Do you know what’s happening in this election campaign? How voters are feeling? Are they moving in one direction, or another? Is Scotland, now firmly in Rupert Murdoch’s tender embrace, really going to be a one-party state? Will a celebrity class warrior deliver da yout to the polling station? What’s going on?
Objectively, we have the numbers. Pollsters use differing methods, and they have been known to get things wrong before, most notably in the 1992 election. All stress that there’s a margin of error, and when the polls are this tight, that really matters. And yet the picture across all polls is consistent. The Tories are slightly ahead of Labour.
The caveats are these: the boundaries favour Labour over the Tories; Labour has more members on the ground knocking on doors; the Tories are doing best amongst those voters, particularly the old, who are more likely to turn out and vote; the change in voter registration has knocked many voters off the electoral register, especially students.
Then there’s the campaign itself, a bizarre, insular, bubble-wrapped set of political actors set against the background of Nepalese rubble, drowning refugees, barbaric civil wars, and an American city in flames as kids on bikes do wheelies around tear gas canisters.
And there’s us. The voters. What do we see?
Newspaper sales are up – slightly. Not sure that’s a good thing when I scan the front pages. The Sun’s effort yesterday was “Monster Raving Labour Party”. Murdoch wants to kill the Labour Party. His rage knows no bounds. I hope the SNP knows what their Faustian pact might mean. But that’s besides the point.
For increasingly we voters see the world from a social media bubble in which opinions are narrow and partisan. If it wasn’t for The Daily Mail and the odd vox pop on TV I’d never know that most people don’t think like me. During the last election I Facebook friended people like Iain Dale, Tim Montgomerie, and Nick Clegg to see what Tories and Lib Dems were up to, but now I don’t bother.
For the commentariat don’t know much, either. I watch pundits on news channels and think, “You didn’t see Scotland coming, did you?” They don’t seem to have any more idea about Leeds or Birmingham, for that matter.
When Marvin Gaye asked, “What’s Going On?”, he knew the answer. A movement still ongoing, as we see on Baltimore streets. What’s going on here isn’t a movement with clear goals and leaders, rather a shifting of political tectonic plates as politics tries awkwardly to realign itself with new social and economic global forces. As Ed Miliband told Russell Brand, “It ain’t gonna be easy….”