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, June 02, 2008

The turning point?

I never thought I'd be relieved that Labour was on 30% in the polls, but tonight's ComRes poll (CON 44%(+1), LAB 30%(+4), LIB DEM 16%(-3)) seems to suggest the worst is over and we are heading back into "normal" territory.

Now Labour needs to stop the panicking and get behind our Government to make this a sustained recovery.


Anonymous Julian Pipeshaft said...

This needs to be our motto, now.

11:26 pm, June 02, 2008

Anonymous Labour Matters said...

//seems to suggest the worst is over and we are heading back into "normal" territory.//

Actually means nothing of the kind, but if it makes you happy thinking that then good.

11:31 pm, June 02, 2008

Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

Now Labour needs to stop the panicking and get behind our Government to make this a sustained recovery.

Alternatively, our government needs to stop the panicking and get behind Labour members to make this a sustained recovery.

11:40 pm, June 02, 2008

Anonymous Evidently Chickentown said...

I wish I could share you optimism at languishing at 30% in the polls but I cannot.

We were given a direction to take over two years ago but Gordon Brown knew better.

In December 2006, Policy Network published their e-pamphlet called: “Third Time Lucky? Lessons from New Labour’s 2005 Election Campaign“.

The authors were central players in ‘engineering’ Labour’s third successive (and arguably, its most difficult) General Election victory in 2005 - Matt Carter, Fiona Gordon, Philip Gould, Alan Milburn and Sally Morgan.

In his chapter of the pamphlet, ‘How Labour won the 2005 General Election’, Alan Milburn spelt out what lessons could be drawn from that victory and what, in particular, incumbent centre-left parties needed to do to stay in Government.

Milburn highlighted five imperatives for Labour to pursue during its Third Term in office:

“First, stay connected. This is the hardest task of all for an incumbent party of government. But the rise of right-wing populism in Western Europe and elsewhere is a reminder that a new politics – of identity – symbolized in issues like immigration and crime cannot be ignored by the centre-left. Investment in new means of campaigning – outside of election periods – is critical to getting messages directly through to key groups of voters on these and other issues.

“Second, turn incumbency to advantage. It is both a blessing and a curse. Make it an advantage by emphasizing, in a world of rapid change and mounting insecurity, the risks of radical change versus continuity in policy (on the economy, skills, technology, education and childcare) that help create security.

“Third, position in the centre ground of politics. In a world where deference has declined and traditional party loyalties hold less sway, electoral success goes to those who can genuinely demonstrate cross-class centre ground appeal.

“Fourth, emphasise values. Loyalties to institutions might be fading but belief in values remains strong. Finding dividing line policies that express a difference in values with opponents. Above all, ensure that policies are driven by politics and not the other way round.

“Fifth, face the future. Avoid the trap of incumbency by refusing to rest on your laurels. Always be on the side of reform. Conservatives conserve things. Centre-left parties change things. The longer the tenure of office the greater the need to keep changing.”

Wise words indeed. How Labour’s Leadership needs Alan Milburn ‘in the mix’ right now.

How I also wish Gordon Brown (and his long-time coterie) were humble and courageous enough to put the past behind them, embrace the wisdom and experience of the likes of Milburn, Stephen Byers and Charles Clarke.

Sadly it’s probably all too late. Arrogance and self-certainty has always been hard-wired into the psyche of Brown’s ‘people’. Bringing onboard those brilliant talents that kept Tony Blair afloat for all those years, would be a ‘mea cupla’ too far for the PM.


12:08 am, June 03, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...


That cocktail of recommendations is largely what exists now, albeit I think they grossly underestimate the ability of an incumbent government to constantly renew itself.

Its also not looking forward, but longing for Blairite days gone by, but this is not the late 90's and they were yesterday's solutions.

3:51 am, June 03, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

I thought it was supposed to be lefties who published pamphlets and bemoaned the fact that no-one took any notice?

10:59 am, June 03, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


Fiona Gordon has been the PM's Political Secretary for the last year so one would have thought she would have drawn Gordon's attention to the strategy advocated in the pamphlet she co-authored.

11:02 am, June 03, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thought of Matt 'let's bankrupt the Labour Party' Carter being cited as an authority on the future of the Labour Party is deeply worrying.

11:54 am, June 03, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

so Luke, I take it you don't share this perspective:


12:56 pm, June 03, 2008

Anonymous Sir Barrett Holmes said...

The Tories have gotten cocky. They are convinced the next general election will be a push-over. Good. Let them think it. Their arrogance will destroy them in the end.

4:05 pm, June 03, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Luke you need your head checking. Labour are about to pass a law that will allow terror suspects to be held without trial for a 42 days.

42 days is a prison sentence itself so the the idea of holding a person without charge for 42 days is disgusting.

What I don't understand is why is it necessary to have this legislation at all when up until now there has been no need for it. Why is this bill so crucial to the PM?

My experience of the military and police operations is that evidence in particular electronic records can be obtained within 24 hours and those with the right clearance withing minutes.

So the police should have a enough time to compile a case to justify charges under the current system. Also, if they have to release a suspect because of the lack of evidence then surely close scrutiny of the suspect is the better option than changing our laws that govern our legal right for a fair trial.

This argument sounds very like the argument to go to war with Iraq. Based on sexed up documents and a climate of fear.

I lived through and served when the IRA conducted their bombing campaigns and know the result of forcing trials on innocent men. But even then we didn't need 42 days, despite the IRA being more sophisticated and better equipped.

What worries me is that this law will in the end force confessions from innocent men and women who are simply activists fighting a war they disagree with. In turn this will cause more extremism and more chance of terrorist activity.

I'm also worried that in the future the definition of terrorism could be relaxed to include people who go on strike or people who blockade fuel refineries etc etc.

This labour government is sending us down a very dangerous path and in the end we will lose our freedom. I never thought I would see the day when a Labour government removed one of the most fundamental rights.

8:27 pm, June 03, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a look at the analysis on Crosby's doughnut strategy over at http://forgesianthinking.wordpress.com

8:47 pm, June 03, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

There is no turning point and there won't be for at least 20 years. Get used to losing elections Luke as you are going to be in opposition for a very long time. Thats unless you choose to change sides.

7:36 pm, June 04, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Now, whilst I agree that Labour will probably lose next time, given that I don't see anything significant in the Tory programme which will turn things around, I think the latter post is evidence-free.

Politics can change very quickly. You get a Tory government, some sort of economic collapse/crisis, a change of labour leadership, a distinctly different policy, and bingo! Labour are back in power.

I recall times when both the Labour and Tory parties have been written off. Spim.

4:58 pm, June 05, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Very true Mike but people have good memories also. Just look how long it has taken the conservatives to recover. Labour are in the same if not worse position of the last conservative government.

Also remember that people tend to give a party 10 years these days. Then they get pissed off and they they start voting against them.

Looking at how the economic situation is panning out I think Labour will be going to the polls in the middle of a very bad recession. 8 Years ago Labour could have survived it but not this time.

7:41 pm, June 05, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Yes, but as I said, I don't actually think that the Conservatives will do anything very different, and there is not the enthusiasm FOR the Conservatives which there certainly was FOR Blair in 97.

Opinion is extremely volatile and I think that the thing characterising the parties at the moment is how light people carry their loyalties to them.

In addition, going to the polls during a recession is hardly the recipe for Tory success afterwards, given that people would undoubtedly have expectations which couldn't be fulfilled. The last thing they want is to take over in those circumstances.

10:19 pm, June 05, 2008


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