MASS DEBATE: DEBUNKING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TV DEBATES

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 by Jack Brindelli

The television debates are actually a trilogy of the most tedious, trivial events in the course of the UK general election. And I don’t say that lightly. They are a nuisance water-cooler moment at best, where bearded wastrels can gather on Twitter to discuss what a large forehead David Cameron has, or whether Nick Clegg’s shirt is saffron, or more of a dog-vomit yellow. And yet, nobody believes me — and as we begin the ominous countdown to polling day in May, they have become one of the biggest talking points in British political culture. But surely the events of the past few months regarding the Greens prove my point?

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6 POLITICAL PARTIES, 6 PREDICTIONS AND (ROUGHLY) 160 WORDS OF ANALYSIS #5: CONSERVATIVES

2014 has been a rocky year for the Tories. The one piece of good news throughout the year comes from the narrowing of the gap between themselves and Labour. In spite of this, the shrinking of the Labour poll lead has not come as a result of a resurgence of Tory support, but instead from a drop in the number of people saying they will vote Labour. Rather than winning over legions of new voters, the Tories are simply losing support at a slower rate than Labour. Add to this third place in the European elections, the assent of UKIP and the defection of two MPs, followed by losing the by-elections in both of their seats, the past year has been difficult. There’s little indication that 2015 will be any easier.

by Chris Jarvis

1. The Tories will scrape past 30% of the vote in May

Five political parties vying for votes in England means that the traditional splitting of large chunks of the electorate between the Tories and Labour is largely over. Combining this with the existence of a surging SNP in Scotland, a steadily rising Plaid in Wales, and what looks to be the closest battle between the two largest parties since the 1970s, the likelihood of any party emerging with between 35-40% of the vote is astronomically low.Continue Reading

6 POLITICAL PARTIES, 6 PREDICTIONS AND (ROUGHLY) 160 WORDS OF ANAYLSIS #4: UKIP

In years to come, when we look back at 2014, we will see it as the year of two political parties – UKIP and the SNP. 2013 saw UKIP break through into local councils and creep up the opinion polls. 2014, however saw the party consistently in third place in opinion polls from every major polling company, win the European elections and win two seats in parliament at by-elections. This was an unprecedented performance and has begun to fundamentally shift the nature of British politics, both in policy terms, but also in how we understand electoral behaviour.

by Chris Jarvis

1. UKIP will win between 10-15% of the vote in May

All pollsters had UKIP at somewhere between 12 and 18% in their final polls of the year. Which of these is more accurate, is impossible to know – we are in uncharted territory in terms of using opinion polls to predict a UKIP result of significance in a general election. However, what is likely is that in the final few days of the election campaign, a fairly sizeable amount of those currently saying they will vote UKIP will get cold feet, and vote for one of the traditional ‘big three’ parties. Traditional Labour currently flirting with UKIP will fear that in doing so they will let the Tories in and vice versa. Tactical voting will slim the UKIP vote in the election, but not by much.Continue Reading

6 POLITICAL PARTIES, 6 PREDICTIONS AND (ROUGHLY) 160 WORDS OF ANALYSIS #3: THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Repeatedly reading and writing about the seemingly never-ending demise of the Liberal Democrats is becoming tiresome, but 2014 showed that narrative to be as true as it has been since they first entered government. This year, the party lost 11 seats in the European elections, saved only one MEP and came in fifth place in terms of vote share. This has been on top of their sliding in the opinion polls, where they have been overtaken, first by UKIP and now too by the Greens.

 2015 will be another difficult year for the party. The extent of the Liberal Democrat collapse will indicate the degree to which it will continue to exist as a major electoral force in British politics.

by Chris Jarvis

1. The Liberal Democrats will secure at least 10% of the vote in the 2015 election 

Although current polling averages have them sitting at around 8%, the Liberal Democrats will enjoy a small upswing in their polling in the run up to the election and will poll above 10% of the vote. This will be a result of the tactical voting that has kept the party buoyant since the late 90s, and this will help tip them over the line to hold a handful of key seats.

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6 POLITICAL PARTIES, 6 PREDICTIONS AND (ROUGHLY) 160 WORDS OF ANALYSIS #2: THE GREENS

2014 has proven to be a particularly good year for the Greens: adding a third MEP to their tally in the European Elections, outpolling the Liberal Democrats consistently over the last few months and seeing an astronomical increase in membership – most notably in their youth wing. The rise of the most left wing of the mainstream parties has largely gone unnoticed by the media bubble, swamped as it has been by UKIP’s insurgency.

Success for the Greens won’t plateau with the year gone by though, and 2015 will see developments of greater significance. Below are six things that are likely to happen to the Green Party in the coming 12 months.

by Chris Jarvis

1. Caroline Lucas will keep her seat

Brighton Pavilion, the sole parliamentary constituency that the Green Party currently holds, will stay Green despite a strong challenge from Labour. Caroline Lucas has consistently demonstrated her commitment to radical politics, her constituents and standing up to the political establishment. This has won her many admirers, both inside and outside of Brighton, and in combination with the fact that since 2010 it has been confirmed that voting Green is not a wasted vote, this means that Brighton will return a Green MP in 2015, probably with an increased majority.Continue Reading

6 POLITICAL PARTIES, 6 PREDICTIONS AND (ROUGHLY) 160 WORDS OF ANALYSIS #1: LABOUR

A rather uneventful year for the Labour Party – a stagnant poll rating (it has fallen around 3 or 4% since this time last year), underwhelming European election results and few major changes in personnel or policy (Emily Thornberry’s resignation being the notable exception). What this has masked, however, is a Labour Party in flux.

2015 will be a crucial year for Labour as it, for the first time after the Blair/Brown years, comes to terms with its own identity. Accordingly, the fortunes of Labour are particularly difficult to predict, aside from that we may see significant soul searching and muted internal conflict.

by Chris Jarvis.

1. Labour will emerge as the single largest party in 2015

A peculiar prediction to begin with, given what has been said previously about the difficulties of predicting Labour’s fate. However, electoral arithmetic would suggest that Labour will probably emerge as the largest party in May next, year, albeit without a majority. As has been frequently noted, Labour need a smaller proportion of the vote to gain a majority – and so a squeeze on their polling over the next five months should still allow them to hold on to being the largest party.  Significant gains from the Liberal Democrats, as well as similar wins from the Tories should inch them 60 or 70 seats up on their 2010 result. In and of itself this would put them just shy of a majority in the House of Commons, but combined with losses to the SNP in Scotland means that Labour will hold only a handful more seats than the Conservative Party.Continue Reading

THE CAMPAIGN CONTINUES: JUSTICE FOR CLEANERS SOAS

by Justice for Cleaners SOAS

The Justice for Cleaners SOAS campaign is led by the cleaning staff at SOAS, with the support of students and university staff. The cleaners campaign began in 2006, and in 2008 won decent London living wage. Last year, after a series of strikes, the campaign won their demands for sick pay, holiday pay, and pensions.

However, the campaign has not yet won their key demand of the cleaning staff, which is to be brought back in house (to work directly to SOAS instead of a subcontractor). Since the early 1990s SOAS cleaners have been subcontracted by a succession of private companies, all of which have been allegations of victimization and intimidation of the cleaning staff, including persecution of the J4C campaigners and trade union representatives, and through attempts to undermine working conditions.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT UKIP

by Chris Jarvis

I am loathe to further add to the column inches that have been devoted to UKIP. The problem is that we haven’t yet spent enough time talking about them.

This might seem a bizarre assertion, seeing as it is seemingly impossible to open a newspaper, look at a Facebook feed or watch a news bulletin without seeing a sprinkling of purple and yellow, but where we’ve gone wrong is that we haven’t been talking about UKIP in the right way. Up to now, we’ve been talking about the abhorrent views of UKIP members, the media obsession and pontificated and theorised on explanations for their popularity and support. What we’ve failed to spend enough time talking about is how we’re going to beat them.

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FERGUSON AND BEYOND: WHAT TO SAY NEXT

by Cadi Cliff

When a celebrity says something explicitly racist, we make a noisy ritual of shunning them. We’re able to do this because the multiculturalism movement changed the rules of civility.  It has taught us what not to say to each other, but not what to say next.

Michael Brown, 18, was shot on August 9 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The black teenager was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting and the subsequent protests have ignited debate about law enforcement’s relationship with African-Americans and use of force by the police. The grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer over the death of Eric Garner came ten days after a grand jury in Missouri decided that Darren Wilson should not face criminal charges. The failure of any prosecution in both the Brown, Martin, and Garner cases highlights a trend in the American judicial system; once is a tragedy, twice is a pattern.

Every time toxic, tragic events reveal the unequal ways that different Americans experience re-segregation and state violence, we talk about having a productive discussion, but we never really have it. Instead, we’ve regressed a half-century in our racial progress.Continue Reading

FUEL POVERTY DAY OF ACTION

by Clare Welton, Fuel Poverty Action.

This Friday, November 28th, pensioners will lead a march from Charing Cross to Energy UK – the Big Six energy company’s lobby body – under the banner ‘No More Deaths from Fuel Poverty: Energy Rights Now!’

Why? Because this is the day that the Office of National Statistics will also be releasing the numbers of ‘Excess Winter Deaths’ in Winter 2013/2014 – and it’s estimated that at least 30% of these deaths caused by the impacts of living in a cold home. Shockingly, this means that in the Winter of 2012/2013 there were more than 10,000 deaths in the UK from cold homes (with 31,100 Excess Winter Deaths recorded in total), whilst in the same year the Big Six energy companies – British Gas, E.On, EDF Energy, npower, Scottish Power and SSE – made £3.7billion in pure profit.

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