Michael Dowsett is a Conservative Party activist and a former Vice-Chairman of Southampton University Conservative Association.
“No child in America should be segregated by low expectations, imprisoned by illiteracy, abandoned to frustration and the darkness of self-doubt” (George W. Bush, July 2000).
“When I was growing up in Aberdeen, I wanted to go to university. I wanted more people from my background to go to university. I want to give them that chance” (Michael Gove, March 2013).
At the heart of the contemporary debate surrounding the shortcomings of conservatism on both sides of the Atlantic is the concept of the ‘empathy gap’. This concept describes a belief among some portions of the electorate that, despite the sense they see in policies advocated by centre-right politicians, the motives underpinning those policies are perceived to be to the detriment of either themselves or those more disadvantaged in society.
Captured by the ‘party of the rich’ label, which is frequently attributed to both the Republican and Conservative Parties, this trend has the ability to seriously undermine the long-term electability of the centre-right in both the U.S. and the U.K. A large part of the reason why Mitt Romney failed to capture the White House last November lay in the fact that only 18% of the one-fifth of the electorate who prioritised a President who “cares about people like me” opted for the Republican nominee, while a massive 81% voted for President Obama. Additionally, according to CNN, only 34% of the electorate thought that Governor Romney had economic policies which would generally benefit the middle-class; ten points behind the President.