What the British public want to hear politicians talk about

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I’ve explained before how, even if Article 50 is not delayed and Britain leave the EU in late March, Brexit will not be over as a political issue. Rather it will last for years, even decades (explanation here).

What will start to change, however, is the need to talk less about what happened in the referendum last time and more about what sort of future there is for the UK. Whether it is a People’s Vote, an ongoing dispute with Article 50 delayed or Britain out of the EU, that future focus will be an essential part of winning political debates.

Recent polling by Populus gives a good steer too on what sort of future voters want to hear discussed:

Which, if any of the following, do you think we should focus on over the next decade to make our country a better place to live?

The top four results were:

  1. Inequality – Reducing the gap in our country between rich and poor and between different parts of the UK – 49%
  2. Ageing society – building a social care system that’s fair to both young and old – 49%
  3. Isolation and mental health – addressing loneliness and the anxiety today’s world brings – 35%
  4. Climate change – Moving to a low-carbon economy 35%

Bottom of the list, with 16% and 7%, were empowering people and dealing with democratic division.

Both of those bottom-placed causes are dear to many Liberal Democrats, of course. But the polling doesn’t mean that they should be junked. Rather it shows how talking about processes (here’s how we’d change the voting system, here’s how we’d give you more power) is the wrong approach. Rather it’s talking about outcomes that chimes with the public (here’s how we’d reduce inequality).

The way to promote democratic and civil reform is in the context of the benefits that brings for other areas rather than as abstract goods in their own right.

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