Did Labour lose “The Cuts – Week 1”?

Did Labour lose “The Cuts – Week 1”?

“Who’s to blame for the cuts?” (YouGov) All voters CON voters LAB voters LD voters
CON-LD coalition 17 1 39 5
Last Labour government 47 93 6 65
Both 20 3 29 13
Neither 11 2 24 11
“Last Labour government bears most responsibility” (ComRes) All voters CON at GE LAB at GE LD at GE
Agree 59 87 32 56
Disagree 36 12 63 40

Will EdM’s party floundering on the “blame” issue?

As I have been arguing during the week the overwhelming priority for Labour is to avoid, as far as possible, being blamed for the cuts that are being introduced.

For as long as the coalition partners are able to say that it was the fault of “the last lot” then they have a lot of cover for the actions they are taking. More crucially this provides a solid platform for the next general election.

Just look at the data above extracted from the latest YouGov and ComRes polls where the datasets have been made available. Although there might be differing views on the fairness of the Osborne package the critical point of who is responsible is firmly in the red court.

Look in particular at the response of Labour voters to the questions from the two pollsters. YouGov has 39% blaming the coalition and ComRes has 32% agreeing that their party bears most responsibility.

And voters remember these things. Those who are old enough will recall how long the memories of the 1974-79 and 1992-1997 governments were used to undermine Labour and the Tories respectively.

Simon Hoggart had an insightful point in the Guardian when he wrote: “Labour has, on the whole, decided that the deficit isn’t its fault. It has, you would imagine, been invented by the Tories purely in order to allow them the cuts which they are imposing with an odious relish.”

Andrew Rawnley is on the same lines in today’s Observer: “Labour’s attacks on the government have so far failed to gain traction. The new shadow chancellor, Alan Johnson, will not get a serious hearing for Labour’s arguments until his party has restored its own economic credibility and that can’t start to happen until the opposition’s spokesmen and women stop sounding like people living in a fantasy universe in which there is no deficit to address and a Labour chancellor would have been able to announce free holidays in Barbados all round.”

Maybe that’s why their rhetoric during the week on the blame issue has lacked potency. That’s very dangerous because the longer they take to try to negate the perceptions the tougher it will be.

DATE FOR YOUR DIARY Next PB get-together is on Wednesday November 17th at 6.30 pm at the Dirty Dicks pub close to Liverpool Street station. If you are thinking of going please send email to Londonevent@politicalbetting.com.

Mike Smithson

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