Two-thirds think the economy is “too harsh” on ordinary working people

Tomorrow, Stan Greenberg will publish new research examining people’s perceptions of whether the economy is harsh on ‘ordinary people’.


Stan Greenberg, the ex-Clinton strategist turned pollster, will tomorrow present his most recent research into the way the economic crisis has dramatically shaped what ‘ordinary people’ in society think of our political class. The Resolution Foundation event, “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid” – which will feature a keynote speech from Greenberg – is chaired by David Milliband.

The headline stat reveals two out of three people (68%) believe the economy is too harsh on ordinary people. This highlights a point which has long hung around the neck of the coalition government – that with a cabinet of such high wealth, how can they understand and aid the majority in the UK?

In the run up to the US presidential election, and now only two-and-a-half years from a general election in the UK, this will make for worrying and interesting reading for all major parties and their strategists. As Clinton and Blair proved in the mid-90s, winning the hearts of the middle classes are key to taking office.

Now, in 2012, people’s willingness to gift politicians the same level of trust and faith has diminished to near extinction. Take the hostility with which George Osborne was greeted at the Paralympics; even in a moment of national bliss people still feel inclined to air their dissatisfaction.

The US campaign appears to back up this research, due to the numerous attempts by Mitt Romney to insist he can relate to and articulate the needs of ordinary people, and the Obama attack adds which are choking the airwaves arguing otherwise. Michelle Obama gave a speech which constantly referred to Obama’s much more down-to-earth upbringing in comparison to his election rival and Mrs Romney delivered a glowing character reference of her husband.

However, it will take much more than obvious statements of support by candidates’ wives to assague the discontent. which lies deep – only 28% of people in the Britain believe an ordinary person can in fact effect change.

Stan Greenberg argues this is:

“Fundamentally changing politics as voters judge parties not just on what they deliver, but also on who they deliver it for.”

He points to the outcome of the French election and François Hollande’s victory over M. Sarkozy, who had become detached, mistrusted and distracted by living a high society lifestyle. Resolution Foundation chief executive Gavin Kelly, adds that what needs to take place is a “shift from empathy to concrete policy proposals”.

This is a key and telling piece of research, giving a stark outline of the future of politics. If listened to and heeded correctly there will be attempts to develop policy for the majority and not the minority. However, one must fear the quick fix will be taken and we can expect more publicity stunts accompanied by long drawn out accounts of affection and testimonies of the character of our leaders in exchange for our trust.

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