An unmitigated disaster. There is simply no other way of putting it.
A full and complete no-holds-barred, no-excuses-made, no-stone-unturned investigation must take place. It must start immediately. It must be done by those with no corner and no axes to grind. It must investigate every aspect of every decision made.
I don’t know Bradford. I’ve never been there. Some of the questions will need to be asked and answered by the local party, but there are bigger, national lessons to pursue here.
Here are the questions and observations I offer from a dazed starting point.
What could and should the candidate have done differently? I understand that he refused to attend a hustings leaving the floor clear for Galloway. That at least seems a big mistake.
Was the reason our candidate felt safe refusing the hustings because the Tory did too? Were we focussed on the right opponent? Or were we running an anti-Tory campaign while ignoring our biggest threat? What were the canvass returns like? Did they influence strategy?
What is the state of the local and neighbouring CLPs? A vote doesn’t collapse overnight. What is happening on the ground to allow this level of atrophy?
Has there been any Movement for Change activity? As I understand it, M4C is designed to discover, train and equip community based Labour champions. An area like Bradford, well known for its communitarian approach to politics, is exactly where this kind of initiative should bear fruit. What is M4C’s strategy? Has it been properly mapped to where it can do the most good?
Is our organisational base too concentrated in London? Do we miss or fail to deal with local failures early enough because our regional structures are too weak to do so? How do we better empower regions to turn around failing CLPs?
The Tory vote collapsed even further than ours. This was not enough. Our core vote abandoned us and went left. What does this mean for our national strategy? We should avoid reading too much into this until after the post-mortem, but it shouldn’t be neglected as part of it.
Party politics is failing. AV was not the right answer, but the rejection of one solution seems to have stopped all activity to solve the whole problem.Beyond the Labour Party, what can the democracy movement learn from Bradford?
These are just my first thoughts. Plenty of others will have better and equally valid questions. Let’s make sure we work hard to properly find the answers.