Warning for Miliband: you're losing the debate on the economy

 

Ed Miliband is given a stark warning today that Labour is losing the crucial political battle on the economy despite growing fears that the Coalition Government's tough deficit reduction programme is hurting but not working.

In a pamphlet published on the eve of Labour's annual conference in Liverpool, two Labour figures warn that the party has gone backwards in Mr Miliband's first year as leader and "lacks credibility on the economy".

It says: "Voters have even less idea about what Labour stands for now than a year ago, despite the election of a new leader. There is a general sense that New Labour had been abandoned, but very little idea of what this means in practice."

While Mr Miliband is seen as decent and not extreme or out of touch, he is not regarded as a potential Prime Minister.

The pamphlet, Southern Discomfort One Year On, is written by Patrick Diamond, a former aide to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who wrote last year's election manifesto with Mr Miliband, and Lord Radice, a former Labour MP who first diagnosed Labour's "southern problem" in the 1990s.

Their research in the South and the Midlands concludes that Labour's position is "weak", particularly among the skilled and white collar workers of "Middle Britain" who helped both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair win three elections.

Labour holds only 49 of the 302 parliamentary seats in the South (excluding London) and Midlands, which includes many key marginals. "The party cannot win without doing much better in the South and Midlands, nor can it rely on David Cameron's failure to make further inroads in the North and Scotland," says the pamphlet published by the Policy Network think-tank.

It warns that the Conservatives could win the next general election by default even if George Osborne's strategy fails because Labour has lost voters' trust on the economy. "While voters still see Labour as caring and fair, they no longer believe the party is capable of running the economy," it says. "Even more importantly, they do not consider that Labour understands, respects or rewards those who want to get on. Far from encouraging and rewarding talent and opportunity, Labour is still seen as a party likely to 'clobber' those who want to make the most of new opportunities."

The authors suggest Labour has not been able to capitalise on the feelings of anxiety and insecurity among wavering Labour voters which have replaced "aspiration" as their main concern. These people still want politicians to recognise the importance of enabling people to get on in life and do well for themselves and their families.

Mr Diamond and Lord Radice warn: "The heightened mood of pessimism and anxiety may encourage voters to take refuge in what they know, namely the apparent certainties of the Conservative approach based on sound money, smaller government, hostility to Europe and a punitive approach on immigration and crime which may have added resonance among some voters given the prevailing sentiment of insecurity."

The research found that immigration is a serious weakness for Labour, but that the Tories are seen as "more interested in looking after the rich than the British people as a whole". David Cameron is "not loved but he is respected as a capable leader".

Voters remain open-minded about the Government, not least because Labour is not offering an alternative.

Some voters fear that Labour would revert to a "tax and spend" policy. The pamphlet proposes that Labour reduce regressive taxes such as council tax and stamp duty by tackling unearned capital and wealth, by adopting the "mansion tax" on homes worth more than £2m, favoured by Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary. They also propose "earmarked" taxes to raise money directly for health and education.

The authors say that Labour needs to show "fairness and competence" to win back the confidence of voters.

"The Conservatives have successfully defined Labour as the party of economic incompetence, financial profligacy and recession, recalling images of past Labour governments swept from office after one kind or another," they concluded.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
news
Environment
Fungi pose the biggest threat globally and in the UK, where they threaten the country’s wheat and potato harvests
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Primary supply teachers needed in Bury St Edmunds

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers requi...

English Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Secondary English Teacher - requ...

Science Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Calling all science teachers! Ra...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone