How could the polls get it so wrong? Every newspaper is asking this question, in so many words or otherwise. The answer is simple: they didn’t.
Allow me to explain what I mean.
When it comes to polling, gathering information is a purely technical task. The art and science come in when the information is being digested and interpreted.
To begin with, we must realise the natural limitation of electoral polls: they apply mathematics to what can be properly understood only through less numerical disciplines, such as history, psychology (individual and collective), philosophy and even – as God is my witness – theology.
Only these can elucidate human behaviour, and even then not with absolute certainty. Counting heads is very different from counting beans: beans don’t think, change views, dissemble, emote. Heads do.
Statistics can help, but it’s unrealistic to expect that a survey of a few thousand people will yield an unfailing clue to how millions will behave on election day.
This isn’t to say that polls are useless – only that we shouldn’t get our expectations up too high. However, there’s always a pearl underneath the manure heap of statistical data. The trick is to find it.
With that lengthy preamble in mind, let’s look at the polls that allegedly got everything so wrong.
In the run-up to the election, many observers were asking why-oh-why questions. Why is a party with ostensibly such a strong economic record in government locked in a dead heat with a party whose stated intent is to introduce more of the same policies that proved so catastrophic the last time Labour was in power?
My answer to that question was that the British electorate had been thoroughly corrupted by several generations of socialism. To accelerate that process, the state – regardless of which party runs it – has made growing numbers of voters dependent on it for their livelihood.
It doesn’t matter whether this dependence comes as social handouts or government jobs. The greater the number of people with a vested interest in public spending, the more likely the electoral success of a party that promises more public spending.
The election results would hinge, I suggested, not on what people say to those pests who ask them personal questions, but on whether or not the number of such dependents has reached a certain critical mass.
It’s not just those who sponge off the state or work for it. It’s also large groups of people who have been corrupted by more subtle and gradual methods than transfers of cash.
Hence the critical mass may also include inveterate class warriors, those who hate the toffs or anyone with money (this often despite themselves being wealthy).
Then there are those moral individuals who simply want to do the right thing, thereby looking good to others and, more important, to themselves. Alas, it takes intelligent people, their numbers reduced by our oxymoronic comprehensive education, to know what the right thing is.
I said a few days ago that I didn’t know whether the catastrophic critical mass had been reached, and the election results show it hasn’t. Not yet. But it soon will be, which the polls showed beyond reasonable doubt.
Juxtaposing poll findings with election results, one can see that masses of people had said they’d vote Labour but in fact voted Tory.
Why they voted Tory is easy enough to understand once we’ve realised that the critical mass of corruption hasn’t yet been reached. People who still have one foot in real life would rather defer the economic, social and geopolitical catastrophe that Labour would predictably have ushered in.
That much is boringly obvious. The interesting question is, why did so many of such residually sane persons lie they’d vote Labour when they were buttonholed by those inquisitive pollsters?
Simple. It’s no longer socially acceptable to admit one’s conservative convictions. For millions of people, doing so is now tantamount to delivering this mantra:
“I am a soulless materialist who doesn’t give a flying, well, whatever flies, for anything other than my narrow, selfish interests. The poor should eat one another, the environment has done nothing for me, I hate Johnny Foreigner, I hope every endangered species will be caught in a wind turbine and die, breaking the bloody contraption in the process. And oh yes, I think a woman should stay in the kitchen with a mattress tied to her back. Did I mention I’m also a racist, homophobe and global-warming denier? Well, I am.”
In other words, socialism has successfully claimed high moral ground by setting the terms of debate. Hence for many people admitting to a preference for the slightly less socialist party, the Tories, spells an admission to moral failure.
They may be prepared to buck the Zeitgeist in deed, but not yet in word. But the word wasn’t just at the beginning of the world; it’s also at the beginning of politics.
Whoever controls language controls thought – and deed won’t lag far behind. Modern totalitarians know this, and all modern governments are totalitarian in their aspirations, if not yet their methods.
Now, let me stick my neck out: I refused to make predictions before this election, but I’m willing to make one for the future.
Labour will regroup, recut their camouflage in the Blair style, allay some of the shameful, selfish fears people have for the future of their families and their country, and ride the high horse of their phoney morality to a landslide.
This may happen in five years or sooner, depending on how big a mess the Tories will make, and how quickly. Meanwhile let’s thank God it hasn’t happened already.