Labour’s report into their loss in the 2015 UK elections is brutal

The Tories cleaned out Labour in 2015 in the UK, and as a result Labour held an inquiry into why they lost.

They even produced a public report into their findings, which is more than can be said for NZ Labour and their report into the 2014 loss.

The report summarises the ten main findings:

The Independent Inquiry has ten messages and three lessons.
Ten messages
  1. A tsunami of aspirant voters sank Labour and the pollsters. Voters abandoned Labour because they believedLabour lacked economic credibility and the perception was that it would be profligate in government. In contrast, they trusted the Tories with their economic security.
  2. Labour lost because voters didn’t believe it would cut the deficit. The Tories didn’t win despite their commitment to cut spending and the deficit: they won because of it.The Tories were trusted to manage the country’s finances, Labour was not.
  3. Labour is losing its working-class support and UKIPis reaping the benefits. Since 2005 it has been socially conservative voters who are most likely to have deserted Labour.
  4. Labour hasn’t been this far from the electorate for a generation. In each of the last two general elections, but particularly in May 2015, Labour has marched away from the views of voters on a series of issues that are fundamental to the party’s electoral prospects – including welfare,public services and business.    
  5. Labour is becoming a toxic brand. It is perceived by voters as a party that supports an ‘open door’ approach to immigration, lacks credibility on the economy, and is a‘soft touch’ on welfare spending.
  6. Scottish voters are more ‘progressive’ than those in England and Wales but they do not inhabit a completely different universe. Scottish voters are not the same as those in England and Wales, but many share the same concerns.An anti-austerity message has more potency in Scotland than in England and Wales, but it still remains a minority position and did not appear to be the main reason for theSNP’s electoral success.
  7. Surprisingly, Labour is still the least toxic party in Scotland. Despite Labour’s electoral calamity in 2015, our poll suggests the party has some hope of recovery.
  8. Identity underpins the SNP’s success. Scottish identity is not only very important to more voters than English or Welsh identity is to the English and Welsh; it is also seen as important across a wider range of values groups.The SNP has succeeded in attaching patriotism to ‘progressive’ values.
  9. Voters unambiguously heard a clear message about economic stability from the Tory campaign, but were much less certain about Labour’s message. WhateverLabour thought its message was, the public was either unclear about it, or saw it as being about protecting public services.
  10. Labour is on life support in England and Wales, without signs of resurgence in the areas needed to build a winning coalition. It faces a monumental challenge in Scotland.

All of those messages apply in various forms to New Zealand and to Labour.

The three lessons UK Labour have identified are equally important to New Zealand.

  1. Labour must be economically radical, fiscally prudent. Labour did not recognise the fact that the electorate is both economically radical and fiscally prudent – but fiscalr esponsibility trumps economic reform. If people do not trust Labour with their taxes they will not support it,however much they might agree with its economic policies.
  2. Identity and belonging drive politics. Labour has to stop patronising socially conservative UKIP voters and recognise the ways in which UKIP appeals to former Labour voters. To build enough bridges to get its voice heard again amongst these voters, it needs to develop a politics that is radical on the economy and small-c conservative – supporting the values of family,work and country.
  3. Labour is becoming an exclusive brand. The desertion of socially conservative voters in England heralds a broader trend of working-class voters’ detachment from Labour. The Labour Party is now largely a party of progressive, social liberals who value universalist principles such as equality, sustainability and social justice. It is losing connection with large parts of the voter population who are either pragmatists in their voting habits or social conservatives who value family, work,fairness and their country.

As you can see those are three lessons the NZ Labour party has failed to learn.

If Nigel Haworth would concentrate more on his role as party president than trying to wreck the fishing industry he could start with copy/pasting this and putting it in a NZ context.


– UK Labour


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  • kiwiinamerica

    They changed their rules to let the unions and party membership decide their leader, allowed anyone prepared to pay £3 to join then vote and elected a leader that embodies all the Top 10 problems and is miles from median voter sentiment in the UK. Labour, in both the UK and NZ, can never returning to being an electable centre left party that can appeal to the centre until they return to a leadership election model that gives caucus the power to select and to internal structures and polices that are friendly to the return of aspirational voters who have a social justice tinge instead of Labour’s current dominant activist base of unionists, gays, academics and angry feminists.

    • shykiwibloke

      I agree. The question is – exactly how likely is it that control can be wrested from the unions? If we had a cabal of centrist MPs and members, can they actually pull it off?

      • Not Clinically Insane

        You would more likely see a split. The unions will not give up the remaining vestiges of their power.

      • kiwiinamerica

        Labour are screwed by this change in both countries because the unions would block any move to surrender their effective casting vote.

      • Platinum Fox

        The only way I can see that would enable a change is for the annual conference to rewrite the constitution. If the membership numbers are as low as discussed in another post today then the activists and unions may well have the numbers to beat off any attempt by moderates and centrists to amend the process for electing the leader of the parliamentary party.

        • shykiwibloke

          My fears precisely. I suspect all talk of chucking the union influence is wishful thinking. Reminds me of a line in a song ‘like two sparrows tied together, they will always fall’

    • jimknowsall

      Indeed. And, in the UK, their dominant activist base is split by the Greens and, more recently, by the Women’s Equality Party.

    • Crowgirl

      Remember though that caucus would have given the leadership to Grant Robertson. *cough*

      • OneTrack

        And that would be worse than Angry? Anyway, it is now clear the unions own NZ Labour, lock stock and barrel. And nothing will change without their agreement.

        • Crowgirl

          About the same really – both unelectable.

  • Edward M Blake

    Briefly herd Phill Quin on radio live on Friday morning. He was talking about US politics and Trump. Apart from the fact that he has terminal Trump derangement syndrome he managed (unintentionally) to be a perfect example of why the left is being abandoned (excuse the pun) left right and center

    • Crowgirl

      “The SNP has succeeded in attaching patriotism to ‘progressive’ values.”

      Hmm where I have I heard something similar? Oh that’s right: “Make America Great Again”.

      The plonkers on the Left need to realise that you don’t have to be a certain colour or have certain dangly bits to be a Patriot.

    • BG

      Exactly how can you win election with an attitude that if you don’t agree with us you’re either a racist or an idiot and we don’t want you anyway.

      hmmmm? Isn’t about winning more friend’s rather than alienating those who are on the fence?

      And Trump has tapped into that beautifully.

  • JC

    I think the education system has let the left down badly. Outside of the three Rs the kids are picking up socialist opinions that are way out of tune with reality and easy for friends and family to rebut.

    Of course, if kids don’t get this rebuttal then they become like the drones we already see in Parliament, at the universities and protesting on the streets.. education has simply become an apprenticeship for activism and social justice warriors.

    The upshot is these people have lost any sense of the middle ground.


  • Tom

    Is NZ First NZs UKIP and will they, not National bleed Labour dry and become the opposition. Where would that leave the Greens?

    • sheppy

      It’ll leave the Greens as the natural home of those in a self afflicted hole with massive entitleitis.
      Basically people who are unable to take any responsibility for the dilemma they find themselves in. A situation that will always in their eyes be unfair and someone else’s problem to urgently fix, always with somebody else’s money, which there will never be enough of.

  • Disinfectant

    I believe that there is another factor.

    It comes down to mass knowledge and access to knowledge through the internet and social media.

    Any proposed policy can be disected and costed by many groups within hours and we all get to see the results.

    Tribalism is no longer what wins the left its votes.

    Socialist policies throughout the world leave a legacy of economic chaos. The evidence is there for all to see. The ones that dont see it are the ones that dont want to, but their numbers are dwindling.

  • Wayne Peter McIndoe

    Item number 9 in the report is also relevant to our Labour Party, voters hearing a clear message from the Tory Party but less clear about the message from Labour. I believe that that is also the case here in NZ, Labour are failing to present a clear and coherent message about our economy

  • Observer

    ***Labour is becoming a toxic brand. It is perceived by voters as a party that supports an ‘open door’ approach to immigration, lacks credibility on the economy, and is a‘soft touch’ on welfare spending.***

    The voters are on the money. I’m not sure how Labour can change that perception though without alienating some of their core voters.

  • rua kenana

    Rather interesting, that bit in 5. about Labour becoming a toxic brand perceived by voters as a party that supports an ‘open door’ approach to immigration.
    And comparing this with the current NZ situation conjoined with the editorial by ‘a newspaper’ this morning on that topic apparently demanding even more of the ‘toxic brand’ approach for NZ.

  • localnews

    After reading that, I can’t help thinking that maybe it is time we considered sending our Labour Party to Scotland, they might be more relevant there

  • Left Right Out

    If that is how they saw Labour after the last election ie Toxic….. what on eath are the going to say about the party now with Corbyn at the helm