So, wot won it for Labour then? The Sun? Campbell and
Neil Hamilton? Maybe even Tony Blair?
Elsewhere in this issue our resident sage Bernard Ingham disputes the
view that Labour’s campaign had much effect on the outcome. And it is
fair to say that even the most brilliant Tory campaign would have been
unlikely to prevent a Labour win after years of Tory disarray.
But the scale of the Labour victory was a direct result of its
The evidence for this is that Labour’s overall share of the vote was
slightly less than that which ushered in John Major with a majority of
just 20 or so in 1992. Yet Labour has a huge 179 seat lead because the
swing in marginal seats was far greater than the average elsewhere.
This was achieved through relentless targeting of floating voters in the
key marginals with careful use of, among other tactics, direct mail to
reinforce key national and local messages. And at a national level the
PR control and stage direction demonstrated by Labour was of a calibre
not previously seen in this country.
The Tories meanwhile struggled throughout - both locally and
The most revealing moment of the campaign was when they attempted to
attack Labour by revealing that it had a ’war book’. When the worst
accusation you can level at the opposition is that they are better
organised than you are, then you know you’re in trouble.
Tory leadership contender William Hague talks openly of the ’lessons to
be learned from Labour’. But anyone in the PR and communication business
could usefully study Labour’s example when it comes to targeting, issues
management, integration and the use of technology.