Labour must learn to win if it wants to shape the UK's economic future

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Ill-fated austerity plans will wreck the country, but the government knows it has no opposition to worry about

There used to be an iron rule of politics. Governments that delivered strong growth in living standards were popular. Governments that presided over stagnant living standards were unpopular. Governments that served up falling living standards were booted out.

Take the record of Labour governments between 1997 and 2010. During Tony Blair’s first term, people got a lot better off and the upshot was a second landslide victory for Labour in 2001. Blair won by a smaller margin in 2005 following a period of more modest rises in living standards. By the time of the 2010 general election living standards were falling and Labour lost.

In business parlance, Labour has become a toxic brand

Related: Philip Hammond gave us a budget for tax avoiders and giant firms | John McDonnell

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