The Labour Party summer narrative struggle

A new opinion poll by YouGov and commissioned by The Sun shows that the Labour Party currently holds an eight point lead over the Conservatives – with Labour on 39 per cent, the Conservatives on 31 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 11 per cent. The figures will not make terribly happy reading for Ed Miliband and the Labour leadership, as they in fact show the Conservatives gaining ground on Labour compared to a poll nearly two weeks ago (produced by Optimum and commissioned by The Observer) that showed Labour on 39 per cent but the Conservative on just 28 per cent (the Liberal Democrats also then on just eight per cent).

The Conservatives’ gain in ground can in part be explained by a difficult couple of weeks for UKIP (falling from 16 per cent in The Observer poll to 11 per cent in The Sun’s), but actually hint at a larger problem for the Labour Party in that it has been the Coalition parties that have made much of the running in the news over recent weeks. Publications such as the Berwick Review into NHS patient safety, announcements such as the Bank of England guidance on interest rates and more optimistic economic figures have meant that it has been the Government making the headlines as opposed to Labour.

In response, Labour has claimed that living standards have fallen under the Coalition, but it is questionable how much traction this argument has gained given that many people, while wishing circumstances were different, will accept that they have had to make personal cutback as part of the country’s period of austerity following a longer period of the UK living beyond its means.

The comparative lack of activity from the Labour Party lines may be due the quieter summer period. It might also be because the Party is attempting to keep its powder dry before its annual conference. However, it begs the question, if Labour are seemingly struggling for media narrative during what is a summer lull, how might they fare when all three main political parties are back in full swing?


Chris Rogers