Why Labour Failed in Government, in Coalition Talks and Why They Will in Opposition

The last time the Labour Party were in opposition, they were in opposition for a long time. When Tony Blair and Gordon Brown came to lead the party they took the time to develop their ideas through training and learning, and learning from past mistakes (some of which was discussed in their 2005 election broadcast).

They were open to ideas and looking to develop. But once they’ve learned the basics, they stopped trying to improve. They saw improvements as too much of a risk and seemed content to do their jobs as they were doing them rather than making themselves into leaders.

Morgan McCall argues that many organisations believe in natural talent and don’t look for people with the potential to develop. Not only are these organizations missing out on a big pool of possible leaders, but their belief in natural talent might actually squash the very people they think are the naturals.

As argued here

when bosses become controlling and abusive, they put everyone into a fixed mindset. This means that instead of learning, growing, and moving the [organization] forward, everyone starts worrying about being judged. It starts with the bosses’ worry about being judged, but it winds up being everybody’s fear about being judged. It’s hard for courage and innovation to survive a[n organization]-wide fixed mindset.

And they state that studies show that people with the fixed mindsets do not admit and correct their deficiencies and an organisation that cannot self-correct cannot survive. This is exactly what we saw in the Labour Party as Mr Marshall-Andrews wrote in 2008

As part of the cure, intellectual challenge and dissent were to be ruthlessly expunged. Rule books have been amended to emasculate conference, and sanitise debate. The parliamentary power of patronage has been ruthlessly employed to advance quiescent minds, placemen and transparent cronies to protect orthodoxy and order.

This fixed mindset became endemic throughout the party and so things did not change when there was a change of leadership. More recently the party have continued to defend policies and practices that they put in which have pretty much been discredited, here or here.

Research has shown that people with a growth mindset make better negotiators who were much more able to push past obstacles and reach an agreement that benefited both sides. As Labour are stuck in their fixed mindset their inability to negotiate was obvious. It has stopped then doing what was right for the country and will continue to do so meaning we have a lot more opportunism, negative politicking and ridiculing ideas which may just work; until their mindset changes.

On the other hand, a growth mindset means wanting to improve and looking at ways of doing this (the essence of solution focused politics) by noticing improvements and being sensitive to improvements. It means the leaders provide better coaching for MP/Counsellor/Activist development. It means seeking more negative feedback so they can learn and are not threatened by the idea of hearing some negative things about themselves.

To read more on growth mindset vs fixed mindset see here and here.


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