Yesterday we were reading an engrossing article by Peter Kellner, the president of YouGov. It’s only available in PDF form as far as we can tell, and in terms of formatting it’s a bit of a trial to get through, but the information within is fascinating.
It’s a study of the difficulties faced by Labour in their attempt to win the 2015 election, and without wanting to spoil it for you, Kellner’s conclusion is that it’s going to be extremely difficult. That won’t be news to Wings Over Scotland readers, of course, but the depth of detail is well worth getting into if you’ve a head for that sort of thing.
We gleaned something different from the piece, though.
Again, it won’t come as the biggest revelation to users of this site. But the various polls from which Kellner draws his conclusion finally put some solid numbers to the magnitude of the British public’s utter contempt for its politicians.
The poll above is pretty self-explanatory. What’s remarkable is the near-uniformity of the respondents on the notion that all three main parties are, in essence, both evil AND stupid. For the Tories, “mean and dim” is the most popular assessment of their ethics and competence, and for Labour it’s only one point behind the most popular, “nice but dim”. The Lib Dems score more for “nice”, but are even dimmer.
A staggering 73% think the coalition tea-boys are idiots, with 17% undecided and just 10% regarding them as capable of governing. 61% of people regard Labour as hapless cretins, with 16% undecided and only 24% believing Ed Miliband’s party could make a half-decent fist of running the country. And even the Tories record a majority – 53% – who consider them to be morons, while just 33% think they’re fit for office.
The UK, then, is faced with a choice of three parties, NONE of whom it reckons can actually do the job. (And only two of whom have any chance of winning anyway.) It’s not the greatest advertisement for British democracy. But things only get worse.
Stripping out the irrelevant Lib Dems, the next poll surveyed the public’s expectations of the next government, whether it be Labour or Tory, and it’s safe to say that nobody’s getting their hopes up. From a total of 24 “positive” questions asked (12 for each of the two parties), the ONLY one which gets a majority Yes response is the one asking whether the Tories have the courage to take difficult decisions.
(Of course, as we learned from the previous poll, the public is grimly certain that they’ll get those difficult decisions wrong, but thinks at least they’ll man up and make them.)
Labour get a net positive rating on just two, both by a wafer-thin five-point margin. On the other ten, the public has a negative faith in their ability. The Tories get a net plus score on just one – the aforementioned tough decisions – and in all but one of the others their negative rating is in double figures.
The last question in particular is devastating – just 21% of respondents trust Labour to “keep their promises” if elected, with a horrific 14% having confidence in the Tories to do so. In 2015 Britain will elect a government on the basis of manifestos which at least 80% of people will believe to be packs of meaningless lies.
Depressed yet? We’ve saved the worst till last.
The final poll we’ve highlighted from Kellner’s article is a personal appraisal of the two main party leaders. Voters were asked in turn if each was “in touch with ordinary people”, “honest”, “sticks to what he believes in”, “decisive”, “strong”, “charismatic”, “a natural leader”, “good in a crisis” or, in desperation, at least “average”.
For both Ed Miliband and David Cameron, overwhelmingly the most popular answer (46% for Miliband, 45% for Cameron) was “none of the above”. Two years from now the British public will elect, through lack of any alternative, a leader that most of them believe to be weak, dishonest, unprincipled, indecisive, out of touch, lacking in character and unable to cope with problems.
(And in both cases, that impression is actually growing over time – the electorate’s faith in the two leaders has decreased since 2011.)
How has a once-proud nation come to this? Because British democracy as an exercise in meaningful choice has been destroyed in our lifetime. Firstly when Tony Blair, like a cuckoo in the nest of the left, sold out all of Labour’s socialist values so that he could empower and enrich himself implementing a slightly slicker version of neoliberal Thatcherism, and then when Nick Clegg cravenly abandoned a once-in-a-generation chance of electoral reform – the only thing that could have saved UK politics – at the first sight of a ministerial Daimler.
The people of England are so desperate for a straw – however flimsy and rotten – to clutch at as the country spirals down the plughole that they’re voting for Nigel Farage. And currently, at the behest of Alistair Darling and his cronies, Scots are vigorously smashing up the only lifeboat with an axe so that Darling can sell it for firewood.
Anyone watching from afar must be bewildered. And frankly, readers, we haven’t got the faintest idea what we’d tell them if they asked.