Wednesday 23 September 2015

The Scale of Labour's Challenge

This is what Labour is facing:

In the sociology of social movements, many a printer cartridge has run dry discussing the problems of what we call 'frame alignment'. That is the problem by which a movement or, as is more usually the case, a social movement organisation of some kind has to gain wide currency for its world view. What this table from YouGov for the New Statesman shows is just how big that gap between Jeremy's support and the wider Labour-minded electorate is. This is a huge challenge for the party.

Of course, Labour as a whole isn't an ideological sect organised around some principles formulated by an all-knowing guru. It is the party of the labour movement and, as such, contains a very broad range of views in it. That's why the party spans the range from John McDonnell to Simon Danczuk. That's why when Labour faces the electorate in the Scottish, London, and local elections next year its programme for each will be significantly short of the full communism that gets Fleet Street in such a tiz.

So a dilution there will be. The electorate will never face Jeremy Corbyn naked, as it were. Perceptions nevertheless count. The electorate might like the sound of policies like rail nationalisation and lifelong access to education, but these are not issues that will swing the election. It's the economy or, to be more precise, the sense of self-security that's bound up with it. And Labour can win on this in one of two ways. Either popular confidence completely collapses in the Tories, or that Labour are perceived to have a better plan for Britain's economic security. Things might look a bit dicey in China at the moment, but we shouldn't hold out for another meltdown just in case it doesn't happen. The path to victory is via the latter route.

Identifying the problem is the easy bit. Coming up with a solution is not.


Paul Nightingale said...

As so often it needs to be pointed out ... why be surprised by any of this in a poll dated 2015? It is not yet 2020 and attitudes/values change. Why be surprised that, currently, many people don't think Corbyn would be a better PM than Osborne? Having failed since 2010 to challenge the Conservatives on a range of issues, Labour has a lot of work to do to become credible. There is no reason why it won't happen, which is not to say it will happen: the Danczuks of this world (and let's not forget the valiant efforts of the New Statesman) are doing their best to ensure that, come 2020, they can say: We told you so!

Boffy said...

I think Corbyn's statement in the hustings to the Co-operative Party indicate the means of dealing with this.

We hear a lot about the need to respond to aspiration. I think Corbyn has. He has responded to the aspiration of workers to own their home, by suggesting that private tenants have the same right to buy as that given to Council and Housing Association tenants.

But, a basic requirement is that people feel secure in their employment. The poll and other surveys suggest that many people seek to acquire that security through the aspiration to own their own business. So, rather than promoting the old failed statist notions of nationalisation and state capitalism, which gave us the dire consequences of Ian McGregor and the Miners Strike, Corbyn's suggestion in his Co-operative Party speech, is far better.

Not only could new forms of common ownership as opposed to public ownership (to use Pannakoek's distinction) be established based upon worker owned co-operatives, but why couldn't Labour commit itself to a "Worker's Right to Buy", the company they work for, at 60% plus discounts, just as the Tories introduced those kinds of rights and discounts to buy Council houses?

Railworkers, for example, could create their own co-ops, which would take over each franchise as it ran out. They could work in conjunction with local consumer C-ops, of workers, which determine levels of service required by passengers, in that area, which could then be met by the producer co-op.

If Labour committed itself to a law that handed control over workers pension funds to the workers themselves, and took it out of the hands of the bankers, then around £800 billion of funds, could be mobilised for the purpose of then buying up these heavily discounted productive assets.

David Timoney said...

This is typical YouGov: ideology masquerading as science.

1) It's long been known that the terms "left-wing" and "right-wing" when self-ascribed are poor guides to political views. "Potential voters" tend to place themselves in the centre, even when they believe in nationalisation or an end to immigration.

2) Imagine a similar poll of Tory party members, asking if they admired Norman Tebbitt more than David Cameron. I suspect the outcome would be much the same, and not just because of the salience of #piggate.

3) Given that Osborne has had 5 years of high-visibility in cabinet, whereas Corbyn has not, and given the media narrative of "chaos" in Corbyn's first week (the only "evidence" on which most people can judge the Labour leader's executive competence), this is hardly a comparison of equals.

4 & 5) These contrast the objective (jobs, prices) with the subjective (waste, exploitation). In other words, concrete terms that embody societal judgements (so you're responding with a view to what other people think) versus imprecise terms that embody value judgements (which self-select for those with strong opinions).

6) This obviously begs the question by assuming that helping the poor (i.e. someone else) can only be achieved by taxing "everybody else" (which includes you), so appealing to the respondent's self-interest.

7 & 8) Actually, these are encouraging numbers, which the Kellner spin has obscured. They suggest that roughly a quarter of the electorate are open to a programme that would be considerably to the left of any Labour manifesto likely to be presented under Corbyn.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of survey I would expect to see in a totalitarian state, being so ideologically loaded as it is.

The government taxing people to redistribute wealth is a basic tenet of even neo liberalism, why is that question on the list? Even the Tories accept this principle, albeit with limits!

Have the centre now moved over to the libertarian far right?

Seems the respondents to this survey have got there before them!!

But I guess this was the point of the survey!!

Speedy said...

Thanks for the sociological bits, the political bits will become increasingly tedious as the years of denial drag on.

Igor Belanov said...

The fact that the survey claims that 4% of Corbyn supporters think he would be a worse PM than Osborne should be enough reason to discredit its findings.