Anyone supportive of the Labour Party and signed up to Twitter is still reeling from a BBC Question Time clip from last night. It shows an audience member saying he earns over £80,000 while insisting that his salary does not put him in the top 5% of earners. He goes so far as to claim: “I’m nowhere near in the top 5%, let me tell you. I’m not even in the top 50%.” (It has, of course, been tweeted by the BBCQT account without any clarification that the high earner is factually wrong. Because journalism now too often involves simply reporting what people have said, providing no context or analysis.) We’re talking here about a programme that provides perhaps the most infuriating viewing experience on national television every week. It deals in public outrage. But the views expressed do highlight a key challenge for Labour at this election.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have a huge task ahead: convince the country as a whole, before December 12th, that their plans for restructuring the economy are desirable and deliverable. That was made much more difficult yesterday when the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies described Labour’s manifesto costings as “not credible”. On Radio 4 this morning, it was put to the Shadow Chancellor that “all ordinary people pay when you raise business taxes” and that the restoration of secondary picketing will lead to hospitals and schools being shut down as employees in other sectors strike to support railway workers in dispute. These claims are likely to cut through – particularly in difficult seats where Labour did well in 2017 but is now struggling, rejected by voters who don’t like the idea of another referendum and reckon full-throated support for socialism is fanciful.
Labour needs to raise its game. The Tories are constantly on the attack, particularly with digital tricks that on Thursday alone saw them: release another doctored video; successfully bid through Google to place advertising on LabourList (something that we could not pre-empt, but quickly blocked); set up a website giving the impression that it was Labour’s manifesto but actually promoted the inaccurate claim that everyone would pay £2,400 a year extra in tax under Corbyn’s programme. Their ad for the site first showed as the top result in a Google search for “Labour” without a disclaimer identifying who paid for its placement, apparently due to an error by Google.
Activists on the ground have an enormous responsibility to be clued up on Labour’s policies and how to defend them. LabourList will do its best to help with that mission. We have compiled a list of every single policy in the new manifesto, along with the headline pledges to remember. This week, we published a piece on how the 32-hour-week is actually affordable, some tips for talking about Brexit on the doorstep, general advice for activists from Paul Mason. We have already highlighted key target seats including Harrow East, Finchley and Colchester, and will continue to report from marginals and interview candidates. The most immediate job for Labour members is to get people registered to vote, as Corbyn has set out to do today. There are nine million estimated to be unregistered, and the deadline is Tuesday. The #LabourDoorstep could make all the difference this weekend. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.