The Wrong Response (Or How Not To Get What You Want In Politics)

11 May

[This is probably the last post I will write on the election, at least for a few weeks.]

Let me start with one of those funny stories that really isn’t very funny at all.

One day, the Pointy-Haired Boss of Super-Yummy-Pet-Foods (fictional, I hope) holds a meeting. Everyone is invited. As soon as the doors are closed, the Pointy-Haired Boss turns to his staff and subordinates and starts to speak. “We spend millions of pounds on advertising our Super-Pet-Doggie-Meal every year, yet sales are steadily dropping. Why?”

He glares at the Vice-Pointy-Haired Boss, who says nothing. The Supervisor of Pet Muck says nothing. The Assistant Vice Human Resources Manager says nothing. The Chairman in Charge of Animal Testing says nothing. No one says a word until his glare finally reaches the eighteen-year-old intern who has only just started to work for the company while building up the experience to apply for a proper job.

“Sir,” she says, hesitatingly, “no matter how much we spend on advertising, dogs aren’t eating our product.”

The Pointy-Haired Boss blows a whistle. Two burly security guards appear out of nowhere, pick the poor girl up and carry her out of the office, down the stairs and out onto the streets, then kick her so hard she flies across the street and lands in a puddle on the other side. Tears stream down her face as she picks herself out of the water and staggers off, dripping wet. She knows she’s not only been sacked, she’ll never work in the same town again. No one in power wants to hear inconvenient truths.

Back in the office, the Pointy-Haired Boss glares at his staff. “Stupid dogs don’t know what’s good for them,” he growls. “Double our advertising budget!”

Not very funny, is it?

Ok, so we had a general election on Thursday; the results started to come in on Friday and by Saturday we knew the Tories had won a surprising victory. It was a surprise because the polls didn’t predict anything of the sort, perhaps because of the ‘Shy Tory’ syndrome. However, on Sunday we had riots outside Ten Downing Street and countless flame wars on the internet, including condescending posts written by left-wingers addressed to Tory Voters, blaming them for the coming disaster and much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. The general tone of many of those messages is the same as the Pointy-Haired Boss’s line. “Stupid voters don’t know what’s good for them.”

And I feel like screaming, because this demonstrates just what is wrong with the left.

It does not help to demonise one’s political opponents, let alone the men and women who voted for them. It does not help to attack people verbally, let alone physically, for daring to vote the wrong way. It does not help to assume that voters voted the way they did because of ignorance, deliberate malice, racism, sexism or anything other than making what they thought was a good decision for the future.

The Tories won. Deal with it.

(The right has its extremists too, but were there riots on the streets when Blair won? No.)

It’s probably too early to say why the Tories won, but I have a few ideas. Each political party has what might be called its natural constituency; there are certain limits to just how many votes the parties will pick up outside its natural borders. The SNP, for example, only appeals for votes in Scotland. By its very nature, the SNP doesn’t seek English votes. However, the dividing lines between the other parties is harder to see. Labour’s natural share of the voters is actually smaller than the Tories, at least partly because they’re competing with the Liberal Democrats (and the SNP in Scotland.) The Conservatives, by contrast, draw votes from every class … and the only force trying to steal ‘their’ votes is the UKIP.

Someone will argue, I suppose, that the Tories cheated, that the anti-Tory votes were shared out among Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP. However, even going by proportional representation, the Tories still won.

The Tories won. Deal with it.

If you want to win political power in Britain, you have to win elections. That means going out and convincing people that it is in their best interests to vote for you (or at the very least a government run by you won’t be actively harmful). Rioting on the streets does nothing more than alienate everyone else from you; insulting and belittling everyone who disagrees with you doesn’t make them disposed to take you seriously or to consider you anything more than a glorified thug, screaming and shouting to drown out everyone else.

And, unlike the Pointy-Haired Boss of Super-Yummy-Pet-Foods, you need to ask hard questions about why you lost, why people aren’t buying what you’re selling and what you can do to improve on it.

Or you can just be a sore loser.

14 Responses to “The Wrong Response (Or How Not To Get What You Want In Politics)”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 11, 2015 at 10:05 pm #


    Of course, the “Left” will consider you and me racists (even though I can’t vote in Britain). [Sad Smile]

  2. Alan Sharkey May 11, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

    One of the reasons for the flames this time could be the enormous rise in social media commentary in the last 5 years and what people seem to be getting away with. Just look at the flaming of Ms Rowling for one example.

    But why did the Tories win? [This, of course, is only my opinion]. Because the SNP took 50+ seats from labour. Because UKIP appealed to the racist hidden inside a lot of people. Because the Lib-Dems were seen as the lackeys of the Tories with no credible offering of their own. Because Labour spouted different polices depending on the day of the week, what the others were saying and had no cohesive strategy (and were led by someone with no external facing personality). So what does the voter do, but go for the safe option – the Tories.

    There you go – you may not like it, but these are my thoughts.


  3. Ryan May 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    It makes me shudder to think about the reactions in the US when/if the Republicans win in 2016.

    The recent racial unrest in several major and minor cities over here, coupled with the economy and national security concerns makes me think that we could have our own version of ‘Shy Tory’ syndrome when the pollsters make their inquiries. Leading, of course, to claims that the election was ‘stolen’…or that the voters are evil, racist, bought, stupid, etc.

    The words of ancient Chinese curses keep wandering through my head. “Interesting times”.

    Why are they called Tories anyway?

  4. Dennis the Menace May 11, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    “Sir,” she says, hesitatingly, “no matter how much we spend on advertising, dogs aren’t eating our product.”

    Believe it or not, but a real world version of this exists. Everyone! Meet Donna the Deer Lady in North Dakota!

    As for the ‘tolerant’ Left: They aren’t tolerant nor democratic. They are as Stalinist as the communists under Stalin was, instead.

    ..and like Stalin himself, they have real probs dealing with actual reality — like how Stalin went into a fugue mental state when his ‘friend’ Adolf Hitler broke the Non-Aggression Pact by invading the Soviet Union.

  5. vossik May 12, 2015 at 4:39 am #

    I find the American commenters who think that the British-right can even be compared to the American-right to be pretty funny.

    • utabintarbo May 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

      Right. The British Right more closely identifies with the American Left.

      In any case, they all seem to have the same Statist goal; they only seem to differ on how fast they take us there.

      • Dennis the Menace May 12, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

        The American Left (the party hard core) has gone totally neo-socialist. The only thing that keeps them from gaining power so far is party organizational suppression by establishment Dems, much how the GOP Establishment does to the Tea Party.

  6. Duncan Cairncross May 13, 2015 at 2:32 am #

    “Very poorly, probably. Britain is not a far-left state.

    I think you have hit the problem
    “Britain” – is not a far left state
    England is a right wing state
    (I suspect even in “England” the North is a lot further “Left” than the South)

    Scotland however is a left – possibly even a far-left state
    (I put it down to the superior education system in Scotland) 🙂

  7. Duncan Cairncross May 13, 2015 at 6:06 am #

    Testing my new image (my DIY EV)

  8. ruopp May 14, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    It seems that that loose your job due to immigration is a fallacy or at least in part. You can’t loose a job you couldn’t get because of …. immigration.

    On “The Telegraph” web site there is an interesting article about UK jobs and immigration.

    Foreigners applying for jobs online keeping UK wages down

    As official figures show that more EU migrants last year found work in the UK than Britons, the Bank of England suggests that foreign workers are keeping down wages because people are able to find employment online before arriving

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