Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Bribes and transactionalism

Those clever Tories have noticed that they didn’t do very well at attracting the votes of young people in the election, so they’ve decided to do something about it.  In this case, ‘doing something’ means offering changes on issues such as tuition fees and housing.  And they’re being utterly shameless about it; they’re not even attempting to say that there’s anything wrong with the way things are at present – indeed, they give every indication of believing that current policies are the right ones.  They are making no attempt to explain why the changes they propose will be better for the country as a whole, or how they fit with their other objectives – I suspect that they are not really convinced themselves.
No, this is all about targeting a specific section of the electorate (not even all young people in fact) and offering direct bribes to persuade them to change their voting patterns.  Will it work?  I really don’t know, but I suspect that it’s just too obvious and blatant to have quite the effect that they want.  Confirmation bias is as likely to make people believe that they could have done these things all along if they’d really wanted to, so that all that guff about austerity was the lie that many knew it to be all along.
But I shouldn’t really be that surprised at the nature of the pitch they are making.  It is, after all, axiomatic to them that individuals will always act in their own best financial interests rather than thinking about any wider issues.  From that perspective, all they need to do is to explain to the target audience why voting Tory will make them as individuals better off, and turn it into a simple monetary transaction.  They’ve become so blinded by that belief that they really can’t see anything wrong with that approach.  Perhaps it’s another form of what someone said about the existing order containing the seeds of its own destruction.  Self-destruction certainly seems to be working its way up the Tory agenda these days.

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