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?