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Date archive for: November 2014

Ukip Supporters have a Strong Bond with the Party

By Matthew Goodwin 

Is Britain’s two-party system really about to crumble? This question was the title of an academic paper that was written back in 1982. Like many other observers at the time, the academic Ivor Crewe had been captivated by the sudden rise of a new challenger to the main parties: the Social Democratic Party. The SDP’s surge was truly astonishing; it won a string of parliamentary by-elections, attracted more than two dozen defecting MPs and was soon polling ahead of all the other parties. At one point the SDP was on more than 50 per cent.

At first glance the scale of the SDP’s insurgency makes the contemporary rise of Ukip seem much less impressive. Ukip has only two seats in the House of Commons, continues to average only 16 per cent in the opinion polls and you would be hard pushed to find a serious commentator who thinks that Nigel Farage’s party will attract more than 20 per cent of the vote at the 2015 general election. Ukip also remains prone to public relations disasters and is a polarising force. A new poll by YouGov this week indicated that around one in four voters would struggle to remain friends with a Ukip supporter. Continue reading Ukip Supporters have a Strong Bond with the Party

Police and Crime Commissioners – Two years on: Are there lessons for designing devolution?

By Francesca Gains and Vivien Lowndes

Two years ago the forty one directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners for England and Wales took office, swearing the oath of allegiance and beginning a new era of policing governance.  The way the Commissioners have developed their responsibilities and set local policing priorities has attracted considerable controversy and debate.  In a little over eighteen months their current term of office is due to end, with fresh elections timetabled for the spring of 2016.  But the future of the Commissioner role after this date is very uncertain.  Following a review of the new arrangements for the Labour Party by Lord Stevens, the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, announced in her speech to the Labour Party Conference that Labour would seek to abolish the directly elected Commissioner role.  Meanwhile under George Osborne’s devolution deal with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (announced at the beginning of November), the responsibilities of the current Greater Manchester Commissioner would be taken over by a new directly elected mayor by 2017.  This is a model that could well be replicated for other city regions or areas seeking combined authority status. Continue reading Police and Crime Commissioners – Two years on: Are there lessons for designing devolution?

Labour: the 35% solution?

By Steven Fielding

 Ed Miliband’s recent speech, in which he confirmed the lines along which his party will campaign during the six months up to the 2015 election, was seen by the media as part of a ‘fight-back’ to defend his leadership. This meant many ignored the real significance of the speech. To be fair to the nation’s journalists, this hasn’t been a good time for Miliband. Of late, critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party have certainly been free with their opinion that what they see as the party’s weak position in the polls would be transformed if Labour ditched its current leader.

Continue reading Labour: the 35% solution?

China’s neighbors embrace asymmetric warfare

By Michal Thim

Asymmetry is the new black, at least among defense analysts dealing with the Asia-Pacific. Asymmetrical warfare is an age-old concept. Recently, however, it has been mostly associated with insurgent groups or guerrillas capitalizing on their familiarity with irregular terrain in hit-and-run operations against regular government forces. As employed by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Irish Republican Army, asymmetrical strategies and tactics were ideally suited to small groups standing against well-equipped government forces in their efforts to pursue a particular political agenda.

In the Asia-Pacific region, asymmetry is more commonly associated with the military disparities between nations. It is often expressed as the concept of Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD), which is primarily referenced in relation to preparations by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to prevent access—and consequently deny unhindered operation—to the US Navy and America’s other forward-deployed forces stationed in Japan. Decades of Chinese military modernization has given the PRC the capability to project force a much greater distance from its shores, with an eye toward eventually deploying a blue-water navy. Despite this, A2/AD remains at the forefront of China’s efforts to establish itself as a potent military power. Continue reading China’s neighbors embrace asymmetric warfare

Right tactic, wrong target: Tories can’t beat Reckless with carpet bagging claims

By Philip Cowley

You don’t want to vote for him. He grew up in London and went to Oxford, to study politics (of all things). He’s worked as a banker and as a political researcher. And he only moved here to become an MP, the swine.

This is the message being delivered to voters in Rochester and Strood on a leaflet being pushed through their doors ahead of the by-election taking place in the constituency on November 21. The leaflet is from the Conservative Party and it takes aim at Mark Reckless, the MP who defected to UKIP earlier this year.Reckless tactics?

It’s easy to mock the leaflet and plenty have. Reckless has held the seat for the Conservatives since 2010 and the party seemed to have been content to put him forward as their candidate again in 2015 had he not switched sides.

Continue reading Right tactic, wrong target: Tories can’t beat Reckless with carpet bagging claims

The significance of Rochester and Strood

By Matthew Goodwin 

Less than two days from now we will witness the latest and most likely the last parliamentary by-election before the 2015 general election.

The by-election in the Kent seat of Rochester and Strood follows the defection of Conservative MP Mark Reckless to Ukip –who is the second MP to defect to the Eurosceptic party. Reckless has followed his former colleague and friend Douglas Carswell, who at a by-election last month in Clacton won almost 60 per cent of the vote on a 44.1 per cent swing as a Ukip candidate. Together, they have brought experience and publicity to the insurgent Ukip and handed its leader Nigel Farage a useful response to the ‘wasted vote syndrome’ that tends to affect minor parties in the British system –once voters you conclude that you cannot win under first-past-the-post it is incredibly difficult to convince them otherwise.

Towards a Global Counter-terrorism Architecture

By Wyn Rees

Contemporary terrorism represents a global security challenge. To address this threat, the international community requires a global framework of counter-terrorism measures to prevent an adversary thriving in, what FBI Director Robert Mueller described as, the ‘seams of our jurisdictions’. Some analysts have called for such a world-wide institutional architecture to be created, yet they appreciate that such a goal is still a long way off. What exists presently is more of a patchwork of counter-terrorism governance embodied in a variety of settings and operating at a relatively embryonic stage. No dedicated international organisation has emerged in this field with an all-embracing body of rules.

Continue reading Towards a Global Counter-terrorism Architecture

Veteran Protests in Croatia

By Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac

‘Minister Matić and his deputy Vesna Nad insulted me personally’, disabled Croatian veteran Đuro Glogoški informed waiting veterans and reporters outside the Croatian Ministry of Veterans on 19 October 2014 (http://www.braniteljski-portal.hr/Novosti/Hrvatski-branitelji/Prosvjed-branitelja-Koliko-ponizenja-moramo-trpjeti). The wheel-chair bound veteran representative had gone to see the veterans’ Minister Predrag Matić about the problems of disabled veterans. Matić is himself a veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But veterans object to Matić as ‘one of them’, part of the Croatian establishment, enjoying ministerial perks and betraying their interests, and are demanding the Minister and his deputy resign.

The incident has triggered other veteran organisations, informally led by a former special police commander Josip Klemm, to camp in protest outside the Ministry of Veterans for the last month. The protesters claim that a systematic campaign is being waged against veterans. The protests became particularly tense after the sad death from natural causes of one of the disabled veterans camping out.

Continue reading Veteran Protests in Croatia

Where things stand – Rochester and Strood

By Mathew Goodwin 

A new poll in Rochester and Strood provides further insight into Ukip’s evolving support ahead of this crunch parliamentary by-election. 

Today we have a new and fourth poll from Rochester and Strood, this time from Lord Ashcroft. The past three polls each gave Ukip a comfortable lead of 9, 13 and then 15 points. My hunch was that the new poll would show the race to be slightly tighter because of three factors. First, Lord Ashcroft polls (and others) in battles like Heywood and Middleton tended to underestimate Ukip support. Second, since the earlier batch of polls the Conservatives have been turning up the volume on their negative coverage of Mark Reckless, the Ukip candidate. And, third, Ukip are not used to being in the lead. It was plausible that a young party might take its foot off the pedal.

The latest snapshot does suggest a reduced Ukip lead of 12 points but the basic picture remains the same: a strong lead for Ukip, a difficult second for the Conservatives and David Cameron, and a distant third for Labour -a party that held this area of Kent as recently as 2010. If these snapshots turn out to be accurate on November 20th then Nigel Farage’s party will be handed their second seat in the House of Commons -and in the 271st most Ukip-friendly seat in the country.

Continue reading Where things stand – Rochester and Strood

Typhoon Yolanda: One Year Later

By Pauline Eadie

Nearly a year ago, on 8 November 2013 super-typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayan region of the Philippines. Winds reached up to 200 mph with a ‘storm surge’ of over 17 feet. The storm surge was actually the height of a tsunami and the damage was catastrophic. The latest available official figures show that 6,293 individuals have been reported dead, 1,061 are missing and 28,689 are injured, vast areas of agricultural land were devastated and whole towns destroyed. The typhoon affected 591 municipalities and the total damage is estimated at US$904,680,000. The total number of people affected by this disaster in terms of livelihood, environmental and food security are approximately 16 million people. However on 6 November 2013, when the potential force of Yolanda was becoming clear, the President of the Philippines, Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino III, declared that government agencies were aiming for zero casualties.

Continue reading Typhoon Yolanda: One Year Later