Britain’s Labour Party Has Itself to Blame for Defeat

Ed Miliband didn’t even try to woo moderate English and Welsh voters who mistrusted his party on the economy.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg attend a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Whitehall, London, November 9, 2014
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg attend a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Whitehall, London, November 9, 2014 (Sandra Hall)

With Britain’s Labour Party expected to lose Thursday’s general election, falling from 257 to 232 seats in the BBC’s forecast, The Telegraph‘s Dan Hodges argues that the party has only itself to blame for this defeat.

Hodges, a former Labour Party official, has been highly critical of Ed Miliband’s leadership for years.

He believes it was a mistake for Labour to refuse to apologize for its mismanagement of the economy when it was last in power until the final days of the campaign. This allowed Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives, who could now win an overall majority, to credibly claim that Labour could not be trusted with command of the world’s fifth largest economy again.

When Cameron first came to power in 2010, the United Kingdom was borrowing £149 billion, equivalent to 11 percent of economic output. Labour had allowed the national debt to rise from around 50 percent to almost 80 percent of gross domestic product.

Miliband anchored his party not in the political center where elections are won. “Instead, he decided to position it where it felt most comfortable,” according to Hodges — “on the left.

Labour criticized almost every austerity measure Cameron’s government enacted and seemed to promise only more of the public spending largesse that made those cuts necessary in the first place.

[Miliband] was told that to win, he would have to reach out beyond his — and his party’s — comfort zone and build a broad political alliance. Instead, he decided he could coast into power with 35 percent of the vote.

With Labour now at 32 percent support — with 542 out of 650 seats declared — that strategy has been proven a mistake. Partially because it failed to take into account the popularity of the Scottish National Party, which has all but wiped out Labour north of the border, but crucially because it didn’t even try to woo moderate English and Welsh voters who gave Labour three victories in a row under Tony Blair.

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