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Mon May 11, 2015, 10:15 PM

Coming to the experts, so to speak: why did Labour do so badly ?

I've read the reports in the media, but I wanted to get it from all of you.

Thanks once again!

Steve

12 replies, 3712 views

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Reply Coming to the experts, so to speak: why did Labour do so badly ? (Original post)
steve2470 May 2015 OP
TexasTowelie May 2015 #1
PSPS May 2015 #2
FBaggins May 2015 #3
T_i_B May 2015 #4
LeftishBrit May 2015 #5
Denzil_DC May 2015 #6
Ken Burch May 2015 #7
Denzil_DC May 2015 #9
muriel_volestrangler May 2015 #8
T_i_B May 2015 #10
Ironing Man May 2015 #11
T_i_B May 2015 #12

Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2015, 10:27 PM

1. A significant lack of cat photos in their political ads?



That might explain the low turn-out or maybe everybody had to take their cats to the vet on election day?

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #1)

Mon May 11, 2015, 10:44 PM

2. That's what I heard too.


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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #1)

Mon May 11, 2015, 11:13 PM

3. Low turnout?

Turnout was actually pretty high... they just didn't vote for Labour.

I'd say that the real reason is that they were perceived by some to be too far left... and by others to be too far right (with socialists in Scotland believing that the party was now neo liberal and not sufficiently socialist). And, of course, the Tories benefited by being in power already.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2015, 02:54 AM

4. Poor leadership & the rise of the SNP

Poor leadership left Labour without any clear direction or positive message. Also, Ed Miliband never really looked like a PM in waiting if we're honest.

The rise of the SNP has destroyed Labour north of the Tweed, and there are plenty of people outside of Scotland who don't like the SNP and who don't very much fancy the prospect of a British government being propped by by Scottish Nationalists.

With Labour losing votes to the SNP on the left and also losing votes to the Tories and UKIP on the right, trying to explain the election result in left/right terms doesn't really get you anywhere.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2015, 03:26 AM

5. A weak campaign by Labour, and an extremely strong campaign by the RW media

Most of the newspaper media in the UK have always been virulently anti-Labour (Sun headline after the narrow Tory victory of 1992: 'It was the Sun wot won it!). But their campaign went on steroids this time, because they were afraid that a Labour government would restrict some of their powers post-Leveson. Also because some of them HATE the Scots (see below).

In addition, the Scottish Nationalists grew stronger, with a new, strong leader; and with the support both of the disappointed pro-Independence people (a far-from-insignificant 45% voted Yes in the Referendum) and of some people who do not necessarily want independence but are fed up with austerity inflicted by Tories they didn't vote for, and disillusioned by the collaborations with right-wing policies by New Labour and LibDems. It started to appear that Labour and SNP might end up in a position where they could make a deal, and the RW media went to town on how Nicola Sturgeon the SNP leader was 'THE MOST DANGEROUS WOMAN IN BRITAIN' and how her party would manipulate 'Red Ed' to tax the English in favour of the Scots, etc. (It is sometimes underestimated how much some southern English right-wingers have a bigotry against Northerners and Scots, quite as strong as some better-known bigotries.) Ed Miliband ran scared of the RW media, and ruled out any deal with the SNP in advance, which probably hardened the Scottish vote against Labour, while failing to reassure the English people influenced by RW media.

In general, Labour failed to do much campaigning until rather late, and seemed to rely too much on just not being the Tories.

But it is still a bit of a mystery how the polls got it so wrong, and how and why it changed so much at the last minute.

Ugh just ugh.

ETA: The Daily Mail front page just after the election result was headed; 'THIS WAS YOUR VICTORY: HOW MIDDLE ENGLAND ROSE UP TO HUMILIATE THE POLLSTERS AND KEEP OUT RED ED'.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2015, 09:07 AM

6. Labour internal polls showed they were consistently behind the Tories, contrary to the public polls.

Labour leadership thought public polls were too optimistic

Labour's election pollster says public polls "showed a much more favourable position for Labour than we were finding in our internal data" both before the campaign and during it.

James Morris, who worked for Labour from when Ed Miliband was elected leader in 2010 until the election last week, told Newsnight that while "the lead in the public polls suggested Labour had got past the issues that sunk the party in 2010 - its record on the economy and immigration - we knew we had much more work to do and were still dogged by a loss of trust."

...

"While the public polls had Labour ahead until the spring of this year, in our polls cross-over [when the Tories overtook them] came right after conference season in 2014. A four-point Labour lead in early September turned into a tie in October, followed by small Tory leads prompting the party to put reassurance on fiscal policy and immigration at the heart of the campaign launch."

These polls, which were unpublished and prepared for Labour, suggested that this plan had worked through the opening weeks of the campaign.

Labour had, they suggested, pulled ahead in the English marginals following Mr Miliband's performances in the debates and after the announcement about non-doms. The final poll of the campaign in late April, however, "told a different story".

Mr Morris said: "As focus groups showed the SNP attacks landing, we had Labour behind in the marginal seats." This was, he said, despite the fact that "a public poll in a similar set of seats at the same time showed a three-point Labour lead".

...

He continued: "The campaign strongly toughened our stance on the SNP before the final Question Time [TV appearance for Mr Miliband], but it was not enough. The Tories successfully used the fear of Scottish influence as a way of catalyzing pre-existing doubts about Labour in a way that had not been possible earlier in the campaign. Labour's unexpected post-referendum collapse in Scotland transformed the election across the whole of Great Britain."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32606713


So a number of factors were at play, the demonizing of the SNP (which Labour played along with rather than countering) being an easy one to plump for if you're looking for glib explanations. Whether or not that was a decisive factor, something else would most likely have been. Focusing on the SNP's role (How dare they campaign hard on the basis that they'll do their utmost to serve the interests of their electorate?!) sidesteps the more telling issue of trust, epitomized by the late re-emergence of Cameron waving Liam Byrne's "Iím afraid there is no money" note. I'm highly skeptical of Morris's claim above that "Labour had got past the issues that sunk the party in 2010."

However, the SNP is hardly likely to have been a factor in the concurrent English local elections, where Labour also did badly, whereas I'd normally expect an anti-incumbency vote at local level at this stage in the election cycle. It looks more like the Tories managed to hive off any such backlash to the Lib Dems:

:large


I don't think you can run an effective campaign on the basis that "Our opponents are right, don't vote for them!"

This stretches from buckling under UKIP's and the Tories' scaremongering focus on immigration,



to the continued fetish for austerity while the deficit continues to balloon, to Ed Balls saying he wouldn't change anything in the Conservatives' budget.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Wed May 13, 2015, 03:49 AM

7. I'd say the problem was largely due to Labour not getting enough votes.

 

And the Conservatives getting too many.

And you can quote me on that.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Wed May 13, 2015, 07:40 AM

8. The Conservatives made too many gains in the English marginal seats

Labour increased their lead nicely in the seats they already held; The Tory lead in their safe seats stayed about the same. But the Tories were competitive in the marginal seats - Labour did well in some, but the Tories improved in others. And that was despite an average 10% gain by UKIP in those seats.

Here's the average swing to the Tories in the seats, divided up into the deciles based on the Tory lead in 2010 - ie the safest 10th of Labour seats are on the left, going to the safest Tories on the right. The figures at the bottom give the range of the 2010 Tory lead for that decile:



In the 4th decile, where the really tight marginals were, Labour did improve, but not by much, and the 5th decile, with the Tory lead from 1.8% upwards, that Labour would have needed to take, the Tories did better.

Whether that was because the Tories ran a better campaign in the marginals, or if their policies and image did appeal better to swing voters, is up for argument.

The Tories also had an inevitable advantage from the collapse of the Lib Dems. Labour and the nationalist parties won every Lib Dem seat that one of them were second in (and Cambridge, where Labour leapfrogged the Tories to win it; and the SNP took 4 LD seats the Tories were 2nd in) apart from Ceredigion and Orkney & Shetland (which had LD 22% and 51% leads in 2010). That gave Labour 12, and the SNP 10, but the Tories took 27 Lib Dem seats, and they were always like to take more than Labour - they had 18 targets where they were within 10% of the Lib Dems, and took them all. Labour only had 8 within that range (and 2 were in Scotland, where the SNP took them).

The only way for Labour to become larger than the Tories was to beat them well in the English marginals, and they didn't come anywhere near close.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #8)

Wed May 13, 2015, 07:57 AM

10. Just as an example of this...

One of the neighboring constituencies to me is Amber Valley. Labour needed to overturn Tory a majority of 536 and the Tories ended up increasing their majority to 4205. Labour have gone backwards in constituencies they needed to win.

I suspect that the Tories did run a better campaign in the marginal seats. Certainly the Labour campaign in the constituency where I live was lacklustre and the Tories clearly targeted their resources better then they have at previous elections.

And you have to look to the effect of the Lib Dem collapse as well. It contributed to massively increased Labour majorities in seats like Sheffield Central and Chesterfield but it also lead to a number of Tory gains.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #10)

Wed May 13, 2015, 05:41 PM

11. sounds familiar.

i can certainly attest to Labours lacklustre campaign in both Worcester and Wyre Forest...

candidates who had no 'footprint' in the constituancies, leaflets that didn't name the candidates or mention the name of the constituancies, leaflets that were national party leaflets and just rammed full of negative stuff with nothing whatsoever about issues within the constituancies. no door knocking, no phone canvassing...

for example - there are enormous issues within the A&E system in Worcestershire, the 'new' hospital in Worcester is too small, all the A&E consultants in the Redditch hospital resigned and went to Birmingham, and all thats just for starters - but the Labour leaflets didn't mention any of that.

both of those seats were kind of marginal, certainly both have been swing seats in the last decade, but looked very much like Labour had no interest in them - so they lost.

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Response to Ironing Man (Reply #11)

Thu May 14, 2015, 03:07 AM

12. The Tory leaflets weren't exactly brilliant either

Lots of glossy but negative bumph that was clearly written in Tory central office.

Labour leaflets did name the sitting MP, but barely mentioned local issues, which is not good when the whole council is up for election on the same date. And yes, they could have been much more positive about themselves. The Tories were more active locally then Labour, and clearly had more more resources to spend on the local campaign then Labour as well.

Over the border in Sheffield it was a different story, but the Tory party in Sheffield died out many years ago, and the Lib Dems in Sheffield are heading the same way.

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