Those in the centre are those least interested in politics

The ever-excellent Paula Surridge made an excellent point on Twitter about how those in the political centre (on the left/right scale) are less interested in politics:

British Election Study graph showing interest in politics versus left-right views

1 in 5 don't know who the leader of the Conservatives is

Another piece of evidence for the Olympic women's hockey theory of politics, aka the public pays far less attention to politics than most political activists realise. more

In Paula Surridge’s tweet, she framed this as an important finding for the future of The Independent Group. It is also an insight very relevant to the Liberal Democrats, echoing a point I made when speaking this weekend at the South Dorset Liberal Democrats Annual Dinner.

Part of the battle for the Liberal Democrats at the moment is one for perceived relevance amongst both the public and the media. Many of the solutions lie very much in our own hands in the Liberal Democrats.

Council by-election victories and membership growth provide the weekly fuel in the battle for political relevance, providing evidence to use and being objectives that everyone, whatever our role in the party, can contribute too. So too Parliamentary by-elections when they next come around and the huge opportunity the May local elections provide.

It’s also why I’ve been an advocate of us behaving more like a year-round campaigning movement since long before talk of campaigning movements was fashionable, indeed since before Justin Trudeau became leader of the Canadian Liberal Party.

Running campaigns and building coalitions with those outside the party all year round, rather than treating “campaigning” as a synonym for “electioneering”, not only promotes our values, it helps make us relevant.

And yes, part of that is about reaching out beyond party members – which is why creating a registered supporter scheme is such a key part of the next steps on the party’s recovery. There have always been more people who are willing to help the party but not join us than there have been party members. Yet we have not done nearly enough to make the best use of that wider pool of supporters – and the current setups for doing so are badly broken.

We need to fix them, and fix them soon.


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