Saturday, 9 January 2016

In The Delivery

The Labour Party is going through a difficult phase; the problem being there is ideological tension between the Members, CLP, Trade Unions on the political left, who overwhelming voted Jeremy in as leader and the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), i.e. the Labour MPs, etc. who mostly, but not all, are to the right politically of Jeremy Corbyn. 

None of this is Corbyn's fault; how could he be blamed for the fact that the supporters and members voted him in as leader? However, there's a danger here that all Labour factions will get bogged down in a war of words for years – the verbal attrition would only play into the opposition’s hands. Whilst we are infighting, The Conservatives will just recement into the public’s mind, via the stronghold of The Times, Telegraph, Sun and Mail, the election-winning mantra that only they can be trusted on the economy and hey presto – it's a smooth transition in 2020 to Prime Minister Osborne. 

Let’s be honest, the anti-Corbyn PLP are going to endlessly make chess moves to unseat Corbyn as leader, with a view to installing their own more moderate candidate well in time before 2020. Part of the reason they are doing this is they don't believe Corbyn can win in 2020 and what's more they worry that they won't keep their seats; fair enough in lots of senses – I get how they are feeling and understand. 

Jeremy Corbyn can win 2020 however – and here's how it could happen in my analysis. 

Step One.

The infighting has to stop and The Party has to sing from the same hymn sheet. The Labour Party Members and Supporters and the PLP have to compromise – meet in the middle policy-wise. It's going to be really difficult for both sides emotionally to compromise: the MPs are mostly sort of gifted high IQ stars who are capable of getting their own way; in my view the anti-Corbyn PLP will succeed in unseating Corbyn if they turn their talents to it, but what will that achieve? It will just set back progress for another five years as by the time they succeed, bearing in mind the tough opposition they will receive from the left of the Labour Party, it will be too near 2020 to endear a new Leader to the electorate. 

Better for the PLP and the Members to reach policy agreement much sooner, by Summer 2016 if possible. Many policy meetings are going to be needed in the party: people with passionate and long-held policy positions, are going to need to break ranks emotionally and compromise – meet halfway. All sides will have to agree a Labour policy of a Current Budget Surplus, except in exceptional circumstances, or all is lost before we start. Once the final policy positions are agreed by the PLP and Members, another Shadow Cabinet reshuffle needs to happen, with all Shadow Cabinet Members adhering to message discipline on agreed Party Policy. The final Shadow Cabinet will need to come across as one strong team. 

Step Two. 

Once the above is completed the battle is half won; next we have to all become Del Boys, the character David Jason played in the massively successful British comedy Only Fools and Horses. I don't mean we emulate the seedier side of Del's character as well, like Lynton Crosby did in the last election, but I do mean we copy Del's delivery, the one-liners, the charm, the jokes, the persuasion: it's all in the delivery, people. We have to become expert salespeople: we are trying to sell a set of ideas here.

Like The Conservatives, we also need a set of short catchphrases – how will our version of 'living within our means' sound I wonder? The catchphrases need to be endlessly repeated so that by 2020, they become accepted truth in the public's mind. I am reminded of people repeating The Conservative catchphrases to me in the run-up to the last election – even though the Tory ones were often inaccurate, lots of people believed them, simply because they had seen them so much in print and TV – they became 'fact' so to speak.  

Voters are busy – they may be just as intelligent as MPs but they have jobs and families – they don't have the time to read exhaustive studies on economics. Labour must avoid lengthy and complicated policy communication, which people just find tiresome.  The Conservative catchphrase campaign was so successful that just before the last election one man looked at me with incredulous disbelief when I explained the truth: that The Conservatives had borrowed more money since 2010 than Labour had borrowed in the entire 13 years between 1997 and 2010. 

We have a great asset in Jeremy Corbyn; once Jeremy is speaking about a subject he really cares about, Jeremy's public speaking is electrifying and extremely persuasive, more so than David Cameron. Let's support Jeremy and keep wheeling our star salesman out for public speeches: let Jeremy do what he does best. 

If all of us in Labour can become salespeople who are all enthusiastic about the same product – always using short Twitter-length catchphrases to sell our product, all excited and evangelical about the features and benefits of our fabulous product for sale – we could yet win 2020. 

James Bickle. 

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