Why Labour’s message still isn’t getting through

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA</span>
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Larry Elliott is right to say that the Labour party needs to re-establish its economic competence, but does not suggest how this should be done (If it’s all about the economy, why are the Tories still polling better than Labour?, 6 August). In the 2019 election, many voters, especially older working-class people, wondered where the money was going to come from for the party’s (popular) spending commitments. The answer was carefully set out in the party’s manifesto and accompanying “Grey Book”: £83bn per year extra taxation of capital and the rich to fund increased current spending, and extra borrowing of £50bn a year to fund investment in long-lasting infrastructures. The problem was that the party didn’t explain these funding proposals to the public. Labour’s election campaign hardly mentioned them.

A deeper problem is that such funding proposals are hard to explain to a public imbued with neoliberal assumptions, particularly that increased taxation means increased taxation of ordinary people. Explaining the party’s radical funding proposals therefore has to be done over years. The new leadership ostensibly supports the fiscal strategy of the 2019 manifesto; it needs to undertake a consistent, long-term campaign to convince the public of its approach to public funding.
Dr Jamie Gough

• Larry Elliott asks why, with daily announcements of job losses, Labour lags significantly in the polls. After Norman Lamont’s interest rate debacle in 1992, it took several months for Labour to move into a poll lead, which it then kept until 1997. Five months have now elapsed since Johnson bungled lockdown, and it is the lack of movement of Labour in the polls that concerns.

Keir Starmer makes many correct points about protecting jobs and investment, even if he is rather uncritical of a shambolic government in general. On Thursday he was in north Wales, again underlining the need to protect skilled jobs. A problem is that he lacks experience in political leadership. Making correct points in the Commons, the Guardian or local media is fine, but unfortunately it is little noticed.

Under the previous leadership I received many emails on Labour’s policies and campaigns. Now hardly any appear. Keir Starmer needs to engage much more widely and broadly on his vision for the future.
Keith Flett
Tottenham, London

• Labour’s continuing lag in popularity may also be partly down to two factors that influence public perceptions: the continuation of internal strife between pro-Corbyn and pro-Starmer supporters (neither element probably guilt-free) over “treachery of Labour staffers” and who was responsible for the antisemitism debacle; and the overblown and unnecessary taking of sides in the transphobia debate. Calm down, everybody, should be the message. This disastrous government is the real enemy, not only for Labour but for the whole country.
Hugh Legge

• The present turmoil shows, more than ever, that Labour is two parties unhappily coexisting under the same roof (Where the battle lines are being drawn over leaked Labour report, 7 August). Surely the time has come when it is in everyone’s best interests for the party to split? I, for one, a Labour member for 50 years, have had enough of this bitter, toxic internecine warfare. It is pointless, does no one any good, and works against the interests of those the party is best placed to represent.
Roy Boffy
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

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