Both Colmar Brunton and Reid Research report a drop in the polls for the Left. While polls are imperfect, they can provide a strong indication of public sentiment. I’m not surprised by the results, even if they are imperfect.
I think its easy for those who have already decided to vote and/or who have already decided which party they are voting for to draw all kinds of conclusions about why the results are as they are. From criticising polls in general, to justifying the results as irrelevant given how far out we are from election.
So from my perspective, as a Leftist, who is undecided on (a) if I am going to vote, and (b) if I do, who I will vote for, I thought it worthwhile to discuss why I am failing to identify with the Left and why I am disillusioned. And I imagine I am not alone.
For ease of reference, I will use ‘undecided voters’ as a catch all for all undecided or current non-voters of the left leaning persuasion.
Unity. Its a tired slogan of the Left. What does it even mean these days? No matter how bold or militant those on the Left make the typeface, unity just does not follow. Instead, we appear to have dominant voices (comprised of activists, partisan bloggers, MP’s, party members and hacks) purporting to represent the broadly composed Left as a single movement, and with the single aim of deposing John Key and his National led government (another tired, overused and unhelpful phrase).
I accept that many of these voices have done a great deal to highlight the gross abuses of power, dodgy dealings, incompetency and arrogance of the National led government. But in doing so, many have also highlighted their own dodgy dealings, incompetency, arrogance and penchant for their own abuses of power. Rather than advancing any ground, they have effectively neutralised it.
Its obvious that this push for ‘unity’ just isn’t working. As mentioned above, its lazy rhetoric and it screams instability and futility when many of those calling for unity are the very same who are accusing others of abuse, defamation, derailing etc.
However, its the secondary tactic that concerns me most as an undecided voter – the attack on the moral character of undecided voters. Whether its on blogs or other social media platforms (facebook or twitter mostly) the voting police have already embarked on their passive-aggressive (mostly aggressive) “vote or you’re a horrible person campaign”, because if you don’t vote, apparently, you’re basically voting for John Key.
This is a ridiculous argument. It is also incredibly manipulative. It is not even close to bringing about genuine unity because it demonises undecided voters for not unquestioningly falling in line with the dominant consensus. It preys on the good intentions of such voters and attempts to guilt trip them into subordinating their own values and principles to the will of the dominant voices who care only about getting rid of John Key and the National Party.
And for what? To replace the current authority with their own.
If the Left want to change the government, then those dominant voices should probably first change their attitudes. Undecided voters should not be treated as enemies. It is not their fault that the parties have so far failed to persuade them to want to vote, or to in fact want to vote for one of the left wing parties. If the Lefts ambition wasn’t so blatantly just a reach for power (like their right wing counterparts), then perhaps undecided voters might reconsider their positions.