This weekend’s polling presents a mixed but unsurprising lesson that the Labour Party should have learnt years ago: Leadership is a prerequisite to us delivering policy in government. Policy isn’t solely a prerequisite to us governing.
Firstly, the blitz of policies over recess has proved a hit. ComRes show that our new policy on the minimum wage is supported by 71% of the public, our 50p top rate of tax by 62% and our universal Free School Meals by 53%. There are also a substantial number of Don’t Knows for our investment bank policy, which suggests if we had a persuasive leadership and an effective message, we could also shift public discourse on public spending overall.
However, this is clearly not something we are in a position to achieve. None of these policies can be achieved. These positive polls were all rather overshadowed by the overwhelming 21-point lead the Conservatives hold in another ComRes poll that has the Tories on 46% and us on 25%. YouGov confirmed this trend yesterday, with the same Tory lead. The reality of what this means is made clear when we start losing council seats in safe wards in Middlesbrough.
It does not matter if the party, or if groups such as ours at Open Labour, or Momentum or Progress, feed into policy-making in the party, if we are never going to deliver that policy.
The Leader’s Office remain publicly assured these good and popular policies will change our, and their, fortunes. They are clearly wrong.
This isn’t the first time we’ve paid too much heed to the power of policies to determine a party’s fortune. We ascertained that, because we led on some key policy areas in 2015, we could make up for our deficit with the economy and leadership. That, clearly, isn’t the case. We should have learnt this lesson before the exit poll. Nearly 2 years since, we still haven’t accepted this reality.
This exercise in creativity cannot be wasted. These are good policies. We need a good champion to go alongside them. We need the strongest advocate to deliver them in government, to benefit the people of Britain.
Britain likes these policies. Britain doesn’t trust us or our leadership to deliver them. We have to listen.