Winning Manchester Gorton: Labour Fight-Back Begins

First, we want to dedicate this piece to Gerald Kaufman.

Gerald served his community and country for decades; helping people and causes at home and abroad; including his brave battle for Palestinian justice.

This is a by-election no one wanted.

However, in the wake of the “Soft Coup,” Manchester Gorton provides an opportunity. An opportunity to mobilise one of the largest non-voting blocks in the country. A fight for credibility.

Previously, we analysed the Copeland and Stoke by-elections, showing the impact of non-voters and mitigating circumstances.

Without the unique characteristics of Copeland’s nuclear industry, Storm Dorris, or the Brexit stronghold of Stoke, Manchester Gorton should provide a clear indicator of how Labour is viewed in its traditional heartlands.

But, before we enter “full campaign mode,” we need a brief analysis of voter demographics and campaign opportunities.

Similar to the Stoke and Copeland by-elections, we have calculated non-voter/social media impact, below.

Electorate (2015): 72,950 (42,019 turnout * 100 / 57.6% (turnout percentage))

Turnout: 42,019

All votes missed: 30,931 (72,950 – 42,019)

Demographic of eligible vote (2015): Under-34s (49%), 35-54 (31%), 55-64 (9%), 65+ ((11%) (65-74 (6%), Over-75 (5%)).

Social media usage by national demographic (2014/15): Under-34s (44%). 35-54s (33%). 55-64 (11%). 65+ (4%).

We can now divide the total missed votes by eligible votes, then multiply this by social media usage:

Under 34s: 30,931 / 49% = 15,156 * 44% = 6,669 non-voting social media users.

35-54: 30,931 / 31% = 9,589 * 33% = 3,164 non-voting social media users.

55-64: 30,931 / 9% = 2,784  * 11% = 306 non-voting social media users.

65+: 30,931 / 11% = 3,402 * 4% = 136 non-voting social media users.

Over 10,000 non-voters in Manchester Gorton could have been reached by effective social media campaigning, (GE 2015).

In total, 3,435 (51.5%) of the 6,669 non-voting under-34 year-olds were contactable via Twitter and Instagram alone. Additionally, 918 35-54 year-olds could have been reached by the same methods.

37% of adult non-voters check social media several times a day, forming a dependable base of 3,800 non-voters at the last general election, with the highest-grossing posts hitting a further 32%  of “once-a-day” users (3,288 non-voters in Manchester Gorton alone).

Part of Labour’s strategy should be to target under-54s via Twitter and Instagram, with a particular focus on the under-34s; the largest social-media-using block of non-voters.

Combined with effective street campaigning, increasing Labour’s majority should be easy.

A result where Labour fails to increase its majority would be more damaging than its reduced majority in Stoke – even its loss in Copeland.

Manchester Gorton is exactly the kind of constituency Labour’s election strategy targets; a constituency with the demographics required for a significant Corbyn victory.

Excluding 2015, Kaufman’s constituency suffered from reduced majorities in each of the last four elections (97 – 10), mainly down to Lib Dem breakthroughs.

However, given a current Labour majority of 24,079, a Progressive Alliance would be tokenistic at best.

Reversing a Green swing of 7% and damaging Liberal vote-shares would renew incentives for a progressive alliance and provide a new framework for marginals.

The Liberals demonstrated their power in Copeland; Labour can do the same in Manchester Gorton.

Despite its huge majority and inner-city focus; a Labour increase of less than 10% would be disappointing; requiring a significant re-think to mobilise non-voters and/or persuade current ones.

A reduced or stagnant majority in Manchester Gorton would question a policy platform favouring cultural diversity, youth and the working-class. It would lend support to the “Soft Coup,” and heap further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn.

A resounding victory would suspend challenges, dispel disunity and send a message to the country: Labour. Can. Deliver.

So let’s embrace this opportunity. Let’s work. Let’s campaign. And let’s deliver a victory Gerald – and Jeremy – can be proud of.

* Workings: 3,735 under-34s use Instagram, 3,134 under-34s use Twitter; ((3,735 + 3,134 = 6,869) / 2 (Twitter and Instagram) = average 3,435)).

823 35-54 year-olds use Instagram, 1,012 35-54 year-olds use Twitter; ((823 + 1,012 = 1,835) / 2 (Twitter and Instagram) = average 918)).

Stoke vs Copeland: Why Labour Can Win Again

We have an opportunity.

An opportunity to reject the status quo. To demand change. To build the future.

An opportunity to go beyond benefits, beyond foobanks, beyond hospital closures. An opportunity to improve our schools, our healthcare, our education.

A future where society works for all; where the “Just About Managing” become “Just About Thriving.”

Today, we can send a message: We. Demand. Change.

The Stoke by-election was a choice: a choice between fear of the future and hope for a better one. Of an inward-looking society or an outward-looking country.

An election where the politics of hope was supposed to crumble – displaced by Nuttall’s UKIP bubble.

But we won – with a bigger magin than many expected.

And yet, Labour failed to “make the case” in Copeland.

As Corbyn made clear: “In both campaigns, Labour listened to thousands of voters on the doorstep. Both constituencies – like so many in Britain – had been let down by the political establishment. To win power to rebuild and transform Britain, Labour will go further to re-connect with our supporters, and voters in general.”

So why did Labour’s message resonate in Stoke… but not Copeland?

Speculation surrounded Corbyn over the last few days.

“Did Nuttall’s PR failure spike Labour’s vote?”

“Did Corbyn’s perceived stance on nuclear power alienate Copeland?”

“Was Corbyn’s “weak leadership” the cause of a reduced turnout?”

While these questions were certainly contributors, the key to this election lied in one factor: social media.

In 2015, 37% of Stoke’s eligible voters were under the age of 34 (2015). In Copeland, this was reduced to 25%.

Over 55s in Stoke made-up 31% of the elgible vote, compared to 41% in Copeland.

74% of all social media is used by 16-44 year-olds, and just 26% by the over 45s.

If voter demographics were anything like 18 months ago, a quick calcluation should provide us an estimate of how many votes were missed due to reduced social media coverage.

Copeland

Electorate: 60,604 (31,108 turnout * 100 / 51.33% (turnout percentage))

Turn-out: 31,108

All votes missed: 29,496 (60,604 – 31,108)

Demographic of eligible vote (2015): Under-34s (25%), 35-54 (35%), 55-64 (17%), 65+ ((23%) (65-74 (13%), Over-75 (10%)).

Social media usage by national demographic (2014/15): Under-34s (44%). 35-54s (33%). 55-64 (11%). 65+ (4%). See workings at end of piece.

We can now divide total missed votes by eligible votes, then multiply this by social media usage:

Under 34s: 29,496 / 25% = 7,374 * 44% = 3,245 non-voting social media users.

35-54: 29,496 / 35% = 10,324 * 33% = 3,407 non-voting social media users.

55-64: 29,496 / 17% = 5,014 * 11% = 552 non-voting social media users.

65+: 29,496 / 23% = 6,784 * 4% = 271 non-voting social media users.

Stoke-On-Trent-Central

Electorate: 55,497 (21,200 turnout * 100 / 38.2% (turnout percentage))

Turn-out: 21,200

All votes missed: 34,297 (55,497 – 21,200)

Demographic of eligible vote (2015): Under-34s (37%), 35-54 (32%), 55-64 (13%), 65+ ((18%) (65-74 (9.4%), Over-75 (8.2%)).

Social media usage by national demographic (2014/15): Under-34s (44%). 35-54s (33%). 55-64 (11%). 65+ (4%). See workings at end of piece.

We can now divide total missed votes by eligible votes, then multiply this by social media usage:

Under 34s: 34,297 / 37% = 12,690 * 44% = 5,583 non-voting social media users.

35-54: 34,297 / 32% = 10,975 * 33% = 3,622 non-voting social media users.

55-64: 34,297 / 13% = 4,459 * 11% = 490 non-voting social media users.

65+: 34,297 / 18% =5,633 * 4% = 225 non-voting social media users.

Overall, we can estimate 7,475 votes were lost due to poor social media coverage in Stoke; compared to 9,920 in Copeland.

Given the national trend for younger people to vote Labour, as well as owning the lowest turnout rates, it seems Copeland suffered from two things: an older population and a lower turn-out rate (which, for various reasons, was not mobilised sufficiently either on the doorstep or via social media).

Both Copeland and Stoke possessed demographics sufficient for non-voters to overturn the Tory lead in Copeland and sufficiently increase Snell’s majority in Stoke.

A more effective combination of door-knocking, street campaignng and social media would have delivered Labour the victories it wanted.

All forms of campaigning are crucial to our success. However, as we demonstrate here, the importance of social media is often taken for granted.

Social media has the advantage of being both ability and weather neutral, as well as widely-accessible.

However, on Thursday, Electricity North West (ENWL) confirmed a loss of power to over 7,000 properties, many of which occurred in Copeland.

Checking Cumbria’s live weather tracker on Friday, there remained significant power-cuts to the Copeland area, including five “CA28” postcodes.

Significance? CA28 postcodes – (central Whitehaven) – accounted for 30 polling stations on Thursday; a huge 30% of all voting stations.

While these five sites are indicators only, they suggest many serious power cuts occurred in the CA28 area; again, nearly a third of all voting areas.

The importance of this cannot be underestimated.

Even if Copeland enjoyed serious support on the Labour doorstep, the social media impact may have been reduced to unprecdented levels due to age demographics and Storm Dorris – problems not present in Stoke Central.

The Copeland result must not – and should not – be overlooked.

This was a terrible result for Labour; a result which, despite everything, Labour should have won.

But to blame the result on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is a step too far.

As John McDonnell made clear, Copeland was a special case.

John believed it was a nuclear issue.

We believe it was a social one.

We don’t need to change our policies.

We need to get better at sharing them.

Solidarity.

* Workings: total social media used by 25-44 year-olds = 45%. 29% for 16-24 year-olds. Only 18+ eligible to vote, so: 29% / 8 year gap (16-24 year-olds) * 6 eligible years = 22%). Under 34s: available data split by 25-44 year olds. We need to work-out how much of 45% belongs to the 9 year gap between 25 and 34). 45% / 20 year-gap * 10 (years from 25 – 34) = 22.5%. Add 22% + 22.5% = 44% all social media used by under-34s (22.5% rounded down to reduce age cross-over).

Total social media used by 45-64 year-olds = 22%. Take remainder of 25-44 year-olds calculation from under-34s workings (45 – 22.5) =.22% for 35-44 year-olds (again, rounded down to reduce age cross-over). 45-54 usage equals 50% of 22% (45-54 = 10 years, 55-64 = 10 years) = 11%. Add 22% + 11% = 33% all social media used by 35-54 year-olds.

55-64 year-olds = remainder of usage for 45-54 year-olds = 11% all social media used by 55-64 year-olds.

65+ make-up just 4% of social media usage.

44+33+11+4 =  92.

Lost 2% due to round-downs and 6% due to removal of 16-18 year olds as ineligible to vote (total 8% removed).

92 + removed 8 = 100%.

Keyboard Warrior: How Clicktivism Can Deliver Labour the Election

The Labour Party has a choice: Win together. Lose together.

Our reluctance to work together has wounded friendships, damaged our chances and emboldened our enemies.

Upcoming by-elections threaten not just Labour’s ability to win, but the immediate stability of the Party itself.

Over the past eighteen months, Labour has been ripped apart; MPs attacking members, headquarters; voters, and supporters segregated as illegitimate voters.

Corbyn remains alien to most Labour MPs despite widespread, verbal support.

“Whatever happens, Jeremy will lead us into the 2020 general election.”

But what if the election comes early?

By-elections in Stoke and Copeland present an opportunity. Win, and nothing changes. Win “big-league” (to borrow a Trumpism), and everything changes. Pollsters will be questioned. Tories, frightened. UKIP, headless.

Lose either Stoke or Copeland and serious questions will be asked.

Jeremy Corbyn may continue. But his credibility will be zero. His position as leader, reduced to caretaker. His ability to bring together his Party and, from this, unite the country, would be obliterated.

Winning a general election would be almost impossible.

The truth is Corbyn’s leadership has, already, alienated swathes of the electorate.

Current polling puts Labour eighteen points behind the Tories – the biggest lead for a Tory government since 1987.

The media hasn’t helped.

According to an LSE report, “Corbyn is systematically ridiculed, scorned and the object of personal attacks by most newspapers.”

34% of articles studied contained “ridicule and scorn” or direct “personal attacks.”

74% failed to accurately represent Corbyn’s views (including the “Left-wing” Guardian, at 62%).

And 22% of newspaper articles presented Corbyn as either “dangerous or a danger.”

Blair. Cameron. May. All of them would struggle with these numbers.

During his leadership campaign, Corbyn by-passed the mainstream media, opting for town halls, city squares, social media and Skype rallies. He won. Twice. Breaking new records.

Social media was widely-acknowledged to play a major part in his re-election.

But the general electorate is not the Labour selectorate.

Can Corbyn’s campaign methods translate to the wider public?

70% of British adults used social media in the year 2014/15, and almost 70% of this sample used social media at least once a day.

In other words, from an adult population of 52 million (2014), over 36 million used social media – and over 25 million used social media at least once a day.

Of these adults, 15 million used Facebook, 13 million used YouTube and 6 million used Twitter.

The peak age-group for media engagement remains stubbornly low, however, with 25-44 year-olds forming 45% of all social media usage across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Spotify.

29% of social media is used by 16-24 year-olds, 22% by 45-64 year-olds and just 4% by the over-65s.

If we compare this to polling data from the 2015 election, we can begin to map target groups: address demographics least likely to vote via the most-used social media by these groups.

The demographic most likely to vote (and most likely to vote Tory) is the over-45s, over-55s and over-65s.

With turn-out rates of 72%, 77% and 78%, targeting these groups would be easy. For a Tory.

Given an overall turnout of just 66%; 34% of the eligible vote chose to stay home.

data

With over-45s more-likely to vote Conservative, there’s little point in Labour targeting these votes. Instead, Labour should focus on the non-voting 34%, anchored in the under-45 age group.

The image above ranks lowest voter turn-out and highest social media usage based on the colour closest to green. The brighter to green, the higher the the usage and lower the turn-out.

Based on the data, we can draw the following conclusions:

Campagin activity should be conducted primarily on Facebook and YouTube, with Twitter as a means to link to Facebook and YouTube. Additionally, referencing Twitter data via Facebook and YouTube would impress the significance of Twitter to current non-users, widening the campaign toolbox.

The top-five targets (key targets) address the most-used media platforms across all age groups. Most of these fall into the 25-44 age group, with the second-highest usage prevalent among 16-24 year-olds.

The age groups least likely to vote are the age groups most active on social media.

We need to target these groups, which is why we’ve listed the under-45s as a “Prime Target” (PT) for social media (the average use of 16-24 and 25-44 age groups).

If a social media campaign can successfully translate to the ballot box, then the best chance of success is via Instagram and Twitter, at a median age of 30.50.

Fortunately, Instagram/Twitter compatibility allows cross-platform-posting, with Instagram posts hitting Twitter and Facebook timelines simultaneously.

This is what we should harness. Not the tired, dry, mainstream media aimed at the over 50s which, clearly, doesn’t reflect Labour accurately; but the social media built into every “young person’s” phone across the country.

With an average age of 51, Labour members could benefit from social media workshops, mobilising almost a million members and supporters.

The Party website has undergone huge changes, as we reported here, with a user-friendly, campaign-focused agenda.

We have the ability to harvest votes from the biggest non-voting block in the country, with the click of a button.

Social media campaigns worked in the leadership election, and with the collective power of keyboard warriors and perennial “Labour doorstep-ers,” we can secure a majority not just in Stoke. Not just in Copeland. But in the House of Commons.

So let’s type. Let’s knock. Let’s call. And let’s deliver Jeremy the thumping victory he – and the country – deserves.