Just been on the Caroline Flint/Arnie Graf conference call. It lasted (I think) just under twenty-five minutes. A thumbnail sketch? Fairly old politics easing its way reasonably comfortably into new ways of communicating. I said 3000 attendees? In the end, apparently 500 made it.
Flint was cogent, coherent, on top of her brief. But she always is. The De Blasio win this morning confirms the cost-of-living attack strategy which Flint went on to underline in her part of the call, when talking about the main messages Labour is designing to attract the voters – especially around freezing energy bills (don’t you just love the way we all go ahead and wed “freezing” and “energy bills” into one unconscious whole?).
And if you’re interested, and of a Twitter wont, I believe the hashtag is currently #freezethatbill.
And so we come back to the Old Politics/New Media battle of long-term wits: although of a relatively new school, Flint is clearly a rather more traditional kind of politician’s politician. Graf, meanwhile, had little of a Graf-like nature to say: perhaps a little boxed-in by the twenty-three minutes of gently glitchy technologising? He looked forward to seeing us all, he said. This I think unlikely, despite good intentions.
But that’s not the point of the Graf approach. Creating populist messages – messages which we want, on our very own lonesomes, to auto-communicate to others – might be, however. Still not quite the grassroots approach, in this virtual world, which I’d like to see taken to develop policy – but a darn sight better than New Labour’s triangulation of the Middle England-Daily Mail-Murdoch nexus; that, at least, I can definitely assure you.
The bit which made me laugh, which made me happy, which made me glad I’d attended? The sounds of gurgling toddlers in the background. Real people, real lives, real effort, real Labour. Whilst maybe not quite there, it’s an honourable goal and horizon to wait upon.