Radio 5 were running a rather interesting set of interviews this morning on Derby North. This is the constituency that the Conservatives have to win get an overall majority (Warwick and Leamington would give them an overall majority of two). It's quite a complicated seat in the sense that the Lib Dems came second last time and control the local council.
What voters say in these vox pops does not constitute social science, but it is nevertheless illuminating:
Voter 1, a woman in her late thirties with concerns about mugging and social disorder, had voted Labour in the past because her dad had voted Labour, but had now stopped voting. If she voted, she would vote Labour, but she doubted whether she would vote, even given the marginality of the constituency.
Voter 2 worked in the school buildings industry and praised Labour for their funding of school building, although he thought his local school was a 'mess'. He also would like a 20 per cent tax cut. It's voters like these that make you realise how hard a politician's job is.
I missed the start of the Voter 3 interview and at first I thought she was a Derby Council spokesperson droning on about 'innovation' and 'skills'. She was in fact a small business entrepreneur, knew how she was going to vote, but wouldn't say.
At one time small business people were the most solidly Conservative occupational group (apart from large-scale farmers). It's a bit more complex now with a new generation of graduate entrepreneurs. I know something about this because one of my children has done the classic garage business to big factory in five years story and I have met some of her network of entrepreneurs of a similar age in Oxfordshire.
First, I say that they are apolitical in a party sense, although often quite involved in local politics or more particularly business politics (chamber of commerce, small business associations, trade associations). Some of them vote Conservative, if they vote at all, but I would hazard a guess that others see the Lib Dems as the party of smaller businesses.
Hear my podcast on the general election here: Election