Can Labour win without being “New”?

Can Labour win without being “New”?

But will it look differently by the weekend?

A theme that’s taken up by many of the papers this morning is that yesterday’s statement by Chancellor Darling marked the end of New Labour – that creation fourteen and a half years ago that became such a powerful electoral force.

    Tony Blair and Gordon Brown made their party electable and led them out of the political wilderness through three stunning general election victories. Yesterday the party reverted to a more traditional positioning – the big question is whether it will have the same voter appeal? I’m not so sure.

Labour will be cheered by the reaction on the markets yesterday afternoon and the question is whether that was down to confidence in the government’s strategy or just relief that everything was now on the table. We’ll see.

One thing I’m very mindful of is that the instant overnight reaction to a budget usually looks wrong by the weekend. Over the next few days the massive amount of documentation that came out will be scoured through by journalists and new angles and stories will emerge. There’s a danger that some “nasties” might be there and this could be very damaging.

    I thought that Darling made a big mistake in not mentioning in his speech the precise amount that national insurance contributions will rise. This enabled Osborne to make him sound devious. It’s much better to get all the bad news out upfront because otherwise you look as though you are hiding something

Perhaps the most significant pointer to the general election campaign came in shadow chancellor’s fiery response. He made phrase “trillion pounds of debt” sound particularly potent. We are going to hear a lot more of the rhetoric which seemed to go down well with his own party and will have, surely, ensured that he will stay in the job. But will this approach have a wider appeal?

At the moment I find it hard to predict how the polls will go – let’s hope that we will not have long to wait.

Mike Smithson

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