By Gus Baker
Since 1997 Labour has only been consistenly ahead in one poll. When voters are asked “Which political party most shares your values?”, Labour comes out on top every time. If we are to prevent a Tory landslide we must reconnect with our values voters. Time is running out.
In the Norwich North by election the Conservatives received 4,000 votes fewer than they did in 1997. Labour’s vote dropped by 21,000. The key problem for Labour is not so much that turnout is down overall, it is that our turnout has been decimated. People are not switching to the Tories, they are switching off all together.
Across Norwich in deprived wards like Crome, our voters stayed at home. Did they fail to vote because they thought that Labour was too left wing? Did they decide to not turn out because they thought that we were too anti-business? Did they stay at home because they believed that public spending was too high? No. These 21,000 lost values voters did not vote Labour because they do not believe we are on their side. We must convince our lost millions that we are.
Labour has to stop talking about “winning Middle England”. We have to stop trying to appear tough on crime and terror with hopelessly unpopular schemes like ID cards and start putting all our energies into helping those who have been left behind in our decade in power.
Here are two ways we could reconnect with these values voters tomorrow:
1 – Index link all state benefits and the minimum wage to RPI by law. Inflation will rise again and we must show we are committed to ridistributing wealth and helping people in need get by.
2 – Levy a tax on second homes (which artificially inflate property prices) and use this money to build social housing on a massive scale. In 1945 government debt was far, far higher than it was today and yet the Atlee government rebuilt almost a tenth of city housing in the UK. We must set our sights high and enact housing plans that are just as ambitious.
To reconnect we must fight the good fight; not the politically convenient one. I hope we’re up to the challenge.