Martyn Richard Jones
Bruxelles 27th May 2019
My post-EU election advice to the UK Labour Party leadership
As I commented to Keir Starmer today “Labour are making a fundamental mistake and it ain’t working, Keir”.
Labour’s approach to Brexit is completely the wrong strategy and it’s doing nobody (apart from Nigel Farage) any favours. No Brexit will benefit the immense majority of the country, we know that, and we know that the EU is not going to cut a better deal for anyone, regardless of their political flavour, because that’s just the way it is.
Like it or loath it, but, Theresa May probably struck the best Brexit deal that the UK can aspire to, and it was roundly rejected, for various reasons, by Westminster. No, the best Brexit deal is no Brexit at all.
So, in order to get out of this awkward place Labour must do two things.
The leadership team, especially the leader Jeremy Corbyn, should actively, coherently and cohesively be fully engaged in an intense high-energy campaign to stay in the EU and seriously address the underlying concerns of Labour Brexit voters. In the EU, yes, an EU for the many, not the few. An EU that does not embrace all elements of neoliberalism with quite the same fervour.
Why? To stop, dead in its tracks, what is by far the single biggest act of self-harming lunacy in the history of the British Isles.
Now, here’s what I think you should look at.
There are six clusters of the electoral demographic that I have considered in the context of Brexit and the UK running away from or remaining with the EU.
The first group what I would call the Reasonable, these are both Brexiteers and Remainers who have rational, respectable and reasoned arguments, even if one might disagree with those arguments.
The second group I would describe as the Don’t Knows. They simply cannot work out what is up and down in the alternative universes of Brexit and Remain.
The third group I would describe as the Don’t Cares. This is the group that really doesn’t give a damn, albeit at times with a tad of reason on their side.
The fourth group I have labelled the Irrationals, those who pretend that solutions can be easily found and then be made reality as if by magic. People in this group can seriously ask why the opposition in the UK parliament hasn’t brought down the Tory government and revoked Article 50 or why the UK hasn’t simply crashed out of the EU.
The fifth group are the Absurd. Massively populist and willingly simplistic, they are almost invariably extreme right-wing Brexit supporters, although there are a few on the left who might fit easily with these folk.
Then there is a virtual sixth transversal group, Labour Transversals, made up of what might be considered to be traditional Labour voting electorate who have chosen to support Brexit – with or without rigorous criteria.
So, six groups (5+1) in all, but it’s the fourth and fifth groups that I think we should be particularly concerned about and it is the sixth group that Labour can have the biggest impact on.
So, this is an example of what to do:
- Over a period of six weeks (or so) you talk with the Labour Transversals who are also in the Reasonable cluster.
- You ask for and record their reasons for supporting Brexit (their issues) and ask them about what they liked about the EU.
- You question each and every reasons by asking why. Asking why five times for each reason would be a good rule of thumb.
- Then you ask the very same people what they think that would be alternative ways of solving the problems other than by leaving the EU. Record this as well.
- You collate and aggregate your qualitative and quantitative data.
- You then take your key data and you provide it to your membership with the purpose of your membership being able to identify ways to address these issues and reasons for leaving the EU without having to leave the EU. You do this also be opening the solutions up for debate.
- This should all be becoming pretty clear by now… but I will just add a couple of things.
- Once you have feedback from the membership you again aggregate and rank “no to Brexit” critical success factors. i.e. these are the things that we can fix (either wholly or partially) without having to leave the EU; these issues aren’t immediately solvable, Brexit or no Brexit; these are not fixable, either way.
- You then use this data to iteratively try and convince cluster of the electorate, starting with the Reasonable Labour Transversals and then with the other Reasonable folk.
- Make sure you target well and try and always reach a maximum audience in each relevant cluster.
The goal is to stop Brexit. The means? To provide with reason that Brexit is not in the best interests of the country and that people’s issues, fears and concerns can be addressed (maybe not all of them) by electing people with the right policies.
Many thanks for reading,
All the best,