Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Blah, blah, blah

I was mildly entertained by Vicki Wood's op-ed in The Telegraph today, and her comment that, although the campaigning has only just begun, she is finding it hard to stay awake.

But what was particularly illuminating her daughter's declaration that she "would vote if there was anyone to vote for", but "all their policies are the same… schools'n'hospitals, blah, blah, blah."

The thought occurs that the parties, guided as they are by focus groups made up from uncommitted – i.e., "swing" – voters in marginal seats, are letting the political agenda be dictated by people who are least involved in the political process. No wonder the result is so profoundly tedious.

In the real world, our (albeit limited) snapshot from canvassing teams out garnering votes suggests that there are two very important issues out there – immigration and "Europe". Canvassers have been surprised by how often punters bring up the subject of the EU entirely spontaneously, despite the reluctance of the main parties to discuss it.

There are also indications that, in some areas, the BNP has successfully stolen the clothes of UKIP (and possibly Veritas), putting the EU at the top of their agenda alongside immigration in a manner that would make it difficult to distinguish between these three parties.

With their street workers under such a tight grip that they even need to produce doctors' certificates if they do not turn up for electoral duties, the BNP may yet surprise in some constituencies.

If that happens, of course, it will be followed by ritual denouncements from the established parties, but my guess is that none of them will look to their brand of "focus group politics" as being part of the cause of voter rejection.

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