Posts Tagged ‘Deborah Mattinson’

Private Eye: Starmer Appoints Pro-Tory Supporter of Middle Class as Head of Strategy

July 21, 2021

This fortnight’s edition of Private Eye for 23rd July to 5th August 2021 has a very ominous piece, ‘Keir Review’, reporting that Blair Stalin, I mean, Keir Starmer, has appointed Deborah Mattinson as his new head of strategy. The satirical magazine reports that when she previously held such a post advising a Labour leader six years ago, she wanted him to hold a review into the party’s economic performance, headed by a Tory, and to go after middle class swing voters. In other words, it was more Blairism after Blairism had failed with the election of David Cameron instead of Blair’s chancellor and successor, Gordon Brown. The article reads

Deborah Mattinson, Keir Starmer’s new director of strategy at Labour, has the job of relaunching his ailing leadership. The last time Mattinson advised a Labour leader in 2015, offers some clues of what’s to come: back then she wanted the party to have a review of its economic performance that would be “headed by a Tory”, and to start focusing more on the middle class.

Mattinson is a “public opinion” specialist who has worked for the party on and off since the New Labour years. She and her company, Britain Thinks, specialise in focus groups: the company has lucrative contracts with the Home Office and does opinion research for McDonald’s, Capita and Virgin Money. She will be stepping aside from her role there to work for Labour.

Starmer’s appointment of Mattinson is part of his attempt to rejuvenate his leadership with what is briefed as an undefined but “bold” new direction. Her previous political prescriptions were certainly bold, but were not popular with the party.

After Labour lost the 2015 election and Ed Miliband resigned, Britain Thinks produced a report for acting leader Harriet Harman called Emerging from the Darkness, advising how the party could recover from the defeat. The private report, which was leaked to ITV News, advised Harman to pull sharply to the right after the failure of Miliband’s modest move left.

One piece of advice was to commission an independent review of Labour’s economic performance in government “ideally headed by a Tory” – which Labour would publish because the party had to start “atoning for the past”. Mattinson also advised that Labour needed to “be for middle-class voters, not just down and outs.”

The report was based on conversations with focus groups of swing voters, relying on their opinion to form policy rather than just test potential messages. Harman did appear to follow the report’s logic, instructing Labour MPs not to oppose the government’s welfare bill or limiting child tax credit to just two children – decisions that were deeply unpopular in the party.

MPs, members and voters await the new direction the focus group guru will take Labour in now.

Basically, it’s going to be more Blairism: a return to neoliberal policies, the use of focus groups to test the popularity of policies, a concentration on the middle class to the neglect of Labour’s traditional base in the working class and absolute determination not to oppose Tory policies but to copy them. And her contempt for the working class is shown very clearly in the reference to ‘down and outs’. It comes after the massive success of Jeremy Corbyn in winning back Labour members and the popularity of his traditional Labour policies – a mixed economy, strong welfare state, renationalised NHS, powerful trade unions and strengthened workers’ rights – showed how bankrupt Blairism was. Under Blair, the party had been haemorrhaging members and the number of people who actually voted for it was lower than under Corbyn. Blair beat the Tories only because they were actually less popular than he was.

But all this has changed. It ain’t 1997 and these policies won’t work against a revived Tory party. Quite apart from the fact that they’re noxious policies that run directly counter to the Labour party’s whole raison d’etre. It was set up to defend and fight for working people, not abandon them and side with the employers and landlords who exploit them. But Starmer clearly hasn’t learned this lesson. Either he’s stupid and fanatical, pushing a set of policies long after they’ve been proved to be wrong and disastrous, or he’s deliberately trying to destroy the party. Either way, there’s a simple way to revive the Labour party:

Get the noxious Tory cuckoo out!

Fabian Pamphlet From the 1980s: What Women Want are Left-Wing Policies

February 3, 2018

For a very brief period in the 1980s I was a member of the Fabian Society. The other day I managed to dig out of my collection of old Fabian pamphlets one by Patricia Hewitt and Deborah Mattinson, entitled Women’s Votes: the Key to Winning, published in 1989.

I haven’t read it yet, but the first page, in the introduction, astonished me by completely challenging the received wisdom about women’s voting preferences. As Hewitt and Mattinson point out, women have been considered far more Conservative politically than men. But at the last general election (1987), they supported the Labour party and left-wing policies just as much as men. The Introduction runs

The Labour Party needs women’s votes in order to win the next election. The evidence suggests that these votes can be won but the Party must persuade women that it will not only stand by it values but also carry out its policies when in government.

Until quite recently, it was accepted political wisdom tht women were more conservative than men. Within the labour movement, women voters were widely blamed for electing Mrs Thatcher and it was believed that a future Labour victory would depend more on men than on women.

Before the 1987 general election, the Conservatives generally did better amongst women than amongst men. The reverse was true for Labour. There was a ‘gender gap’, and it worked in the Tories’ favour.

That has now changed. In 1987 Labour closed the gender gap for the first time. There is good evidence for believing that, in future, Labour will do better amongst women voters than amongst men.

We start by looking at the 1987 and 1983 voting patterns to analyse Labour’s relative strength amongst women and men, and amongst different groups of women. We then look in more detail at women’s and men’s values and attitudes, drawing on recent opinion polling and qualitative research, including a series of small discussion groups undertaken especially for the Fabian Society and reported in this pamphlet.

Next we examine attitudes to issues and suggest the policy areas on which Labour should concentrate, before turning to proposals for how Labour can become more representative of women. Finally, we briefly consider unplublished and published material from Australia and the USA, where the Australian Labor Party and the American Democrats are reaching similar conclusions to our own.

The evidence strongly suggests that women voters are more likely to share and respond to Labour’s values than men. They are more likely to vote for an ‘enabling’ state which intervenes to protect the environment, regulate business and industry, redistribute income and wealth, provide a high level of social and welfare services, and promote greater equality between women and men. Increasingly, women are Labour’s natural constituency. (Emphasis mine.)

This bears out the ideology behind much of the right-wing, Conservative, and Libertarian misogyny in the US. The Libertarians, right-wing Republicans like Anne Coulter, and the Fascists in the Alt-Right, would like to deprive women of the vote partly because they see them as more left-wing than men, and more willing to expand the power of the state. Which challenges their notion of freedom under classical liberal economics, in which the ideal state is that of the mid-19th century.

It also shows why millions of women did not vote for Killary. For all Clinton’s promotion of herself as a feminist representing women, she signally did not. She was a bog-standard, corporatist politician and foreign policy hawk. Her gender made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the policies she promoted and espoused. She was far too right-wing for many American women, who voted with their feet. And they did so not because they were told to by their husbands and boyfriends, as Killary later claimed, or because of misogyny by nonexistent ‘Bernie Bros’.

The same goes for the female Blairites in the Labour party. They’re simply a continuation of Blair’s pro-corporate, neoliberal programme, which was basically just reheated Thatcherism with sickly grin. The comments by some of these female faux ‘moderates’ that they will be even harder on the unemployed than the Tories is not going to impress ordinary working women, already doing the worst paid jobs and, like working men, suffering from precarious unemployment conditions.

And this shows how desperate and threadbare the corporate, mainstream media has been in pushing the narrative that the Labour party under Corbyn, and Bernie Sanders’ supporters in the Democrats in America, are misogynists. Because they aren’t, and the neoliberal entryists know it. Hence too the portrayal by some of these corporatist women to draw a difference between themselves, representing the glorious middle-class, pro-woman future, and male-dominated, working class Old Labour.

The truth is, women seem to be more left-wing than corporatist, neoliberal shills like Hillary Clinton, Angela Eagle and the rest of the post-Blair faction in the Labour party. And its frightening them, and the rest of the Right-wing establishment. And so we’re left with stupid lies about misogyny and intimidation from them and the corporate media.