Sunday, May 10, 2015
Why we lost nationally, the 5 key moments that told me it was like 1992 all over again.
Tory tax cuts for millionaires. I hosted a round table for business people in Manchester with Andy Burnham in late 2013. I made the point that whenever Ed Balls spat out the word "millionaires" he was saying to every single person who ever dreamt of making a few quid with a new business idea, or building a company, that Labour aren't on your side. The top rate kicks in at a rate that anyone who earns a bonus looks at and feels is achievable. This is important at a time when a million new businesses have been formed, where a new entrepreneurialism has genuinely swept the country. And that line wasn't just an early throw away, but became part of the key message of the campaign.
The Question Time mauling. There were many, many media interviews that I winced at, where I wanted to crawl back under the duvet and wish it hadn't happened. But BBC Radio5Live and the Today Programme presenters give all as good as they get. No, the Question Time bear pit was the moment the real rising anger of middle England gave it to Ed Miliband with both barrels. It was the debate when friends on social media burst out of their silence to tell me why they would never back me, or Labour, and that the game was up. The aftermath was even worse - blaming the BBC for putting up Tory plants. This was a party in denial about the genuine raw anger from people in the country.
UKIP. We had nothing to address this. No convincing way of confronting UKIP voters who are worried about immigration and think Labour doesn't speak up for them. Just a different way of telling them they were wrong. You don't change people's minds like that.
The body language of our Tory opponents. There was a moment 10 days before polling, when the postal ballots had been tallied, that Tories in Hazel Grove started to look brighter and more confident. Sure, we had local conditions in our own election that were at play, but if they were "winning here" they were winning everywhere else too.
All of this is far from exhaustive, but they were moments that struck with me. Tomorrow I'll look at our campaign locally and the lessons we learned.