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by Tom Freeman
05 August 2015
Conservatives won election because of austerity, finds Labour

Conservatives won election because of austerity, finds Labour

An inquiry to understand Labour’s defeat in the General Election has concluded voters supported the Conservative message of prioritising cutting the deficit.

“The electorate voted for fiscal responsibility,” writes Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP who commissioned the survey, on the LabourList blog.

Voters were left confused about what Labour stood for, and saw the party as “anti-austerity lite”, according to the report.

The surge in support for the SNP, according to the report, left 60 per cent of English and Welsh voters “very concerned” about the prospect of an anti-austerity alliance in Government.

This meant the SNP’s anti-austerity message was damaging to Labour in England, according to Cruddas.

“Scotland poses a dilemma for Labour. It has a different political tradition and its voters are more progressive and collectivist minded than in England.

“The English tend to be more individualistic and have a more ‘small c’ conservative disposition. Labour will need to develop a more federal politics to accommodate the paradoxes of radical and conservative dispositions and our national cultural differences,” he said.

There is a “growing political salience” of identity politics, argues Cruddas, with 63 per cent of English and Welsh voters saying their national identity was important to them.

The findings are likely to be seen as a blow for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, as the left winger has become the frontrunner in the race to lead the party on an anti-austerity ticket.

“On the basis of this data, the public appear to think anti-austerity is a vote loser. We cannot ignore that. We can seek to change the views of the public, but it’s best not to ignore them,” said Cruddas.

Labour peer Maurice Glasman, who worked with Cruddas on the party’s policy review, told Holyrood before the election: “Labour, certainly in England, has got a huge amount of work to do to reconnect with the realities of the values of people within their everyday lives and to stop talking in abstract and general terms and managerial terms and start realising that it’s a political party and not an administrative party, and that requires bold leadership.”

Read the full interview with Lord Glasman here.

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