Monday, 8 February 2016

Wishful thinking

The reported attempts by the Conservatives in Wales to turn the Assembly election into something of a referendum on Jeremy Corbyn rather than a vote about policies and programmes as such is an interesting approach.  Perhaps they have some private polling data which is not available to the rest of us suggesting widespread antipathy towards Corbyn in Wales, but from the outside it looks like an approach based on an assumption that something which is ‘obvious’ to them will be equally obvious to everyone else.
I don’t doubt that it will appeal to their core voters.  Readers of the Daily Mail are likely to be already convinced that Corbyn is the devil incarnate, and reminding that particular sector of the electorate that Carwyn and Corbyn are members of the same party might work to shore up that vote.  But assuming that internal groupthink is typical of the wider electorate is the sort of mistake which is all too easy for politicians and parties to make.  Playing the Corbyn card repeatedly and relentlessly doesn’t seem to me to be likely to have a huge appeal in terms of winning over opposing parties’ supporters.  It’s a bit like Labour always playing the Thatcher card – it seems to help to keep their own supporters loyal, but I doubt that it ever won many people over to Labour.
And that’s the point.  Whether some of us like it or not, there is a fairly solid and consistent Tory vote in Wales, and it seems to be growing, but I suspect that to be more a result of demographic changes (such as migration and age profile) than of any real shift of individual voters from Labour to Tory.  I don’t immediately observe the sort of personal antipathy to Corbyn which this strategy depends on amongst non Tory voters, although I do observe an increasing antipathy towards the over-personalisation of politics, and to a negative approach which is based mainly on slagging off the opponents. 

Whatever Labour might like, they will not be able to avoid the UK media seeing the Assembly election as delivering a verdict of some sort on Corbyn; but that’s about the media interpreting what they want to see happening.  It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily much of an issue for the electors themselves,  Assuming that coverage in their favoured media actually represents public opinion in Wales as a whole looks more like wishful thinking by the Tories than serious analysis. 

1 comment:

Democritus said...

But the Tories challenge in this context isn't to win over new voters but to turn out a bigger share of their 2015 vote than Labour manage. Do that & they win Cardiff Nth, Gower, both Vales, deny Lab a maj and hold their own in the Bay despite UKIP eating up list seats. They figure Corbyn helps motivate their own vote and suppress Labour's. Time will tell if that's correct.