Wednesday, 5 March 2014

On the popularity of politics


Us politicians like to think that what we do is grabbing the attention of the masses. We kid ourselves that people are actually interested in out rants, ramblings and petty spats. The truth is that people aren't interested - only about 1% of the population joins a political party and perhaps less than 10% is actually interested in politics.

An illustration of this comes from election news aggregator, Electionista, who tweeted the top seven most followed political parties in Europe:
What is interesting here isn't the order but the number of followers - the 'Five Star' movement in Italy is the most followed with 270,000 followers, not surprising for a web-savvy populist movement. For the UK, the two big parties have far fewer - 125,000 for Labour and 104,000 for the Conservatives. To put this in a bit of context here are the seven most followed premier league football teams:

Arsenal 3.56m
Chelsea 3.46m
Liverpool 2.40m
Man United 2.01m
Man City 1.55m
Spurs 775k
Everton 376k

Only two premier league teams have fewer followers than the Conservatives (Crystal Palace and Hull since you ask) add Cardiff City and you have the three teams with fewer followers than Labour. This might not be an entirely fair comparison but it does suggest politics has something of a problem. Or maybe we are a mature enough society not to be all that fussed about the antics of us politicians?



Junican said...

It seems to me that there was a point some years ago when 'top people' in the main parties decided that advertising techniques could replace members. When you can reach millions with a TV advert, why bother about a couple of hundred thousand members? These members are a pest. Much better to pay an advertising agency to produce effective sound-bites. Also, members do not produce anything like enough income. Much better to make a few deals with generous donors.
But this has led to a situation where only elites control the parties, which renders them open to special interest group infiltration and corruption. Worst of all, of course, is the 'parachuting in' of candidates for constituency MPs.
Two things have happened:
1. The world has become a horribly complex place.
2. Political systems are unable to cope and politicians are way out of the depth.

Anonymous said...

And when more folk vote in the 'X Factor' than in the local council elections, you know that the 'bread & circuses' policy has succeeded.
Give the blokes football and give the girlies celeb TV, then none of them need worry their busy heads with something as trivial as politics.