This Commission believes that the surge of support among new voting groups in 2017 masked continuing underlying decline in support for Labour. The unexpected surge in vote share in 2017 meant that these significant trends, laid out in Chapter 2 of this report, were not collectively and openly analysed, accepted or addressed.
The context of the 2019 election was challenging for Labour and would have been for any Labour leader because the issue of Brexit divided Labour’s historic voter coalition. The campaign strategy developed was inadequate when faced with the challenges that have been set out in Chapter 3, including perceptions of leadership and the underlying trends of our traditional supporters moving away from Labour.
The evidence submitted to the Commission suggests that Labour was not ready for an election and the campaign was poorly managed and executed. There was no clear national campaign lead. The message was inconsistent and shifting and there was no evidence of a systematic strategy to identify which voters we were targeting and why and how we were reaching them. Our policy programme contained popular individual measures but taken together, our manifesto was seen by many voters as undeliverable and not credible.
The support provided to candidates and key activists was poor and often provided too late and resources – both human and financial – were badly targeted and allocated.
In 2017 we were believed to have had a relatively effective online campaign, but whilst we continued as we were, the Conservatives transformed their online capabilities significantly for 2019. Our digital infrastructure and campaigning systems were weak, with poorly targeted resources, and inadequate support that left candidates and activists at a disadvantage. A failure of coordination across the party led to a shortage of resources, and a lack of clear and consistent messaging which undermined our position.
Labour’s ground, air and online campaigns were working in silos rather than being part of a single coherent political strategy. Our failure to innovate, learn and develop new campaigning strategies also cost us as the political environments (both online and offline) in which we are fighting elections are changing.
Labour has spent substantial periods of the last five years in conflict with itself. We were not speaking to the public but arguing amongst ourselves. Responsibility for this rests not wholly with one side or part of our movement. Across our movement, we should accept our part in these divisions and the impact this had on our ability to come together and work together effectively.
The findings in these chapters are based on evidence reviewed and received from across the party, including: