Labour activists are being advised how to deal with “difficult conversations” with voters about Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on terrorism, Brexit, immigration and anti-Semitism.
A doorstep canvassing guide drafted by the leftwing group Momentum suggests the public should be told that the best way to avoid terrorism is to avoid “fuelling the war on terror, which will always trigger a backlash at home”.
The document, titled ‘Having Difficult Conversations On The Doorstep’, adds that activists should tell voters that Labour is the “best bet” for those who want to remain in the EU and stop Brexit.
It also advises that when immigration is raised, campaigners should share an ‘anecdote’ about local diversity and then ‘pivot’ the conversation onto workers’ rights and public services.
The memo, on Momentum’s website, suggests activists say they have more in common with migrants than “the billionaire class” or “people like Boris Johnson”.
On complaints about Corbyn’s stance on the Trident nuclear deterrent, the advice is to say that the party wants to keep the country safe and “that’s why I support their plan to get rid of nuclear weapons across the world”.
On anti-Semitism, the memo says that campaigners should stress how few cases there were in the party and that Labour was “collaborating with members of the Jewish community on an education programme”.
For middle and upper class voters who say they feel fine at present or raise the party’s stance on aspiration, the document advises that activists talk about their children’s hopes of getting onto the housing market or tuition fees, adding “climate change will affect us all”.
Corbyn was on Wednesday accused by Boris Johnson of having views on counter-terrorism that were “naive bordering on dangerous”, after the Labour leader commented on the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Corbyn said al-Baghdadi’s removal was “a very good thing” but “if it’s possible to arrest somebody and put them on trial then that is what should have been done”. His supporters point out that Corbyn’s line on the issue chimes with voters who want international rules and justice to be upheld.
Momentum’s doorstep guidance also has a specific section addressing the subject. The Tories tried to make Corbyn’s past remarks about the IRA an election issue in 2017, but were judged by Labour to have failed.
In the wake of the Manchester terror attacks, Corbyn turned the issue into a question of cuts to police numbers.
Here are the key pieces of guidance:
“Corbyn supports terrorism.”
“Acknowledge the desire to keep our country safe is important. That’s the number one duty of any government. Be honest if you’ve felt scared of terrorism at some point – and then explain why you trust Labour with keeping the country safe.
“Try saying: Terrorism is atrocious and terrorists must be held accountable. But preventing terrorism means not fuelling the war on terror which will always trigger a backlash at home (think of Corbyn’s response to the 2017 Manchester attacks). It’s about creating peace and not
supporting policies that cause the war in the first place.
“In Northern Ireland, Corbyn supported peace and justice and this was why he met with Sinn Fein leaders, to enable the Good Friday agreement. It’s not about condoning terrorism but recognising that dialogue is sometimes necessary for peace.”
“I’m voting LibDem.”
“If you want to remain in the EU then your best bet is to vote Labour – that guarantees you a final say and a chance to stay in the EU.”
“Labour has no clear position on Brexit.”
“Acknowledge that the reports in the media have made the position seem confusing, and that things have kept changing really fast. But then make it simple.
“Labour has an honest and clear line on Brexit: we will put it to the people and sort Brexit in six months. If you want to remain you can say so, if you want to leave you can say so, and then it will be done in six months.
“Boris Johnson is a strong leader.”
“Acknowledge why people might think this – and concentrate on why you personally can’t trust him.
Try saying - Yes, strong leadership is important, but when I look at Boris Johnson I see someone who is only in politics for personal gain...Jeremy Corbyn is a strong leader because he listens to the concerns of ordinary people.”
“Often when people make anti-immigrant arguments, their real concern is economic issues (jobs, public services).
“Share an anecdote that builds a common sense of identity by celebrating belonging to diverse local communities that are willing to stand up for each other to create a better society. Ask what would you change if you could change one thing. Use their response to pivot to jobs, public services etc.
“Try saying: I personally believe that I have more in common with my neighbours here in [town, city] no matter where they are from than I do with the billionaire class or people like Boris Johnson.”
“Acknowledge that people value safety – it’s important.
“Try saying: I would never be standing here as a volunteer if I didn’t believe that Labour was committed to keeping this country safe. That’s why I support their plan to get rid of nuclear weapons across the world.”
“The Labour Party is anti-Semitic.”
“It is important to acknowledge and address people’s concerns about racism. Listen to what people have to say.
“Try saying: Of course Jewish people need to feel safe in the Labour Party and not experience discrimination or hatred. I wouldn’t vote for them, let alone be knocking on your door today unless I truly believed that they are taking this seriously.
“We are collaborating with members of the Jewish community on an education programme to deepen Labour members’ understanding of what anti-semitism is and how to counter it.”
“But I’m doing just fine/believe in aspirations.”
“Even if the voter considers themselves middle or upper class, they may well be worried about their children’s hopes of getting onto the housing market or tuition fees.
“Climate change will affect us all. The latest IPCC report warned that drastic, far-reaching action is needed to prevent catastrophic climate change. Only Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution meets this challenge.”
“The Labour Party has too many internal problems.”
“Every family has its arguments.”