Labour’s general secretary is delivering the right message – but to the wrong people

Iain McNicol: ‘We cannot be divided when our mission is to unite the country.’ [Image: Gareth Fuller/PA].

Iain McNicol: ‘We cannot be divided when our mission is to unite the country.’ [Image: Gareth Fuller/PA].

This is part of the reason many Labour members want Iain McNicol to step down as general secretary of the party – he twists matters to create a false impression.

In his Guardian article, Mr McNicol appears to be telling supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, on the eve of his re-election to the Labour leadership, that they are pushing a bad message.

But it isn’t Jeremy Corbyn or his followers who have been claiming to be right in the face of the evidence; it is Mr Corbyn’s opponents in the Labour Party.

Look at David Miliband, who yesterday claimed that Mr Corbyn was unelectable. The ‘New Labour’ brand, of which Mr Miliband was a part, repelled 4.9 million voters between 1997 and 2010 and its remnant in the current party has lost two elections in a row.

That is what happens when you go into elections telling supporters of traditional Labour values that “they are wrong and we are right”!

And we should all be suspicious of the “broad political offer” Mr McNicol is suggesting.

Is he referring to the ‘New Labour’ practice of ‘triangulation’ – trying to lure voters away from other parties by offering different solutions to their arguments?

If so, somebody should have the courage to tell Mr McNicol something the rest of us have known for years: Triangulation doesn’t work.

It only succeeds in dragging the political dialogue further towards opposing parties’ agendas and away from traditional Labour policies. Instead of rendering Labour’s opponents toothless, triangulation turns Labour into a pale copy of them.

And it leaves Labour with a collection of incoherent, unconnected policy positions that voters find hard to support – as we saw in 2015.

No – the way to make a “broad political offer” isn’t to chase diminishing numbers of Conservative votes (don’t forget, the Tories won the 2015 election with less than a quarter of the available votes).

The answer is to stop looking at what the Tories are doing and instead consider what needs to be done and create a strategy to achieve it.

This may be hard for some of the ‘New Labour’ old guard. Many of them are afraid for their careers after igniting the wrath of their constituency party members with their intransigent attitudes. Perhaps they need to step aside to allow the formation of the “unified team” that Mr McNicol proposes.

Otherwise, they will continue being the problem, rather than the solution.

And Mr McNicol is part of that problem – as long as he continues sending the right message to the wrong people.

He says the party should “listen to what people were telling us”.

Perhaps he should set an example by doing so himself.

Labour’s general secretary has warned that voters will punish the party if it goes into the next election telling people “why they are wrong and we are right”.

In a rare public intervention, Iain McNicol said the priority after the leadership vote must be to build a unified team that could make a broad political offer.

He said Labour was in a good financial position after eliminating its debts and had the biggest membership of any European political party. But this would amount to little if it could not unite “under one banner” to harness those resources, McNicol said.

He also urged Labour to listen to the voters, saying the party would do badly at the ballot box if it tried to run campaigns that ignored the realities of what the electorate wanted. “At elections, we cannot choose our opponents, our press or our voters,” he wrote for the Guardian.

“We cannot run campaigns telling people why they’re wrong and we’re right. We cannot be divided when our mission is to unite the country. Or if we do, we shouldn’t be surprised when voters punish us at the polls. So we, as a party, need to learn the lessons and listen to what people were telling us about their community, their nation and their sense of security.

“There has been talk of olive branches and putting the band back together. All the money and all the members will amount to little if we can’t build a unified team to harness those resources. We must work together, under one banner, and defeat this Tory government. Theresa May has never won an election. Our job is to make sure she never does.”

Source: Labour leader must build team from across party, says general secretary | Politics | The Guardian


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10 thoughts on “Labour’s general secretary is delivering the right message – but to the wrong people

  1. doreen ogden

    Reinstating those who have been unfairly suspended would be a start. Trying to rig the Corbyn vote has not gone unnoticed. People won’t forget the treatment he has handed out to voters who once had hope.Pleased to hear he has paid Labours bills – done with money from members who were the denied a vote.

  2. Jim McSporran

    I have always thought the role of political parties was to have a set of policies & a programme to put before the voters. It shouldn’t be about policy making by opinion poll & focus groups. Why ‘listen to the electorate’ that’s so often formed opinions based on the misinformation of the MSM. Let’s have the courage to say to the electorate ‘This is what we need & here’s why’ and if the MSM won’t allow us to deliver that message then bypass them.

  3. Dave Rowlands

    “He said Labour was in a good financial position after eliminating its debts and had the biggest membership of any European political party.”

    And who achieved this then?

  4. mohandeer

    Iain McNicol knows he will be deselected and is desperate – he should be. He’s standing on a podium with the legend in front quoting “Straight talking. Honest politics”. He should try it some time.

  5. Mike Young

    You were kind enough to mention my petition “Suspend the Labour Party’s General Secretary Ian McNicol” running at 38 (sadly complete with a miss-spelling of Iain McNicol’s name)
    May I mention there is a similar petition (nowt to do with me, but great minds think alike) running at “Parliamentary Labour Party: Suspension of Iain McNicol, Labour Party General Secretary for undemocratic policies.”
    As you write “Mr McNicol is part of that problem” and the more of us that say that publicly the better.

Comments are closed.