I’ve written a fair bit about why the left lost and what the right gets correct so as to make it harder for the Left to win. Today, in light of the Labour leadership contest, I’d like to talk about three changes to the way the left operates that I think are vital if they ever want to win a general election ever again.
- Stop going on about your “movement”
Most people don’t even like the sound of political movements, never mind political movements in action. They make the average voter nervous, and rightly so – political movements do not have a good statistical track record in turning out not to be evil. Even at their best, political movements tend to be weird, exclusive and limiting. People on the left should stop using the notion of their movement and their commitment to it as something people will automatically see as a positive. It’s like the religious and their faith – if you aren’t faith-oriented, you’ll probably find blind devotion to something intangible a negative as opposed to something positive. You want to get more normal people to vote for you, right? Then stop talking about your exclusive movement for a change.
2. Stop putting amateurs in charge of everything
One of there reasons why Jeremy Corbyn was so popular with the Labour membership is that he was pure in their eyes. He was a lifelong backbencher that had never got his hands dirty by taking responsibility for anything. This is seen as a good thing on the left, whereas anyone who has had to indulge in the inevitable compromises involved in getting anything worthy actually done is frowned upon as a result. As is competence in general – at the very least, it is valued way, way less than ideological purity. Start looking for the best person to do things and you might be pleasantly surprised how much better it all turns out, instead of going with the person who has supposedly earned the position by their purity and/or commitment to the “movement”.
3. Stop thinking that you are automatically the good guys and that most if not all people will understand this if you are given a fair hearing
This may be the biggest problems the left has, actually. This idea that they are the good guys and the Tories are the bad guys and only media bias and/or foreign agents and/or whatever else you want to insert here blocks the public from seeing this clearly. It stops the left from making cogent and meaningful arguments for what they want to do and what they want to change. They think the rightness of what they are campaigning for is so blindly obvious, only someone evil, stupid or conned could believe otherwise. If you want people to pay more tax for public services, you need to make an argument that both stacks up logically and packs an emotional punch. You need to campaign for stuff a bit like the right campaigns for their stuff, in other words. Perhaps instead of laughing at Dominic Cummings trousers, you could take a good hard look at what he’s managed to achieve – and how. Thinking that it is only a matter of time until everyone inevitably agrees with you because of the arrow of progress or whatever really isn’t working out for you guys.
If the left changed these three things definitively, they could quickly change their fortunes. It is mostly these three things as they are now which turn people off. Problem is, these three things are so core to how the left sees the world, I don’t think they can turn any of this around quickly. Which is why the Tories will continue to win for the foreseeable future.