Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The core vote

All political parties have a core vote, those that they can (usually) rely on to vote for them so long as they don't stray too far from the basic principles of the parties founding beliefs.
So, I looked at this Telegraph article from Simon Heffer with interest.
Politics is full of puzzles. I have been trying to solve one ever since Alistair Darling sat down last Wednesday, after his comically inadequate pre-Budget report. Why is it deemed politically acceptable for Labour to suck up to and bribe its core vote, but not for the Conservative Party to do the same to its own?
 It's actually a bit simplistic though Heffer does have a go at the shadow chancellor George Osborne about the way he approaches finances and his parliamentary performance in general which raised some valid points. The major point he misses though is that you don't win elections by pandering to your core vote, you win them by appealing to a far broader stretch of the electorate than the "my party, right or wrong" brigade. The reason that Brown and Darling are bribing their core vote is because they've finally managed to drive that core vote into either not voting or voting for someone else closer to the basic principles they expect from Labour (aka the BNP) The reason Labour need to do this is that if their core vote collapses they are finished as a major political party in pretty much the same way the Liberals collapsed after WW1. Someone else will step in to fill the void no doubt, but that will be too late for the near bankrupt Labour party, if they can't influence government and don't look like recovering, their union paymasters will drop them and move to someone else.
The Tories on the other hand are trying to appeal to a far broader base of the electorate from disaffected Labour voters (not the core) to the middle classes and swing voters, the ones who decide every election in other words.
This Pre Budget Report was simply a Labour attempt at bread and circuses, hence the bingo tax reduction, though I doubt that the return of VAT to 17.5% will make them that popular. If they'd really wanted to go the whole hog they'd have reduced the duty on booze and cigarettes, but I reckon the strong Presbyterian streak running through Browns veins would not let him do that, besides they really need the cash from that to keep this creaking economy and government overspend going.

The reason the Tories are not trying to suck up to their core vote is that the core vote wants to win no matter what, like Labour in 1997, so the Tory leadership can try to woo the undecided knowing the core vote is mostly solid apart from the UKIP fly in the ointment. The Tories real problems will start once they are in power as they tackle a failing economy plus a core vote that will try and force the issue over the EU at the party conferences. When the Tories do start pandering to their core vote, you'll know that they are on the way out and need to offer a bribe to make sure it is they who don't go into political oblivion. At the moment they don't need too as dangerously divided on the EU that they are, but that day is coming fast, the core vote will insist on a vote in or out, or else.

Cameron is also irritating his core vote on green issues too...
"A very small number of people take a different view on the science, but the policy is driven by me, and that is the way it is going to be."
And this is before he gets elected, he's in for a very brief honeymoon period then I suspect the knives will come out, the Tory core vote unlike the Labour core vote are not stupid and can smell bullshit on global warming climate change easily.

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