campaigning

Campaign for a Labour majority

First published on Progressonline

When Labour loses power it does worse in the following general election. Think 1955, 1983. Even in 1974 when we returned to power after one term, we did so on a lower share of the vote than we lost with in 1970. Even when we create new political institutions, we follow suit: sadly this is a trend the Scottish Labour party repeated in 2011.

For all those of us who worked tirelessly for a Labour government in the days, weeks and months that preceded Thursday’s dire result, it is a sickening blow that we ended up with fewer members of parliament than Gordon Brown bestowed his successor in 2010. While there were some good-news stories of the night, these were dwarfed by the loss we feel for candidates who outdid themselves but fell short through no fault of their own. (more…)

Five lessons from seven seats

IMG_0182First published on Labour Hame

As the starting gun was fired on the general election campaign, the Progress team visited seven seats in Scotland to help some excellent Labour candidates – all standing for election or re-election for the first time – knock back the Scottish National party and knock out the Conservatives nationally.

Every Labour member of parliament returned to Westminster brings the Labour government that this country so desperately needs ever closer. More SNP MPs leaves only David Cameron rubbing his hands.

It was an exhilarating and exhausting two days as we stretched the three seat challenge (#Lab3seats) model to visit seven seats in 36 hours. It was fascinating for everyone on our tour. 1,078 contacts later, there are some lessons which I think are worth sharing. (more…)

The final announcement from your in-flight team

First published on ProgressOnline

As everyone passes through customs at the end of Operation Flight I want to stop and thank everyone who made this possible.

First, your cabin crew, the Progress staff and volunteers who have taken a lead in the nine seats Labour is targeting where the incumbent Conservative or Liberal Democrat member of parliament is standing down.

In addition the 15 Labour MPs and MEPs, especially our chair John Woodcock MP, who took the captain’s seat and led the campaign days from the front.

Close behind were the Progress strategy board members – those you have decided to elect to lead the organisation. Based across the country, many doing the hard graft of being a councillor, they show Progress at its best.

The support from Labour Students, LGBT Labour and Community Union as they pilled in behind was crucial to the success of the day and shows how vibrant our movement is.

The party staff – we have excellent organisers – they do our party and our politics proud and these events always take more organising that anyone ever acknowledges.

Finally the 213 volunteers who turn out in all weathers and knocked those doors. That is nearly 500 volunteer hours.

Together we started 4526 conversations. Broken down by seat that is:

Brent Central: 693
Cardiff North: 794
Cannock Chase: 413
Dudley South: 350
Erewash: 498
Hove: 930
North Warwickshire: 202
Redcar: 192
South Ribble: 454

Our candidates across the country are the heros of this election campaign. I do not know anyone in the 106 target list that is not going above and beyond to get Labour that extra MP. Everyone in Progress was proud to be out campaigning with their #OpFlight Labour candidate. They have all had different flight paths to Labour but the destination is the same: a one-term Tory government brought to an end and a Labour majority to make this country fairer, stronger and working for all.

This week our leader Ed Miliband promised we would make four million conversations. In just nine seats we started well over 4,000 today. Lots done, lots to be done but either way bring on 7 May.

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Richard Angell is director of Progress

Nice to feel wanted

First published in Progress magazine

English marginals need real attention

During the course of a campaign that ran at full speed for longer than can reasonably be expected, Better Together mobilised members of both the frontbench and the backbenches of Labour’s Westminster and Holyrood teams in the effort to save the union. Both the official ‘No’ campaign and the Labour party pulled in resources to combat the nationalists. In the last few months organisers were moved from southern English target seats as far away as Plymouth, key campaigners were moved from English and Welsh marginals and in the last week of the campaign regional offices across the country upped sticks and were out knocking doors for our Scottish cousins. Indeed, from Hogmanay onwards I was the lucky recipient of increasingly panicked texts and emails about venturing north to help the Better Together campaign.

This was no doubt the right thing to do but it does prompt several avenues of questioning. (more…)

Countering a Tory fightback

First published on ProgressOnline

Every time Labour loses a general election, it does worse the time after. 1983 was worse than 1979, and the same is true of 1955 following Attlee’s 1951 defeat. The only time we bounced straight back was in 1974 and that was on a lower share of the vote than the one that had seen Harold Wilson ejected from office in 1970. And for all the parliamentary headaches faced by the 1974-9 Labour government, you only need to see James Graham’s play, This House, currently running at the National Theatre. These are not good electoral precedents and the fact that this trend has now been repeated in the Scottish parliamentary and London mayoral should be sobering. (more…)