Left to pollsters, right in the polling booth

The problem of opinion polls being wrong because the right wing vote is often under estimated has blighted polling for many a year. Voting for right wing parties can often be socially unacceptable so some folks don’t admit to doing it.

If you live in a rock solid Labour area which has returned Labour MP’s and councillors for as long as anyone can remember are you going to admit that you’ve just gone out and voted for another/different tribe? I use the word tribe deliberately as that’s what politics in some areas is like and I’ve commented on political tribalism before of course. People don’t like standing out from the crowd, they don’t like being unpopular they want to be seen to be following their friends, family and fashion. But it goes even deeper than that sadly. In my 40 years of active politics in the cause of liberalism I’ve met folks on the doorstep who are trying and sometimes failing to vote the way they want because of family pressure.

I recall calling at an elderly lady’s bungalow a few years ago now having got the Council to sort out a street lamp that had been bust for ages. She said she wanted to vote for me but in the conversation which followed it became very clear she was more than a little worried about her family finding out she’d voted against a Labour candidate as voting Labour was compulsory in her family. I had to promise her I’d not tell anyone what she was intending to do in the ballot box and reassure her that no one could find out from her ballot paper!

Right wing populists, like Johnson or Trump or anyone of their ilk, have an advantage in that they are prepared to say anything to gain support, in Trump’s case literally anything it seems. They are also very good at playing to voters prejudices sending out messages they will want to hear. Johnson is just a populist entertainer who is utterly out of this depth in responsible politics, Trump well beyond that, way, way beyond it……

There have always been populists in politics, it attracts attention seekers of all kinds, but it seems of recent years the attention seekers now have no boundaries at all. They’ve also realised that often their supporters are not interested in facts; they don’t care if much of what their political hero says is nonsense or lies. If the message is what they want to hear then it’s well received. The poorly educated, easily influenced and those who don’t have enquiring minds can be manipulated and they certainly are.

On the left the populists are generally more subtle, like bandwagon jumpers following the crowd their objective is to be saying the right thing at the right time. However, like with the far right the far left has its own brand of fantasists with their own set of conspiracy theories which they like to peddle to the easily influenced.

The problem progressive politicians have is how to counter the simple messaging of the populist conspiracy fantasists. Facts don’t cut it as they’re often long and boring explanations which whilst true will be dismissed by folks who want to blame whatever their ills are on immigrants, refugees, idlers etc. etc. But then you look at the leaders of supposedly progressive parties in the UK and most of them are totally uninspiring, no fire in their belly, grey middle aged men in grey suits. How on earth are they going to cut through?

There’ll always be voters who say one thing and do the opposite thereby misleading pollsters and let’s not forget that some voters will deliberately lie to pollsters. But my point here in bring in the kind of politicians we have, particularly in progressive politics, is that without inspiring alternative messaging the Johnson’s & Trump’s of this world will continue to flourish. What’s more some voters will not be brave enough to say that they voted for the populist right as doing so is just not socially acceptable.

Scousers cheer Metro Mayor (but it’s not their own)

It’s been a little surreal over the last couple of days as Scousers have been piling onto social media to cheer along on Greater Manchester’s Metro Mayor Andy Burnham! Yes you’ve read that right Scousers cheering a Manc’, when anything to do with Manchester is usually treated with utter distain probably because of football loyalties in the city of the Beatles where the main religion is indeed football be it red or blue.

But the Manc’ Mayor is actually all but a Scouser himself having been born in Aintree Village/Old Roan on Merseyside, so I guess that allows Liverpudlians to cheer him on even though he’s working for the enemy so to speak.

Personally, I’m no fan of Burham at all as I recall him, when in government, having a hand in NHS privatisation, something he seems to oppose these days. I also see him as a populist politician who will shift his ground to follow the crowd. However, presently he seems to be a bit of a hero in some folks minds because he’s been taking on Johnson’s Government when here on Merseyside/in Liverpool City Region Burham’s Labour colleagues are being accused of capitulating in the same Covid 19 Tier 3 lockdown fight in the very first round.

Steve Rotheram, the former Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, is the Liverpool City Region Mayor and he seems to find himself very much in Burnham’s shadow. Of course Burham is media savvy indeed he seems to be the darling of the media who rush to him for quotes on anything remotely to do with anything in Greater Manchester or even the North West of England. Poor Rotheram is clearly not so comfortable surrounded by the press and being out shone by Burnham must surely be getting him down.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again that public health is the loser in the spat between northern leaders and Johnson’s Government over the detail of Covid 19 Tier 3 lockdown measures and the compensation which closing businesses will or won’t be getting. At the very time we need unity of purpose at all levels of governance we end up with a party political ding dong.

Interestingly, these issues have not just been exercising the minds of Labour Council Leaders, MP’s and Metro Mayors as plenty of Tory MP’s and Council Leaders in the north have also been picking a fight with Johnson and Sunak. Indeed, I hear that Labour allowed the northern Tories to have a good old go at Johnson’s lot before they joined in. It seems that Lancashire has gained a ‘better’ deal than Merseyside because they’ve been offered a better (better than what?) business compensation package and also their gyms will not have to close. The latter is very much a moot point because if gyms are seen by scientists as being Covid 19 spreaders then it’s debatable whether that aspect is part of a better deal or simply a bad decision. I know many folk think gyms are key to better mental health so them being open outweighs the negatives/challenges of them being open. I’m no scientist so am left wondering whether the trade-off’s are right or wrong and I guess that goes for many of us watching this most public of fallouts.

But what of Greater Manchester’s still to be done deal? What will Comrade Burnham ‘win’ for his own patch or, together with his Tory Lancashire colleagues, has he shown up how Merseyside’s Labour Leaders fell into line following the first Government punch?

More importantly, as this Covid 19 battle is seemingly going to last for a long time, through various phases have ‘lessons been learned’ (a favourite politician’s phrase) about putting public health first rather than political point scoring? Answers on a postcard……………….