Learning from the enemy
Andrew Grice has the latest in a long series of articles on the theme of 'what can Labour/Gordon Brown learn from Obama'?
But in terms of campaigning strategy, Labour has far more to learn from the Republican Party, as an incumbent party, trailing in the polls, and with most people thinking that the country is on the wrong track. Instead of moping around, feeling sorry for themselves or playing Faction Wars, the Republicans have been doing their very best to maximise their chances of winning the election. Three examples:
1. The Republican Party is badly split on policy issues. So the McCain campaign has worked to unite them by reminding them of the greater enemy with some absolutely ferocious attacks on Obama.
2. They realised that the Conventional Wisdom about one of the top issues that Americans were worried about was wrong. In response to the rising cost of travelling by car, they picked a clear, simple to understand message about what they would do about it (drill for oil and gas offshore). The Democrats got caught on the Complicated Side of the Argument.
3. Instead of making a boring and expected pick for Vice President, they chose someone who was new and exciting for the media, and who shares the values and beliefs of the Republican base.
The choice of Palin, as with the adoption of the policy about drilling and the attack adverts, is risky and might well backfire. But running a high-minded campaign, or taking the blame about high petrol prices, or picking someone like Mitt Romney, would have been 'safer' but would have guaranteed that they got defeated.