Oliver Walker assesses steps that the Labour Party must take in order to be in contention to win the next general election.
After the shambles of the 2019 General Election, and the resignation of then party leader Jeremy Corbyn, it finally hit home that Labour could be spending another five years in opposition. With the election of Keir Starmer as party leader in April 2020, many saw this as a fresh start for Labour as the party looked to rebuild from the misery and chaos of the previous administration and become electable once again.
Two years on from the election of Sir Keir, Labour lead in all of the recent polls, a huge turnaround from the double-digit poll leads the Tories had at the back end of Corbyn’s time as leader. However there must not be complacency within the party, and there is a plethora of ways in which Labour must massively improve to make themselves electable once again
For starters, Labour needs to restore trust in Britain’s left behind communities.
By focusing on the issues the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country care about, a link can be created between these people and the party. Issues such as the NHS, Education and Standard of Living should be at the forefront of Labour’s priorities when targeting these communities. Labour shouldn’t be afraid of showing off the fantastic achievements New Labour produced in these areas during their time in government.
Patriotism is pre-conditional to red wall areas and to win these back, Labour needs to ensure it selects strongly pro-western candidates that can follow the single unifying message the party leader supports on foreign policy. Candidates in organisations such as the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ who propose dissenting views should be avoided as they tarnish the reputation of Labour, failing to toe the party line.
Simply cutting ties with the Corbyn years is not enough. A new vision for Labour must be set out as the world continues to modernise. There needs to be a huge improvement in communications and media management within the Labour Party. A coherent message of hope and optimism for the British people is desperately needed so people are aware of the real change Labour would make in government.
The enthusiasm to vote Labour in the 1997 General Election, brought about by the charismatic Tony Blair, needs revitalising as change is needed now more than ever, after 12 years of Tory rule. The comms of the party should be entirely centred around the ongoing cost of living crisis and the previously mentioned 12 years of Tory rule as these highlight the disaster this Conservative government really is.
The return of Alastair Campbell, who knows how to win, would be massively beneficial as not only does he have a huge platform, but is the best in the business at what he does. The fact that Alastair is needed so gravely right now, highlights the obscurity of some of those on the Labour front benches, and how badly they need to get their act together. By 1994/95, Labour’s shadow cabinet had 8 or 9 household names that everyone knew about, compared to today’s frontbench where the majority could walk down the street unrecognised.
Along with this, Labour needs to stop making silly mistakes no matter the size. Just the other day, David Lammy sat live on TV, and while trying to make the point that the UK has changed leaders many times during war, he was factually incorrect multiple times. These mistakes make Labour look foolish, and portray a sense that our shadow cabinet don’t know what they are talking about, which doesn’t bode well with the electorate come election time.
Labour needs to once again become a strong electoral force. It’s a mistake to think that constant pandering to Conservative positions on policy will win back the red wall voters. This is massively misguided, as if the electorate want Tory style policies, they will just vote for the real thing. Labour gains very little while pandering, while not gaining enough Tory votes, inevitably leading to another General Election loss. Labour must present a radical message and vision for a new 21st Century, modern Britain just like the last Labour government did all those years ago. A vision that inspires aspiration and allows ambitions to thrive. A vision that will deliver, giving people a better life.
There is a need for big and bold policies that are fully costed and realistic, simultaneously proving themselves while in opposition, becoming attractive to the electorate. These few ideas, I believe, would be massively beneficial in setting Labour on the path towards government, after so many years of being out of the picture. There is still much more Labour need to do, proving that Labour are still not ready for government, but with two years until the next General Election, and with some improvement, they could be back in the game.
Oliver Walker is a Young Fabian and is a current member of the Labour Party. He often tweets at @oliverwalker04.