Do you Ken me, Ed?

Posted on 07/06/2011


Today should have been Ed’s big day. Putting aside the divisions in the party and distractions of Blue Labour, today was NHS day. Cameron was set to back peddle on the NHS reforms and Labour would press home that the NHS is anything but safe in Tory hands. Or even go so far as to say you can’t trust Cameron’s promises (remember he has made these before).

Except it wasn’t.

Ken Livingstone at a phone bank

Do you Ken Me?

No. In fact, while Ed was speaking, he also somehow managed to send an email to London Labour party members. In it, he didn’t ask us to join him in an NHS crusade. He didn’t ask us to rally to the defence of the at risk London hospitals. He didn’t ask us to re-create the #ilovenhs social media crusade from an earlier era.

Ed asked us to help out at a London phone bank for Ken Livingstone’s mayoral bid.

Important that phone banks are. Vital that Ken’s mayoral bid is. It is poor communications planning.

Not that those who were listening to Ed speak, rather than checking their emails, had much better things to say.

While the lifestyle-obsessed print media may be discussing the pros and cons of Ed having voice surgery, there is a more worrying problem Ed’s team need to address. Content.

Ed was down to speak on NHS, but actually spoke more about care and the fall out from Panorama’s investigation into treatment of people and the Southern Cross financial collapse. Sure, these are important issues. But, they could have been made on a different day.

More importantly, as Asher Dresner‘s excellent post on Left Foot Forward  argues, Ed also needed to deliver a better speech.

And, if he’d taken Asher’s advice, he could have turned his speech into a powerful email to all Labour supporters – with a powerful call to action (my additions in bold below):

Tomorrow, someone in Britain is going to be told that they have diabetes. They’re going to be told that the NHS can’t afford as many diabetic specialist nurses as it needs any more. And they are going to have a doctor look them in the eyes and tell them that the lack of diabetic specialist nurses means that the very worst case scenario – amputation – is more likely.

And all this because this government would rather spend money firing staff than training diabetic specialist nurses. Staff who, by the way, will probably only have to be re-hired under the new system.

I’m sorry, but that is wrong.

Today I am asking you to do one thing to stand up for the NHS. Tweet, post on Facebook, pledge to join a special NHS phone bank this weekend, talk about the NHS cuts outlined on our website to your friends, even donate to the party. 

Labour is the party of the National Health Service. But right now, the NHS needs our help.