Labour’s odd messaging: how the party was for reversing Coalition cuts before it was against them

Mark Pack has already highlighted the pitfalls of political opponents commentating on other parties’ conferences. And he’s right of course. But it didn’t stop him, so I won’t let it stop me…

I am genuinely puzzled by Labour’s key messages based on the first two days of their conference. Day 1 kicked off with the Big Announcment by Ed Miliband that Labour is now committed to doubling tuition fees (dressed up as only The Observer could as Labour committing to ‘slashing’ fees).

Regardless of what you think about the policy, and I think I’ve made my views clear enough, the headline message generated for the normal news-glancing voter is this: Labour will increase taxes (on the rich and on banks) to pay for increased public spending (on students).

In one sense, this is fair enough. it’s the kind of policy move you might expect of Labour (even if, as in this case, the prime beneficiaries are well-off graduates in a decade’s time).

But then Day 2 arrives, and what’s Labour’s main message now? That the party can be trusted with the economy again because Labour won’t commit to reversing the Coalition’s cuts. Attack them? Yes, naturally. But oppose them? No. Here is the clarion call of the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls:

“No matter how much we dislike particular Tory spending cuts or tax rises, we can’t make promises now to reverse them. I’m clear that I won’t do that and neither will any of my Shadow Cabinet colleagues.”

So let me recap to avoid any confusion… Day 1: Labour proposes to reverse (partially) a Coaltion cut through tax rises. Day 2: Labour vows not to reverse Coalition cuts.

My point here is less about the policies and whether you agree with them. I don’t, but then I’m in a different political party and won’t vote Labour at the next election, so I’m hardly Messrs Miliband’s and Balls’ target audience. What surprises me is that Labour should send out such mixed signals within 24 hours, that their two key messages should cancel each other out.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the conference bubble — because thousands of delegates are hanging on your every word, you imagine the general public is, too. Then you watch a news bulletin and realise how it all sounds to the outside world.

Read more by or more about , , , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarBernard Aris 23rd Apr - 3:42pm
    Wow. Praise by the indomitable Liberal veteran activist *) whose column on the back of LibDem Weekly I always read first since the early 1990's;...
  • User AvatarMartin Land 23rd Apr - 3:32pm
    There is no doubt that ECOWAS has been a positive force change in West Africa. An economic group that has evolved into a more political...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 23rd Apr - 3:09pm
    The BBC is having difficulty changing the name of a TV programme from The Daily Politics to Politics Live, as evidenced when they move the...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 23rd Apr - 2:48pm
    He’s a Dutch historian, Milord. Pretty flat then?
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 23rd Apr - 2:29pm
    What a crying shame there is today no modern equivalent of the 1960s Young Liberals to be playing a leading role in the climate and...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 23rd Apr - 2:24pm
    Wow. Someone who understands a bit of history.