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Why Ed Miliband’s Reagan-esque attack won’t work

13 February 2013

13 February 2013

Ed Miliband has taken inspiration for his 2015 attack line from an unlikely source: Ronald Reagan. In 1980, a week before the election between himself and incumbent President Jimmy Carter, Reagan told voters to ask themselves: ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’

At PMQs today, Ed Miliband told the Prime Minister ‘In 2015, people will be asking “Am I better off now than I was five years ago?”’ His hope, clearly, is that voters will decide the answer is ‘no’ — and that they’ll vote against the government as a result.

Miliband’s hopes are pinned on Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, according to which average earnings will be lower, in real terms, at the next election than they were at the last, as this graph shows:

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But even if that prediction does come to pass, Ed would be mistaken to think that he’ll be in Reagan’s position to Cameron’s Carter.

For one thing, Americans were better off in 1980 than they’d been in 1976: real income per capita was 7 per cent higher, and the number of people in work had risen by more than 10 million. If they’d really asked themselves the question Reagan told them to, they might well have re-elected Jimmy Carter. Instead, what Reagan correctly hoped voters would be asking, as Nate Silver put it in September, was ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Rather than looking at the past four years, they were focusing on the recent recession, during which employment dropped by 1.2 million. From 1979 to 1980, average incomes fell by 2.2 per cent.

Given voters seem to focus more on the last year than on the government’s whole term, those OBR figures might actually give Cameron (mild) cheer: they show real average earnings rising by 1.7 per cent in the last year of this Parliament when adjusted for CPI inflation, or by 0.6 per cent by RPI inflation.

And, of course, real earnings are only one aspect of whether people think themselves ‘better off’. On another — employment — Miliband’s attack is unlikely to work very well. There are already 700,000 more people in work than there were at the last election — a figure the OBR expects to rise to about 1 million by 2015. And while it does forecast a slightly higher unemployment rate in 2015 Q2 (8.0 per cent) than in 2010 Q2 (7.9 per cent), that would still represent a fall of 0.3 points from the 8.3 per cent rate it forecasts for 2014 Q2.

Of course, all of this is based on forecasts that could turn out to be too optimistic or too pessimistic. But Miliband shouldn’t be confident that they point to a favourable election for him come 2015.


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  • andagain

    Of course, all of this is based on forecasts that could turn out to be too optimistic or too pessimistic.

    To judge from the last few years, it will be too optimistic.

  • Reconstruct

    This trajectory could, and should, be opposed by the government acting to stop energy bills being deliberately and pointlessly ratcheted up in pointless acts of self-flagellating worship to the Vengeful Green God.

    It is simply immoral to deliberately impoverish people in this way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom
  • Chatterclass

    While the polls still show that people blame Labour for the state of the economy (interestingly not capitalism and the bankers, who bankrupted all of us) at the last election, Labour are more trusted to fix the problem. The govt are perceived as being incompetent and they are fast running out of time to change the perception.

  • HooksLaw

    It seems the topical point Cameron and the tories should be making about the labour party comes from another American political commercial
    ‘Where’s the beef?’

  • Daniel Maris

    Things are going to be a lot worse come 2015. Tax increases and benefit reductions will be feeding through. Pension contributions will be rising. Energy and water bills will still be going up. Mass immigration will be continuing.

    The Tories are done for.

    The only issue is whether there will be a political earthquake with UKIP capturing maybe 30-50 seats. The 2014 Euro Elections may provide them with the springboard they need if they can put together a credible team.

    • HooksLaw

      Are labour going to lower pension contributions or immigration or taxes. Indeed do they care about lowering borrowing.
      thanks for reminding everyone about the consequences of voting UKIP – I would keep quiet about that if I were yoiu

    • Chris lancashire

      Absolute twaddle.

    • David Lindsay

      They are tied with the Tories for third place. If that happens, after all that hype, then UKIP will be pretty much finished. In fact, whichever of the two comes third will be pretty much finished.

      • HJ777

        And which are the two parties that have more support than the Tories?

        What passes for your analysis is woeful.

        • David Lindsay

          Certainly Labour (by miles), possibly UKIP.

          • HJ777

            You said “They are tied for the Tories for third place” in reply to a post about UKIP.

            So if Labour is ahead (“by miles”) who is second? UKIP can’t be both second AND tied with the Tories for third.

            As I said, woeful.

    • Pincer22

      I think Osborne knows the Tories will lose the next election. So is not cutting as hard as he could, to leave Labour to share some of the pain and the blame.
      Or am I over estimating his ability?

      • HooksLaw

        Just your own

    • Colonel Mustard

      If you think things are going to be bad then, wait until Labour regain power. The coffin lid is on but that same old gang will nail it shut. But maybe, just maybe, those bastards will finally reap what they have sown.

  • William Haworth

    The number in work doesn’t matter any more, because so many of those people don’t actually get a vote in the UK. What matters is how many British people who want jobs, can’t get them. Find a way to measure that, and then improve it year-on-year, and you’re in with a chance.

    • Russell

      The only way to get the hardcore can work/ won’t work people off their sofas is to bring back conscription and force them to learn a trade for their dole money.

    • HooksLaw

      What matters is how many people who could get jobs don’t want them.

      You will see you are almost right – only a few syllables out..

  • 2trueblue

    By 2015 people may also have paid off more of their personal debt, which means they will be better off. The recovery is gaining traction so the result from that will be playing generally on the economy.

    • telemachus

      Folk may or may not be better off but they do not feel it
      Miliband is correct
      Cameron can in no way do a Harold Macmillan

      • telemachus

        PS
        Just read my evening coffee blend
        It is fantastic

        • Colonel Mustard

          That blend either puts me to sleep or makes me feel nauseous and I want to vomit.

  • David Lindsay

    I suspect that he got it from the condition of Britain in 2013.

    Of course this is the question that everyone will be asking in 2015. And we all know what the answer is going to be.

    • Fergus Pickering

      No, David. What is the answer going to be?

      • David Lindsay

        A Labour majority in three figures. Or 90, at least.

        • Colin

          It could conceivably happen. But, not with idiotband as labour leader. In terms of becoming the next PM, he’s almost as unelectable as kinnock. In other words, totally unelectable.

          • David Lindsay

            I hope that the media are very proud of having kept John Major in office in 1992. That is about to be avenged in the post-Leveson legislation. But in those days, a generation ago, a lot of dyed-in-the-wool Tory voters were still alive. They are dead now.

            • Colin

              The media should be very proud that it played its small part in keeping the UK safe from the likes of kinnock. But, never forget, in the end it was the British people who did the right thing. I’m sure that when push comes to shove, we’ll do exactly the same and keep that f*cking marxist weirdo miliband (both of them) well away from the levers of power.

            • HooksLaw

              Neil Kinnock kept John Major in office.

              • David Lindsay

                “It Was The Son Wot Won It”

                A newspaper whose own Proprietor and Editor-in-Chief now seems to be realising that it has its day, preparing to axe the only reason why anyone ever bought it.

                Give that a moment to sink in: for decades, General Elections were decided by a publication which nobody ever bought except to look at a pair of bare breasts.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  The way Labour and its fellow travellers think – if only we could destroy Murdoch we could rule for ever and create a thousand year reich. The path to their utopia – still beyond the horizon – is littered with the consequences of their “if onlys”. They had 13 years and a huge majority to lead us there, but where did we get to?

                  Oh, I know, that was not real Labour, that was “New” Labour and Blair, from which we now distance ourselves and re-invent ourselves so we don’t have to admit responsibility, or take any blame. It was the bankers, the Tories, the Sun, Murdoch (insert Labour hate figure of choice here) wot done it. Any excuse, every excuse, all the time looking only towards gaining power over the people again, by any means, foul or fair, but mainly foul. That is the real Labour.

                  And no better demonstration of the facile, devious and wittering mindset that is real Labour than telemachus. A perfect advert for what lies ahead. The stubborn, triumphalist thrusting of the socialist head against the wall of reality, impervious to truth, regardless of pain, indifferent to outcome. That is real Labour.

                • HJ777

                  That was The Sun’s claim.

                  It was rubbish, and sensible commentators know that, as does anyone who was around at the time. Quite apart from anything else, the vast majority of the electorate have never read The Sun and, in any case, there is no evidence that Sun readers changed their voting intentions significantly.

            • HJ777

              I am no great fan of John Major but, after the ERM debacle (and let us not forget that the principal criticism of the Labour Party of our ERM membership at the time was that we didn’t enter at a higher rate), it was characterised by strong economic recovery. The economic situation inherited by Labour in 1997 was a golden one.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          So why bother having an election at all why don’t we just ask you for the result and save ourselves all that trouble and money. Oh, and you get the one-party state of your dreams.

          • David Lindsay

            If they don’t succeed in making me Pope this time (I only just managed to cry off last time), then I’ll take you up on that one.

    • telemachus

      The actual true answer is irrelevant
      It is perception
      Folks fell ill used by the Coalition
      This a winner like last weeks bedroom tax

      • David Lindsay

        The economy had picked up quite well by 1997. But the damage to the Conservatives had been done irreparably years before. Even leaving aside the fact that George Osborne is the worst Chancellor ever, the same would be true again.

        • telemachus

          No
          The worst recent Chancellor was Lawson who set up the early 90’s recession and probably set up the squabbling that led to the 97 downfall

          • Andy

            No.
            The worst Chancellor ever was Gordon the Moron Brown. The wreck HE has made of the British economy will take a generation and more to correct.

            • telemachus

              You are oh so wrong my friend
              He engineered the greatest investment in our country and our health that the country has known
              Not content with that he, after Lehman gave the world the backbone to save the banks and bring us back to growth

              • telemachus

                This from an August commentator on his first 8 years
                “Gordon Brown is in severe danger of going down in history as the greatest Chancellor since Lloyd George…….
                Brown is certainly the greatest Chancellor since Kenneth Clarke. And in the pantheon of Labour chancellors, he ranks very high indeed, if only for having warded off the kind of financial crisis that afflicted most of his predecessors.

                Brown is the eighth Labour chancellor and, in about six weeks, enters the eighth year of his Chancellorship. This was also his eighth annual Budget, equalling the feat of Gladstone (Chancellor 1859-66), the last Chancellor to deliver eight in a row.

                It goes on to heap praise on hid able Lieutenant Balls

                • alan

                  The same William Keegan article continues: “A visitor from outer space might look at an economy where house prices, consumer debt and spending continue to defy gravity, and wonder whether something nasty does not lie around the corner….”

                • telemachus

                  We could of course go on

                  “Brown, his able lieutenant Ed Balls, and a newly resurgent Treasury have done a lot to ensure that they have learned and profited from the mistakes of the past and, certainly by international standards, their borrowing and public sector debt ratios are low.”

                • Pincer22

                  Brown created a system where people could take out 125% mortgages, he allowed mickey mouse self cert mortgages where people could get a mortgage of 5/6 even 7 times earnings.
                  He raided peoples pensions, sold our gold, and indugled in every stealth tax he could think of.
                  It was Browns system that allowed the banks to run wild, it was Brown who encouraged personal debt to shoot up to record levels to fund a lifestyle people couldn’t afford.
                  It was Brown and his cronies like Mcbride and Watson that smeared anyone who crossed their path.
                  All bubbles burst eventually, the bigger the bubble the bigger the bang.

                • HooksLaw

                  Brown created the regulatory system that failed. That Keegan and the Obsever/Guardian clique are still busy rewriting history (only a few days ago) shows why it is imperative to keep labour out of power.

                • HooksLaw

                  All which proves Keegan is thick.

                • DWWolds

                  And what about telemachas?

                • Cutla

                  Not the first time I’ve seen you pull quotes or information from sources many years in the past. Yet another indicator you’re a paid up Labour shill.

                • telemachus

                  The clue was “in about six weeks, enters the eighth year of his Chancellorship.”
                  Those glorious 8 years before Lehman

                • Pincer22

                  Remind me, was it before or after Northern Rock and B&B?

                • DWWolds

                  Also remind me of why the IMF, according a report from its own Evaluation Office, warned Balls in 2003 that UK debt was increasing too quickly. And, according to the report, Balls bullied them to such an extent that, to their eternal shame, they caved in and toned down their criticism. The Evaluation Office’s report is still on line if you know where to look.

                • Russell

                  The sycophants in the press and the BBC kept spouting this rubbish, every day and gullible people like you believed the nonsense, encouraged by RBS boss, Lloyds boss and a few other disgraced senior bankers and CEO’s of PVT’s and Regional Health Authorities, all getting six or seven figure pay with indecent pensions, not to mention the bosses involved with the PFI scams.
                  All done on tick for which we have only just started to pay for..

                • telemachus

                  Folks like you said nothing at the time
                  It should also be said it would have continued were it not for the yanks

                • Russell

                  Totally wrong. I spent a great deal of my time complaining to the bbc about their atrocious bias towards Brown & Labour and pointing out the debt mountain building and the property bubble. The press and tv so called pundits weren’t interested. I ended up hoarse from shouting at the tv and wearing out my mute button every time the buffoon Brown opened his mouth. Blair % Brown & Balls, a contemptible trio accompanied by the most incompetent and detestable ministers ever to be in a government with characters like Straw, Miliband,Reid,Prescott, and even the mortgage fraudster Lord of darkness.

                • HooksLaw

                  They looked at debt as GDP but the GDP was full of the debt

                • HooksLaw

                  An article from 2004. from 1997 to 2001 brown followed tory spendinjg plans
                  In 2004 Brown ran a deficit of nearlhy 40 billion. it got no better
                  William Keegan of the Guardian has built a career around writing hagiographies about Brown.
                  You are a dipstick

                • HJ777

                  What about commentators in the other eleven months of the year?

                  After all, most of the good economic commentators are on holiday in August.

              • Andy

                I am spot on. He IS the WORST Chancellor, certainly in living memory, and probably ever. He wrecked the States finances which will take 40 years to put right. He created the Daddy of all Booms and the Mother of all Busts. He ought to be hanged, along with Ed Balls. And we should liquidate the Labour Party, surcharge it for its incompetence.

                • telemachus

                  I consider us all privileged to have lived through and benefitted from the decade of Gordon’s stewardship
                  His achievements are endless
                  When history is written in a hundred years they will be seen as Golden years
                  In 2 years we will enter a second Golden Era with his charismatic lieutenant

                • Adam

                  Whilst I enjoy reading a different point of view, I must ask – are you right in the head?

                  Some of your posts have a distinctly “Dear Leader” feel to them; blindly bleating on about a “golden era” that holds no resemblance to anyone’s idea of reality.

                  As a side; I strongly urge you to look up the definition of “charismatic”, assuming that is, you’re referring to Ed Balls.

                • HJ777

                  Very amusing.

                  I never previously credited you with such an acute sense of humour.

                • Pincer22

                  He is worse than the worst Chancellor in history. Some day in the future they will invent a word to describe such a thing.

                  As yet we have no such term for just how appallingly bad he was.

              • George_Arseborne

                You are absolutely right. Gordon was a Great Chancellor not this part time Economic illiterate Osborne who does no know the difference between debt and deficit. Just to remind you lots. Gordon prevent UK from joining the single currency. He orevented the great deoression. He was a genius adviced by Grat Ed Balls.

                • Austin Barry

                  Gordon Brown ” .. orevented the great deoression”.

                  If you say so, chum, but it sounds like an arrestable offence in most States below the Mason-Dixon line.

                • HJ777

                  Here is a direct quote from Gordon Brown. You can hear it on Youtube if you listen to his embarrassing “bigoted woman” episode.

                  When she asked: “And what about all the debt, Gordon?” he replied “We have the deficit reduction plan which will cut the debt in half in four years”. In fact, even on Labour’s (barely credible) plan, the debt was due to double in four years while the deficit was being halved.

                  Brown didn’t know the difference between debt and deficit. He was either an idiot or a liar. Take your pick.

              • HooksLaw

                Investment brings a return.
                All labour left was devastation.
                Not only is your analysis not right, it’s not even wrong

              • 2trueblue

                Yep, he grew the gap between rich and poor, grew child poverty, grew youth unemployment, just to name some of the things he grew. Do remember food banks came into being in Liebores reign.

                • telemachus

                  Yes they created food banks to save lives
                  These were a safety net
                  It is under Osborne that they became a growth industry

              • DWWolds

                And he also engineered the greatest peace time debt this country has ever known. And the so-called “saving” of the banks has left us with a pretty dreadful legacy.

      • kyalami

        What bedroom tax? There’s no such thing. You clear;y don’t understand the meaning of the word “tax”. Another Labour myth.

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