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The Unfinished Revolution: How the Modernisers Saved the Labour Party Paperback – September 1, 1999
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'Undoubtedly one of the most fascinating accounts of how the modernisers changed the Labour Party and made it electable.' MAIL ON SUNDAY 'Intriguing.' GUARDIAN 'Lively and revealing...the best insider's account yet.' EVENING STANDARD 'An edgy, pacy narrative.' GLASGOW HERALD 'I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the guts of this government' Andrew Marr, OBSERVER 'The most important guide to New Labour that has yet appeared' Bruce Anderson, SPECTATOR 'A fascinating story of high politics, with telling portraits of all the principals, from a man who has been at the centre of Labour's journey since 1985' THE TIMES
About the Author
Philip Gould is senior strategic adviser to Tony Blair, and runs his own political consultancy. He lives with his wife, Gail Rebuck, and their two children in North London.
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Top Customer Reviews
Alongside Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, Gould helped make Labour electable for the first time in a generation. Having seen Britain's improved relations with both America and the European Union since then, the world can safely say it has been a positive experience.
by Philip Gould
Philip Gould, king of spin, rebranded New Labour in Britain, replaced opinion polls with "focus" groups, and was one of the architects of Tony Blair's success. British Labour turned its back on the past "conceded and moved on" arguing that there was no point in fighting ideological battles that had already been lost, or issues that did not resonate with the voters.
Even while claiming day-to-day news coverage mattered much less than laying deep themes of objectives and achievement, Gould could stoop to develop the idea of "symbolic policies", such as minor initiatives to symbolize Labour's concern for the environment. "After all political statements are not acts of sense, they are acts of war, which sums up my feeling about a campaign: it's a fight to political death, with only one winner."
To avoid getting trapped on the Conservative's ground he was prepared to agree where Labour could only lose, fighting only where Labour could win. More than just defeat the Conservatives on the grounds of competence, integrity and fitness to govern, Labour must change the tide of ideas. The ultimate foundation of the Labour party is not dogma, or even values, it is the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people.
The concept of the "Third Way" was based on instincts drawn from both Left and Right but moved beyond them both. People had outgrown Left and Right long before the politicians did. One of the preoccupations of Old Labour was a preoccupation with what the public often saw as "bizarre" issues: homosexuals, immigrants, feminists, lesbians, putting money into peculiar things. Voters think that a serious party that represents the ordinary person focuses on things that matter to people in their lives, "addresses things that concern us".
Blair wanted to structure Labour's message around three anchors: Remind (about Labour's record); Reassure (that Labour is new; that Labour has safe common-sense policies); Reward (through pledges). Labour gave leadership that did not drift; for the many not the few; for the future not the past.
Gould orchestrated both the global and the detail. Free political broadcasts before the BBC News were found to have a "turn-off" factor albeit for a huge audience. Viewers, often caught unawares, rarely watched more than forty-five seconds or a minute, before checking other channels and coming back for another forty-five seconds thinking it had ended. The solution was to segment the piece and tell the same story again and again so that people got the whole story in their forty-five second block!
Gould gives the arguments for focus groups: "although their scientific validity is less than that of an opinion poll, they are in a sense truer because you can talk to people as they really are, not as abstractions caught in a single moment. You gain access to real people with ideas and opinions, who do not care much or all about politics, and who think at one and the same time at many different levels ... at its best the focus group is a place where you can dig beneath the surface and feel the forces gathering below". Others called it "designer socialism" complaining "All that glitters is not Gould".
Of course Tony Blair and New Labour are history now. Gould "wanted you all to know what it was really like, and to understand the effort and integrity that created this New Labour government. I want you to be proud of what we did, but impatient about what we did not do. Believing in our past so that you can be confident about our future. The future is now yours to build, the revolution yours to finish". Or as Tony Blair yelled on one occasion "I suggest you go away and refocus your focus groups".
7 December 2011