Campaigns to beat the distress of the coming winter need to be solution focussed

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It is August. Today's news reads much like yesterday's. It would be easy to think all is calm in the world and we can afford this limbo as we wait for the world to return to work.

We cannot, of course. Stirring all around is the growing discontent and anxiety that underpins the lives of many at present.

Nurses are threatening to strike.

The 'Don't pay' campaign against energy price increases is winning support, as is the 'Enough is enough' campaign. I am unsurprised. The reality is that people will not be able to pay all their energy bills this winter: we know that and for people to say those who will not be able to do so should be worried about their credit rating is something of a red-herring: without cash to settle the bill any credit rating concern is entirely inconsequential compared to the fears of being cut off and not being able to provide for a family, or just one's self.

Of the two the 'Enough is enough' campaign is clearly better backed and coordinated, with serious union support, including from Mick Lynch. The strength is the simplicity of the demands. They are:

1. A Real Pay Rise.
2. Slash Energy Bills.
3. End Food Poverty.
4. Decent Homes for All.
5. Tax the Rich.

The weakness is the simplicity of those same demands.

The demand to 'tax the rich' is something I have shown to be necessary, but it is most definitely insufficient to explain how the other four goals are achieved, most especially when tax does not actually fund government spending. There has, to be credible, an economic plan that backs this campaign: I am not sure there is at present.

My experience of campaigning is that to work a campaign has to do three things:

1. Identify a problem.
2. Identify a solution, probably different to those that have been on offer before.
3. Demonstrate that the solution works.

Slogans are not enough, in other words, although I do not dispute that they help rally support in the first instance.

In that case this campaign needs to become solution focussed quite quickly if it is to succeed. So, it has to be shown how real pay rises can happen, especially when there are employers who are not making money right now in sectors like hospitality, leisure and retail.

The practical mechanisms to tackle high energy bills need to be offered. Everything from ending standing charges, to requiring that prepaid meters be on the lowest tariff, to requiring a progressive charging structure for energy used so that those who use the most pay more, coupled with radical reform of Ofgem is required. This can be done. But how it is to be done needs to be stated: a demand to reduce the price cap is not enough.

Food poverty is related to benefits: the explanation as to how these can be reformed is needed whilst a decent homes for all policy needs the backup to show how the money can be raised, which is something I have done, and which does not involve taxing more, but does require changes to tax allowances. And as for taxing the rich, this could be looked at.

My point is that I am hoping that this campaign has got the technicalities to pay out when the counterattacks arise because this will be essential. Campaigns cannot be won with slogans alone. They have to show that change is possible. It is in this case, but the solutions have to be credible, and deliverable. The success of campaigns for those in distress requires that.

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