How those in politics misunderstand the way the public views politics

I’ve always been a bit envious of Jonathan Calder’s Four Laws of Politics, so I’m going to label a tweet from today as The Basic Mistake of Politics:

The point about voters noticing less than many realise is a version of the women’s hockey point.


If you sign up for my blog posts digest you’ll get a handy one-a-day email with links to all the latest posts. You can also sign up for a range of other lists, including Liberal Democrat Newswire – a monthly newsletter about the party. Just pick the options you’d like on the sign-up form.

One response to “How those in politics misunderstand the way the public views politics”

  1. As a political party we face two problems, 1) most of the time many of our potential voters are disinterested in politics and 2.) when their interest is aroused, around election time, they have one key question in their minds – “What’s In It For ME?”. In other words the voter is looking for the political party that will best answer that question for him/her. Voters also live very much in the “here and now” as that is where they perceive the problems that beset them to be. They will tend to vote for the party that, to them, gives them the best chance of achieving their short term goals. We very much saw this in the last election where Boris’s “Get Brexit Done” slogan proved to be a winner as it answered the “What’s In It For ME” question for a major part of the electorate. So, what can we do as Liberal Democrats to get people to vote for us?

    1. Spend the time between elections identifying what it is that those members of the electorate who are our potential voters want as an answer to their “What’s In It For Me” question. Rather than telling people what “we are going to do” we ask them what they want us to do for them. Fortunately the rise of social media has made this easier and cheaper than it has been in the past.

    2. Develop policies that reflect the wants and needs of our “natural” potential voters remembering that people live in the short term, real world, and in the long term we are all dead. Once those policies are agreed then we must publicise, publicise and publicise some more.

    This may sound cynical, but then to succeed in winning over voters one must be a bit of a cynic. The Conservative party does it brilliantly as in every manifesto it tells the electorate that it is going to bring down taxes. In power it rarely decreases the total tax take it just jiggles it about a bit. That plus our first past the post electoral system seems to give them an advantage. We need to get political power in the short term to enable us to do what is needed to build a prosperous society in the long term.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments and data you submit with them will be handled in line with the privacy and moderation policies.