Well how the hell did that happen?
There are two questions there:
- How could the opinion polls be so wrong? and
- Why did all those people make such bad choices?
On the radio they were talking about “shy Tories” as an answer to 1. That’s a term that was coined after the 1992 election, apparently, to describe all those people who voted Tory but who had never let anyone know that that was what they were planning. I remember the aftermath of that one, and the thing that struck me was all those people I worked with who read the Telegraph “for the sport”; and how smug they looked that morning.
I became wise to that. But nowadays no-one comes into work with a paper any more, so it’s harder to tell such things. And how would it help, even if they did and you could?
The thing is, the pre-election polls must have been deceived.
Of course, no-one is obliged to tell the truth to a pollster. No-one is obliged to even answer their questions. But if you do agree to answer their questions: why would you lie?
I can think of only two possible reasons. Maybe you want to deliberately skew the poll results. But that seems unlikely. Sure, some people will feel like that; a few. But not lots. Not enough to actually have a deceptive effect.
And the other reason why, if you answered, you might lie; the only other reason I can think that might make people lie to a pollster.
Because you’re embarrassed about your answer. Or stronger: because you’re ashamed of it.
Shame can be a powerful influencer.
And it makes sense that people would be ashamed of voting Tory. Most of us were brought up to know that we shouldn’t be selfish; that sharing is best, and just being out for yourself is bad. We learn that at our mother’s knee, generally.
This tweet from Irvine Welsh sums up what I think is a good approach;
When you’re not doing so well, vote for a better life for yourself. If you are doing quite nicely, vote for a better life for others.— Irvine Welsh (@IrvineWelsh) May 7, 2015
If you’re reasonably comfortably off, and you’re voting for the party that you think is going to make you better off — no matter how wrong you might be;1 and if you’re doing it mainly because you think that — then you are selfish and ought to be ashamed of yourself.
And in that attempt to answer the first question, I appear to have answered the second one as well. Why did all those Tory voters make such bad choices?
It’ll hurt us all.
And that’s a whole nother discussion. ↩