The danger of pandering to the Tories

Posted on

This comment by Marina Hyde in the Guardian resonated very strongly with me:

I’m bored of being told things don’t matter because they didn’t “cut through”, or that this or that horror show is “priced in” to the public’s relationship with Johnson, or that something is irrelevant because “voters don’t care about it”.

So what?! Voters don’t care about a lot of things that are, nonetheless, properly important. Yet we’re awash with pundits and politicians who can tell you the electoral price of everything but the value of nothing.

I could not agree more. And this is not just an issue that impacts the directly political. I am so bored by being told by those who I might call ‘professional NGO managers’ that unless something ‘cuts through with the Tories’ it does not matter.

The usual argument to match this is that unless something has been ‘focussed grouped’ there is no point considering it. Raising funding to have issues focus grouped now seems one of the easiest things to achieve in the NGO world.

Heaven above that anyone should have an original idea that no one in a focus group has heard of, meaning it has no prospect of resonating there. These don’t count. It is the apparent job of the NGO to now either promote the mundane, the extreme (which often gives well with focus groups) or the outright Daily Mail view. The rest really is not of concern, apparently.

It will surprise no one that this irritates me. The tax justice movement would most certainly never have got going on this basis. Nor would the Green New Deal. Neither ‘cut through’ for some time. The ideas had to be developed, nurtured and carefully promoted. And then they began to work. Neither, very obviously, was deeply Tory.

So what is happening here? Are we seeing the takeover of NGOs by Tory thinking? Or the suppression of original thinking? What I do know is that there are many who do not know the value of anything. But it all suits the Tories very well.