by Tom Clements
I hate anecdotes. I hate how people from all parts of the political spectrum use them to highlight their arguments. I hated how Jeremy Paxman used one to eviscerate Ed’s apparent weakness on foreign policy.
But here’s mine.
One of my closest friends was talking to me about Labour’s defeat. He is a stereotypical Labour-Tory swing voter. Wanting social justice but also wanting to do well for himself. He asked me what we offered people in his position. People who aren’t super rich but are, god willing, never going to experience the hardship of food banks or the benefits trap.
He voted Conservative because we had nothing to say to him.
If you were me you might have accused him of being selfish and argued that he should want the same opportunities for the next generation. You might have screamed at him about his inability to see the bigger picture for our society. You might have appealed to his compassion for the working people forced to choose between heating and eating.
But you would have been wrong.
Not that your ideas were wrong or that these aren’t very real concerns that our party should be attempting to tackle. But it is the wrong argument to make.
Of course people don’t want to see the number of food banks increasing or hear stories of the latest inhumane example of a vulnerable victim of the Bedroom Tax. However, they want to be certain that their living standards are going to be protected first.
The voters in England had a choice between a safety first Conservative government, albeit with obvious problems; or a Labour party that was prepared to risk the house on the gamble that Britain wanted a return to Keynes. They made their choice. We ran an election on a message of family finances and the simple truth is that people didn’t trust us with theirs.