During this parliament, we have seen the Labour Party rebrand once again. This time, they called themselves ‘One Nation Labour’. It has never been made clear what that actually means but apparently it’s a historical reference to a policy of reducing economic and social inequalities. In which case, it is a very apt name for Ed Miliband’s Labour because that’s been their main campaign tool.
A lot of Labour’s rhetoric over this parliament has been interpreted as being socialist and anti-business. They’ve criticised the energy companies for not lowering fuel bills. They’ve criticised big businesses and big businessmen for tax evasion and tax avoidance. They’ve also heavily criticised the coalition government for a lack of public spending and a failure to ensure that the growing economy benefits the least well off.
So what can we expect to see from a Labour majority government should one be elected in May? We can expect the gradual re-nationalisation of the railways. That’s a policy for those people who just crave inefficient public transport. We will see an increase in taxes and a corresponding increase in public spending. University tuition fees will be reduced to £6,000 per year.
Like all the major parties, Labour say they are committed to reducing the budget deficit and making “difficult decisions”. Unfortunately for Labour, it’s a position that doesn’t suit them. It never has and it never will. They say they will do it slowly and considerately while still investing in infrastructure and increasing the NHS budget.
The major problem Labour is facing is their economic credibility after leaving government with the biggest deficit in post-war history. They allegedly left a note saying: “There’s no money left.” Their economic credentials haven’t been helped by the fact that, for all their fuss made about the ‘cost of living crisis’, households energy bills have fallen, petrol prices have fallen, living standards are back at pre-recession levels and inflation has been consistently low.
One thing is for sure: Labour cannot win a majority government campaigning on the premise that the current government has failed. They need to go back to their routes and campaign against the injustices of the zero-hours contracts and the tax-dodging millionaires, while also building a campaign based on how Labour can function people’s aspirations.
In spite of any effort they make, it might be inevitable that their Scottish heartland is where Labour suffers an election coronary.