Thursday, January 21, 2016
Why Labour Lost The General Election
In the Labour Party Report "Learning the Lessons from Defeat" (by Margaret Beckett) there is an important section which states "for all the strength of our policies, much of the evidence we have received speaks of a lack of public awareness of much of their content. We have also heard of a perception that, while individual policies were often sound and popular, we lacked the early adoption of a consistent overarching narrative or theme, which could be simply expressed and conveyed on the doorstep, or in the studio."
Unfortunately, this point is not then elaborated upon and is not pushed to the top of the Report's analysis. It has been missed from most of the recent commentaries on the Report.
Yet Labour (especially via its Policy Forums) developed a comprehensive set of policies in the run up to the General Election, which should have been distilled and pushed for a considerable period before voting day. There were umpteen platforms that could have been used for this purpose. These platforms included the European Elections, the Scottish Referendum, the 2014 Labour Party Annual Conference and during the months running up to the fixed period of the General Election. In the circumstances (as time ran out) Labour was even late in publishing its General Election Manifesto. I wonder who ever even read it?
Whilst this was a collective failure of those at the top of the Labour Party and especially by Ed Miliband as our leader, it was a specific and direct failure by Douglas Alexander. He was Chair of Labour's Strategy for the General Election. Little wonder he then lost his own parliamentary seat in Scotland.
Labour had a mass of relevant policies for the General Election, which hardly ever saw the light of day. I listed 180 of Labour's proposals over 16 items on this blog between 8 and 20 November 2014. They can be found via this link. These clearly needed distilling into a set of easy to handle points.Whilst this can technically be said to have been done in a ten point set of proposals which was eventually circulated on a single occasion, opportunity after opportunity was missed when contacting and organising Labour's membership. All that Labour was after was our money and canvassing activities, which had no real political script. Except, of course, for the big policy idea of that one off slab of concrete. Whoever looked at what that said?
I have made the above claims on various occasions and to Margaret Beckett's enquiry. See, for instance via this link.