For exactly three years the economy has been the number one issue of concern for the public. At the last election it was the most important factor in how people decided who to vote for. Today, half of the country believes the economy will get worse in the next twelve months.
All of this points to how important it is for political parties to get their message on the economy right. It will come therefore as bad news to the Labour Party that our poll for Reuters released this week shows they are ten points behind the Conservatives when it comes to having the best policies on the economy. Just over three in ten (33%) think the Conservatives have the best economic policies, compared to 23% who say Labour and 8% who say the Liberal Democrats.
Perhaps the most worrying sign for Labour is that in March they had seemed to be closing the gap on the Conservatives, reducing their lead to just three points. Economic credibility has been a problem for Labour since losing at the General Election, and has once again been bought to the fore by revelations in Alistair Darling’s book. The public still hold Labour largely responsible for the cuts being made to the public sector and Labour would take a share of the blame if the economy gets worse in the next year.
The news that they are still far from being seen as offering a credible solution to the economic problems should remind Eds Miliband and Balls that it is extremely important to articulate a strong, coherent but positive message on the economy. The economy presents a major opportunity for the Opposition – especially as concern about unemployment continues to rise – but so far it seems, Labour has not taken advantage.