Southern Discomfort Again
Any party seeking to recover from electoral defeat has to develop a coherent analysis of why it lost, and what ought to be done to put it right. For a decade after New Labour’s 1997 election triumph, the Conservative Party refused to listen to voters and, as a consequence, suffered its worst sequence of election defeats since 1832. In the 1950s and the 1980s Labour made a similar mistake which condemned it to long periods out of power. If the party is to escape the impotence of opposition, it will need to shape a political strategy that will enable it to win next time.
The purpose of this Policy Network study, a sequel to the Southern Discomfort series carried out after the 1992 general election defeat, is to address the crippling weakness that Labour faces in Southern England following the 2010 defeat.
The pamphlet is accompanied by new research by polling organisation YouGov.
Patrick Diamond is senior research fellow at Policy Network and the Gwilym Gibbon Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. He was until May 2010 head of policy planning in 10 Downing St and senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister. He is the author of New Labour’s Old Roots: Revisionist Thinkers in Labour’s History 1931-1997 (Imprint Academic, 2004).
Giles Radice is a Labour peer and author of the original Southern Discomfort pamphlet in 1992. He was chairman of the Treasury Select Committee from 1997-2001 and is the author of the new biography Trio: Inside the Blair, Brown, Mandelson Project (IB Tauris, 2010).
Download the full YouGov poll results and read the media coverage here