Archive for July, 2012

Why Labour should fear Boris as PM

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Labour failed to take on Boris properly in London, twice. We never got a handle on how to fight him properly, and we allowed him and his campaign to define the terms of the election. He’s bested –twice – one of our political superstars (and one of our few single-name recognition politicians). Yet some in the Party still consider Boris just a joke and fail to see the threat his leadership of the Tories could be to us.

Read more…



We need a better conversation

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Last night and much of today, Twitter has been all aflutter about a case of quite horrible abuse sent over the network to the Olympic Diver Tom Daley. The abuse was sent from a 17 year old boy, and eventually, the police were called in as his abuse got threatening. It was also visible from the original tweet stream, that Daley wasn’t the only recipient of vile, sexualised, misogynistic, racist tweets from the account in question. What happens next is up to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts. In this case, with the law as it stands, I will say no more about the details of this individual case as to not prejudice the outcome.

But the debate about the case on Twitter has been instructive. In the main, it has boiled down to two points of view – that the perpetrator should be prosecuted and jailed or that he should be left alone and the authorities not involved at all.

I don’t get a great deal of abuse on Twitter. I get some – usually when someone better know and more controversial than me quotes or retweets me  – but not anything like that which well know people get and live through daily. I’ve blocked a couple of particularly obnoxious people, and I’ve been blocked myself by others tired of what I wanted to say to them – as is their right. I think my Twitter experience is pretty much average, so I have no axe to grind in this debate.

But I don’t believe that it should be up to the victims of abuse to be the ones to have to “protect” themselves or to “accept” that their profile brings with it inevitable unwanted consequences. I feel it is wrong to say that of any other abuse and it’s wrong of this one. We’ve come a long way from “stick and stones” and just because the chances of physical harm after internet interactions are more remote (though not impossible – which is why threats of violence should always be taken seriously) the damage of constant verbal and written abuse through the web can be harmful mentally and emotionally and no one who receives such abuse should have to put up with it.

That’s not to say that debate can’t and shouldn’t be robust. But there is a difference between challenging a viewpoint and abuse. Those who fail to see that diminsh our chance at both having proper debate in which all feel free to take part, and at stopping abusers from abusing.

However, I’m not convinced that the best course of action for those who abuse others over Twitter is always to criminalise them. Where they have made a real and credible threat, then yes, they should be treated as someone would be who has dome so in a pub, a library or a shop. But I think that’s a different category from the world of the troll.

I think there must be triggers into what makes someone behave as an online troll. I don’t think nearly enough time and energy has been put into finding out what those are and how they can be changed. The Police may well be the first call when incidents like these take place, but there should be a route that addresses their behaviours but doesn’t lead to criminal prosecution. Should the authorities we call in on such occasions be widened to social services? Psychiatrists?

What we have seen is that trolling doesn’t happen simply as an individual activity. Take the case of the vicious attacks on Gamers Against Bigotry or on Anita Sarkeesian which were gang-organised and highly predatory. Picking off individuals within that action would have made little difference as they were group attacks. They were responding to the culture online that protects and prizes  a trolls’ right to troll over a victim’s right not to be abused.

There are not easy answers. The Internet is not yet a mature space and we are all still finding ways to deal with the new possibilities both profoundly exciting and profoundly depressing that it offers us. People have started to move on from the initial sense of wonder and wild-west style entitlement, but we  have miles to go before the internet is a mature culture that allows all who partake in it to be free and safe and the best they can be.

I don’t think this will be achieved through heavy handed laws. A great many of the laws already passed have been simply drafted by the naieve or led by the wrong instincts. Based largly on the protection of commerce, not the protection of the individual or of the community, they have usually either failed to achieve their original purpose or had unintended consequences so high-profile and ridiculous that they threaten the whole idea of having a legal framework in the first place.

The answer will have to come not just legislatively (though good and well written law has its part to play) but also socially. As we teach our kids about this fact of their lives we need to teach them to interact well online as we try to do so offline. We need to show each other the responsibility we all share for our ever shrinking world and to work together to do that culturally and socially.

Abusive behaviour is not ok. It should never be the “price we pay” for freedom. It is sick and damaging to the victim and to the abuser. We should be spending far less time arguing about whether to lock the individual abusers up, and far, far more time and energy on how we change that culture forever.



Hot leads and False Choices

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Before I worked in politics, I worked in sales. One of my first jobs after finishing sixth form (before I decided to go to university) involved getting to a warehouse in Clapton at 7am for an hour’s motivational chanting before lugging 48 heavy socket sets off to far flung high streets around London and trying to flog them to shop owners. I get a pound for every socket set I sold. Some days, I didn’t make back the money I spent on the travel. The company had an ethos built around impulse buying: a firm belief that every 12th person was an impulse buyer – so you just had to reach enough of them to be in profit.

I later got a job selling chemical cleaners and degreasers. The sales technique was completely different. The motto of the company was “I don’t sell chemicals, I sell a relationship”. The sales theory was based around befriending the potential customer – though these were completely cold leads – and talking to them about things they were interested in before steering the conversation around to their desperate need for some super-concentrated cleaners.

I held both of these jobs in the early 90s, long before the minimum wage. I worked on a commission only basis. Some weeks I earned nothing at all, though I was extremely good at telesales so some weeks my earnings were extremely high!

My last two sales jobs were post-university. I sold advertising space in local papers in Kent. While I was there, the sales theory went through a revolution that moved them from mirroring the behaviour of my first company to adopting the theory of the second. For some this was an unpopular change. They preferred the easily measurable certainty of a high volume technique to the greater uncertainty of the relationship model, even when they could see how the rewards could be reaped.

The largest leap of faith was in the way we approached potential clients. Gone were the days of simply calling through the local Yellow Pages making quick call after quick call until someone would bite and we could sell a quick 10 X 2 (“about the size of a fag packet!”). Gone were the days of relying solely on those we already knew to be loyal customers who could be spoken to quickly and without wasting time that could have been spent on further cold calling. Now we were encouraged to really investigate our customers before contacting them. To get to know as much about those who weren’t currently buying from us as those who were.

So why am I writing about any of this on LabourList? Well, when all or a large part of your income relies on getting the right data and using that data in the most effective and efficient way, it will focus the mind. So when I read Tom Harris’ dismissal of the 5 Million Votes campaign – of which I am a cautiously optimistic advocate – It caused me to wax nostalgic about my time in the world of sales. It was this sharpening experience that leads me to think that Tom is coming at this completely wrongly. I agreed very much with Marcus Robert’s response, but wanted to add a little something based on my own real life experience.

Tom’s biggest mistake is to make no distinction between ex-voters and non-voters. But these are very different things.

In the world of sales, these ex-voters would be considered hot leads. That’s some desirable data. These are people who have backed us once. In sales terms, they are statistically much more likely to buy again. Those currently having their voting needs fulfilled by the Tories would arguably have to take a longer political journey to voting Labour than those who have simply stopped voting. A non-voter has never offered what’s called in sales a “buying signal”. They are a different proposition again. While I think it is important to reach them for democratic and moral reasons, I wouldn’t dream of treating them in the same way as a former Labour voter. It wouldn’t work.

But a good lead is just that. It takes more than the fact that you know they exist to bring them to a sale.

Many of you will have experienced poor sales techniques. The salesperson so in love with their product they never let you get a word in edgewise until at the end of their monologue, they ask you how many you’re going to buy. Or who asks you questions, but tries to torturously twist your answer to fit their product. Politics at its worst can feel like this. Like a broadcast, not a conversation.

A good sales person knows about their product and about their customers. They do their homework and they ask the right questions. They listen.

The debate over sales techniques reminds me of the two different sales theories I have worked with.

Standard voter ID is the prime example of playing the numbers game. Hitting enough doorsteps to identify enough of the vote to get it out on election day. It’s simple, it’s easily measurable and it works to an extent. It works when the sun shines on polling day, when the voters have a sense of optimism and momentum. It works less well as voters go off Labour, start to waver and don’t have the conversations that are needed with their local party members and representatives to bring them back to us or pull them over the line in our direction. But this takes considerable time and resources. No CLP focused on this technique will win the most contacts prize which was hotly contested in London at the May elections – even on a ward-by-ward basis.

The answer is not one or the other. Not voter ID or relational canvassing, but finding a mix of both that suits the people undertaking the work and their abilities. For myself, I’m much better at relational canvassing. But others will be much more comfortable doing voter ID alone. Lately it has seemed in this debate that a false choice has sprung up between the two. That may be because the way the data is given and processed by the Party massively favours a VID model. But we can and should find ways to be more flexible.

5 Million Votes isn’t about choosing between ex-Labour voters and current Tory voters. Developing relational canvassing isn’t about abandoning VID. The difficult work is not in choosing between approaches, but in finding a way to blend the approaches that makes the best of our data, the best of our volunteers and produces the best outcome for our Party. We’ll have enough hard choices to come as we approach 2015, let’s not make it harder by inventing false ones along the way.


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Every day is like Sunday

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

It seems that Sunday trading laws are to be suspended for the Olympics. This has generally been greeted with pleasure and a sense that these laws are an anachronistic hangover from the days when the UK was a largely church-going country.

It’s certainly true that we are now likely to do considerably different things with our leisure time than we were 50 years ago. There is no longer the sense of religious imperative that marks the Christian Sabbath out as a day of rest for all. But does that mean we should scrap Sunday trading laws? I’m not so sure.

For me, Sunday trading has never been about protecting the religious, but about protecting workers – especially those with families.

My husband is a shift worker. On average, he works every other weekend. It means we have less leisure time together. It has benefits and it suits us for now, but if we had a child, I think it would be a shame that we didn’t and couldn’t have one guaranteed family day a week.

Protecting workers rights to work a set amount of hours per week is important. But so is making sure those hours work for the workers. You may miss shopping on a Sunday, but ask yourself how many workers miss working on that day?

Is our need to indulge in consumerism seven days a week greater than the need of those workers to indulge in bonding with families? I’m not convinced it is.



Friday, July 20th, 2012

I’ve long since given up supporting a football company.

The playing and watching of football still has the capaicty excite me. There’s a reason it’s called the beautiful game after all. I also understand – though grew up experiencing elsewhere – the cammaraderie, the excitment and the bond that football gives people. I see in workplace after workplace the instand bond it allows to form and have looked on whistfully and jelously at the easy friendships that form between people who know and care what a transfer window is.

But there is so much that goes along with football culture that I find disgusting and/or incomprehensible that I find the 90 minutes on the pitch scant reward for the way football culture behaves the rest of the time. For me, it’s just not a transaction I feel comfortable making. I can’t trade the pleasures of fandom for the sense that I am willing to support the indulgence and postive reinforcement of the worst examples of greed, misogyny, racism and in extreme case violence and rape.

Some think that I don’t get the tribalism of football. But of all the people in the world to level that accusation at, it ain’t me you’re looking for babe. I understand tribalism – in fact I frequently celebrate it. I’m a collectivist. I got the communal vibe growing up singing in church, I got the my tribe is better than yours vibe growing up an Indie Kid in a school full of Raggas. I’m a renowned Labour triballist. But I know that when a senior player in my tribe brings my team into disrepute, then my role is not to excuse, not to ignore, not to defend, but to call for them to go, for the good of the tribe and because it is the right thing to do.

The problems of football don’t stem from the attitude of the fans, but from the ways in which the game has changed beyond recognition in the last 20 years. The money pouring in from lucrative sponsorship deals, soaring ticket prices and the endless fleecing of fans for new expensive kit year on year has made the investment in the all-too-human players just too big. We’ve invested so much into these individuals, while nurturing only their relevent talent, not them as whole people. We have set them up as football Gods, who like the corporate giants that brought the financial world to its knees are simply too big to be allowed to fail. So their excesses are excused, their poor behaviour seperated from the day job (in ways that few other employees would be allowed to get away with) and they carry on regardless. Quite literally without regard.

But football isn’t a solitary case, and nor are the poorly-behaved players solely responsible. There are plenty of people responsible for the state of modern sport, and despite a few high profile cases, most we will never know or hear about.

But this summer of Sport in the UK is a good time to examine properly our relationship with sport and how it is managed. I’m no purist. I don’t believe that there should be no sponsorship in sport, no profits made on tickets and that players should be paid the minimum wage and be proud. But we need to have a conversation about the balance between the public and provate spheres in so many different walks of life, that as the Olympics highlights areas where there are real conflicts being brought into play, we would be insulting the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect not to learn the real lessons these games are throwing up for our culture nationally and internationally.

It seems according to the commentary I’ve seen today, there’s an attitude springing up that you’re either with the Olympians - weird draconian rules and all – or you’re against them. For me it’s far more complicated than that. The respect and friendship that the Olympics are supposed to promote are anly possible if we examine the true value of it’s excellence, and what we mean by that excellence.

Can something really be termed excellence be produced if the lowest paid workers striving to produce it are forced to live in slum conditions in order to do their jobs?

Can it really be termed excellence when schools in Olympic boroughs (as happened at the school my nephew attends) are told they could be sued for holding an Olympic themed school fete encouraging the take up of sport? Where was the excellence when their invitation to Lord Coe to attend came back with an (understandable) refusal and a (far less understandable) warning about copyright of the Olympic Rings?

I’m an incredibly proud Londoner who was ecstatic when we won the Games. I come from an Olympic borough and I saw this as a great opportunity to raise the hopes, aspirations and chances of kids in East London and further afield. I saw this as a way of showcasing my amazing city and of improving the prospects of local businesses. I saw so much opportunity that I think I’m entitled to say that I now see so much of that opportunity being lost and squandered.

The Olympics have become the pinnacle of a moment in which is has become clear the dominence that the corporate sphere has over public space. But so much of the Olympic activity seesm designed to seperate the games from the City,  for example special bus lanes for sponsors getting priority as the rest of London is forced to suffer under a deeply unprepared transport system that already daily fails to respect its customer base.

The Olympics have shown up the private sector and the farcical notion that outsourcing must always be king. It has shown up a lack of civic understanding and planning by the Johnson adminstration in London that no amount of civic pride can plaster over. It has shown us a system so craven to the whim of the moneymen they acceed to the sponsors increasingly insane whims without question or attempt at reciprocation. Our aquiescence has been bought without our knowledge and at a very low cost. We need to have a conversation about the increasing amount of corporate ownership and policing of what was once public. We have gone to the extreme limits. We need a better balance. Not no corporate involvement, but not this cowboy sense that they own the town now. We must be more in charge of our own space.

G4S have failed us. TfL have failed us.  The IOC have failed us. Will that stop me cheering on Team GB? No of course not. Will it stop me from marvelling at the modern olympians and their talents? Not in the slightest. But I will not be silenced on the let down that I feel and how far I have fallen from the euphoria I felt at that first announcement. There are serious lessons to be learned from the way these Olympics have panned out. It would be unpatriotic of me not to ask that we learn them.


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Growing Up In Public

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I’m now writing an average of two or three blogposts a week. The topics vary, the style changes, but several times a month, I am putting out ideas that I have into the public domain, trying to examine them through the writing process and trying to make the best arguments I can for the things I believe.

I also read several blogs a day by other writers, some with whom I frequently agree and some with whom I frequently disagree. Some elucidate a point further for me, some change my mind on a topic, some simply frustrate me.

My whole blogging “career”* is online for all to see. Over the time that I’ve been doing it, i think my style has changed somewhat.

My posts are generally a bit longer now, more discursive and I hope and believe more nuanced. While not wholly without some deserved or undeserved snark at other writers, I have stopped trying to be quite so lairy. The “worst blog post of the week” phase was a mistake, and not just because it was always won by someone on Lib Dem Voice (see, snark still intact).

My initial campaigning zeal (I started in the middle of the 2010 election campaign) has calmed to a midterm tempo. As has the Government’s mania for huge, all-encompassing, legislation. There is more room for talking tactics and strategy.

I have more distance from the last Labour Government and more of the work of the Tories to compare it to. I’m less wounded and angry about mistakes made then, and more interested in avoiding repeating them and where at all possible, avoiding making brand new ones.

I am both the same woman who wrote so angrily about New Labour and a woman who has grown past that anger. I was right to be angry, and events of the past few years have given that anger much vindication. But it is also right for me to write as I feel now, not as I felt then. I owe myself and whoever is reading this that honesty at least.

As I continue to write, to read, to experience and to be inspired, I have no doubt I will change my mind on some issues. Because what I write lives on in perpetuity on this site and others, sometimes those shifts in attitude, changes of mind and sometime – I am sure – downright hypocrisies will be exposed for all to see.

Does this mean I should stop writing in fear of exposure? I hope not. I hope that my journeys will be clear even if the start and destinations vary. I hope that my values remain constant even if my interpretation of them fails to.

Life, for many of us happens online these days. Just as you can see photos of me on Facebook as a teenager struggling towards adulthood, so too can you see my writing, my thinking and my ability to marry the two here develop.

Some may prefer my earlier work. Some may wonder what happened to the energy and dynamism of my first year. Some may just wish I went on a little less these days. But in the end, I write the best pieces I am capable of. I offer them to you. They are yours to like or loathe as you choose.

*career doesn’t seem quite right, but seems the least wrong term I can think of. Well good writer me, innit!



5 Million Votes – My take

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

This piece was a cut down version of my speech at the launch of 5 Million Votes.

In the same way New Labour was both a reasonable reaction to what had gone before and a revolution in its own right, the 5 Million Votes analysis must now be just as well informed by our past, as responsive to our present and as mindful of our future.

It must not be a way of fighting stupid, pointless and ridiculously bitter internal Labour Party battles, but of researching ways in which the party can return to power while offering the country the radical changes we believe are needed to our failing systems and institutions.

This isn’t about “getting our party back” but about getting our party back into government, then getting our country back on track.

Read more…



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One Million Shades of Grey

Friday, July 13th, 2012

So this morning, I was followed by a spam Twitter account with the biog: “Girls want to get f**ked too. Let’s be honest.” Another day, another spam-porn follower.

Amazingly enough, I didn’t click the link. I was on the bus for one thing, and don’t really fancy downloading a whole load of nasty malware onto my phone. If I want to get turned on, there are plenty of better ways to do so than by following unsolicited links.

Read more…


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Clegg’s Choice

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Nick Clegg has a choice. He doesn’t have to lose his prized reform of the undemocratic House of Lords, but in order to not do so he will have to swallow a significant amount of pride.

Here’s what’s not going to happen: Tory MPs are not going to come back in the autumn ready to cave in on their objections. Autumn is conference season. The Tory leadership will be desperate for this not to become a further disturbing display of disunity. The rebels know they will be largely feted by the Tory membership for the stance they have taken. The Tory rebels are not going to change their minds, and their leadership know they will have to be more placatory to get through conference without significant incident.

But the votes to reform the House of Lords exist in Parliament, if Clegg can first persuade himself to work with Labour to make this Bill work (he will need to follow Labour’s lead and swallow a few of Labour’s desired amendments, particularly a referendum and perhaps changing the insane terms), and then persuade David Cameron to let that happen, significant Lords reform could still take place. In all the focus on the rebels this week, it is forgotten that this was a large and comfortably won vote once it had Labour’s support.

So what practical steps must be taken over the summer? Well first the Lib Dems must reach out to Labour. They won’t like this, but their dismissive and hateful attitude is – in part – what has brought us to this place. Their unwillingness to negotiate the Bill with Labour properly in the first place instead presenting a deeply flawed Bill with a “like it or lump it” attitude was largely why Labour said they would force a defeat on the timetable. Clegg must send a team Labour can work with (i.e. not David Laws) to negotiate behind the scenes and thrash our enough agreement to see a way of getting the Bill through the Commons allowing Labour to support closure motions when their amendments or those they support in improving this Bill have been accepted. If Labour and the Lib Dems can use the summer to productively produce agreement that both sides accept and fully understand, then this Bill can be rescued.

It is now clear that a referendum is a likely outcome of such negotiation. If Labour and the Lib Dems can get around the table to save reform, this appears to be a Labour sticking point. I can understand after the bruising experience of the AV vote why Clegg and Co would rather not go through this again, but if properly managed, this time should be different. For a start all three Party leaders would – at least formally – be on the side of change. But if this is to be a part of the process, it must be better managed and better organised than the Yes to AV campaign. It has significantly more going for it than AV, but the campaign must look to recruit from beyond the narrow world of constitutional and electoral reformers to those better able to truly speak to and for the people of Britain. Planning for this should take place immediately. It cannot be left to chance, hope and the usual suspects.

Lords reform is salvageable, but Clegg must stand firm with David Cameron, who has already indicated to the Tory backbenches that he is willing to undertake a significant climb down. While negotiating with Labour, Clegg must stand strong in the face of significant levels of persuasion and arm twisting from his Tory Government colleagues. This will be hard – especially when it will mean siding with Labour and against the Tories, something he is usually politically disinclined to do.

Nick Clegg must decide which he hates more, Labour or an unelected House of Lords. The signs are not great that he’ll make the right decision. But if he does, it opens up a new space where Labour and the Lib Dems can have a new and more productive dialogue. This doesn’t just have an impact on the reform of the House of Lords, but on the potential for the anger between the two parties to finally dissipate somewhat. I don’t know if Clegg wants that, I do know, that to achieve anything the Lib Dems set out to do in this Tory led Government, ultimately and ironically, it will be in building bridges with Labour that they have their only chance to do so.

I for one hope they take it.

This post first appeared on Labour List


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Labour Unhinged and the Monty Python problem

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Sometimes, you read something so defiantly muddle-headed, that you wonder if it is – in fact – satire.  Monday, was just such an occasion. I read a post on Labour Uncut which was ostensibly evidence based, yet the holes in it were so big, the piece was more hole than substance.

The piece purported to prove that the theory of the missing 5 million votes that Labour lost between 1997 and 2010 is a core-vote strategy, and to show with numbers that it is doomed to failure.

For reasons passing understanding, the author Atul Hatwal chose to do this by comparing the ward-by-ward breakdowns from the London Assembly elections of 2012 with the London ward-by-ward breakdowns from 2010 local elections.

Where to start with why this is wrong?

Well firstly, focusing on London alone is crazy. Labour did rather well in London in 2010, or at least not as badly as we did in the country as a whole. So we were starting from a higher water mark than we would be elsewhere. This – of course – means that Labour has less ground to make up and so the distance it is possible to travel from where we were to where we need to be will be statistically less impressive than the national journey has the chance to be.

Secondly, there are real issues with comparing the data from assembly elections with the data from either General Elections or council elections. The elections were not being fought at ward level, and so much more emphasis was given to turning out a high Labour vote in areas we are strongest, and less on fighting in marginal and Tory wards. The Assembly elects through a combination of list and multiple borough constituencies. These give voters more reason to vote for smaller parties and independents than they would in a general election.

If you look at places outside London that had local elections in both 2010 and 2012 the Labour strike rate is very much higher. It was 80% on the Hatwal’s definition in Southampton, 100% in Plymouth (plus an extra ward that was even harder to win), all the wards up to a 10% swing in Reading, everything that meets the Hatwal criterion in Yarmouth, Basildon, Harlow and Ipswich. 80% (plus one extra) in Birmingham, Dudley everything up to 10% swing plus one extra. These are all key targets in mostly Lab/Con, southern, swing seats.

And then there are the glaring and really quite bizarre omissions from the analysis. There is no weighting given at all to the fact that the London Assembly elections – with the best will in the world – took a back seat to the Ken and Boris show. No credence is given – at all – to the idea that Ken Livingstone was an overall drag on the Labour ticket despite the fact that Hatwal himself wrote that this was the case in no uncertain terms after the election. On this occasion I happen to agree with him. It seems that if Hatwal and I are both right about this, it is at least likely that this is more likely to be true in Tory wards than in Labour ones, several of which saw Ken increase his vote.

But the weirdest omission of all is the complete lack of any narrative around the Lib Dems spectacular collapse. They just aren’t mentioned. Which is crazy as there’s a real story to tell about the fact that in some of their seats (for example Brent Central or Haringey and Wood Green where they failed to beat Labour in a single ward). It’s true that the fight is going to be between us and the Tories, but to simply ignore the Lib Dems like their voters aren’t good enough or are already in the bag would be a very stupid thing to do.

So the geographical basis of the piece – quite apart from laying it completely open to charges of extreme London-centricity – massively skews the findings.

Finally, the piece doesn’t even have the courage to extrapolate its own numbers to a general election, even though the implication of the piece is that this proves the 5 Million Votes strategy wrong for a future general election.

Why not? Well speaking to excellent psephologist and analyst Lewis Baston, he says that because even under this most pessimistic, flawed and cherry-picked of approaches, the result of Labour winning 51% of seats where we need a swing of 5% or less from the Tories (assuming the very least expected from the Lib Dem collapse) would leave us with approximately 299 seats and put Ed Miliband in number 10. Perhaps not with an overall majority, but certainly as leader of the largest Party. The reality may be better, it may be worse, but that would be the case according to this model. The analysis fails even on its own deeply flawed terms. No surprise Hatwal didn’t want you to know that.

Why does it matter? It’s just another blog on a website not famed for its balanced approach to Labour Party politics. But as someone who believes there might be something to this 5 Million Votes theory, it does matter to me that the theory is tested robustly by those who disagree with me.

I’d like Labour to win in such a way that opens up more space to be innovative on our left flank. I’d like Labour to have the strength and ability to mobilse a large group of voters whose loyalty is less testable than those we might peel away from the Tories (important though those undoubtedly are). But ultimately, I want Labour to win the next election and every election after that. So if those who believe a move away from alaser-like focus on triangulation will be electorally disastrous then I want them to convince me this is so for the good of Party strategy.

I loathe bad data when I see the Government use it, I loathe it when I see the left use it. If this is the best I’m going to be offered, then I’m afraid you’re a very, very long way from anything like a good argument (which is a shame, because – as you might be able to tell from this piece – I love a good argument. One that – as Monty Python taught us – is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition (true statements by preference)).

Labour must be more robust than this. I know I intend to and I ask those who disagree with me to do the same.

this post first appeared on Labour List.


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