Back in March, after the Barnsley By Election and after reading a series of tweets and blog posts about the disastrous result, telling me not to panic and things were not that bad, I wrote a blog post espousing the notion that actually they were every bit as bad as they looked.
I think I was right. And I think the May local election results (more than the AV referendum) indicated that I got that spot on. And there has definitely, since May, been a sense of shifting strategy and attempting to differentiate ourselves a little more. But it’s not exactly been a runaway train, has it.
Since then, there have been two more by election results. And similar reactions from the party. Some of it has been eminently sensible and reasoned. Mark Pack has written a great piece suggesting that Feltham was the by election in which nothing happened…and I read it and nodded along to every word. And yet….
Looking at the by election results this year, Oldham – which seemed so disappointing at the time – looks like a miracle.
Oldham: second, +0.3 increased Share of Vote (SOV)
Barnsley: sixth, -13.1 drop in SOV
Leicester South :second, -4.4 drop in SOV
Feltham: third, -7.8 drop in SOV
And Feltham was a narrow squeak for third to boot.
Now, I am detecting more signs of a shift in tone and strategy again – Rafael Behr has a piece in The New Statesman today suggesting the differentiation strategy is about to be dialled up.
But – you know something. I don’t really feel that there is enough wailing, shouting, renting of clothes, gnashing of teeth and dead eyed fury about the situation we find ourselves in.
So I ask the question in all humilty.
When do we press the panic button?
There’s a great ‘Yes Prime Minster sketch (I’ll load it below) when Hacker gets asked what the nuclear deterrent is for – when would he press the button?
And I kind of feel we’re in the same place - aren’t we? When would we press the button?
PS: Obviously, not advocating conscription.....:-)