Is Labour’s route to regaining national trust through ‘foreign policy’?

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One way of looking at the 2010 UK general election is that it was one that Labour needed to lose, but as many Tories look back on the 1992 election on the one they might similarly have better lost.

Ah but, history never quite repeats itself in the same way twice…

Janan Ganesh in the FT has a go though.. the scenario he comes up with is a great deal less sanguine for Labour:

There is an undulating rhythm to a parliamentary term. It begins with the government’s honeymoon, during which the opposition is irrelevant. This eventually gives way to midterm, when incumbents suffer and their opponents romp unfettered by scrutiny.

The latter must build as big an advantage as possible to take into the third and final act of the parliament, the run-up to the election. This is when the media and the electorate alike switch their searching gaze to the opposition.

Mr Cameron lost about half of his poll lead in his last 18 months as leader of the opposition, as did Mr Blair. A similar squeeze will happen to Labour, starting in 2014. They evince little sign of preparedness.

It’s a fair point. Ed Milliband’s major personal problem is his lack of charisma. Mr Cameron’s problem is that it too often uncertain who exactly is in charge, number ten or any given member of the cabinet.

Milliband’s shadow cabinets are full of wonks and wonkettes who been able to enjoy much of the government’s serial discomfort at whole series of largely unforced gaffes (the threat to ‘legally’ invade Ecuador’s London mission) being just the latest.

A little more (unhysterical) light on what exactly Andrew Lansley is up to at health (skinning the NHS and stripping it entirely of direct control of service delivery provision say its critics), and a similar focus on Education might yield some windfalls.

What they should not do (and this may have been the Tories’ greatest failing as an opposition) is just to throw as many negatives as they conjure at the government and hope it will carry them over the win line…

Sustainable action on debt and a credible plan for growth would be start, though the truth is no one is going to grow out of a recession whilst the EU, ECB and the IMF continue to sit on their hands over the Eurozone crisis.

Ironically foreign policy the area almost entirely neglected by Tory strategists may where Labour should start investing some time and effort, since none of the UK’s domestic economic woes (and the economy remains the area most likely to shift votes) are amenable to simple domestic actions?

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  • DoppiaVu

    Mick

    I personally don’t think there’s much to be gained in Labour focussing on foreign policy. The electorate is more focussed on matters closer to home.

    I see we’ve had yet another poor quarter in terms of economic growth – borrowing once again exceeding Osborne’s targets. I think we are surely reaching a point where the Tory’s “it’s all Labour’s fault” mantra is starting to wear a bit thin. Labour need to:

    - continually attack the government’s recent record; and
    - come up with a credible plan for the economy, with the starting point being to adopt a credible target date for paying down the deficit (which I suspect the Tories will have to do before the next election anyway).

    Labour will continue to be held back by public perception of Ed Miliband, of course. Which brings me on to joke number 5 in the “100 Best Jokes from the Edinburgh Festival” article in the Independent:

    “I really fancy Ed Miliband. Mainly because he looks like David Miliband reflected in a spoon” (Grainne Maguire)

  • Neil

    One thing worth noting is that Blair and Cameron were popular in no small part due to their personalities. Miliband’s popularity (or Labour’s) is in spite of Miliband’s personality not because of it. Labour should be able to walk the next election. It’s not like the Tories don’t give them more ammo every passing day.