Friday, 24 April 2015

No One Like Politics - And It's Really Depressing

This man - yes, this man - was more popular than any politician today

In this election, they're neck-and-neck, but only because they're both stuck with just a third of the electorate's support. A third!? Whoever gets into power will have been not voted for by two thirds of us - a vast majority that any politician would envy.

To put this in perspective - it's not unreasonable to expect more. It is quite possible to unite and inspire at least half an electorate in common cause – the SNP are currently doing so in Scotland, where they have 49% of the vote. In the last German election, the CDU/CSU won 45.% of the first votes, and 41.5% of second votes - and this from an impressive voter turnout of 71.5%. Even among Brits, it is possible to inspire a majority to like you. Shortly after getting into power, Tony Blair's Labour government had 62% support. Even John Major - a man created in a lab by scientists trying to identify the physical limits of drabness - won 42.3% of the vote!

Not only do only a third of us support our next leader, but even they are doing it reluctantly. AYouGov poll finds that only 58% of labour voters and 49% of Tory voters say they would be "proud" to tell others who they're voting for. UKIP supporters are even more shy - 39% of them would be "proud" - suggesting that the drift to non-mainstream parties is not done in spirit of positive optimism - it's just another symptom of the same disillusionment.

Moreover, Cameron's net approval rating is zero. Miliband's is -18. It is not a bit woeful that out of 70 million people, we haven't managed to put forward one person who more of us see as a good leader than a bad one.

Thirdly, the number of us who actually think well of political parties are consistently lower than the numbers of us who will vote for them - proving that many are voting in a spirit of reluctant despondency. Just 24% of us think Labour "keeps its promises", and 23% think the Tories do (Ipsos-Mori). 63% of us say, for both those parties, that they "will promise anything to win votes". 43% think they are divided. A minority (44%) think the Tories have a good team of leaders, while the figure was woefully low for Labour (28%) - showing that the attack on Miliband has resonated.

On individual issues, too, there's a dearth of optimism. The NHS is currently seen as the most important issue by voters, but only 36% think Labour have the best policies on the NHS, and 23% think the Tories do.

The most important symptom of all this negativity and disillusionment is the meteoric rise of alternative parties - who now have 24% of the public's support, compared to an average of 10.3% in 2010.

It won't be easy to dispel this suffocating negativity. If anyone's going to, it's important not just to challenge the status quo, but to do so in a non-Cameronian way. It should be done with positivity and a passionate emphasis on what we are about. It cannot just be about berating what exists.

That's why, hilarious as it is, the #Milifandom is so encouraging. It's far from just teenage silliness. It is, according to its founder, "a movement against the distorted media portrayal of Ed". It is a reaction against the current habit of hating your enemies, and doing nothing else. In doing so, 17-year old Abby strikes a positive note and attacks on the front foot: she enthusiastically tweets policies and reasons to vote Labour. She doesn't mention rivals; they don't seem to interest her. What she's driven by is the exciting prospect of the potential good that could happen.

One of the only positive things on which Ispos-Mori can find a majority agreeing (albeit a very slim majority) is this: "52% of us think Labour understand the problems facing Britain". Ed has that, at least, and the backing of the Milifandom. He's got Blue Labour as a source of political philosophy, and a campaign which has focused more on fairness than anti-Tory diatribes. He is perhaps the leader with the best chance of steering us away from the era of attacking all the enemies until you're the only one left standing.

No comments:

Post a Comment