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.
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.