About three years ago, I posted something (sorry, can’t find it) which asked why nobody was doing market research about how people feel about the political system, rather than individual issues or Party popularity. But now at last a new Guardian/ICM poll has done just that. Nothing whatever in it is surprising. But for any experienced observer of democratic politics, it is nothing short of terrifying.Only 2% of those questions found any politicians inspiring.
Asked for the single word best describing “how or what you instinctively feel” about politics and politicians in general, 47% of respondents answered “angry”.
Take a squint at this chart about ‘what comes to mind when you think about voting:
They don’t come out of this awfully well, do they? Respondents having been given the opportunity to say up to three things, the numbers above add up to 195: which means that, to all intents and purposes, the average interviewee said two things. So typical answers will have included:
“They lie about what they’re going to do, and then spend their time on our money enriching themselves. Why bother to vote for them?:
“They’re all the bloody same, they don’t care about us – and they never keep promises.”
Well, Ipsos Mori’s tabulations following the last election showed that 76% of over-65s were still voting, while only 46% aged 18-24 were.
ICM sums up the dominant feeling about politicians as rage. But if you want some proof that The Slog is not atypical when he lambasts the performance of the Ed Miller Band, it’s coming up now: this fury is ‘especially marked among men, northerners, voters over 45, and the lower DE occupational grade….Labour voters are disproportionately cross’. Are, the smell of Blair’s legacy of a December morning.
And while I’m busy being bigheaded here, there is also massive support for my view that UKip is really little more than a focus for rabid discontent: ‘more than two-thirds [of UKip supporters] 68%, say the thought of politics and politicians makes them more angry than anything else’. Boy are they going to be angry when Nigel Farage turns out to be just another pol, sucking up to Murdoch and doing a deal with the Conservative Party’s Rabid Right.
There is just the one area where the online Resistance is miles ahead of the electorate when it comes to what’s happening in Britain: ’86% think the decisions politicians take are fairly or very important to their lives”. In a way they’re right…but there’s little evidence in this survey about whether the average voter understands that all the gargoyles are doing is the bidding of the unelected hobgoblins hiding behind them.
I’d like to end on a serious note. This survey shows conclusively that our politicians are seen as wankers. They must be delighted that the results came out on Boxing Day, when very few people were awake and underhung over enough to give it their attention.
I think we need to look at ways to make this research go viral. To have it become, as it were, the sort of battering ram to make the pols even more frightened of real public opinion than they are already. And to show the mass of only marginally interested online users that the blogosphere et al online can be useful for them. So that, when the Westminster wankers finally decide they want us all silenced, there might be some resistance to that too.