The Green Benches blog asks ex-Labour voters why they stopped. It’s one of the most popular threads he’s run with 73 comments in under 36 hours. Not one of them says it’s because of increases in public debt, or that they didn’t privatise more, or they introduced a bankers bonus tax or introduced the 50% super tax rate or the minimum wage was too high. Every single comment is based on a left criticism of the Labour Party and its leadership, both past and current.
In the “Refounding Labour” discussion document, published by the Labour Party in 2010, the point is made that Labour lost 5m voters between 1997 and 2010, 60% of these had deserted us by 2001. It’s hard to see what left wing policies would have scared off the New Labour voters before 2001, and while the UK’s interventions in the Balkans started during this time, the drive to war in Iraq had not, neither had the Labour Government set their top up fees to £3,000 p.a.
Some in the Labour Party leadership accuse Ed Milliband of seeking to “retreat to a core vote” and that Labour needs to retain its “Aircraft Carrier” policy straight jacket, where turns to the left or right lead to disaster. Others of course, including many of Eion Clarke’s correspondents reckon that he’s not fulfilling his Red Ed promises. I reckon our 2010 vote is our core and that attacks on trade unionists, the unemployed, the young and the disabled will only weaken us. Standing up for them might begin to win back that decent majority that have left Labour.
The problem with “Triangulation” is that your enemies define your politics. (Look what’s happening in the USA, and that’s what happened in the 1990’s to Labour, and its where some in the right of the Labour Party still are). Labour has a huge left wing hinterland that wants a fairer society built to serve the interests of the majority. We should stand by or return to that vision.
One of the most important tasks for a political party is to persuade people that your ideas are right, not to merely adopt popular ones.
End Triangulation ; people do change their minds… our strategy should be to tell the truth.
I wrote this early in 2012 and for some reason failed to publish it. Obviously some of the thoughts here went into the “If Only” article on this blog. I am tidying up the blog drafts list and decided to publish this, but have back dated it to the time I started it since that’s my usual policy to make the blog a diary.