Towards understanding the right wing mind – part two

Sean Danaher has written the first part here.

This is a less profound, but still gobsmacking (to me at least) suggestion of why people persist in voting Conservative.

In short, Conservative voters think they are going to win the lottery of life.

I feel that I should quote the piece in full because I think Progressives need to understand this as, I fear, I did not.

It comprises a short article by Nick Schon, who describes himself as a first generation Brit. He is also Group Creative Director at Saatchi and Saatchi (remember them? They used to be nicknamed Thatchi and Thatchi because they were so effective at Conservative advertising).

“I worked on the Conservative advertising for two general elections. This was a subject we gave a lot of thought to, and it’s actually simple: a lot of poor people don’t think they will always be poor. They have aspirations just like everyone. That’s a good thing, but it’s often taken to unrealistic levels. They think that “Ok, I’m not earning a lot now, but one day I’ll have a bloody great yacht”, so they vote for the party they think will help them most achieve that great leap to riches and the one they identify with in their imaginary alternative life.

It’s the principle behind shows like “Bake Off”, “X-Factor” and “The Voice” and a host of other contests where “ordinary” people suddenly strike it rich. It’s deeply rooted in human psyche, and the Tories know it.

The Conservatives are quite aware that they are pedlars of what is for most, false hope. They point out the Alan Sugars and Richard Bransons and say that you too can achieve this under their governance. Tories are really interested in maintaining the status quo and helping them and their core donors.

I’ve asked friends who aren’t well off but voted Tory why they did so. One is a teacher who is about to lose his job. The answers come straight out of the Daily Mail.

We have a poisonous right-wing press in this country, dominated by five billionaires who create a climate that persuades people to act against what is in their best interests. That monopoly has to change.”

I conclude that first, Conservatives are not profound thinkers. They are also probably fearful. It will seem safer to be Conservative.

Second, Progressives should be pointing out that voting Conservative is in your individual interest only insomuch as doing the National Lottery is in your individual interest – i.e. the odds are overwhelmingly against and it is way more likely to cost you money.

And further, operating society on individual interest has to be exposed as operating society as the National Lottery.

Third, people’s aspirations are still important – that is why no student debt is such a winner and, for many individuals almost as good as winning the lottery.

But we still all need to realise that cooperation is the basis of any society and is of benefit to everyone.

Running a society as a competitive lottery will benefit only a very few individuals.

Fourth, the lottery ‘losers’ – in effect the overwhelming majority of Conservative voters –  need to realise that, if they are not sitting at the rich man’s table they will be getting only the crumbs. And that we’d all have a better time if the dinner were slightly less grand but we were together, all able to participate.

Seven years of right wing dogma means that a straightforward table plan with a seat for everybody is becoming more and more necessary and hence ‘aspirational’.







  1. Sean Danaher -

    Hi Peter
    back in action so to speak. I think there is a lot in what you say. I have heard the lottery describes as a tax on poor people. Hope is very important and the ‘Left’ needs to get better at telling simple stories

  2. Malcolm James -

    Another characteristic of the winners from right-wing policies, who are more often than not right-wing themselves (even if they weren’t previously), is that they made it wholly due to their talent and hard work and that therefore the fact that the majority of people have not succeeded is down to their own failings. Ted Cruz is a good example of this, who overlooked the role of the unions and public (i.e. state) schools in his and his families success.

    Some of these people have been merely lucky, but some of them are truly exceptional. However, it is wrong that, whilst some seem to be able to succeed through accident of birth, others have to be exceptional to do so.

  3. Peter May -

    As you say, and as more people than ever are in work yet childhood poverty is increasing it suggests that luck is also more important than ever.

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