WHERE NEXT FOR LABOUR? Getting the basics right.

AuthorPhillipson, Bridget

Labour needs to win big in 2024. It's time for the party to re-learn the art of professional leadership and communication, and to accept the limits of its existing electoral coalition.

One of the most revealing things to happen in the immediate aftermath of our fourth and worst electoral defeat in a decade wasn't simply the varying reactions from different traditions within the Labour Party, but also the varying ways through which they explained it and sought to move on. Some of my parliamentary colleagues have blamed the context and timing, convincing themselves that had we been less associated with the pro-Remain position almost universally held within the party we might have done better. This was reminiscent of the earlier notion, advanced after 2015 and 2016, that we should be making arguments about the impact of immigration which we did not believe to be true and which were inconsistent with our values.

Others have looked backward to the demographics and constituencies whose support installed and sustained the last Labour government. They have suggested that rebuilding or reconnecting with those voters and places on the same terms we did in the past provides the natural way forward: that the path to tomorrow must run through yesterday. And yet others look at the campaign as a purely technical failure, distinct from wider questions about our future direction, or any consideration of a clear political vision of what our society and economy might look like in four years' time, and what Labour's plan should be if we are to enter government in 2024.

Immediate post-election discourse is seldom very informative. Everyone can make a case in isolation for the apparent significance of their pet variable. The analyses that are most valuable come from large-sample polling. But there are already a few observations that it seems safe to make: that for once Labour has less of a 'women problem' and more of a 'men problem'; that, as in 2017, Labour support was significantly correlated with age, with younger people more likely to vote for us than older people; that the places we lost are places which have fewer working age people and more retired people than they did thirty years ago; and that the principal reason people who might previously have voted Labour were not prepared to do so this time was Jeremy Corbyn, who was less popular and less convincing than even Boris Johnson.

Leadership and framing

Corbyn's failings were a central problem. It is no good people saying the media were biased against him: the papers have been biased against every newly elected Labour leader since forever. They switched sides on Blair only when...

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