Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Labour’s biggest challenge? Making the voters forget!

A lot has been said and written about Ed Miliband failing to take Labour into a 15, 20 even 25 point lead in the polls considering the economy is in the toilet under a Government which lurches from crisis to crisis.

They have no policies, Ed is not credible, it’s all their fault the economy is in such a bad state and Iraq are the main sticks to beat the party with.

But it’s nothing as broad. Driving home from Walsall at the weekend, I caught the excellent Pienaar’s Politics on Radio Five Live which featured the pollster Peter Kellner from YouGov.

Not only was there a engrossing political debate but Mr Kellner absolutely nailed the party’s biggest issue and one it will have to address before 2015 – the voters themselves.

Labour are being largely ignored, according to Kellner, because the electorate kicked them out in 2010 and asked them to ‘go play outside for a bit’ while they met their new Government.

And there is Ed’s biggest headache, how does he break with recent political history and ask to be let back into the house with the big black door?

Not since the 70s has British politics let the opposition back into power, the UK voters are fair-minded to give their Government’s a good spell in power.

Labour had 13 years up to 2010, the Conservatives had 18 years from 1979 to 1997 and 11 years from 1951 to 1964.

After a six year spell in office, Harold Wilson was ejected as Labour PM in 1970 but was back thanks to two general elections in 1974 only to lose to Thatcher in 79.

Before he even can talk about the mistakes of the past and the vision of the future, Ed actually has to get the voters listening to a party they asked to leave just three years ago.

Crack it and he can start measuring the curtains for Downing Street now, the Government is that vulnerable.

If people are still feeling the squeeze on their wages and at the supermarket two years from now, then and only then will the voters turn around and say: “So Mr Milliband, tell us more about these ideas....”

If they aren’t, then perhaps the best he can hope for is another hung parliament with Labour as the largest party and a deal with a weakened Liberal Democrats.

Labour MP Michael Dugher delivered the best line on the party’s lack of an economic plan though when he said: “We don’t know where the economy will be in two year’s time.”

Something Dugher’s former rival for the Doncaster North seat ought to repeat over and over again.

Maybe then the voters will listen Ed?

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