After the dramatic supreme court announcement, some of the panel (such as Emily Thornberry) had to cancel, but the meeting was still very useful.
The speakers were Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of North Tyne Combined Authority, Ayesha Hazarika, Political Commentator, and Joe Twyman, Director Deltapoll.
Commenting on the court ruling, Jamie Driscoll said “There are decades when nothing happens and then there are weeks when decades happen.” He said that to win Labour should push topics like offshore wind, solar energy, cooperatives, and community land. Labour must consider themselves the Party of small businesses. Party unity is important and the image of a strong leader: people want strong leadership. Labour must push the message of strength and show themselves to be calm, collected, and caring (not lying and chaotic like Johnson).
Ayesha Hazarika stressed the importance of having a narrative and of telling stories. (I suppose a good example might be the Labour video of the community in London that won battles against private landlords supported by a Labour community organiser.)
Joe Twyman (surprisingly) said that polls were no longer as important as they used to be. The situation is now more complicated. Last time Labour outperformed the polls, but that might not happen next time. The constellation is different. Last time Labour outperformed expectations and the Tories underperformed. That might be the same next time, but we should not rely on it being so.
Labour needs in some way to take a leaf out of Trump’s book and understand how he manages to appeal to two separate groups at the same time. Labour have to appeal to Leave constituencies by addressing the needs of the voters in those constituencies. Like Ayesha Hazarika, he said that voters responded more to narrative than to policies. Leave voters have been given the idea that the EU is unfair and is in control of their lives. (I thought of this watching Johnson on parliament TV last night. He repeated over and over things like: take back control, get Brexit done, deliver on the vote. He was demonstrating how Trump operates, and I guess Labour has to learn from this.)
Twyman says you have to do the social media work but that done of this matters compared to doorstep work. And here it’s not just about talking about policies, but listening. Listening is key. Convincing people has a lot to do with connecting emotionally.
In the audience there was a community organiser from Dagenham. He said they had spent four years building up a community organising network. My impression is that this is one of the most important things campaigners in the UK can do in their localities.