Wednesday 18 October 2023

The silent majority

 It took me a very long time to understand what we call "The silent majority" in Great Britain. We all live in our own little bubble. It might seem that everyones concerns are the same, that everyone is talking about the same things. But we are wrong. Let me give you an example. If you are a Barnet residents who enjoys a pint and a chat with your mates, at your local pub, what will be the hot topic? My guess is that if you drink at Blarneys in Burnt Oak it might be a rather different conversation to one if your pub is The Orange Tree in Totteridge. The two pubs, seperated by a few miles on the 251 bus route have a completely different customer demographic. This is repeated in religious meeting places. 

Maybe there is an insight in the TV broadcasts that most people have watched?

Row 0 - Cell 0EventDateViewers
11966 Fifa World Cup final: England vs. West Germany30 Jul 196632.30m
2Funeral of Princess Diana6 Sep 199732.10m
3Royal Family (documentary)21 Jun 196930.69m
4Apollo 13 splashdown17 Apr 197028.60m
51970 FA Cup final replay: Chelsea vs. Leeds United29 Apr 197028.49m
6Wedding of Charles and Diana29 Jul 198128.40m
7Wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips14 Nov 197327.60m
8Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement on Covid-1923 Mar 202027.10m
92012 London Games closing ceremony12 Aug 201224.46m
102012 London Games opening ceremony27 Jul 201224.24m

I was slightly surprised by the results. Not the first two, but the rest of them? Perhaps the strangest was the one at no 5. The Chelsea Vs Leeds cup final replay. WIkipeia has a fascinating breakdown by year

1970Apollo 13 Splashdown17 April 197028.60[b]
1971Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier: Fight of the Century8 March 197121.12[4]BBC One[c]
1972Eurovision Song Contest 197225 March 1972N/A[d]BBC One
1973Wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips14 November 197327.60[4]BBC One
1974Love Thy Neighbour7 April 197421.01[4]ITV (Thames)
1975Royal Variety Performance 197516 November 197522.66[4]ITV (ATV)
1976The Sweeney8 November 197620.68[4]ITV
1977This Is Your Life27 April 197722.22[4]ITV (Thames)
1978Sale of the Century24 December 197821.15[4]ITV
1979To the Manor Born11 November 197923.95[4]BBC One
1980Film: Live and Let Die20 January 198023.50[5]ITV
1981Film: Jaws8 October 198123.30[25]ITV
1982Film: The Spy Who Loved Me28 March 198222.90[26]ITV
1983Coronation Street23 February 198318.45[27]ITV
1984Royal Variety Performance 198425 November 198420.55[28]BBC One
1985Live Aid13 July 198524.50[16]BBC One
1986EastEnders25 December 198630.15[14]BBC One
1987EastEnders1 January 198728.00[15]BBC One
1988EastEnders7 January 198824.15[18]BBC One
1989Film: Crocodile Dundee25 December 198921.77[29]BBC One
1990Neighbours26 February 199021.16[30]BBC One
1991Coronation Street25 November 199120.45[31]ITV
1992Coronation Street22 January 199220.45[32]ITV
1993Coronation Street22 March 199320.73[33]ITV
1994Torvill and Dean – Olympic Ice Dance Championship21 February 199423.95[34]BBC One
1995Panorama Special: An Interview with HRH The Princess of Wales20 November 199522.78[21]BBC One
1996Only Fools and Horses29 December 199624.35[17]BBC One
1997Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales6 September 199719.29[35]BBC One
19981998 FIFA World Cup: England v Argentina30 June 199823.78[36]ITV
1999Coronation Street7 March 199919.82[37]ITV
2000Coronation Street3 January 200018.96[38]ITV
2001Only Fools and Horses25 December 200121.34[39]BBC One
2002Only Fools and Horses25 December 200217.40[40]BBC One
2003Coronation Street24 February 200319.43[41]ITV
2004UEFA Euro 2004: England v Portugal24 June 200420.66[42]BBC One
2005Coronation Street21 February 200514.36[43]ITV
20062006 FIFA World Cup: England v Sweden20 June 200618.46[44]ITV
2007EastEnders25 December 200714.38[45]BBC One
2008Film: A Matter of Loaf and Death25 December 200816.15[46]BBC One
2009Britain's Got Talent30 May 200918.29[47]ITV
2010The X Factor12 December 201016.55[48]ITV[e]
2011Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton29 April 201126.59[50]BBC One[f]
20122012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony12 August 201224.46[51]BBC One
2013New Year's Eve Fireworks31 December 201313.53[52]BBC One
20142014 FIFA World Cup final: Germany v Argentina13 July 201414.96[53]BBC One[g]
2015The Great British Bake Off7 October 201515.05[54]BBC One
2016The Great British Bake Off26 October 201615.90[55]BBC One
2017Blue Planet II29 October 201714.01[56]BBC One
20182018 FIFA World Cup: Croatia v England11 July 201820.73[57]ITV
2019Gavin & Stacey25 December 201917.92[58]BBC One
2020Prime ministerial statement on COVID-1910 May 202018.99[59]BBC One
2021UEFA Euro 2020: England v Denmark7 July 202118.40[60]ITV[h]
20222022 FIFA World Cup: England v France10 December 202216.08[61]ITV1
2023Coronation of Charles III and Camilla6 May 202312.03[62]BBC One[i]

There are some that made my jaw drop. 1974, Love thy neighbour. We like to pretend that it was something no one watched, but it was the top show that year. As surprising is 1978 and Sale of The Century. It was a perfectly fine show, but over 21 million people watched it. I for one am slightly cheered that Blue Planet made it in 2017. This list tells us more about the UK and the silent majority than any poll. When England does well, we get behind the team. Less than half as many people were as interested in the Coronation of CHarles this year as were in the wedding of Princess Anne in 1973. The big Soaps, Eastenders and Coronation Street no longer grip us as they did a decade ago. The last film top the list was Wallace and Gromit. It is interesting to note that more people watched Gavin and Stacey in 2019 than voted for Brexit or Remain. 

So what sort of a country are we? Lets look at the 2019 General Election, perhaps the one in recent times where the vote would really make a huge difference.

Lets start with how many people voted - around 32 million people. 

Turnout67.3% (Decrease 1.5 pp)

And how did that carve up between The Conservatives and Labour

LeaderBoris JohnsonJeremy Corbyn
Leader since23 July 201912 September 2015
Leader's seatUxbridge and
South Ruislip
Islington North
Last election317 seats, 42.4%262 seats, 40.0%
Seats won365202[n 2]
Seat changeIncrease 48Decrease 60
Popular vote13,966,45410,269,051

It is sobering to think that the number of people who voted for Boris Johnson was less than the maximum TV audience every year apart from this year and 2013 (when fireworks topped the chart). In total 15.6 million people did not bother to vote, beating both Johnson and Corbyn. In short, the real 'silent majority' simply can't be bothered to vote.

Take the result of perhaps the biggest issue in the UK in the last twenty years. Brexit. What was the result? You will say 52% for Brexit 48% for Remain. It wasn't

National totals


Total electorate: 46,500,001

Turnout: 72.2%

Rejected ballots: 25,359

27% of the electorate did not vote. Why? Some couldn't be bothered, some didn't feel either side made a strng enough argument to vote for either. In truth, I don't really blame them. Politicians are not trusted. I wonder how many Brexiteers think they got what they were voting for. I also wonder how many Remainers thought it would be far worse than it is now. But the truth is that if the 27% have voted, possibly the result would have been very different. If it all went to Brexit, that would by 62% and if it went t o remain, it would be 61%. Of course, it would have been neither, but it would have been different. The opinion polls were all wrong. Why? Did people lie or did Remainers simply not bother to vote as they thought it was in the bag? Who knows? I am not making claims about the vote being wrong or unfair, just noting that twelve and a half million people didn't bother to vote.

A very big chunk of the silent majority. I sometimes wonder if there was a referendum as to whether or not we would be instantly exterminated by Daleks, if we'd still see a third of the electorate apathetically sitting at home watching telly? 

Why do I mention this? Well in the last few months, various people have said to me "Why don't people come out an join our protest?" for all manner of causes. Edgware Redevelopment, rallys about the Middle East, etc. The truth is that the silent majority in the UK will not get off their backsides to protest about anything. As someone who has stood for election three times in Mill Hill, nothing is more dispiriting than working your socks for six months, knocking on doors, getting pledges, only to go to the count and learn that despite all that hard work, all that yo really did was drag people away from the GBBF for five minutes and they simply agreed with you to get rid of you.

What is even more annoying is when, six months later, they grab you and start moaning about the council. Invariably, I ask "Did you vote for me at the election" The response is invariably "No". 

Which, when it comes down to it, is why we get the politicians we, as a nation, deserve. People don't get involved in running their local communities, they don't get involved in litter picking, they don't vote, they don't read the leaflets that come through their doors. They love a good moan about potholes, councul taxes, dogshit in the streets etc, but only if someone, who generally they can't even be bothered to vote for, does all of the work for them. 

Which is why I am no longer that interested in local or national politics. I'll vote but I have other things to do with my life. For those of you who have moaned that the blog doesn't do enough local politics anymore, that is why. I enjoy writing about other things. 

1 comment:

Anne Boustred said...

With sadness, I have to agree with you. I guess we associate with friends who broadly agree with us, who are not the telly-watching non- voters, so we get lulled into the idea that everyone else cares as much as we do. I'm still mourning Brexit & and all the losses we suffer due to it.