At least the UKIP leader avoids the dizzying spin which the voters are seeing through so clearly.
At least the UKIP leader avoids the sort of dizzying spin the voters are seeing through so clearly
With the dust finally settling on what has been a turbulent few days of electoral politics, we can at last look back and reflect properly on what has undoubtedly been UKIP’s time to shine.
The ‘main’ parties have serious lessons to learn, Labour included. Yes, we secured an additional 300 plus local authority seats along with an additional seven MEPs, which is undoubtedly good news. But for all of this it has been a bad few days for the party.
At 31 per cent, Labour’s total share of the vote in the local elections fell from the 38 per cent seen in last year’s vote, which included the kind of shire counties which have never been Labour’s natural territory. Meanwhile the Conservative Party trailed by just 2 per cent; in the European elections just 1 per cent separated Labour and the Conservatives.
Whichever way you look at it, the gap between Labour and Cameron’s Tories is just too close, and fails to provide any sense of Labour marching on to the clear victory which Ed Miliband so wants to radically change the country.
So what does the party do now?
Firstly, accept that UKIP is a force not only to be recognised and take them on accordingly.
The Labour MP for Bassetlaw John Mann was right over the weekend in criticising the party’s abject failure to properly tackle head on UKIP and expose it’s lack of policy on bread and butter issues like education and the NHS. The past few days should act as a wakeup call to Labour HQ that UKIP are breathing down the party’s neck, and it would be refreshing if front benchers publically admitted as much rather than defended an election campaign which failed to inspire.
Secondly, we need to start to look like an insurgent, change-making party, rather than carrying on in the mould of the other parties of sound bites and spin which impress no one.
Phrases like ‘working hard for hard working families’, ‘cost of living crisis’ and ‘one nation Labour’ have become so worn out that one wonders if some in Labour feel that the more they say them the more true they will be. These catchphrases should not be a substitute for a properly constructed and clear vision for the country. The voters were telling all the main parties that they want change, not more of the same.
Finally, we need to look and sound more look normal people as opposed to zombies connected to pagers for the words and phrases to persistently repeat in the television and radio studios.
The uncomfortable truth for Labour is that we have much to learn from Nigel Farage – we disagree with all he stands for, but he nevertheless avoids the dizzying spin which the voters are seeing through so clearly.
Miliband needs a repost to this. A good start would be to appoint Alan Johnson as party chair, to bat for the party when the chips are down and to get out into the country and explain what a Labour government on people’s side would actually mean.
Labour can win next year but the work and change that will be needed is immense. It’s time to get to it.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.