Labour’s embrace of David Axelrod speaks of the challenge involved in making its leader electable

Mr Obama was a much more saleable proposition

Share

So far as can be discerned, David Axelrod, the Labour Party’s new campaign adviser, is well suited to the task. He is an obviously highly intelligent political obsessive who seems to have done an excellent job for Barack Obama, most notably in seeing off Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and in securing a tricky re-election for the President in 2012.

He appears to possess the calm demeanour and sense of humour that will be needed as tensions mount in the run-up to next year’s general election. Provided some of the powerful personalities at the top of Labour can bring themselves to work together in the common good – socialism in action, one might say – Mr Axelrod will prove a fine asset, and worth every penny of his coyly described “six-figure salary”. Mobilising the potential of the web is said to be Mr Axelrod’s speciality; we look forward to witnessing the promised display of digital sorcery.

As with his counterparts in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, the appointment does, however, speak to a certain lack of self-confidence, and for similar reasons. For Labour and the Tories, these moves are born of a frustration that neither party seems able to break through to the magic 40 per cent support level, either in the polls or real elections, and has been unable to do so for some time. What would have been a disappointing vote share in the era of Wilson and Heath, and would be acceptable to Thatcher or Blair, is now unattainable for their successors. At or above 40 per cent Ed Miliband or David Cameron could be confident of governing with a stable parliamentary majority, not having to faff around with the Liberal Democrats, and claim some simulacrum of popular support.

For a decade now, nothing has seemed able to convince the British electorate to fall back in love with the two main parties. Both are viewed as uniformly corrupt, broadly incompetent in economic management, out of touch and lacking in conviction. Hence the global search for a magical solution from the new cadre of globe-trotting political alchemists.

In that context, the Labour Party should not expect too much of its new guru. It will be difficult to persuade the British public that Ed Miliband isn’t a nerdy career politician who came from a relatively fortunate background straight into politics and has had few setbacks in his life – because it is true. That Ed Balls was at the scene when the British economy crashed (or “touched bumpers”, in Mr Balls’s favoured euphemism) is also undeniable. That Labour MPs have been done for fiddling expenses is also painfully obvious. Mr Obama was a much more saleable proposition than today’s only semi-rehabilitated Labour Party. If it is any consolation for them, they should notice that the Tory Merlin, Lynton Crosby, has found the British public resistant to his spells.

Importing political techniques and experts to the UK is nothing new, though there seems to be more of it nowadays. Yet there have been no examples of them delivering transformative change. That is down much more to policies and leadership. Mr Axelrod should tell his new employers as much.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker