Sun Tzu Workshops – Labour & Conservative Conferences

How do I use Sun Tzu & Guerrilla War In Winning An Election?

Well erm… asking a British Muslim about that a few metres away from the British Prime Minister with armed police listening nearby was not the right place… Naturally there is a time and place for such discussions and of course I did not go into detail about things especially with overseas diplomats hovering close.

The day previous:

The Workshop

Before starting on the path of politics the politician needs to understand if he (or she) going to remain a politician or if he wishes to be a leader?

Master Sun (Sun Tzu), developed strategies of warfare which apart from the military leader – the ‘politician’ (as well as sportsmen and women, business tycoons and others) and can use to build an effective campaign to take power. But to hold on to that power requires leadership and the politician who takes a leadership position and stays a politician playing political games shows cheapness and weakness as an individual and will suffer and destroy himself and maybe others along with him. Leadership is not a game, leading and guiding others is an honour bestowed by the ‘followers’ upon that ‘leader’.

Guerrilla War

Master Sun said “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch. All we need do is attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.”

In my workshop last week on the fringes of the Conservative Party conference I suggested ‘infiltration of the enemy’, ‘hit and run’ and ‘resistance tactics by small groups working independently’ against the enemy – in their case The Labour Party. Attendees were surprised at the ‘military’ language used – but this is Sun Tzu and The Art of War – what did they expect? This is how wars are won and if the politician wants to win he must show seriousness for the path he has chosen. My view if you don’t show seriousness and willingness to take on the opponent – you will be taken on by them.


1. ‘Infiltration of the enemy’ – This is not needed as there are leaks all over the Labour Party, they can’t keep secrets. Get close to strategy people within the party.


2. ‘Hit and run’ – Use press to undermine local pro-Labour areas through Labour members, do not use Conservative activists in this, guide from behind the scenes. Increase online attacks. Find out tactics being used and turn them against the party.


3. ‘Resistance tactics by small groups working independently’ – Encourage rebellion within Labour rank and file, use local independent activists to build dissatisfaction with Labour MPs and encourage civil war within the Labour Party as well as leadership.

(oh and by the way all these strategies /tactics can be used against The Conservatives)


Remove Politicians to Encourage Leaders

There is an unwillingness to pick a fight with the other party where it is effective – if anything both parties are busy fighting within their own ranks, trying to climb on each others backs to get higher and suffocating those who could actually make a difference in the overall performance of the party.

This shows weakness not just to the other party but to the independent voter. The voter frustrated may then look at other options for someone else who cares for his concerns. This is where what we call ‘populist’ leaders or ideas take hold – such as the Trump campaign or the Brexit/Leave momentum – oh and yes The Momentum Movement within the Labour Party.

Radical ideas show authenticity in their words (however crazy) to the electorate who in turn ‘trust’ them more. The moderates or centre-ground politicians in comparison because of their generally neutral, diplomatic language and behaviour feel more like ‘salesmen’. What the centralists (liberals if you wish) need to do is show authenticity and focus on what they really are about.

The mindset of the average voter is that these liberals, centralists or moderates simply wish to become MPs and thats it – well thats the feeling… The radicals – including rightists and leftists want power to change the system and they use emotive language which appeals to people – they show ‘care’ for those they are appealing to.

Master Sun said “The General is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak.”

What both parties have shown to the public is that their ‘Generals’ – Theresa May for the Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn for Labour are weak in that they do not command their forces (parties and MPs) with strength and this shows to the public in the former foreign secretarys ‘guerilla’ tactics of hit and run comments – and the Brexit Taliban sniping against the Prime Minister and then on the Labour side there is the undermining of their leader by his MPs such as Chuka Umunna, Liam Byrne and the London Mayor Sadiq Khan to name but a few. Both leaders have shown an unwillingness to deal with ruthlessly deal with their MPs who are showing disloyalty and encouraging rebellion within the ranks.

Both the Conservative and Labour Centralists should be thinking more like the radicals in how they connect with the masses but alongside this they need to enforce discipline within their party ranks.

Gather Intelligence

Now back to Sun Tzu and guerrilla warfare – Master Sun said “Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying and thereby they achieve great results.”

Leaders should have a system of intelligence gathering in place not so much as spying but rather getting information from the ground up from their ‘troops’ so as to know what is happening, this was the undoing of Ed Miliband when he was Labour leader – he wasn’t really in touch with the grassroots troops – this made people within his own party feel out of touch with their leader – Jeremy Corbyn shows he is in touch with the grassroots but he is just not strict enough. With the Conservatives Theresa May shows strictness but not ruthlessness in dealing with the sniping attacks from her MPs – to top this her lines of communication with difference voting groups are getting limited with increasing ‘door-keepers’ around her which denies her a more fuller information – say on how key grassroot voters are feeling.

Real Leaders win the hearts and minds of all and not just who vote for them. The masses, the ordinary people are the key for any ‘leader’ – this also gives the leader – or general – lines of defence on multiple fronts and where there are guerrillas attacks and snipers they can be more easily separated and deal with as the masses will feel that the leaders success is their success.

Enforce Discipline

Master Sun said “Commands which are unclear and not thoroughly understood would be the commander’s fault. But when commands are clear and the soldiers, nonetheless, do not carry them out; then it is the fault of their officers.” – policy and political advisors – including the deputies to both leaders are to be blamed if the voters do not have trust in them – after hearing some of the views of their ‘officers’ in both conferences I think both ‘generals’ are going to need to toughen up.

Anyway, the Conservative conference was more fun probably because of the overseas diplomats trying to navigate and seeing them trying to ask sensitive questions without sounding insensitive – looking forward to meeting some new friends I made at both the Labour and Conservative conferences – and back to how to I win an election via Sun Tzu – attend my workshop and I will show you (I can’t say it here as they can be misused).

And here is Conan The Barbarian with The Labour and Conservative Leaders on his shoulders (Couldn’t find a similar picture of Sun Tzu).


Mohammed Abbasi

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