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Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
What did the leaked memo say?
The Cabinet, 1998.
"The government's strength has ebbed away"
Pollster Philip Gould's memo - Getting the Right Place in History and not the Wrong One - examines at length his concerns over his focus group findings.

Excerpts of the note, written before the local elections in May, read as follows:

"Our current situation is serious. There is absolutely no room for complacency.

There is currently now a chance that our majority will fall dramatically, following the pattern of 1945 and 1964.

This is not just pessimism on my part. SG (US pollster Stan Greenberg) is now projecting a share of the vote at the General Election that is something like 37% to the Tories, 42% to us - much too close for comfort."


We don't know the root cause of the difficulties we face

(There is) a sense that for much of the last 18 months, the government has been drifting and growing almost monthly weaker and more diffuse.

Above all else, I have a sense of government which started with great strength but has seen that strength ebb away and erode as the months and years have passed.

The cost of all this has been high.

We are outflanked on patriotism and crime; we are suffering from disconnection; we have been assailed for spin and broken promises.


The New Labour brand has been badly contaminated

We are not believed to have delivered; we are believed by a huge margin to be slowing down rather than speeding up; we are disliked on the left wing for being right wing, on the right wing for being politically correct.

Perhaps worst of all... the New Labour brand has been badly contaminated. It is the object of constant criticism and, even worse, ridicule.

Undermined by a combination of spin, lack of conviction and apparently lack of integrity, manifested by the (London) mayoral selection process.


We lack politicians genuinely in tune with the people

It is entirely within our power to win another magnificent victory, but this will only happen if we change trajectory now.

PM (Peter Mandelson) said the other day: `Something has gone seriously wrong - but what is it?' That is much of our problem. We don't know the root cause of the difficulties we face.

We lack politicians genuinely in tune with the people. How many ministers, for example, genuinely want to be tough on crime?

We are competing in totally new political conditions and we really don't know how to handle them.


We quickly seem to have grown out of touch

We have lacked political coherence between our most senior politicians and this has at times immobilised us.

We have got our political strategy wrong.

We were too late with the NHS; we raised expectations that could not be met in our first two years; we concentrated too much on competence and delivery in isolation, neglecting the values, messages, instincts and empathy that served us so well in Opposition.

We have been New Labour on the economy but we have appeared soft on crime, not pro-family, lacking in gut patriotic instincts.


We need to reinvent the New Labour brand

We quickly seem to have grown out of touch.

We must cross a threshold of voter trust and acceptability. We must keep the implicit contract we made with the electorate in 1997.

The threshold is as much about instinct, endeavour, values as it is about what we have done.

We have to win hearts as well as minds in every one of our core areas. Our contract with the British people is as much emotional as it is rational.

We must build a one-way pattern from a mosaic of uncompromising and single-minded positions in all of the policy and issue areas, rather than a whole raft of often confusing and abstract third way messages.

We need to build the government around two central pillars: economic stability and security and cultural stability and security.

"We need to be far simpler and more professional. We need to get back in touch. We need to reinvent the New Labour brand."

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See also:

18 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Second government memo leaked
17 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Full text of Blair memo
19 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Labour's leaks: A recent history
17 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Inquiry into leaked Blair memo
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