"Before you're the answer, people have to ask the question."- Senior Labour Party Official, as quoted in The GuardianCanadian Liberals and British Labour share similar circumstances, and there's certainly lessons to be learned in being ready to seize opportunities.
"As for the politics, Balls believes there is a natural sequence that can't be accelerated. First, the public has to conclude that the current approach is not working. That is not as simple a step as it might seem: even consistently low growth and high unemployment figures will not settle it overnight. For voters who switched to the Tories or Lib Dems to declare that the government got it wrong will be to concede that they themselves got it wrong, and people are always reluctant to do that.
Even once they've made that critical shift, the public will need to make another – by wondering if there is an alternative. As one senior Labour figure puts it: "Before you're the answer, people have to ask the question." Current polling suggests we're not there yet. But Balls is surely right to believe that once cuts and job losses really hit home they will feel infinitely more real than the inherently abstract notion that is the deficit. At that point, voters will be looking for another way – and the question will then be: "Does Labour offer it?""