Fighting the last (political) war
There is an old cliché about Generals, they always tend to fight the last war, not the current one. As we are now officially at the start of yet another political campaign, it seems the Labour Party might be making the same mistake.
In 2017, the Conservatives re-fought the 2015 campaign. “Chaos with….” and attention on who the friends of the Labour Leader were and what that said about them. Although I would argue that the alleged friends that had Ed Miliband in their pocket weren’t as bad as the friends Jeremy Corbyn had actually memorialised but the point stands. What worked in 2015, most definitely did not in 2017 as, frankly, voters decided not to care whom Jeremy Corbyn might or might not have been friends with.
In 2017, Labour most definitely did not re-fight the 2015 election, more like one from the 1970s. Gone was the slick stage-managed events replaced by old-style rallies and enthusiasm. People like me sighed or laughed, “this will never work.” And, to an extent, it didn’t. Labour didn’t win the election but they did win the campaign, albeit a pyrrhic victory. And they did it by fighting their own war and not the last. This might have been partly due to the players in the party being almost entirely new after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader – they didn’t come with scars or a point to prove that they had been right all along.
This time, however, initial signs are that the tables have turned. Labour are going in to this election with almost glee at being between 9 to 15 points down because “remember what happened last time.” This time, just one more push is required and we will be in Berlin (or Downing Street). They are assuming that the 2019 election will be just like 2017, as voters flock to the Red Flag and the Glorious Future promised.
This time the difference is that Labour does have people who led the 2017 campaign and want to show they were right all along and their plan is the one true masterplan.
What the Labour Party must be weary of is that the battleground, as well as the political and actual weather over it, will be very different this time. The question is on which side the debris from apparent voter anger falls and how radioactive it is. Get it wrong and Nuclear Winter beckons.
Graeme Downie – Orbit Communications Director