Saturday, 16 May 2009

Expenses hypocrisy - local fall out

I spent a full day campaigning yesterday and was delighted to have Party President Ros Scott along for part of the day. With the expenses affair now at its peak, it was instructive to see what people were saying on the doorsteps.

First of all, it seems everyone knows about the scandal. No surprise I would think to anyone reading this blog, but there are some things which fascinate the politerati and never reach those who are not interested in politics. This, clearly, is different.

Next observation. Question Time last Thursday will have had its best audience figures ever. Virtually everyone I spoke to said they had seen it.

So everybody hates all politicians?

Thankfully no. I suspect that even completely untainted MPs will be having a hard time of it at the moment. But people I talked to were happy to differentiate between MPs and councillors/council candidates.

At least one voter said they were voting UKIP as a protest against sleaze. Perhaps they were heeding Tebbit's call. Clearly they knew nothing about Tom Wise. But there was little point in protesting to them. When politicians are in such a hole, complaining that one of our opponents is worse than us is not a winning gambit.

Another reason to be cheerful is that many people said that they would still vote regardless. After all - if they don't vote, they say they cannot complain. That said, I'm suspecting that counters are not going to be faced with too many over-stuffed ballot boxes.


Mark Reckons said...

Some people I spoke to today in Guildford were not differentiating between MPs and councillors. I had the comment "All politicians are at it, at all levels".

I hope you are right but fear that the feelings on this now go very deep.

Matthew Huntbach said...

Yes, I remember when I was a councillor it was something I met constantly on the doorsteps "You're a politician, you people are all the same, you're only in it for yourself". But people who said this were invariably people who never voted. Often they were hardly aware of the difference between an MP and a councillor, that was the level of theit lack of knowledge of politics.

I think we should stop selling ourselves like a brand, and instead concentrate on explaining what we really are, and why we believe in democratic politics. We are an association of people who have got together to work towards a more free society in which none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. All member may select from among their number those they propose to put forward for public election. It is only by getting together in this way that ordinary people can challenge the power of big money and of established interests. Why can't we sell our party in these basic terms? Why do we have to sell it instead as just about putting our national leaders into power?