Monday, May 18, 2015

The "nah" factor

Why am I living under another Tory government in my little corner of these Isles that has apparently decided to become a one-party state?  This is no attempt at a comprehensive analysis of the situation but merely to reiterate what I've said before (sort of, in a different way): if Labour is to salvage anything from its crushing electoral defeat, it needs to tune into the 'nah' factor.

Here's what it is: it's when you see someone opening a shop where the people who have launched this enterprise have it filled with the sort of things they like, without giving much thought to what people in the neighbourhood might actually want to buy.  Y'know, like a juice bar in a part of Glasgow that is like Beirut or something.  It may be that the people in this area should buy your product because they really need more vitamin C and fibre in their diet and suchlike - but they don't want it, they're not going to buy it, so your business is fucked.  This is the factor I'm talking about - you look at it and say, "Nah, man - this one ain't gonna fly".

Labour leaders are a bit like this.  In my lifetime, there was Foot and then Kinnock.  Who knows how Smith would have done if he had lived but by the time Blair came along, the Labour party eventually tired of opposition and opted for him.  One gets the impression that large swathes of the party faithful have never quite forgiven him for winning three elections.

The Tory party has made a habit of mistaking their 'grassroots' for the electorate far less often.  They chose IDS and then thought, "Nah, man - this one ain't gonna to fly" and got someone less mental to win elections for them.  This instinct surely forms at least part of the reason why they have been the most successful Western European election-winning machine in the 20th - and now the 21st century?

By picking Ed Miliband, Labour reverted to type, almost as if in an act of penitence for winning three elections in a row.  You just know when the party faithful talk about how decent and clever their guy is, you're totally fucked electorally.  I argued this in 2011 and I'm gonna do it again: the reasons for Labour's electoral defeat are complex and they are, in my view, more serious than the problems the party had in 1983.  Then the path to electability was more straightforward, which was to stop treating General Elections as if they were running for a student union.  There's lots of things that Labour might do or should do but one thing they absolutely have to stop doing as a matter of urgency is treating their party members as if they were in some way representative of the electorate.  Is Andy Burnham too left-wing, right wing, moderniser, old Labour, Northern or whatever?  Stop it, stop it!  He's got the 'nah' factor.  He's a loser and that is that.  If you like being in opposition, he's your man.

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