Winter Is Coming For Conservatives Unless We Wake Up To The Socialist Threat

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The hard Left is on the march, and all the anti-Corbyn negative ads in the world will not save an ideologically bankrupt Conservative Party which cannot clearly articulate an appealing and realistic vision for Britain

Look at this email, which pinged into the inboxes of Momentum members and supporters today.

The socialists are on manoeuvres. They haven’t wasted their summer sipping limoncello on the Amalfi Coast or plotting Oxford Union-style leadership coups with their Cabinet chums. No, having drawn blood from the Conservative Party and reduced the British prime minister to a laughing stock in the June general election, Momentum and other hard-left elements of the Labour Party sense that their long-awaited victory is nearly at hand. And they are training for the battle to come.

I wrote the other day about how the Conservative Party is fiddling while the country burns and Momentum creeps up behind them. This isn’t a laughing matter. Momentum are organising, deploying the latest in voter outreach strategies imported from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in America, and – shock, horror – daring to have conversations with traditionally Tory voters rather than engaging in fruitless navel-gazing introspection as the Conservative Party is currently doing.

Much was written during the election campaign about how much slicker and better financed the Tory online campaign was than its Labour counterpart. The Conservatives spent over £1 million on negative ads on Facebook alone. But it was not an effective campaign. It was soulless, clinical and relentlessly negative. All of which might have been forgivable if it had been properly targeted. But it wasn’t. Instead, CCHQ-produced messages designed to energise the existing Tory base were thrown relentlessly in the faces of swing voters, who did not respond to shrill warnings about Corbyn’s impending socialist takeover.

As with literally everything else about the Conservative Party, the online and voter outreach campaigns were hideously overcentralised and clearly managed by some of the same gormless nepotism beneficiaries who infested Theresa May’s pre-election Cabinet.

And still this might have been survivable if the Labour Party was as terminally dysfunctional as nearly every Westminster-based journalist was confidently reporting prior to the release of the exit poll. But it wasn’t, and still isn’t. Centrist doubters sat on much of their criticism for the duration of the campaign, and following the stronger-than-expected result came crawling meekly back to the leader they once openly undermined.

A vindicated Jeremy Corbyn is bolstered in his position. And the socialist hard-left of the Labour Party has benefited from this injection of confidence, immediately pivoting toward the next general election, where they believe they can dislodge this tired and pointless Tory government and turn the clock back to 1979.

I wrote the other day about how Momentum, Jeremy Corbyn’s praetorian guard, are holding group training sessions to teach their activists the latest in voter engagement techniques, with even doddery old folk less familiar with the latest technology being inducted into the organisation’s Slack group so that they can communicate in real-time on their smartphones. And now, today’s Momentum bulletin shows that the organisation also intends to revolutionise its social media campaign activities, potentially turning each of their members into a YouTuber capable of creating viral internet videos in support of the Labour Party.

Bear in mind: while the Tories vastly outspent Labour in the online campaign war, their dismal content failed to articulate any positive vision of conservatism and probably alienated half the people who viewed it. Meanwhile, Momentum’s videos were viewed 50 million times, and by a third of all the Facebook users in Britain. That level of penetration and engagement, on a shoestring budget, is incredible.

But you can’t just put it down to a superior grasp of online campaigning by the hard Left. People watched Momentum videos and kept coming back for more because they liked what they were seeing and hearing, or were at least open to the message. They did not respond warmly to the Conservatives, who engaged nearly exclusively in fearmongering and robotic negative messaging about their opponents, but many of them did respond to the side who took enough pride in their political values and had sufficient confidence and faith in those values to make a bold public case for More Socialism. And still Momentum is not satisfied. Still they seek to improve their messaging and hone their campaigning ability.

Meanwhile, what are we conservatives doing to retool ourselves to better fight the next general election? We are creating juvenile Jacob Rees-Mogg fanclubs on Facebook, engaging in pointless speculation about a cast of future leadership contenders all alike in blandness, and spending more time trying to ingratiate ourselves with the Tory party machine in constituency and at conference than figuring out what we should actually stand for, and how we can persuade others to stand with us.

Fellow conservatives, you need to wake up and hear this message while there is still time:

The hard, Corbynite Left are gunning for us. Hard.

Unlike conservatives, they have worked out exactly what their values are.

They are not ashamed of those values, and do not apologise for them.

They are hard at work translating those values into policy.

They are proud to proclaim those values and policies in messaging which appeals to the electorate, while we sound defensive and almost ashamed of our own policies and record.

They are convinced that they are on the right side of history, while we seem to have lost faith in the principles of free market capitalism and individual liberty.

They make an unashamedly moral case for their worldview while we seem content to sit at the back and pick holes in their sums, looking like soulless technocratic bean-counters.

They have a thriving youth movement. Ours was disbanded because of a bullying scandal, and because it was basically a giant Ponzi scheme with risible promises of future candidacies dangled in front of naive young activists.

Their activists dominate university campuses, their leftist dogma reigning supreme in the lecture hall and students’ union alike, while conservatives are an endangered minority who often face ostracisation or even official censure for speaking out.

They have a national party with strong and growing constituency branches, while we have a decaying national party with withering constituency branches, ruled from Westminster by proven mediocrities.

They have a party leader who can pack a 3000-seat theatre with excited and motivated activists, while we have a party leader who was too cowardly to even debate during the election campaign, and who is so robotic that she short-circuits if she goes out in the rain without an umbrella.

But here’s the good news – this is a fight that we can win.

Regressive leftist policies of redistribution and nationalisation have brought poverty and misery in their wake everywhere that they have been tried, while the free market that we support has lifted more people out of poverty, subsistence and despair than any other economic system devised by man. There is a reason that the Left has gone very quiet about Venezuela, once their favourite case study of socialism in action.

The traditional Left/Right political divide is being augmented (if not replaced) by the Anywheres vs Somewheres dichotomy (or “open vs closed”, to use the more patronising terms). The Labour Party is marching away from its working class base of Somewheres because their self-serving parliamentary caucus is in thrall to the self-entitled demands of other Anywheres like themselves. This gives us conservatives a huge opportunity to steal their votes – after all, we stand for country, community and patriotism, the very values that the metro-left openly despises.

But we will only win this fight if we get our heads out of the sand, stop manoeuvring for status or creating stupid memes on Facebook and learn instead to boldly and unapologetically articulate conservative principles in the public sphere, without apology. Not the craven, Labour-copying principles of Theresa May’s authoritarian government. Not the paternalistic statism of Nick Timothy and the Joseph Chamberlain afficionados. Rather, we need to re-embrace the timeless principles of individual liberty, patriotism, respect for institutions, strong national defence and flourishing civic society over paternalist statism, which always come through for us when we actually have the confidence to articulate them.

And we don’t have much time. In this unpredictable age, with no majority and a number of difficult things to push through Parliament, Theresa May’s government could conceivably be toppled at any moment. Momentum and the hard Left is ready for the fight. We are not.

To use a topical Game of Thrones analogy, when the White Walkers are massing and threatening to breach the wall, it’s no good squabbling over which lacklustre, uncharismatic Cabinet minister should next occupy the Iron Throne. Now is the time to find some ideological dragonglass and fashion it into a viable electoral weapon before we are swept away by the Army of the Socialist Undead and Britain succumbs to another long winter of discontent.

Momentum have given us fair warning. They are not being secretive about their strategy and tactics. So we conservatives will have only ourselves to blame if we find ourselves undone by them.

 

White Walkers - Game of Thrones

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Donald Trump Crowdsources Debate Prep Advice, Again

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There you go again…

After performing so magnificently in the first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University on Monday night, Donald Trump has once again reached out to his supporters to solicit their advice on how he should tackle the upcoming second debate at Washington University in St. Louis.

Among the searingly introspective questions the Trump campaign is asking this time:

4. Should Trump lay out how his business, private-sector experience will directly benefit the economy?

Well, what else has he got to run on? If not a highly polished and idealised version of his track record in business, on what possible grounds is Trump even running for office?

6. On the subject of Hillary’s emails, should Trump have brought up the fact that Hillary jeopardized our national security?

This is actually a good question. From a purely tactical perspective, Trump utterly failed to properly go after Clinton on any of her biggest perceived weaknesses – her private email server, the Benghazi attacks, the Clinton Foundation and her secrecy over her health – despite being gifted golden opportunities to do so.

9. Should Trump have called out Hillary’s massive Wall Street fundraising and the paid speeches that she refuses to release to the public?

Again, another legitimate point of concern left totally unaddressed by Trump in the first debate, so busy was he exhorting viewers to “call up Sean Hannity” to supposedly get confirmation that Donald Trump was against the Iraq war from the beginning, honest.

12. Should Trump double down on the need to rebuild our infrastructure, and draw on his own experience in construction to get the job done?

Because clearly experience in building gaudy hotels and phallic skyscrapers translates directly to updating the electoral grid, building roads, bridges and airports.

20. Should Trump attack Hillary for referring to tens of millions of American men and women as “deplorables”?

Why the hell not? Soaking in victimhood is probably his best and only shot, at this point.

22. Should Trump point to his history of employing thousands of Americans as evidence of his firsthand experience and ability to create jobs?

While there might normally be some kind of link between that most hallowed of Republican deities, “job creators“, and an understanding how to create the conditions in which economic growth and job creation (frustratingly no longer as intertwined as they once were), in Trump’s case this is far less certain. Trump advocates protectionism on a major scale, which is likely to raise prices – and lower living standards – for all consumers.

27. Should Trump paint Hillary as the epitome of D.C. corruption and the close relationship between lobbyists and politicians?

Maybe if Donald Trump didn’t have a track record of making political donations to carefully selected state attorneys general in an effort to squelch legal actions against him then this might have been a sensible approach. But sadly he does have such a record, so even whispering the word “corruption” is likely to provoke a devastating rebuttal from Hillary Clinton.

A different Republican candidate – someone like John Kasich or Ted Cruz – could likely have made the corruption argument stick, to potentially devastating effect. Donald Trump, however, will almost certainly see the corruption grenade explode in his hand if he even tries to throw it at the next debate.

My advice – not that I remotely wish Donald Trump to follow it – would be far more straightforward than this self-aggrandising survey, and encapsulated in these three points:

  1. Take the time to actually do some policy research. In the first debate, Hillary Clinton came armed with facts and figures to back up her remarks. It wouldn’t hurt to do the same.
  2. When you are caught out in an obvious lie (like your nonexistent brave and principled opposition to the Iraq War), just be grateful when the moderator doesn’t haul you up on it even harder. Don’t spend the next five minutes angrily rebutting the plain truth, you are simply writing the Huffington Post’s next day headlines for them.
  3. Stop shouting about how great your temperament is. Even your ardent supporters know deep down that your temperament is, uh, not your chief selling point.

But since Donald Trump is congenitally incapable of receiving negative feedback (or even constructive criticism) it is probably a safe bet that we will see exactly the same ill-prepared, thin-skinned brute that showed up for the first debate.

Donald Trump could still lose the debates and go on to win the presidency – particularly in the current highly charged climate, where every time he falls flat on his face or gets caught in an obvious lie is interpreted by his supporters as only more evidence of an all-pervasive anti-Trump conspiracy.

But if there was any doubt left – and at this point there really shouldn’t be – then Trump’s proven inability to remain calm and remotely serious for even half of a ninety minute debate shows that however much one may dislike Hillary Clinton, she remains the only viable choice in this election.

 

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Donald Trump Wants Your Help With His Debate Prep

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Trump needs YOUR help to prepare for his debate with Hillary Clinton

No, not really. But his campaign have sent out a survey to supporters, asking them a series of leading questions about what subjects Donald Trump should raise in the first presidential debate on Monday, as well as precisely which insults and zingers he should hurl at Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, the landing page once you complete the survey is a donation form in favour of the Trump Make America Great Again committee (the real reason for the mailshot).

But even though the survey is utterly pointless and will have zero bearing on what Donald Trump decides to do on stage at Hofstra University, some of the questions are quite amusing:

donald-trump-debate-survey-questions

What self-respecting Trump supporter is ever going to select “No” to Question 9?

Meanwhile, other questions just cry out for an honest answer:

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But the most amusing part has to be the introductory email:

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The message concludes:

I want your honest input. If you disagree with something, tell me you disagree. Look, I never made it in business surrounding myself with people who tell me what I want to hear. Our campaign is about telling it like it is — and that’s not changing. Not now. Not ever.

Because that’s the Donald Trump we all know and love – the humble and collaborative team player who actively solicits constructive criticism and goes to great pains to respond to just criticism.

Of course there is nothing new about surveys like this – the Hillary Clinton campaign sends out its fair share, too. But it is interesting to see how formulaic and transactional the online campaign still is – fill in this fake survey which nobody will ever read so that we can get our hands on your credit card details too.

And with the emergence of one stop shop political organising software like Nationbuilder, and those incessant, overly personal emails which overuse your name in every sentence (or substitute it with “Friend” if your name can’t be found in their database) in a desperate bid for familiarity, the online campaigns have perhaps never been as divorced from the individual candidacies and personalities of the candidates. There is certainly none of the “authenticity” of the Howard Dean online campaign, or even the Obama ’08 campaign.

As this Politico piece notes, contrasting the pioneering Howard Dean campaign with today’s professionalised and sanitised web outreach:

The question of authenticity is one that many Dean alums mull. Dean for America was a genuine, organic grass-roots movement that used Internet tools to empower volunteers and supporters to take ownership of the effort, but today’s campaigns use the Web to collect data and control the message.

It rather makes one pine for the pioneering 1996 Bill Clinton / Al Gore campaign website, in all its dial-up, Windows 3.1 glory – if for no other reason than it offers definitive proof that contrary to his own claims, Bill Clinton does use email.

At least once, anyway.

 

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