Are We A Nation Divided?

by Ray_North on April 22, 2015

images-3With less that two weeks to go until polling day – it appears that we have become a nation split between, by my reckoning, four distinct groups who broadly follow four distinct narratives.

Narrative One is this: ‘all the troubles of the late naughties were caused by the Labour government’s profligacy; we must reign back the state and ensure that we do not spend our hard earned tax money looking after those who are not contributing because they are either unemployed, ‘ill’ or foreign. As such we’ll continue to cut, we’ll continue to blame said workshy, benefit scrounging foreigners and we’ll continue to pursue the agenda of making enough people rich to ensure that we have a barely workable economy.’
This group are the ones most likely to vote Tory with enthusiasm, vote Lib-Dem out of misguided loyalty and vote UKIP out of confusion.

Narrative Two on the other hand goes more like this: ‘I believe that the Tories are intrinsically nasty and self-serving. I broadly blame the bankers for the economic problems of the late naughties. I will vote for anyone who is likely to keep the Tories out of office – I’ve always voted Labour, they’ll do.’
This group will vote Labour, if they vote at all.

Narrative Three is more: ‘there is another way, I’m sure of it, I’m sick of Westminster and all that nonsense and I’m prepared to vote for something new.’
This group will still vote Labour, albeit with reservation, but will vote Green with enthusiasm and SNP or Plaid where it can.

Whilst Narrative Four: ‘they’re all wankers as far as I’m concerned, I don’t trust any of them.’
This group are either going to stay at home, or, perhaps, vote UKIP.

In terms of numbers, and of course I accept that these are back of the fag packet estimates based upon an assumption of a turnout of 65%, which was the 2010 figures – it appears that the numbers of those who are seduced by narrative one, as a percentage of the electorate as a whole probably amounts to 30%; narrative two 25%, narrative three 10% and narrative four 35%.

Moving on to what these people look like, those in the first camp are more likely to be older, more likely to be rural or live in the South East, they are also likely to have a pension or a fairly tidy job in the private sector.

In camp two we have those who live in the old industrial heartlands of the North – more likely to be traditional working class or work in the public sector. Camp three, again, more likely to be public sector workers and students, will be younger.

We also know that those who predominantly follow the first narrative are more likely to vote – and this is were it gets worrying as because of this, on May 8th we may end up with a government that does not have the backing of the majority (or anywhere near a majority), of the population, but continues to implement, by default, some absolutely fundamental changes to every aspect of our society from education to law, health to defence.

What is equally frustrating is that the overlap between the second and third narratives is such that if Labour changed the thrust of its campaign, that is changed its narrative to become bolder and more progressive, it would probably have kept the numbers it currently has, but also attracted numbers from narrative three (including the increasingly important Scots who want change), and maybe, attracted some of the less than enthusiastic Lib-Dems and even those who can’t be arsed to vote ‘because they’re all the same anyway.’

So, to answer my own question – Are we a nation divided? Yes, I believe we are, there are clear and profound divisions between the young and the old, the North and the South, the Celts and the non-Celts, the private and the public sector, those who feel they are doing well and those who feel that they are struggling. But, although we have this division, what we don’t have are political parties who reflect the division, as the main three UK wide parties have signed up for the first narrative, accepted it as the orthodox, even though it isn’t the expressed view of the majority of the nation. In short there is no effective antithesis to the thesis, as such there is never likely to be a debate that will lead to a bridging of the gap and our nation will continue to be divided.

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