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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No Plan B?

Ed Balls alternative to the UK Government's austerity programme has taken a bit of a kicking today with the Independent reporting that theLabour-affiliated Fabian Society has sounded the alarm that the party risks being out of step with public opinion on the crucial issue of tax and spending at the 2015 general election. It suggests that voters have become more "small c-conservative" in the age of austerity:

Its warning, based on extensive opinion research, is a reminder to the Labour leadership that its eight to 10-point lead in the polls could melt away in the heat of an election campaign.

The Fabians found that fewer than one in five people accepts the need for higher taxes to fund more public spending in four core areas seen as a priority for Labour – job schemes; nurseries and childcare; higher education and public housing. Twice as many people want cuts as support increases in subsidised housing.

Andrew Harrop, the society's general secretary, said: "In a hugely challenging fiscal environment, Ed Miliband has to do far more to convince the public of the need for increased provision of public services in the areas Labour values.

"The British public are overwhelmingly small-c conservative when it comes to public spending – in six of the eight policy areas we polled, the most popular response was that current levels of tax and spend were 'about right'. Clearly, there is little appetite for a major change in government spending priorities. If Labour wins in 2015, it will have to face difficult decisions on public spending."

Back to the drawing board then.
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