The UK is set to have a general election on 12th December 2019 after the House of Commons approved legislation calling for one by 438 votes to 20.
Jeremy Corbyn had been withholding Labour’s support for a snap general election as he was waiting for final confirmation of the EU giving an extension to Article 50 (the new final new deadline is 31st January 2020).
There had been speculation that the real reason for Labour resisting a general election was their terrible polling of late.
Given the state of public opinion, what do Labour need to do in order to change their electoral fortunes in a similar way in which they managed to at general election 2017?
A study of their advertising in recent weeks reveals a five point plan which – if they can deliver it effectively – has every chance of halting a Tory majority.
1) Make Boris’s deal look terrible
The ambition behind this strand is to win back all those previous Labour voters who want to respect the result of the referendum and get the whole thing over and done with. Whether they voted Leave or Remain, the aim of this strand is to make this version of Brexit seem so bad that it’s worth delaying departing the EU further to get it right.
2) Remind voters that a Tory majority means No Deal is back on the table
The aim with these communications is to get back those previous Labour supporters who are still pro-Remain (and who likely voted Lib Dem earlier in 2019 at local council or EU elections). By relentlessly reminding this group of voters that No Deal is back on the table if the Lib Dems take seats from Labour and inadvertently enable a Conservative majority, they hope to claw back their Remainer base.
3) Sell a People’s Vote as the only way to finally resolve Brexit and bring the country back together
Campaigning for People’s Vote is the middle ground option and by making the Lib Dem and Conservative positions seem extreme, they will hope to be able to win over centrist-minded floating voters.
4) Expand the electorate amongst under 45 year olds by increasing voter registration
The main cleavage in British politics is no longer ‘left vs right’ it’s ‘young vs old’ (under 45 qualifying for young). Labour know that young people are much more likely to support them, but much less likely to be registered to vote. If they can get enough new registrants in key seats they can remake the electorate in their favour.
5) Reposition the general election as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to achieve Real Change
Corbyn will hope to neutralise Brexit as an issue using points 1, 2 and 3 of this plan and then inspire people to turn out for Labour using the sort of effective retail politics that served them well in 2017.
Successfully delivering against all five points will not be easy, but if they can do it there’s no reason why Labour can’t close the gap like they did two years ago.