Lammy's lessons from Obama

Labour MP David Lammy’s speech to the Fabian Society on Monday wasn’t the first to say ‘we need to learn lessons from the Obama campaign’, and it won’t be the last. But it’s a well-constructued speech, and well worth a read.
He notes the eventual success of two ‘outsider’ candidates, prepared to take risks – on policy, on debate, and in campaigning. And there’s some interesting reflection on the online element:

It has put together a web strategy premised on connecting activists and supporters to one another, not just pushing out tightly controlled messages from campaign HQ. Suddenly in the US the web is being used to connect people with politics again – at a time when people are using it to circumvent politics in the UK. And the huge lesson for us is that the technology is neither particularly complicated, nor especially expensive or labour-intensive to run.

Timely remarks, of course, given the supposedly perilous state of Labour finances. But he’s absolutely right: the tools are cheap, often free, and easy. It’s not whether you can do it, it’s what you do with it. It’s also quite interesting to see him talking in terms of a ‘fightback’. It’s often said that campaigning is easier when you’re in opposition: by pre-emptively accepting defeat, could that kickstart Labour’s online efforts?

3 thoughts on “Lammy's lessons from Obama”

  1. “neither particularly complicated, nor especially expensive or labour-intensive to run.”
    don’t agree with this bit, and it’s a bad take-away from the campaign.
    it takes knowledge – buy-in knowledge – to know which tools to use and how to use them. it doesn’t come ‘out of the box’ for just anyone. you have to shift your marketing spend and that encounters resistance – a real lesson from the campaign.
    reality is that obama has spent a lot on the web campaign, lots of website building for example – and the killer app is still email, which takes resources to get right. what the new-ish tools have done is be used better and mobilised more – this Lammy has absorbed. less top-down as a lesson is very good.
    but it’s still not *there obama-wise. online marketing is barely in play, in fact there’s an argument that Hillary did this better.

  2. Good speeches are made when you have good people writing them for you, and David Lammy has that for sure in his Parliamentary office. Question is whether he has the personal guile and skill to make these ideas a reality and – sadly – I fear that’s where things are going to fall apart.

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