It’s damn hard to convince people you’re making them poorer for their own good
September 19, 2013 1 Comment
(With apologies to Molly Ivins.)
The latest economic numbers show yet another month of declining living standards for most people in the UK, a theme that has run for almost the entirety of the Cameron Premiership. Prices up, beyond any wages increase, and unless you are one of the millionaires gifted a tax break by the Government you will be witnessing a dwindling pool of disposable income. Heat or meat will be a questioned faced and answered by an increasing number of poor as the weather cools and winter approaches.
Recent months have seen some modest signs of recovery, and don’t get me wrong I do want growth and prosperity back. My desire to say good riddance to the Tories does not come with a wish for them to fail to handle the economy properly. Unlike Cameron, Osborn and Clegg I do not have millions in the bank to buffer me. Whilst I do not claim poverty, I come from poverty and can empathise with those who are facing some stark choices. I have seen examples of people downsizing homes to accommodate shrinking fiscal resources, and there is a small but growing industry in cook books for reduced budgets.
All this is set against a backdrop of the cackling wealthy who are being over-rewarded for being already over-rewarded. Never before has the saying the money goes to money been more true.
And what do the people think? If the latest poll is anything to by (and this shows Labour and the Tories at level pegging for the first time in eighteen months) they are grateful nation of Uriah Heeps, ever so ‘umble. Maybe it is the fear of that it could be worse that is giving them faith in the Con-Lib coalition, as it must be that Labour is yet to convince that is has an alternative. This is a failure of salesmanship because there is some policy out there, despite the caution that prevents announcing too much too far from the election.
The latest polling might be a blip, for Tory success in 2015 must come on the back of a recovering economy. Even then, five years of going backwards will be a very hard sell, and voters are unlikely to congratulate those who have sent them towards impecuniousness.
Politics is in many respects a numbers game, and falling engagement may be a life-saver for a drowning government. Throw individual voter registration into the mix and you may find an unpopular administration saved by a combination of apathy and an electoral system unsuited to anything beyond a choice of two candidates. Do not imagine that the changes to our democracy have anything to do with fairness, political elites work hardest when seeking to save their own skins.