By Stephen MacAvoy
On 13 January Ed Balls, previewing a speech to the Fabians, launched a new Labour policy – that Labour supported the Tory-led governments public sector pay freeze and it would start from a baseline of maintaining Tory cuts.
This statement was followed by an immediate fall in Labour’s position in the opinion polls.
This policy was in the first place bad economics – Nobel Economics Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz last week rightly labelled the European drive for austerity an economic “suicide pact”. But it was also terrible for Labour’s support.
Taking the daily YouGov poll, on 12 January, the day before Balls announcement, Labour stood on 40%. By 21 January it had slid to 36%.
The claim by supporters of Balls’ position was that it would increase the “credibility” of Labour’s economic policy. They refuse to recognise that electors vote in terms of their own self-interest and by turning to attack wages Labour has undermined its support. The opinion polls spelt out that message clearly.
Additionally, Comres’ poll on the question of cuts, found only 1 in 3 Labour voters agreed that a Labour Government should keep all the Coalition Government’s spending cuts.