Yesterday’s Budget was pretty smart in many ways, focusing squarely on those who do the right thing, work hard and take responsibility for themselves. Yet that serious, focused, sober effort has been diluted by this:
Which is just weird. It’s interesting though because it points to a significant failing in the conversation that Tories have with voters: there is too much “they” and not enough “we”.
One of the things that I found most grating about the debate over equal marriage, for example, is the way that almost everyone talked about “they”. It’s not “they” – it’s we. It’s our fellow Britons, our family members and our community figures. Similarly when gender equality is discussed – too often, I hear “they” not we. And when the party talks about modernising, renewing or whatever the current phrase is, I hear “they” when politicians actually mean we.
This is undermining the heartening efforts made in policy terms to rebalance the economy, improve our schools, allow and encourage us to take responsibility for ourselves, and so on. Is it just sloppiness? Probably (and to be fair, on this one, whether the ad had said ‘they’ or ‘we’ it would still have been mocked). But allowing it to happen encourages the attitude that some still have that Tories are not and do not care about ‘people like me’. This is the single biggest challenge to a Conservative majority at the next election. But it’s easy to fix – or at least, it should be.