I see the latest Roy Morgan is out and with it we’re seeing no change for Labour. To a certain extent that’s to be expected as this government is only a year and a half old and there’s still a residual media honeymoon. Which means Labour should be thinking more about maintaining a hard grind than being troubled by the polls.
The problem is they haven’t even got everything lined up for the hard grind. The “many not the few” narrative could have become a foundation for their positioning strategy like I suggested they needed nearly a year ago but instead they’ve treated it like a nice single hit that has now been passed on for the next clever idea.
My advice to Labour is that opposition is not about a whole string of clever tactics but about settling on the right frames and then doggedly applying them to a dozen stories a day.
They also need to realise that one good hit a week isn’t enough when you can clear two news-cycles in a single day. It’s like I said about the “many not the few” speech back in January:
They got a good hit in, the trick now is not to get too clever with the message and to keep the hammer down.
But there has been a distinct lack of focus. In fact someone asked me today what Labour stands for and I couldn’t tell them.
All I can do is repeat the advice I gave Labour back in July of last year (when it was already looking too late for the 2011 election):
You need three negative values you want associated with National (for example: arrogant, ‘out of touch’, corrupt 😉 )
You need three positive values you want associated with Labour (for example: democracy, justice, vision).
Pick them using focus groups (for god’s sake don’t use UMR they seem to think they are strategists rather than just pollsters). Do not think you’re clever enough to second guess the voters by coming up with your own ideas of what they think.
Take the three best performing values for describing each party. This is your communications strategy.
Create a short list of plain synonyms for each value (put the actual value at the top of the list)
These are your key lines for the next two and a half years. (Note: key lines are not research points and they are not 10 pages long).
Have your chief of staff (get a chief of staff), press secs, researchers and anyone else in a campaign advisory role meet each morning to discuss the day’s news agenda. Chair the meeting aggressively.
If your day’s plan is to attack National do so within the framework of one or more of your three values.
If your day’s plan is to boost Labour make sure you do so within the framework of your positive values.
Use your key lines constantly. Make sure every release/attack in the house/interview you do includes these words.
Rinse and repeat. And remember that simple, clear and repetitive is what you need. Don’t try to be clever.
See what I did there? I took what I had already said and I said it again. It’s that easy.