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. @ Couper 2802,

    Those three + racism and not taxing rich people are the central values of the Republican Party. I don’t think any of the candidates are likely to beat Clinton either- they might struggle to beat Sanders- but you shouldn’t assume that their rhetoric can’t win elections in the US. They’re in power in large swathes of the country having said things more extreme than anything the candidates said yesterday.

    Remember 2012, when their primary consisted of all the candidates competing on who would use the most extreme torture techniques? It’s true they didn’t win the subsequent general election, but it was hardly a landslide defeat.

  2. @ToH

    “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.”


    Much as it might be nice to be able to claim a life of unalloyed joy and fulfilment, some days I consider it a success if I simply manage to have a nice coffee without incident, and yesterday for me was more a case of hours on the phone giving a friend who’s down some support, while occasionally keeping an eye on proceedings dans la Cricket. The Ashes overall has been utterly amazing, and today is pretty good too…

  3. RobinP

    I looked at the Cruddas article but was unable to find any link to the actual polling data that he apparently based the article on. Who carried out the poll? Was it a proper sample? Was it carried out in accordance with industry best practice (including avoiding leading questions)? My understanding is that the British Polling Council requires that the basis of the poll must be published so that its validity can be peer-reviewed.

    Well according to the Guardian the poll was carried out by a business called The Campaign Company


    who are not one of the regular polling companies – they’re not members of the British Polling Council for example. Looking at their website they seem more of a marketing company, whose job is to push a particular line for their client rather than provide an objective viewpoint.

    They do say that they used the YouGov panel[1], which something that marketing companies do all the time, but apart from giving access to the panel, YouGov will not have had anything to do with the design of the survey or the analysis of the results. It would also have been made clear to the participants that they were not doing a YouGov survey.

    Whether we will ever see all the details of this poll rather than a few choice details given to the ‘right people’ in the media is another matter. As they’re not BPC members, there’s no obligation. But as Anthony says, it’s important because context is everything. For example most people will agree that reducing the deficit is important, but until you ask how important compared to other things, that is a meaningless answer.

    One of the strange things about the Labour Leadership campaign is the comparative lack of ‘proper’ polling by the usual companies. Some of what does appear is by marketing companies as here or in one case a US company. Even when something does get out, such as the Opinium poll, no one takes a blind bit of notice[2], even if it could be used to support the anti-Corbyn case. It’s almost as if the most important thing is to reinforce its power to say what the situation is rather than to look at the reality.

    [1] I get the impression that Anthony is slightly irritated by them mentioning this. It’s possible that they just wanted to show that the used a sample from a large and well established panel, but people who don’t understand how opinion research works might misunderstand and assume it was a YouGov poll.

    [2] For example the Guardian, despite carrying endless articles stating Corby Cannot Win during the period, only picked up on the poll on Thursday after it was published on Monday morning. Even then it had first been discussed and linked to BTL in other articles first.

  4. With regard to the conversation above about early deprivation culminating in the Monty Python sketch, may I recommend an excellent book all about the hard life and upbringing endured by one young lad brought up in the East End of London in the 1950s and 60s who went on to become a sometime contributor to this very site.

    The book reached no. 1 in the Amazon Political Biographies chart, no.1 in London History, no.1. In British Social History and so on. With its highest position overall being no 42, just one place behind the Game of Thrones (at the time).


  5. Norbold
    You are awful ….but I like you

  6. With regard to the Scottish by-elections, like last week’s pair three of them were caused by newly-elected SNP MPs resigning (the other two were due to failing health[1]). The SNP held all four and gained one off the Greens (inevitable in STV by-elections for a small Party) but all were in wards where Labour topped the poll in 2012 (often well) and under STV could have been expected to take the seats.

    The general picture is, as before, of a Scottish political picture unchanged since May, though this implies big swings from Labour since 2012. But turnout is again low. From the four Glasgow wards:

    Ward 4 Craigton 21.64%
    Ward 7 Langside 21.70%
    Ward 9 Calton 16.17%
    Ward 10 Anderston-City 14.51%

    (Overall Percentage Turnout 18.66%)

    so high motivation among SNP voters have might helped these wins. I assume the especially low figure for Ward 10 may be student vacation related as it’s the city centre ward.

    The full details of the Glasgow results are available from here:


    Only Ward 10 got tho the stage of needing transfers (so OldNat ha something to look for) and again these showed the similar sort of pattern we have seen in recent months. A lot of the transfer patterns are a bit scattergun, but as usual we see a substantial minority of Conservative votes going to Labour to keep out the SNP. The Greens again benefit from Lib Dem transfers and in turn their votes end up split between Labour and SNP roughly 1 to 3. Incidentally these results also confirm that the Greens are clearly the third party in Glasgow.

    [1] Including one SNP councillor who originally inherited her seat from her son when the latter was elected to Holyrood in 1999. Dragging your Mum into politics seems to be an SNP speciality qv Nicola Sturgeon.

  7. @Phil Haines Thanks. Haven’t gone away – just taking break.

    @RogerMexico Interesting re. The Campaign Company. It’s owned by David Evans, who ran Tony Blair’s 2001 General Election campaign, so presumably a die-hard Blairite.
    On that basis, I think the Cruddas polling can be safely ignored.

  8. “I thought that the UKPR crowd were a bit above whataboutery and anecdotes as arguments.”


    Anecdotes are much maligned, and can actually be rather useful.

    Even sometimes, if someone made them up.

    Let me give you an example. On a few occasions, Colin has commented ruefully on his experience of the NHS, or that of a family member. Others chimed in with rather more positive experiences in contrast.

    Which raises questions as to who’s telling the truth, and which version is most representative of reality in the NHS.

    Now I happen to think Colin is telling the truth, not least because of my own experience, but also because old Col. isn’t the sort to moan about his lot on a regular basis.

    But equally, I don’t have any reason to disbelieve the opposing accounts either.

    However, even if people had made their experiences up, the point is they are all likely to be representative of reality in practice, because there is no mechanism to guarantee you won’t get an experience like Colin’s. But equally, there is nothing to fundamentally guarantee you won’t have a more positive experience either.

    Both experiences are possible, and the anecdotes serve as test cases to reveal the more general picture. Someone proffers an anecdote, and unless someone can show it’s impossible or perhaps highly unlikely, you are likely to have to take into account what they reveal about the underlying mechanisms.

    As another example, let’s say I gave an anecdote about grade inflation in education. “Just an anecdote!!” I hear you cry. But then I might point out that what the anecdote reveals is that there may not be enough safeguards to stop it happening, and there are significant motives for it to happen, so you have to take the possibility seriously.

    Pluswhich it can be interesting, and a bit of personal contextual info can assist in avoiding misunderstandings, in avoiding being insensitive, and in smoothing over when things get a bit heated if you know better where someone is coming from.

  9. That said, it is possible to use anecdote speciously as well. I’m just saying that anecdotes aren’t automatically without merit.

  10. “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. ”


    It doesn’t illustrate his case though. It doesn’t do much to show whether peeps are for or against austerity.

    Because the question doesnt ask about austerity, it asks about reducing the deficit, and peeps may consider that there are other mechanisms for reducing the deficit etc. aside from austerity.

    Also, even if people were in favour of the cuts in the last parliament, this does not mean they definitely favoured further cuts in this parliament. They might think we’d now had enough cuts…

  11. “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”


    Unless there was very late swing. Now, I seem to recall you largely ruled that out on the basis of a poll conducted on the day of the election, but is it possible that given the margin of error of that poll, it failed to capture a late swing?

  12. COUPER2802

    Couldn’t agree more with your post earlier about the nature of success/failure.

    Almost found myself applauding :)

  13. @Spearmint

    Where’s the churn report?

  14. Alistair1948 – “I expect the electorate will get tired of “austerity” eventually. People got tired of Cromwell’s Commonwealth and no singing or dancing or Christmas after a while.”

    What you seem to be missing is that most people arn’t experiencing any austerity at all!

    If you bought a house with a mortgage prior to 2008 (and this is the situation of the majority of home owners), you would have experienced a base rate of circa 5% and a mortgage interest rate of circa 7.5%. Now the base rate is 0.05% and the mortgage rate is 2.5%. That drop in mortgage payments resulted in a big increase in people’s disposable income.

    Until 2013 that was offset by fear of losing your job. But that fear is receding thanks to the economy growing, so people are pretty happy.

    According to the ONS, 64% of the population own their homes – a substantial majority. See


    Some of those people will own their homes outright (the retired) and they too have not experienced any austerity to speak of.

    Petrol prices are flat too despite the rise in fuel duty in the last five years, thanks to the oil price collapsing.

    Take all these things together, and even with a pay freeze, people’s disposable incomes have risen. And pay is starting to rise again.

    So the majority of people think “what are they on about?” when Labour talks of austerity.

    Lab cannot win by focusing on just the 36% who rent, especially as a) some of those will vote Conservative and b) some of those people will not vote at all.

    P.S. If and when interest rates rise again, the contentment of home owners will reduce somewhat. The big question is when that will happen.

  15. That should be base rate of 0.5% now.

  16. P.S.

    Note that the places on that ONS article with the highest number of homes owned with mortgages (Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Blaby) are all held by the Conservatives. The places with the highest number of people who own outright are a mix of LibDem or Conservative. The rented areas are Labour (Islington, Southwark, Hackney).

    Ed Miliband’s strategy in the last election was to focus exclusively on those who rent, with his rent control ideas, focus on the bedroom tax (a subset of social renters who are on housing benefit). But he ignored the majority who own homes completely – which explains his defeat.

  17. “Where’s the churn report?”


    She’s prolly been preoccupied following the Ashes. Understandable…

  18. “Ed Miliband’s strategy in the last election was to focus exclusively on those who rent, with his rent control ideas, focus on the bedroom tax (a subset of social renters who are on housing benefit). But he ignored the majority who own homes completely – which explains his defeat.”


    One might imagine, that parents and grandparents might at least worry for their kids’ ability to pay bills and mortgages.

    But of course, another aspect is the big rise in property prices allowing them to pass big lump sums onto their kids.

    Something else one notices, is when students talk of graduating, and you ask what they’ve got lined up for a career, and they can’t seem to find much, so they just decide to go travelling for a couple of years instead…

  19. Candy

    “What you seem to be missing is that most people arn’t experiencing any austerity at all!”

    The people who lost their jobs in the public sector and people on low wages are but

    “Now the base rate is 0.05% and the mortgage rate is 2.5%. That drop in mortgage payments resulted in a big increase in people’s disposable income.”

    as you say this is the big sedative for all the people who owned their own home before the banking crash. The net effect has benefited them so far. I don’t know whether “most people” comes down on either side but either way it’s probably close enough that there’s no *net* austerity in electoral terms.

    It will only all come crashing down when the interest rates go up.

    Just in time for Corbyn.

  20. Mr Jones – “It will only all come crashing down when the interest rates go up.”

    It will depend on what people have done with their mortgage interest surplus.

    My older sister lives in London with her husband and small child in a two bed flat, which they bought in about 2000. Prior to the great crash, they were just another couple with a mortgage. But they used the fall in mortgage payments to overpay the capital (they just kept the payment the same, despite the fall in interest rates and compounding has done the rest). Eight years of determindly doing this has meant that they have nearly paid off the mortgage (it helps that they bought before prices really took off, so the mortgage wasn’t that big to start with). Which means that they’re suddenly in the “haves” – a couple in their early forties with an asset, very little debt and comfortable lifestyle, in London. How many other people have done the same? I would think there are a few. Only some people got poorer as a result of the crash – a lot of people got richer as a result.

    There are now a lot of asset-rich people in the country, which is why Osborne’s inheritance tax and other policies find a favourable reception.

  21. Carfrew

    Well done you for spending the day supporting a friend in need. I’m sure you will savour the Ashes win over the next few days.

    Great team effort by England.

    So sorry that my Typical Tory Self Centred Self Congratulatory post upset you both so. If you wish to fall for every left wing wringing of hands since 1946, good luck to you both. You sound like completely miserable gits. Deepest apologies for thinking that life is not so bad and for being old enough to see ordinary people living lives that in the 50’s and 60’s, their forebears could not even dream about.

  23. “Alistair1948 – “I expect the electorate will get tired of “austerity” eventually. People got tired of Cromwell’s Commonwealth and no singing or dancing or Christmas after a while.”

    What you seem to be missing is that most people arn’t experiencing any austerity at all!” (Candy)

    I have deliberately not stated my own opinion as I am trying to be non-partisan (very hard sometimes).

    In any case it might be perfectly possible for cut-backs to be evident enough to make one group of people hopping-mad, while another group of people might observe that the economies are not of a scale really to free up private enterprise (if it is accepted that the economy is a zero-sum gane between the private and public sectors, which many dispute).

    It is factually true that some government departments’ budgets are protected and others not, and so some unprotected sections of the public sector have correspondingly felt quite a large cut – local government and the armed forces for example.

    If we are talking perceptions, which I think we should be, this does mean that for example the local government cuts will have an impact on their workforce, which is majority female, and also on the users of these services I think this was reflected to an extent in the voting intentions reported before the general election.

    As you rightly say there are differences between the generations as well, and I would also add where people live is another factor.

    Add in the dimension that those born before 1950 are more likely to vote, while people under age 25 are less likely to vote, or even to be registered to vote, and you have quite a complicated picture.

    That’s how I see it anyway. Hope it makes sense.

  24. @Alistair1948

    There arn’t that many public sector workers.

    Here’s a nice graphic from the ONS:


    Public sector employment excluding the bailed out banks actually peaked in 2005. Overall it’s only 19% – which means a whopping 81% work in the private sector.

    Then factor in that some jobs are ring-fenced (NHS, teachers) and you are talking about just people in public administration being cut. Maybe a few hundred thousand – out of a population eligible to vote of some 40 million. And the bulk of these people are in NI, Wales and Scotland – see the graphic in the link above. And only one of those regions votes Labour (Wales – and only just, the Conservatives made some gains there in 2015).

    Once again Lab is focusing on a small niche group of people and ignoring everyone outside that niche. And then wondering why that isn’t enough to swing elections.

    They are continually ignoring the majority of the voters, and then wonder why that majority think “what on earth are they on about, what they are saying has no bearing on reality as I live it”.

  25. Candy
    I wouldn’t dispute the bulk of what you said in that the “have’s” have not really felt austerity. Those with assets, low debt and living in certain parts of the country (where house prices have risen the most and local government has been cut the least) probably don’t notice any austerity.

    On the other hand the “have not’s” such as the young, renters, disabled, unemployed and low wage earners (who are often a combination of the rest) have felt it very heavily.

    This just reinforces what the left have been saying, the cuts have fell disproportionately on the most vulnerable and the benefits of the recovery have been skewed towards the already wealthy AKA we’re not all in this together.

    It might not make the most electoral sense for Labour to campaign on this issue but its certainly the right thing to do (if you believe in fairness)

  26. @Candy

    Just before I have a break from this board for a while to watch Young Montalbano, thank you for the link. It is good to see some factual argument.

    I agree that this is the trend, and in this respect the UK is changing. I guess you have to factor in also the users of such services as local government does provide – swimming pools, libraries, cemeteries, planning, social services and so on. They will have a view about the services.

    But yes, ultimately you are right and all political parties have to deal with the world as it is, not as they wish it to be. To win national elections all parties (not just Labour) have to find programmes and leaders that appeal to broad sections of the electorate, and preferably to marginal or swing voters.

    But as Pete B said things can change quite fast. There was a time when there was a considerable rural Labour vote (referred to on this site in the constituencies section. Conversely cities like Cambridge, or whole countries like Scotland were once represented by the Conservatives.

    So watch this space !

  27. Alistair1948 – “I expect the electorate will get tired of “austerity” eventually. People got tired of Cromwell’s Commonwealth and no singing or dancing or Christmas after a while.”

    “I have deliberately not stated my own opinion as I am trying to be non-partisan (very hard sometimes).”

    With respect, if you are trying very hard, I do not think you are very good at it. What you say about the electorate getting tired of austerity is something that only somebody on the left will say and what most on this site have been saying for five years. Post after post, day after day.

    What is surprising is that even after being totally shown up by the election result so many here are simply going straight back to saying exactly the same thing, with the the only analysis seeming to be along the lines of “the electorate just dont understand… the media lied to the electorate… labour didnt do enough to make the electorate understand… the Tories lied etc etc.”

    It is all so weak. The only thing Labour is guilty of is being poor communicators. “Labour is great, just made the mistake of not regulating the banks, everyone is unfair to Labour, everyone swallowed the lie etc etc.” Now straight back to the same broken record of “Tories evil, the naive electorate will see the error of its ways soon.” So many heads buried in the sand if thats all youve got.

    The analysis on this site has been generally very poor for many years. You are saying what you *want* to happen rather than what is most likely to happen. I even remember many of you were talking about the coalition being on the verge of collapse way back in mid to late 2010! I very clearly remember Alec saying it. And how the economy is on the verge of collapse etc. All the analysis here is what you *want* to be the case. Anthony has written about that condition before.

    I think many of you here are too close to it. You cannot look at it impartially. From random readings here over the last few years I get the impression that many of you are involved in politics to one degree or another, even if it is just canvassing, isnt that right? You are in the bubble. Like journalists sometimes acknowledge there is a Westminster bubble. A lot of you are trapped and blinkered by something similar.

    Labour have somewhat of a challenge anyway in 2020, but if there is still almost no humility amongst activists as there seems not to be, then the task will be made all the more difficult because you dont even know what the problem is.

    The only chance you have is if there is a significant global economic slowdown over this parliament, which is definitely a possibility. That that wont make you right though since you have all been saying “something is coming” for the last five years. I now do believe that some global problems are coming to a head, but there is a possibility it will come too early for Labour. At very least there is going to be a significant equity market correction, particularly in the US, which means everywhere, but I think that will come much sooner than 2020.

  28. @Candy

    I live in a local authority which is facing massive cuts:


    The cuts are real and substantial. The cuts to library services, the decrease in social care, the closure of various community centres, the closure of parks and amenities….

    These affect people of all incomes, home owners and renters alike.

    I think most people see beyond their annual mortgage statement.

  29. Oh, I forgot to mention the ridiculing of Steve Fisher. You all *wanted* him to be wrong.

  30. If 19% work in the Public Sector this does not mean that 81% work in the Private Sector. A sizeable percentage work in the Charitable or Voluntary sectors and of course a considerable percentage are unemployed, whether claiming or not claiming.

    We should also distinguish between people who are employed in the private sector and the considerable number who are self-employed, very often for want of other opportunities.

    The nature of employment thus needs more complex analysis than Candy suggests.

    We should also ask questions about the governance of those outside the public sector. This is particularly topical at the moment becuase of the Kid’s Company affair. Cameron personally has acted totally incompetently, hpwever else he has acted in giving money to a charity after Civil Servants had required a Ministerial Direction before paying out a grant, and when a considerable proportion, £800,000, of the money that was handed out was immediately misused for purposes outside the remit of the grant.

    Cameron’s action was one for which civil servants and managers outside Government would be sacked. It shows that Cameron, whose is almost completely lacking in prior managerial experience, has failed to get the basics right. when he has taen peronal responsibility for a decision.

    There are serious unaddressed problems about the accountability and responsibility of managers in the private and perhaps in particular the voluntary sectors. Ther is an impression that recent Primie Ministers, from Blair onwards, have used these sectors to appoint cronies instead of the most competent people, The unexpected rise of support for Corbyn as Labour leader suggests that people are fed up with Government being misused in this way and that there may be a flood of support for leadership, more or less any leadership, outside the current establishment stitch-up.

  31. On the subject of blinkered groupthink though, the Tories should not get too comfortable either with the 2020 walk in the park. It wasnt long ago that commentators were saying the Tories will never win a majority again. I mean people were probably saying it as recently as this year. And before that, in the mid 90s, Thatcher said on the first page of her book, Labour might never be elected again. People have a habit of making a fool of themselves with these big predictions.

    2016 equity market crash.

  32. Alastair1948, there is always “austerity” in that the vast majority of people would like to spend more than they have the money to buy.

    Actually, the UK eoonomy is doing rather well at the moment. There is a reasonable amount of growth, inflation is nearly non-existent and the pound is appreciating against other countries. There are continuing concerns about the balance of payments and about an economy run tof the financial sector at the expense of manufacturing industry.

    In my view there is a considerable risk of an economic crisis this Autumn, but the UK is probably now better placed to address this than continental Europe..

    The problem is that the Tories in general and Osborne in particular are using “Austerity” as a slogan to redistribute wealth from the poor, and even the middle classes, to a small group of the rich, in particular through interest rates for lending money which are far in excess of those for savers. The “turn” between borrowing and saving was traditionally two per cent, but for the last couple of decades it has been hugely in excess of this. The excess profits that financiers receive as a result of the excessive “turn” needs to be taxed away as a matter of urgency, or combatted by new banks that will lend at reasonable rates, so that the likes of RBS wil have to compete on these terms.

    The Corbyn pitch for the Labour leadership shows that people are seeing through Osborne and the groups of cronies he fronts. However, Corbyn’s solution of old-style socialism is not the right one.

    We are suffering form the Chinese curse that we live in interesting times as my feeling is that new political groupings will (have to) arise before 2020 to provide sensible solutions meeting the public backlash against Austerity.

    Not least, every years for at least two decades now senior management like the Directors of large companies, property developers and financial gamblers have been getting a larger proportion of the national wealth. Logically, this simply cannot go on for ever. The question is whether this trend can be reversed gradually or, as more usually happens, it will lead to a huge financial crisis, with political implications. It is not partisan to point out that logically the positive feed-back loop giving the rich more and more of the nation’s money has to break down at some point.

    One final point, Alastair, this site is to make non-partisan psephological comments and we try to do so, but you needn’t be TOO concerned about neutrality.

  33. P.S. Labour lost because they went along with the rich instead of ordinary people.

  34. Candy

    “So the majority of people think “what are they on about?” when Labour talks of austerity. ”

    Thanks for that. I was beginning to feel beleagured.

    Jimmy the Greek
    Well said.

    Frederic Stansfield
    “P.S. Labour lost because they went along with the rich instead of ordinary people.”

    Could you elaborate on that? For instance how do you define ‘the rich’ and how do you think that Labour went along with them? I’m just interested because it seems to be different to what many others are saying.

  35. Re the debate about ‘austerity’ above, which I have only had time to glace at, it must be remembered that it is very likely that by 2020 George Osborne will have been able to announce that austerity is over. Should that be the case the argument will thus be one about continued economic responsibility against more ambitious spending plans (which GO will try and characterise as same old Labour being irresponsible, regardless of whether the economic argument for that is strong) rather than about being ‘pro-austerity’ or ‘anti-austerity’.

    As to whether people feel ‘austerity’ now it rather depends what sector you work in. Some have obviously felt it hard. But the impact has been largely confined to the public sector and parts of the public sector rather than the whole public sector. As only one sixth of people in employment work in the public sector the vast majority have been relatively insulated. You might argue that people would see the effects in services they use but the services that most people living relatively normal lives use (hospitals and schools mainly) have not been too badly hit. The second round may be more difficult – the law of diminishing returns applies to the potential to find cuts that most people don’t notice. In particular, I think the government need to be careful not to stretch local government too much (whilst simultaneously being committed localists). But in terms of direct effects on people’s jobs whilst the economy is good it is unlikely to make much difference to the vast majority of people.

  36. Jimmy the Greek
    I had a big comment lined up but it got kinda convoluted and partisan so I scrapped it. All I will say is that while some of what you say is correct you may also be doing what you criticise Lab supporters of doing in seeing only what you want to see. You act as if the Tories have been given a whopping endorsement by the public (which they haven’t seeing as the vast majority of people who actually voted didn’t pick them let alone those that didn’t vote) and that said endorsement was entirely due to a rejection of Labour polices and an endorsement of Tory ones which even if you ignore the large amount of polling disputing that claim it begs the question, what was all the Milliband bashing and Scotland scaremongering in aid off?

    It might make for better point scoring to claim the lefts ideas have been rejected and the rights vindicated but as you said that type of complacency can really come back to bite you in the a**e so you might want to acknowledge that all elections (this last one more than any other) are VASTLY ore complicated than that.

  37. Pete B. One might start by looking at who Tony Blair and Gordon Brown invited to Number 10 and what decisions were subsequently made, for example about tax matters. However, this would be a complex job. Hopefully there will be (are already?) histories of the 1997 – 2010 Labour Goivernment which will shed light on these matters.

    There are also economic indices which will show things such as relative changes in the wealth of people in the different socio-economic classes.

    My impression is that a lot of people who are, for instance, looking to Jeremy Corbyn to change the direction of the Labour Party, would say that the 1997 -2010 government did not adequately redistribute wealth.

  38. Frederic
    Ah I see. I thought you were talking about why they lost in 2015, not 2010. I can see why Blair and Brown’s closeness to the city types would make them unpopular with traditional Labour voters, though not perhaps why the Tory and Liberal vote increased in 2010.

    In 2015 I thought the conventional wisdom was that Miliband’s party was too left wing though there were obviously other factors such as the SNP and the collapse of the Libdems.

    I find it interesting that both the Tory and Labour votes increased in 2015, and in fact Labour’s by very slightly more.

  39. @Candy

    “So the majority of people think “what are they on about?” when Labour talks of austerity”

    I know – I could never understand why they kept saying it was necessary either.

  40. Jimmy the Greek,

    I agree. I would add that there is no necessary relation between equity market movements and the real economy (e.g. the 1987 stock market crash preceded an intensification of the boom) and there is no iron pattern of recessions, in that you can get two recessions in a period of years and you can have very long periods of expansion without a recession. Labour would be foolish to hope, like Micawber, that “Something will turn up”.

    Many Tories were desperate to deny that they needed to change in 2001, and many of those who thought that a change was needed were “Now more than ever” folks: now, more than ever, the Tories needed to go further to the right. Hence IDS. If only the public heard a REAL eurosceptic right-wing Tory, they’d change their minds…

    It took until the 2005 election, when the Tories faced 13 years out of power and two election defeats in which their vote share had increased just 1.7%, before the consensus that a change was needed was irresistable. And it wasn’t as simple as just moving to the left: Cameron had to construct an identity for the Tories that was neither Thatcherite nor Blairite. Labour will need to do the same, and it won’t be as simple as just copying Tory policies or using the word “aspiration” a lot.

  41. (They may- shock! – even have to do some original thinking…)

    “So the majority of people think “what are they on about?” when Labour talks of austerity”
    I know – I could never understand why they kept saying it was necessary either.


  43. TOH

    “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.”


    I think that was the point I was trying to make, actually. The facts were against the Tories, but the perception was against Labour.

    I would speculate as to why, but I think we can fill in the gap belo with our favourite shibboleth:

    “On the economy, people perceived the Labour Party as weak, and the Tories as strong, because …”

  44. I still say this inquiry is looking under all the wrong rocks. Miliband just didn’t ring true. It’s ironic, but actually it’s labour who are the more ‘out of touch’. It’s no point standing up for ‘ordinary people’ but not bothering to check who they actually are. Clue: the answer is not “coal miners”.

  45. Labour’s tragedy is tht Ed Miliband probably was the best candidate on offer in 2010.

    Ed Balls? Diane Abbott? David milband? Andy Burnham?

    None of these were better choices.

    The worrying thing is the 2010 talent pool looks like a deep limpid lake compared to what is on offer n 2015. Three nonentities (one of hom just on’t get the message) and an old geezer who might have been fabulous if he was ten years younger. Corbyn will be in his 70s in 2020 (possibly on a technicality) and tht as much as anything will put paid to his chances. I suspect he knows it, and will stand down after a couple of years, hopefully for Starmer or Jarvis.

  46. EDIT – Or Cruddas. Can we draft him and make him leader?

  47. A rumour I heard was that Corbyn intends to stand down in 2018 in the hope that Lisa Nandy (Wigan) is elected leader. She’s pretty good (certainly would be more popular than Corbyn in my view) but no idead how much credence to lend that.

    Seen two very odd things in the last couple of days – people engaging with politics in real life who aren’t me running out of clean clothes and wearing my “Hell Yes” t-shirt to the library.

    First, a bloke walking around Sheffield City Centre near the Crucible with a handmade “Jeremy for Leader” sign with the number to sign up written on it.

    Second, a teenager I spotted from the bus home wearing a “Jeremy4Leader” t-shirt.

    It’s curious to me, because previously the only outward expression of politics I ever saw was people who were actively involved in campaigning – I kept my Oliver Coppard badge on my coat lapel for months, for example. Beginning to wonder if I was wrongly skeptical and this can actually inspire people – although I still won’t be voting for him.

    Lurgee is right. Ed Balls and Diane Abbott would have been laughed out of town. Andy Burnham was too unknown in 2010 (although did a sterling job as Shadow Health secretary, if Labour’s 20% lead on the NHS – for all the good it did them – is to be believed). David Miliband wouldn’t have been able to contain and placate the left, as it now is becoming evident Ed Miliband was quite good at doing.

    Ed Miliband made mistakes – he should have picked a different Shadow Chancellor and tried to give his Shadow Cabinet more air time for one, and he should have adopted his Hell Yes/Milifandom image back in about 2011 rather than three months before the end of the campaign. He should have had nothing to do with Better Together, and set up a separate Labour No campaign earlier and with a higher profile. He should have endorsed an immediate EU referendum as soon as it was suggested, to steal the march on Cameron AND ensure an almost certain Yes vote.

    But the others would likely have made similar mistakes, and more. He was the best person for the job of the selection available.

  48. Lurgee,

    I’m a bit of a Michael Dugher fan myself.

  49. @ MrNameless

    ‘Ed Miliband made mistakes – he should have picked a different Shadow Chancellor and tried to give his Shadow Cabinet more air time for one, and he should have adopted his Hell Yes/Milifandom image back in about 2011 rather than three months before the end of the campaign. He should have had nothing to do with Better Together, and set up a separate Labour No campaign earlier and with a higher profile. He should have endorsed an immediate EU referendum as soon as it was suggested, to steal the march on Cameron AND ensure an almost certain Yes vote.’

    I very much agree with you (although as a Bennite eurosceptic, I would/will still be voting ‘no’ in an EU referendum). IMO Ed Balls’ insistence on ‘showing how every policy would be paid for’ completely killed the Labour election campaign and opposing the referendum was a final straw. But, in spite of all that, Labour increased its vote in E&W by 1.5m.

    I still think Ed Miliband could have been an excellent PM but he was constantly sabotaged from within the PLP. I imagine that there are some in the LP hierarchy who now wish that they had backed him properly.

    I have no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn inspires people. Most importantly, he sounds and looks normal!

  50. Good morning all from a grey but I’m assured later it’s going to be a sunny East Renfrewshire. It’s dry, what more can I ask for?


    The ONS figures for the bloated public sector don’t include reclassification of jobs which are still funded by the taxpayer such as some of the higher education institutions but over all the bloat has come down.

    We need a strong efficient public sector not a bloated one. Whoever likes the idea of “big government ” really needs to get away from LaLa land and realize each full time private sector worker in the UK is paying £1,200 each year towards public sector pensions.

    I can see why so many people want to work in some of the bloated departmental areas of local government.
    Glasgow city council…..

    Annual Leave and Public Holidays
    Our employees are able to take advantage of 28 days annual leave from the first year of employment. On top of this they also receive 12.5 days public holidays per year.

    This means that as a minimum our employees receive 40.5 days holiday per year. (These entitlements are based on full-time hours. Part-time entitlement would be reduced based on the number of days worked to give a pro-rata entitlement.

    Pension Scheme

    New employees with a contract of 3 months or more automatically have the opportunity to join not only one of the largest local authority pensions funds in the UK, but also a fund which ranks among the top 20 of all UK pensions funds – Strathclyde Pension Fun”

    Now I’m not saying all people in the public sector live the life of riley but the perks they receive are envied by most in the private sector not least because most of us only receive 28 days paid annual leave which is the legal entitlement but in the public sector they don’t include bank holidays in the legal 28 days where most UK companies do meaning an extra 12 days holidays for public sector workers.

    I’m not going near the pay scale but productivity in the public sector in the UK is horrific and totally inept resource management

    Like I say we need a strong public sector not a bloated one and the idea of big government should be booted and I mean booted real hard into the long grass.

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