Labour's problems are only partly about how it talks

, . Filed under Politics.

Sunny makes a good point about some leftwing communication, quoting Podemos’ Pablo Iglesias:

The enemy wants nothing more than to laugh at you. You can wear a T-shirt with the hammer and sickle. You can even carry a huge flag, and then go back home with your flag, all while the enemy laughs at you. Because the people, the workers, they prefer the enemy to you. They believe him. They understand him when he speaks. They don’t understand you. And maybe you are right! We failed to defeat the Tories because the left has stopped understanding the public

And he’s right. I’ve seen plenty of lefties really struggle to express their ideas without implying but can’t you see it, you fool! - that’s if they manage to actually talk to anyone at all in 4 million ‘conversations’.

But there’s a danger we conflate the inability to express something in vaguely human terms with saying the wrong thing.

In other words, just because the Tories have been able to construct a serviceable household budget metaphor as a justification for austerity, it doesn’t mean austerity’s right.

Sunny reckons there are lots of fiscally rightwing Labour voters out there. If we accept this (and I’m not sure where he gets his figures from) then it doesn’t mean they’re right either. Austerity could be (is) damaging for millions of people across class divides.

The problem isn’t just how we make these arguments, it’s the fact that Labour doesn’t make them at all.

Now, Labour can go down the Liz Kendall route and decide to accept the Tory version of austerity, and Labour’s own role in the financial crisis. That would at least be logical, and therefore more understandable than its attempt to offer austerity–lite.

The only problem with ceding ground to the Tories entirely is i) it’d inflict more damage on the UK and ii) Labour would lose touch with its constituency altogether.

How does austerity affect the majority of people in the UK, including those earning around average incomes? How does it affect household incomes? How does it affect house prices? The cost of things? Job security? These aren’t questions just for the left; start answering them and you can formulate a simple, understandable pitch to the electorate. Assume voters are inherently left or right wing and you’re doing them a disservice.