The Tories very deliberately pitch themselves as the thinking voter’s party. The party of the head, not the heart. So why is it that many indicators suggest that those who are proactively engaging in the democratic process – with their heads, not their hearts – lean left?
A fantastic case in point is this screenshot from the voteforpolicies website.
This site presents anonymised policy statements for each party under several key policy headings. Users are able to select the policy areas close to their hearts and are asked to select a preference from the various statements in each category. The map, a summary of aggregated user preference for each seat, shows a United Kingdom awash with support for progressive, left-leaning parties. Labour, the Green party and under Nicola Sturgeon, the new posterchild for the left, the SNP.
Now obviously there are many factors to consider. This site has been predominantly popularised through social media sharing thus visitors are more likely to be from a younger demographic. Older, less technologically minded voters may not be represented. The policy statements are not anonymised enough to prevent party-political bias from playing a significant role in many respondents’ answers. But what this infographic is illustrating is a very significant left preference amongst voters engaged enough to have taken the time to inwardly digest policies and complete this exercise.
What is startling is the lack of Tory support in this picture of the country. On what basis are Tory voters voting? This, amongst other evidence, quite clearly highlights the incredible coup the Tories have executed in somehow convincing a sizeable minority of the population (not an outright majority mind you) that austerity is the right way forward. We are one of very few countries in the world who are still moving away from public investment rather than towards it, but the Tories have orchestrated widespread support for this strategy despite economic figures – both quantitative and especially qualitative – which are unconvincing at best and outright damning at their worst. They have convinced the electorate that trickle down economics will eventually benefit the many and that big business is good for the “working families” of our nation. History will mark this down as the decade in which the British public stood by as Atlas shrugged and Cameron finished Thatcher’s work.
Anybody who stops to think is not convinced. Economists have never been convinced. I’m not convinced, not even close. And neither should you be. For 99.9% of the population of this country the Conservatives will never be looking out for you, they will be exploiting and undermining you, and you may see a slight upside at best. But know that for every one of us who might benefit from Tory policies, tens of others will lose. If you’re going to vote, use your head and your heart.
What can you do?
I hate this one, but in our voting system you are effectively disenfranchised unless you vote against the party you don’t support, rather than voting for the party you do support. In my constituency of Battersea Labour’s candidate, Will Martindale, is the only realistic opposition to the incumbent Conservative MP (who, for balance, has led some reasonable initiatives locally). If the projected Green voters ticked Will’s box on Thursday, the Labour candidate might just scrape it. Join and engage via the Greens by all means, but make your vote count.
Enlighten the ignorant
No need to preach, but you can spot somebody who hasn’t engaged brain from a mile off. Enlighten them. Gently…
Tactical voting notwithstanding, the smaller parties are a great way to get involved, especially if you have a niche policy interest, and if you can help develop a smaller party’s policies outside of their core raison d’être. This should really be point one — the fundamental lack of engagement is really what this article is about and our society would benefit from greater levels of engagement regardless of your opinions or party allegiance.