I’d be spectacularly surprised if Jeremy Corbyn did not win now. As would Paddy Power.
That means that arguing against his arguments and strategies –particularly the non-voter strategy– is now hopeless and redundant. More importantly, it’s clearly not convincing anyone. LabourList readers voted overwhelmingly to prioritise the non-voters over Tory voters. And my summer experience has been a combination of the 76% meme being spread like wildfire by George Aylett and people yelling RED TORY and denouncing even the possibility of winning over Tory -nay, swing- voters.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Some on the left have always wanted to be puritan and have always been squeamish about appealing to Tory voters. I remember late in the 2015 campaign Ed Miliband writing in The Guardian appealing to ‘moderate Tories’. You can imagine the cif BTL comment section. Electioneering makes you a Red Tory.
So now that argument has been killed stone dead, loyal Labour activists might as well find a way to aide the new Leader and the Party they want to see thrive.
- Mobilise the new members and affiliates to become activists. Put them on the doorstep, make them aware of the challenges ahead by getting them into conversations with the general public, especially those that cite ‘all the same’. We all joined the Party as idealists, only to be yelled at on the street. This is a process they’ll have to go through too. We then have to convince them it’s worth it. They’ll also have the necessary experience of understanding and compromise with the electorate -and by doing so will put forward workable proposals in the more democratic party Corbyn proposes.
- Organise a mass ‘expand the electorate’ 5 year drive to register the voters we need. What will this involve?
- IDENTIFY: First, by looking at the 2m ‘Lazy Labour’ voters that were our promises in 2015. Identify which wards had a lower turnout than expected. Make them a priority for the Labour Doorstep.
- IDENTIFY: By looking at the electoral roll and voter ID, ward by ward, street by street, identify the doors of every address missing from the electoral register.
- BUILD: The Party will then have to construct a Nationbuilder base (via tags or otherwise) specifically for these two groups, then vast digital mapping. We can then focus on target seats.
- CONSULT: Most importantly, by understanding non voters. Linked to 1., this involves consulting non-voters and the evidence and understanding they are, like all other voters, not homogeneous. Our debate cannot be dominated by middle class commentariat. This just won’t do.
- As well as canvassing normally, set out a survey of unorthodox questions for non-voters you identify in A and B. These can include: Why did you not turn out? with multiple answers spanning the spectrum, and by nuderstanding what they mean if they say ‘you’re all the same’. Too often the Left assumes this is about ideology, it may simply be about politicians. We have to note down this distinction. Then ask, also with multiple answers, what policies they are attracted to.
- The Party will have to be rigorous with literature aimed squarely at these voters based on i., targeting their anxieties about 1) the reasons they didn’t turn out, 2) Why we are not the same, 3) The policies we can offer them and to quell their anxieties about policies we want to put forward that may initially be unpopular (as it seems we insist!) like welfare. This includes myth-busting.
- MYTH BUSTING! More on that: We need to get out of our social media bubble by translating our hashtags and echo chambers on Twitter into literature. But this doesn’t mean being a patronizing douchebag either. For the love of God, don’t treat ordinary voters as stupid. Just target widespread anxieties on things like welfare and spending with Labour solutions: “Housing Benefit IS high, but that’s because we need to build more houses! [more on that policy]”, “Labour didn’t cause the crisis, but we understand the need to reduce the deficit…[more on QE]”
- Make a presence in every community. A mass movement is no bad thing. Community organising should be at the heart of this strategy.
- A Charity Liaison should be chosen for each constituency. Fundraising nights with Labour and the charity. Of course, not all charities want politicising, but we can offer ourselves as their representatives. Many of course lobby anyway.
- Organisers, as Arnie Graf said at LabourList, need more autonomy to create local relationships.
- Candidates should be chosen as early as 2011, to be giving mock surgeries, and in target seats a Campaign HQ to Let. Can the Party afford that? Eh. Also, candidates should make themselves known with local charities and community organisers. They should be everywhere.
- Local CLPs should be out on the doorstep every week in designated wards of non-voters, UKIP voters, Green voters, etc. Designate an Officer for each to be an Organiser for each group and/or each ward.
- CLPs should have access to and use the Nationbulder base and mapping mentioned above
It’s time to stop rebelling against what is now inevitable. The argument has won. It’s time to be practical. Digitalisation and organisation for expanding the electorate should be at the top of the agenda for what is now a spectacularly new party.