Today’s papers make interesting reading. According to a poll in today’s edition of The Guardian, 70 per cent of respondents have claimed they are seeing no benefit from the economic recovery – even though half agree that a recovery is underway (42 per cent disagreed with the statement that the “recovery is under way” with the remainder undecided). At the same time, the National Housing Federation has issued new forecasts, reported in The Independent, claiming that a generation of Britons are facing a housing “double whammy” and could be priced out of both the buying and rental markets.
Further research, this time by the Circle Housing group (again in The Independent) has claimed that as many as 2.5 million people will have to borrow money to pay heating bills over Christmas.
These articles, which are immediately accessible through media monitoring, lend some credence to Labour’s cost of living argument – namely that while there might be signs of economic growth, the benefits are not being felt by a general public that continues face rising prices. But this doesn’t mean Ed Balls and Ed Miliband should break out the mince pies in vindication of their argument. The same poll in The Guardian has also shown that, despite the economic recovery not being felt by the public, the Conservatives have closed the gap on Labour to just five points (32 per cent to 37 per cent. The Liberal Democrats have 12 per cent and UKIP has nine per cent).
All these figures paint a Jekyll and Hyde picture. But in that lies the problem facing the political parties in that they have to rationalise the need for economic recovery and growth, which will come over the long-term, with a public need to address cost of living, which is much more immediate and cannot come at the cost of increased public spending that pushes the UK as a whole back into debt.
It’s an incredibly tough needle to threat. And it comes with a consequence for organisations looking to engage in the political sphere or act upon some form of stakeholder engagement plan. Because the political parties will struggle to rationalise this vital argument and also address problems presented by businesses, charities or associations that will in many cases make the economic seesaw even more difficult.
The successful political strategists and political advisors will be those that can present their arguments in a way that makes life easier not harder for political parties gearing up for the general election. Solutions, rather than problems, will be the way forward.