Labour candidates

The mountain to climb: how does Labour win in the 2020s?

At the Fabian New Year Conference 2016 titled ‘Facing the Future‘ I was asked to join a panel of excellent speakers to debate and take questions on how Labour wins in 2016.

Saturday 16 January 2016, 9.15am-5pm
Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

The mountain to climb: how does Labour win in the 2020s?
Richard Angell (director, Progress), Ellie Mae O’Hagan (journalist), James Morris (partner, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research), Olivia Bailey (research director, Fabian Society), Chair: George Eaton (political editor, New Statesman)

10 unanswered questions from the Beckett Report

If we don’t ask the right questions, how will we get the right answers?

First published on the Staggers

2015 was painful for Labour. A winnable election in which we failed through decisions, not destiny, to win. Like 2010, had Labour made the right choices, both of those elections could have been very different. Every year of the 21st century so far could have been under a Labour government. Now the pattern of the 20th century looks to be taking hold: Tory rule punctuated by short spurts of Labour.

It does not have to be this way, which is why the unasked – let alone unanswered – questions of the Beckett report must be confronted. I have 10 such questions – one for every seat we won from the Conservatives in May – that need to be addressed, quickly. (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 sweep

First publish on LabourList, and Progress magazine

In the final weeksbefore the general election, as the rapid pursuit for promises becomes more fraught, the election campaign metaphorically turns into the final dash in 1990s television programme Supermarket Sweep. In the Big Sweep round contestants would find themselves torn between collecting Dale Winton’s shopping list and an unknown quantity of inflatable fruit and their hidden bonuses. The latter seemed more attractive but the former guaranteed £100 being added to the shopping total. More importantly, it was a surefire way to victory and the Super Sweep prize money. Getting your strategy right mattered.


‘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…)

It shouldn’t cost so much to be a candidate

First published by LabourList

I love the Labour party. I enjoy canvassing, I pay my subs, go to the various fundraising dinners and vote in National Executive Committee (NEC) elections. I, like many, hate the constant barrage of ‘please donate’ emails and fear the dreaded fundraising call. And if I feel like that, imagine the dread felt by a candidate when they receive such a call. Don’t believe that happens?

Hard to believe as it is, on more than one occasion now I have heard of target seats candidates getting direct calls from the party asking for money. There are terrible stories of candidates being required to be at events in London to raise vital and substantial funds for the party but having to pay their own travel from as far away as Scotland and the North East. Many candidates are expected to go to the dinners of neighbouring candidates, even those of existing members of parliament. (more…)

Recapturing Carlisle

First published on Progressonline

Sound and fury rages again around the preponderance, or not, of Oxbridge-educated Labour party candidates. Much of the outrage bypasses a public only tangentially aware of this very Labour debate and its internal dance, but there remains a sense among the voters that more authentic, ‘real life’ parliamentarians are needed. And, if perception is truth, it should be the Labour party which is best placed to turn this situation around. (more…)

Opening selections back up to working people

First published by ProgressOnline

I was really pleased to see Paul Cotterill write a reply to my recent article, Selective Memory, on the increased time and financial costs recently added by the organisational subcommittee of the NEC to Labour’s selections process.

In the piece I argue that Labour should establish two principles when developing its selection process. First, that the part of the process with the membership list, where aspiring candidates need to go door-to-door, fit into statutory holiday entitlement, time off for working people so hard won by the trade unions and the Labour government. Second, that aspiring candidates shouldn’t have to incur costs before being guaranteed a place on the shortlist and the right to make a speech to the whole membership. (more…)

Selective memory

First published in Progress magazine

New rules will not bring more working-class candidates

Last year’s conference saw Labour adopt a rule change which pledged it to ‘select more candidates who reflect the full diversity of our society … and to increase working-class representation’. In its first meeting of the new year, Labour’s organisation subcommittee of the National Executive Committee set about implementing this new rule.

The need to increase working-class representation has been recently reiterated by Ed Miliband, and endorsed by figures from across the party. From Unite general secretary Len McCluskey to former home secretary Alan Johnson, everyone agrees that we need a more diverse mix of people elected to parliament. (more…)

City electors

First published on ProgressOnline

Candidates for city mayors face a breakneck selection process

While the people of London are choosing whether they want to return Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson to City Hall, the citizens of 10 of the country’s biggest cities outside the capital will be deciding if they too want to have a directly elected mayor.

As Progress has long argued, the challenges faced by Britain’s cities – low skill levels, an acute gap between rich and poor, high unemployment, underperforming schools, and too few private sector businesses – require a radical change to their governance. As in London, mayors could not only bring increased accountability, but act as a champion for jobs, growth and investment, and a powerful voice for the cities in Whitehall. (more…)