You may find this an odd headline to publish, the day after Jeremy Corbyn’s historic landslide victory in the Labour Party leadership elections; it refers to the general election, not to yesterday’s events.
Professor Simon Wren-Lewis has issued a warning that Labour most concentrate on publicity as much as policy, as follows:
It used to be said that governments, not oppositions, win or lose elections. Yet all of the comment is about Labour’s policies. A much better place to start is why voters voted for a Conservative government. That quickly leads you to the fact that voters saw the Conservatives as competent in economic terms. And that is where you should stop.
You should stop because, as I have argued many times, the raw data on the economy was terrible. If you had asked any pollster or political scientist whether a government could win on economic competencehaving presided over a huge fall in real wages they would have said no.
The Conservatives won because they reframed the economic debate. Competence became reducing the deficit, not increasing prosperity. Labour’s failure was a failure to challenge that reframing. Forget the details of Labour policy – it is of little importance compared to this crucial mistake.
Corbyn will have some advantages. He will not let Osborne’s deficit fetishism go unchallenged. But that challenge will only work if the alternative policy is solid and simple… Focusing on the current balance will allow for a large increase in public investment, which again can be spun very simply: Labour, unlike the Conservatives, invests in our future (It is not afraid to borrow to do so, just like every successful firm).
Corbyn, and the team he selects, may not want to call it spin, but if they do not match their opponent’s ability in this area they will lose.
Source: mainly macro: Labour lost
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