Here are some really outstanding comments on our campaign in 2019. James Meadway writes in Novara about the manifesto and economic policy. Andrew Fisher in the Guardian about mobilization. Simon Fletcher in the Daily Mirror about general issues. Matt Zarb-Cousin on online advertising.
They have in common that they all worked on the 2017 campaign in various capacities. The question, though, is why all three were ex-staffers in 2019. In a real sense, the 2017 team had fallen apart by the time the big test came around. After 2017 I decided to basically ignore who’s in, who’s out stories on the grounds that they didn’t seem to predict anything. I was wrong about this.
Fisher makes the interesting point that the left of the party was short on people who could run a campaign, and that it found a new generation of talent. I would go further; the right was as well, just look at – say – the abject failure of People’s Vote, or the drawn-out comedy of The Independent Group for Change UK. The problem, though, is that if recruitment is good, retention is golden. How many will wander off to the money?
You can’t expect the party leader to turn off some vaguely defined mixture of misguided individual activists, genuine wrong’uns, drama-seeking trolls, and quite possibly robots or bad-faith actors from insulting people on twitter. There’s no button to press for that. You can however expect him to manage the immediate team, and I’m afraid this was a horrible failure that would have undermined us whatever options we took. Rather than seeking a magic solution on Brexit, I have come to think it was the quality of our execution that let us down in 2019.