It's a fact that Labour did awful in the south in the 2010 election.
Liam Byrne, of whom i'm a big fan, has some harsh facts. Some others have been added:
At the 2010 general election, Labour suffered its worst losses in the south and middle of England, winning just 49 out of 302 seats in those regions. Choose your route carefully, says Liam Byrne, a former Treasury minister, and you can drive from Edmonton in north London to the banks of the Humber at Grimsby before hitting a Labour seat. After this wipeout, Policy Network, a think-tank, commissioned a poll of southern voters. It found they trusted the Conservatives to run the economy by a margin of 44% to 16% over Labour. Most damningly, 47% of southerners thought public spending under Labour had been largely wasted. Such voters no longer see Labour as “fair” to working families, calling it a party for benefit claimants, unions and immigrants.
And that's a problem. Of course, these people tend to read the tabloids, which have these very headlines and stories every day and, as far as i'm concerned are not always tight with the truth.
But that's the story people believe, even if I don't. My mum, dyed in the wool Thatcherite, even believes that hospitals and the like are much, much better under Labour and that the money was well spent. Far, far too few agree with her for us (Labour) to win the kind of southern voters we need to form a government.
The crunchiest debates in Manchester involved the survivors of Labour’s southern wipeout. In fringe meetings far from the fuchsia-pink main stage they shared tales of doorstep rage from voters convinced that Labour largesse had passed them by. Mr Byrne, a Birmingham MP, quoted couples who told him they worked crushing hours, paid their dues, but earned just too much to receive state help—then pointed with rage to feckless neighbours “doing nothing and getting everything”. Such voters feel they are the victims of overlapping systems of selfishness, said Mr Byrne: above them, bankers and politicians looking after themselves; below them the work-shy or newly arrived immigrants tapping benefits. Fiona Mactaggart, a formidable Scot who represents Slough—one of Labour’s tiny clutch of Home Counties seats—put it pithily: voters thought Labour stood for “taking their money and giving it to people who are taking the piss”.
Ed Miliband says he gets it, but does he? And will people believe him. I always think it's better to avoid sayings like 'I get it' and make statements which show it.