Winning from 28%
Not that anyone has asked, I've been trying to figure out how on earth Labour can bounce back for a third time from the current 28% poll rating.
This needs to happen fast before in usual Labour fashion, we turn in on ourselves and go into a downward spiral like we did last summer.
Here's my unsolicited advice to Gordon:
- Bring forward the Budget date and in it announce a fiscal stimulus for the mass of ordinary voters, as opposed to the banks - a big increase in the threshold for paying income tax so that consumers actually have tangible extra take home pay. It'll pay for itself if they go out and spend it and thereby save people's jobs and keep the dole bill down.
- Concentrate government bailouts on manufacturing industry if there isn't enough cash to go round all sectors. Manufacturing jobs are what we will need now that the myth you can run a nation based on financial services, not making stuff, has been exposed. And the people who work in manufacturing happen to be disproportionately concentrated in the social groups who are swing voters and in the regions where there are lots of marginal seats.
- If the banks won't lend the capital you are giving them, fully nationalise one of them both pour encourager les autres, and to give the state a vehicle for lending to SMEs and people that need mortgages.
- Hold an early reshuffle. No names but some of your ministers seem to be keeping their heads down and not coming out fighting for the party in its hour of need. Or indeed doing much at all. At least one is making an embarrassing hash of their portfolio. Sack a few of them and move the others. Promote a combination of aggressive old attack dogs who know how to take the fight to the Tories and have nothing to lose, and youngsters who might benefit from a brief experience of having Cabinet rank in case we are heading into opposition for so long that only the youngest current Ministers will ever hold office again.
- Harriet Harman has too many jobs and isn't very good at hiding that she wants to add your's to the list. Removing her role as Party Chair will a) remind her who is boss and b) free up the Party Chair role to go to someone who will do it full time and run the election campaign a la Chris Patten '92 while you save the economy. This person can also do some of the emotional connecting with the electorate that isn't exactly your favourite aspect of the job.
- If this narrows the gap, you won't get a fourth chance and a fourth bounce. Cut your losses and go to the polls on 4th June, Euro and County election day. Governments usually get a lift in the polls during the actual campaign - and the Tories need a big lead for a majority - so you could win even if you start behind. You won't have a bad set of "mid-term" elections to respond to if they are on the same day as the General Election. It will kill the BNP's chance of winning MEPs as the turnout will be higher than if the Euros were held alone. And if we lose we die with our boots on, while we still determine the timing.
- We can't just fight the General Election on our economic recovery package. That isn't a four year programme. We need a positive message about what happens after the recession. That needs to take the form of two or three bold, radical social policies of the scale of the National Minimum Wage in 1997 that all our voters and activists will be inspired by. I'd start with a huge increase in free early years childcare.
- But we also need to remember the stuff that motivates the 7% of voters who backed Blair in 2005 but are not with us now: we need some uncompromising new policies to show we are still serious about tackling crime, illegal immigration and security.
- Attack the Lib Dems as well as the Tories in the campaign.
- If we don't get a majority or very near to it, don't do a Ted Heath and try to cut a deal to hang on in the event of a hung parliament. Accept the verdict of the electorate and walk away with dignity so that Labour can regroup properly not cling on in government for the sake of it.