Press Watch 8/10/2019

Two polls

Cost of Living more important to poorer voters than Brexit

Buried away on Page 7 of the Times is a fascinating report of a poll carried out on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Trust which illuminates what interests voters away from the Brexit hullabaloo.

The paper reports that many Labour Leave voters who will be targeted by the Brexit Party and the Conservatives at the next election do not view Brexit as a priority.

This is an in-depth poll which goes beyond the usual polling of 1000 people across the whole of Britain.

The survey addressed the views of 10,000 people on low incomes and found that the cost of living, health, crime and housing were higher than Brexit on their list of priorities. According to the Times, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation research suggests that the Brexit Party will have to widen its appeal to win over those earning less than £20,000 who are traditionally likely to back Labour.

The report which is entitled “Every Voter Counts”, says that ‘despite the unique role Brexit will play if there is a general election soon, it would be a mistake to run campaigns purely about Brexit to attract voters among this group. Brexit is not the uppermost issue in their minds.

The report highlights the fact that there were about 9.5 million voters on low incomes, of whom 2.7 million were swing voters.

This poll confirms what many of us feel, which is that away from the preoccupations of the people inside the Westminster bubble a whole other politics is germinating. We don’t expect that the usual suspects in the Commentariat will hear, let alone give expression to, the voices of poorer people even though they represent almost 10 million of our fellow citizens.

But we know that Labour’s leadership understands the concerns of ordinary folk. Labour’s manifesto will address their concerns.

Two questions arise in our minds.

The first is whether Labour can get our voices by this section of the electorate heard above the din in an election period. And the second is whether can inspire a sense of hope strong enough to motivate them to vote in sufficient numbers to achieve a successful outcome.

Voters ask can we afford popular policies.

Also in today’s Times, a YouGov poll suggests that whilst a few of Boris Johnson’s policies are agreeable to Britons, people do not think they are affordable.

A few of these policies have a familiar ring to them. Indeed they are familiar because they have been stolen from the Labour Party! Increasing the rate of the minimum wage to £10.50 an hour over five years was deemed a good idea by 72 per cent, against 19 per cent who said it was the wrong priority.

But when they were asked if they believed the policies were affordable, 25 per cent said they thought they were but 42 per cent said they were not.

There are clear lessons for the Labour Party here. We will have to work hard to show how this is a rich country and we can afford a decent income for all working people provided that we end the Tory priority of stoking up the wealth of the most privileged people in our country, whilst turning a blind eye to tax dodging.

But we don’t believe that redistributing income within a neoliberal structure is going to be convincing. We will need to show that we will begin the process of restructuring capitalism itself if we are to show that we have a solution to the social problems which are in the way our economy is organised.

Press Watch is a look at the day's news by Labour MPs.

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