Labour’s Path Is A Difficult, But Absolutely Necessary, One

Political will also means, of course, that we need to bring the public with us. It doesn’t mean, however, what this is often mistranslated as: constantly capitulating to public opinion. Political parties are one of the key institutions in British society for shaping public opinion: when parties stop trying to do this and instead try to chase public opinion, society stands still. On top of this, evidence from my field of research, political engagement, suggests that the big decline in voter turnout between ’92 and 2001 coincided with an increasingly market-style, centralised bureaucracy developing in the main parties, in which media discipline and the party line became sacrosanct, leading to decreasing ideological difference between parties (based off electoral calculation rather than genuine passion) and a sense that politicians and parties weren’t being ‘genuine’. In short, when parties aren’t fighting passionately for a policy, but instead saying what they think is most likely to win them a vote, the general culture it breeds is disillusionment. Our role as a party is to debate, convince and challenge, not to go with what is popular.

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