Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Apathy? Who Cares?
- Only 13% say they are "very interested" in politics; 19% say they are "not at all" interested. Just 51% say they are "interested".
- Only 53% say they are certain to vote at the next election.
- Only 41% say they have discussed politics with friends or family in the last two years.
- Only 31% believe that "when people like me get involved in politics, they really can change the way the country is run".
- Young people are less likley to be interested in politics; so are those in social class DE, readers of tabloid "newspapers", people who belong to an ethnic-minority and - for some reason - the Welsh (!).
- 12% say they know "nothing at all" about politics and 45% "not very much".
- Only 23% of 18-24 year-olds say that they will vote.
Polly Toynbee in the Guardian argues that "what makes people vote is having something worth voting for - and something to vote against". There is something in this: turnout in last year's French Presidential election (where voters were presented with a clear choice) was fairly high (over 80%). The old refrain that politicians are "all the same" is, Toynbee argues, "not wrong in these strange political times". There are many reasons why people don't vote. Those who favour a "cyclical" explanation argue that, if an election is closely contested, turnout will go up. On the other hand, turnout at the next election would have to rise by an astonishing 17.6% to match the 1950-66 average and by 10% to match the turnout in 1997. That seems to me unlikely. Toynbee advocates electoral reform - she argues AV (a "small change") could be introduced in time for the next election. The trouble is, if AV were introducted, this change would probably block what might be called "proper" electoral reform: the introduction of a PR system. In any case, it is hardly a remedy for the deeper malaise Toynbee identifies: the feeling - that many people have - that it doesn't really matter who wins, it will be "business as usual" for the corporate fat cats, that political engagement is simply futile. I can't see that changing any time soon. Prediction? turnout will go up next time; but will fall far short of 70%.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Is Brown Butch or Sundance? Neither.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Obama's Pastor Plays the Race Card
The Clinton's have been getting a pasting in the media for allegedly playing the race card. The evidence? Hillary apparenly denigrated Martin Luther King (by pointing out that it was Lyndon Johnson who pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress) and Bill pointed out that Jesse Jackson won primaries in the south in the 1980's. Pretty tame stuff, really. The ringing phone ad was apparently racist also, although I can't see it. Well, here is the race card played for real by Obama's pastor (Obama has attended his church for 20 years yet says he never heard Pastor Wright say anything like this before). It isn't that there isn't some truth in what the Pastor says (about poor black folk and rich white folk). It is, rather, the whole tone and manner of it. Hillary Clinton may be many things but she doesn't really deserve this. One of the pleasing things about this video is that, if you look closely, the audience seems divided and some appear to be trying to remonstrate with Pastor Wright, although we can't hear what they say because he has the microphone. Not everyone is applauding. There were some - black people - even in the Church, who appear to think he was, as they say, "out of order". It is, of course, damaging Obama (this morning's Guardian reports white votes ebbing away) and, should he win the Democratic nomination, this - and Pastor Wright's "God damn America" together with Michelle's embarassing gaffe - will be used relentlessly by the Republicans. They are both already all over YouTube and the blogosphere.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Tim's Cold War rolls on...
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Hutton hoists the Blairite Flag
Of course, it is obvious what this is about, Hutton is hoisting the flag of Blairism against Brown, perhaps positioning himself for a future leadership contest. I doubt whether with these remarks he has done himself much good. They are not just out of kilter with what one in possibly very naive moments thinks of as "Labour values", but with the broader public mood.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
All Hail the Teapot!
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Going Negative: why are the rules different for Obama?
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Sue Carrol of Rutger's University says (quoted in yesterday's Guardian) that: "Frankly, I think the media in this country has ben pretty favourable towards Obama". Recently, in Texas, he was wildly cheered by his fans for, um, er, blowing his nose. But this may be changing, as this shows.