Anthony Wells on 'What happened to Labour'

by Stephen Tall on June 27, 2008

Many Lib Dem Voice readers will be familiar with Anthony Wells’ name. He writes the UK Polling Report blog, which (though Anthony is a card-carrying Tory member) carries the most impartial and intelligent analysis of British political polls anywhere on the web.

On Politics Home today, Anthony analyses the results of the site’s PHI5000, a daily tracker of public opinion, to try and work out quite what’s behind the extraordinary slump in the Labour party’s fortunes in the past two months. You can read his full analysis here, but the conclusion is admirably concise:

What went wrong for Labour was not the local elections or Crewe and Nantwich, it was the 10p tax row, which destroyed the public’s confidence in their taxation policy, made the party look divided and made Gordon Brown look even more indecisive, ineffective and out of ideas.

The Conservatives meanwhile have benefited from comparison to Labour but – with the notable exception of David Cameron personally, whose reputation for efficiency and competence has been enhanced by local election victories – have not greatly improved their positive image.

In turn, this poses a question for the Lib Dems (one that is not unrelated to the Henley result)… Given that the Lib Dems were the first party to spot Gordon Brown’s 10p tax-con – on the day of the 2007 budget itself – how did we not manage to turn this into a reason for the public to protest against Gordon Brown’s decision and vote Lib Dem? Was it simply that the media refused to cover the party’s opposition? Or did we miss a trick by not making this a major Lib Dem campaign much sooner, ensuring the public identified us much more clearly with our opposition to this shameful policy?