Campaigners in future elections can learn a lot from the issues that scuppered the Maybot's bid for a majorityby Tim Bale / August 7, 2017 / Leave a comment
British Election Study research released last week not only confirmed that the campaign made a big difference in 2017, but also gave us an insight into the issues that may have changed voters’ minds.
Two or three things on the list—neatly illustrated by an animated wordcloud—stood out straight away to anyone who’s been following the discussion over what went wrong with Theresa May’s campaign, particularly among those who helped her fight it on the ground.
To those who don’t follow Tory politics as closely as sad-sacks like me, combing through the below-the-line comments on posts on ConservativeHome probably sounds about as tempting as taking a swan-dive into sewage. But everyone ought to try it sometime. Reading the pretty-much unmediated views of Tory activists often counters the common wisdom as much as it confirms it: they’re not all ridiculously right-wing headbangers. Many of them care as deeply about the welfare of the majority of the people living in this country as self-styled progressives do; they just have a different view of how best to promote it.
What those activists also care a lot about, of course, is winning elections, and winning them well. So—surprise, surprise—they’re not feeling too happy right now. Indeed, some of the most interesting stuff on the site recently revolves around what put off those voters who, they’d hoped, might deliver their party a massive majority on 9 June. These discussions are conducted both above- and below-the-line by people who spent much of their free time this Spring canvassing for the Conservatives.
Interestingly—and, for academics and pollsters, reassuringly—the testimony of those who help the Tories out at elections (some of them members, some of them probably just supporters) dovetails with much of what the professional survey research seems to have uncovered.
The issues that mattered
Although a little reluctant to admit it, those posting are willing to concede (or at least imply) that the Maybot’s lacklustre performance mattered, as did her refusal to turn up to the big TV debate that Corbyn agreed to do at the last minute: a decision which made her look as if she were running scared both from him and from the voters. (Although, given her infamously patronising ‘magic money tree’ response to a…