Last week saw the latest Labour in the City Event, ‘In Conversation with Iain McNicol’, the General Secretary of the Labour Party, at Newgate Communications who were splendid hosts.
Labour in the City Chair, Sophia Morrell, led the conversation with Iain and first up was a delve into his twitter bio. Specifically who was the better bagpipe player, Iain or Alastair Campbell? No contest according to Iain!
Then onto the more serious stuff about changing the world. As Iain said, “In this room we’re all here to make a difference. Only way to do that is through a Labour Government”.
Questions followed on how the party really thought the election would go and how we were prepared. It was fascinating to hear about the planning and preparations behind the scenes. People in HQ were working on the assumption there would definitely be an election, but were amazed how the PM gave herself so few options. She kept it so secret that Labour was better prepared than her own party. We knew it was finally coming when the lectern was wheeled out of Number 10 with no official branding.
On the question of how we moved from predictions of electoral wipeout to achieving a 40%+ share of the vote, there were a number of key factors. The huge increases in membership mean that Labour on the ground is a force to be reckoned with, and the money raised from the new members enabled us to blend traditional campaigning techniques effectively with Facebook advertising informed by Analytics and other social media tools in ground breaking ways. Even when we didn’t actually know the election date the campaign to register voters got things off to a flying start and paid real dividends later. On election day itself Snapchat use gave huge returns. It was also recognised that Jeremy Corbyn performed really well during the campaign and demonstrated the need to win the emotional argument and not just the policy one.
All the other parties were either unprepared, ran poor campaigns or were distracted. Enough has been said about the Tories, but the SNP seemed intent on re-running the independence campaign and Tim Farron seemed to spend the first two weeks talking about his personal opinions on homosexuality. Iain warned that we cannot assume that our opponents will ever be as bad again, and we need to remain on a campaign footing and continue to innovate.
Iain was asked about other issues including the recent abuse and harassment accusations and he stressed that we must change the overall political culture and not just deal with individual cases.
Altogether a really informative, insightful and inspiring conversation and I look forward to the next.
Labour in the City