Labour lost the 2015 general election because voters feared it would join forces with the SNP, did not see Ed Miliband as prime ministerial and were not supportive of the party’s policies on the economy, welfare and immigration, an internal report has found.
The official Labour inquiry, run by Dame Margaret Beckett, a former deputy leader, was commissioned by the party leadership last year but has not yet been made public.
It is due to be discussed by a subcommittee of Labour’s ruling body, the national executive committee, but its principal findings have been leaked to the BBC and confirmed by the Guardian.
In its four main conclusions, the report found:
- A failure to shake off the myth that the last Labour government was responsible for crashing the economy.
- An inability to deal with “issues of connection” like immigration and benefits.
- A fear among voters of the SNP propping up a minority Labour government.
- Miliband was judged to be not as strong a leader as David Cameron.
The study also found that leftwing policies – such as the energy price freeze, and greater potential to bring railways back into public ownership – were some of the most popular put forward by Miliband, but that there was a lack of a coherent overall narrative.
Elsewhere the report spoke of the party’s failure to connect with demographic groups in the centre.
Senior Labour sources said the main findings were not controversial and the furore about whether it should be released was unmerited.
The argument over why the party did not win the election has been raging since May, when Labour got 30.4% of the vote and 232 seats, compared with the Conservatives’ 36.9% and their overall majority of 331 seats.
During the leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn attributed the defeat to Labour’s failure to sufficiently differentiate itself from the Conservatives.
“We cannot go on being ‘Tory-lite’; we’ve got to be true to ourselves,” he said. “Labour lost the election because I don’t believe we offered a credible alternative to what the Conservatives were offering.”
Former advisers to Miliband have placed some responsibility for the defeat onto the relentless Tory focus on and media obsession with the consequences of a possible Labour minority government doing a deal with the SNP.
Others in the party have argued it did not do enough to appeal to voters in the centre, or those who were tempted by Ukip.
An independent review led by Jon Cruddas, the coordinator of the party’s 2015 manifesto, argued Britain’s voters do not back an anti-austerity message, but instead believe the UK must live within its means and make cutting the deficit its top priority.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 14th January 2016 16.34 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010