Just how much is getting through to voters? Very little

The Guardian Politics 2 weeks ago

This election comes at a time when there is much to fix. BritainThinks’ Mood of the Nation study, reported here in the summer, laid bare the deep pessimism felt by many, especially the young. Asked to describe Britain at the start of the campaign, the words chosen in focus groups were “divided”, “confused”, “angry” and “broken”.

The electorate is weary. Faith in politics and politicians – never high – is now at an all-time low. Just 6% say that politicians understand “people like me”, Boris Johnson has poorer ratings as PM than any of his recent predecessors at a similar stage in their premiership, and Jeremy Corbyn has the worst opposition leader ratings since polling began. Nearly three-quarters (74%) now believe that our politics is “no longer fit for purpose”.

“What have you picked up about the election so far?” I asked a focus group of undecided voters last week. Although they had plenty to say about policies, parties and politicians, their confident chatter died away fast. Eye contact was avoided. No one could think of anything that related to the campaign.

A recent poll found a similar lack of engagement. Four thousand voters were asked what “incidents, events, stories etc” they had noticed. The winning score, at 42%, was for “none”. In second place came the 5% mentioning Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Grenfell remarks. Just 2% mentioned “Brexit” and 1% NHS funding.

We know from previous campaigns how little attention voters, especially those crucial, undecided voters, pay to policy detail. Instead, they fall back on broader, longstanding impressions of parties and leaders, and who they trust most to deliver on a small number of priority issues. Right now their top three are Brexit (well, actually, making Brexit go away), the NHS and crime.

It follows from this that it really doesn’t matter what is in the manifesto if voters don’t believe you’ll make good. Here, less is more. This was Labour’s thinking in 1997, where the offer was successfully boiled down to five crisp pledges, each symbolic of its approach in that policy area. In focus groups then, undecided voters could recite all five pledges word for word.

By contrast, researching what went wrong for Labour back in 2015, it was clear that the party’s apparent proliferation of promises had denied it both visibility and credibility. There was scant understanding of what was on offer: it was simply too much to take in. Voters were disparaging about Labour’s “giant wish-list”, believing that the party had thrown caution to the wind and was “spraying policies” – and money – around. Despite growing concern about austerity there was scepticism that promises would be kept and anxiety about the impact on the economy.

We have yet to see the 2019 manifestos but, while no one’s campaign has got off to a particularly good start, the Tories’ message of “getting Brexit done so we can focus on…” seems to be hitting the spot more accurately than Labour’s more diffuse change message: leaflets distributed last week featured no fewer than 66 policies on the back page.

Against the backdrop of national gloom, voters crave a return to normality. We asked focus-group members to recreate Trump’s “Make America great again” slogan for the UK filling in the blank: “make the UK … again”. They chose “calm”, “normal” and “one nation”. However, expectations are low. More than half (58%) do not believe that this election will “get Brexit done”: the prerequisite to sorting everything else. Almost three-quarters (72%) believe the country will become even more divided in the year ahead.

Most see significant shortcomings with all of the electoral options on the table but fear the continued chaos of a hung parliament even more. The most optimistic moment in last week’s group was when someone suggested a leaders’ penalty shoot-out to achieve a decisive result. At last we’d found something everyone could agree on.

Deborah Mattinson is a founding partner of BritainThinks, a research and strategy consultancy

Source link
Read also:
Business Insider › Lifestyle › 0 month ago
To figure out how much your Steam account is worth, you'll need to calculate how much it would cost to replace every product currently in your account's library. Third-party tools can connect with your account and use Steam's database to appraise your...
Forbes › Finance › 2 months ago
Let us use the news about Jordan Peele and Universal continuing their partisanship to remind voters, be they Academy voters, Hollywood Foreign Press and related year-end critics groups, just how much we all liked 'Us' when it opened in late March of...
Express › 2 weeks ago
PRINCE ANDREW has announced he will step back from public duty for the foreseeable future. How much does Prince Andrew get paid? How much is the royal worth?
Fox News › Opinions › 1 month ago
To win in 2020, Democrats need to win over voters who like Trump's policies but don't like Trump. They can't do that by telling these voters they are wrong about the economy working for them, and that they need to make peace with socialism.
Breitbart › Politics › 1 month ago
Pete Buttigieg is targeting white voters in Iowa with a new ad and arguing black voters in South Carolina will not worry about his sexuality.
The Guardian › Opinions › 15 hours ago
Black and Asian voters outnumber Scottish or Lib Dem voters. Yet there is so little interest in them, says Omar Khan, director of the Runnymede Trust thinktank
Axios › Politics › 2 months ago
Nearly two-thirds of the 504 voters polled in a new ABC News/Ipsos survey say that President Trump encouraging the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is a "serious" problem, including 43% of voters that think it's "very serious."Why it...
The Sun › Finance › 1 month ago
PEOPLE aged 16 or over with long-term ill health or disabilities can get up to £148.50 a week in benefits through a personal independent payment (PIP). We explain how to qualify for these payments, how much you can get, and how to appeal and overturn...
Raw Story › Politics › 1 month ago
President Donald Trump announced big news on Saturday evening — but did not give any details. “Something very big has just happened!” Trump announced at 9:23 east coast time. Something very big has just happened! — Donald J. Trump...
The Inquisitr › 1 month ago
Kourtney Kardashian left very little to the imagination in her latest Instagram snap. The reality star looked stunning as she posed at a convenience store wearing a tiny little outfit that boasted a see-through top. In the sexy photo, Kourtney donned a...
Sign In

Sign in to follow sources and tags you love, and get personalized stories.

Continue with Google