Monday, April 26, 2010

So much for the "great ignored"

They say that a week is a long time in politics. If that is true than three weeks must be a lifetime - and I suspect that the Tories are hoping that three weeks does feel like a lifetime ago for most people.

Because, back then when they launched their election campaign they told us that they were going to focus on the "great ignored". As usual with the Tories, this big idea was long on rhetoric and short on detail in so much as no one was actually sure what they meant by the great ignored, but it would be fair to assume that they meant the very large number of people who are disillusioned with our political parties and the lack of choice offered and have stopped bothering to vote.

At the last election that amounted to around 40% of the electorate - which is quite a large slice of the pie. There can be little doubt that if any party could motivate a significant proportion of those people to go and vote for them then they'd win the election by a landslide.

Unfortunately for the Tories - and the great ignored - the great ignored got forgotten about again as soon as the first "great debate" was over. After that debacle, the Lib Dems enjoyed a huge surge in support - but not because the great ignored decided they were going to back them. No, the surge in support came from voters who were previously planning to vote Labour or Tory switching their support to the Lib Dems.

The trouble is, this proportion of the electorate represents a fairly small proportion of the total - we're talking maybe 10% of the 60% who are expected to vote - and because these people are comfortable voting for either the Tories or Lib Dems or Labour or the Lib Dems it means we're talking about people whose politics pretty much reflect those parties politics anyway.

In other words, progressive liberals.

Consequently, the great ignored are going to be ignored again. Forty per cent of the electorate will not bother to vote because there isn't a party standing which they feel represents them enough to justify putting a cross in a box for that party on election day.

And if you assume, as it's probably fair to do, that a large proportion of the people who vote Tory, Labour or Lib Dem do so out of tribal loyalty and would vote that way regardless of their policies, then it's fair to say that this election is being fought on the basis of winning the votes of less than 10% of the electorate.

And because that 10% is comprised of left wing, progressive liberal elitists we get political parties that fight for the votes of left wing, progressive liberal elitists - and that is what those parties have become. Left wing, progressive liberal elitists.

As for the "great ignored" - they might as well not exist as far as the main political parties are concerned.


Antisthenes said...

Who are the great ignored? Ask any Joe voter and he/she will tell you it is him/her, everyone has a grippe or two. So a party saying that they represent the great ignored is pointless accept as a sound bite.

So Ranting Stan what you are saying is that you are being ignored because no one is addressing your concerns and aspirations or not nearly enough of them at least. Also like you everyone else is being ignored in some way or another.

The great ignored is a permanent state until such time as everyone agree that what they want is exactly the same and they are not getting it.

Stan said...

My argument, Antisthenes, is that the Tories, Labour and Liberal parties used to be sufficiently different that they managed to represent the vast majority of people to some degree or another - voter turnout at General Elections used to run at around 80-90% fifty years ago or so. At the last election it was just 60%.

And I'm saying that those three main parties now focus on such a narrow range of issues, all support the same broad policies and are fundamentally the same as each other that they only really meet the requirements of a tiny section of the electorate.

If you stripped away those who vote based on tribal loyalties - i.e. the people who always vote and always vote for the Tory party or the Labour party or the Lib Dems - then you have three parties all pursuing the votes of just 10% of the electorate.

You could argue that minor parties - such as UKIP, the Green, BNP and the English Democrats - take up the slack, but as those parties do not (or can not) field candidates in every constituency this means that there is still a large number of people without a party that represents them.

They are the great ignored. Am I one of them? Well that depends if a candidate from a party I feel I could support stands in my constituency or not. I don't know yet, but what I do know is that that candidate will not be from any of the three main parties.

Lightf00t said...

The whole set and frame of politics has shifted leftwards, and so now even the Tories are afraid to tackle problems with the solutions all us commonsensers know are necessary to make Britain great again.

I genuinely believe that Britain is going to end up a banana republic.

Antisthenes said...

RS, I was of the same opinion as you that all the parties offer more or less the same. Now however I am shifting my position on that and see that the Conservatives are now showing evidence that they are more libertarian and economically more free enterprise and the Lib-Dems are showing signs of having become more libertarian also, their other policies remain crap. The Labour party are definitely sliding further too the left, Broon never let it become true NuLabour even under Blair and since he has had free rein has become an unfettered socialist.

So to me there is hope that there is a real choice. One party cannot offer all that an individual wants but they can offer a choice between different economic approaches and greater or lesser personal freedoms albeit not as much as one would wish for.

Stan said...

The thing is, Anitsthenes, all of the main parties claim to be libertarian.

Once they get into power, though, they all go mad at clamping down on our liberty on the grounds of fighting crime or countering terrrorism.

It's not because they aren't "libertarian" - (they aren't - but they think they are) - it's because their beliefs mean they can not deal effectively with those issues and the only response they can come up with is more cameras, more snooping, more monitoring and more surveillance.

As for free enterprise - if you mean allowing anyone and everyone free access to our markets and carte blanche to buy up our industry, asset strip it then close it down and move production abroad then whichever of the three main parties you choose will suffice - but Labour are probably tops for that.

It is, after all, their expressed aim to remove borders and create an interdependent "global community". It's a stupid idea of course and will leave Britain as an indebted, bankrupt, third world nation - but hey, if that is what you want.

Antisthenes said...

RS, agreed they all see themselves as libertarian only two can actually point to proof the Lib-dems if you go back far enough have the best credentials. Today it is a toss up between them and the Conservatives both are a far better bet then Labour. So clear difference there.

As for free enterprise I include economic matters and only the Conservatives score there. Free trade is theoretically a good thing the only reason the UK does not benefit as it should is because it has become so uncompetitive however it benefits from having cheaper goods than it would otherwise. Free trade will eventually force the UK to become more competitive it will be painful process but a necessary one. It should go hand in hand in sorting out the UK economic woes as the same solutions are applicable to both.

As for the UK selling off it's silver that is a symptom of the economic position but also a benefit as brings in much needed cash. Britain at one time owned a large portion of the worlds assets during it's Imperial period no doubt you would not have shouted foul then.

Stan said...

Sorry, Antisthenes, but the Lib Dems don't have any credentials whatsoever. People forget that they are not the old Liberal Party - they are the old Social Democrat Party - an offshoot of Labour. They've never held power and never been "liberal" in the classical sense. Liberal in their context means "social liberal" - i.e. progressive, leftist elitists.

Your belief in free trade is misplaced. The benefits are short term (in national scales) and eventually we'll be far far worse off. There is only one way to become competitive - and that is for labour costs in Britain to fall as low as those in the developed world - there isn't any other way. That is the market at work if left free - you can not be paid 100 times more for doing something than someone doing the same job in Bangalore or Shanghai. The market applies as much to labour as it does to goods - cheap goods today means very low wages tomorrow.

Of course, by then, the British consumer market will have shrunk to such an extent that we won't have cheap goods - or much of anything at all. No industry, no manufacturing, no technology, no infrastructure and no future. The biggest "employer" will be the land - and subsistence farming.

That is the future unless we take steps to protect our industry and skills.

Incidentally, we didn't just own a large proportion of the world's assets - we built them in the first place.