‘Everyone hates a Tory’ right?
It’s an understandable position, given the party’s repeated attacks on the welfare state and callous disregard for human rights but I feel it’s important to understand why the bulk of Tory voters, vote the way they do.
Of course, the stereotype of the Conservative voter is someone who benefits from the status quo – the already wealthy, aristocrats, landlords, and those business owners who see the human rights act as an obstacle to extracting more profit from their workers.
However, given that the Conservatives have never gained less than 30% of the vote in a General Election and received over eleven MILLION votes, accounting for just under 25% of registered voters, it is simply lunacy to imagine that the Tories only receive votes from the copiously wealthy. If only millionaires voted Tory, then they’d get about 700’000 votes and struggle to win a seat, let alone form the government.
Even assuming that Tory support comes solely from the top of the income stream and all other parties draw support from those further down you would be saying that everyone who earns more than about £27’000 a year votes Tory.
Given the support for Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrats and UKIP from middle class and business owning voters, that simplification is evidently untrue, so there must be some Tory voters on below average income.
So, why do normal people vote Tory?
The simple answer is that for many (lucky) people, the welfare state and human rights act are an abstract, but Conservative policies such as low income tax rates mean more money in their pocket.
Throw in the Conservative image of being financially responsible, the supposedly compelling economic case for privatization and the promise of a non-invasive government and you’ve got more than enough to convince many everyday people to put their cross in the box next to the Tory candidate.
“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank
Are these motivations evil? Not in the slightest. Self interested? Definitely, but aren’t most people’s political motivations based on a ‘what’s best for me and mine?’ calculation?
You will not change these people’s minds by being abusive or calling them names, because you are only entrenching their perception of left wing types as aggressive folks who are out to take more of their hard earned money – and it is hard earned money, these being normal people – not bankers or the scions of inherited wealth.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu
The path to converting the normal Tory vote (because let’s be honest, the 10% or so which is composed of the genuinely wealthy is probably never going to leave) is by puncturing the myths which have arisen around the Conservative party, notably the perception that they are financially astute and non-invasive.
These perceptions are actually quite easy to blow out of the water.
The economic policy of austerity has been proven to be counter-productive, stifling growth and drawing censure from the most capitalist of institutions – the IMF.
As for the Conservative government being non-invasive, their Snoopers Charter and desire to repeal the Human Rights Act show that they have no interest in being a ‘hands off’ government, but feel they have a right to peer into and control their citizen’s lives.
Far from being more ‘free’ under the Conservatives, we are increasingly monitored, controlled and restrained. The other day David Cameron said “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’” and the implications of that statement must send a shiver down the spine of everyone who votes Conservative in the name of ‘small government.’
The way to stop the Conservatives being elected in the future is not to pillory their supporters with impassioned arguments, but to win them over with reason and to show them how policies which only benefit the top few % are actually destroying the country for the rest of us and that ‘the rest of us’ includes them.
Point to the stagnation of real terms wages, the decrease in social mobility and the increasingly fibrous safety net that hangs below even those earning more than the median wage.
Ask them that if their job suddenly became part time, zero hours or vanished entirely, would they feel secure that they could get another or survive in the interim?
Point to the drive to roll back human rights legislation and intrude into the public’s privacy, while stifling the right to demonstrate against government.
The majority of Conservative voters do so on the basis of low taxes and small government – not because they are evil and enjoy the suffering of the disadvantaged.
It is incumbent on the opposition to the Conservatives, be they moderates, Liberals or the left to reframe the debate, win the economic argument and expose the authoritarianism implicit in modern Conservative policy for what it is.
Labour failed to do that and that is why they lost ground last week.
So, over the next five years, remember that victory and a progressive, equalitarian future for Britain comes by winning over the normal people who tend to vote Conservative, not by entrenching their loyalty with us vs. them rhetoric, which in truth only applies to a fraction of the Tory support.
Proceed with reason, win with niceness and defang all the fear mongering about leftist politics in the process.