This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

After Norwich Labour must rethink its strategy

It will come as no surprise to anyone if Labour loses the by-election in Norwich North today.

However, I think it will be a closer result than many people expect. The expenses scandal has hurt all the parties and Labour’s decision to ban Ian Gibson from standing as a MP at the next election has not gone down well with many party members and constituents.

So the Tories will sneak in, but it won’t be a ringing endorsement for them like it was in Crewe. A win with a majority of less than 8,000 is not good news for Cameron.

The lesson Labour must draw from defeat is that its message of “Tory cuts” versus “Labour investment” is just not credible or believed by voters. As a strategy for the next election, it will not work.

We have to face up to this. We have to be honest with the British public. We have to be more sophisticated.

Every poll conducted shows that voters know that there will be tough choices ahead about what we spend public money on.

Labour’s message has got to be “Yes, some cuts in spending are coming, but you trust Labour to make the right cuts”.

This is a much more credible and effective message than the simplistic one we have peddled in Norwich. Voters will appreciate the honesty of it and it will allow Labour to establish some clear dividing lines in areas of policy and public spending with the Tories.

It will put them in an uncomfortable position because Cameron will be forced to say whether he would match Labour commitments and/or tell us which areas of policy he would make cuts in.

It is time Labour was honest with the voters. If we can do that, then we can win back the trust and the respect we desperately need.

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