Monday, September 28, 2015

Quote of the day 28th September 2015

"Both parties' activists" (Labour and Lib/Dems) woke on May 8 to a Britain much harsher than they'd thought. On that grey and rain-flecked morning the world had kicked them in the teeth."

"What do you do then when the bullies have humiliated you in the playground? You run back to the sandpit, back to what you know: you shrink your canvas so it fits you, rather than growing to fit this wider, crueller frame.

"In your shrunken world, your party meetings, your earnest debates, your card votes and shows of hands, reality still fits theory.

"You shut out the voices you don't want to hear, Your angry tweet skewering tory meanies gets thousands of re-tweets and favourites. Your Facebook post goes viral. Righteousness resurgent! Surely the Universe is with you now?

"Your new leader has just got 250,000 votes - winning on the first ballot: a gigantic mandate!

"The Conservative party got 11.3 million votes in May. It's not just a different league, it's a different game."

(Matthew Parris, writing in The Times on Saturday about the difficult relationship between party democracy and national democracy)


When this was tweeted over the weekend, some people responded, royally missing the point Matthew was making and assuming that he was scoring political points on behalf of the Conservatives rather than making the wider point that if parties are to be relevant in the wider world they have to look at the whole electorate and not just the true believers. They pointed out that the Conservatives won the election with the active support of only a quarter of the electorate.

Far from weakening the point he was making, that strengthens it. If you want to win a majority of the electorate you need, not 250,000 votes or 11.3 million, but twenty million. All our political parties, including the Conservatives, are miles away from that.

In every corner of the world and of history where we have enough information to be able to observe how politics works, people have coalesced into some form of political parties or factions. This phenomenon was already old when the faction fight between the Blues and Greens, who started out as supporters of chariot racing teams, nearly brought down the Byzantine Empire fifteen hundred years ago.

I don't see that changing even if we moved to a more direct system of democracy which gives people more power and parties less. But whatever system of democracy we use, it will work better if everyone is more receptive to the view that people who are not true believers on their own side may still have valuable things to say. 

4 comments:

Jim said...

Its the point many kippers miss as well when speaking about tactics to win a referendum.

They cant seem to grasp the idea that no matter what, most kippers will vote to leave the EU, so they need not be the target of a Leave campaign, and banging on about false promises on "controlling borders" etc wont cut any ice, nor will "less red tape" when the EU are not the primary supplier of the regulations. Nor will false promises of "saving x million per day, as that's not going to happen either.

so you tell them we need to sell a postive to the swing voter, not preach to those who intend to vote "Leave" anyway. The thing is then you immediatly become an anti Brit, who is paid by the EU and not worth listening to, whilst they go back to bleet about borders and things.

Chris Whiteside said...

Exactly, Jim.

If the two sides are equally well organised, I think the referendum will be very close indeed.

But if UKIP are allowed to wreck the "Out" Campaign the way they show every sign of doing, and the "In" campaign is not characterised by the same kind of negative "project fear" mistakes that nearly lost "No" the Scottish referendum (I'm not going to put my shirt on that either) the "In" side would win easily.

Jim said...

I think the 2 sides will be and can be equally well organised, and that is the battle I want to be a part of, and one I hope to win.

but yes, there is every chance the MSM wont let that happen so we will see UKIP Vs Project Fear.

Chris Whiteside said...

Like you I would like to see the former and am afraid there is every chance we will see the latter, though it isn't just the MSM who will be responsible if that happens.

Both UKIP and Project Fear would deserve to lose, but Britain doesn't deserve to lose out on a proper debate.