Posts Tagged ‘evidence base’

Labour needs evidence as well as emotion to make its case effectively

25/03/2014, 03:13:02 PM

by Alan Donnelly

Being in opposition is difficult. You can’t change anything, for starters. And if things appear to be going the government’s way, the chance of getting the message through seems to evaporate. However, I do believe Labour will be more effective if we develop a mantra that is entirely fact-based.

The response to last Wednesday’s Budget has allowed a bounce for the government such that they are neck-and-neck in national polls. It is true that employment and growth are improving, and we should welcome that. With the massive resource of the civil service available for the government, the chancellor is able to rattle off the numbers that make the situation sound good. Intuitively members, MPs and councillors know their communities are not feeling the recovery. And many fundamentals are actually in our favour. How to translate this into political victory is the big question.

Labour’s response to the autumn statement was slow and inadequate. Wednesday’s response was better as theatre, but equally lacked a lot. Of course it’s important to have go to lines and simple communicative devices. But it’s a mismatch to face off a stat-heavy barrage with politicking rhetoric. There were numbers, but these were tied to the banker-based “out of touch” line. Fine, but does it actually do any damage? Or when we say Osborne wants a race to the bottom, what do we have to back that up?

Yesterday’s letter to the Guardian underlined the problem of effectiveness. In warning of waiting for the Tories to lose the election, rather than going out to win it, the signatories are of course correct. But while it might be bolder, it’s hard to see how a strategy of taking on board the devolution agenda wholesale would make labour more likely active winners.


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