On Wednesday Jon Cruddas announced his first findings from his inquiry into why Labour lost the election, writing an article on LabourList about how Labour lost because it was too anti-austerity, not because it was too pro-austerity. It was not, it’s fair to say, universally welcomed by Labour supporters and there was particular criticism of it being backed up with a couple of poll questions showing people agreed with a statement “We must live within our means so cutting the deficit is the top priority”.

I don’t like “do you agree or disagree with these statement” questions, as I’ve written before. They do have their uses (and indeed, comparing agreement with broad campaign messages that can’t really be unbiased is one of them) but in most cases there are better ways of asking the question. The bigger mistake being made here is to wrongly focus on just one polling question and ignore the wealth of other data – if Jon Cruddas was basing his whole review on a single poll he would be being rather foolish, but I doubt he is. I expect the polling question has been highlighted as an illustration of his case, rather than being the whole evidence his case is based upon. The broad thrust of his argument is in line with other polling.

The key question on Labour’s economic positioning at the election isn’t whether people were pro or anti austerity, it’s which party people trusted on the economy (specific economy policy questions are just things that feed into that). On that the polling was clear – for example here or here. For whatever reason, people did not trust Labour on the economy as much as the Conservatives.

The British Election Study analysis of what drove people’s votes with proper key driver analysis will come in due course. Typically though the main factors in voting intention are things like party identification, perceptions of the leaders and the parties’s perceived competence on whatever voters see as the important issues of the day. In hindsight now that we know that Labour’s polling lead was an illusion, Labour’s defeat seems very straightforward. A year ago we were scratching our heads at the paradox of how Labour were ahead despite trailing on the things that normally drive voting intentions. The actual reasons seems to be the polls were wrong, which means Labour’s defeat is suddenly pretty easy to explain: people did not have a positive perception of their party leader, people did not think they were competent on what they considered two of the three major issues of the day (the economy and immigration) and even in the area Labour normally have better figures than the Tories, perceptions of the party itself, people increasingly saw them as out of touch with ordinary people.

Turning specifically to austerity and Cruddas’s argument, the British public are not “pro-austerity” in any ideological sense, the vast majority of people don’t want to see the state cut down in size on principle – you can easily find lots of polls showing that people oppose particular cuts, think cuts are too deep or too fast or whatever. The government’s cuts were never “popular” as such, but throughout the Parliament they were consistently seen as necessary. After the economy began to grow again they gradually became seen as beneficial to the economy, by 2015 YouGov were typically finding around 45% of people thought that the government’s cuts had been good for the economy, 35% of people thought that they had been bad for the economy. By the time of the election 50% of people thought the government were handling the economy well.

Regardless of whether or not the government’s policy was right, regardless of whether or not they should have won the argument on the economy, regardless of whether or not they actually made any cuts, when it came to broad public perceptions this was the situation: the government had argued that cuts were needed for the economy, Labour had opposed them, cuts happened and the economy recovered, therefore the government were right. Yes, it’s a classic case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, but there goes.

It is not impossible that Labour could have combined being anti-austerity with perceived economic competence, but it would have been a huge ask. Once the economy started to turn around it was likely that the public would give the government some credit for it. Making an argument that the government’s whole approach was wrong when the public perceived it as “working” would have been difficult, more so when the public still held Labour partially to blame for putting the economy in such a state. Rightly or wrongly, getting spending under control came to be associated with sound economic management, failure to commit to getting spending under control was perceived as being against sound economic management.

There are different realities where an anti-austerity stance might have worked. If Britain hadn’t got back to economic growth for the last couple of years the government’s economic policy wouldn’t have been perceived as a success and the public would likely have been more open to alternatives. If the government had imposed their cuts in ways that had upset a greater number of swing voters they might have lost more support. However, parties can’t choose their own reality, they have to deal with the one they are given, and being anti-austerity was unlikely to be a winning strategy in the political realities of 2015.

2020, of course, will be a different battle – the great recession will have receded a decade into history, if the government have met their targets there won’t be a deficit for Labour to answer difficult questions about. I expect Labour being seen as economically responsible will still be important and questions about whether a party is seen as moderate or extreme, risky or safe will always be relevant… but the specifics of arguments about being pro or anti-austerity and questions about how you deal with the deficit may well all sound a bit, well, a bit 2015.

286 Responses to “On Jon Cruddas and why Labour lost”

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  1. Roland
    Following on from Catmanjeff’s tale here’s another (truthful) tale of people I know who worked hard.

    Single mother and her two grown up children (both in their 20’s) live in a council house. Both the mother and oldest (son) work while the younger (daughter) is in university. The son (having worked hard) gets a promotion that comes with the requirement of moving into another town. He moves out but unfortunately this means the family is now hit by the bedroom tax. The mother not wanting to hold back her hard working son insists he takes the job in another city saying that she and her daughter will manage.

    The family is willing to move to smaller accommodation but there are literally no available two bedroom social houses for them to move into within a reasonable commuting distance. Not wanting his family to have to start afresh in a new town the son starts sending back some money to his family so they can stay were they are but this still leaves the family a little tight on funds so the daughter drops out of uni to get a full time job so she can help. After a pretty exhaustive (and not at all picky) job search the daughter finds a job.

    However all is not well since the daughters department head happens to be something of a joker and starts bullying her, turning her colleagues against her as well. The daughter tolerates this for weeks while looking for another job but most she is unqualified for and the rest are on zero hours contracts (of which she has experience) and she knows don’t provide nearly enough hours or security for her to leave her current job.

    With no other choice she complains to her boss who then uses the governments handy new lax employment laws to dismiss her with little notice (since she is still in her probation period)

    Unable to attain another full time position for which she is qualified she has to settle for a zero hour contract job which (with its erratic and infrequent hours) is immensely stressful and still doesn’t pay nearly enough as her old job leaving the family in a tight spot.

    For reasons that nobody is quite certain off (but can be guessed at) several months after starting her zero hours contract job this girl takes her own life. The governments response to this is to slap the cumulative charge on the mother since she now technically has two empty bedrooms rather than just one…..

    I’m not sharing this story to guilt trip anyone or make a partisan point rather to point out its quite sickening when people go flaunting their own wealth and financial security and claiming its because they “work hard” when their are millions in dire circumstances in this country who work just as hard as anyone here.

  2. And from Cruddas to Crosby ……….


    The statement from JC that if the opportunity arises he would seek SNP C&S to sustain a minority administration doesn’t look like a surefire election winner if Crosby is right.

  3. Rivers10
    Very well said.

  4. Catmanjeff
    All but a tiny minority have a tale of woe. My fathers people were miners of coal in Kiveton Park South Yorkshire, for several generations. My mothers people, from rural Dorset were horse traders. The one side became pit managers and indeed Directors, the other, house builders. WORK and a bit of go changed things.
    In the Soviet Union those with the same “instinct” would have become
    3rd Secretary of effluent dissipation on ( by their standards) a good pay cheque and a nice heated 4 bed flat. Its life.


    Don’t you know as soon as soon as you make it financially you are no longer one of the workers, you are just lucky and to be sneered at.
    My mother was brought up in the back streets of Nottingham and by the age of 8 had to go to school, look after her mum who had Parkinson’s, cook , keep house (her father left home when she was 2) and there was no social help. Passed her 11+,had to leave school at 15 to earn to feed her Mum. Later trained as a nurse and joined the army and went to Malaya in WW2.All this without hand-outs from the state. I find it hard to stomach this idea of redistribution of wealth or subsidising people in larger houses than they need. They need to get off there backsides and work.

  6. No-one has sneered here Nigel.

  7. Phil Haines
    “Comments such as “On austerity: what austerity?”, are the sort of thing that cause me to switch off, …”

    So are you seriously saying that the current austerity is worse than the three-day week or rationing for most people? That was my original point. Sure, some people have lost their jobs in the public sector, but no-one’s entitled to a job for life. I’ve been made redundant several times and I just go out and get another one, or start a business. This is especially easy at a time of full employment like now. Sure, you may have to take a step down, but then you work your way up again. I really can’t see the problem.

  8. Pete B
    ‘I’ve been made redundant several times and I just go out and get another one, or start a business. This is especially easy at a time of full employment like now. Sure, you may have to take a step down, but then you work your way up again. I really can’t see the problem.’

    I don’t think 2 million unemployed comes remotely close to full employment. With regard to the three-day week , unemployment was then barely 500,000 – indeed had it been measured on today’s basis it would almost certainly have been lower. During the period of rationing and associated austerity under Attlee unemployment was circa 200,000 – that’s what I would refer to as full employment. I agree with you on one thing ,however, – you certainly appear unable to see.

  9. DAVID COLBY (5 August 8.45pm)

    I think you analysis is completely on the money

    labour candidates under whelm me every time I hear them – we need a quality Labour leader candidate for the sake of a United Kingdom

  10. PETEB

    I think it is the “step down & work your way up again” bit which is the problem.

    Too much individualism & competitiveness .

    In the Collective State of Levelled outcomes to come, such crude qualities will be outlawed , as the Government will provide cradle to grave wonderfulness for everyone.

  11. I think some of these exchanges are a new low here …

  12. Laszlo
    You may or may not be including me in that statement but nonetheless I agree with you.

  13. I am very bored of this argument. Discuss polls please.

  14. Summary of these exchanges (copyright M Python Esq.)

    Aye, very passable, that, very passable bit of risotto.
    Nothing like a good glass of Château de Chasselas, eh, Josiah?
    You’re right there, Obadiah.
    Who’d have thought thirty year ago we’d all be sittin’ here drinking Château de Chasselas, eh?
    In them days we was glad to have the price of a cup o’ tea.
    A cup o’ cold tea.
    Without milk or sugar.
    Or tea.
    In a cracked cup, an’ all.
    Oh, we never had a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.
    The best we could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.
    But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.
    Because we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, son”.
    Aye, ‘e was right.
    Aye, ‘e was.
    I was happier then and I had nothin’. We used to live in this tiny old house with great big holes in the roof.
    House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, ‘alf the floor was missing, and we were all ‘uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.
    Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in t’ corridor!
    Oh, we used to dream of livin’ in a corridor! Would ha’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House? Huh.
    Well, when I say ‘house’ it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us.
    We were evicted from our ‘ole in the ground; we ‘ad to go and live in a lake.
    You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t’ shoebox in t’ middle o’ road.
    Cardboard box?
    You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t’ mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi’ his belt.
    Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of ‘ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!
    Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to ‘ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o’clock at night and lick road clean wit’ tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two wit’ bread knife.
    Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.
    And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.
    They won’t!

  15. Maybe I missed summat, been a bit distracted what with the amazing events in the cricket etc., but it seems to me peeps are not sneering at those who worked hard and “made it”, rather that it is possible to work hard and not make it through no fault of their own.

    I should point out however, that it is possible to be carp at your job and yet earn plenty, just look at the bankers who earned squillions for trashing their banks and the economy, and also possible for people to work hard and be “successful” but we really might wish they wouldn’t work so hard.

    For example, peeps using hard sell tactics to flog mobile phone contracts to the elderly and vulnerable. The peeps who sold Sub-Prime mortgages inappropriately. Maybe they worked hard and made a packet, but should we celebrate it?

    Or maybe they didn’t work hard, they got someone else to do it. You don’t get too many people saying they are undeserving of their wealth, and those who conned their way into it in some way are even less likely to do so.

    Another aspect which peeps overlook which was pointed out in Rowntree’s seminal research, which is that those who struggle in poverty tend to have been unlucky and suffered compound problems, several at once. And don’t have the support others might enjoy. Being poor also makes it hard to find spand keep supportive networks…

    Many overcome one problem at a time, then tell themselves they triumphed against adversity so everyone else can do it. It’s really not the same thing as parallel, compound problems…

  16. @Carfrew

    Yet again the Yorkie boys batted well today, providing the base for a three day win for England.

    Joe Root – cast iron, gold plated England Captain for the future. I can only hope his batting does fall foul of captaincy curse.

  17. Correction

    Joe Root – cast iron, gold plated England Captain for the future. I can only hope his batting doesn’t fall foul of the captaincy curse.


    “I am very bored of this argument. Discuss polls please.”


    I would have been at your age. Once you’re close to dying in hospital it kinda changes things. There are quite a few on this board with tales to tell about various tricky things life throws at you, and it can be very instructive. This includes those of the rival party to yours, e.g. ToH and Colin.

    And beyond that, underneath it all, it’s a critical issue. How people attribute success and failure – the degree to which they externally or internally attribute – plays a huge role in how they perceive things and consequently in VI.

  19. @Catman

    Yorkies* did well, but we shouldn’t leave out Broad of course.

    Interestingly, in a prog recently Vaughan and others were discussing what would happen if England played Yorkshire. Vaughan’s view was that Yorkie batting would be comparable, but maybe not the bowling.

    * my Tablet autocorrected “Yorkies” into “Tories” which is prolly a good thing to have spotted before posting…

  20. The more successful I am in my career the less work I need to do – every promotion means less work because I have others that I delegate to. I work in the private sector and I since I started my career I have never worked as hard as a nurse, a cleaner, a manual worker.

    It is nonsense that having a successful career means you are slogging away day after day. I did well in a university course I loved and was lucky in my bosses.

    The self satisfied nonsense from people on here is hypocritical. The older generation post war babies had all the advantages – free education, jobs for life, housing boom, privitisation shares but they squandered the legacy of their parents and instead of leaving a better world for future generations they have left debt, unaffordable housing, insecure jobs, the tragic legacy of an illegal war, global warming – nothing to feel pleased or satisfied about.

  21. Couper
    Couldn’t agree more with that

  22. Good evening all from East Renfrewshire. Home of Rouken Glen Park.

    Some local by-election results in Scotland today..Clean sweep for the SNP;

    Glasgow results.

    Craigton by-election, Glasgow (6th August) :

    SNP 54.2% (+22.8)
    Labour 33.3% (-20.1)
    Conservatives 6.1% (+2.5)
    Greens 2.8% (+0.7)
    UKIP 1.9% (+0.9)
    Liberal Democrats 1.8% (+0.9

    Langside by-election, Glasgow (6th August) :

    SNP 49.9% (+22.3)
    Labour 21.8% (-14.0)
    Greens 13.5% (+5.0)
    Conservatives 8.9% (+1.5)
    Liberal Democrats 2.9% (-4.4)
    UKIP 1.5% (n/a)
    TUSC 1.4% (-1.0

    Anderston/City by-election, Glasgow (6th August) :
    SNP 48.1% (+18.5)
    Labour 28.6% (-21.7)
    Greens 13.8% (+3.3)
    Conservatives 5.5% (+0.8)
    Liberal Democrats 2.2% (+0.5)
    UKIP 1.4% (n/a)
    Libertarian 0.4% (n/a)

    Calton by-election, Glasgow (6th August) :

    SNP 55.5% (+25.5%)
    Labour 30.0% (-24.6)
    Conservatives 4.7% (+2.1)
    UKIP 3.8% (n/a)
    Greens 3.6% (+0.6)
    Independent – Ramsay 1.7% (n/a)
    Liberal Democrats 0.7% (-0.2)

    Plus SNP’s John Ross has won the Hamilton South by-election


  23. Allan Christie

    Not much sign of SLab/LiS making any recovery, despite (or perhaps being driven further down?) by the publicity generated by their trying to find folk to lead them into some future or other.

  24. Nigel.

    ” I find it hard to stomach this idea of redistribution of wealth or subsidising people in larger houses than they need. They need to get off there backsides and work”

    Britain’s richest 1% own as much as poorest 55% of population.

    Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says



    I do agree with you that we shouldn’t be subsidizing or is it Subsidising? (I get confused) people in larger houses than they need. Why the Queen needs 200 bedrooms at the taxpayers expense is beyond comprehension.

    I’m all for wealth creators and people making a better life for themselves but the road sweeper not tuning up for his work will be a lot more noticeable than the CEO of a large corporation not turning up.

    Remember its the little ball bearings that make the economy run.

  25. OLDNAT
    Allan Christie
    “Not much sign of SLab/LiS making any recovery, despite (or perhaps being driven further down?) by the publicity generated by their trying to find folk to lead them into some future or other”

    It’s tragic and they do appear to be heading into the abyss in Scotland. Eric Joyce doesn’t help matters, mind him? that outstanding former MP.

    “And Scottish Labour? Well, ironically they’d be stymied by their own ‘autonomy’. Corbyn would stay on good terms with the SNP – which would mean the latter getting credit for all manner of things in Scotland – and the UK Labour Party would contribute financially far less to a Scottish ‘party’ which insisted it didn’t need to look to England when making any of its decisions, while contributing 1/56th of the votes available from the SNP.”


  26. Hamilton South (South Lanarkshire)
    SNP 48%
    LAB 36%
    CON 9%
    GRN 3%

    LDs in 7th place.

  27. Lib/Dems in 7th place? Most people can’t even name 7 political parties.

    It’s not good.

  28. At least the LDs didn’t come last in Hamilton!

    SNP – 1881 : 48.0% (+15.4)
    LAB – 1396 : 35.6% (-15.8)
    CON – 349 : 8.9% (-0.3)
    GRN – 127 : 3.2% (+3.2)
    CHR – 77 : 2.0% (-1.1)
    UKIP – 43
    LDEM – 32
    PIRA – 12

  29. I’m confused about the idea the Tories are deemed economically competent.

    Between 2010 and 2015, they managed to deliver Alastair Darling’s economic plan – halving the deficit over a parliament.

    George Osborne, you’ll recall, wanted to eliminate it. He failed, and also strangled growth.

    So I think the narrative is not that Labour lost because flaky on the economy but that Labour lost because of the perception that it was flaky on the economy.

    If anything, the Tories should have been castigated into atoms because of their failure to deliver their plan, their suffocation of the recovery and their reckless over-promising and under-delivering.

  30. Lurgee – Perception becomes reality.

  31. Graham 12:39 06/07/15

    “Actually the collapse of the Liberals in 1951 is a bit of a myth. It is true that they polled just 2.6% compared with 9.0% in 1950, but this is largely explained by the very sharp drop in the number of candidates contesting seats. In 1950 the Liberals fought 450 seats – a figure which dropped to 109 in 1951.”

    Fair point.

    2015 wasn’t exactly great either. It will be very interesting to see how fast, or whether, LD support picks up during this parliament.

  32. @Pete B
    “So are you seriously saying that the current austerity is worse than the three-day week or rationing for most people?”

    I was questioning your “what austerity” comment, that is your outright denial of austerity which by referring to “the current austerity” you now seem to have retracted.

    In terms of comparisons with the immediate post war period, why do you imagine that I don’t accept that that was tough too? The only contrast I see is that valued public services were being created then rather than destroyed.

  33. @Colin

    Yes an interesting article. The Conservatives’ election strategist confirms that their campaign relied on the SNP playing their role as useful idiots as a means of scaring English voters into delivering a Conservative majority. (Or substitute “accomplices” for “idiots” if you consider that the SNP knew what they were doing and didn’t care.)

    And yes, it could happen again with Corbyn – those are another example of the sort of unmoderated and electorally naive comments that Rob Sheffield is rightly so worried about.

    To assume a repeat though does rely on certain assumptions eg. that (a) Corbyn would last 5 years (b) Scotland will be around in 2020.

  34. Allan,

    When are those vote share changes in relation to?

  35. Good morning all from a warming up Mount Florida. Thought I would do my bit for the environment today on my way to work. I walked to my car.

    When are those vote share changes in relation to?

    From 2012…James Kelly has a good summery of the results but be warned, the results I posted don’t really show the true nature of the Labour collapse last night.

    “I make it an average swing of just over 19% from Labour to the SNP across the five wards, which is only a couple of points lower than the impressive average swing of 21% we saw in the two Aberdeen by-elections a week ago. As always, bear in mind that swing in local by-elections is measured from the baseline of the 2012 result, when the SNP already had a national lead of 1% over Labour. So a 19% swing tonight is the rough equivalent of a 30% or 31% swing at the general election, which is pretty typical of what we saw in Labour’s former heartlands on May 7th”



    Yes it was-I wouldn’t say that Crosby explained reliance on the SNP factor-you have to put that in the context of the perceived adavantages offered by Cons & disadvantages by Lab.which Crosby identifies

    The whole Corbyn phenomenon is fascinating-like watching your granny turn into a Punk .

    As you say, he has to win & stay for five years before the concerns about his electability.are tested-though if the OPs do manage to regain any credibility, they will be telling the story before the. Rob Sheffield’s 18 mths decision making deadline relies on that.

    Personally I would love to see if the British Public will vote for a Seventies Tribute Band lead by a septuagenarian Citizen Smith .



    Too busy enjoying life yesterday to post. What joy!! Aussie all out for 60 before lunch and a lead of 214 by the day’s end.

    The trouble with what you have just posted is that the voters don’t agree with you and didn’t agree with you in May. I was able to correctly forecast the outcome of the election because it was clear that the voters did accept the Governments strategy as being correct, and didn’t think of Labour as capable of running economy. It’s what the voters think that matters, not whether it’s correct or incorrect.

  38. OLDNAT
    “At least the LDs didn’t come last in Hamilton”

    I really don’t know why they bother to put candidates up knowing at best they will win between 0.9% to 2% of the votes.

    Liberalism (Willie Rennie style) died last night in Scotland.


  39. The reliance of the SNP factor in putting enough voters off in English marginal was significant but imo not the route cause.

    Labour’s ostensible and declared macro-economic position was not much different from the Tories, indeed Tory-Lite suggestions abounded.

    If these key voters were convinced that Labour would have been committed to the manifesto plans and resisted the SNP’s drag to the left (as these voters would see it) then the fear factor would not have worked.

    Perceived Economic credibility is imo the to route cause.

    Of course, if you think there are sufficient non-voters and voters to be gained from minor parties (UK context) by pulling my suggestion is trumped.

  40. Allan

    RIP? Some of us still ‘look for the resurrection of the dead’!!!

  41. Allan

    And thank you for your comments on my contributions yesterday……

    And even Bathgate has warmed up slightly today!

  42. Howdy folks, it’s been a good while since I commented – mainly because there weren’t too many “real” polls to discuss. I must say I’m a bit disappointed at some of the discourse on this thread – I thought that the UKPR crowd were a bit above whataboutery and anecdotes as arguments.

    Anyway, there are two very different political campaigns on either side of the Atlantic at the moment, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts on both the Labour leadership campaign and the Donald Trump show (to give it its unofficial title :) ).

    I’ve watched some of the Labour hustings and to be honest, I think the candidates have handled themselves fairly well overall. Liz Kendall’s issue for me is that there is no coherent message – there are occasions when she (unfortunately) reminds me of Sarah Palin during the 2008 US Presidential campaign, when she has a tendency to talk purely in generalisations and platitudes. Burnham has struggled a bit – he’s definitely the most polished, but sometimes could do with being a bit more relaxed. Yvette Cooper does have the presentation style of a sixth-form debating society student, but I do feel that she would be the most difficult candidate for the Conservatives to target. Corbyn’s success to me is unsurprising – he has a clear, coherent and consistent message, but not just full of soundbites, there is a bit of depth and intellect to what he’s said. Moreover, he’s a likeable kind of guy, polite and relaxed when talking to audiences. Whether he’s electable, either now, or in 2020, I don’t know. Oh, and by the way, neither does Jon Cruddas or anybody on this board. The next five years are fairly unpredictable – and any kind of events could overtake the status quo.

    On the other side of the Atlantic, as I sure plenty of you saw, the Republicans had their first proper debate on Fox News. The debate was interesting, primarily because most of the candidates desperately struggled to answer what were, by US standards, very incisive questions. For what it’s worth, here’s my reading of it.

    The Trump: Full of bluster and aggression, certainly added to the entertainment value, but not a realistic candidate in any shape or form. I do think, however, that it’s fairly likely that he’ll run as a third-party candidate on a platform of God-knows-what.

    Jeb: Probably the most moderate candidate on the panel, which underlines how much the Republicans have drifted to the right in the last 15 years. Struggled early on, but had plenty to say about education. I still think he’ll be hard to beat – although probably has more respect from Reps that love.

    Walker: Very slick, very conservative, and fairly abrasive. I don’t agree with any of his policies (the whole blood of God spiel was very jarring), but I think in deep Red states he will be popular.

    Mike Huckabee: Again someone I don’t agree with often, but he appeared to be the best prepared for the debate, and used his designated timeslots better than the other candidates.

    Dr. Carson: A very odd guy – I don’t know what he stands for (other than tithes!), I’ve no idea why he wants to run for President, and for an educated and experienced surgeon and professor, he is extraordinarily incoherent.

    Ted Cruz: None of the three senators came across well – spending the whole time complaining about their leaders in Washington and the Washington system. The whole “I’m a maverick” talk was nonsense in 2008, and it remains so now. Cruz came across as the right-wing equivalent of the SWP, shouting out vague rhetoric about Obamacare and jobs and immigration and terrorism.

    Rubio: A bit slicker than Cruz, although didn’t really contribute much of interest. However, I think there’s a reasonable chance of him being considered as a VP candidate, in an attempt to appeal to conservative-leaning Latino voters..

    Rand Paul: Had a bad night – got into rows with Christie and Trump and lost. He lacks the wit and charm of his father, and to be honest, looked a bit uncomfortable being part of the GOP.

    Christie: No chance of winning, but is a formidable character. However, he needs to find a distinctive policy point other than “I’m a Republican governer of a blue State” if he’s going to be a contender.

    Kasich: On home territory, and he looked like he enjoyed himself. Didn’t get too many opportunities to speak, but came across as someone who could get things done, and exuded a bit of warmth on an evening where anti-Iran baiting and complaining about migration seemed to lower the tone.

    So, what of it. There seem to be two problems with the GOP. In a strange way, there are similarities with Labour, in that there’s a big conflict between reaching out to independents and Democrats, and pleasing the core vote. Last night was almost entirely devoted to international terrorism (including Iran!) and to decreasing taxes by keeping immigrants out (I paraphrase). Those might be big issues for the GOP, but that’s not enough to win the election. The other issue is the absence of big hitters for the Republicans, in terms of running and winning election campaigns. Trump has no experience at all (other than by donating money!). The Senators are all relatively new and are representing states that should be GOP-leaning anyway (and they all hate the Republican leadership). The governors and ex-governors have some executive experience, but is it necessarily relevant? Interestingly, Kasich is the only one of the ten who has significant experience in both Washington and in a State House and he has no chance of the nomination. Surely within the whole of the GOP there is a candidate with some experience and acumen, who could appeal to independents? Hillary Clinton is the likely Democrat nominee (unless Joe Biden decides to stand, in which case I’m more unsure), and she has some serious flaws as a candidate, but it’s very hard to imagine that any of last night’s crew could secure 50% of the vote.

    Sorry that the post was so long, but I don’t post that often, and no-one is making you read it anyhow :)

  43. @Allan et al

    Some council election eye candy for you.


  44. Oh sorry, one small final point. A lot of the discussion last night revolved around the Iran nuclear deal and the (de)funding of Planned Parenthood. These are political issues now, but are unlikely to be key issues in the 2016 campaign. There’s a danger, also with Labour, of refighting the last election campaign for the next year (or five years in Labour’s case). It’s insufficient merely to disagree with the present political situations, you have to argue positively for alternatives. This is where I think Ed M went wrong – his alternatives were not put forward strongly enough. Note, I’m not saying that he was too far left or too far right, it’s primarily that his alternative plans were not clear and coherent enough.

    Ok, I’ll shut up now.

  45. Pete B
    ‘I’ve been made redundant several times and I just go out and get another one, or start a business. This is especially easy at a time of full employment like now. Sure, you may have to take a step down, but then you work your way up again. I really can’t see the problem.’

    I don’t think 2 million unemployed comes remotely close to full employment. With regard to the three-day week , unemployment was then barely 500,000 – indeed had it been measured on today’s basis it would almost certainly have been lower. During the period of rationing and associated austerity under Attlee unemployment was circa 200,000 – that’s what I would refer to as full employment. I agree with you on one thing ,however, – you certainly appear unable to see the problem.

  46. Anthony,
    I am puzzled as to why my earlier post has apparently been excluded from the above discussion. Its content is not obviously out of line with the many others that have appeared. I have – perhaps optimistically – reposted it.

  47. @Anthony Wells

    As there will be few UK*1 polls until the polling council reports next year and confidence begins to pick back up, do you fancy having a go at the US Presidential election polls? UK Interest is beginning to rise with the Republican candidate debates and the “Trump Stump”*2, and a brief rundown of which US polls there are and the areas they cover (city/state/lower48/all) would be very helpful.

    The reason why I ask is because PB.com is continuing to slowly park its tanks on your lawn, and I see more coverage of US polls there than I do here. So a reassertion of UKPRs rightful place as King of the Polling Jungle B**ches*3 would be very welcome

    *1 OK GB, but this is not the time…
    *2 I made that up. You’re welcome.
    *3 And that one too. I’m thinking of printing a t-shirt…

  48. I watched the Republican debate my summary:
    Warmongering, Misogyny and God. None of the candidate will beat Hilary.

  49. Oh and Trump’s chance of GOP nomination is over although he may run as an independent which will help the democrats.

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