Having dramatically lost an election it was "sure to win", the Labour party is now in danger of losing itself completely in a fog of arguments that seem to have little resonance with its own membership and core support. Pat Dade explains.

Traditionally, defeat is followed by soul searching.

If The Labour Party’s unexpected trouncing in the 2015 UK General Election had led to soul searching, the internal strife revealed by the ensuing leadership election would have looked very different.

There is, arguably, still time – but it has been compromised by putting the cart before the horse. The process of knowing what the membership of the Party wants and will support has come second to the values systems of those within the current Party leadership and of the candidates for leader, each nominated by at least 15% of the Parliamentary Labour Party under the system accepted after the Collins Report’s recommendations.

The Parliamentary Labour Party selectors and party elites have found, to their chagrin, that their most popular nominees are less attractive to their grass-roots members than the non-mainstream nominee, who was expected to fail to gain support but act as a sop to the ‘past’ of the Labour Party.

This blindness to the values of the membership is a commonplace failure in many organizations when defeat is seen as failure instead of opportunity. The urge to deny mistakes by those involved in the process of defeat is human and natural. The mistake of the organization in defeat is to focus too heavily on available resources when planning the resurrection of the offering to the market – in this case replace ‘market’ with ‘membership of the party’.

Political parties in representative democracies theoretically reflect the values of their supporters. When they don’t, their support falls away and they lose elections. For such parties with insufficient votes to form a government, the way forward is often not clear when competing values are battling to define a future vision. This is the territory the Labour Party currently occupies. It is reflected in the three ‘tribes’ which are trying to reconcile (or not) the differences between the upper echelons of the Party and the clearly emerging values of a frustrated membership. That membership’s support has, in some cases, been abused in a narrative characterised by an ‘out of touch’ leadership responding to Westminster and national media signals, and processes that suit a government but not an opposition.

CDSM has been tracking the values systems of supporters of the main British political parties for many years. The rise of the SNP has not been documented as closely and it remains to be seen if they can consolidate their Scottish gains into a force within Westminster. Their rise, and the rise of other nationalist parties within the large economies of the EU, will be highlighted in other reports in the coming months.

In this brief report, the competing forces fighting for the soul of the Labour Party will be quickly highlighted and used as a basis for more extended analysis of the Labour Party - and all other political parties and pressure groups outside the mainstream.




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The coalition of values that produced Labour’s halcyon years in power are typified as Prospector Values. This values set includes 38% of the population and was the basis for Tony Blair’s appeal to the electorate in multiple elections. Appealing to aspects of their values systems – such as Aspiration, Show-home, Material Wealth, Visible Success, Image, Looking Good, Buzz - created the good time feel of voting for a government that matched its values. The darker side of this appeal is that this values set included other aspects – such as Force, Control, Simmer, and a sense of self entitlement that includes Unobliged, Two Classes and Patriarchy - that are polar opposites to the values system of True Labour. New Labour values essentially usurped many of the aspects of the Prospector values set that the Conservative Party had promulgated as their own.

In the process of winning elections the Labour Party created gaps in its supporter base that, in turn, opened up opportunities for other parties to emerge and for swing voters to change their preferences from Labour to “something else”.


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Blue Labour supporters, and voters, were left out of the mainstream New Labour values set. Their values can be typified as Settler values. They make up 27% of the population.

In many ways – discussed in other reports on this site – their support was one of inertia and often non-reflective support for ‘their party’, even as the party expanded its appeal and relegated their concerns from ‘must have’ to ‘nice to have’ and eventually to ‘quietly remove from our agenda’.

Often older, living in areas devastated by Conservative economic policies and so ill-prepared for the continuing neo-liberal economic approach driving New Labour, they would have preferred to vote for traditional Labour but found their values more in harmony with some of the values traditionally associated with the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats – and especially UKIP, who specifically set out to attract the disaffected and those disgruntled by the media and poll-driven politics of all the mainstream parties.

Disappointed with the ‘way things have turned out’ and pessimistic about the future, their Settler values set is driven by a fear of the future and the effect it will have on their communities, peers and family groups. They can be motivated by appeals to strong positions on crime and national security – Discipline, Whip, Rules, Insular, Security and National Security. These aspects of their values systems are closed to discussions of alternatives and even a token agreement with alternatives will soon see them revert to their original orientation – Non-reflective, Irresolute. They will proclaim themselves ‘non-political’ and voting for a return to basic ‘common-sense’ values contained in aspects of Be Satisfied, Complacent, and Shangri-La.

Labour can re-capture their support – but not through a continuation of New Labour orientations. Their support can be regained through an extension of the core values of True Labour.


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In survey after survey for years on end, the nature of core Labour support has come from this values set. It is best typified by the Pioneers. They make up 35% of the population. As elections have been won and elections lost, this section of the population has maintained its support for Labour. Voting and support for the Party is constantly being questioned by this values set and Labour has consistently been found by them to be supportive of their values. These people consciously rather than ‘non-reflectively’ support the party – in spite of policies that, at times, contradict their values. They are driven more by their awareness of the implications of long-term trends within the economic and social systems – in the UK, EU and globally – than they are by the media-driven dominant narrative that is usually the domain of government. They are more likely to hold views that differ from major aspects of the dominant narrative - and these are the views that change the narrative in the medium to long term.

Intrinsically opposed to the more extreme manifestations of New Labour –Two Classes, Unobliged, Patriarchy, Visible Success - they instead proclaim their support for Justice, Openness, Universalism, Self Direction, Caring, Benevolence, Global and Poverty Aware. These are the sorts of people who do not support austerity as a response to the desire to live within their means or cut the deficit. Austerity is seen as a strategy – and not a good one, even according to the IMF – to reduce a budget deficit. Ideologically driven cuts to taxpayer funded programmes to achieve the politically motivated goal of a balanced budget are an anathema to their values system.

This is at the core of traditional British values post WW2, and the platform upon which Labour had developed a body of policy and practice that had contributed positively to the rest of the democratic world. This is what was missing from the rhetoric of the recent election – Ed Milliband’s ‘one nation’ message may have been trotted out at Party conferences, but was missing from the everyday language of the party elites who defined the party narrative during the last election.

This core values deficit, evident in the run-up to the General Election of 2015, is also being ignored in Labour’s post-mortem research and among its mainstream leadership candidates. The Jeremy Corbyn offer resonates so strongly with True Labour values that its popularity should come as no surprise.