Thursday, June 15, 2017

Now is the winter of our discontent

Writing in Stuff, Massey University's Grant Duncan reports on the results of the University Election Survey. The key one? People are angry and want change:

About half the sample (and more than half of women and those under 40) opted for "a complete change of government", even though Labour supporters were under-represented.

Over two-thirds thought that the system of government itself is either "completely broken" or "working but needs to change".

Only 23 per cent said they wanted a leader who wouldn't change things much.

Forty-seven per cent said the mood of the country was "discontented" and only 23 per cent said "contented". The older the age-group, the more the respondents chose "contented".

About half of the sample agreed that our political leaders are "out of touch with the people". Only 21 per cent disagreed.

There's more, particularly on age differences (people under 45 know they're getting a raw deal and are particularly focused on housing compared to old people), but its a pretty clear message. And while this was a self-selected sample, its almost 40,000 people - 1% of the voting population. So its not something that you can just ignore. At the least, it points to a significant pool of people angry at the status quo, willing to vote for change - and at least enough to swing an election.

But there's a problem for the establishment political parties: distrust. Huge majorities recognise that professional politicians are in a different boat to the rest of us and do not trust them. The result is that the usual managed, triangulated, weasely messages aren't going to motivate people to vote, because they simply won't be believed. In order to tap this discontent, politicians need sincerity - and that's not something they can fake.