The latest ComRes poll in the hideously un- Independent on Sunday should put the nagging doubts into Labour HQ’s all-too-often easy ride. It puts Ed Miliband and his Caviar Comrades just five points into the lead, unchanged from last month’s. Labour is on 36 per cent (-1), with the Tories on 31 per cent (-1), UKIP on 14 per cent (+1) and the Lib Dems on eight per cent (-3). Cameron’s game-changing EU speech is likely to claim responsibility for the Tories improved showing.
Unbelievably, Cameron and Osborne have increased their lead on the economy from one to nine points despite the obvious ineptitude of the part-time Chancellor. Twenty seven per cent of people say they trust Cameron and Osborne “to make the right decisions about the economy” and fifty one per cent say they do not, compared to 20 per cent who say they trust Ed Miliband and Ed Balls and 55 per cent who say they do not, in what is truly a case of better the Devil you know.
Halfway through a parliament seemingly headed by the worst of used car salesman and economic charlatans, with tardigrade economic growth and ballooning government debt, the Labour party should have a landslide on the not-too-distant horizon. They don’t. There must be some concerted head-scratching going on at CCHQ. Despite the catalogue of mess the Coalition seems to make, the Labour Party just cannot gain the ground it deserves.
The problem Labour are having is a two-pronged pitch fork: one being a lack of trust on the economy, and the other due to being headed by the wrong Miliband. Regardless of what the members and activists will force through their porcelain insistence, David, not Ed, is the man most of them, and the electorate, wanted. The election in 2015 would have been sewn up and gift wrapped at this stage had the former Foreign Secretary been appointed leader. It is a well-known whisper in political circles that his brother, Ed, was chosen due to his left-wing credentials by the all-powerful union bosses keen to implement their 1980s socialist agenda.
But ‘Red Ed’ is nothing more than a lazy, Tory moniker. In recent months, the Labour leader has begged, borrowed and stolen from the ghosts of the traditional Right in an attempt to be more like his more sensible and economically literate brother.
The economy issue is most often the deciding factor at a general election. The common voter cares very little about much else if their wallet is shrinking or the weekly trip to the Jobcentre again proves debilitating. Voters notice most if their pay packet buys less than it used to. To them, and most other people, this is all that matters. Ronald Reagan knew this, his famous ‘are you better off now?’ election quip gave voters something to mull over as they headed to the polling stations. If the answer was ‘no’, they voted ‘yes’ to Reagan.
Ed Miliband has done a lot of political clothes-changing over recent months, first pilfering Benjamin Disraeli’s One Nation rhetoric, now he’s made attempts to relieve Reagan of his living standards question. Ed plans to base much of the Labour election campaign with a simple question for voters to ask themselves: Am I better off now than four years ago?
The Tories will need to counter what will prove to be a politically-resonant message from the Labour campaign machine. The One Nation mantra, however realistic it may be, is a short, simple and effective message that can reach the common voter without the need for any unnecessary padding or propaganda. In what will be a battle of living standards, the Tories must get back to their bootstrap basics and show the voters which party will really help you along in life. After all, shallow as it may be, wallets decide elections.