Crash course in politics #1

posted 8 May 2010, 16:22 by Peter Shields   [ updated 8 May 2010, 17:46 ]
The biggest and probably the most depressing discovery I've made is that the vast majority of votes are cast along purely tribal lines - political & religio-ethnic. Policies hardly come into it at all. The candidate's personal character hardly comes into it at all. Their skills or experience hardly come into it at all. The quality of the campaign hardly comes into it at all.

That our old Labour MP should have got over 13,000 votes almost staggers belief.  I'd bet good money that 12,900 of those votes would still have been received if you'd wheeled out a corpse and stuck a red rosette on it.  (That's got to be an experiment worth trying sometime!)  Of the 100's of people I spoke to I could count on my fingers the people who actually knew the name of their MP or knew what policies differentiated the parties.  "People like me vote Labour" was the most common reason people would give for their voting choice, or alternatively "We don't want them lot in".  It's basically 'them' and 'us'.  It really is as blind & as primitive as that.

The other tribal vote that most people won't talk about for fear of being labelled a racist bigot is the religio-ethnic vote or, to be more accurate, the Ummah vote.  If nominating a corpse with a party rosette on would help to discover the base-line tribal vote for a political party, nominating a fictional candidate with the name Muhammed Hussain has got to be worth a try.

Based on my limited experience here in Bradford East, I reckon the base-line Ummah vote has got to be worth at least 300 votes for an Independent and a couple of 1000 for a party politician.

It does work the other way too, to a smaller degree.  A number of people told me they wouldn't be voting for a candidate because they didn't have an Anglo-Saxon sounding name.  No doubt those people would be labelled racist bigots, whereas voting for someone because of their Arabic sounding name wouldn't be!

I wonder what would happen if Harriet Harm-man's equality & diversity legislation was applied to voters!  Imagine if you weren't allowed to discriminate on grounds of party, or race, or religion or sexuality before casting your vote!

First lesson in trying to get elected:  Find yourself a tribe!