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Labour’s hiring of David Axelrod won’t work without solid, inspirational policies

AxelrodYou really can’t expect to win an election by importing an election guru from abroad – even one as well-proved as David Axelrod who helped win two presidential elections for Obama as his political adviser – unless there is a foundation of strong and resonant policies to inspire voters with in the first place.

At present there isn’t. The 2015 election is clearly going to hinge around austerity. Osborne is going to say that the 2.7% expected growth rate in 2014 shows that he was right all along and that austerity has worked. In fact austerity hasn’t worked at all except to depress the economy.

What has produced this temporary spike is yet another surge in consumer spending, which accounted for 80% of last year’s growth, an incipient housing bubble, and a number of stealth increases in public expenditure which is now some 1.8% higher than it was in 2010. The public’s impression is that Labour is simply following the Tories down the austerity route whilst at least things are now slightly better, however little, under the Tories. So how is David Axelrod going to mobilise Labour’s grassroots, let alone win new converts, against that background?

What Labour should be saying is that Osborne’s austerity is still dragging the country down and will continue to do so even more with the further big spending cuts he’s promised to implement after the election, and that the temporary upturn won’t last because it hasn’t got legs (growth is expected to fall back to 2.2% in 2015 and 2% in 2016), it’s based on all the wrong factors, and the estimated figures for business investment and the balance of payments are truly awful.

What Labour would do therefore is to break away from Osborne’s obsession with austerity and use public investment (and a lower exchange rate) to expand the economy on a sustainable basis and create a million jobs within 2 years. If Axelrod had that message to build on, he might just succeed in getting a genuine grassroots revival going in a big way.

As Axelrod himself has said: “You work by mobilising people in local communities who understand they have a stake in this and their economic future is on the ballot paper”. So where the policies on the alternative to austerity, job creation, restoration of a genuine NHS, a social security system grounded in a commitment to full employment, and fair conditions at work and a positive role for the unions in the economic and social life of the country? Let’s get that right first and then Axelrod may be able to show his mettle.


  1. Rod says:

    So the hiring of Axelrod isn’t going to work.

    The Labour Party isn’t offering inspirational policies.

    We have Labour’s commitment to being ‘tougher than the Tories’ on benefits. Labour’s commitment to a neoliberal and increasingly militarised EU. Labour’s approval of pay freezes. And Labour’s commitment to continued inequality-producing austerity.

    Is anyone feeling inspired?

  2. swatantra says:

    I’d like to see his contract and find out whether its a 6 days week, committed to hands on activity on the ground, or whether its a zero hours contract, part time 2-days a week, called on when and whether required, and dismissed when he doesn’t deliver the regular improvement in Ed’s ratings we all expect to see.

  3. David Ellis says:

    I don’t want solid inspirational policies. All I want is hope oh and change you can believe in but never actually experience in any way god forbid. Surely even when fully costed the budget can stretch to that?

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