Jeremy Corbyn has promised this week that a Labour government will stand up to the most powerful people in Britain – the “bankers, billionaires and the establishment” who have benefited from a “rigged” system.
The manifesto features £82.9 billion of tax rises and the equivalent extra annual spending, in addition to £400 billion of capital borrowing.
The Labour Party says it has identified how it would pay for the plethora of promises it’s made – they claim that no one earning less than £80,000 would pay a penny more. I can’t overstate how important it is that the highly respected Institute of Fiscal Studies have responded to their claim with this damning assessment.
“The Labour manifesto suggests they want to raise £80 billion of tax revenue and they suggest that all of that will come from companies and people earning over £80,000 a year. That is simply not credible. You cannot raise that kind of money in our tax system without affecting individuals…if you are looking at transforming society, which the Labour party is absolutely upfront about doing, then you need to pay for it and it can’t be somebody else that pays for it. We collectively will need to pay for it.”
This could be the assessment which kills of the Labour dream.
The daily pledges feel like a wish list which would make even Santa blush. The big problem for the Party is that the daily spending announcements it is making are not even registering with the public. There are simply too many to ‘land’ in voters minds.
There is a long established rule in politics that voters only register a policy or a party position if it is repeated endlessly and when politicians are bored senseless of repeating it Think ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ or ‘Get Brexit done’. It’s known in the political trade as ‘message discipline’ and it’s in short supply from Labour in this campaign.
Some Labour offers answer questions which have never even been posed – for example I have never been asked for free broadband by a voter and I can’t help worrying that the coverage that announcement received – could have been better spent on the Party’s NHS promises.
The Labour Party needs to focus and to make this an NHS General Election. It would fare better if it talked everyday about the promise of free prescriptions and free dentistry. These are simple to understand and would help millions of people especially those in low paid work. But instead, each policy was announced and then abandoned the next day as Labour moved on to talk about something else without giving voters the time to register either.
Voters in marginal Ashfield have yet to mention any particular Labour policy to me that they are aware of (other than a negative perception that they have frustrated Brexit). They are vaguely aware that Labour is promising ‘a lot of stuff’ and are quizzical about how it will be paid for. In a general election campaign less really can be more – remember 1997 when Labour focussed ruthlessly on just five pledges.
There are still an alarming number of 2017 Labour voters in a marginal seat like Ashfield who are moving to ‘won’t vote’ or ‘don’t know’. If even a fraction of these don’t knows are shy Tories, this could spell disaster for Labour at the polls.
Labour needs to get back to its core NHS message and it needs to do so quickly. If the only political message that’s getting through to voters in this campaign is Boris Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’ that spells real danger.
A week after Jeremy Corbyn and Labour launched their manifesto in 2017 their poll rating jumped five-points, from 31 to nearly 36 per cent. The next seven days are absolutely crucial for the Labour Party.
Measurement and evaluation