Monday, August 23, 2004
Foreign Policy: A Rising Concern

Further to the article on Blackhurst's thought on the Muslim vote, set out yesterday, a recent poll appears to undermine one of the central arguments of his strategy. Blackhurst argued that the British electorate is visibly indifferent to developments in foreign policy, although security has often acted as a major handicap for political parties distrusted by the voters (such as Labour in the 1980s).

Now, security and other aspects of foreign policy appear to be important issues for the average Mondeo man, polling evidence that tallies with general anecdotal evidence on a personal level (such issues have tended to come up in conversation without asking). The Mori poll recently undertaken for the Financial Times provided evidence for this:

Thirty-eight percent of almost 2,000 respondents surveyed last week found defense and foreign affairs to be an important issue, compared to a mere two percent in both June 1997 and June 2001.

Immigration and race relations were noted as critical electoral issues for 30 percent of respondents, compared to 14 percent in previous years.

Whether this is the groundswell of an 'anti-war vote' that will aid the Liberal Democrats or a more generalised concern about the ongoing British deployment in Iraq remains to be seen. Seeking the 'anti-war vote' bolstered by Muslim support may prove counterproductive if it is overwhelmed by an opposing reaction in favour of greater security, more draconiam anti-terrorist measures and restricted immigration. One outcome is certain: the political reaction of the electorate to a terrorist atrocity undertaken by Al-Qa'eda may be far more radical than pundits expect, although the route that it would take, towards further war or against, is unknown.

(20.50, 23rd August 2004)


Post a Comment

Blog Archive