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Are you a pioneer, prospector or settler? A new(ish) way of categorising voters.

(28 Posts)
Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 12:55:06

I heard Graeme Cooke (one time head of David Miliband's brains trust) talking about this on the radio this morning, and I tried to find the article he has written, but without success. However, there was a piece about him in the Guardian on 14 July, here:

Has this already been discussed on Mumsnet?

I think it's interesting because I have felt lost for the last 10 years or so - not knowing who on earth to vote for, and feeling that the old certainties as to who was left/right/centre just don't exist any more.

GC divides us up into pioneers, settlers and prospectors, rather than left, right, middle. Here they are, according to the article:

'Pioneers (41% of Britons) are global, networked, like innovation and believe in the importance of ethics.

Prospectors (28%) like success, ambition, seek the esteem of others and if they think a party can help them help themselves, they are on board. ... Prospectors are looking for someone who can advance their standards of living and social status.

Settlers (31%) see things in terms of right and wrong, are wary of change, seek security and have a strong sense of place – patriotism and national security motivate them to vote'.

Unfortunately, however, this still leaves me out in the cold, as I don't feel I fit into any of the groups!

I'd be interested to know if anyone out there does.

hanahsaunt Sat 08-Oct-11 13:04:48

Didn't he say this morning that it has really shifted in the last 2-3 years with the majority now being classed as settlers with the decline coming mainly from the pioneers? It being a hunkering down, recession type mentality? I found him really interesting and good to see people trying to surmount the terminally tedious class arguments in politics. I think I'm a pioneer.

Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 13:24:14

As always, Hanahsaunt, I didn't hear the whole piece. What you say sounds about right, though. I think the settlers are gaining ground - everyone wants more security in these scary times. I also think that it is a good thing that people are becoming worried about globalisation. Pity that they think ethics are less important, though (if they do).

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 08-Oct-11 13:47:41

I think they've left out 'tribalists'... the vast section of voters that would elect an Border Collie if it was in the right space on the ballot paper.

Disputandum Sat 08-Oct-11 14:08:13

I heard him on the radio too, and looked up his most recent research here. It's 70-odd pages but interesting I think.

Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 14:15:18

smile at Cogito.

Someone (a Lib Dem woman) said on the same programme I think, that voters weren't stupid. I wondered what she meant. All sorts of people vote, and some of them (a third?) will be below average intelligence - whatever that means. You don't need to take an intelligence test to be eligible to vote.

Is it stupid to believe what politicians and journalists tell you? If it is, then how do you know who to vote for? What about Theresa May saying a man couldn't be deported because of his cat? That was stupid. If there are any voters who believed her, maybe they are also stupid?

Polices have to be very clear, for us to understand what we are voting for. Unfortunately some issues are hugely complicated, but we all still need to understand them. I know people call it dumbing down, but simplifying stuff is a good idea IMO, as there is less scope for telling lies. The huge problem is spin, and politicians who keep trying to put us in categories like the ones above, so that they can target us more effectively.

Isn't it all the wrong way round? Shouldn't they be listening to us instead of telling us what they think we want to hear?

Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 14:17:09

Thanks, Disputandum - will read it when I have a few moments!

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 14:20:22

This will be terribly important to those who are selling their services to political parties as advisers on the voting public.

It is marketing and spin. It is presenting policies to look good to as any as possible at the critical times. It is marketing.

All this when what I actually needed, in the face of an impending global melt-down which will make the last one look like a picnic, is analysis, costed policies, and integrity.

To me, this is a lovely example of exactly what is wrong with British politics at the moment. Style not substance.

Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 14:45:30

It'll only be important if it's true, Scaevola. It doesn't seem to be, for me, as I don't fit into any of the categories, and I don't know anyone who does.

claig Sat 08-Oct-11 14:49:09

Agree with scaevola. 'Styyle not substance' (New Labour).

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 14:50:24

I think, as I said, it's important to the peddlers of this stuff to Parties. They won't actually care if it's accurate or not, just as long as someone is paying them to say it. And if the cash dries up, there'll be a new "analysis".

Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 15:04:13

But it is all the wrong way round, don't you think, Scaevola? Instead of categorising us so they can more effectively target the sales of their product (which, I agree, is what they are doing), shouldn't they be paying people to find out what it is we need and trying to satisfy that demand?

In other words, instead of starting with an ideology and trying to sell it to us - or even dishonestly con us into buying it - shouldn't they simply ask us how they can best serve us?

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 15:05:41

Yes, I totally agree it is the wrong way round.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 08-Oct-11 15:07:15

I think spending too much time recategorising the voters is wrong. I also think too much has been made of listening to the voters and then telling us what we want to hear in the past, to take your other point. Good government and good leadership often requires very unpopular decisions to be taken and can't please all the people all the time by definition. Something the focus-group driven polices of the last government fell foul of.

I'm all for clarity and transparency. I'm all for treating the electorate like adults. I'm actually far happier with a politician that says 'here is the problem, here is the solution, it's not going to be popular but we're going to do it anyway'... than the sort that tries to say 'here is your wishlist, here's how we're going to make ourselves very popular, and it may not be the best thing to do long-term but who cares?'

Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 15:11:44

Point taken, Cogito.

Maybe they should have an ideology, but one that is clearly defined, eg 'We are the party of the working people', and let us decide for ourselves whether we are a working person or not. As I was writing my last post, I was thinking that in the past I have voted for Labour, thinking that even if I didn't agree with the odd policy, at least I knew their heart was in the right place, ie that agreed with their ideology. Have no idea what their ideology is now.

Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 15:15:08

But I don't agree that a government should say 'Here's the problem, here's the solution.' I don't think we can trust them to define either the problem or the solution. It shouldn't be up to them to set the agenda. We should set it. We should say to them, 'This is our problem - how do you propose to deal with it?'

How do we, as the electorate ever get to set the agenda?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 08-Oct-11 16:12:21

As we've found at the moment, the agenda is often set elsewhere. For the average voter, the ins and outs of debt crises and global economics are off our regular radar. Our priorities are a lot more personal and closer to home. It takes a responsible leader to shin up to the top of the metaphorical mainsail, look through the telescope and spot the iceberg when the rest of us are wondering where we'd like to put the deckchairs.

Solopower Sat 08-Oct-11 21:01:01

I wish! But none of our political leaders saw the danger, or if they did, they thought they could manage it. Now it's way too late, and I think we ought to make them walk the plank while we take our chances in the life boats! Or, better, why don't we steer the ship past the iceberg ourselves? smile

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 09-Oct-11 07:27:05

They may not have forecast it but they're telling us about the danger now and, instead of taking it seriously, too many think they're making a big fuss over nothing.

glasnost Sun 09-Oct-11 09:15:22

What a load of bollox, frankly. In a critical age such as this where struggle is imperative they're trying to sell us this vapid PR shite? Manipulative fluff.

I'm LEFT, LEFT, LEFT. Some are RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT. (But wrong, wong, wrong of course.) Some are wishy washy sitting on the fence types but who sell their souls to the devil for a lickle bit of power. (Centre Lib Dem tpyes).

Solopower Sun 09-Oct-11 13:15:42

The trouble with left left left and right right right is that who ever is in power, over half the population feels unrepresented. The Lib Dems are not in the middle! They are a party of free-marketeers, aren't they? How is that in the middle of anything?

Also, how do you categorise freedom of the press, for example? Is it left or right wing? What about making it easier for women to work? So many policies simply do not fall into either category, and nor are they in the middle.

If democracy is to work, and people are to be represented, we need a rethink. I agree that the above categorisation of voters into pioneers, settlers and prospectors is unlikely to be accurate, but it is probably more realistic than left and right.

Glasnost, if you are so left left left that you do not allow any other sort of thinking, doesn't that make you a conservative?

Solopower Sun 09-Oct-11 13:17:04

Sorry to be facetious, but these divisions arose in the nineteenth century. I don't think they are valid any longer.

Solopower Sun 09-Oct-11 13:48:53

Glasnost, sorry about my last post. You are right - the divisions are valid, since so many people categorise themselves in that way.

Also, I imagine you are occupying the bridge right now - good on you for doing that. As I said on your thread, I would join you if I were in London. Obviously, that is a 'people's protest', a mass demonstration against the government, and it is a genuinely left-wing type of thing to do, to demonstrate - although all sorts of people do it (BNP, Countryside Alliance, etc).

But who can people who are anti-government, anti-capitalist and pro-socialist-type democracy, vote for in the next elections? The only party that springs to my mind is the Greens. It looks to me as if the Labour party did what the tories could never have done, and completely split the left. As a result, the capitalists have had a clear run of it, with the chaotic results we know about.

However, if protests and demonstrations give birth to a new form of socialist democracy, that would be a truly worth while result, imo.

glasnost Sun 09-Oct-11 14:06:06

Who can they vote for? A REAL leftwing alternative Solopower. They do exist you know. New Labour plays good cop to Tories bad cop but are in thrall to same corporate interests. Everyone surely knows this now. The only left way is a truly anticapitalist party.

And I'm not blocking the bridge as I live abroad but wanted to publicise it on here. We're getting ready for the huge demos/occupations planned for 15th which are global.

Do you consider yourself a socialist?

Solopower Sun 09-Oct-11 14:07:11


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