As the waters of conference season begin to ebb and flow, we thought we’d take this moment of calm to reflect on the movement of Labour in the past year – the strengths, the weaknesses and what the party really needs to work on.
Successive reports have painted a sorry picture of the state of British democracy and political engagement. In fact it is well documented that people are increasingly disengaged from politics. This would be worrying at any time but it’s particularly troubling that in such a tough economic moment, politics is not seen to be there for people when they need it most.
But does Labour have a specific problem? Labour was overwhelmingly rejected at the last election and, despite a partial recovery in opinion polls still seems as out of tune with the mood of the times and popular sentiment.
While this might, in part, but down to the fact Labour held office for a long period of time and oversaw the worst financial crisis for generations, with many still holding the party responsible for the ensuing recession and deficit, is there actually a deeper issue, related to the way Labour does politics?
If we go beyond the usual issues, we can focus on something less definable but perhaps more fundamental: people’s gut instinct towards Labour. Is there something about the tone of Labour politics that drives potential Labour voters into the arms of other parties or makes them join the ever-growing group of those who don’t vote?
We’ve commissioned a range of Labour MPs and others to look at issues of tone, culture, style, organisation and language and to investigate precisely what prevents Labour’s political messages being heard, in order to make recommendations about how the party can re-engage with the electorate.
What one thing about the Labour party would you change in order to re-connect with voters?