Labour On-Course to Win

Last night, YouGov released its latest poll, putting Labour just four points behind the Conservatives. Four points.

This was a gain of +3 on the last YouGov poll, which put the Conservatives 7 points clear.

But this is only half the story.

YouGov also came-up with a seat-projection, based on a “complex model and 7,000 sample over 7 days.” The result was alarming.

The Conservative Party would – if the poll is accurate – lose its majority, falling 16 seats short.

Labour would gain 28 seats.

Should the SNP, Northern Ireland, Green and Lib Dem projections hold, Labour could form a rainbow coalition on June 9th, and Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister.

But the polls have been wrong before. Brexit, with a turnout of over 72%, was widely expected to fail, given polls indicating a strong vote to Remain.

Donald Trump, similarly, suffered in the polls before clinching the presidency (despite losing the popular vote).

In the 2015 General Election, pollsters projected a Hung Parliament (much like today’s YouGov poll), only for the Conservatives to win a majority.

The point is this: there is a clear trend – which shows no sign of stopping – of Labour catching the Conservatives. There is also a clear trend that, in recent elections and referendums, the underdog has done better than projected (the exception out of the three examples above is the 2015 general election).

It is also the case that, the higher the turn-out, the more inaccurate polling tends to be.

So, if the polls are wrong, it could well be that they are wrong in Labour’s favour.

If you’ve been reading my blog posts over the past week, you’ll know that – clearly – I’m biased. But the poll trend is undeniable. Labour is gaining. Jeremy Corbyn is rising in popularity. And the more people see of Theresa May and the Conservative Party the more they realise they simply don’t like her.

In a day which started disastrously for Labour, with Jeremy forgetting a figure on childcare costs, the Labour leader turned it around with a speech on racial inequality, launching a “Race and Faith Manifesto,” and then an affable, endearing and personal interview on the BBC One Show.

It is this quality – this ability – which draws people to Corbyn: his willingness to admit his mistakes, his ownership of them, taking responsibility for his actions and his humility in learning from them and moving forward.

Had anyone else suffered the morning he had, they’d be locked away for the rest of the day, barred from appearing in public again. Corbyn finished his by appearing on prime-time TV, gifting BBC presenters some homemade jam from his allotment.

Tonight, the BBC will host a debate with senior Party members in what will be one of the final debates of the election.

Labour doesn’t need to win this debate. It just needs the Conservative representative to lose.

If all Parties unite against the Conservative rep. then Labour should – as the second biggest Party – win by default.

The SNP have been open about their willingness to join a Labour coalition. The Lib Dems have said they’d be open to joining the Conservatives.

But if Labour offered a second referendum on a European exit, the Lib Dems would quickly change their tune; joining a Labour/SNP coalition.

I therefore don’t expect any of the other Parties in tonight’s debate to attack Labour in any significant manner this evening.

tonight’s debate will be about undermining the Conservative lead, which benefits everyone, and keeps options open for a coalition government.

With the election just over 1 week away, only one thing is certain: this eleciton will radically change the way we – as a society (and as a country) – work.

The question is: how do we want it to change?

10 Election Strategy Points for Last 10 Days

The latest poll (Survation) puts Labour on +3 and 6 points behind the Conservatives.

As the campaign draws to a close, I thought it would be good to share some thoughts on improving our chances on June 8th.

With ten days remaining (including polling day), I’ve drawn-up ten areas we should focus on:

  1. Negative press. There’s a lot of it. But indulging this with widely-advertised defences of Jeremy Corbyn is not the solution. A defence of these issues is an advertisement for them. We shouldn’t publicise negative or damaging headlines without, a. having a strong defence and, b. unless the story is so significant or damaging that it won’t go away. (The danger is that we blow a small issue out of proportion and create a headline which didn’t exist beforehand, adding fuel to a largely insignificant fire). Case-in-point: defending Labour’s IFS figures. No one really cares. The Conservatives have their own IFS issues. Leave the defence to Corbyn, McDonnell and others. It’s part of a media narrative which the average person doesn’t particularly care about. It’s not a huge issue among voters and – if we talk about it in our social circles – we turn it into an issue which people “should” be worried about, instead of talking about the £10 minimum wage, renationalising the railways, protecting pensioners and scrapping tuition fees (i.e., policies with real implications for people’s lives).
  2. Issues. As above, the issues we choose to speak about – on social media, at work, with friends, family and others – shape the debate for those closest to us. By choosing issues the mainstream media “misses” (like those above), allows us to run another narrative, giving people something different to think about. Spending our time defending Labour against perceived shortfalls and policy criticisms is fine – but it is a complete waste of time if people don’t care about the policies being criticised. So let’s focus on policies people like; and expose the Conservative ones they don’t.
  3. Attack. When promoting our own policies we need to expose Theresa May’s actions in government and the Conservative manifesto. Example: Labour’s commitment to pensioners by protecting the triple-lock, winter fuel allowance, bus passes, etc., and the Conservatives doing the opposite by scrapping the triple-lock and removing the winter fuel allowance.
  4. Shaping the debate. Allow the debate to be shaped by Labour policies – not Conservative ones. We shouldn’t have to answer Conservative proposals. We need to shape the debate through our own policies; giving our policies more air-time and forcing the Conservatives to talk about their own manifesto, which acts against the interests of ordinary working people.
  5. Criticism. It’s important to criticise. But it must be constructive. Over the past two years criticism has – at times – been made for criticism’s sake, with no real aim other than attacking Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. So when we criticse Labour publicly, there needs to be a good reason for doing so. Much like the points on negative press, a negative story is a negative story: the point is whether it’s important enough to publicise and feed into a pre-existing (or creating a new) negative narrative.
  6. Association. No ballot paper will list the “Tories” as an option. They will list the “Conservatives.” So, when we criticise the Conservative Party, we call them precisely that: the Conservative Party. Theresa May is not toxic enough as a brand (although she’s certainly losing ground here). The Conservative Party is. So, when we talk about Theresa May, we need to talk about the Conservative Party; and when we talk about the Conservative Party, we need to talk about Theresa May. We need to make these two subjects inextricably linked. The Conservative campaign has spent months separating Theresa May from the Conservatives. It’s fundamentally important that we re-draw the link at every given opportunity.
  7. Translation. The language we use has a big influence on how we’re perceived. Fortunately, Twitter’s 140 character limit forces us into shorter. sharper. stronger sentences; and this is an asset. It’s why Donald Trump loves it and was so successful using this in his campaign. In the past, Corbyn supporters achieved strong results by dominating social media. It seems pretty obvious Labour supporters continue to dominate Twitter and Instagram, judging by social media poll results (recording significantly higher vote shares than mainstream polling). This is partly due to a greater presence of young people on social media than the largest voting blocks in the country: the over 60s. Facebook is used more widely across all age-groups, and presents a different opportunity: the space to write longer pieces, share more material and make issues like maternity/paternity rights, workers rights, the NHS, retirement and social care the centre of our narrative, given cross-generational appeal. So: different subjects on different social media, different subjects with different people, different subjects on different occasions. Example: free school meals and free childcare to new parents. Triple-lock pensions and winter fuel allowance for your grandparents.
  8. Campaigning. At the start of the campaign, Labour was focused on retaining seats, rather than gaining them. Now, with the polls narrowing and a more uniformed single-digit lead for the Conservatives, Labour should be targeting current Conservative-held seats across the country, with margins of under 10,000, giving us 123 Conservative seats to play-for; 64 of which have majorities of just 5,000. (I’ll write more on this later this week, ranking target seats in order of priority).
  9. Boris. Don’t talk about him. Whatever you think about “Bojo,” he remains the Conservative Party’s most likeable export, despite a steady decline in popularity. His job is to create chaos and detract from criticism, deflecting the real issues plaguing the Conservative Party. As he demonstrated in the run-up to last night’s “Battle for Downing Street,” Johnson’s job is to remove the heat from Theresa May when she comes under scrutiny. We must not allow this. Don’t give him the space. Starve him of air-time. Turn-over your TV channel. Ignore his incessant Tweeting and commentary in the press. He’s not worth it. And it damages us.
  10. Polling day. Even the smallest details can affect voters on polling day. So here’s what I suggest: if you can, wear red (preferably a red shirt). Be friendly. Smile. Your red shirt implies you’re voting Labour. Your smile says you’ve got something to be happy about. Your friendliness makes you trustworthy. Your manner exudes confidence. We must appear strong – and we must appear stable – on polling day. Details matter. Image counts.

I hope these points have been useful. There are a lot of things we tend to overlook; a lot of information which doesn’t occur to us. But this election could depend on even the smallest of details; and I’m not willing to risk losing it because someone wore a blue shirt to the ballot box.

Diane Abott: Luxury Liability


The last word Diane Abbott hears before entering a TV studio. Or, at least, it should be.

Don’t get me wrong.

I like Diane.

I think she’s a principled, intelligent, hard-working and – frankly – useful MP; particularly in her vociferous support for Jeremy Corbyn which, if absent, could have spelled the end of the Labour leader just several months into his term.

But she is – without doubt – a liability.

I am now struck by a sense of imminent danger when she appears in public.

Everyone knows she’s an awful public speaker and buckles under even the most gentle questioning, creating new traps for herself along the way.

My cat could interview her and Diane would – somehow – undermine the whole campaign.

The Conservatives can’t believe their luck.

Given Monday’s attack, it would’ve been impossible for Diane to not appear in public. She is, after all, the Shadow Home Sectretary (or, as Jeremy Corbyn more aptly described: “our Home Affairs Spokesperson.”

Much like Jeremy’s foreign policy speech earlier this week, it was perhaps better for Diane to make her (presumably last) appearance before the campaign enters its final stages. People won’t remember.

But this does boast an important point: should Labour win the election, Jeremy Corbyn will need all MPs – finally – to accept their role in Cabinet.

Since his election as leader, Jeremy has spent his last two years encouraging people from all “wings” of the Party, especially those with previous experience of government, to join him and help lead an experienced and effective Opposition.

They refused.

Chuka Umunna, Yvette Cooper, Margaret Beckett, Caroline Flint, Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman – even Ed Miliband – refused (although, Ed’s refusal was probably an act of mercy, refusing to taint Corbyn with an “election-loser.”)

Corbyn was forced to promote young (and old) talent in the Party, in three separate re-shuffles due to two failed coups.

Barry Gardiner – a model example of how to handle a TV interview (and quickly becoming a fan-favourite) – once held two different posts because so few MPs were willing to serve.

This is the context for Diane Abbott as Shadow Home Secretary. Not that she is the best available candidate – but that, on the whole, she is the best available in what was a very shallow pool of choices.

Should Labour win the general election, Diane Abbott will become the first female ethnic minority as Home Secretary in our history.

She will have the platform – and the resources – to demonstrate that, despite her awful public relations, she is just as capable as any other Home Secretary.

Her thirty years in Parliament make her one fo the most qualified candidates for a government post in the entire House of Commons.

Until then, let’s keep her away from the cameras, and get-on with winning this election.

Poll Round-Up – Some Implications for Final Weeks

The Conservative lead continues to plummet.

In times of crisis, people are drawn to the “stability” of government. But not in this election.

Despite the horrific events on Monday, Theresa May and her Conservative Party have fallen further still.

A new Opinium poll shows Theresa May’s personal ratings have dropped by 60% in just six weeks.

As a Party, the Conservatives have dropped 1 point over the past week, whith Labour climbing 2.

In a separate ORB poll, Labour gained 4 points on the Conservatives, who dropped 2 points. The gap measured is now just six points. Again, this poll was conducted after the attack on Monday.

There are other polls showing Labour’s gain slipping, with YouGov – putting Labout just five points behind the Conservatives a few days ago – now showing a drop of 2 points (although this fall, crucially, did not swing to the Conservatives).

ICM Research logged a Labour fall of 1 point – but this was mirrored by a Conservative loss of an equal, one point.

The crucial point is this: despite a horrific attack on Monday which should – as normally happens – draw the public to the “stability” of government; it hasn’t.

In all polls since the attack, the Conservatives have not gained any ground on Labour and – on the whole – have lost it.

This isn’t normal, and shows just how much Theresa May is still struggling with the Conservative manifesto pledges (or lack of them).

Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, is rising in personal approval ratings precisely because he is willing to be decisive, willing to stick to his principles (whether you agree with them or not), and the Labour pledges are – in fact – very popular with most people in the UK.

Increasingly, the “strong and stable” image of Theresa May is evaporating.

The Conservative Party looks increasingly confused, arrogant, mean – even lazy; given how much they have taken the campaign – and the public – for granted.

Labour is showing that it can defy the odds – that Jeremy Corbyn, who was 200/1 to win the Labour leadership, is a serial odds-beater.

The Conservatives are panicking.

It’s why they delayed resuming their campaign and its’ why Conservative social media has flooded the internet with character attacks on Corbyn.

If the Conservative meltdown continues, Theresa May will keep making mistakes; increasingly out-of-touch, irritated and reckless.

This will not play well on our TV screens on Monday, where both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn face a live Q&A audience on Sky News (see details here).

Jeremy Corbyn thrives in these situations. He answers questions directly. He refuses to launch personal attacks. He focuses on issues and policies which people care about.

If the Q&A is moderated fairly – and if both candidates are asked relevant questions to the current election – Theresa May will come out of this with some serious bruising, allowing Jeremy to rise in the polls further still.

Come the end of the month, we could be looking at a more uniformed 5 point gap across most polling companies, heading into the last several days of the election campaign.

If Jeremy can do this, then a Labour win may not just be a possibility – it might even be probable.

I’ll be heading out on the Labour doorstep to marginal seats in London over the next two weeks – and it would be great to see some of you there :-)

Message me @politicstim on Instagram or Twitter and we can discuss things further!

Corbyn Speech: Not Such a Bad Idea

After resuming the Labour campaign on Friday, Jeremy Corbyn suffered.

Speech samples were leaked to the media on Thursday, preparing us for what would be a day of controversy, so close to Monday’s attack.

I made my concerns clear here, and some of these concerns remain. How the media handles (and has handled) this speech, could be problematic.

But Jeremy’s team knew this. Seumas Milne, James Schneider, Andrew Gwynne and others, aren’t idiots.

A strategy was developed. A plan created. Polls, presumably, conducted.

So let’s take a look.

Potential advantages of the speech: to put clear water between the Labour vision of how, why and when government should act; to acknowledge Jeremy’s own views and principles to ensure clarity for the public (in his own words, “You deserve to know what a Labour government would do to keep you safe. Our approach will involve change at home & change abroad;” and to ensure all foreign policy debate or past “links” to the IRA or others were discussed before the final ten days of the election. (It would be better, surely, to enter this discussion in his own time, than to face an ambush on Monday’s Sky News Q & A, or later in the campaign. To open the debate now would force the discussion, with no secrets held and (hopefully) no re-runs necessary as the campaign progressed).

Additionally, with Theresa May in Europe, the announcement would provide some breathing space, with only Fallon, Rudd and Johnson available to criticise him.

So what happened?

Media headlines focused on “the Labour leader drawing links between our foreign policy and Monday’s attack.” Conservative politicians lined-up to criticise him. Interviewers tried to present the leader as “out-of-touch” and “insensitive.”

The fall-out was brutal.

But, come evening, the tide started to turn…

Fallon suffered a Channel 4 interview where he (unwittingly) criticised his colleague (and Foreign Secretary) Boris Johnson, for comments he thought belonged to Jeremy Corbyn; which also undermined Johnson’s claim Corbyn’s perpsective was “monstrous.

The former British Ambassador to Libya appeared on BBC News to make clear Jeremy Corbyn had some valid points – and his concerns were not only valuable but shared by many in the Intelligence community.

And even Sky News Political Editor, Faisal Islam, took a balanced approach, and again focused on Theresa May’s shambolic campaign.

When Theresa May resumes her campaign, two things could happen: first, she could launch it by speaking about the importance of security and the “inability” of Jeremy Corbyn to deliver it or, second, she could revert to type and talk about Brexit.

There is no way – whatsoever – Theresa May can talk about the Conservative manifesto or domestic politics. She has proven that, A., the manifesto is deeply unpopular and, B., even she doesn’t like it, which is why she’s performed two u-turns before the election has even taken place (which is probably why she has cancelled the resumption of her campaign).

These actions are unprecedented. And we need to defend Jeremy Corbyn as much as we expose Theresa May and her Conservative Party.

Yesterday, I wrote that if  Jeremy chose to resume the campaign talking about foreign policy, he would open himself up to all these attacks and damage the precious 5 point gap gained over the past week.

But now? It seems there’s little to worry about. The issue is out. The Andrew Neil interview was complete and Corbyn – who endured a whole twenty minutes on foreign policy “controversy” (including a whole ten minutes on the IRA) – emerged largely unscathed, despite some moderate bruising.

After her interview on Monday, Theresa May emerged ripped to pieces in a far less rigorous interview, in which Neil ignored her past almost entirely.

Media coverage of this election was always going to be tough.

But ironically, the fact Corbyn has suffered this for the past two years, and not just the past two months, is in his favour.

Theresa May finished her tour in Europe by saying Corbyn’s comments made this election choice “starker.” She’s right.

We have a choice between a leader willing to recognise we need thought-through policies and clear plans before putting troops in harm’s way; of ensuring our public services – like our police, hospitals, nurses, doctors and firemen – are properly funded; of guaranteeing more money for cyber security and Intelligence services; of not being afraid to stand-up to Trump and to choose our own foreign policy based on the security and safety of our citizens and armed forces, before propping-up American-led interventions.

Or we could choose a leader and Conservative Party who cut our police numbers by 20,000 in six years, who slashed police budgets by 25% and who held hands with Trump at the White House begging for a closer relationship and trade deal after a hard Brexit. Theresa May voted for the Iraq war, she voted for the war in Afghanistan and voted for our involvement in Libya and Syria.

We could elect a Prime Minister who thinks before they act; or we could vote for one with their finger on the trigger, waiting for an excuse.

I know which one I’ll choose. And that’s why I’ll be voting for my local Labour candidate on June 8th; to ensure a responsible, peaceful, united foreign policy and security in our future; through greater public services, a fully-funded NHS, security in our retirement, housing and education.

Where affording social care doesn’t require us to sell our homes and where we can all earn a better standard of living with a £10 minimum wage and new rights for workers.

So let’s stay positive. Let’s get the message out. And let’s fight for the future we – and millions of others – need.

Over the next few weeks I’ll continue writing an article a day. Stay tuned via Twitter @politicstim.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Campaign Re-Launch: Danger Ahead

Having outlined my thoughts on how Labour should resume its campaign (here and here), Jeremy Corbyn plans to focus elsewhere.

In a speech later today, Jeremy will focus on the causes of terrorism, listing Western involvement in the Middle East as a primary reason for terror attacks at home.

He will call for a different approach to foreign policy and defence, focusing on unity, peace and diplomacy.

Much as I agree with Jeremy Corbyn on this – and it is, indeed, a debate which needs to be had – it is almost certainly the wrong time to hold it.

People are still reeling from Monday’s attack. They want solutions. They want to know how – in the context of this election – each Party plans to keep us safe.

People aren’t too intersted in “why” the attack happened. They simply want to know how it can be stopped in the future, and which Party is able to deliver this with calm, sensible policies; not political posturing and existential diatribes.

The Labour manifesto contains serious policies to ensure public safety. It has detailed plans to rebuild our security and public services so we are better protected against attacks – both cyber and physical, and plans to ensure our emergency services are properly staffed and valued.

The Conservative manifesto contains none of these things. Theresa May, as mentioned in previous articles, has slashed police budgets and dropped police numbers by 20,000 as Home Secretary.

People don’t want a “tit-for-tat” campaign strategy, and it’s important to raise these issues with care. Andy Burnham demonstrated this brilliantly on Thursday’s BBC Question Time.

Labour has the policies and political will for a valuable response, which can provide detailed answers to the uncertainty we face but, instead, is choosing to open-up a new debate which no one (currently) wants to have.

While Corbyn chooses to focus on the cause of the attack, Theresa May has mobilised the military, attended NATO and drafted new plans to “fight online extremism.”

Which leader looks like they have a plan to do something about this?

The Prime Minister has the power to act now; which is why Jeremy Corbyn needs to demonstrate the Labour Party has a clear plan to implement when elected next month.

Labour has closed the gap again in another YouGov poll, conducted after the attack, narrowing the Conservative lead to just 5 points.

Jeremy does not need to risk alienating the public at this stage. The stakes are not yet high enough. We’re gaining ground – consistently – and mainly because of the domestic policies outlined in the Labour manifesto (providing security in our everyday lives).

Labour could demonstrate its plans for security and safety through its manifesto pledges, exposing the fact the Conservatives have none.

Instead, Labour has chosen to focus on an argument no one can win.

Experts have different views. And, while the traditional political arguments on the causes of terrorism can apply readily to previous attacks, they seem to bear almost no relation to the attack on Monday.

People dont want to feel blamed for an atrocity that happened at any time – let alone just a few days ago.

If Labour is to maintain its rise in the polls, it needs to focus on winnable arguments. It has plenty, as I’ve written elsewhere. And these can be used to outline a Labour government which values security in all aspects of our lives: in public safety, in defence, in work, in education, in our health and in retirement.

This is a platform the Conservatives simply cannot – and have never – delivered.

So let’s maintain our focus. Let’s keep talking about the policies. And let’s ensure Labour continues to climb in the polls.