A very Friday the 13th turn from the Labour Party

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 13 May 2011 in Diary
A year after the coalition was formed, Labour has launched a stinging attack on the government - by producing a calendar

It's Friday the 13th, if you hadn't noticed.

This morning, I clicked on the Labour Party website and thought I'd gone to the wrong url.

When I clicked again, my next thought was that the website had been hacked.

Finally, refreshing the page for the third time, I realised it was no mistake. The homepage was in fact a massive picture of Nick Clegg and David Cameron beaming happily the Rose garden, alongside a one-year-on 'coalition commemorative calendar'.  

'What? This is mad,' was my first reaction. 'Who puts their political opponents as the first thing you see on their website?'

Then I thought, maybe I just don't get it. Maybe it is really clever and I am just not its target audience. Labour members will be rolling in the aisles, chuckling at its poignancy and wit.

So I asked Twitter: this 'commemorative calendar' on the Labour Party's homepage – good or bad idea?

The resounding answer was: bad. There was one 'It's ok, but...'. The rest were as baffled as I am.

For a party that talks about modernising from the grassroots, it pongs of Westminster politics.

Upon becoming leader, Ed Miliband talked about rebuilding the party "from the bottom up".

And, in an interview with Total Politics earlier this year, he said: "Politics is already too remote from people’s lives, and the public does not want to see out-of-touch politicians having a go at each other, or trying to score cheap points."

Get a life, you might say. It's supposed to be a bit of fun – a Friday 13th joke – a cheap dig, a quick and easy score. A chance to point out the coalition's failings in government.

But it doesn't quite work.

The party has gone and commemorated the coalition's first year by producing a calendar. A bloody calendar?! I am sure Tories and Lib Dems will be running for the hills. You mark your weekly zumba class or dentist appointment on a calendar. Rarely do you use it as a means of political warfare.

Actually, this stunt (while a bit of fun) sort of points to a wider problem for Labour. The party is failing to focus on its own identity. It is allowing itself to be shaped by the coalition's agenda.

In the whole thing, an entire year, there is only one mention of a positive Labour achievement.

3 March: "Labour holds Barnsley Central with an increased majority. The Conservatives come third behind UKIP, while the Liberal Democrats come sixth, losing their deposit."

The party should want to fight (and win) on its own achievements, not the failings of the government.

Ed Miliband has repeatedly said that he expects the coalition to last the full five-year term. Where's the fighting spirit in that?

Tags: Friday 13th, Labour Party, Labour party website, Political stunt, Websites

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