Catch21 - Our Charity ArmCatch21 is a charitable production company set up in 2005 which trains young people to make videos and engage with their communities.Catch Creative - Our Video Production ArmCatch Creative offers a complete video production service, from Conception to Distribution.Catch EngagementCatch Engagement is the new video interaction platform from Catch21 which allows you to run a campaign using both user generated films as well as professionally shot ones which are displayed via Video 'Walls'. Catch Engagement is all about using films to build an online community - welcome to the future of video.

We shoot cutting edge videos and provide a forum to give people a voice.
Engagement. Discussion. Empowerment.


All content featured on our charity site is produced by young volunteers with the support and mentoring of our professional production team.

Politics no image

Published on June 2nd, 2012 | by Kirsty McKellar
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="564" caption="Is the background of top politicians unrepresentative? © Mike Knell"][/caption]   After disappointing election results for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats earlier this month, it is perhaps no surprise that the government is facing fresh criticism for being ‘out of touch’ with the electorate. Tory MP Nadine Dorries recently stated that David Cameron and George Osbourne are ‘two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk’, adding to the bad press surrounding the government. The accusation could not have come at a worse time for the coalition who are currently fighting to defend themselves following bad headlines including the ‘double-dip’ recession, budget criticisms and now a doctor’s union strike.

This isn’t the first time a British government has come under fire for being out of touch with ordinary families, and it won’t be the last. The current composition of the House of Commons does nothing to represent the diversity of British society today, particularly of women and ethnic minorities. Of 650 MPs, only 145 are female, and only 27 MPs are from ethnic minorities. 66% of government ministers went to public schools compared to only 7% of the general public, and 10% of those government ministers went to Eton. Of the 55 Prime Ministers to date, 41 went to Oxbridge, 11 did not go to university, and only 3 went to other universities. Young voters in particular struggle to identify with politicians; the average age in parliament is 50. This is clearly a misrepresentation of the population and perhaps helps explain why people are failing to identify with their elected leaders.

According to a poll by the Daily Express, 8 out of 10 voters believe that the Coalition has lost touch with ordinary families. At a time of severe economic hardship, a Prime Minister who does not know the price of milk making decisions on behalf of hardworking citizens does little to encourage people to vote at all, let alone for him. Earlier this year, Baroness Warsi warned that the Tories would not win the next election unless they appealed to more black and Asian voters. Yet according to The Telegraph that only 4% of black voters and 7% of Asians identify with the Conservative Party and a significant number believe Conservatives to remain indifferent or even hostile to ethnic minorities. Clearly politicians need to address these disparities in order to represent and engage with voters. Many people believe that the government is more concerned with protecting the interests of bankers and businesses than of ordinary people.

Turnout in May’s elections is estimated to be around 32%, the lowest since 2002. There may be various reasons for this, but it is clear that many people simply do not wish to exercise their right to vote. A YouGov poll recently found that the cost of living is the main issue for most UK families, followed by cuts in fuel duty and lower income tax. The three main parties are seen to be doing little to address these important issues, politicians are not trusted to keep their promises meaning voting is seen as a waste of time. If people believed that their opinion mattered and could lead to change, as David Cameron repeatedly told us would happen, then they would be more likely to vote.

Ministers have tried to explain the government’s U-turn on the ‘pasty tax’ as an attempt to listen and respond to the public but Labour have insisted that the move merely reveals a ‘total shambles’ as the VAT rises had been ‘ill thought-out’. There have been a number of U-turns following the reception of the proposed budget, the latest being a reversal on plans to limit tax relief for large charity donations. But if politicians interest in ordinary families’ lives is to be believed, they need to be seen to be truly responding to the public’s demands, not just inputting policies to benefit the wealthy and big businesses.

Accusations of being out of touch mean it is unsuprising that election turnout is falling. The democratic idea behind elections is to choose who will represent your interests best, but who would want to vote for ‘arrogant posh boys’ who live in a world divorced from ordinary life? In order to sustain a healthy democracy, politicians need to appear more accessible and true to their word. Perhaps this will encourage people to participate in politics rather than becoming disengaged and putting politics to the back of their mind.

2

Out of touch, out of mind: The widening gap between government and the public

Is the background of top politicians unrepresentative? © Mike Knell

 

After disappointing election results for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats earlier this month, it is perhaps no surprise that the government is facing fresh criticism for being ‘out of touch’ with the electorate. Tory MP Nadine Dorries recently stated that David Cameron and George Osbourne are ‘two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk’, adding to the bad press surrounding the government. The accusation could not have come at a worse time for the coalition who are currently fighting to defend themselves following bad headlines including the ‘double-dip’ recession, budget criticisms and now a doctor’s union strike.

This isn’t the first time a British government has come under fire for being out of touch with ordinary families, and it won’t be the last. The current composition of the House of Commons does nothing to represent the diversity of British society today, particularly of women and ethnic minorities. Of 650 MPs, only 145 are female, and only 27 MPs are from ethnic minorities. 66% of government ministers went to public schools compared to only 7% of the general public, and 10% of those government ministers went to Eton. Of the 55 Prime Ministers to date, 41 went to Oxbridge, 11 did not go to university, and only 3 went to other universities. Young voters in particular struggle to identify with politicians; the average age in parliament is 50. This is clearly a misrepresentation of the population and perhaps helps explain why people are failing to identify with their elected leaders.

According to a poll by the Daily Express, 8 out of 10 voters believe that the Coalition has lost touch with ordinary families. At a time of severe economic hardship, a Prime Minister who does not know the price of milk making decisions on behalf of hardworking citizens does little to encourage people to vote at all, let alone for him. Earlier this year, Baroness Warsi warned that the Tories would not win the next election unless they appealed to more black and Asian voters. Yet according to The Telegraph that only 4% of black voters and 7% of Asians identify with the Conservative Party and a significant number believe Conservatives to remain indifferent or even hostile to ethnic minorities. Clearly politicians need to address these disparities in order to represent and engage with voters. Many people believe that the government is more concerned with protecting the interests of bankers and businesses than of ordinary people.

Turnout in May’s elections is estimated to be around 32%, the lowest since 2002. There may be various reasons for this, but it is clear that many people simply do not wish to exercise their right to vote. A YouGov poll recently found that the cost of living is the main issue for most UK families, followed by cuts in fuel duty and lower income tax. The three main parties are seen to be doing little to address these important issues, politicians are not trusted to keep their promises meaning voting is seen as a waste of time. If people believed that their opinion mattered and could lead to change, as David Cameron repeatedly told us would happen, then they would be more likely to vote.

Ministers have tried to explain the government’s U-turn on the ‘pasty tax’ as an attempt to listen and respond to the public but Labour have insisted that the move merely reveals a ‘total shambles’ as the VAT rises had been ‘ill thought-out’. There have been a number of U-turns following the reception of the proposed budget, the latest being a reversal on plans to limit tax relief for large charity donations. But if politicians interest in ordinary families’ lives is to be believed, they need to be seen to be truly responding to the public’s demands, not just inputting policies to benefit the wealthy and big businesses.

Accusations of being out of touch mean it is unsuprising that election turnout is falling. The democratic idea behind elections is to choose who will represent your interests best, but who would want to vote for ‘arrogant posh boys’ who live in a world divorced from ordinary life? In order to sustain a healthy democracy, politicians need to appear more accessible and true to their word. Perhaps this will encourage people to participate in politics rather than becoming disengaged and putting politics to the back of their mind.

Tags: , , , , ,


About the Author

Kirsty McKellar

Kirsty has recently graduated from the University of Liverpool, obtaining a degree in Politics and Criminology (BA Hons). She is mostly interested in British politics, particularly the policies of the current coalition government. After completing her dissertation on the reasons for youth voter apathy with a First classification, she has developed a keen interest in young people’s relationship with and participation in politics. Kirsty has also undertaken some valuable work experience with her local MP, Esther McVey. She enjoyed the experience of working in local politics with Members of Parliament and Wirral Borough Council, helping to organise a charity event for the Big Lottery Fund. Kirsty intends to move to London this year to pursue a career in politics and social research, as it is something that she has always been passionate about.



  • You bring out some really important points here, I think. Disengagement is a big issue, and I think so much of it is to do with underrepresentation of minority groups (like you say). I'm not sure what the answer is here because, though, the grassroots selection needs to remain strictly meritocratic, we need to ensure at the same time that race and gender do not have a negative effect on the selection process.

    However, at the same time, I would be weary of citing politicians being out of touch. It's evident that people do see them as out of touch. But this is nothing new. What is new is the media storm surrounding them. Nadine Dorris MP is known for little else (and given her performance on HIGNFY, I think this is fortunate for her). The multiple U-Turns in the last few weeks have been down to the media making mountains out of molehills on tax breaks. Labour were right when they said it makes the budget look like a shambles. The general public would have forgotten about the tax before the next election, the current fervour is artificial, I think. Another favourite of the red tops is to expose that people at the highest level of government don't know the price of milk. I'm a student, and I buy my own pints from the local shop. And I don't know how much a pint is either. I think the majority of people would rather have a PM that knows the price of brent crude, than semi-skimmed.

    Though I agree with your overall sentiment that disengagement is a problem that politicians should be solving, I would shift the focus slightly myself. I wonder if the current climate is the result of something different (I doubt Disraeli or Gladstone knew the price of a pint of milk!). Politicians and their personal connections to journalists and business people, as exposed in Leveson, could be doing far more damage to our perceptions of politicians.

  • Sandy Jamieson

    Good points and well put yet a change of Government would not change the Oxbridge elite with Ed (and Dave) Milliband being Oxbridge Graduates. Of the previous Party Leaders, Michael Howard and William Hague were Oxbridge. John Smith was Glasgow, Neil Kinnock was Cardiff and Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell were both Glasgow. When one looks at the Front Benches of all the parties, almost all are Oxbridge. Now its is a trueism that Oxford and Camrbidge are world-class universities so you would expect them to produce a high number of cabinet members but then again how many US Presidents went to an Ivy League University? (even Bill Clinton was Oxbridge) There are honourable exceptions but when you take out the Scottish Universities, Oxbridge emerges even stronger.

Back to Top ↑