• Development Intelligence

Why Labour is still failing

Poor old Sir Dreary Dull. All he had to do all summer was keep pointing to the crazy prime time internecine war in the Tory party and occasionally say something PM-like and sensible, job done. Well that didn’t go too well, now did it?

The ‘we have no policies’ strategy is now wearing really thin with the media/commentariat. He went on holiday just when the cost of living lockdown crisis was dominating the daily news cycle and for weeks Labour had nothing inciteful to say on THE big issue of the day. Then the ghost of Labour past in Gordon Brown popped up to lay out a Labour solution to the immediate problem, which poor old Sir Dreary then belatedly repackaged as his own. No sooner was the ink dry on the media release than the IFS awkwardly pointed out there was a £17 billion black hole in his plan. (What could possibly go wrong with relying on Gordon Brown’s maths, huh?)

It seems to us at DI that right now the Labour Party has two very fundamental problems that if not addressed will scupper any chance it has.

First, hoping the other side screws up is not a strategy, it's spectating at your own funeral. This summer’s debacle sums it up quite nicely. They need a clear agenda. A ‘retail offer’ that voters in middle England, in the ‘red wall’, can like. Tip toing around the litany of problems out there without coming forward with bold, eye-catching solutions is the equivalent of waiting to get mown down in the middle of the electoral road.

That this ‘we have no policies’ strategy is not working is manifestly clear for everyone to see. With the Tories literally all at sea on the big issues, a short-term almost mute caretaker government in place whilst the Tories’ leadership has been publicly ripping itself apart, and all Sir Dreary has to show for it is a miserly 8-10 point lead in the opinion polls. And that before Truss gets her inevitable post leadership election poll bounce. It really is anaemic. In previous times, Cameron was 20 points clear, St Tony of Blair 40+ points ahead.

Second, the ongoing internal party war with the looney Left. In the words of Stephen Pollard:

“One of the most important lessons Tony Blair taught his party was that it would only win when people who had voted Conservative felt safe switching to Labour. He was, of course, treated as a heretic for saying this, but it is about as obvious a statement of political reality as exists…”

Starmer has, in his own terribly dull, very cautious, middle of the road, middle management way, not dealt firmly enough with the threat within. He has not purged hard and deep enough. There are still too many Corbyn looney Lefties too visible to the Tories, their attack team and wider floating voters.

Only political nerds like DI monitor internal Labour elections but last week’s NEC elections showed the problem in glorious detail. Yes some moderates further eroded the hard Left’s numbers and moderates are now – just about? – in all the main positions of the party. But the nutters are all still there, with a well-documented anti-Semitic extremist elected alongside a notorious apologist for the theocratic crazies in Iran. And elected by the membership, note. On the national management committee of a mainstream political party hoping shortly to win itself into government!

All the same old internal problems still exist because poor old Sir Dreary isn’t as ruthless as St Tony of Blair. It’s still a problem and one that will be oxygenated come election time. If Tory switchers see that the loonies are still involved in running the party, they won’t trust; if they don’t trust, they won’t switch. Simples. St Tony got that and operated a very public masochism strategy to show us voters that Labour had changed and really was under new management. Sir Dreary talks the talk but...