Having been involved in telephone polls for several marginal constituencies in the last few weeks, it has been fascinating to listen to the Great British public giving their opinion on the great and the good.
Lord Ashcroft’s thesis is that opinion polls are vitally important in giving political parties a reality check. “If an election is an exam, voters will set the question; parties that choose to answer a different question will be marked accordingly.”
Opinion polls help political parties find out what is important to ordinary voters. The danger otherwise is that within the party, people only speak to those like themselves, and what is important to the party faithful is irrelevant to everybody else.
“All parties, but the Tories in particular, still grapple with the question of whether a party should be a vehicle for the views of its members, and how far those members should grin and bear policies designed to broaden the party’s overall appeal.”
Reading the text of lecture immediately brought to mind another organisation which struggles to be relevant to ordinary people – the church.
I fear that the church is often used as “a vehicle for the views of its members” (music? architecture? clothing?) rather than being an effective Christian organisation, able to broaden its overall appeal to the general public.
Perhaps we need to find out what people are really asking?
What do you think?