September 19, 2015


'Perhaps we needed to tip the whole thing over': Jon Cruddas on Jeremy Corbyn's Labour (Isabel Hardman , 9/19/15, Spectator)

Shortly before the last election a group of Labour MPs approached Ed Miliband to ask him what he would do if he lost. They suggested he could provide stability by staying on as leader for a while, as Michael Howard had done, and that his last duty should be to oversee an inquiry into what went wrong at the general election. Miliband, still convinced he would win, did not entertain the idea, to the dismay of his policy chief, Jon Cruddas. After the election, Cruddas decided to go ahead and do an inquiry anyway.

The results will infuriate the Labour left. The inquiry found that Labour's anti-austerity message put voters off. The inquiry divided Labour's supporters into three groups: Jeremy Corbyn's tribe of affluent, socially liberal, metropolitan 'pioneers'; the less starry-eyed pragmatic 'prospectors'; and socially conservative 'settlers' concerned with home, family and national security. As recently as last November, it found, Labour's support covered all three. By the election only the diehard 'pioneers' still had warm feelings. [...]

Cruddas says Labour's new leader has a vision: that the party has been 'austerity-lite' and failed to confront 'neoliberalism'. 'There is a coherence to that argument,' he says, 'but I don't see how that is reconciled with the data. We find -- however uncomfortable this is to swallow -- the evidence suggests that actually we weren't supported because we were seen as anti-austerity.'

What about Corbyn's argument that the public is concerned about the deficit because no one has bothered to persuade them about the dangers of austerity? 'That might be right,' Cruddas says, slowly. 'I don't know.' But he worries the party is talking too much to itself and not enough to voters, and that emotion may be supplanting reason.

Posted by at September 19, 2015 9:00 AM

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