Blaming the polls when something else didn’t add up

Three leadersIt appears that this was the election where it wasn’t only UKIP blaming the Poles… or the polls. JOHN BRAGGINS explains why he should have trusted the numbers

First an apology: my job was to look at the polls and do my best to interpret them based on my years of election experience. I, like, many others got carried away with the story the opinion pollsters were trying to tell. I should’ve had the foresight to warn against taking too much notice of the polls when my head was telling me something different. If only I had a position I could resign from as of now, a speech to make that would, by its very nature, be humble and yet inspire future generations. If only…

Now in my defence I did predict last week a late swing to the Conservatives of up to 2.5 per cent and that the polls would cluster together for fear of one being out of line and wrong. Survation admitted that they got it right on Thursday 37 – 31 but were too scared to report it, lest they be the one everyone was laughing by Friday.

For Labour, Thursday was a disaster and for many who depended on Labour to help them – the NHS, those on Zero Hour contracts, paying the Bedroom Tax etc – it was also a disaster.

So who to blame?

Three names come to mind – Len McCluskey, Ed Miliband and Arnie Graf.

Len McCluskey for using his trade union, Unite, to override the wishes of Labour MPs, Labour members and Labour supporters to impose the wrong Miliband on us.

Arnie Graf: nice guy, wrong idea

Arnie Graf: nice guy, wrong idea

Ed Miliband for thinking it was the right thing to stand against his brother and, as the media put it, stab him in the back.

Arnie Graf for giving legitimacy to the idea that if you have an unpopular leader all you need to do is organise in the community to spread your message and people will vote for you.

In truth, Labour didn’t have a coherent message that would reach out to millions of voters. It did have a fantastic machine which, for someone involved in the 1997 election, I can only stand back and admire. It was truly magnificent that Labour was able to have a conversation with up to 4 million voters in the six weeks of the campaign.

But what were they saying? Frankly offering more doctors and nurses, freezing energy prices, and increasing the minimum wage sometime before 2020 is no more than a “retail offer” – where was the vision, the hope and the excitement? Why did Labour have to wait for the resignation speeches of Jim Murphy, Tom Harris and Ed Balls to be inspired?

There will now be a contest for leader and deputy, a chance to craft a message of hope and inspiration and to galvanise the left of centre vote. And a time to find someone who can articulate a compelling narrative for all of Britain.

  • John BragginsJohn Braggins, pictured, worked for the Labour Party for 10 years leading up to the 1997 General Election. He was head of local government for Labour from 2000 to 2002 and senior press officer for the newly formed Greater London Assembly
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1 Response to Blaming the polls when something else didn’t add up

  1. davidcallam says:

    Mr Braggins has hit the nail very firmly on the head.
    The first job of the new Labour Party leader will be to put Len McCluskey and his ilk firmly in their place. I am still a strong supporter of collective bargaining: I don’t understand why unionised teachers are working 16-hour days while their so called workplace representatves are preoccupied waving placards.
    A trade union’s first resposibility is to its members’ working conditions and if the likes of Mr McCluskey were paying more attention to that and less to political posturing, the worst excesses of zero-hours contracts and other spivboy employment tactics would never have become a problem, regardless of the political complexion of the government.

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