Where did it all go wrong for Labour in 2015?

As the Labour ‘supporters’ begin to receive their leadership election ballot cards, the spectre of the last election results haunts them. Desperate to not elect a leader who will make the same mistakes as Ed Miliband, desperate to elect a leader who can oppose the Tory narrative and win in 2020, Labour HQ has been scratching its head to pinpoint what cost them the election.

Doing so has not proven easy. Mainstream media outlets would have you believe Red Ed was too left wing to be electable. A recent YouGov survey suggests it was a lack of trust on the economy, the anti-austerity stance that cost Labour the election. Then there’s others such as UKIP, who will point to Labour’s reluctance to tackle immigration head on as the primary vote loser.

However we must be clear, singular issues did not cause Labour to lose the election. Under Ed Miliband’s command Labour lacked the vision and conviction needed to win the hearts and votes of the electorate. This article will explore a range of issues which Labour supporters should keep in mind when casting their vote.

 

The Economy

In the run up to the election Labour suffered an uphill struggle to shake the Tory line that it was Labours reckless spending that caused the global financial crash. In politics the truth doesn’t always matter, merely the perception the electorate holds. By adopting an austerity-lite economic programme Labour was not only outflanked by the Conservatives trusted economic plans, it lost the vital support of its left-wing activist base. This is evidenced by the surge in Green party support & partially by the Labour wipe-out in Scotland on the back of the anti-austerity message.

To come back fighting Labour needs a drastic new economic vision, one that breaks away with austerity, an economic vision that will provide the high paying skilled jobs this country desperately needs whilst expanding large scale infrastructure projects to ensure the UK’s future success in the global context. Any newly elected leader has their work cut out for them, regaining public trust on the economy will be essential, confronting Osbornomics in head on is a must.

 

Scotland

Having sided with the Tory party during the in-out referendum, Labour created a toxic establishment image for themselves, allowing the SNP thrived wiping Labour off the electoral map. Furthermore Labour’s strategy neglected the overwhelming support for anti-austerity policies north of the boarder, alienating millions of their core voters.

The only candidate to publically make Scotland a top priority so far is Jeremy Corbyn. The Scottish electorates views closely align with Jeremy Corbyn’s vision, the other candidates will have to try harder if they’re to win back their votes.

 

Immigration

Immigration and anti-EU sentiment openly swept across the UK long before Election Day, UKIP was on the rise with the charismatic Nigel Farage at the helm. The working class voters, traditionally Labour leaning voters, had their biggest concerns brushed aside by Labours lack of will to engage in a democratic in-out EU referendum. Who are Labour to deny people democracy? Unlike Labour the Conservative party recognised the freedom of choice, either genuinely or strategically, gaining a significant portion of working class votes.

Whilst a lot may change with the upcoming EU referendum none of the candidates will win back UKIP voters unless they display a critical eye of the EU’s shortcomings and the will to engage in fierce negotiation with the needs of the people at the heart of them. Furthermore any opposition leader must not give Cameron any quarter on EU negotiations; having burnt one too many bridges with fellow EU leaders Cameron is powerless and vulnerable on this topic.

 

Tuition Fees

For young voters like myself, this singular issue was the only indicator needed to show Labour lacked conviction. A move to reduce fees to £6,000 a year baffled voters and commentators alike. A one-leg-in, one-leg-out approach saw the Green party invigorate the student vote with the promise of zero tuition fees and maintenance grants. The policies Miliband should’ve adopted day 1.

By taking a middle of the road approach to a range of important issues in the last election, Labour failed to appeal to groups of either side of the debate. These decisions left them outflanked both left and right. A clear vision will be key in 2020, without it Labour could be consigned to opposition for the next 10 years.

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