are able to run with this narrative for months when it doesn't resonate with the voters, or indeed Labour Home's readers, members or otherwise.

If it wasn't to be Labour Home, it could be you or I, or Harpymarx or Grimmer up North for that matter. I could make a headline out of Tom Harris' latest musings, which if I were a newspaper editor would serve me well as it might just lead to Harris' demise, but it would be as bogus a story as the last "miserable" one.

Truth no longer matters though, so if Labour Home's current publicity should be used for anything it's as a warning that the journalists really are out to get us, and anything you say will be used against you (and Labour).

10:55 am, June 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly Luke, the poll results were widely misrepresented. There is a minority portion of the party that wants Gordon to go, and a large chunk that want to see him take us to the General Election. The misrepresented chunk is those who say he should be given until party conference to sort things out. This presumes that those people would like Brown take to us into the general election – if he sorts out his government by the autumn. This is not a call for him to go but an indication that the party still has faith that he can turn things around.

In terms of what I should or should not be doing as a parliamentary candidate, I’m facilitating honest and transparent communication. This is what the Labour Party ought to be doing from top to bottom. Why do you think people trust politicians so little when you and others advocate the public moderation of views to make them more palatable.

Maybe my opinions are unpalatable, but they are honestly mine – and they still reside squarely within the boundaries of acceptable Labour thought.

Alex Hilton
07985 384 859

11:30 am, June 23, 2008

Anonymous Jag Singh said...

Oy! Don't forget about Jag Singh (the other half of Labourhome) - who actually filtered out all the Tory troll responses. Get in touch if you really want to know more.

2:09 pm, June 23, 2008

Anonymous AngryVoter said...

Hi Luke. Sorry mate but I'm a tory who visits LabourHome quite regularly and get into good debates with the members there. But I've never filled in any of the surveys and I doubt any of the other Tories and Lib Dem viewers and commentators have either, it says "LabourHome Poll" and despite being a member, I am not a follower of the party. So I don't see it as any of my business to fill in another silly form when I already do the poll at ConservativeHome. Seems you're wrong again.

4:43 pm, June 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As opposed to you with your blinkered partisanship, saying "I know! Let's get a terror victim's mother to stand in Haltemprice, especially if they died really horribly. Even better let's get that bloke who had to have his face reconstructed. That'll make the eeeevil Tories look even worse!"

'Cos that makes Labour look really great, doesn't it?

7:54 pm, June 23, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

But Brown is unpopular, there is no denying it. He is the most hated man in politics.

10:45 pm, June 23, 2008

Blogger Mark Hanson said...

''I would echo those comments. There are precious few avenues for Labour members to express their views as a block and Labourhome, as the voice of grassroots should be a vehicle for that.

You are right to say its not wholly representative but neither are CLP meetings, where the same few turn up each month and even fewer do most of the work and therefore in effect run our local parties. They will in many cases be totally unrepresentative of Party members generally or Labour supporters.

In days gone by the media would approach back benchers, NEC members or Union officials as the voice of the grassroots, yet they too would be unrepresentative of the membership.

The Labhome poll will make mistakes and spark discussion but it will always try and be genuine and truthful. I don't see how this month's findings jar with what members who I speak to think.

The ultimate aim is that this poll grows and grows and grows and becomes the view of many more people - who can speak their views and see them reported elsewhere, regardless of whether its what the leadership wants to hear.''

8:37 am, June 24, 2008


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