Labour's Beckett report on election loss a 'whitewash', says former party pollster

A former Labour pollster who conducted research that fed into a report on why Labour lost the 2015 election has branded the report a “whitewash”.

Deborah Mattinson, the founder director of research and strategy consultancy BritainThinks, told the BBC that the report did not include voter research she had gathered in marginal constituencies including Croydon, Watford, Nuneaton and Glasgow.

As a result, she said she was very concerned the report was a “massive missed opportunity” and that crucial lessons from the election loss would not be learned.

Labour said Dame Margaret Beckett, who led the official inquiry, had consulted “far and wide”. But Mattinson said analysis of her research was left out.

“I was somewhat disappointed not to see some of that reflected back,” Mattinson told the BBC. “Yes, she picked up on the economy, but there actually was no analysis. It’s reduced down to one bullet point in the report.”

She said the report was “quite apologetic, lots of defensive stuff in there but nothing that really shone a light on what had gone wrong”.

“I feel very concerned that these lessons won’t be learned,” she said.

She added: “No political party has a divine right to exist and unless Labour really listens to those people it must persuade, it stands no chance of winning the next election.”

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.

Powered by article was written by Guardian staff, for on Sunday 24th January 2016 04.16 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010