I’d like to hope that I’m seen as someone who appreciates detailed and tangible political strategy and policy over abstract theory and waffle. Winning elections is what politics is all about – provided that doing so is the means to a greater end. I’m happy to read or listen to any polls and reasonable analyses of polling data and electoral strategies.
So while Dan Hodges may be a Telegraph opinion writer and entrenched Blairite – firmly lodged at the opposite ends of the political spectra to myself – I felt it worth watching this clip from This Week.
Big mistake. The clip is less than 3 minutes in duration, but the bullshit density is high by any metric. Hodge’s basic argument – predictably enough given his political persuasions – is that Labour need to be more right wing to win the next election. Sadly he provides no evidence, only assertions and questionably unsupported hypotheses.
Rather bizarrely the whole thing is dressed up in a science lab gimmick – Hodges in a white coat, pouring coloured liquids from one beaker to another (because that is all that we scientists ever do). The set-up is cheesy, low-brow and cringe-worthy; and presumably supposed to create the illusion that Hodge’s reasoning is in any way empirical.
Ed Miliband is struggling with his political chemistry
A ten-point poll lead mid-term isn’t spectacular, but he’s no Iain Duncan Smith. Considering that this is only the first term of opposition, the recovery from 2010, and the equivalent position of William Hague in 2000, and I’d say he’s doing fairly well.
I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for the best part of 30 years
And yet never once acted like one, or advocated anything which chimes harmoniously with traditional Labour values. Hodges is basically a red Tory.
[Ed’s] strategy of moving to the left on a range of issues, from the economy to welfare…
Whoooooaa… hold on there horsey. I don’t remember this happening? If it had, I might not have left the party at all. Is this perhaps the reasoning fallacy which concludes that not moving right is equivalent to moving left – just as a newspapers lack of any right wing corporate bias might see them accused of being “left wing”. Without any supporting citations, Hodges is just making assertions.
[Recently] Ed’s been having quite a tough time of it.
Oh yeah? And who’s fault is that then? Hodge’s telegraph blog proudly declares him as “a Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest” – i.e. someone who actively sells himself on undermining his nominal leader, a professional political troll. While there has been a slight poll narrowing in the last two weeks, such things are impossible to attribute definitively to any given factor. What inevitably happens is that each commentator attributes poll shifts to factors they personally consider important, as Anthony Wells explains here.
Tony Blair and a succession of former Labour ministers have been lining up to conduct a scathing peer review of his formula for electoral success
And again, how’s that for loyalty? Not only is Tony Blair probably not the person most in touch with day to day British life, who is to say that these Yesterdays Men (and Women) are right and that Ed is wrong? Ultimately it is just opinion, with a dash of jealous legacy defending.
Ed’s opposition to a benefits cap, and failure to back the government on welfare sanctions – policies supported by most of the electorate – is at best naive and at worst has the potential to blow up in his face
Because if there is one thing that the Leader of the Opposition shouldn’t be doing it’s opposing Government policy, especially when there are strong moral arguments and the support of large chunks of his own party on his side. And spurning that the omniscience that is public opinion – how dare he? Ed should be pandering to ill-informed tabloid myths and bigotry, because the electorate is always right, especially when its wrong. One thing the Labour certainly shouldn’t be doing is arguing its corner based on principle and winning people over, nor should it be sticking up for vulnerable people, including those among its own supporters. [Note, this paragraph contains a hazardous level of sarcasm].
Then there’s the economy – most voters think our economic problems are the product of excessive spending and excessive debt.
Again, the god of public opinion, which must be obeyed without question, and with which Hodges clearly has a direct line of insight and understanding. Never mind that he’s spouting the Tory line of economic bulls*** and historical revisionism. We have always been at war with East Asia.
And the biggest danger for Labour is that despite all of this, Ed Miliband still doesn’t recognise there’s any danger.”
Translation: Ed refuses to acknowledge a manufactured leadership issue entirely created by people who have disliked and undermined him since September 2010.
Hence what his inner circle are calling the 35% strategy. They plan to take the 29% of votes Labour won in 2010, mix in 6% of votes from disaffected Lib Dems, and bingo, Ed’s in Number Ten.
All of which seems very sensible to me. No need to pander to right-wing voters who have never really liked the Labour Party. Instead it offers the opportunity to remain loyal to the core vote and unite the centre-left for the first time in a generation. Hodges would seemingly rather Labour pissed away the votes of left-Lib Dems, for the sake of Tory-lite policies for people who already have an authentic Tory party which they can and will vote for.
That’s not a Eureka moment, that’s just some very weird science.
Actually no Dan Hodges, its called maths.