According to last nights broadcasts, filtered through twitter, Douglas Alexander speaking after the Heywood by elect result said “We can’t take any section of the electorate anywhere in the country for granted.” and Grant Shapps speaking this morning described both results as a “a wake-up call”. It would be fantastic if these two statements were genuine and would make a difference. Sadly they have all the resonance of a stereotypical addict saying that they will quit for good in the morning. Even if these two men are truthful in their comments, their parties will need to show a great deal of change in barely 6 months for their fortunes to change. Unfortunately habits, including within politics are notoriously hard to change.
It would be a bit more believable if Grant Shapps was prepared to commit to what the wake up call was actually teaching the party. Will he take the MPs and Peers on the political equivalent of a speed awareness course. These courses are attended by 10,ooo’s of people every year and they do make a difference for some. Others make it clear from their comments at the time that their behaviour won’t change, but they are grateful that they managed to avoid getting points on their licence. The courses are well constructed and contain a great deal of psychology, appealing to the pocket of the driver as well as their head and hearts. Those attending have the science of fuel efficiency explained, the risks to the driver and more importantly other road users of speeding, and then the sense of social responsibility of driving within the legal limits. Sadly the Conservative Party and Labour Party have chosen to recruit the equivalent of Lewis Hamilton to advise them on their next big drive, our General Election 2015.
As far as how to avoid taking the electorate for granted, one of the ways that I know when I and my fellow voters are being taken for granted is when politicians use the phrase “what we are hearing on the doorstep” or when they refuse to answer questions directly, like Eric Pickles did consistently last night on BBC Any Questions. It happens when those Politicians who have chosen to use social media to communicate with their electors, that many choose not to respond to challenge and disagreement, but simply continue to explain themselves, like the stereotypical English holiday maker who simply repeats themselves at a higher volume, or uses even more gesticulation. If the Holiday maker wants to be understood and to understand, they need to gain a rudimentary grasp of the language concerned. It is clear that the electorate speaks a number of languages and so do the political parties. Sadly they are different languages. Few of us can be bothered to learn the language of party politics, and it seems that few Politicians can remember how to speak elector (or want to demean themselves by asking).