Anti-austerity policies are a vote loser and Labour’s defeat at the general election was caused by a failure to persuade the public it could be trusted to tackle the deficit, an independent review has found.
The study, led by the party’s former policy chief Jon Cruddas, found that “the Tories didn’t win despite austerity, they won because of it”.
Mr Cruddas said the party had to accept “hard truths” that the public backed the Tory squeeze on spending and welfare. “On the basis of the data, the public appear to think anti-austerity is a vote loser – we cannot ignore that,” he said.
“We can seek to change the views of the public, but it’s best not to ignore them.” Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn has enjoyed support for his anti-austerity message, but Mr Cruddas warned that would not appeal to the wider electorate.
“Voters did not reject Labour because they saw it as austerity lite. Voters rejected Labour because they perceived the party as anti-austerity.”
In an article on LabourList website he said: “The Tories won because voters believed they will cut the deficit, even though a majority understand that the economic system is unfair.
“The Tories’ message on the deficit was clear, Labour’s was not. The Tories are trusted to manage the country’s finances, Labour is not.”
Polling for the review found that 58 per cent of voters agreed cutting the deficit was the “top priority”.