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Voters are not 'lurching', they're responding to elitism

By Mal Fletcher - posted Wednesday, 28 May 2014

In the wake of Sunday's European elections, The Times announced on its front page yesterday that Europe had 'lurched to the right'.

In the UK, where European and local council elections were held simultaneously, it noted that Ukip made significant gains over the more established political parties.

Since then, the domestic news cycle has been dominated by stories of how the other major parties plan to respond. We've heard talk of the need to clarify party messages, better connect with voters and possibly even change leaders.


Perhaps someone on the editorial staff of The Times can explain why headline writers opted to describe voters as 'lurching' to the right when the alternative result would usually be described as a 'shift' to the left.

To lurch is to stagger or lunge suddenly, usually without forethought. When editors apply such an adjective to voting preferences, they infer that electors have cast their ballots carelessly.

This writer has no particular axe to grind for the UK Independence Party, but similar forms of words are used by newspapers whenever a collective vote shifts slightly away from the established political parties.

This is true for both sides of the political spectrum, but perhaps especially so when people seem to be voting for a group that sounds more conservative than the Conservatives.

At the very least, news sources seem to imply that voters are less well informed than editors who more fully understand the larger issues at stake.

Many of the Brits who voted in these elections did so in such a way as to send tremors through each of the major political parties. They provided a significant boost to the claims of Ukip members that their party is becoming (or has become) a mainstream political force.


The ultimate test of the latter claim remains, of course, the performance of Ukip in national elections, which are not due until May 2015. A significantly larger voter representation can be expected at those polls and they will test the claim to credibility of any smaller party.

However, the elections proved once and for all that there is deep unrest in parts of the mainstream electorate.

There is disillusionment about what many people see as insufficiently regulated immigration and there is uncertainty about what kind of EU Britain wants to part of.

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This article was first published on 2020Plus. A fuller version may be read by clicking here.

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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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