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The Sun is starting to shine on Labour

By Peter Hoskin
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Rachel Reeves has an article explaining Labour’s 10p tax policy in today’s Sun. “So what?” you might think, “isn’t this what shadow ministers do?”

But there’s still something striking about this article in itself. Consider where it appears: the Sun, a newspaper that might have cause to be unfriendly towards Labour after the phone hacking scandal. And consider the fact that Ed Miliband also wrote a piece for them in January. This was the first time he’d done so for around two years. The pieces, as another Labour leader once put it, are in flux.

LabourList’s Mark Ferguson—one of the smartest Labour writers in the Westminster typing pool—noted the significance of Ed Miliband’s Sun article at the time. It could be, he suggested, part of an effort to turn “Red Ed” into “Everyman Ed”: a tribune of the people reaching out the people in the sorts of publications the people actually read. Rachel Reeve’s article today can be seen as a continuation of that process.

This is all part of what the Fabians’ Marcus Roberts has identified, in a recent blog-post, as “Labour’s new ‘Blue Collar’ politics”. I’d encourage you to read the entire post, but these passages are particularly pertinent for Conservatives, whether you agree with them or no’:

“Politically, it offers a response, just in the pre-Budget nick of time, to the growing threat of ‘blue collar Toryism’ or ‘Little Guy Conservatism’ espoused by serious long term thinkers on the Right like Tim Montgomerie, Robert Halfon and Jesse Norman.  But their prospectus for a Tory Party that cares more for middle earners then the 1% has of course an obvious weakness; whatever good they proscribe, Labour can likely do it better. By amending and adapting smart Tory thinking on the squeezed middle, Miliband broadens his One Nation brand.

But the differentiation with the Tories still matters of course and this is where Labour policy is particularly ingenious. Payment for the 10p cut through the mansions tax substantiates voters pre-existing belief that Labour not the Tories is the party that best answers the vital pollsters question: ‘who cares about people like you’. And at last Labour activists have a policy that they can explain on the doorstep without needing to reach for some think tank’s definition of ‘predistribution’.”

It will be worth keeping tabs on whether Labour continue to try to outflank the Tory leadership on this ground. Indeed, one of the items in ConservativeHome’s recent “Little Guy Conservatism” series was Harriet Baldwin’s struggle for English votes for English laws – part of a broader theme of “Englishness” that Labour’s policy chief Jon Cruddas is also keen to explore. Don’t be surprised to see an article by him in the Sun, any day now.