Posts Tagged ‘Dan Hodges’

INTRIGER | Hur lång tid kommer det att ta innan förlorarna efter partiledarvalet har byggt upp en organisation som kan avsätta partiledaren?

The Spectator 5 september 2015

På rekordtid har spekulationer börjat cirkulera om planer på att försöka bli av med Jeremy Corbyn, en av de mest vänsterradikala partiledare som Labour har sett.

Den nyvalda partiledaren är inte populär bland alla de partimedlemmar och aktiva som inte tror man kan avlägsna sig för långt ifrån mitten om man vill vinna ett nationellt val.

Många tippar redan att Labour kommer att göra ett katastrofval i maj 2016 när det är dags för lokala val.

En av dessa skeptiker är Dan Hodges. Han har tidigare varit partitjänsteman i Labour och aktiv i både partiet och inom fackföreningsrörelsen i Storbritannien.

I The Spectator har han skrivit om de funderingar som finns i partiet om det nu överhuvudtaget går att rädda Labour.

How long does it take to rebuild a political machine? Twelve months? Two years? Three years? Maybe it can’t be done at all.


For all the brave talk of resistance and immediate fightbacks, Labour’s modernisers and pragmatists are simply not going to be ready to mount a serious challenge to Corbyn for many months, if not years, after his election. Among other members of the shadow cabinet, there is a growing consensus that it may take up to three years.

First, they will have to build up a base within the constituencies. ‘The reality is there are too many of the New Labour MPs who simply have no connection with their constituencies. It’s going to take time to build up those links again,’ said one senior backbencher. Another shadow cabinet figure agrees. ‘For years, all Labour party members were asked to do was turn up to pack out Ed’s speeches. That’s going to have to change.’

Another problem is that the opposition to Corbyn is fragmented, and needs to be pulled together. Some MPs plan on refusing to serve under him and retreating to the back benches to regroup. Others prefer a strategy of accepting shadow cabinet positions and fighting from within.


Then comes the need to assemble a coherent alternative vision: should Labour’s pragmatists set out a radical alternative prospectus? Or move towards Corbyn to win credibility with an activist base that has lurched dramatically to the left?

All this will have to be done at a time of a purge, with anti-Corbyn MPs fighting for their very survival. ‘There’s no doubt in my mind we are going to see a move toward deselections on quite a large scale,’ says one shadow cabinet minister.


The ranks of the rebels will be further diminished next May, when elections are held for 126 English local authorities. ‘We’re looking at the potential loss of hundreds of councillors,’ says one MP, ‘but Corbyn’s circle aren’t worried by that. They think it will clear out a raft of people loyal to the “old party” and opposed to Jeremy.’

How long does it take to build a political machine? A long time. Possibly more time than the Labour party has.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Spectator den 5 september 2015.

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James Forsyth, Dan Hodges, Fraser Nelson, Isabel Hardman och Sebastian Payne, alla på The Spectator, diskuterar vad Jeremy Corbyns seger innebär för Labour och Conservative Party.

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IMAGE | Precis som Socialdemokraterna har Labour problem med sin självbild. Man vill gärna tro att man är ett arbetarparti även om partiet styrs av karriärister.

Arbetare på Bruket - 75-års jubileum--Foto av Oscar Färdig

Här i Sverige blir det tydligast vid första maj. Eller när man nostalgiskt talar om partiet under Olof Palmes tid.

Vid första maj försöker man intala både sig själva och andra att partiet och fackföreningsrörelsen står enade. Och att denna enighet beror på att man först och främst representerar arbetarklassen.

I realiteten har partiet professionaliserats precis som övriga partier. Idag befolkas Socialdemokraterna (och facket) av lika många karriärister som i andra partier. Den traditionella arbetaren får man leta efter.

Detta påverkar naturligtvis förutsättningarna under en valkampanj. Kan man inte mobilisera ”arbetarklassen” måste man kompensera detta på annat sätt.

Och ju färre engagerade arbetare på fältet desto viktigare blir det att partiet inte tappar fackens ekonomiska bidrag.

Även om det finns en koppling mellan Socialdemokraterna och facket så handlar det idag mer om en strategisk allians mellan olika organisationer och topparna i dessa.

Detta är naturligtvis inte riktigt det samma som att man har engagerade medlemmar. Lika lite kan man utgå ifrån att Moderaterna och deras medlemmar eller, ännu mindre, deras väljare har exakt samma intressen och önskemål.

Men för Socialdemokraterna blir kanske fantomkänslorna mer påtagliga om man inte riktigt lyckats ersätta bilden av sig själv med en lite mer realistisk och verklighetsförankrad.

Dan Hodger skrev i Total Politics om den inte helt friktionsfria relationen i Storbritannien.

The Labour Party is too elitist. Its leadership is drawn from a narrow clique of Oxbridge graduates and former special advisers. It has lost touch with its working-class base.


In the 1980s, Thatcher grabbed hold of Labour’s working class vote – some would say by the throat. In the 1990s, Tony Blair walked away from it.

“Our base has nowhere to go,” one Downing Street adviser told me mid-way through Blair’s first term. Actually, they did, but it took them the best part of a decade to get there. And the Labour Party has still not reached a consensus on how to get them back.

Part of the problem is that Labour is trying to reconnect with a social demographic that only exists conceptually. The definition ‘working class’ is now meaningless in political terms. Society is simply too diverse.


On one level Labour already knows this. The Mosaic demographic database used by the party for campaigning contains 155 ‘person types’ that are aggregated into 67 household types. The days of saying, ‘If we get the C2s the election’s in the bag’ are over. Britain’s political parties now have to find strategies for targeting ‘worn-out workers’, ‘brownfield pioneers’ and ‘stressed borrowers’.

This is not to say that there aren’t large swathes of the electorate that respond to common themes. There are. But this is where Labour runs into another problem. In many key areas, the party’s direction of political travel is taking it away from, not towards, its traditional base.

Partly this is as a result of Ed Miliband’s strategy of attempting to offer a ride to disaffected Liberal Democrats, while simultaneously tossing the baggage of Blairism out the back window. But it is also because, while Labour loves paying homage to the working class, it frequently runs scared when faced with the ‘small c’ conservatism prevalent within many working-class communities. On Europe, crime, welfare reform, the economy and immigration, Labour’s embrace of its working base has all too often turned into a curt nod and a fumbled attempt to change the conversation to cuts in manufacturing or the health service.

Med andra ord inte så stor skillnad med hur det är här.

Bild: Arbetare på Bruket – 75-års jubileum. Foto av Oscar Färdig.

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VAL 2015 | Ed Miliband kan bli Storbritanniens nästa premiärminister. Detta trots att han knappast har imponerat under sin tid som partiledare för Labour.

The Spectator 11 april 2015

Skämten har varit många på hans bekostnad. Det har handlat om allt ifrån hur han äter en baconsmörgås till att han glömde viktiga delar i sitt eget tal.

Ett av de roligare skämten är Miliband och Ed Balls, trolig finansminister vid en valseger, som politikens Wallace & Gromit.

Trots detta ligger Labour och Conservative Party nästa lika i opinionsundersökningarna. Och, vilket är minst lika viktigt, har han inte gjort några större misstag under pågående valkampanj.

Dan Hodges, som tidigare jobbat både för både partiet och inom fackföreningsrörelsen, tecknar bilden av Miliband och vad som händer om det blir han som får träda innanför dörren till 10 Downing Street efter valet den 7 maj.

One thing happens immediately. In that instant, he divests himself of his biggest negative. The perception that Ed Miliband simply does not look like a prime minister dies. The bacon sandwiches, the otherworldliness, the lonely sojourns on Hampstead Heath — they no longer matter. Within an hour, the analysts who spent the past year mocking him will start to talk about his resilience under pressure, his single-mindedness, the bold new direction in which Britain will go. This is how punditry works; all victories (and defeats) are retrospectively declared inevitable. He has the part, so by definition he looks the part.

So is he ready to play it? The Conservative party has built an entire election strategy on the assumption that the British people will answer that question with a resounding no. But Miliband would enter Downing Street with more experience then any newly elected prime minister of the past 35 years. Tony Blair had no hands-on knowledge of life inside government at any level. David Cameron had worked as an adviser but held no ministerial post. Ed Miliband has done both, as Environment Secretary and as a senior adviser at the Treasury. He understands how Whitehall works.

Speak to anyone who is in regular contact with Labour’s leader, and they all agree he is only too ready to embrace the top job. ‘He’s absolutely convinced he’s been pre-ordained for some big historical mission,’ one senior shadow cabinet member told me. ‘Don’t ask me what the hell it is. But he genuinely believes that.’ Another — rather less charitably — said, ‘Just because you think a lot it doesn’t necessarily make you a great thinker. Ed’s problem is that he regards himself as a great thinker. And he isn’t.’

Great thinker or not, allies confirm Prime Minister Miliband would call time on the ‘chillaxing’ culture that has come to define David Cameron’s management of Downing Street. One friend says, ‘He gets up early, and he’s into the media planning. Then it’s into meetings, and they’re scheduled back to back. The office will build in a bit of downtime, but then he won’t take it.’ Admirable as this is, it can create a problem. ‘You need space to sit back and breathe. Over the past five years Ed hasn’t had that. And if he gets into Downing Street I only see things getting worse.’

And here resides the paradox. As one aide explains, ‘The thing you have to understand about Ed Miliband is that his strengths are also his weaknesses.’ Speak to anyone who has worked at any level in Labour’s operation and they will praise their leader’s intellectual inquisitiveness, his empathy and his inclusiveness. But there is one other thing they all agree on: his congenital indecisiveness.


His critics, with equal justification, point to the fact that Miliband’s lack of strategic thinking and numerous tactical blunders are what leave him constantly backed into corners in the first place. ‘Yes, I suppose he would be good at dealing with the 3 a.m. call,’ says one former shadow minister, ‘so long as he remembers to plug in the phone, can find the phone and doesn’t drop the phone when he tries to pick it up.’

Which brings us back to that Prime Minister Miliband paradox. He thinks, but he also over-thinks. He listens, but he cannot decide. He fights hard, but finds himself fighting on too many fronts simultaneously.

But one thing cannot be denied: Labour has, as a party, held together. Traditionally, it disembowels itself after losing office. Under Miliband, this has not happened. According to one shadow cabinet member, this may be Miliband’s greatest accomplishment.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Spectator den 11 april 2015.

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Val 2015 | Varför har teamet kring premiärminister David Cameron inte gått mer på offensiven och attackerat Ed Miliband mer intensivt?


Speciellt när det väger så jämt mellan Conservative Party och Labour borde de konservativa tjäna på att urholka väljarnas förtroende för labourledaren.

Det finns antagligen fem anledningar till att premiärministerns stab är så försiktiga.

1) Under Camerons ledarskap har partiet försökt tvätta bort stämpeln som ”the nasty party”. Man vill inte nu riskera att väcka den björn som sover.

2) Förtroendesiffrorna för Ed Miliband är så svaga att de konservativa inte vill riskera stöta sig med väljarna när Labour nu – thank you very much – gör grovjobbet åt Cameron.

Många inom Labour har gett upp tanken på Miliband som en tillgång för partiet. Istället hoppas man att missnöjet med regeringen i slutendan ändå skall vara större än missnöjet med partiledaren.

3) Varför skulle de konservativa attackera labourledaren när opinionsundersökningarna redan visar att Miliband är en belastning för Labour?

Då är det bättre för Cameron att försöka behålla, och utöka, väljarnas förtroende för premiärministern på områdena ”ledarskap” och förmågan att ”hantera ekonomin” – de två områden där Cameron ständigt rankas högre än Miliband i opinionsmätningar.

4) Eftersom Labour som parti oftast får högre siffror i opinionsmätningarna, om än knappt, måste de konservativa inrikta sig på att få ner dessa siffror istället.

Detta speciellt som Conservative Party inte lyckats få upp de egna siffrorna tillräckligt mycket. En ledarskribent har kallat nästa års val för ”the war of the weak”.

5) Ed Miliband har själv försökt ta udden av sitt imageproblem. Genom att vägra spela de konservativas spel har man (till viss del) vridet vapnet ur deras händer.

Två anhängare till Labour hade en intressant diskussion om problemen i oktobernumret av Total Politics.

De två som diskuterade var Dan Hodges, har tidigare arbetat för Labour och fackföreningen GMB och nu är krönikör i Total Politics, samt John McTernan som tidigare var rådgivare och politiska sekreterare till Tony Blair.

DH: This is the interesting thing. The Tories themselves are still not sure how to deal with Miliband.

JM: They thought he’d be gone by now and he’s not.

DH: I think his great success as a leader – if you want to make it a success – is that he has put the Labour Party at ease with itself. The problem is he’s done that by not challenging the party. He’s been pushing a message: we can win by being true to ourselves, we can win from the left, and we don’t have to make the compromises that Blair did. People make the mistake of saying Labour has been unified. It just hasn’t been challenged. That’s why he’s still in place.

JM: The thing is, I think Miliband was right to make the speech he made in July, where he specifically took on the issue about public perceptions of him. It was brave, necessary, and an inoculation against the types of attack the Tories are going to make. But I do agree with Dan that if you make an attack that has no resonance then the public not only has no idea what it was about but also thinks it won’t listen to the next attack. On the NHS, for example, I will certainly shoot myself if I don’t shoot somebody in the Labour Party if they keep going on about “top-down reorganisation of the NHS”. I don’t know a single voter in the country who was thinking about voting Tory but then realised Cameron broke a solemn pledge about not leading a top-down reorganisation of the NHS. The NHS is about quality and outcomes. Cameron made one promise: to cut the deficit and not the NHS. Well, he’s not cut the deficit and he has cut the NHS. That’s what you got for him. This nonsense about campaigning against the privatisation of the NHS – it’s a diversion. It plays to Labour’s safe place. Some of the Labour attacks on Cameron have no purchase. He’s a leader, he looks like a leader, and he has that authority. Now, authority is very often the flipside of arrogance. And he’s an arrogant man, that’s the weakness. That’s the point. It’s all about him. It’s all about staying in power.

DH: On the Tory attacks on Miliband, the Tories haven’t been going for him. And I’m not 100% sure they are going to. One of the things Labour has done effectively is to re-embed the idea of the old toxic brand, which means the Tories are too scared to go for Miliband. It’s amazing how many Labour advisers have said, “Jesus, they will take our heads off on X, Y and Z”. But then it hasn’t happened. Miliband has demonstrated just enough that if the Tories don’t target him, he may become a strength. He’s a very weak link for the Labour Party but he’s not such a weak link that the party’s campaign will just fracture if the Tories don’t touch him.

JM: Dan’s really hit something when he says that the Tory Party hasn’t dealt with the legacy of Theresa May calling them what they are, the Nasty Party. They’ve got unfinished modernisation issues. Sometimes when you lose advisers you really lose a part of yourself. Blair had a strength: he replaced people and could rebuild his team. Steve Hilton left, and that role has never been filled, the one who keeps going to the PM and saying, “Stick to the centre”. And one of the things they are standing off from is negative politics. If you’re driven by polling you’d think, “I’d never go negative”, but if you sit in the focus groups you hear people saying, “I hate negative politics… but it always changes my vote”. So you have to have the brass neck to do three seconds positive then 10 hours of negative. You have to go positive to get permission to go negative. Back to the Obama campaign: they made a judgment of just going for Romney. They took a gamble. They framed early, they kept that space and they stuck there. There’s a strategic hesitation at the heart of the Tory Party.

DH: You’re absolutely right about the Obama campaign. They decided to bomb Romney on the runway. The problem for Labour is, that has happened to Miliband. The Tories didn’t bomb him on the runway. He bombed himself. He didn’t even get into the cockpit. He didn’t define himself early in his leadership. Whatever you say about Cameron, the polls are clear – he consistently outpolls the Tory Party. He’s their biggest asset. People have bought what Cameron is saying. Miliband is Romney in this scenario. You’ve got a leader less than a year before an election effectively relaunching himself. That speaks volumes. Miliband is still sitting on the runway.

Bild: Från soniceclectic.com.

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NÄR Mona Sahlin blev partiledare ville hon förbättra förankringsprocess inom Socialdemokraterna. Efter alla år med Göran Persson skulle interndemokratin nu äntligen få blomstra.






Med hjälp av olika rådslag skulle partimedlemmar och aktiva få lov göra sina röster hörda inom en lång rad politikområden.

Men vad som syftade till att öka deltagandet förvandlades snart till en segdragen process utan något synligt slut. När det hela var över var det inte helt tydligt vad resultatet blev.

Nu verkar Labours partiledare Ed Miliband upprepa samma misstag. Och syftet är det samma – att ändra de centralistiska tendenser som utmärkte partiet under Tony Blair och Gordon Brown.

Dan Hodges i New Statesman skriver:

“We weren’t control freaks. We were control psychotics,” recalled one Labour insider. ”The basic principle was that policies were an obstacle to us winning power. They cost money. They always upset someone. The press always twisted them. Frankly, our view was that most of the party couldn’t be trusted with them.”

Men nu är det tänkt att bli ändring på detta.

Labour is currently consulting on as many as 25 separate policy initiatives.


Another Labour insider said: ”Want to know how it’s working? Phone up the party and ask how many policy reviews are under way. It won’t be able to tell you.” I did; it couldn’t. Sources close to the Labour leader are alive to these concerns but resolute in their determination to bring about a more inclusive way of evolving policy. ”Ed is serious about opening up the party,” I was told.


Here is the great irony of the new inclusive world of Labour Party policymaking: rather than binding people together, it has created a plethora of micro-policy agendas, mini-policy champions and isolated policy cliques.


As a result, you’ve got half the shadow cabinet galloping around on personal hobby horses. People have, in effect, been told . . . to come up with their own answers. That’s nice but, when the process is over, how does Ed [Miliband] knit all this into a coherent narrative?”

Som ett led i konsultationen med medlemmar och medborgare har fem miljoner mail, brev och broschyrer distribuerats.

Om Miliband skall lyckas eller inte hänger mycket samman med om han kan knyta samman hela denna omfattande säck av förslag som har strömat in.

Med ett omfattande deltagande från allmänhet och politiker är han dömd att göra många besvikna när väl politiken skall definieras. Om Miliband har bra kontroll över partiet kan han lyckas. Om inte går han kanske  samma öde tillmötes som Mona Sahlin.

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