Towards a core vote strategy…
Earlier, somewhat sleep deprived and annoyed I called upon the NEC to draw up a strategy for reconnecting with our core vote following the Bradford West. This shouldnt be a vague aspiration or lofty but ultimately meaningless words. It should exist on paper and be something that all Labour members have a stake in, both in terms of contributing to and delivering. So, in that spirit I intend to offer some suggestions on what areas we might look at.
1. Community organising and community candidates. One of the major problems we have with our core supporters is that they feel we view them as lobby fodder. Fit to be contacted and talked too but only around election time. This has to change. We have to become a 24/7, 365 days-a-year Party (not literally) that is an ever-present in local communities. Furthermore, one of the criteria when it comes to selecting our candidates needs to be how deeply rooted they are in the local community. In many ways, the Movement for Change is addressing this very point – however, when it comes to putting our money where our mouth is we are still lagging behind. For example, I have yet to see any sensible reason put forward for the total abandonment of the Labour Diversity Fund.
2. A democratic and responsive Party. A big part of reconnecting the Party with our core supporters is making it one in which they have a stake and a say. It needs to be responsive to the different experiences of our supporters. This means, in practise, a veritable democratic revolution in our internal culture in policy and key decision-making. It means policy which is enriched and enhanced by its democratic bottom-up formulation and it means the leadership shedding itself of its passive aggressive hostility to Labour members.
Dan Hodges called earlier today for the NEC to act. He wants it to effectively demand Ed Miliband stand down. He says it is impotent. In some senses he is right about the NEC’s impotency, however, the way for it to reassert itself is not to pursue Hodge’s personal vendetta but to show it has learnt the real lessons of Bradford West, that Labour is still out of touch with its core supporters and that this alienation requires serious and urgent remedial action. The formulation of a core vote strategy must be its top priority and should be the Party’s top priority if it is serious about returning to power.