12 Months to the General Election: The State of the Parties #1 Labour

by Ray_North on May 13, 2014

150px-Labour_Party_Ireland_svgIt is, as I mentioned in a recent post, only 12 months before we will have a general election and over the next week or so, I’m going to be having a look at the state of the parties a year before that date, and assess what they might have to do to improve their standings.

So, let’s start with Labour.

What Labour need in a General Election
Labour lost 91 seats at the last general election and will need to win at least half of those back if it is to secure a outright victory.

Performance since the last election
Labour’s performance since the last election has been a mix of conservatism and contrition. True, there has been no obvious in-fighting or bickering, and the leader Ed Miliband has been pretty secure – but, Labour have consistently found themselves needlessly apologising for the economy, whilst their own policies, apart from a few exceptions have been unimaginative and far too close to the Coalition to make any real impact.

They’ve held the by-elections they were supposed to hold, with the notable exception of Bradford, but they’ve failed to take any Tory scalps or poll in a way that suggests a strong movement towards them by the electorate.

High Points and Leaders Performance.
Ed Miliband has been occasionally inspiring, his speech about ‘one nation Labour,’ certainly got me excited as I, perhaps wrongly, perceived that to be an assertion that Labour would be using the gears of the state in a positive way to curb the excesses of the multi-multinational capitalism. Ed also performed well during the early days of the Phone Tapping Scandal, and his attempts to bring the energy companies to heel. Other than that…. well, I like the guy, but I appreciate that I’m in the minority and most people remain uninspired.

Situation now
In the last couple of days opinion polls have shown the Tories leading over Labour for the first time since 2011 – ok, the lead is small (about 2% in average) but it is significant enough for the Tories to get excited and Labour to start to feel the heat. Labour will not win an election if it polls as badly as these polls suggest.

Labour’s problems
As I see it, Labour have three problems – first they are still perceived as being the reason for the economic mess that we had from 2007 onwards; second, the leader Ed Miliband is an electoral liability; third, they have failed to connect with the disillusioned who are not happy with the coalition and are seeking an alternative. In short, Labour and Ed Miliband have failed to put together a strong and coherent vision that can inspire enough people to vote for them in 12 months time.

What to do between now and the election?
Well, Ed Miliband isn’t going to go, but, there’s little point in Labour trying to portray him as something that he isn’t – he is a bit of geek, so what, he does have a funny voice, so what, he isn’t particularly sexy, who cares. Ed Miliband is at his best when he is speaking from the heart and being the instinctive politician he wants to be rather than the manufactured politician that others want him to be. He should be allowed to be passionate about the ‘squeezed middle’ and champion the ways in which government can improve the lot of all of us, rather than simply accepting the perceived narrative that government and the state is a bad thing that needs to be reduced and chopped and done away with.

Labour also need to show teeth when it comes to the economy – the story should not be, ‘Labour and Gordon Brown got us into this mess,’ the story should be, hold on, ‘the bankers got us into this mess, greed got us into this mess, globalism got us into this mess’ – because it’s true.

On the NHS and education, Labour must be a vociferous champion – no more corporate speak, no more clever bureaucratisation points, Labour must point out firmly that these institutions (and others, legal aid anyone??) are in peril if the Tories are elected, but mostly Labour must tell us all why they are important to all our lives.

In short, Labour must tell the nation why politics and government and public expenditure and the state is important and how it should be embraced and managed to the benefit of all of us, rather than frowned upon and used simply as an aid for private companies to make money.

How will Labour fare 12 months from now?
I fear the worst.

Chances of getting my vote?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Elliott May 13, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Tick-tock, tick-tock, we sleep walk towards disaster……

Labour are in real trouble in terms of getting a coherent message out to the electorate which states who they are and what they stand for. On the back foot for too long after the financial crash, it’s now accepted wisdom that the ‘we’re clearing up the mess Labour left behind’ is the truth of the matter. In retrospect Brown was a disaster. Completely unsuited to being PM.

George has confidently stated that the swing required for a Tory majority is unachievable. I hope he’s right. I suspect that Clegg will once again be playing the role of Kingmaker.


Cray Hopcroft May 13, 2014 at 1:15 pm

We’re all doomed!!!!!

However the polls are all over the place because of the Euro Elections. The Greens are on 5% in the Ashcroft poll (they won 0.9% in GE) so left minded voters are being effected by the Euros. Therefore Tory leads are suspect and should not be treated as gospel, only after the elections next week and the polls settle down in June will we know what voters real intentions for GE are. I suspect Labour will be back in a small but stable lead again. The keys to Number Ten are still up in the air despite the media hysteria.


Cray Hopcroft May 13, 2014 at 1:47 pm

So what is going to happen in 2015………….

I suspect a repeat of the 1992 General Election result with the Tories staying around the vote share that they got 5 years ago (36%) whilst Labour will gain vote share off the third party (this time the Lib Dems) and rise to about 34%. How this pans out in seat numbers I am not sure as there will be big regional and turnout differences but it will be another hung parliament.

Always remember about the forthcoming election the poor hand both main parties have been given by the previous result in 2010. Cameron can’t afford any significant net losses, even the net loss of 15 to 20 seats is bad news. Whilst Miliband is starting from the terrible defeat of 2010 and one of the worst vote shares in the party’s post-war history. Therefore the idea of Labour rising to the high 30s and therefore majority territory is a very tall order. As for the Lib Dems I expect them to avoid a wipe out but to be reduced to around 40 seats.

Can Miliband become PM? Will Cameron cling on? Will Clegg still be the Kingmaker? The answers are still all up in the air…………………


Jackie_South May 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm

The polling is a little strange: three polls on Saturday gave Labour a lead of 4-7 points, then yesterday the Ashcroft and ICM polls suggested a lead for the Conservatives.

Two polls today (YouGov and Populus) suggest a small Labour lead (both within the margin of error). So things are tight but Labour is probably a point or two ahead overall. The average of these seven polls is:
Con: 32%
Lab: 34%
LD: 10%
UKIP: 16%

The shift in polls seems to be less about Labour support going over to the Tories, more of Labour support going over to UKIP, as the latter focuses in on working class support.

(PS – Ray, I’m not sure why you’ve used the Irish Labour Party emblem rather than the UK one!)


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