Posts Tagged ‘cost of living’

England’s coastal towns need Labour. We mustn’t forget about them

09/01/2015, 11:24:01 AM

by Nathan Bennet

The Labour party should aim to represent coastal towns across the whole of Southern and Eastern England.

We hold seats in Southampton and Plymouth. Many of our target seats are there – Brighton, Hastings, Great Yarmouth, to name just a few. But I’d go further and argue that there’s a case for Labour representation well outside of our usual battlegrounds.

First, let’s debunk the general myth some permeate that there isn’t really a case for Labour in southern England outside our target seats. Bin the North-South divide – the real world is far more complicated.

Look at wages: Labour’s Southern Taskforce have mapped data from the ONS’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. We’ve shown that right round the coast of Southern and Eastern England, average wages are below the national average. There are 43 coastal constituencies here where a higher proportion of people earn less than the living wage than the national average.

And it’s not always in the places you’d expect. In Torridge, West Devon average wages are just over £15,000 a year – £7,000 less than the national average. 38.6% of workers don’t earn a living wage. A report by Sheffield Hallam University and CRESR highlighted the dependency of much of the coast on seaside tourism. It employs 140,000 people in the South and East, and towns like Salcombe, Fowey, Southwold, New Quay, and Aldeburgh are heavily dependent on it. Yes they’re jobs, but they’re often seasonal and low paid, meeting few aspirations and offering few chances to get on

Rebalancing these local economies is as important here as in declining former industrial tows. The coalition’s reliance on market forces clearly isn’t delivering. The southern and eastern coastal communities, need an active government, willing to devolve power and resources, reforming the banks to support small business, delivering on real improvements in broadband, and tackling persistent failings in many schools that leave too many children poorly qualified and means that, even in regions of high HE participation, children from the poorer areas are missing out.

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For Labour, the “cost of living” debate is dead

17/12/2013, 09:53:44 AM

by Alex Chalmers

A month ago, the next election was going to be decided by “the cost of living crisis”; the electorate would see through the economic growth figures, feel the pinch, and elevate Ed Miliband, scourge of the energy fat-cats, to Downing Street. The government’s response to the energy price freeze was inconsistent and unintelligible, the public seemed to love the policy, and for a moment, the opposition looked like it had a leader. Yet within a few weeks, Labour’s poll resurgence had turned into full-on retreat. Today, YouGov has Labour’s lead down to 2 points.

So what went wrong? On a very simplistic level, elections are not won or lost on one policy. An idea, even a popular one, cannot hold media or public attention for more than a fairly short period of time. Unless it is part of a broader theme or narrative, and is followed by a series of other well-timed announcements, it will quickly become buried under a tide of other news stories. Labour cannot agree on one policy and prepare to collect the keys to Number 10. The public liked the sound of it, some other things happened, and then they moved on. If Miliband truly wishes to define the next election in terms of the cost of living, then he has to say a lot more about it.

Unfortunately, this is something of a recurring theme. At the height of the NHS reorganisation fiasco, the next election was going to be about that, but once the reforms started to be implemented, the party suddenly quietened down. A limp half-hearted campaign based on the Twitter hashtag #dropthebill unsurprisingly made little impact. Retweeting to the converted does not an election win. Nothing was made of the collapsing patient satisfaction ratings, whilst the attempts to focus on staffing levels were wrought with statistical errors and easily batted away by the government. The NHS is now in the headlines again, but Labour appears to be making no effort to communicate its message. In the days of New Labour, the media operation would have been ruthlessly hammering five key pledges home, trying to make sure the issue caught the public imagination. Ed Miliband’s “Zen-like calm” interspersed with cries of, “same old Tories” is simply no substitute.

The party’s strategy of choosing a key issue and promptly forgetting it is going to cost it dear come the next election. For the vast majority of its term in office, the coalition has managed to frame the main debates. It has managed to paint Labour as the public spending bingers and the friends of the scroungers.

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Is the cost of living distracting Labour?

08/11/2013, 03:46:31 PM

by Renie Anjeh

Ed Miliband has finally set the political scene alight and he should be praised for it. It has been several weeks since Miliband announced the energy price freeze policy in his conference’s speech, putting an end to the party’s reticence about future policies.

In spite of attacks from the Tory press (and a recalcitrant New Labour grandee), the policy didn’t look particularly socialist but it became popular.  I am not sure whether an energy price freeze will actually work but the public love it!

80% of the public back the policy leaving the Tories on the backfoot.  Honourable one nation Conservatives, such as Sir John Major and Robert Halfon, have sought to address their party’s problem by calling for a windfall tax on the privatised utilities to fund measures to reduce utility bills (as suggested by Labour’s Manifesto Uncut).  Fortunately for the Labour party, their wise advice has fallen on deaf ears and a coalition split has emerged over green taxes.

However, despite of Ed Miliband’s laudable attempt to shift the debate onto cost of living, the party is still not where it needs to be if it wants to be certain of a majority in 2015.

Labour’s lead is beginning to shrink with just eighteen months to go until the general election.  One poll saw our poll lead over the Tories cut from 11% to 6%, even though the party has announced its new popular policy.

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Labour’s manifesto uncut: How to win in 2015 and why

26/09/2013, 01:50:49 PM

Launched at Labour party conference 2013, Labour Uncut’s first book, “Labour’s manifesto uncut: How to win in 2015 and why” maps out a centrist view of what the party’s electoral offer could be at the next election.

It directly answers the question of how to fund a radical Labour alternative in a time of austerity with a suite of fully costed policies that would redraw the current political dividing lines and reduce peoples’ cost of living.

The whole of this book is greater than the sum of its parts. Individually, each chapter tactically addresses a discrete area for action. Together, they paint a picture of how Labour can win the next election and change Britain for the better.

And now the book is available online.

Click here to read or download.

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