Friday, May 8, 2015
New Political Tool: Fear
It is not just in India that pollsters periodically fall flat. UK election, defying predictions of a hung parliament, the Conservative Party surged to an outright majority in British elections. The result announced on May 9, 2015, It won 331 seats out of 650, more than the magic number of 326. What are the two most effective factors which proved most of the predictions false.
Fear is a fierce force in politics. In the end fear told. It was the basis of David Cameron's election campaign and he was entirely vindicated as he swept to a second term as British prime minister.
The fear Cameron instilled in voters was twofold.
The first element consisted in saying that the substantial economic progress made by Britain over the past five years — gains that have turned it into the fastest-growing major advanced economy — would be reversed by a Labour victory.
The second was to suggest that if Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, did reach Downing Street he would be hostage to a surging Scottish National Party whose objective is to break up Britain.
Both proved effective. The British voted for economic consolidation. They shunned risk and they shunned Miliband, whom in the end they did not trust. Miliband, who gained the Labour leadership five years ago in a bitter fight with his brother David, resigned on Friday
PM David Cameron developed two political products in the form of Ideas Of Fear (IOF). He marketed it to voters. He also assessed the demand. Every voter wish to go up on economic trajectory. Its reversal would harm everyone. One this issue, he created a fear among voters and in turn sold his political product to them and took voters' mandate.
Nationalism is above everything for citizens. Cameron played this and hit emotional cards of voters. Division of the country affect all. Hence, it is a mass appealing issue. Cameron developed another political product based on concept of fear generation. He convinced voters "If Labour party will get power, it may break up Britain under the pressure of surging Scottish National Party."
No gain without pain. The astonishing result is associated with big challenges ahead. The result could also lead for two referendums, with great existential import for Britain's future. The interests of Scottish and Britons are just opposite. Managing these opposite interests are formidable task for Cameron to fulfil his poll promises. Hopefully, he would manage, as politics is the art of managing contradictions, which he has proved by getting majority.
Cameron has promised a referendum, by 2017,on whether UK should quit the European Union. If majority of Britons say yes, that result could influence the holding of another referendum.
The Scottish National Party, which stands for Scotland breaking away from the UK, has swept 56 of Scotland's 59 seats. Since Scots favour staying in the EU a Brexit- or British exit from EU- could well trigger a Scottish exit from UK.
By selling simple IOF among voters, PM Cameron came out with flying colours. All forecasts of neck-to-neck fight predicted by most of the pollsters are negated. He proved best political acumen and it is an example for adoption to other political actors worldwide to win election.
Indian politicians too abused and used IOF to gain votes. PM Modi's secular credentials are questioned by his critics, who accuse him of being divisive and of not doing enough to prevent the riots of 2002 in Gujarat, in which hundreds of Muslims were killed under his watch.
In 2014 Parliament Indian election, political parties tried to gain votes by showing fear of PM Modi. In its reaction, Maulana Mahmood Madani, who heads the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, said in a TV interview , "In the next election, political parties should not try to seek our votes by showing fear of someone, on a negative plank." Parties, he said, must instead outline their plans to ensure "equal opportunity" for the community.
Same political products marketed brought different results. It give victory to Cameron in UK. While in India, it disappointed who applied this tactics. And Modi got landslide mandate like Cameron.
Heera Lal ( views are personal and based on different resources.)