Thursday, 30 April 2009

From Ohio to Oxford East

That is the title of a new Young Fabian and Labour staff network publication, which extends the Change We Need theme by asking how experiences from the US election campaign can be translated into practical ideas for the next British General Election.

A series of new Young Fabian publications have been produced, drawing on workshops involving many of the 80 Young Fabians and other Labour staffers who volunteered in the US campaign last Autumn. Several participants have also contributed to an essay collection on lessons and ideas from the campaign.

Dan Whittle, who is trade union liaison officer for the Young Fabians, has written a paper Lessons from the US union campaign for Obama. This notes some of the barriers to replicating these techniques in the UK system, and sets out a set of practical recommendations

You can read the publications on the Young Fabian website.

There is also an event to discuss Obama's 100 days and the lessons for UK campaigners tonight.

Thursday 30th April 2009, 6.00pm onwards,
The Abbey pub, Westminster (1 Abbey Orchard Street, SW1P 2LU)

Please join members of the Young Fabians and Labour Staff Network for an informal drinks gathering at The Abbey pub on Thursday 30th April to mark Obama’s completion of 100 days in office and to discuss the publications.

(Kindly RSVP if you intend to attend by emailing Adrian Prandle, International Officer,

Whittle's Young Fabian pamphlet also reveals this little known fact:

The Democrats consistently receive 15% more support from unions in general elections than the Labour Party. Though Obama did well to gain 60% of the union vote, 61% voted for Kerry in 2004. In 2001, Labour won [48%] approximately 2% more of the union vote than they did in 2005, (46%)

That it is a striking and interesting factoid, though partially explainable by the different structure of a multi-party contest. Obama won 53% of the overall vote, while his share of the trade unionist vote was higher by 7%. (The gap was 13% for John Kerry in 2004: 48% and 61%). Labour's overall share in 2005 was 35%, and its share among trade unionists was 11% higher than that.

Whittle's argument that specific efforts to mobilise union members could play an important electoral impact remains a good one, and the recommendations should spark some useful debates and activity in the unions and the party.

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