Introduction: Inside the Political Market
Traditionally analysis of Labour party strategy combined a focus on major issues of political economy with an assessment of the role played by relevant actors, notably the trade unions.1 By comparison contemporary accounts dealing with the same topic have tended to dwell on the activities of elite groups like the leadership ‘s spin-doctors and their involvement in what the leading trade journal has termed the greatest public relations campaign of all time.2 This change reflects an evolving representation of the party that has found expression in the dubious dichotomy of ‘new’ versus ‘old’ Labour popularised by Tony Blair and his chief strategist Philip Gould. Despite his own professed interest in historical rather than purely social scientific inquiry, the latter’s influential memoirs caricatured the party’s approach to communication prior to the mid-1980s thus: ‘(it) abhorred photo opportunities and still believed the way to address the public was to don a donkey jacket and harangue the party faithful at rallies…’.3 In the relevant passages of his book, Gould is particularly dismissive of Harold Wilson although his discussion fails to acknowledge that leader’s major contribution to overseeing Labour’s strategic development not to mention his popularisation of images now more associated with Blair such as ‘New Britain’. Nowhere either is there mention of the groundbreaking Must Labour Lose?, a study into ‘people’s aspirations’ that greatly influenced party thought and practice at the beginning of the 1960s.4 By contrast this book seeks to put recent events in proper historical context by tracing the development of the party as a campaigning organisation from its first decade onwards.
KeywordsLabour Party Marketing Concept Political Marketing Leader Image British Politics
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.