Posts Tagged ‘Total Politics’

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.

Read Full Post »

KAMPANJ Ett parti som bara svartmålar riskerar förlora röster om väljarna inte känner igen sig i deras beskrivning.

Photo - www.instinctforfilm.com

Conservative Party vill gärna att väljarna skall se Labour som ett parti som saknar lösningar på de problem man lastar den konservativa-liberala koalitionsregeringen för.

När Sam Macrorys intervjuade de konservativas partiordförande för Total Politics var det tydligt att Grant Shapps vill att väljarna mentalt skall förknippa attackerna från oppositionen med att Labour har en svag partiledare och att partiet saknar egna lösningar.

Extra viktigt blir det för regeringen att sätta bilden av en svag Ed Miliband bland de väljare som börjat tröttna på regeringens politik. Det gäller att övertyga dem om att Labour inte är lösningen på deras problem.

The argument is one we’ll hear rather a lot in the coming months: the government is turning the economy around, has restored a rise in growth and jobs, can do more without the shackles of coalition, and must be allowed to finish the job. And the Conservative Party, Shapps says, is “feeling proud… we’ve done exactly what we said we were going to do. We followed a long-term economic plan and worked hard on reducing the deficit. What’s happened? We’ve become the fastest growing economy in the developed world. Clearly the economic plan is working.”


It’s going to be long and tough, but we have to make those arguments vigorously every single day. And whereas we have a vision for the future, Ed Miliband has another crisis.”

Shapps whips out a sheet or two of A4 from his pocket and thrusts them in my direction. “What separates Miliband from Cameron? And what’s the reason why people recognise consistently that Cameron is the better leader and better prime minister for Britain? Why? I think I’ve got the answer. Miliband has a knack of announcing crises. He’s announced 56 in the last three years. What’s that? Getting on to 20 a year. He’s also got 15 issues that he describes as the most important facing Britain.” Shapps looks up from the Miliband crisis dossier with glee. “In other words, this guy can’t decide.”

Looking through the headlines, if nothing else, the Labour communications team has been a little lazy with their crisis management. “Here’s a list of things he says are the number one crisis issue,” Shapps continues, pouring through his “fascinating” figures. “The badger cull crisis… that’s the number one issue facing Britain? This is a guy who leaps from one subject to another, jumps on the nearest bandwagon as it passes him by and tries to attach himself to every issue. He comes from the cold, hard, calculating [Gordon] Brown world of politics. The public end up realising that this is not a man who is the right person to be in Downing Street. This is a person who responds to the news rather than making the weather. You can’t both jump on every bandwagon and have the long-term interests of the country at heart.”

This is not the first time the Tories have tried to pin a perceived crime on Miliband. They tried ‘Red Ed’, the frothing socialist leader. That didn’t stick. Next came ‘Weird Ed’, the, well, weird leader. So what is it this time? “Well, it’s a ’Bandwagon Ed’, I suppose, but I’m not trying to brand him as anything,” Shapps replies. “All I’m trying to say is there is a choice. He’s always looking for the negative and he doesn’t have a positive, long-term vision for his country. Only [one of] two people can walk into Downing Street after the next election, Miliband or Cameron, and Cameron has a long-term vision for this country.”

So, is the choice in 2015 made after a presidential-style battle between two men? “Yes, Cameron is a big asset, but no, actually.” Shapps disagrees. “What’s commonly misunderstood about elections – and what I hope I bring to the table as somebody who won a seat off Labour – is that it’s not one national election, it’s not a US presidential election, it’s 650 separate contests on different things in different places.”


Back to those crises. There’s one in the list of 56 that resonates, and that’s the cost-of-living crisis. “Wait,” Shapps interrupts. “Let’s just check.” He looks back at the list. “Cost-of-living crisis…. there it is, number 21. Yes, crisis 21, 17 January, 2013.” He looks pleased, but should he be? The cost-of-living crisis, the argument that even as the economy recovers people see little to no improvement in their living standards, seems to cut through. “Look, it’s true that people have suffered huge pain over six years as this economy has got back to the size it was, when Labour – Labour – had its great recession. You know what? People have hurt and suffered from Labour’s great recession.” So it’s Miliband’s cost-of-living crisis, then? “He’s identified what he and Ed Balls were doing in the backroom while Gordon Brown was destroying the economy. He identifies the problem, he ignores the fact it’s of his own making, and then he fails to identify the solution.”

Bild: www.instinctforfilm.com

Read Full Post »

OPINION | Väljarna uppför sig är inte alltid så logiskt och rationellt som vi vill tro.

Sex , Lies and the Ballot Box by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford

Philip Cowley och Robert Ford, författare till Sex Lies and the Ballot Box, lyfter i en artikel i Total Politics fram fyra märkliga väljarbeteenden.

People’s recall about whether they vote in an election is not great. By this, we don’t mean how they voted but just whether they voted. Around 14% get this wrong. Importantly, they are about six times more likely to report a false positive than a false negative, to claim they voted when they didn’t rather than the other way round. This is partly because voting is still (widely, though not universally) seen as a social norm, but as Paul Whiteley – he wrote that chapter for us – points out, plenty of people are willing to disregard that social norm: around one in five happily and correctly admit they didn’t vote. Those who think voting is unimportant don’t tend to lie about whether they did it or not. The problem comes with those who think voting is important. When they don’t manage to vote, they’re much more likely to mislead. Or, as Whiteley put it, “people only mislead when it matters”.


People who are very interested in politics are twice as likely to have an opinion on fictitious policies than those who aren’t interested. And men are 50% more likely to express an opinion than women, one reason why men seem to have higher levels of political knowledge than women: they’re less willing to admit their ignorance.

If you are going to stand for elected office, it’s better to be called Abbott than Zane, because reading to the end of a ballot paper takes time, and some people can’t be bothered. One study of council elections between 1973 and 2012 suggests that some 2,050 councillors elected in this period owed their election to ballot position alone.


And don’t be ugly. One study ran a test asking people to judge how attractive they found pairs of candidates at the 2010 election. The more attractive individual was more likely to have won the contest. In closely-fought contests – those constituencies decided by less than 5% of the vote – attractiveness alone successfully predicted the outcome of almost three-quarters of fights.

Och det är inte lönt att tro att svenska väljare skulle vara så mycket bättre än i Storitannien. Var fjärde väljare minns t.ex. inte vad de röstade på. Eller så minns de helt enkelt fel.

Read Full Post »

POLITIK | Alastair Campbell, Tony Blairs gamla kommunikationsrådgivare och spin doctor, har inte försvunnit från den politiska arenan.

Total Politics November 2013

Campbell var en hjärnorna bakom den numera legendariska valrörelse som 1997 förde Blair och New Labour till 10 Downing Street.

Enligt en intervju med Sam Macrory i Total Politics har han även planer på att hjälpa Ed Milibands Labour inför valet 2015.

Men Campbell har inte legat på latsidan sedan 1997. Erfarenheterna från valrörelsen kom väl till användning när Campbell hjälpte Edi Rama och hans albanska socialistiska parti till makten förra året.

Campbell helped Rama win this summer’s Albanian general election with what he proudly declares was a “New Labour landslide”. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given what Campbell had brought with him from London. “It was the ‘97 playbook – everything. All the systems, pledge cards, messaging, changing the look, changing the name, everything. Obviously the world has moved on – social media, and all that stuff – but in terms of basic messaging, organisation, strategy, media monitoring, rebuttal, events and visits, we did the really basic stuff, and they were brilliant at it.”

So brilliant, in fact, that Campbell has returned from Albania with a new idea for Ed Miliband: film as many recordings as you can of your critics, and play them back on giant screens to your audience. “Every voice was negative, and he’s framed his speech around it. It was really powerful,” says Campbell of Rama’s experiment, one which echoes the ‘masochism strategy’ that Blair deployed in the run-up to the Iraq War and the 2005 election. Campbell is convinced it would work for the current Labour leader.

“I’ve tried this on Ed, and I think it would work with his style. It’s not a case of persuading him, I’ve just said, ‘By the way, we did this and it was really powerful, it really worked’. It’s just out there as an idea, and I think Ed would do that well.”

Enthused by the idea, Campbell sets the scene: “For somebody to come up there and say, ‘You’re a geek, you haven’t got charisma’, somebody to come on and say, ‘Yeah, you speak quite well but you’re not Tony Blair, you’re no Barack Obama’, he can then say, ‘No, I’m not Blair, I’m me; this is what I am. OK, I might not be as charismatic as Barack Obama, but here’s what I’m going to do with energy, here’s what I’m going to do with this… ”

Tidskriftsomslag: Total Politics, November 2013.

Read Full Post »

VAL 2014 I Storbritannien blev den stora segraren i både lokalvalen och EU-valet Nigel Farage och United Kingdom Independence Party.

Total Politics Issue 64 December 2014

Efter framgången i Europaparlamentsvalet tar UKIP sikte på att slå igenom även i parlamentsvalet i Storbritannien.

När Sam Macrory och John Ashmore intervjuade Farage i Total Politics i december diskuterade man bl.a. partiets planer inför 2015.

Farage tänker kopiera den valstrategi som gjorde liberalerna framgångsrika under Paddy Ashdowns tid som partiledare för Liberal Democrats.

Instead of flirting with unhappy Tories, Farage says that his priority is “trying to build this brand that we’ve established” – and he has a blueprint in mind: the Paddy Ashdown-era Liberal Democrats.

How Ashdown won Tory-held Yeovil, he says, “is a template for what you have to do” – not that Ashdown has said anything complimentary in return. “So? Couldn’t give a damn. Haven’t seen what he said. I’m not even interested.” Farage shrugs. “They faced everywhere: ‘It’s a wasted vote, we like them, we agree with them, but it’s a wasted vote.’ And they managed to do it from the bottom up. It’s an approach that served Ashdown phenomenally well, and it’s a model for UKIP to pursue. I still think the key to 2015 is what we have built up locally on the ground in terms of local council representation.”


He admits that the party’s 2010 manifesto was a “Horlicks… no one knew what was in it or wasn’t”, but insists that UKIP has learned from previous mistakes in its presentation of “some sensible, pragmatic solutions to some important questions.”

UKIP has a research team, happily lifts from think tank reports – “what on Earth is wrong with us using some of that?” – and a part of its growing professionalism has seen it enlist the services of pollsters, although Farage does not appear to want to rely too heavily on their expertise.


“We have to win,” Farage admits, when asked to look ahead to 2015 and beyond. “These raised expectations are everywhere, half my fault. Three years ago, when I came back as leader of UKIP for the second time, I said my goal was for us to win the European elections and to put ourselves into a position where we could, if things went right, hold the balance of power at the next general election. That was my sort of four-, five-year plan and everybody thought it was very funny that I should even contemplate the fact that we could win the European elections. Now they’re all saying they think we will.”

But what happens if Britain votes to leave the EU in 2017? Or, before then, if UKIP fails to return an MP? Farage hints that either scenario might spell the end: “What happens in the next two years will, to a large extent, determine the European question and UKIP’s future, so I sort of agree with the tone of your question,” he replies, “but, you know, don’t really expect me to think beyond 2015. It’s quite difficult to know.”

Läs mer: Alastair Campbells intervju med partiledaren för UK Independence Party i GQ. Tidskriftsomslaget: Total Politics, nr 46, December 2013.

Read Full Post »

LONDON | Förra året avslöjade Birmingham Post hur David Camerons planer för nästa valkampanj såg ut.

Total Politics juni 2013

Premiärminister David Cameron hoppas att en så kallad 40/40-strategi skall ge Conservative Party egen majoritet efter nästa val.

Jonathan Walker beskrev strategin på följande sätt:

It involves pouring resources into a small number of seats, 40 they need to hold and 40 they need to gain, giving Mr Cameron an overall majority in the general election planned for 2015.

Conservatives won 306 seats in 2010. A minimum of 326 are needed for a bare majority in the Commons, although in practice more would be needed to create a stable government.

I senaste Total Politics intervjuar Rob Wilson, konservativ parlamentsledamot för Reading East, premiärministern.

I put to him that even with the positive circumstances of 2010, the Conservative Party still peaked at only 36 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives didn’t win enough of those blue-collar Tories. Can he win a majority? “I firmly believe we can win a majority, even on the old boundaries,” he says with complete conviction. “The main reason I say that is because people understand that these are difficult times, that this is a government having to take tough decisions, but that we’re making progress – the deficit is down by a third, immigration is down by a third, welfare is being capped. And where is the Labour Party on all of these big issues? Absolutely nowhere. They want more borrowing, more spending and more debt, they opposed our measures to cut immigration, and they oppose capping welfare. So, I think we’re winning the big arguments in politics that people will consider when they are making up their minds in 2015. Now, on top of that, we have the 40/40 strategy, which is how we campaign in the key target areas. Winning the big arguments and having the right campaigning apparatus in place means we can definitely win the election outright.”

Cameron claims that Labour’s performance in the local elections under Ed Miliband compares unfavourably to Michael Foot in 1981 – “And of course we all know what happened to Michael Foot at the subsequent general election.”

This comparison might be a little questionable, considering how open the 2015 general election looks, but, two years away, we know the key themes that Cameron will campaign under. The prime minister lays out the Conservative pitch as “continuing on the road we are on to turn the country round” versus Labour “who will take us back to square one”. In terms that will be very familiar by 2015 he says: “So that is the choice – continue making progress to sort the economy, welfare and immigration, or go back to where we came from with a Labour Party that has learnt none of the right lessons from its mistakes.”

Cameron also has the blue-collar Tories in his sights, as he believes they and others didn’t vote Conservative because they still had doubts about the party. His strategy is to demonstrate to those who work hard, support their families and do the right thing that the government is on their side. He also believes they’ll respond to the fact that the government is stopping the wrong people getting rewarded. “It wasn’t a fair country”, he says, adding, “but we also need to think about making sure the Conservative Party remains broad, open, tolerant and inclusive; we shouldn’t try to find all our votes in one place.”


It appears the frustrations of coalition and slow government will continue to dog a PM desperately keen to deliver for the country. His desire to turn the country around is not in any doubt, but his ability to achieve what he wants still is. He now has two years to focus on delivering what the British people want.

Tidskriftsomslag: Total Politics, juni 2013.

Read Full Post »