The tests to unleash the aspirational offer

aspiration codeFirst published in Anticipations, the Young Fabian journal | Volume 18, Issue 4 | Summer 2015

The election result was categorical from the voters and harsh to the Labour party. Hate the Tories, as we do, there is no denying that David Cameron and George Osborne received two million more votes than Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. The latter even lost his seat. Miliband resigned from the leadership.

While many try to complicate the problem and spread round the blame one truism confronts Labour: no party has ever won an election behind on leadership and behind on economic competence. Sort one and Labour is back in the running. Sort both and we are winning. But how?

The post-election debate within Labour focused on ‘aspiration’. Labour must appeal to those not likely to pay the mansion tax and unlikely to be on zero hour contracts. Middle incomes, middle classes, middle England, however you want to put it. Aspiration is the key.  (more…)

‘The best antidote to anti-politics is grown-up politics’

First published in Progress magazine

Labour needs to be at the heart of a broad campaign to stay in Europe, Chuka Umunna tells Richard Angell and Adam Harrison

Thought by many to be one of the strongest contenders for the Labour leadership election, it was a surprise when Chuka Umunna withdrew from the contest. Now out of the glare of the spotlight, we took time to catch up with Labour’s shadow secretary of state for business after arguably Labour’s worst defeat. (more…)

‘D’ is for disillusioned

First published on Progressonline

Arriving in Kingswood on the outskirts of Bristol to be met by Labour’s candidate Jo McCarron, a clutch of local activists, croissants and hot coffee, was the sounding gun of a week-long tour. Our trusty battlebus, sadly not pink, toured 21 of Labour’s 106 target seats. Another team visited the south Wales marginals on Tuesday while we covered north Wales.

The most interesting but not surprising finding is that the polls are bang on. The election is wide open. There is everything to play for. Labour is out-working the Tories, the Tories are out-spending Labour. Nothing new here, but, considering the late stage of the parliament, huge swaths of voters who have traditionally decided elections are still unsure. Door after door, activists would return to the board-runner – the person who holds the clipboard containing the chosen voter information from Labour’s national ContactCreator system – with the code ‘D’. Normally noted to signify that the corresponding person in their most recent conversation is a ‘Don’t know’, this time ‘D’ is for disillusioned. (more…)

Tales from the campaign trail: no no-go areas for Labour

First publihsed on Progressonline

The first two days of the Labour three seats challenge have centred around the M5.

Ben Bradshaw represents Exeter, the start of the duel carriageway. Labour holds two of the Bristol members of parliament, but otherwise you have to get all the way to Birmingham to find your next Labour parliamentarian. Since 2010 there are no Labour MPs representing the people who currently live on its banks. It is, however, the home of the once symbolic Worcester woman – all important to winning the 1997 election and now hosts six target seats that will be key in determining whether Ed Miliband walks into No 10 this May.

The M5 is the only single digit motorway that does not originate in London. For this reason Labour MPs rarely pass through. This is not the case with marginals on the M1, A1 and M4 as they return to Labour’s heartlands in the north, Scotland and Wales. This can have an impact on how the party relates to these voters and best supports its candidates. (more…)

Time to take the mantle as the party of the family

First published on Progressonline

One of my earliest political memories is of John Major standing on his soapbox in the 1997 general election talking about ‘family values’. It pricked my interest: I was 13 and not only had my parents been divorced for some time, I was also coming to terms with being gay. I am not sure I knew what he meant – after all I thought my family was special, unique maybe, but normal. But at the same time, I knew his label did not include me.

The Tories have long laboured under the label of the party of the family, but yet again they fail to back the family. David Cameron’s Conservatives are pro-couples not pro-family. The marriage tax allowance is not dependent on need, or children, or helping people prepare for times of need or a new baby. They are about status. (more…)