Do voters really want Labour to be more right-wing?


1:19 pm - June 8th 2011

by Don Paskini    


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The Guardian reports that “voters want a tough responsibilities agenda, similar to that of New Labour”, based on submissions to Labour’s policy review process. Respondents want to cut crime and anti-social behaviour, reform welfare and reduce immigration, protect wage levels, cut international aid to “look after our own first”, be more Eurosceptic, reform banks and cut bankers’ bonuses, reduce tuition fees, reverse police cuts, increase apprenticeships and expand youth services.

Some thoughts on this. Firstly, is this really that similar to New Labour? Cutting bankers’ bonuses, reducing immigration, protecting wage levels, Euroscepticism, cutting international aid, reducing tuition fees…all the opposite of what New Labour stood for or did while in office. Discussing new policies through the prism of “is it what Tony would have done fifteen years ago” is not very illuminating.

Secondly, there are some tough messages here for us lefties, though none of them should come as any great surprise. We can’t run away or ignore from public attitudes on overseas aid, welfare benefits or immigration, and we need to work out some new approaches and arguments which convince more people. This is going to mean building on excellent work done by groups like Broken of Britain and Strangers into Citizens, involving and led by the people who have most to lose from a fresh assault on the weak and vulnerable. Suggestions for how Liberal Conspiracy could best contribute to this are most welcome.

There are going to be a lot of stupid and nasty ideas on the back of this (along the lines of the yearly crackdown on immigration, tough new rules on jobseekers, the sick and disabled and other features of Labour’s time in government which worked so wonderfully well in addressing public concerns and promoting social justice). We need to make sure that these get defeated, but we can’t just get trapped into defending the status quo. I think this is important even for people who care about these issues but aren’t Labour supporters, as the likely impact of (say) Labour dropping its support for the 0.7% international aid target, pledging to time-limit benefits or backing some kind of immigration crackdown is for the government to respond with some even more punitive measures in a kind of “who can kick the poor most” competition.

Thirdly, there’s plenty here for lefties to like – the spin that this shows that “the mood of the electorate is sharply right-wing” is less than accurate. For example, this should help to kill off the guff that one of Labour’s problems is that it is “too statist”, or that Labour should accept the cuts. Respondents are concerned about the impact of cuts, particularly to police and youth services. And any conceivable agenda around banking reform, cutting crime, a better deal for people in work, tackling youth unemployment, and reforming welfare and the immigration system is going to involve an active role for the state. It’s more than a little strange to spin findings which show voters rejecting the anti-statist prejudices of the Right as a sign that the voters are “sharply right wing”.

And lastly, while many of these findings are supported by other pieces of research evidence, it is important to remember that “people who attend Labour consultation meetings or send in written submissions” are not a representative cross-sample of the population. Some 20,000 people contributed to this exercise – Labour volunteers speak to that many people, and a much more diverse range of people at that, on the doorstep every week. There are some obvious gaps in the list mentioned by the Guardian – I cannot believe that no one mentioned the NHS or cost of housing, to take two obvious examples.

Every piece of research into community engagement shows that the people who turn up to public meetings or who send in written submissions are on average older and more affluent than the general population, and that, for example, women, disabled people, people with caring responsibilities and people from minority ethnic groups are less likely to take part. Labour needs also to listen to the vast majority of people who weren’t reached through this consultation, and a key way of doing so will be to link campaigning at the grassroots with future policy development.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Crime ,Economy ,Equality ,Fight the cuts ,Immigration

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Reader comments


1. Aidan Skinner

The way I read the report is that it’s primarily about issues, not solutions. Crime, welfare reform, houses, jobs, wages are all things that people are consistently concerned about. No big surprise there. It’s like doing a survey on local issues and finding out that people are concerned about the roads and the bins.

They don’t actually seem to have asked about the sort of solutions to those problems. That seems to be being read into the report.

2. Mr S. Pill

On the “reform welfare” bit; I agree that welfare should be reformed, but only insofar as I think unemployment/sickness benefits should be higher and fewer private companies should have any input in helping people into work.
Words can be decieving 😉

3. Planeshift

@2 yes thats worth remembering. No sane person thinks the current welfare system is worth keeping, but that doesn’t mean we want to slash entitlements or support tory reforms.

4. John P reid

1@ yes no answers to where the money will ome from to reverse the cuts.
At least a left wing blog is lietning to what the ex labour voter wants and acknowledges, reversing the recent police cuts ,or stricter immigration or cutting foreign aidis what real labour wants ,not nationalisation and tax and spend, or interfering with Israel foreign policy

5. Workman Fred

“look after our own first”

I have been trying to tell you that!

I hope some of you on here over my short time of posting have seen me for a fair minded working class person and not the type some first thought I was.

I like to think I’m very in tune with those around me, I’m out here alot and don’t mind asking people for their views and because I’m just one of the lads people, I believe, are normally honest & frank about what they are thinking.

So seems like were all agreed! Look after our own ;O)

Can’t talk more, yep! At work, laters :O)

6. Oliver Hutchings

“Every piece of research into community engagement shows that the people who turn up to public meetings or who send in written submissions are on average older and more affluent than the general population,”

Are they not also the ones who vote?

Is Labour Britain’s version of France’s Parti Radical?

We have enough right wing parties in this country. I would like to be able to vote for a proper left wing party. If Labour slide even further to the right, they will alienate even more voters.

@1 you’ve got it.

Every day the problems are piling up.

Every day the solutions get fewer.

This is the end game.

I would like to see the actual report rather than the selectively leaked bits, but I’m not surprised by the euroscepticism.

10. Planeshift

“euroscepticism.”

I suspect the game changer for labour would be if they offered a referendum on EU membership. Time it correctly and it wins them the election.

Moving away from the topic, however, I sometimes wonder if labour did actually offer a referendum, how many UKIP supporters would vote for them. I think many of their voters would, but whether Tim W would I’m not sure.

I suspect the game changer for labour would be if they offered a referendum on EU membership. Time it correctly and it wins them the election.

Who’d believe them? Labour have form for ignoring manifesto promises on referendums.

12. Planeshift

It would be something the tabloids would be holding them to on a daily basis. Too many people wanting it to let it drop, whereas ones on PR etc were not demanded in such strength.

Workman Fred is pretty accurate judging from my experience with work colleagues and in the pub. However I also find that putting the alternative to the current accepted policies gets a sympathetic hearing. Most people I talk to are worried about the effects of the cuts and on their job security. We all know people who have lost their jobs and are struggling in crap, low-paid work.

The main thing I notice is that everyone echoes the tory tale that all this is necessary and Labour caused the problem. There is a special little hate zone for bankers too. The inconsistency suggests to me that people are angry and scared but are simply regurgitating what they pick up from the TV, radio and press.

I dislike the term, but where is the Labour narrative? It’s really not getting out there consistently enough. If there is one thing we should all have learned from New Labour it is that the message needs to be simple and to be endlessly repeated. The tories have learned this, Labour seem to have forgotten it.

The ‘reducing immigration’ one is interesting, and I’d be interested to see a fuller report on that one.

My suspicion, from my time spent on doorsteps and in pubs, is that “immigration” as a concern is a catch-all, and that it’s often less about immigration policy than it is about “immigrants” who are already here (in inverted commas here because if they’re here they’re not immigrants c.f. Bourdieu’s Acts of Resistance on this). That is, concerns are linked to Dail Mail lies about “immigrants” as benefits/service/housing usurpers and/or non-integrationists-who-wear-veils and/or fanatical extremists likely to blow us all up soon if something isn’t done. The fact that lots of immigration is from the EU gets lost in the mix.

At the very least Labour might try to set out the distinction between immigration policy and policy towards people who used to be immigrants but who aren’t now (or whose parents used to be).

As ever, Inwish Labour policy makers would read John Rex on this. He’s not pro-immigration, but he’s pro-fairness to people who once immigrated. That seems like a sensible approach to counter rightwing, paper-selling myth that it’s the WWC who suffer discrimination.

15. Shatterface

‘The Guardian reports that “voters want a tough responsibilities agenda, similar to that of New Labour”, based on submissions to Labour’s policy review process. Respondents want to cut crime and anti-social behaviour…’

Yes, but not by abolishing civil liberties

‘reform welfare and reduce immigration…’

Not helpful linking them like that

‘protect wage levels…’

Absolutely

‘cut international aid to “look after our own first”…’

Successful economies and peaceful markets overseas are vital in order to ‘look after our own’

‘be more Eurosceptic’

See above. We are an island only in the trivial sense we are surrounded by water.

‘reform banks and cut bankers’ bonuses’

Aout time

‘reduce tuition fees’

Better still, abolish the fuckers

‘reverse police cuts’

Better still, abolish the fuckers.

‘increase apprenticeships and expand youth services.’

Fair enough.

16. Limiting Factor

Have to say I think the entire result of the MiliLabour listening exercise is a sham; the Guardian article makes no mention of the wording of any poll questions or of any focus group type topics that were investigated. If topics and questionaires are worded correctly, you can get the results you want, simple as that. This idea that right now, in the corrosive trough of a recession, the general populace favour a rightwing, subDailyMail agenda is ludicrous. We are being conned. Again.

This is why “right-wing” is such an unhelpful term. More eurosceptic/immigration restrictionist? Yes. In favour of cuts to education or health? Prolly not.

18. LikeThis

Labour must start having an honest debate on immigration. Survey after survey has shown that a large majority of the population feel that immigration is too high, that it has several negative consequences like creating increased job insecurity, more pressure on public services, community tensions, lower quality of life etc etc. Look at the results:

http://eoin-clarke.blogspot.com/2011/04/immigration-grown-up-debate.html

We must realise that Labour made a mistake and let too many immigrants in. If we face up to that, and accept that we must put strict controls on immigration, then the public may trust us again.

Lord Glasman has said that Labour LIED about immigration. That is a serious accusation and an indictment of the last government’s policy on immigration. If we accept Labour made mistakes, we can finally start to rectify them, and look for fair solutions to the problem of immigration.

19. Limiting Factor

And why is the matter of punishing bankers and banks and other financial crooks so far down, almost as if it was a tacked on afterthought? For most ordinary people, that topic is high up on the list, yet this agenda suggests that ordinary people are fixated on punishing benefit fraudsters – why no mention of pursuing tax evader and fraudsters?

20. Éoin Clarke

Two thirds of voters based their views on immigration on what they see on the telly: http://tinyurl.com/6hh573n

treat focus group results with caution. Affordable housing is more important

21. Charles Wheeler

We’ve been hearing this b**s*** for years. The Labour Party has been tacking right since 1997 – and haemorrhaging votes in the process. This is all part of the ‘left has lost the argument’ tosh peddled by the right and parroted by the centre-left.

People may well have an instinctive distrust of ‘the state’ – historically it’s not been a pretty picture, with ‘the state’ largely acting as a tax collector to fight foreign wars, giving ‘the people’ little in return. But the track record of the democratic state from the late 19th C. – with its drive to improve education, public health and social security is much more valued.

Given the level of antistate/Big Government propaganda pouring like a tide of effluent from our corporate owned media outlets, it’s not that surprising that there is a suspicion of government action. You’ve only got to mention ‘Health and Safety’ to get a reaction – until another industrial plant explodes, or a bit of fracking causes a minor earthquake – then people start to remember what conditions were like before Health and Safety regulations stopped workers dying in their thousands from industrial diseases and injuries, before the Clean Air Act, or the numerous other improvements Big Government has enacted, but which we now take for granted.

Neoliberals like to have their cake and eat it – pretending that all the gains achieved for the working masses have been purely down to the magic of capitalism, while airbrushing out the fact (expertly detailed by Ha-Joon Chang in ‘Bad Samaritans’) that Big Government has been an intrinsic and essential element in the development of modern economies. Left purely to the private market, the extreme inequalities of pre-industrial society would have been replicated in the developed world – as we are finding out, now that many of the safeguards and controls that ameliorated the worst excesses of capitalism are being dismantled.

The average voter may have little affection for ‘Big Government’, but when they start to recognise that ‘small government’ means the privatisation of healthcare and education, the slashing of benefits even to the most severely disabled, the effective proscription of union activity and a further downward pressure on average wages, the whittling away of both public and private pensions (except for those at the top of the income scale), the closure of libraries and youth clubs, the sell-off of public spaces, the run-down of the infrastructure, the unaffordability of public transport, and the dismantling of regulations that have protected their health and welfare – in favour of a winner-takes-all ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ reductionism that pitches false dichotomies of the elderly against the young, the taxpayer against the benefit claimant, the indigenous against the immigrant, the able-bodied against the disabled, the loyal against the dissenter – in an ongoing, ever-lasting race to the bottom, the appeal of ‘getting government off our backs’ may lose its shine.

Where is the evidence of a thirst for yet more right-wing alternatives? The Tories picked up the votes of just 1 in 4 of the electorate in 2010 – is it conceivable that many didn’t vote for them because they weren’t right-wing enough? Since the Lib Dems decided to become bag-carriers for the Tories their support has gone off a cliff. If a more economically liberal agenda is popular, they should be reaching historic highs of appeal.

We live in a society where the top 10% command two-thirds of the wealth – with the bottom 50% sharing just 5% (even, then it’s ‘benefit-scroungers’ that are held up as the cause of all our troubles), where tuition fees of £9,000 will inevitably accelerate the decline in social mobility – reversing all the gains of the post-war period – where, despite Cameron’s protestations, the Health and Social Care Bill will lead inexorably to the dismantling and hiving off of the health service to Tory paymasters in the private insurance industry, where the pensions of public sector workers (current average around £5,000 p.a.) are to be slashed, where retirement ages are to raised to the level where many more will die before retirement, where unemployment benefit @£60 per week is among the lowest in Europe , and where severely disabled people with working partners are about to have their benefit not just cut, but removed completely – triggering an upsurge in suicides.

And we’re being told that people want more right-wing government? If, true it is evidence of what Ann Pettifor identifies as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’!

22. Watchman

Charles Wheeler,

We live in a society where the top 10% command two-thirds of the wealth – with the bottom 50% sharing just 5%

Can you show me a period when Britain was more equitable than that? The victory of the left (in the middle of the last century – after Churchill, who was the next right-wing Conservative leader?) did some good work in destroying the power of vested interests (and those it created in turn were mostly beaten by the end of the century), whilst the continuous development of the market has made wealth easier to distribute. I’d suggest that a narrative of how unequal Britain is forgets how much more unequal it used to be.

“look after our own first”

Trouble is all 3 major parties have signed up to putting global elites first, second and third.

shatter face- police cuts, better still abolish the fuckers, i’m all for it vigilante gangs like Blue laobur’s allies The EDL, will then sort out dogooders getting criminals off on technicalities.

“voters want a tough responsibilities agenda”

They can want it all they like, I’ll be damned if I’ll help give it to them. Labour’s job is to represent workers’ economic interests and, where people hold reactionary attitudes, to convince them to change their mind.

No pandering.

26. Jizzwhacker

Liam Byrne is an arsehole. NOBODY should listen to anything he says.

@25. “They can want it all they like, I’ll be damned if I’ll help give it to them. Labour’s job is to represent workers’ economic interests and, where people hold reactionary attitudes, to convince them to change their mind.”

Economics aren’t everything. The workers would also like to live in safety from crime and anti-social behaviour. They’d like affordable but high-quality education. They’d like to live in communities that aren’t constantly being destabilised by immigration. These things are not really right-wing. They would have seemed self-evidently sensible to the Labour politician of 50 years ago.

But of course the Left has subsequently adopted your attitude, namely that the workers are wrong and should be made to change their minds about these things. The New Labour attitude was “You don’t need any of that, you mad reactionary racist, so get used to it.” And the Tory attitude is “We just don’t care”.

Tomorrow’s Labour attitude will also be one of the above, but while Labour are out of government it will at least pay to pretend to be listening to the voters, even if the voters want things that the official Left does not want and will never deliver. This “tough responsibilities agenda” will have no more impact on Miliband than it did on Blair. It’ll turn up in a few speeches and a few half-hearted gestures, that’s all.

This idea that right now, in the corrosive trough of a recession, the general populace favour a rightwing, subDailyMail agenda is ludicrous.

Of course it is. That’s why left-wing governments have been voted out, in favour of right-wing governments, right across Europe recently — because the electorate is ludicrous. We must dissolve the People and elect another!

29. Daz Pearce

Opposing bankers bonuses is easy – rewards for success and penalties for failure. Labour could always come out and say the bailout was a mistake too…
Question is – a solid defence of migrants would involve contrasting their work ethic with the idleness of many of our own. Does Labour have the balls to do this?
http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

In terms of development aid Cameron has kept it at 0.7%. Brown, Clegg and Cameron deserve credit for keeping it out of the election debate. Cameron has some good advisors on international development so it is unlikely to be an issue whilst he is their, bar a debate about the focus

The understanding of development issues is woeful in the general public and few link it with the environment.

The isolationist nature of the reactionary times we are living through, such a disappointment to anyone who cares about the global environment as I do, is disturbing. Right when the planet is most under env strain papers like the Express and Mail and delivering an isolationist agenda to the public. This is a disaster.

The last time the world became this isolationist was in the thirties and look what happened then

31. Julian St Jude

The choice between Labour and the Tories is like that of being bitten by a King Cobra or a Black Mamba. Britain is no longer a Democracy but a Shamocracy.

Sorry ‘there’ not ‘their’

33. Shackdweller

How about allowing 100% of foreign aid to be tied aid, that’d satisfy everyone.

34. john Reid

likethis and scooby, great

Question is – a solid defence of migrants would involve contrasting their work ethic with the idleness of many of our own. Does Labour have the balls to do this?

What, attack the English working class, and defend mass immigration because it makes for a higher return on capital? I can see Labour doing that sometime (unfortunately).

36. Marienbad

21. Charles Wheeler

I would Favourite this comment several hundred times if possible. Says it all for me.

If this is true, the English population is rapidly declining into crude nationalism. Labour should be alarmed that progressive principles have been trodden into the mud. Mostly by its own “New Labour” incarnation. Time for it to stand up for something better instead of running off to jump on the right wing bandwagon.

The left-wing v right-wing distinction has long been obsolete:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_spectrum

The Soviets signed a Friendship Treaty with Nazi Germany on 28 September 1939.

I first came to appreciate that politics was multi-dimentional on reading Eysenck’s book on the Psychology of Politics (1954) as a young teen in the mid 1950s. Try a recent test at Political Compass:
http://www.politicalcompass.org/

I was surprised to see where I was located on a two-dimensional scale instead of the usual linear – and it wasn’t anywhere near Gordon Brown or Angela Merkel.

‘Of course it is. That’s why left-wing governments have been voted out, in favour of right-wing governments, right across Europe recently — because the electorate is ludicrous. We must dissolve the People and elect another!’

In almost every case, the right wing vote has barely grown, but the neoliberal pseudo-left vote (as promoted on this site by amoral, duplicitous charlatans like oldpolitics and rob marchant) has collapsed, allowing the right-wingers (usually in reality practically indistinguishable in all but style) to creep in on tiny majorities or as part of a coalition, merely by default. Nowhere have they won the support of a decent majority of the overall electorate. With no viable, credible left wing parties on offer, people just aren’t turning out to vote.

@39: “Nowhere have they won the support of a decent majority of the overall electorate. ”

Hence the unexpected comment today from the Lord Tebbit:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury’s sustained attack on the Coalition has been defended by Lord Tebbit, the former Conservative minister, who said many of its policies had not been voted for.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8565325/Archbishop-of-Canterbury-defended-by-Lord-Tebbit.html

I still don’t know for sure what the labels “right-wing” and “left-wing” are intended to convey and especially whether one person’s notion of the difference is the same as another’s.

I’ll declare straight away I’m an SNP supporter and want independence for Scotland. However, the answer to the headline, as far as I can see, is absolutely not. If people want a right of centre, or right wing party they have some to choose from already. If people have those views, that’s where they’ll place their votes.

People up here have moved from Labour for a whole range of reasons, but one of those has to be that there seems to be little ‘left’ left in the Labour party any more. But that’s not peculiar to Labour. Parties have been moving to the right for a long time, mostly as far as I can see, in a reactionary manner to press coverage.

There is currently a huge gap in politics needing filled, and whether that is by Labour or another party, it needs to happen. At the moment, certainly for people in England, there is no real choice. There is a huge ‘market’ for a left of centre party, that actually try to do what they believe in and don’t water down policies or alter them to suit to media manipulation of facts.

I think that’s what we have up here with the SNP. We have a genuinely different option open to us, and it is one that (I think) has inclusive and fair policies and doesn’t bend to the press. The SNP have been hammered by the press with lies and spin for decades.

I’m not going to be completely naive and assume they can do no wrong, but I believe that we can have a country that is better and more fair. I’m sure there would be less people moving over to the SNP in Scotland if there was a genuine UK alternative, but that’s not the case and hasn’t really been for a while.

Westminster simply doesn’t represent the views of the people of Scotland. I’m sure the same can be said for a great proportion of the people in England. It’s not real democracy we have, I don’t think it’s even close.

If the left can’t come together and do something real for people in England, you should all just move up here. You’d be very welcome, and if you want, you can help us try to build this ‘fantasy’ land we have in our heads. At least if we fail, it’ll be on our own terms.

42. blackwillow1

New Labour were right wing, no argument there. The fact that we no longer have a Labour government should be ample proof that the public were put off by the ‘tory-lite’ style of government, with their contradictory policies of massive improvements in the NHS(saving lives), and slaughtering tens of thousands of civilians, supposedly promoting democracy, actually seeking oil(Iraq war). Labour needs to reconnect with the people who founded the party, workers and the unemployed, the disadvantaged and destitute. Labour, a left wing, socialist, community driven party that strives for social improvement in all areas. Is there anything wrong with stating your positon and standing by your beliefs?Or is that just too straight and direct for the modern politician? Instead of trying to hedge their bets and cover all areas of opinion, ca’nt they just give us a direct response to a direct question? I want Labour back in power as quickly as possible, having learned the lessons of the New Labour/tory-lite failed experiment. If they have’nt learned from it, they should give up now, people will vote for the alternative, not for a different version of the same thing.

@41: “I’ll declare straight away I’m an SNP supporter and want independence for Scotland. ”

According to this recent poll, the English are more in favour of independence for Scotland than the Scots are:
http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/3570

This could be one reason: “I’ve never hated anything as much as sectarianism. It is destructive, dreadful” – Alex Salmond:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/scotland/article5928421.ece

44. john Reid

42, the public were put off tory lite that’s why they got rid of new laobur, and replaced them with a Tory lite government.

@43 Bob B It’s more and more common to see that point of view nowadays, especially with the way the press play it. It’s understandable too. If I didnt live here and was to believe what i read in the English press about Scotland, I’d probably think badly of it too. We have good people and bad people, the same as anywhere else. The good people far outweigh the bad by a long long way, also the same as everywhere else. We all know good people don’t make news.

The problem is that people choose to believe the bits that suit our own views, we’ve all done it. Scotland is frequently a scapegoat for problems, in the same way as asylum seekers and Muslims are. In some ways it’s really blatant and in others it’s really subtle but it’s definitely there.

There are message boards all over with Scottish people and English people arguing over money, benefits,prescriptions, oil, etc. Some of those are reasonable people trying to have a discussion, some are people just antagonising each other with barely disguised hatred. But a lot of that hatred is based on lies that have been peddled as fact. I do think the most destructive thing in society today is the current state of the press and if the left don’t get it together and, as part of that, fight for fair and unbiased journalism, we are all screwed.

On Sectarianism, it’s a dreadful thing, but most people in Scotland don’t have anything
to do with it and are frankly embarrassed by it and sick of those people.

The validity of such opinion research is surely open to question, in ways other than mentioned in the above article.
I’ve never taken part in any research, but I wonder how they pose the questions and allocate weight to the answers.

a) it seems to me that any voters in focus groups, who themselves don’t claim welfare, may wish superficially to see Labour have a tough policy on welfare … but they won’t have this as their primary criterion for deciding how to vote at the next General Election – instead they will decide by those issues which matter most to them, be it the economy in general, the NHS, civil liberties, higher education or whatever.

However, those who are disabled or chronically ill and who rely on welfare to stay alive, will certainly have as their primary criterion each party’s policy on welfare.

Thus, a tough policy on welfare is very unlikely to gain any votes for Labour,
but could cost Labour a very significant number of potential votes.

Yet, it appears that Liam Byrne sees a tough policy on welfare benefits as attractive, merely because he thinks it’s a vote winner.

b) how susceptible have the respondents been to all the anti-disabled rhetoric of the past several years?
If respondents have been affected adversely by the propaganda churned out both by New Labour and by the Tories & their media friends, then it would be morally correct to inform and educate those focus group respondents first … before asking them for an opinion. It would be foolish and incorrect to allow misinformed and biased respondents to shape thinking on future policy.
I wonder what safeguards Liam Byrne built into the consultation process to ensure the results didn’t simply reflect misinformation and unwarranted media prejudice?

c) it seems there is a wrong perception of the numbers involved, re the silent majority of welfare claimants versus the minority who are playing the system, partly due to the genuinely ill and disabled being housebound to some degree and therefore a lot less visible.
Also, many who have a mental or chronic illness suffer prejudice and hostile judgement, simply because they don’t appear to be sick/disabled.
In conjunction with the rhetoric of Govt Ministers, the DWP and some of the tabloid press, the discrepancy in degree of visibility has facilitated the creation of a very false impression in the public mind about the level of benefit fraud.

d) was it pointed out to respondents how inconsistent / ambivalent the Tories are with regard to taxpayers getting a fair deal?
Osborne talks viciously about benefits cheats but chose to reduce the number of tax inspectors during the course of this parliament – thus, this Tory govt has a soft line on tax avoidance and is not efficiently collecting all taxes due. The Tories are not protecting the ordinary millions of taxpayers; their one-sided attitude targets their venom against the vulnerable only.

@45 Lorraine: “If I didnt live here and was to believe what i read in the English press about Scotland, I’d probably think badly of it too. ”

C’mon. Try this from the government of Scotland: “The country drank nearly 50 million litres of pure alcohol in 2007 – equivalent to 11.8 litres per capita for every person aged over 16. This is considerably higher than England and Wales, which had an average consumption figure of 9.9 litres per capita.”
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2009/02/20161722

“Scotland’s drink problem is significantly worse than the rest of the UK. Figures suggest that as many as half of men and a third of women in Scotland regularly drink above sensible drinking guidelines.”
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Health/health/Alcohol

Or this from the Office of National Statistics: “In Scotland, the alcohol-related death rates for males and females were around double the rates for the UK as a whole in 2002-2004, according to new analysis published today by the Office forNational Statistics in Health Statistics Quarterly 33 (Spring 2007).”
http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/alrate0207.pdf

@45: “On Sectarianism, it’s a dreadful thing, but most people in Scotland don’t have anything to do with it and are frankly embarrassed by it and sick of those people.”

Judging by this pic in the news, there was no shortage of marchers on this Orange Order parade in Glasgow last year: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10493551

Btw I’ve lived and worked in Scotland. From personal experience and that of other expats I know who have lived there, there is a definite anti-English sentiment in Scotland.


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Do voters really want Labour to be more right-wing? http://bit.ly/kcobl2

  2. Jane Phillips

    “@libcon: Do voters really want Labour to be more right-wing? http://t.co/Numqa9i” eh??!!

  3. Richard Murphy

    RT @libcon: Do voters really want Labour to be more right-wing? http://bit.ly/kcobl2 Answer = no because focus groups are not representative

  4. Ma

    RT @libcon: Do voters really want Labour to be more right-wing? http://bit.ly/kcobl2 Answer = no because focus groups are not representative

  5. Matt Jeffs

    Do voters really want Labour to be more right-wing? http://bit.ly/kcobl2

  6. Daniel Elton

    Do voters really want Labour to be more right-wing? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/yd4XM5e via @libcon

  7. New Labour is dead, Ed. Dead. « Though Cowards Flinch

    […] But wait. Ed Miliband has been told by his policy advisers that the British electorate want him to push through a brash agenda focused on “cutting crime, reforming welfare and reducing […]

  8. ibbers

    Do voters really want Labour to be more right-wing? | Liberal Conspiracy http://bit.ly/kCkHAn #UK

  9. Labour should take a stand on its principles | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] won’t follow the New Labour approach of trying to be all things to all people. As Don Paskini pointed out on LC, the views expressed in the review aren’t really aligned with New Labour policy or ideology. […]

  10. Doubts are cast on the Tories’ economic credibility, an old plot to oust Blair is revealed, and the Archbishop attacks: round up of political blogs for 4 – 10 June | British Politics and Policy at LSE

    […] as The Staggers suggests that voters want Labour to embrace a ‘blue’ agenda (an assertion challenged over at Liberal […]





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