- How could the opinion polls be so wrong? and
- Why did all those people make such bad choices?
And that’s a whole nother discussion. ↩︎
Well how the hell did that happen?
There are two questions there:
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.
Long queues at polling places are a sign, surely, of a country recently freed from tyranny, of one that is experiencing the chance to vote for the first time (I'm thinking of South Africa in 1994, for example). They are not something that you generally expect to see in a mature democracy like the USA.
Let’s hope, then, that the people streaming to the polling stations on America are those desperate to breathe free of Bush and the Neocon hegemony, and not tiny-minded racists trying to drag the country back to the dark ages.
And remember, America: the whole world is watching.
So the Tories took Crewe and Nantwich in the by-election.
I don’t understand (never have) the mentality, the mindset, the brains of floating voters. I’m not saying that no-one should ever change their mind, in politics or anything else; nor do I think that people can’t be convinced by the arguments over issues - nor, for that matter, swayed by the force of a candidate’s personality. Furthermore, I speak as one who has voted against Labour, my lifetime-favoured party, in recent years.
But floating voters - and in particular ones who’ll switch all the way between Labour and Tory - I just don’t understand them.
Of course it’s possible - even likely - that no-one actually describes themself as a floating voter. They might all say, “I decide on the issues each time,” or even, “… by who I like…” That would be OK, y’know? I could get behind that, sort of. I mean, it doesn’t sound very committed; but it could be. On each occasion you could examine the candidates' and/or their parties' positions on human rights/the environment/tax cuts/hanging and flogging (or whatever your particular concerns may be). Match them against your own position and preferences, and see who suits you best.
But I’m not convinced that’s what the bulk of these ‘floaters’ do.
See, I suspect that they mostly take little to no interest in politics (which is to say, little to no interest in the world) between elections. Then when one does roll round they vote whatever way their stupid, dumbfuck tabloid paper tells them to.
Though I may be doing many people a great disservice there. And at least they do get out and vote.
It’s just that sometimes the world might be a better place if they didn’t.
Jeremy Hardy obviously feels similarly to me: on The News Quiz the other night he said that floating voters who switched all the way from Labour to Tory (rather than voting, say, Green or LibDem) were like someone saying, “Well, I’ve always had my hair cut at the barbers in the High Street, but this time I’m just going to set my head on fire!"