Thursday, January 19, 2012

If you think politicians have short memories ...

... what about the electorate? We hear a great deal about the need for politicians to listen to the people, about the importance of elections and elected officials just about everywhere and about the short-termism of politicians (that, actually, cancels out the other two as the short-termism consists of concentrating on the next election). But what of the short memories that the electors have?

The Evening Standard (not, one must admit, the most reliable of newspapers) had an article by Joe Murphy, their political editor, which said that, according to a recent poll, Ken Livingstone is leading in the mayoral race, of which, thankfully, only three months are left.

To be fair, the lead is so small as to be of no significance, once we remember the error margin and the fact that only about 30 - 35 per cent usually turns out to vote in the London elections. (And, to be even more fair, the comments on the article, by and large, sound horrified at this information.)

This, however, stunned me:
"It amounts to 100,000 Labour voters switching back from Boris to Ken. It looks as though Ken Livingstone's promise to cut fares on buses and the Tube has made an impact."
Mr Johnson remains far more popular than his party among voters and beats Mr Livingstone for charisma.
But the survey reveals a drop in the number of Labour voters who are willing to vote for the Conservative incumbent. Last June almost a quarter of Labour voters said they would choose him - but the "Labour for Boris" brigade has halved to 12 per cent.
Another change is that the number who see Mr Livingstone as "in touch with the concerns of ordinary people" has risen from 37 to 40 per cent; the number who think Mr Johnson is "in touch" has fallen from 20 per cent to 13.
Moreover, the three issues that Londoners regard as most important are those that Mr Livingstone has campaigned hardest on: tackling crime (picked by 42 per cent), improving transport (41 per cent) and easing the cost of living (33 per cent). Only four per cent think promoting London abroad, a regular Boris theme, is a priority.
As it happens, promoting London abroad was a boringly constant theme with Livingstone as well and, as I recall, he even opened a number of highly expensive London offices in various countries, one of which was Venezuela. Have people forgotten that?

Did crime go down, transport improve or cost of living go down under Livingstone? Did it, heck. The amount we paid in taxes for the GLA went up by leaps and bounds every year, apart from 2007. Strange, isn't it? Anything to do with the fact that the mayoral election was coming in 2008? Surely not.

As for the promise to cut fares on tubes and buses, we have been here before, as the Boris Backer site shows. There may be a bias in the site's attitudes but the facts are incontrovertible.
I cannot believe that so many people have forgotten already. (Well, actually, I can.)


  1. Helen, you only have to look at opinion polls regarding the standing of the Lib/Lab/Con to know that the people also have very short memories - which begs the question whether they have a brain in the first place!

    Perhaps it would be better and save a shed load of money if we just disbanded any thought of democracy, in particular the voting bit?

  2. I think you both may be overlooking the fact that many of the voters and respondents in question will not be native Londoners but third world immigrants who are easy Labour votes come rain or shine. Since their presence is increasing by the day it is only inevitable that the tories' days in London are numbered. If not at the next election then the one after will probably lock them out of power. Boris only got elected thanks to the remaining British votes concentrated in the suburban doughnut ring which is very slowly edging its way out of the city as the immigration disaster zone expands. I wouldn't pay too much attention at monthly polls which are meaningless anyway.

  3. All those liberal predictions about mass democracy came true very quickly, WitteringWitney, but I am not surprised. And accountable government is a good deal more than just the farce of voting.