Saturday, 20 May 2017

Labour's Trust Problem


There are a lot of us who agree with this meme which is currently going the rounds like a steam powered ferret. Looking at the polls it is obvious that Labour has a floor to its vote of around thirty percent which nothing the Tories or anyone else can do will shift. The Lib-Dem and even the Green vote is being eaten into by Labour, as people realise that a vote for anything but Labour is actually a vote for the Tories.

Labour's manifesto is a dream document for many of us, with poll after poll showing that these are policies that clear majorities of the population agree with. Yet Labour cannot get much above its thirty percent floor, so what's going on?

Choosing a government is not the same as going to the Tesco website and selecting next week's groceries. The bulk of the population want to cast their votes every few years and then forget about politics until the next time rolls around. To do that they choose a party that they by and large agree with, that has an image that they like, and then they vote for it. Most people have little idea about the minutia of policy and expect that their party will more or less put forward policies that they approve of.

Image matters, so Labour gets a free ride on the NHS and benefits, with people assuming that the party will defend both. The Tories get their freebies from the economy, national defence and lower taxes. That was why they were able to get away with failing to reduce the deficit under Cameron, why John Major was able to privatise the army barracks and close down the military hospitals and why Thatcher got away with doubling VAT. People assume that even when the Tories do crappy things to the military or over the economy, they are still better than the alternative in those areas.

The best that Labour can do under present circumstances is to pick holes in Tory economic policies, and point out the fact that Labour's policies are far better costed and rely less on blind faith. Then hope that enough blokes in Walsall and enough birds in Nuneaton decide that, on balance, they will vote Labour next month.

It won't win Labour the election, that is out of the question, but if Labour can reach the near mid-thirty percent of votes cast then it is a base to stand on for the future.

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