Letter: The psychology of voting Labour

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The Independent Online
Sir: Psychotherapy is concerned with bringing to conscious awareness that which has been hidden in the subconscious. Susie Orbach and co-founders of Antidote ("Feeling their way to power", 2 May) may simply be bringing into the public arena what politicians have known for a very long time, as Tessa Jowell expressed so succinctly, that "emotional and psychological factors determine how people vote".

In these days of consumer politics, when politicians and their policies are sold to voters in much the same way as any other consumer product, the psychology of marketing is fully exploited by politicians of all parties. Whilst the Conservatives desperately seek to raise the ever elusive "feelgood factor", new Labour continually highlights people's sense of insecurity - and for a very specific purpose.

What's new about new Labour is that they seem to be trying to integrate economic theory with psychology, notably the theories of attachment first developed by John Bowlby at the Tavistock Clinic. The new "politics of attachment" represents an amalgam of politics, psychology and morality, where theories of child development are applied to society in general and address the relationship between the individual and the community.

Dr Jane A Sargent



The writer is public policy consultant and associate fellow, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick.