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In the News

Boris bus plan has stalled

Mike McCartney

23rd January 2022

And the implications in terms of voting behaviour

According to a report in today's Observer:

"Boris Johnson is facing a growing backlash over his “levelling up” agenda as leaked documents on Sunday reveal that funding has been slashed in half for his favourite transport policy – improving bus services in more deprived areas including “red wall” seats.

The prime minister announced last year that £3bn would be spent on “new funding to level up buses across England towards London standards” as part of the government’s “bus back better” strategy. He said: “I love buses and I have never quite understood why so few governments before mine have felt the same way,” adding that “better buses will be one of our major acts of levelling up”.

But a letter sent to Local Transport Authority directors by the Department for Transport on 11 January – and obtained by the Observer – makes clear that the budget for the “transformation” of buses – a pot from which local regions can bid for funds – has now shrunk to just £1.4bn for the next three years."

Source: Boris Johnson’s ‘bus back better’ plan in tatters as Treasury cuts funding by half | Boris Johnson | The Guardian

This news has made me think about what the implications would be in terms of voting behaviour.

The modern electorate are more inclined to cast their vote according the rational choice model. The twin anchors of partisan and class alignment still heavily shape decisions by voters at the polls, but they don't decide the outcome. It is decisions by the vital swing voters that ultimately determine what the colour of the door at Number 10 will be painted.

As such, it is the 3Ps that matter: past performance, the party leader, and future policies. (We could add a fourth 'P' here for party unity). And so, as things stand, it doesn't look too good for Boris Johnson's government.

Well, at the moment it is Boris Johnson's government, but events this week may well determine how long that remains the case. But whether or not Mr Johnson leads his party into the next election, red wall voters are unlikely to be impressed by this strand of a potential series of broken promises about closing the nprth-south divide.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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