Issues or orientation? the way to electoral victory
voters are a canny bunch.
They can spot phoneys at hundreds of yards and that probably accounts for the low esteem in which they hold the political classes.
Anyone who has been up close and personal with a candidate seeking election will know how much integrity they have. They are great people with a courage to put their head above the parapet and let us throw stones at them. This is rarely appreciated by those putting X’s in boxes.
In Scotland we appear to be able to differentiate between the relative importance of the different parliaments and our attitudes differ widely, as do our votes.
A million scots voted labour in the westminster elections but about half that many for Holyrood a year later. The analysis is all over this (poor campaign, wonderful Alex, Iain Gray, SNP brillo) but are any of these true? Or is it a function of differentiation?
Many commentators think the electorate an unsophisticated mob swayed by Braveheart and tartan biscuit tins – I don’t think they are.
Perhaps they vote based on a collection of issues (if they vote at all) aggregated internally to reach an outcome?
Perhaps they are no longer Left or Right wing, or maybe Nationalist or Unionist?
Perhaps self-interest is the overriding issue? It’s the economy stupid!
I don’t think self-interest is the driver. I think it’s the lack of trust of those expected to deliver.
At the Holyrood elections wee fat eck won (not because of independence) but because the voters trusted him to try to deliver enough of what they wanted. Iain Gray was rejected because he sounded like a politician (This is no reflection of his integrity and earnest desire to serve – He is a great bloke) and that equates to phoney in these post expenses scandal days.
What is important to voters then? The same thing that is important to us all. Without becoming all academic – its Maslow stupid.
The hierarchy of human needs determines how we vote.
If our physiological needs are met we can consider security, if we feel safe then we can look towards social / status needs, if these are being met then we can move on towards some self actualisation.
Sorry, lecture mode was enabled.
If voters are trying to make ends meet they don’t give a toss about the promise of a nation. They need to feel that things will improve under the next mob who inhabit the big chairs. If things have gotten better (over the last wee while) then, generous to a fault, we will keep on with what we have. The SNP managed that trick between 2007 and 2011. They made it feel better. The putting off of the painful choices notwithstanding.
I don’t accept that the overwhelming victory of the SNP in May is a sea change for independence. It isn’t. It was the traditional Scottish ‘They did a no bad job’ so let them keep going thinking. I refute that they did a ‘no bad job’ but accept that their media savvy campaign (and our lamentable one) delivered that message. (84/94 promises delivered – My arse).
So how do we win next time?
Address sufficient issues that matter. Independence is not the war to fight. Offer a better vision of how we can ensure that the things that matter can be delivered. Damning with faint praise works better in Scotland than being critical of where the underdog has failed. Alex Salmond plays the wee pugnacious terrier (oppressed by England) very well. Kicking a terrier never won anyone any kudos.
If voters are issue focussed then the old Left/Right or Unionist/separatist arguments are bound to fail.
Focus is needed on Maslow lower order needs and after these we can move on to higher plane issues.
In a modern society (like ours)
No one should go to bed Hungry for want of food (the choice of food or fuel is a real dilemma for our old and poorest)
No one should go to bed cold for want of fuel (because they cannot afford fuel to heat their homes – Fuel poverty)
No one should go to bed afraid for want of security (crime and the fear of it needs addressed).
These maslow based needs must be met by the political parties if they expect to be elected until these are, the arguements of constitution are spurious.
Our old, our poor and our weak deserve no less than to have their needs met. It is the least we should aspire to and the least that Beveridge wanted to achieve with the welfare state.
Anything less is failure.