by Atul Hatwal
Forget “too far, too fast.” With less than two years until the next election, Labour has chosen its new line of attack: the cost of living crisis.
We might have a nascent recovery, but for most people, life keeps getting tougher as prices continue to rise much faster than wages.
It’s powerful, but Labour needs to be careful.
Exclusive YouGov polling conducted for Uncut reveals that almost as many people blame the last Labour government for today’s cost of living crisis as they do the Tories. 66% of respondents said they blamed the Labour government either a little or a lot for the problem while 71% blamed the Tories.
Even among Labour supporters, 37% blamed the last government. Simply attacking the Tories and saying the words “cost of living crisis” will not be enough for Labour.
Worse still, the polling shows that since the last election over a quarter of 2010 Labour voters (26%) have decided not to vote Labour in 2015.
Although the party’s poll rating is buoyed at the moment by new support, the danger is that this could be soft – voting is a habit and a quarter of Labour’s voters are on the way to breaking theirs’. The erosion of Labour’s opinion poll lead over the past year is indicative of what could happen in the run up to the next election.
Out of Labour’s lost 2010 voters, almost 1 in 5 are now supporting the Conservatives (18%) and 1 in 10 (10%) the Lib Dems. Add-in those who’ve switched to UKIP and over a third of these lost voters have shifted to parties to the right of today’s Labour party.
In contrast, just 1 in 20 have moved left to the Greens, with most of the rest (41%) undecided.
The political need is pressing. Labour needs to show wavering supporters and potential switchers how life would be better with Ed Miliband in Number 10. Actions, or in this case, policies, speak louder than words.
The announcement of Labour’s intention to repeal the bedroom tax will have lifted activist spirits. This government policy is incompetent (clearly there was never going to be enough accommodation for people to move to) and generates arrears and misery in abundance. It is the right thing to do, but whether it is the right commitment to roll-out first, is another matter.
Labour is already blamed for excessive welfare spending (as Uncut reported last week, 54% of those who think welfare spending is too high blame the last Labour government, just 5% the current government, a margin of 10 to 1) and the Tories are rubbing their hands in glee at labeling Labour as the “welfare party.”
Labour needs a broader offer, where policies like repeal of the bedroom tax sit within a prospectus that shows how everyone will benefit from a Labour government.
Next week at Labour conference, Uncut will launch a book, “Labour’s manifesto uncut: how to win in 2015 and why” that gives a fully costed, centrist vision of a progressive Labour alternative.
In it, Uncut sets out the five steps Labour need to take for Ed Miliband to become the new occupant in Number 10 on 8th May 2015.