With the election this week we have seen a display by various political parties to demonstrate their differences and how they offer the best choice.
I was just wondering if we have gone about this the wrong way. Rather than initially highlight the points of difference should we not at first examine what they all have in common.
A complaint about this so-called ‘most exciting election for years’ is that it isn’t.
There appears a remarkable disinterest among the general public, marked by an inability to mark any real difference between the different parties.
The most enlivening discussions I have witnessed have sadly been prompted by minority parties, such as the BNP, where though I fundamentally disagree with them, their media appearances at least get people talking about what sort of decisions our society needs to take, what priorities and what principles we stand for – essentially the meat and drink of political consciousness.
The main parties it seems have a problem; we live in an age of remarkable political consensus; the major issues have been put to bed, whether it is being part of a European super-state, the primacy of capitalism albeit with a significant public sector element, the existence of a welfare state, recognition that a public spending over-spend needs to be redressed, and the need for immigration controls.
Where there are differences they are at the margins of the issues; an immigration rule or quota here, maybe some disagreement on the timetable for cutbacks there.
As a result, the populace fails to detect any real difference between the main parties. If however, the analysis was approached from identifying at the outset the commonality, a much richer, and more revealing point of difference will emerge.
The current election has also witnessed a so-called transformation of politics. What tosh! Until the votes have been cast and the real decisions made no one can say there has been a transformation of politics. There may have been a transformation of the responses given to pollsters in the run-up to an election.
Here, I believe we are witnessing what I call a ‘Jedward Factor’; in the X Factor talent show, the public initially show sympathy and go out of their way to vote for novelty, difference, or just to show they have their own minds. Hence, they will vote for the Jedward-type acts in the early rounds.
When it comes to the real crunch however, they then cast their votes for what they perceive as the most realistic candidate with a chance for winning the event outright.
What we have witnessed thus far is not so much a ‘transformation of politics’ but rather greater promiscuity of responses given to a more market-research savvy public.
My reading of how the election will go is that the Conservatives will win with a working majority to form a government.
The reason I predict this is because of what I call the ‘aversive Tory’ vote – people who won’t admit to outright supporting Conservative but will give them their vote in the ballot booth when it comes to the final decision.
Just in the same way you get aversive racists – where people won’t admit to not voting for a Black candidate because of their underlying racism -.the same seems to apply with a number of people when it comes to making a decision to vote Conservative
Another key factor is the ability to turn out your voters. A mistake made about elections is just considering it as a dynamic of people changing their minds and voting for a different candidate.
The crucial task for political parties is to mobilise their core support. As witnessed by the binmen heckling the Labour Party photocall last week, and the response by the old lady Gillian Duffy, who went out to get a loaf of bread but ended up being called a ‘bigot’ by Gordon Brown and being the centre of national news, Labour has problems.
Labour will suffer because of its core supporters not turning out – as indicated by Mrs. Duffy who declared she is not voting for anyone. Labour indeed may be a party in transition, as illustrated by the behaviour of the bin men, where the working man (or women) no longer sees Labour as the defender of their interests.
One last point: I get so annoyed when everyone moans about politicians. Rather like bad parents lead to less-than-worthy children, the fundamental is, we get the politicians we deserve.
Please do vote. If you’re not happy about things then do something to make your world right.