The Return of the Anti-Balls Brownites

John Rentoul

em1n 300x191 The Return of the Anti Balls BrownitesThe return of Spencer Livermore to run Labour’s election campaign is, as esteemed colleague Andy McSmith noted today, going to “create an interesting atmosphere at Labour headquarters”.

Livermore fell out with Gordon Brown, as so many Brownites did, sooner or later, but he also fell out with Ed Balls, which makes Ed Miliband’s decision to bring him back to the centre of Labour operations as intriguing as anything else in the reshuffle.

It is also interesting because Livermore’s style was to suggest that Labour had to have a “retail offer”, and he had a tendency to propose schemes that looked as if they would go down well in focus groups.

I wonder if he was involved in the energy price freeze idea, which serious economists say “will achieve nothing”? A Labour press officer – sorry, “senior strategist” – said the idea was so popular it was “off the scale” in focus groups, except that when The Times put it to one the best they said about it was that it sounded good but they didn’t think Miliband could deliver it.

Perhaps it was James Morris, another Labour official who has worked with Livermore and is presumably working with him again, who ran those “off the scale” focus groups. He was also in the news today, for telling a private meeting that voters in “politically salient target groups” were overwhelmingly likely to support the Government’s benefit changes:

He warned: “The challenge is very severe.” Voters on average backed the reforms being driven through by David Cameron’s Government by about two to one — but among Labour-Conservative swing voters the divide was a huge 64 per cent to nine per cent.

To summarise. Personalities: at war. Policies: in disarray. Months to election: 19.

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  • Pacificweather

    A focus group will come up with a popular idea but that will only translate into votes if the public believe your implementation plan. Ed has to come up with a plan, a national plan, a plan that the Americans would call socialised energy, a sort of NHS for utilities like long ago and far away in a country we all once lived in.

  • reformist lickspittle

    I see that JR is still plugging that utterly discredited Times “focus group”.

    Poor form.

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