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MNHQ Group 5

(65 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 26-Jul-13 15:08:02

Many thanks for agreeing to take part in this closed discussion thread. As you'll know, you all have an individual user name, separate to your on-site profile. So please feel free to be as open and frank as you like, without your views being read-across to your site profile.

The aim of these discussions is to discover if, how and why women's voting intentions are shifting and what you think about each of the party leaders.

We'll ask a few questions, allow you to think them over, respond, engage in a bit of discussion with other participants, and then we will pop back on the thread. We might want to tease out the reasons behind particular views or opinions and then will crack on with the next set of questions (on Thursday) and one more set over the weekend. Do feel free to re visit the thread at any point over the next week or so. We'll email you when we add a new set of questions.

Here are the questions to get you started

Thinking about when you decide which party to vote for, how important is the leader of the party in that decision?


What do you look for in a party leader? What makes a good party leader and what makes a bad one? What makes a good prime minister and what makes a bad one?

Thinking about the party you voted for at the 2010 General Election and the party you would vote for now, has it changed?

Why not?

Feel free to include any thoughts you might have - they don't have to be the conventional, just true to how you feel!

delegate520 Tue 30-Jul-13 13:01:11

When it was the election I have to say the leader at first didn't have much of an impact. It was more the party, their values and how the hell they we're goin to get us outta the shit. I know I'd been affected by the recession and that wasn't fair so I wanted a party to sort it. After watching the debates that helped part of my decision. I didn't want someone who cracked but someone that didn't just talk the talk but walked it too.

A good leader or even prime minister would be one that's got a plan and a good team around them that supports them. And you know what? Most of all one that has the guts to just put their hand up and say 'you know what. I've cocked up here. But this is what I plan to do instead'. I'd have a lot more respect for that than someone bullshitting their way through their leadership.

Also a good leader would be someone that lives n breathes their community and actually knows whats going on and how things effect them. Not some person who went to Oxbridge and is so out of touch it's untrue. But that says more about out education system. But if there was a leader that was a bit more 'real' then maybe it would inspire more people togoninto politics

Yes I would change who I voted for. I feel like those in the middle were jipped into voting lib dem. their ideas were or seemed realistic at the time. But pairing up with who they did they don't have a leg to stand on, they've lost all credibility and as a voter I feel like ive been screwed over

delegate506 Tue 30-Jul-13 13:06:18

Personally I don't think the leader of the party is all that important when thinking about the party as a whole - after all, we don't vote for the person in this country and the person heading it up can change.
I spoiled my ballot in the last election as I have done in the past - I don't agree with all these parties heading up campaigns to make changes when they have absolutely intention of following it through. Yes, sometimes they cant fulfil their promises due to cost, budget etc but then don't make promises!
I'd be far more inclined to take a closer look at politics if people were more open and honest with it all.

delegate506 Tue 30-Jul-13 13:07:28

520 I agree with PM being willing to admit when they're wrong about something!

delegate502 Tue 30-Jul-13 13:16:24

For me, I'm not sure the leader does have much bearing on who I vote for. I'm incredibly cynical about politicians, and I'm not convinced the ones who end up leading their party are necessarily those best suited to the job, but rather, those with the best PR team. I'd like to hope I'm wrong in this, and that the party members know the candidates well enough to choose appropriately, but I'm not convinced.

Therefore I'll look at the party as a whole, and it's policies, and whether or not I think they'll actually do what they say. I'd rather choose the better party rather than the better leader. Saying that, of course I'd rather have both.

I think a good PM / party leader is one who listens to both his / her party and the views of the general public. They are in their job as they have been chosen by the people, and therefore should always try to ensure that they listen to what is being said to them and act accordingly. It's no use trying to sweep things under the carpet, and as delegate520 said, I'd rather have someone who will put their hands up to mistakes, or change policy if it's wrong.

I would still vote for the same party as I did in 2010, as I feel that the present Government needs more time to turn this country around. I believe they can do it, but also feel that if they fail during another term than the chance to improve matters should be given to someone else. However, as much as I believe they CAN do what they claim they have set out to do, they do need to do more to listen to what their country needs. I think all politicians quickly lose touch with reality and they need to reverse this.

delegate510 Tue 30-Jul-13 13:20:26

I vote for policies rather than leaders, but I do like to see a leader who might identify with me and my issues. I agree that the Eton/Oxford lot seem like they're from another planet- how can they possibly represent me? I'd like them to be more straight-talking as well; answer the questions!

The party that I voted for in the 2010 elections... I keep saying hell will freeze over before I vote for them again, but come their new manifesto I might get all starry-eyed again and think that voting for them will make a difference (it won't- I live in safe seat and may as well just post my ballot paper in the bin. Yet still I vote).

Isn't the government meant to represent its people? I can't be the only one that feels like it doesn't.

delegate506 Tue 30-Jul-13 13:23:32

Given that I know someone HAS to win an election, I do agree that the current government should be given more time to turn things around. It doesn't happen overnight so fair is fair. It just strikes me that one party cocks up for an age and then another party gets to come in and cock up again in trying to put things right and it's a vicious circle.

delegate501 Tue 30-Jul-13 14:50:50

The leader of the party is not especially important.
The party's values, ideas, the whole ethos and what they stand for and implement is the main thing for me.
I also take a lot of notice of how active the party is in my community and whether they are addressing issues specific to the community.

A good prime minister? That's tricky. I would expect a good leader, who listens to the views of the people who support him/her, someone who is not afraid to make difficult decisions.

The party I voted for has changed and I would think long and hard about voting this way again as I don't feel it changed for the better.

delegate515 Tue 30-Jul-13 16:18:51

I ought to take more notice of the policies behind the party leaders but I never seem to take the time to look into although I should. So I tend to vote in a rush and go completely by the party leader themselves. I take more notice of someone who can hold my attention and comes across well on camera. I couldn't tell you who the party leaders are at the moment, but I took notice of Tony Blair and William Hague when they were around.

I think I look for confidence in a party leader, charisma and how he or she interacts with people. I am bright but must confess I don't know anything about any parties policies, they all merge into one for me. I can't remember who I voted for in 2010, or even, when the last general election was. My life is taken over by Cbeebies and playgroups. The last time I voted I think Tony Blair was in office and I voted Labour. I had to really think about who was PM after him and who the PM is now.

David Cameran doesn't even register on my radar, he's alot of nothingness to me. I have felt the effects if his campaign against people who claim benefits though, I'm a single parent to four children, my partner left when I was pregnant and now I claim benefits. Which in the eyes of the media and people that read the propaganda in newspapers makes me scum. Its very depressing and I am ashamed.

I probably won't vote at the next election as according to the government the opinions of people like me mean nothing. I think a lot of people feel the same way.

delegate509 Tue 30-Jul-13 16:22:49

I think that these days the leader of a party is as important as it ever was - perhaps more. The reason Labour will just not get in next time is because EM has no charisma. Blair had charisma in bucket loads, Cameron ditto. It matters to people. (Disclaimer: personal dynamism has no bearing on being fit for purpose, however). Even Nigel Farage is good in a debate FGS.

I grew up in Islington and for years my MP was quiet, undynamic Chris Smith. Hard working, a great role model for gay people (he was the first openly gay MP) . I liked him because he did what he said he would do. I think that there are still MPs like him out there. He was not interested in being a big name. What I cannot stand is the influence the media has had on MPs. There seems to be a blurring of lines and a crossover from politics into fame and celebrity - why the f**k are MPs like Nadine Dorries going on 'I'm a Celebrity' and expecting to be taken seriously? what does this say about our society? chat shows, twitter blah blah blah.

I look for integrity. That is my benchmark. I like people who will stick their necks on the line and speak the truth, however unpopular. That is why I like Vince Cable - he was one of the only politicians to denounce Murdoch for what he is, and long before Leveson.

What is a good party leader? someone who can capture the essence of an ideology and convince their MPs and followers to work hard for that ideology, make it workable as a series of practical policies for the nation. Someone who can captivate the youth and convince them that they matter, and that their interest and involvement in politics - even if it was just to be arsed to actually vote - would make a difference. I no longer know what the Labour ideology is, although in my youth I believed in it passionately. If anyone can tell me what the Labour ideology is currently, please do.

When your Prime MInister is slashing benefits and services for disabled and disadvantaged children, despute the fact that he had a profoundly disabled child himself, you know you are in trouble. That is what you call hypocrisy. It is also an illustration of how MPs are so out of touch with the ordinary man that the ordinary man has voted with his feet and given up voting.

Rant over.

delegate518 Tue 30-Jul-13 16:30:20

The leader of the party I vote for is very important, I wouldn't vote for a party if I didn't have confidence in the leadership.

I am coming at this political discussion I guess from a different perspective as I am in Scotland and would not consider voting for a "UK" party.

I feel totally removed from Westminster politics, Cameron, Milliband, Clegg, and Farage pretty much sum up everything I despise about politics, private school educated numpties who have not a clue about real life.

They are particularly clueless and patronising when it comes to their involvement in Scottish politics.

I think Alex Salmond is head and shoulders above any other party leader in the UK today.

I have always voted SNP, this may change if after we (hopefully) get a YES vote next year other parties have something to offer.

delegate515 Tue 30-Jul-13 16:32:28

I do however vote in the local elections, I always voted LibDem because they were the only party that I ever saw going door to door all year round instead of just shoving a leaflet through at election time. You could also see the work that they were doing, graffiti being removed, waste ground being cleared, police on the streets etc. Unfortunately, due mainly to the LibDems and Conservatives joining together and the LibDem voters feeling cheated, they lost at the last local and you can really tell the difference.

delegate515 Tue 30-Jul-13 16:34:28

I need a Like button for 509s post!

delegate509 Tue 30-Jul-13 16:41:28

wink 515
As a footnote I should add that I have always voted and will NEVER not vote. I am always harping on at my children about the importance of voting.

delegate516 Tue 30-Jul-13 22:46:28

Id like to be able to say that the leader isn't importnst, that it's the party and the policies that count. And while this is true for the extremes, the more I think about it the more I disagree with what I thought was true.

Leaders are incredibly important. When I was growing up, leaders had a massive presence- they were a strong figurehead. Looking through the past, I feel as though this has seen a continual slow decline. We will never again see a Churchill. Even Mrs T had a strong image, regardless of if you loved her or hated her. Then it all got a bit drippy with John Major - and now, apparently, a high percentage of the population couldn't actually name our main political leaders.

I think political leaders are far too easily out of touch with the real world - their reality is not that of the majority for whom they are trying to legislate etc. Like all things, intentions are good in principle, but the reality gets warped. It will always be those that can afford to get into politics that will be leaders - very few less well off people have the means to fund being an mp and working their way up. Of course this is a broad generalisation, but I'm trying to be concise!

I didn't vote in 2010.

delegate508 Tue 30-Jul-13 23:24:03

I'd like to say that the leader of the party doesn't influence how I vote. That's because I know I'm voting for an individual MP, and because so much of how a leader gets to be leader is to do with who-you-know and, really, how long you've been around and therefore how much chance you've had to spoil your track record and get tarred with the scandal brush. Despite knowing all that though, I am still influenced by the party leader. One reason is that I know how much power/influence leaders can have in any organisation - I work in a public sector organisation and the new boss has changed things completely. The other is that, however they got there, the party leader is the party's public face. They're saying to us that this person is the ultimate representation of their beliefs, and it's very hard to ignore that.

What do I look for? Someone who I think has at least a vague understanding of what my life is like. Someone who has a calling for the role and really wants to improve life for people in this country. Someone who understands that with great power comes great responsibility, as a cartoon character once said. Sadly, I look for all these things and haven't seen them for a long time. John Smith had them, and, although I'm not a Tory, I actually think William Hague did. Other leaders past and present - no, not at all. I can't relate to politicians who went to Eton, are married to millionaire spouses and live that lifestyle accordingly, and who demonstrate in their policies time after time that they have no idea what it's like to live on an income even of £30k a year, let alone the minimum wage.

I voted Lib Dem in 2010. At heart I'm a Labour supporter, but I felt Labour had lost its way, and the Lib Dems had a lot of policies I supported (tuition fees, for example). I felt sick when they made a coalition with the Tories - I'm from a working-class background, my Dad and Grandad were very involved in union activities, and I could never vote Tory. I just couldn't. Now I feel I effectively have done, and I will certainly never, never vote Lib Dem again. However, I'm still not sure about Labour - they don't seem to have enough imagination in opposition and haven't come up with policies that really make me feel that they're a viable alternative at the moment. So I'd probably vote Green if there was an election tomorrow. It would be a complete wasted vote, I know, and I'm not actually sure I agree with every single policy (much as I don't like Trident, I'm not sure we should be scrapping it) but they're about as close as any party is getting to my own beliefs now.

delegate518 Wed 31-Jul-13 06:54:50

Of course Trident should be scrapped, it is not a deterrent, nuclear weapons have no place here.

I would like to see anyone else happy about having them right next to one of their largest cities,the base is beside Glasgow.

When they are cutting benefits to the poorest but prepared to spend billions replacing an outdated imperialist posturing warmongering weapon it shows you their priorities.

delegate509 Wed 31-Jul-13 11:21:54

508 - yy to John Smith. Things could have been so very different had he survived. FWIW I also agree that Hague has that rare quality I mentioned earlier - integrity.

518 - it was ever thus; show me a country which puts the welfare of its poor above its defence budget and I will gladly eat my hat (or my old CND badges).

Another real switch off in politics I think is the lack of representation for women and also a breadth of cultures and races. Of course there are some women - but not many. There are some black/Asian/Chinese etc MPs - but not many. This has surely got to be significant in 2013. When the only female PM this country has ever seen was the Milk Snatcher, that's pretty damn poor IMO.

delegate518 Wed 31-Jul-13 15:42:34

Not disputing need for defence. Just wasting billions on Trident replacement when it is absolutely pointless.

At a guess I would think the likes of Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland, Iceland perhaps do not spend anything like the amount the UK does.
We don't need to be getting dragged into Illegal wars.

The female representation is much better in Scottish Parliament than Westminster, not 50/50 but certainly an improvement.
The Labour Party have a female leader, as do the Tories, SNP have a strong deputy in Nicola Sturgeon and we also have a female Presiding Officer (speaker), not got the old boys Eton nonsense like London thankfully.

delegate506 Wed 31-Jul-13 15:58:24

To be perfectly honest, all I would like from my MP and PM is honesty about what they can and will do, not empty promises of what they might like to do but what will actually get done.

I also don't think it helps when we see snippets of all the MPs sitting in the commons and its nigh on a brawl and certainly no more than playground arguments - he said this, she said that. Hardly gives the impression of a well thought out, adult debate!

delegate503 Wed 31-Jul-13 17:36:12

For me a good leader has integrity and some sort of vision of what they're trying to achieve but is prepared to compromise or change if that vision if need be. A bad leader is one who gets carried away by the cult of personality and believes their own hype - Tony Blair was the worst for this IMHO. Controversial as it may be, I think Margaret Thatcher was one of the best PMs this country has had. It was clear what she stood for and people were at liberty to vote for her (and her party) or against.

I voted Tory in the 2010 election and would probably vote for them again if there was an election tomorrow. I can't see any credible alternative but am quite disenchanted with some areas (particularly the links with the lib-dems).

delegate518 Wed 31-Jul-13 18:06:24


I thought I would maybe be in a Scottish group as TBH I doubt anyone in this group knows anything about Scottish politics.

Unless maybe I'm the token Scot?

delegate513 Wed 31-Jul-13 18:51:52

For me, the leader of the party does not affect the way I vote. What is important to me is the party as a whole, its manifesto, and generally what it stands for. However, if I was a Tory voter, I think I would be terribly put off by Cameron. But I do believe in substance over style. I'm not a huge fan of the "Tony Blair" style politician. I feel patronised by it.

What I would like to see in a party leader is integrity. Current politicians that I believe do have integrity are: Kenneth Clark, David Davis, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper. In leadership, I like to see courage of conviction, and am seriously unimpressed with the amount of u-turns taken by the current government. Some people say this is listening to the people, I think it shows a leader who has no grasp on reality, and is chasing popularity.

I voted in the 2010 election, and I voted Labour. I was very, very tempted to vote Lib Dem, as actually their manifesto was a lot more left-leaning than Labour's. Also, I was pretty disillusioned at Labour chasing the middle-class vote, and failing the working classes that have voted for them for generations.

In the next election, I will definitely vote Labour (there will be no wobbling towards Lib Dem this time!) I actually believe that Ed Miliband probably has some good ideas, but I fear he doesn't have the courage of his convictions to carry them through. A really important issue for me is a fair and just society, and I believe Labour are probably the party more interested in that at the moment.

delegate513 Wed 31-Jul-13 18:53:56

Can I also add, that I think we would get better leaders if there weren't so many "career politicians". What we need is people who are passionate, no matter what their background. Someone who is treating politics like an academic exercise will not make the best decisions for the country.

delegate521 Wed 31-Jul-13 19:22:40

Thinking about when you decide which party to vote for, how important is the leader of the party in that decision? Why?

The leader sets the tone for the public's perception of the party, so he/she is important. Take EM's total lack of charisma - I may agree with Labour policy but with him in charge I don't think I'll vote for them!

However there are few things that make me angrier than a politician who, once they're in power, completely changes their policy in order to stay where they are. Someone above said it best - integrity is key, if someone cares more about making a difference than keeping themselves on the gravy train, they'll get my vote. DC I'm looking at you

What do you look for in a party leader? What makes a good party leader and what makes a bad one? What makes a good prime minister and what makes a bad one?

Integrity, honesty, making a real difference, keeping promises, not taking the easy road on things that are difficult but really matter - I haven't yet seen a politician who has really changed things for the better once they were in, apart from Maggie who had balls!! We could do with more like her - strong enough to do what needs to be done, and to hell with what the Civil servants say!

Thinking about the party you voted for at the 2010 General Election and the party you would vote for now, has it changed? Why / Why not?

I voted Tory in the last election, because I thought DC was a strong man who would make the right changes. He is not, and has not - he's turned out to be a total wishy-washy typical politician who is more interested in his own security than fixing the country. I am sorry I voted for him - I certainly won't again! I'm more inclined to choose an independent, someone who isn't a career politician and perhaps doesn't take the game so seriously... not sure who yet, but I'm keeping my options open.

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