GENERATION NEXT / GUEST POST BY TOM ROBERTS

We’ve had a swathe of young writers guest on here before and after the election: to a hugely positive response from the readership. Makes my retirement less depressing, as I know that whatever space I leave will be filled, over time, many times over by young writers perhaps not as jaded as myself.

Sophie’s piece on her school elections was, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite excellent. Great comments came through, with one exception: a Tory troll who tweets under a series of fake names sent in a particularly nasty and misogynistic comment which I blocked. The woman in question, who forgot to block her IP address, is also someone who, when not out campaigning with the Conservatives, believes that the UK is ruled by a secret Jewish Cabal and that ‘chemtrails’ are being sprayed from planes to keep us subservient. We’re not talking a genius here. As the ruler of that Jewish cabal, I’ll ensure my planes target your house more thoroughly, Ms S.

The incisive, witty and myth-busting Andrew Tucker’s piece on how young voters are perceived was also a real winner, Andrew has been inspired, since the piece was published, to go and set up his own blog, Millennial Radical which I hope you’ll like.

Tom Roberts, who reported on the hustings for me, was a real find: I just happened to sit a couple of seats down from him at the first hustings, and chatting afterwards he asked if he could write for me. He writes his take on what went wrong, below.

Finally, just a few things to give a mention to before I hand over to Tom: OXJAM Beeston is hosting a fundraiser on May 27th at the White Lion: a fun-packed music quiz (which I think I might be compering) with entry and tapas a staggeringly cheap £3 a head. More details on Facebook: click here.

The White Lion –which is rapidly morphing from pub to arts venue – will be playing  host to Open Studios on May 30-31st, further cementing Beeston’s burgeoning reputation as a place of creative excellence.

There will also be a Civic Society hosted event at The White Lion ( I know! I swear I don’t work for them!) this Saturday morning where Council Officer John Delaney will be on hand to answer questions about Beeston’s future development. Kicks off at 10.30am.

That’s me done then. I have a couple more days at work then I’m swapping Gonzo for Gozo and escaping Beeston for a few days. Don’t worry, the Conservatives have promised to keep it in safe hands (despite not a single one getting elected in Beeston – the ‘Rant Room surge’ flopped magnificently in the areas where the tram actually comes through), and they have kept their promises to protect Stapleford’s Field Farm and call for a Judicial review into the process. Anything less, after all , would make them cynical liars.

Over to Tom Roberts: 

Where did it all go wrong?

Yesterday I was writing a piece about how this would be the first social media election. Everything I saw seemed to indicate this would be the first election to be fought on twitter and facebook and I maintain that to be true. I just may have over-estimated their importance.

By all metrics Labour were doing so well. They had more people on the ground than anyone else, better voter engagement and even the Milifans. So why did it all fall apart? The short, and probably over simplistic answer, is Scotland. In the final days of the campaign Scotland eclipsed all other issues and became an albatross around Ed’s neck and perhaps we shouldn’t be as surprised by the result as we were.

The loss of their Scottish heartland was a blow but it was one that Labour could have weathered. It was not the loss but instead the narrative built up around it that cost Labour this election. For weeks the gutter press and the gutter party (Tory) have screamed about the “dangers” of Scottish MPs and amongst all the negative campaigning that had failed this small tit-bit took off. Polls by the Independent showed that 1 in 4 voters in Middle England were swayed by the thought of Labour kowtowed to Sturgeon; admittedly polls have proven mostly useless at this Election with the “neck and neck race” anything but, but it’s a useful starting point.

So with voters in Middle England wavering it was up to Labour to mitigate the fear and in this they found their greatest enemy had become more dangerous. The SNP in Scotland began to promote a narrative, a vicious and largely untrue narrative, that Labour needed help to be honest and stick to its principles. “A vote for SNP is a vote for a Labour Government” was the somewhat perplexing cry and suddenly Ed had a war on two fronts.

He wasn’t conservative enough for England and wasn’t left wing enough for Scotland, his base had shifted into a precarious centre left space and it was hard to counter everything. And so the propaganda train rumbled on, the gutter press promoted the idea that Labour needed the SNP and the Scottish gutter press promoted the idea that Labour NEEDED the SNP. They were simultaneously weak and easily led by Sturgeon and dishonest enough to need an SNP shaped moral compass. It’s all rather depressing.

So who is the biggest loser here: the temptation is to say Labour but honestly it’s hard to be sure at this point. The union will suffer, following the vicious attacks on Scottish MPs  by their English colleague in recent weeks and if there was ever a time and a place for federalism this may be the moment. The SNP may be the big winner in numbers but will likely suffer due to association. They’re in a difficult position and it’s inevitable their supporters will realise they A) aren’t actually the lefties they claim to be and B) Aren’t able to command power on a national level. The electorate are obviously screwed. Perhaps worst of all though is the vindication of this sort of campaigning, that being divisive and aggressive works.

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7 thoughts on “GENERATION NEXT / GUEST POST BY TOM ROBERTS

  1. Mike says:

    So who is the biggest loser here?
    Toton residents, who have been denied Palmer’s help facing the oncoming armageddon of HS2/TramZilla.

  2. David C says:

    With as they say — all due respect– I have been a long time reader and admirer of Matt’s blog but this is the biggest load of tripe — simplistic, ill-informed and border-line racist rubbish that I have had the misfortune to read on here. You seem to have swallowed the billionaire press proprietors’ propaganda hook line and sinker about woad faced Scots coming down to rape, pillage and plunder with nary a thought for spooking “Middle England”. Sturgeon whose party have been successfully running Scotland for 7 years now (how do you think they took 50% of the vote) was the undoubted star of the ill-begotten election campaign articulating a left of centre vision such that “Ed” and has party used to articulate some decades ago and have long since jettisoned.She specifically made clear that the election was not about a new referendum, but about achieving a progressive left of centre programme for Scotland and the UK. “Middle England” chose otherwise, for further privatisation of the NHS (started under Ed’s party)
    for £12 billion unspecified welfare cuts, against a mansion tax, for lower taxes on the wealthy, for continuing austerity and shrinking public services to a level not seen since the 1930’s.
    And yes in case you’re wondering I am Scottish and have lived in England for nearly 50 years, had an English mother, have 2 English kids — and oh yes — voted for Nick Palmer

  3. Kate Ames says:

    Excellent piece, Tom. Labour stuck between rock and hard place, Nicola Sturgeon’s relentless goading of Ed to agree to a deal handed Cameron and the right-wing press the perfect stick with which to bash him. The result was based on fear.

  4. Mike says:

    Two sides of the same coin: Focusing on the role of the SNP may be accurate, but it ignores the more important factor that Labour failed to build a majority in England. (Which, after 5 years of the Coalition’s misrule, is an achievement.)

  5. petekobryn says:

    Good post, will definitely be difficult for the SNP to deliver on the expectations they have built up, unless of course the Cameron Govt. hands them both a second referendum and also the momentum to win it.

    p.s. the link to your blog in the article doesn’t seem to work ?

  6. Toffin says:

    Labour didn’t win the election because their policies aren’t what people want. I honestly believe people (that is, most centre, centre-left and centre-right, i.e. those who actually determine which party returns MPs) really are sick and tired of being told what they should want, what they should need and what they should wish for. And that’s what Labour and the Lib Dems do all the time. No, we’re grown ups and wish to be treated that way. Aspiration is not a dirty word (as the contenders for leader have now decided). Wealth creation is not a dirty concept. Middle-class isn’t a swear word. Ambition is OK, really it is.

    The spectre of Union (as in Unison, Unite, etc., not Scotland!) power also puts people off and this is where Ed Miliband was done for right from the start.

    Interestingly, listening to the leadership contenders you could be forgiven to thinking you were listening to Tory MPs or activists. Their mantra so closely reflects the Tory worldview that they should be standing for the Conservatives.

  7. Chris Smith says:

    Toffin raises a very valid point. Labour have failed to keep pace with the change in middle class, aspirational or otherwise. The Tories speak the language of middle class expectations (ok we know most of it is pie in the sky, but it’s been said). This is what Labout must address in the next term. Those guys I first worked with as an apprentice seven elections ago, all of them Labour lifers from Labout families think differently now after the issue of their personal share certificates from industry privatisations and possibly the purchasing and selling on their council homes, they have assets now and with that comes forward expectation and new influence over their own children’s polical views and expectations.

    I think the loss was not mearly Scotland and the SNP but more broadly FEAR. The Tories played the fear card in everything that was presented, there is nothing like fear to sell papers and gain votes. It’s a dirty game and it’s what puts so many people off politics but if your opponent is playing this card so well you have little choice but match them. I didn’t see Labour (nationally) promoting much fear of the Tories and boy we have much to fear in this next term.

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