I’m surprised to hear people say Labour’s worst defeat since the mid-30’s cos whilst we lost this week by 11 points, we lost in 1983 by 15.
Infamously, Gerald Kaufman called the 1983 manifesto the longest suicide note in history. I thought the remark unfair, although I have since come to realise that nuclear disarmament needs to be achieved through mutual assured steps between many countries.
2019’s manifesto was certainly longer.
I don’t think individual policies cost us votes per se, though I’m not clear any particular one won us votes either.
But try remembering the 100+. Even magicians tend to stop with a full pack of cards.
It felt like a different policy was announced every day and the WASPI announcement kind of backfired after it was announced after we said all our policies were costed.
Jonathan Ashworth proclaimed a free dental check-up (which I agreed with and can see why it’s needed) but he called our situation a “dental-health crisis” – the first time I’d heard such a phrase. You have to create the desire for the policies and that takes time, effort and focus.
All this in an era when 9 years of Conservative gov’t and the anti-politics media has undermined people’s belief in national gov’t to do anything for working people.
Many of these problems were recognised and faced up to under Tony Blair, which reduced our commitments to 5 pledges, allowing people to learn them, understand them and even believe in them.
Contrast our 100+ this year with “we will deliver Brexit” slogan. Their manifesto did have a range of commitments, but we were far too busy explaining ours to challenge theirs.
A pledge card could have backed up our main themes and could have looked something like this –
– act now to end the crisis in the NHS;
– act now to end austerity and take back the tax-breaks from banks and corporations to pay for it;
– end the chaos on Brexit and offer a referendum on 2 clear options;
– proper jobs with proper terms and conditions;
– a new green industrial revolution cos climate change is that serious.
It could have remained radical and be memorable.
Remember, the 1945 Labour Government was elected with only a 4 page manifesto.