James Forsyth

ANTI politics

ANTI politics
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Tim Montgomerie has a thoughtful essay in the Daily Mail about the ANTIs, those who feel so let down by the political status quo that they have given up voting for any of the mainstream parties. These five million people, according to a recent set of research, feel angry at the political class, neglected financially, that their traditional values are being trampled on and worried about large-scale immigration.

Obviously, politics can’t just be about these voters. But there’s clearly something substantially wrong when such a large chunk of the country feel so alienated from mainstream politics.

One thing that worries me is that I don’t see many political figures who these voters would respect. Politicians who could speak to this group, and—on some issues—explain why they disagree with them.

In some ways, coalition government has worsened the problem. The process of fusing two manifestos has made politicians less accountable. Vince Cable can claim that the Liberal Democrats haven’t broken a promise on tuition fees because the Liberal Democrats didn’t win the election.

Another problem is that wooing these voters is much harder work for politicians. When I went out on the stump with various candidates during the election, I was struck by how those who said they weren’t voting or were going UKIP or BNP were almost never turned on the doorstep. But those who were voting for one of the three main parties were far more likely to change their mind after a conversation with the candidate. There’s a risk that in time, politicians will just give up on these voters, compounding the problem.