Blairite former Labour minister Lord Hutton says Labour lost because it had 'old-school socialist' policies

The New Labour loyalist says he wasn't surprised at the loss

Jon Stone
Saturday 09 May 2015 15:18
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Labour’s policies were to blame for the party’s surprise loss at the general election this week, a former New Labour minister has said.

Lord Hutton argued that Labour has presented an “old-school socialist menu” to the British public that said he was not surprised by the result.

The first page of Labour’s manifesto featured a commitment to budget cuts. Other prominent policies included controls on immigration, compulsory employment schemes, and reforms to regulate the rented housing sector.

The party also said it would cut taxes for the low paid with a 10p tax band and raise revenue with a mansion tax and by reversing cuts to taxes paid on the highest incomes.

“The policy offer that we made in this election has got very few takers. It’s a dwindling appeal, not even our core vote is comfortable with it any longer,” he told the BBC’s Newsnight programme.

“We shouldn’t have been surprised and we’ve made this kind of offer before and it ended with the usual predictable result in the general election. This particular prospectus is not going to command a majority of the votes in the United Kingdom going forward again.

“There’s a limited appetite, a dwindling appetite for the old-school socialist menu which we had on offer. I think we’ve really got to be grown up now and take a long, hard look at ourselves and ask ourselves the sort of question what sort of party we want to be.”

The broadside from the unelected peer, who served in the Cabinet as both Defence Secretary and Business Secretary, will likely be one of many opinions put forward about Labour’s future direction in the coming months.

The party’s defeat after the 2010 general election was largely characterised by a debate about which economic policies the party should pursue.

After that protracted the discussion, the leadership ultimately adopted a fiscally conservative approach that stressed the importance of reducing debt, rather than stimulus spending.

Ed Miliband’s party increased its vote share from 29% under the New Labour government to 30.4% but the Conservatives won a majority due to a collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote.

Labour also lost nearly all of its seats in Scotland due to a surge in support for the Scottish Nationalist Party, who position themselves slightly to the left of Labour on unilateral nuclear disarmament and the free university education.

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