The FT’s expert election panel will occasionally be giving their thoughts on the big news stories of the campaign. Below is Matthew Taylor’s take on how Labour can – and must- rejuvenate the policy agenda.
Matthew Taylor, former director of policy to Tony Blair:
If Labour trails in a bad third next week, a divided, demoralised and impoverished Party could easily go into a long term decline, becoming a Party whose highest realistic aspiration is to a be a minority partner in a future coalition.
Finally, today it looks like policy is on the agenda. Labour has to keep it there until the debate on Thursday and then hope that Gordon Brown can win on home territory (there are, after all, still many voters who do not warm to Brown but will on probing agree he is the best on experience and on protecting the interests of ordinary families). With a little wind in its sails Labour might yet breach the 30 per cent barrier within sight of being the largest party. This would change the dynamic of the last week.
But by the weekend the policy window will close again as the focus returns to speculation on the result and last minute supporter mobilisation. If Labour cannot build at least some momentum there is a huge danger of a mass abstention by Labour supporters, like that which so damaged the Conservatives in 1997.
About this time in that 1997 campaign Labour told the voters they had ‘seven days to save the NHS’. The appropriate slogan right now might be ‘Labour has three days to save itself’.