Today on the blogosphere

A quick welcome to two new additions to the blogosphere – firstly the British Bullshit Foundation, a blog by some of the older and possibly wiser Labour researchers, going by the collective name of Hamer Shawcross, which casts a cynical eye over portayals of life in the Westminster bubble by both the media and some of their fellow staff.

This description of the life of a researcher certainly brought back some memories for this correspondent. It’s also interesting to see another blog written by a collective, like The Daily.

The Provisional BBC only has one post but that is sufficiently amusing to be worth a read. Hat-tip to Don Paskini for that one, and he also writes an excellent piece on the leafleting versus pamphleting sub-cultures of the Labour Party here. We concur with both his description and his prescription.

Also interesting is the reaction from Blairite hard-liners to John Harris’ application to rejoin the Labour Party.

It’s fair to say that some of Harris’ writing during the last general election annoyed this correspondent – indeed, I was one of the candidates who he advised voting against. Other comments were just badly researched, like his description of Kettering’s Campaign Group MP Phil Sawford as a Blairite.

On the other hand, some campaigners in marginal seats found him useful in persuading liberal-left voters to stick with Labour.

More important, though, is the obvious point that we need to win back people we’ve lost if we’re to maintain any kind of electoral success. We must win people back from the Lib Dems if we are to stop them becoming a permanent threat to our base.

A strategy of refusing to win over new voters and relying on an ever diminishing core is the kind of suicidal prejudice that used to mark the hard left of the Party. It is reminiscent of an incident in “Red” Ted Knight’s candidacy in 1979, where he canvassed an entire road without finding a Labour voter, got to the last house and at last met a supporter. He asked him what he did as a job. “I’m a senior civil servant” replied the voter. Knight declared, “I don’t want people of your class voting for me!”, turned on his heel and strode off.

Now it is the hard right who declare “no compromise with the electorate” and refuse to accept support from the wrong sort, with Luke even going so far as to call for a return to the days when GCs routinely blackballed new members that they didn’t like the sound of.

So, let’s just be quite clear. If people have seen through the Lib Dems and come home to Labour, that is a good thing. Welcome back.


10 Responses to Today on the blogosphere

  1. I’m all in favour of winning back ordinary voters from the Lib Dems – I’ve spent the last 8 years in Hackney helping reduce them from 18 councillors to 3. But I don’t want back fools like Harris who actually prosletised and propagandised for voting against Labour and who want a Labour Party that would lose more votes back to the Tories than it won off Labour.

    The way to get votes back from the Lib Dems is to attack them and expose their policies – proven to work in Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark and Tower Hamlets. It isn’t to appease them and try to copy their political stance.

  2. As a piece of strategic political positioning, I thought Harris’s pre-election book and website were both pretty weak but for me, as someone from a broadly similar – if slightly more leftish but slightly less doomladen – position on the political spectrum, that’s all the more reason to be happy that he’s changed his mind.

    Obviously Luke and co don’t want the Labour Party to be full of people who disagree with them but if Labour isn’t going to be a broad enough coalition to include the likes of Harris then prospects for next election aren’t great.

  3. There are plenty of people a long way to the left of Harris who have never advocated voting for other parties and whom I am very happy to be in the same party as despite disagreeing with them a lot.

  4. But the problem is Luke, that you more than happy to welcome with open arms the likes of Shaun Woodward, Peter Temple-Morris and Alan Howarth – people who spent their entire lives proselytising against us.

    Interesting remarks about beating the Lib Dems. I think there has been a clear (and, obviously, very pleasing) trend of Labour hitting the Lib Dems in inner city London boroughs which traditionally voted Labour.

    I think that this is mainly because we have re-learned community politics, got a grip on the basics of political organisation and also because of the Lib Dems’ routinely disastrous management of councils – and habit of forming coalitions with the Tories – wherever they get in.

    However, I’m far less convinced that we have had the same success against the Lib Dems in other conditions, though admittedly Hackney is the one of those five Boroughs that I’ve not campaigned in.

    Back on John Harris, it was actually fairly clear from his writing even at the last election that he was actually extremely disappointed in the Lib Dems’ failure to live up to his hope that they were a progressive party. That’s why it would be good to have him back on board.

    As for wanting a party that would lose to the Tories – you have the problem that many of the policies you espouse are actually those that are particularly unpopular with floating voters. You can’t have it both ways.

  5. I’m sorry, what is your evidence that I “welcomed with open arms” Woodward, Temple-Morris or Howarth?

    And which policies that I espouse are particularly unpopular with floating voters?

  6. Given the critical role played by your factional allies in the selection of Woodward, for example, I would be deeply surprised if you advocated refusal of membership for defectors from the Tories. Perhaps you do, in which case I will retract my assumption.

    Your positions on most questions of foreign policy are generally unpopular amongst target voters. We also disagree with you on many of them, but equally there are things on which we probably both agree but the voters do not!

  7. Matthew says:

    Luke – it would interesting for you to tell us what your position on Woodward was? Should he have been helped into his seat by the leadership, the AEEU and Labour First? Telling us would settle it much quicker than this to-ing and fro-ing…

  8. I’ve already said what I think about this on Bob Piper’s site. I think the woman who was then the local council leader should have got the St Helens seat and it was not appropriate for such a working class seat to have Woodward parachuted in. He ought to have fought a more marginal seat where his background might have had some electoral resonance.

  9. So Luke, you do believe that there’s a place in the party as a candidate for a former Tory who attacked Labour from the right in many elections, but not for a former Lib Dem sympathiser as an ordinary member, who attacked the party from the left in one election.

    Even though I don’t always like the politics of the people in question, I have to recognise that defections often strengthen the party. You seem to believe that too, but you seem unwilling to exercise any consistancy when they’re not Blairites like Woodward.

  10. I don’t think Harris will strengthen the party.

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