“There’s also an argument that elections are always about character — that voters don’t have clear policy positions in mind, like Westminster geeks, and that they don’t care about substance at all. This is patent nonsense.” Rachel Wolf in “The Times” today.
Far from being “patent nonsense” it is indisputably true. It’s partly because voters “don’t care” and partly because they think they’ve better things to do than plough through Party manifestos. “I’ve read all the manifestos and having studied the policy positions I’ve decided to vote…” said absolutely nobody at the last election , or any before it.
The 2019 election was overwhelmingly about “character” – the electorate (collectively) liked Johnson’s and disliked Corbyn’s. And the character who won gave the masses one (just one) “policy position” and put it as a three word slogan on a bulldozer. Job done.
Whilst Johnson was adapt at playing politics to its “reductio ad absurdum” facile limits the modern past master of this was Nigel Farage. Unencumbranced by intellect or political baggage from the past he reduced everything to the level of a slogan, backed by symbolism and his buddies in the “Leave” campaign took their cue from him. We are where we are not because voters studied the “policy positions” but because they didn’t like foreigners and “Leave” encouraged their prejudice.
We live in the “Age of Mendacity” in which it doesn’t matter a jot whether what a politician says is true only whether the punters can be persuaded to buy it. Commentators on the Right, like Ms Wolf of Tufton Street, have never liked the fact that voters mostly respond to their gut rather than their cerebral cortex when they vote.