"(Crosland) believed that the Centre in the Labour Party must have an ideology, that it cannot simply disagree with the Marxists. Those at the centre must hammer the fact that they are ideologists too."

— “My Reading Life” – Bob Carr 

"

The main goals of (the Committee to Re-elect the President), as Segretti and his accomplices later told reporters and investigators, were to torpedo the campaigns of Democrats they thought to be a serious threat to Nixon’s reelection, and to wreak havoc among the Democratic campaigns, creating ill will and sore feelings. “The main purpose was that the Democrats not have the ability to get back together after a knock-down drag-out campaign,” according to Segretti.

Their style of disrupting and harassing rival political campaigns was known to them as “ratfucking”. Their main target in early 1972 was Ed Muskie. According to the political pundits and pollsters, Muskie was the man to beat for the Democratic nomination. As the front-runner for the nomination, expectations for him were high heading into the New Hampshire primary – some estimates had him winning 65% of the vote.

Then came the “Canuck letter”. Segretti and Ken Clawson, a White House communications deputy, had cooked up a letter and sent it to William Loeb, the publisher of the Manchester Union Leader- an influential conservative newspaper in Manchester, New Hampshire. The letter claimed that at a campaign meeting in Ft Lauderdale, a Muskie campaign aid had cracked a joke about French Canadians living in New England. “We don’t have blacks, but we do have Canucks”, the aid supposedly said. To this, Senator Muskie was reported to have agreed and laughingly said, “Come to New England and see”.

Two weeks before the New Hampshire primary and one day before Muskie was to campaign there, the Union Leader published an anti-Muskie editorial on its front page, entitled “Senator Muskie Insults Franco-Americans”. The paper accused Muskie of hypocrisy for supporting blacks while condoning the term “Canucks”. A copy of the Canuck letter accompanied the editorial.
The very next day, Loeb reprinted a two-month-old Newsweek article about Senator Muskie’s wife, entitled “Big Daddy’s Jane.” This piece reported that Mrs Muskie was a chain-smoker, drank too much, and used off-colour language on the campaign plane.

The next morning, the Muskie campaign started to unravel. The Senator appeared in front of the headquarters of the Union Leader in a driving snow storm. Standing on a flatbed truck, he addressed a gathering of supporters, along with the media covering his campaign, and attacked Loeb as a “gutless coward”. As he spoke about the charges against his wife, his voice halted as he choked back tears.

"

— “Mudslingers: The Twenty-Five Dirtiest Political Campaigns of All Time” – Kerwin Swint

"(Mike) Murphy responded as most consultants do: “People say that they don’t like negative ads, but negative information is an important part of their decision-making. It works. Campaigns are a ‘whatever works’ kind of world."

— “Mudslingers: The Twenty-Five Dirtiest Political Campaigns of All Time” – Kerwin Swint

"The minimum gesture was one that indicated recognition of the discontent the so-called ‘battlers’ felt. If their complaints derived more from unlovely envy than actual hardship, it was all the more urgent to recognise them. The political precondition of the social wage was public acceptance, and the public would only accept what seemed to be just. This was the government’s imperative—to reinvest the social wage with a consensus view of justice. If ‘social justice’ was to be more than a cliché of Labor ideology and government departments, it needed to be vigorously extended to those who worked and earned and had ambition. The answer was not to send everyone in the town or street a cheque, but to assure them all that they were part of the equation and no-one was getting a cheque he did not deserve."

“Recollections of a Bleeding Heart” - Don Watson

This was absolutely true then, and absolutely true now. Too many on the left fail to appreciate this…

"When Hewson began talking about his desire to ‘break the mould’ of Australian politics Keating found the proof of his argument. Watch out, he said; this man does not understand politics, or the nature of Australian democracy, or the link between the mould of politics and the mould of society."

— “Recollections of a Bleeding Heart” - Don Watson

"Deep in Keating’s mind resided a belief that the worst things happen not because of what the villains do, but what the non-villains fail to do to stop them. The villains, after all, are a given, like snakes and wolves and stinging nettles. They lurk in nature. That is one reason why idealists, moralists and liberals so often found Keating distasteful: he was not disposed to see such a very great distinction between evil-doers and do-gooders."

— “Recollections of a Bleeding Heart” - Don Watson

"

Paul Keating on the Left:

“What it boils down to is wider nature strips, more trees and we’ll all make wicker baskets in Balmain. Then we’ll all live in renovated terraces in Balmain and we’ll have the arts and crafts shops and everything else is bad and evil.”

“These people are trying to make my party into something other than it is… They’re appendages. That’s why I’ll never abandon ship, and never let those people capture it.”

"

— "Shut Up and Listen and You Might Learn Something" - Edna Carew and Patrick Cook

"Pindar prays: “With God’s help may I still love what is beautiful and strive for what is attainable.”"

“The Greek Way” - Edith Hamilton

One for the political idealists to take on board.

"It is all about how the party sees them as they strut around the conference, and got fuck all to do with whether we ever actually get the power needed to do anything for the country."

—  “The Blair Years” - Alastair Campbell

"Some twat with a Trot poster came up to me on the way in and yelled ‘Butcher!’ Traitor!’ at me. I stopped and mustered as much visual contempt as I could, then assured him that if we win the general election then don’t worry, thanks to wankers like him, there will always be another Tory government along afterwards. These people make me vomit."

—  “The Blair Years” - Alastair Campbell

"Despite the small numbers sampled, and the obvious lack of empirical rigour they entail, focus groups are the form of polling that I prefer. 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 captured in a single moment. You gain access to real people with ideas and opinions that connect both to the past and to the future, who do not care much or at all about politics, and who think at one and the same time at many different levels. The complexity of public opinion reflects the complexity of politics; people have paradoxical views and opinions that cannot be reduced to easy choices or one-dimensional solutions. At its best a focus group is a place where you can dig beneath the surface and feel the forces gathering below."

“The Unfinished Revolution: How New Labour Changed British Politics Forever” - Philip Gould

Gould’s (positive) view of Focus Groups is far more nuanced than the hostile views of many who oppose them…

"David Marquand calls this the progressive dilemma: ‘How to transcend Labourism without betraying the labour interest; how to bridge the gap between the old Labour fortresses and the potentially anti-Conservative but non-Labour hinterland; how to construct a broad-based and enduring social coalition capable of not just giving it a temporary majority in the House of Commons, but of sustaining a reforming government thereafter.’ This is the test by which the New Labour government should be judged. When critics attack New Labour for caution, for failing to be radical enough, early enough, for making tough economic decisions, for trying to impose order and discipline, they are trapped in the conservative mind-set that kept Labour in opposition for so long. If a progressive coalition can govern Britain for a majority of the time then more poverty will be removed and more real change implemented than could ever be achieved by short, sharp, occasional spasms of radicalism. Lasting change can only happen over time, as part of a progressive project for government. The alternatives have failed Britain and its people. We lack schools that are good enough, hospitals that are modern enough, streets that are safe enough. The British people lack skills, opportunity and ambition. Our public infrastructure has been allowed to crumble, our national identity is uncertain. We have let people who do not use our schools run our education system, and people who do not use our health service run the NHS. This is the price Labour has paid for losing the last century. We need a new long-term radicalism, to ensure that progressive instincts become rooted in the institutions of the nation, just as conservative instincts were in the past. New Labour may have won an election, but now it has to win a century."

“The Unfinished Revolution: How New Labour Changed British Politics Forever” - Philip Gould

This is a fine articulation of why electoralism must underpin the progressive project.

"Labour’s journey was over too. It had won an extraordinary victory on 1 May. The statistics of success were a mirror image of the failure of 1983, the election that had finally persuaded me to get involved. In 1983 Labour had lost by 144 seats, in 1997 it won by 179 seats: a shift of 323 seats in fourteen years. In 1983 the swing to the Conservatives had been 6 per cent, in 1997 the swing to Labour was 10.3 per cent. Tellingly, a Conservative lead of 8 per cent among skilled working-class voters had been turned into a Labour lead of 21 per cent.3 And most satisfying for me, 1.8 million Conservative voters in 1992 were estimated to have switched to Labour in 1997."

“The Unfinished Revolution: How New Labour Changed British Politics Forever” - Philip Gould

New Labour - The results…

"

Greenberg says of the use of modern polling techniques in political campaigning:

"It doesn’t need defending. It is part of the democratisation of modern elections. Just as governments have changed, just as parties have changed, campaigns have changed. Democracy has changed. The institutions that used to be effective in mediating popular sentiment have atrophied, and have lost their ability to articulate. So the trade unions, for example, just don’t have the kind of base that they used to have. If you want to know what working people think, you can’t turn to these organisations which can effectively represent their members and so there is no choice but to go to people directly through these means. Politicians have always used various instruments to try to judge where the public stood. And now polls and focus groups are the best available means."

"

“The Unfinished Revolution: How New Labour Changed British Politics Forever” - Philip Gould