Have Labour lost the General Election 6 weeks early?
It seems to the untrained eye that every argument they have made in the past few months is hollow of any real substance and they look increasingly like a Party who have nothing to help swing the vote their way in any marginal competitions.
Labour, to coin a football phrase or three, have no match winner, no flair player, no tactical nous, no defence to overcome a solid-looking Tory government who are quick to counter attack.
They seem to be keeping up with the Conservatives in the majority of polls, but they are doing nothing to suggest they will be able to form a government, except by making a very unpopular deal with the SNP, which could kill their support in England much in the way their efforts during the Referendum campaign killed it North of the Border.
Unfortunately, because they are likely to stay reasonably close to the Tory seat-count, they will leave the Tories with a similar problem to face if they wish to form any sort of coherent government themselves.
Ed gets the blame as usual
There are the usual grumblings that Ed Miliband is not up to the job, or that he hasn’t the charisma required to inspire confidence in the voting public. Personally, and not being a fan of the current crop of Labour politicians, I think Ed himself is fine. He certainly doesn’t command instant respect by his physical presence, or exuberate any real charm or charisma, but he can hold his head up in any company and is more than capable of stringing a few sentences together.
It’s funny how the majority in the Labour camp thought he was the best choice in the leadership election against his brother – but the moment things seem to hit a wall, they all reckoned the wrong choice was made and David was the leader they should have had. Ed Miliband won that leadership contest fair and square, he has done a fair job of gelling the Labour supporters together – but he is suffering from a lack of policy and a serious lack of direction from the Labour Party itself.
I don’t think the trouble inside Labour is a result of their current leader – it is the result of never having been held properly to task by the voter. There are just so many Labour supporters who will not listen to debates, or who just refuse to admit that the Labour Party may have gone astray on some of their policies – and this gives Labour politicians an air of superiority emanating from the confidence that they are probably safe no matter what they do.
Even the Labour candidates in marginal seats are not putting their head above the parapet in the media, this is being left to the two Ed’s and a few others to ensure the same rhetoric is delivered every time. The lack of any real substance to their campaign is evident in the lack of candidates feeling confident enough to push themselves into the spotlight to argue their case.
Scandal after scandal
The Labour Party itself has to shoulder responsibility for the never-ending list of scandals that seem to be dogging them lately and for not dealing with these effectively. The average Labour Councillor or MP seems to think he/she is above the law and above Party rules, going by the consistent bad press they have been giving their party.
It seems, no matter where we look, there is another scandal dogging the Labour Party in the media. Some have been minor, but some are really dangerous for their potential vote count:
Rotherham – the cover-up and inaction with regards to potentially 1400 child exploitation cases have been damaging and the inability of Labour to be able to satisfy the general public that they have actually dealt with this in Rotherham is going to seriously affect their vote.
Diane Abbott – I like Diane, she is a regular on shows such as Daily Politics, etc., but she has shown herself to have mildly racist tendencies which would not be tolerated if directed against an ethnic minority. If her offending tweet had been a white UKIP Candidate, making such generalisations against an ethnic minority, the media uproar would have been deafening. This type of double-standard that Labour seems to employ drives the UKIP-supporter-led grumbling against them and it pretty much dumps on the expected Equality that is supposed to be delivered under a Labour government.
Coventry – the complaints came in and were widely publicised when Coventry Labour Councillors decided to brand their local residents racist, directing some poor choice of language at them.
Halifax – Labour disqualified 130 members from voting for their candidate in Halifax which was by all accounts a complete setup to ensure an Asian candidate was agreed. All but 7 of the 130 were Asian members.
Hedge Fund donors – Labour have consistently attacked the Tories over some of their donations being linked to Hedge Fund Managers, suggesting that they gained favour with the government. This was blown away when it turned out last week that one of Labours largest donors, Martin Taylor, is a Hedge Fund Manager and they tried to keep this a secret from the general public. It has also been revealed that Ed’s own leadership contest was financed by another Hedge Fund Manager.
Labour have not dealt with any of these situations with anything to inspire confidence in voters, they have been hesitant and indecisive, with little actual action being taken to hold any of the perpetrators to account. Their constant haranguing of the Tory Party and their links with Hedge Fund donors, whilst hiding the fact that they were the same, leaves a bad taste in the mouth of any voter.
It is headlines like those recently from Stoke-on-Trent, where Labour Councillor Matthew Fry is said to face disqualification from the Council after his conviction for repeated attacks on his girlfriend. Faces disqualification is not really convincing for voters, we would generally hope for something a little stronger for a convicted woman beater. A little discipline from the Labour Party, something along the lines of him no longer representing Labour, would have gone a way to giving voters confidence that Labour were ‘clean’, decisive and just. His potential disqualification from the Council is outside of Labour’s remit, but the average Joe Bloggs on the street doesn’t see or feel this – he just sees another Labour Councillor not being dealt with by his Party.
The problem with the sheer number of scandals, and their runaway frequency, is the voter is forming a picture in their head of a Labour Party who cannot be trusted to run the UK, who cannot be trusted to put the country before their own Party.
Labour have nothing in the Policy jar
Labour Policy has been very rhetorical in the way it has been discussed in media interviews, with lots being suggested but nothing concrete being detailed. The vast majority of time being spent on the campaign trail seems to be delivering a load of negativity about the current government and their policies, without delivering anything substantial to show the public what Labour intends to do, if elected. There have been no real figure-crunching interviews directed at Labour, so nobody really has any clue where they intend to finance their Equality, Cost of Living or Welfare improvements from.
Sure, they have shouted their proposed ‘Mansion Tax’ from the rooftops, but this is a drop in the proverbial ocean when compared to the vast sums that need to be shaved from the deficit and public debt. The Mansion Tax is probably something most voters would agree with – but it alone is not enough to vote a government into power, the voter is not blind.
They have continually hammered it into everyone that the Tories will drastically cut NHS funding, pointing out failings in meeting core targets. The majority of people have seen through this since NHS spending is consistently rising and George Osborne has consistently promised not to cut NHS funding. The failings Labour go to such pains to point out are bad in NHS England, but Labour seem to conveniently forget the NHS in Wales, which has been under their devolved control since 1999, and which is performing much worse in every area.
The negativity they continually spout regarding the NHS, threatening privatisation under Tory rule, definitely seems to curry favour among the Party faithful – but the lack of anything substantial, added to their shocking record in Wales, is not giving voters confidence that Labour could do any better than the current government.
The true extent of their folly into PFI, the rampant manner they cranked up the policy, and the almost extortionate sums these contracts will cost taxpayers for a generation, has finally started to sink in with the less political-savvy voters – the vastness of the sums involved grabbing even their attention. This leaves them with no real clout with undecided voters when they try to weaponise the NHS, or Education for that matter.
Osborne played them like a fiddle
George Osborne has proved himself not only to be a very able Chancellor, but a shrewd and highly intelligent Politician. He delivered a warning of upcoming cuts during his Autumn Budget which Labour seized upon and were able to then compare government spending rates to the 1930’s, creating a mental picture in voters heads that life was about to become pretty damn tough (as if it wasn’t already bad enough).
He then delivered a pre-election Budget this week which blew away everything Labour had been banging on about for the past few months – the economy is in great shape (all things considered), unemployment is dropping in a mind boggling fashion, tax evasion is about to be hammered, help is available to home buyers and savers, tax allowances raised, minimum wage is rising, etc.
Labour look on the back foot over the economy and all they have left in their arsenal is to continually refer to this ‘statistic’ they have obtained which suggests people are worse off by £1,600 under the Tories – this even being countered by Tories, using an alternative statistic, suggesting everyone is now £900 better off.
Labour continually threaten that the Tories will deliver cuts in the next couple of years the likes of which we have never seen – and the forecasts delivered by George Osborne agree that there will be more cuts to come in public spending before things are back on an even keel. This argument is not really hitting home with voters who seem to have a general acceptance that Osborne and crew have done a decent job with the economy and they are trusted to deliver us from the horrors the economic crash rained down on everyone rich or poor.
Osborne played Labour with both Budgets. He threw them a hook in Autumn 2014, letting them create a stir with the 1930’s reference, only to rip this straight back off them with a sensible, layman-type of Spring Budget, showing a much more positive slant on the future.
Labour will retain their core vote but will it be enough?
Take a look at the past few days in the media, even the UK’s favourite daughter Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has admitted she has always been a Labour supporter, mainly because she was raised by Labour supporters and grew up surrounded by them. She admits herself that she pays a shedload of tax and that the proposed ‘mansion tax’ would hit her hard – but she will still remain a Labour supporter and probably vote for them again (if someone of her stature actually takes the time to vote).
We have had some lively debates lately on Twitter with Labour supporters lately, some of which trundle out the same slogans about the Tories and Austerity, or about the NHS being in tatters, etc – but when actually argued against, they have little to say except to begin the negativity against the current government all over again. The glaring lack of definitive policies from Labour are ringing alarm bells all over Social Media, but the core Labour believers will not be swayed, but can there be enough of them to win an upcoming General Election?
The staunch Labourites, who will undoubtedly rattle the sabres throughout the Election Campaign on behalf of their beloved Party, will give a voice to Labour on Social Media and in general networking. They will fight the good fight, colourfully debating anyone they can engage, spreading the good word according to apostles Ed and Ed. The problem with this is – without anything in their pouch to offer the undecided voter – they may be forced to look towards retaining a government who are at least getting some of the important stuff right.
Can it be that the polls are correct at present, mainly because we have a seriously large number of voters who are undecided, who cannot see a Party who inspires them through the fog of negativity this Campaign has created? Could this then mean that a lot of people are going to make their minds up very close to the actual Polling Day? This could then mean that a decision is thrust upon them and they have to vote for the current government, because the risk of Labour is just too great and the confidence has just not come across.
Polling Day is 7th May 2015, but have Labour already lost this Election because they have nothing more to say to the electorate?