Posted by Jake on Sunday, April 13, 2014 with 2 comments | Labels: Article, Big Society, elections, expense fraud, Graphs, inequality, Labour, LibDems, protests, the government, Tories
[Updated Aug 2016]
Whatever you think of Jeremy Corbyn, one thing he's done that all the others in the Labour or Tory parties haven't, is get hundreds of thousands to join the party.
Corbyn's strongest card is his promise to go much further than this. To get a significant portion of the millions who never vote, to vote Labour. Can he do it? Who knows. But getting non-voters to vote is no longer crazy talk. Think UKIP. Think Brexit.
It matters because, for decades, UK elections have been decided as much by who doesn't vote as by who does.
In politics how high you reach depends less on how tall you stand and more on who you stand on. For decades political parties have gained power standing on people who don't vote.
In the twilight weeks of the electoral cycle, like little children at bedtime, politicians see terrors lurking on every sofa across the land. Millions of zombie voters who might be roused if they get annoyed enough. Not to vote for what they are for, but to vote against what they are against.
Consider the sudden ejection of Maria Miller from her role as the Secretary of State for Culture. Miller was given the boot in the month before the May 2014 local and European elections. When Jeremy Hunt, the previous Secretary of State for culture (what is it about that ministry?), was caught up in far more serious allegations David Cameron rescued Hunt by promoting him to Secretary of State for Health. Luckily for Hunt there were no key elections in sight then. What ultimately did for Miller wasn’t her sin but her timing - getting caught during the witching hours that run for the few weeks before the Local and the European elections.
This is a lesson you must remember dear voter. It is a lesson you must not let our politicians forget you remember. You must keep them afraid of you.
Once the dark electoral hours have passed, politicians of all parties forget about us electors. For example the key strategy of successive Tory governments is to appear to cut taxes and spending. A graph from the 2013 British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey shows fewer than 1 in 10 Britons have wanted this in the 30 years since 1983. More than 90% have consistently wanted the level of tax & spend to remain the same or to increase.
But having captured power the needs of the many are subjugated to the desires of the few. Labour and Conservative are both guilty of this. They do this because we let them get away with it. Too many of us, because we don't realise our own power, don't bother to vote in elections. This happens to such an extent that the last seven elections were won with the votes of fewer than a third of the electorate. And the last three with fewer than a quarter.
More data from the same BSA survey shows some surprising movements since 1983, illustrating how scared the politicians should be. Both Labour and Conservative parties have managed to lose swathes of what should be their core supporters. The Tories have lost support among managers; business owners; self employed. Labour has lost support among skilled and unskilled manual workers.
The winner is the 'nobody' party.
Sadly, people who support no party tend not to vote. And politicians are very happy with people not voting. They don't need to fear them, they can ignore them and suck up to a narrower group.
Nobody is afraid of what never happens. Are you scared of getting bitten by a snake on the train? Of course not - it hardly ever happens in Britain! If it happened even just once in ten years we'd all be tucking our trousers into our socks. To keep the politicians scared all the zombie voters need to come out at least once in a decade.
Make them fear you! Go and vote, and what's more do what is necessary to get your zombie colleagues, friends and neighbours to vote. Rattle the bones, burn the incence, do ghastly things to chickens, give them a lift, make it a day out.
It doesn't matter who you vote for - nice, nasty, nutty - just let those politicians know you are coming to a polling booth near you. Keep them scared for the good of Britain!