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Four Ways Labour Could Achieve Electoral Success
Comment Writer Luke Young offers the Labour party four key pieces of advice for success in June's snap general election
Yesterday morning at 11:08 (not 11:15 as originally promised), Theresa May announced a snap election to take place on the 8th June 2017. It isn’t news to anyone that Labour has been in disarray in recent months, and if the current polls were to translate into an election result it would give the Conservatives over a 100 seat majority. But, as it has been said before, you campaign in poetry, govern in prose. This is a chance for Corbyn and his team to take their message to the British public and make the case for a progressive government, one that is not subject to the Eurosceptic backbenchers of the Conservative Party holding Theresa May to ransom. The next six weeks, if Labour gets its act together, could change the political landscape of this country for the next decade. If there was ever a time to act, it is now. Here are four areas the Labour Party must focus on if they are to stand a chance at winning (whatever that constitutes) on the 8th of June.
“Labour stand no chance if media outlets can only turn to Tim Farron for opposition comments during the election cycle
Firstly, speed is key. Politics nerds will know that Labour are notoriously slow to comment when reached out to by journalists for a story. The Tories and the Lib Dems respond within the hour. Labour stand no chance if media outlets can only turn to Tim Farron for opposition comments during the election cycle. The party needs to simplify its media operation and Corbyn needs to be ready to respond to stories as soon as they happen. People will not vote for you if they never hear what you stand for.
Secondly, message is everything. Labour needs to hash out it’s messages; four or five short, sharp slogans that they can disperse among their MP’s and repeatedly return to in interviews. It was a tactic adopted to the point of derision by David Cameron in 2015, but the slogans will help stabilise how the party is being perceived by the public. It will help campaigners and make clear to the public on what basis the Party is campaigning on. If Labour do not define themselves during this election, then the Conservatives will do it for them. They will become the anti-Trident, threat to security (and the union) party that many voters already perceive them to be. The next six weeks cannot be devoted to policies such as Trident that have little sway on the broader public, and is divisive within the party itself. Instead, they must look to things such as ‘a post-Brexit Britain for the left,' saving the NHS (especially mental health and social care), and stopping underhand austerity. Brexit, along with Hammond's relaxation of fiscal spending, makes Labour’s case for increased expenditure much more palatable.
“If Labour do not define themselves during this election, then the Conservatives will do it for them
Thirdly, coalition government cannot be the plan. Many will say that the most feasible option for a left-wing government would be a coalition between Labour and a resurgent Liberal Democratic Party. However, the Lib Dems are going to be campaigning heavily on overturning the referendum result, and Labour cannot afford to do this as too many of their voters were pro-Brexit. The party needs to hash out a middle ground, some kind of soft-Brexit that appeals to their own voters who voted leave and those leaning towards the Liberal Democrats who want to overturn the whole thing. It is not an easy task; the Conservatives are going to go hard on the instability of a Lab-Lib coalition (or even an SNP one). Labour cannot allow itself to be sucked into this. It needs to present itself as one solid entity fighting for its voters from the hard to the soft left.
And finally; to be Corbyn or not to be Corbyn, that is the question. Corbyn has become a kind of Marmite leader of the opposition. For the next six weeks the party needs to come together and present themselves to the nation as a team. Corbyn cannot win on the conventional, celebrity-esque platform, where the public vote for their MP on behalf of the leader. Cabinet members and backbench MP’s like Emily Thornberry, Tom Watson, and Keir Starmer, need to be all over the television, making the case that the public are electing a team of Labour MP’s, and not just Jeremy, who should be receptive to this idea of more collective leadership. The Party as a whole must present itself as ready and prepared to take on the reins of government if deemed ready by the public. You have to fake it until you make it.
Article by Luke Young