Triangulation and abuse

Triangulation and abuse

It is clear that Labour’s leadership are executing the New Labour playbook with a touch of 20th century triangulation by pandering exclusively to communities that don’t vote for them and adding the practice of trolling those that do. On issues from foreign policy, public sector pay, fiscal policy and the EU, we can see this to be so.

In James Surowiecki’s book the Wisdom of Crowds, he examines the behavioural economics game of “Ultimatum”, which shows that you can’t take people for granted, if people don’t like the rules they won’t play the game.

In Ultimatum, players are divided into groups of two, and one is the proposer, who proposes how to split $10,000, the second player can accept or reject. If rejected, neither gets anything. Economic rationalism suggests that the second player will always accept any offer; however, reality tells a different story. The second player on the whole rejected lowball offers that they think to be unfair. Interestingly, in a second round, both players were told that the proposers had got high scores in a test, and in those circumstances the average at which proposals were rejected fell; if people thought the proposer’s deserved the privilege of proposing, then offers the accepters might once have considered unacceptable became acceptable.

In politics, as in life, you can’t take people for granted! You’d have thought that Labour had learnt this truth.  …

If Only Again

While writing “Not in 50 years“, published earlier today (or on medium) I had cause to look at my 2013 essay, “If Only” (also on medium), which is a powerfully written, even if I say so myself, attack on triangulation and careerism and a call for courage and truthfulness. It was inspired by David Edgar’s play of the same name and set in 2010 & 2014 which at the time was in the future. I wrote the article after seeing the play in 2013. My post briefly talks about democratic policy making which I looked at in my blog essay, “Ideas, alliances and promises” (also on medium).

I have made this post to encourage people interested in understanding what’s happening in the Labour and Tory leaderships to have a look at my”If Only” essay (also on medium). which I think has aged well. The play and the essay are a call for principled truthfulness and a criticism of triangulation.  …

Not for 50 years

Not for 50 years

Starmer gave a speech in Newcastle in which he says there is no case for rejoining the EU for 50 years.

This is nonsense, if we want the UK to be more than an offshore money laundering factory, then re-joining the EU is inevitable.  It will only happen when membership becomes a non-partisan issue, or its partisan opponents are once again an irrelevance. The queues and delays at Dover, the developing maritime routes between Eire and continental Europe, and the declining trade balances as our export trade with the EU dies, all require remediation. To these problems we can add the labour shortage-based inflation as the plutocrats’ essential services, i.e. sandwich & fast food shops and restaurants can’t find staff and the people’s essential services are under funded and failing.

The short to medium term task for those who want to rejoin is to show & highlight Brexit’s failings, show how these failings are as a result of the Tories’ deal and that a better deal is possible. I outline my first five steps (my blog, Labour’s policy forum, medium). Other’s have points to add, but by offering a better future, we will win people to the position that we can do better than what we have. We need a better deal and we need to build a stable majority for a better relationship with the EU and see where it goes. Other’s have pointed me at this which is a better way of dealing with the policy issue.

Some argue that the EU’s own developments will strengthen opposition to the EU in this country but more importantly it’s possible that we will have problems meeting the EU’s requirement to have  “stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;”; the House of Lords (and maybe Parliamentary Sovereignty & FPTP) and the “Hostile Environment” are all problems. The most rapid short-term changes in the EU today are its adoption of the Budget Conditionality Regulation, designed to sanction Hungary and Poland; this is because of their attacks on the independence of the judiciary, behaviour being repeated by our Tory government. Progressives should welcome this chance to examine and improve our democracy.

The problem with Labour under new management ‘s slogans, Fix Brexit and “Not in 50 years”, the latter a slogan used by both Starmer and Rachel Reeves is they do not allow Labour to criticise the current deal, and it looks like it’s designed not to. It also inhibits arguments for reform of the Brexit deal; this also looks to be by design. It denies Labour a role in scrutiny in Parliament or in the deal’s scrutiny structures. It’s also is trolling the membership and the majority of Labour’s voters. Their loyalty is not as strong as that of the old trade unionised workers, and New Labour lost 5m of them between 1997 and 2010. It adds to the evidence that they want to disassemble the new class coalition that voted for and is voting Labour. A quick look at’s, poll tracker shows what happens when Labour loses the support of its remainer core vote as it did in the summer of 2019.

 That Starmer’s 10 pledges have been broken is probably priced in but interestingly he was silent on the EU and Brexit, and his Labour under new management is a policy vacuum, merely following the Tories on COVID, much of its authoritarianism and now on Brexit. Someone should explain that triangulation involves minimising the differences not eliminating them because people can tell the difference between the echo and the shout, They’ll trust the Tories to do Tory things before they trust Labour. Triangulation legitimises your opponents politics and policies. It’s not a strategy for principled people.

This comes from a mindset where focus group driven triangulation  remains cute, it is an electoral strategy based on letting down and ignoring those who vote for us. Last time we did that, we lost 5m votes and laid the ground for 2019 when the old steel and pit towns finally voted Tory. …

PASOKisation in Britain

PASOKisation in Britain

The once mighty PASOK has been reduced to the smallest Party in the new Greek Parliament. In 2009, it won 44% of the popular vote and formed the Government; earlier this year, it won a under 5%. Its decision to join the New Democrat led coalition in 2010 had led to a split, with much of the left of PASOK leaving to support its eventual replacement, Syrizia. PASOK has been killed by its own austerity policies and walking away from the hopes and causes of their political base.  …

About Political Strategy

About Political Strategy

Neil Foster writes that polls prove that it’s policy and the offer which determines the way most people vote. We need to remember that polls only measure what’s happening today but Foster’s corollary is that the offer needs to be sound and also that the government’s record is put under intense scrutiny. I should add that the policy offer needs to be believable. I have written a personal manifesto against triangulation and in favour of leadership and collective honesty by the political parties in my blog article “If only”. The poll is one piece of evidence that most agree.

I feel that Labour’s European campaign missed the opportunity to oppose austerity, and in doing sp failed to confront the ideology behind the Tories economic policies. We failed to engage in any vision as to the future of either Britain’s future or that of Europe. We have some way to travel.

The fact is that strategy must follow values! Triangulation legitimises your opponents politics and is not believed. No-one now believes that the NHS is safe on the Tory’s hands, and no-one really believes that Labour will be tougher on welfare or immigration. The policy offer and mandate must be based on an honest and truthful conversation with the electorate. It would seem that’s what they want. …

If Only

Last weekend, I went to see “If Only”, a play by David Edgar about the politics surrounding the formation of the coalition and a subdued appeal for the political parties to rediscover their identities; identity destroyed by triangulation.

If Only

Triangulation is a political strategy used mainly by social democratic parties and the US Democrats, of moving to the right and forcing your opponents to differentiate themselves by moving further to the right. It’s extremely cynical and extremely dangerous. However, if it’s just about winning, it clearly worked for a number of years for the Labour Party, isolating the Tories under the leadership of Major, Hague, Howard and Duncan-Smith. The danger in this strategy is that many of those who genuinely agree with the policies abandoned have no-one to represent them in the national political debate; the left in society become politically voice-less. A further danger is that neither the acolytes of triangulation nor their supporters believe in what is being said and promised by politicians, it reinforces the slur that all politicians are liars by making it the truth. …

On Triangulation and the Aircraft Carrier view of Labour’s policy

The Green Benches blog asks ex-Labour voters why they stopped. It’s one of the most popular threads he’s run with 73 comments in under 36 hours. Not one of them says it’s because of increases in public debt, or that they didn’t privatise more, or they introduced a bankers bonus tax or introduced the 50% super tax rate or the minimum wage was too high. Every single comment is based on a left criticism of the Labour Party and its leadership, both past and current.

In the “Refounding Labour” discussion document, published by the Labour Party in 2010, the point is made that Labour lost 5m voters between 1997 and 2010, 60% of these had deserted us by 2001. It’s hard to see what left wing policies would have scared off the New Labour voters before 2001, and while the UK’s interventions in the Balkans started during this time, the drive to war in Iraq had not, neither had the Labour Government set their top up fees to £3,000 p.a.

Some in the Labour Party leadership accuse Ed Milliband of seeking to “retreat to a core vote” and that Labour needs to retain its “Aircraft Carrier” policy straight jacket, where turns to the left or right lead to disaster. Others of course, including many of Eion Clarke’s correspondents reckon that he’s not fulfilling his Red Ed promises. I reckon our 2010 vote is our core and that attacks on trade unionists, the unemployed, the young and the disabled will only weaken us. Standing up for them might begin to win back that decent majority that have left Labour.

The problem with “Triangulation” is that your enemies define your politics. (Look what’s happening in the USA, and that’s what happened in the 1990’s to Labour, and its where some in the right of the Labour Party still are). Labour has a huge left wing hinterland that wants a fairer society built to serve the interests of the majority. We should stand by or return to that vision.

One of the most important tasks for a political party is to persuade people that your ideas are right, not to merely adopt popular ones.

End Triangulation ; people do change their minds… our strategy should be to tell the truth.


I wrote this early in 2012 and for some reason failed to publish it. Obviously some of the thoughts here went into the “If Only” article on this blog. I am tidying up the blog drafts list and decided to publish this, but have back dated it to the time I started it since that’s my usual policy to make the blog a diary. …