The figures that should worry Labour

Ed Balls' task tomorrow will be to establish Labour as a party that can be trusted to get its hands back on the levers of power.

Ed Balls’ task tomorrow will be to establish Labour as a party that can be trusted to get its hands back on the levers of power

As the country waits with bated breath for an Autumn statement filled less with serious economics and more with political posturing, the past few days have seen a not-so-subtle leak of various numbers we’ll hear tomorrow.

£2 billion, we are told, will be pledged as extra cash for the NHS to avert a hospital crisis entirely of the government’s own making.

£15 billion looks set to be ploughed into the country’s ailing roads network while £2.3 billion is set to be invested in flood defences.

All worthy stuff, but what matters is at this stage are the political messages that tomorrow sends to the country, and with just months to go until the General Election, on the politics, Labour should be fearful.

Polling published today by ComRes for the Independent will make grim reading for Miliband et al.

Take the issue of family finances. For months, if not years, the Shadow Cabinet has sought to develop its cost of living narrative, tapping into a sense that economic improvements haven’t led to improved family finances.

Despite this however, along with a flurry of populist measures on energy price freezes and rent controls, the polling shows that when asked under whom they believe family finances would improve most, 43 per cent said David Cameron and George Osborne while just 32 per cent said Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.

Meanwhile, asked who they most trusted to run the economy as a whole, 37 per cent said Cameron and Osborne compared to 27 per cent who said Miliband and Balls.

When he responds to the chancellor’s statement tomorrow, Ed Balls’ task will be to establish Labour as a party that can be trusted to get its hands back on the levers of power.

With the polling as bleak as it is however, one wonders if the time has run out to change people’s minds.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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