There are two out this week. The big one first: Ed Miliband + Labour Together's 154 page epic. The stuff on the Election itself isn't revelatory: their summary is as follows -
• Negative perceptions of our leader were a key reason why Labour lost so many votes in this electionWell what else could they say? We all knew that: and the only issue is the ranking of the first two disasters the list. In the party of Kier "peoples vote" Starmer, unsurprisingly they opt for Corbyn. Only respectful references to the new Dear Leader here.
• Labour’s position on Brexit alienated voters on both sides of the 2016 referendum divide
• The popularity of our policies was undermined by a lack of confidence that we could deliver them
• In Scotland these issues combined with and were reinforced by national debates and dynamics
• These issues served as focal points for deeper divisions of values and outlook
• Value-based analysis of Labour’s vote base reveals a coalition that is crumbling
What's genuinely worth reading is the numerical stuff (Miliband is a wonk, after all): several commentators reckon to have found some gems there. No space here to summarise it, but one chilling graph leaves a deep impression. Forget north vs south / city vs towns / workers vs the bourgeoisie: figure 8 shows with blinding clarity how UK politics has, over the years, become polarised into essentially a generational divide. Presumably this graphic is prominent on Cummings' wall, too, and explains his current culture-war tactics**. Sobering stuff indeed.
The conclusions and recommendations are all pro forma, completely anodyne, and unlikely to stir Starmer in any way. He already knows what he's about.
The second autopsy, published on the same day, is from "Labour for a European Future", which deploys a lot of Ashcroft data (inter alia). No prizes for guessing their #1 conclusion is -
The election loss was not caused by the second referendum policyYeah, right. That aside, it's altogther punchier and more opinionated than the bigger report, and has been hurriedly but intelligently brought bang up-to-date. (No chance of nimbleness like that with Miliband's stolid crew, which had to answer to a board of 15 Commissioners, one of which is a collective(!)) One could imagine Starmer finding the shorter one more useful, and not just because of its congenial Euro-bias.
So where are the gaps? Again, it's the Mili-version that betrays the weakness most glaringly. As a BTL commenter put it in the Graun today:
You can blame brexit, 'genius Tories', voters not liking corbyn, but there is another reason, which was only spoken about in hushed tones and behind closed doors that spooked millions of people in former Labour strongholds. It can't be addressed, it won't be addressed and Labour will continue lose those votes.Now let's tread carefully ourselves here (OK?); and take just one of these *unaddressed* issues. If (for example) Labour becomes clearly identified as the party of Trans Rights, they will silently haemorrhage votes, even as they refuse to contemplate the matter. (The rather niche Labour Uncut blog is bravely willing to air the subject, even if nobody else is.)
And so it goes on. Cummings must be spending this weekend laughing out loud. Starmer has strategic problems extending far more widely than Scotland, and Wonk Miliband may not be much help to him.
** Or Munira Mirza's - whomever
UPDATE: Rawnsley, Graun, today
The report concludes that Labour will only achieve power again by building “a winning coalition of voters that spans generations, geographies and outlooks”. This is so right that it is a truism ... In their vagueness about how this feat is to be achieved, the report’s authors are faithful reflections of the party’s leader. Mr Starmer has had almost nothing to say about policy since he became leader.