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Category archive for: British Politics

Jeremy Corbyn: George Lansbury reborn?

Written by Steven Fielding.

Having suffered a crushing defeat, the Labour party has turned to a London MP of pensionable age, a man of pristine socialist commitment.

I could be talking about Jeremy Corbyn in 2015. But I’m actually referring to George Lansbury in 1932.

Few outside Labour’s ranks have heard of Lansbury. If he enjoys any fame it’s as the grandfather of Hollywood stalwart Angela Lansbury and Clangers creator Oliver Postgate. But for those left-wing activists of Jeremy Corbyn’s generation he remains an inspiration. Continue reading Jeremy Corbyn: George Lansbury reborn?

What actually happens if Britain leaves the EU?

Written by Christopher Grey.

Europe is always a heated topic at a Conservative party conference. This year much debate has focused on David Cameron’s ongoing renegotiation of terms for staying in. By contrast, relatively little has been said about the terms on which Brexit might happen. Those advocating it oscillate between – and often treat as interchangeable – quite different and incompatible scenarios.

The truth is that anyone who works for, or consumes the products of any organisation – in other words everyone – would be affected by a UK exit from the European Union. As someone who studies organisations for a living, I believe that it is strongly in Britain’s interests to remain in; it is why I am a member of the European Movement. Now, you may disagree with that view, but it is surely vital that when it comes to the Brexit referendum, voters know what happens next if Britain chooses to leave. Continue reading What actually happens if Britain leaves the EU?

Pro-Christian, Anti-Muslim or Anti-Refugee? What is behind European politicians’ statements favouring Christian refugees?

Written by Roda Madziva  and Vivien Lowndes.

In the midst of what has come to be known as the worst refugee crisis of our generation, the wrench­ing images of a toddler lying dead on a Turk­ish beach emerged as evidence of a reality that cannot just be captured in words. This has seen many calling for the need to shift the debate away from borders and security and towards asylum, solidarity and responsibility. Yet, in the midst of this humanitarian talk, a new rhetoric is emerging which suggests that the lives of some refugees have more value than others. In particular, the anti-Muslim rhetoric by some politicians in Australia and other European countries such as France, Slovakia, Poland, the UK and many others have widely been judged as discriminatory and a perversion of liberal values especially hospitality, compassion and inclusion. Continue reading Pro-Christian, Anti-Muslim or Anti-Refugee? What is behind European politicians’ statements favouring Christian refugees?

Corbyn leadership and Labour’s long history of rebellion and betrayal

Written by Martin Farr.

Maomentum – itself a testament to the alacrity of social media – last week tweeted: “Every Labour leader has betrayed the party the moment he walked into Downing St”, adding: “Thank god under @jeremycorbyn this can never happen again.”

The future’s no period for a historian – and humour always a hazard – but betrayal has long been the handmaiden of parliamentary socialism in Britain. Ramsay MacDonald in 1931, Harold Wilson in 1970, James Callaghan in 1979 and Tony Blair in 2007 all left office being regarded as having failed the party – and the more electorally successful they were, the more their reputations suffered. Continue reading Corbyn leadership and Labour’s long history of rebellion and betrayal

Little red joke: Corbyn Labour’s most pressing problem is with media

Written by Andrew Scott Crines.

It was always going to be a car-crash moment for Labour. When, during his reply to to George Osborne’s autumn statement, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, chose to flourish Chairman Mao’s little red book, he was simply playing into the hands of a hostile media that sits in wait for moments such as this. Far from focusing on the chancellor of the exchequer’s U-turn over tax credits, political journalists obsessed over this gaffe, while the Treasury benches erupted in delighted mirth.

This highlights one of the most pressing problems for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership. A seeming inability to manage their relationship with the media. Continue reading Little red joke: Corbyn Labour’s most pressing problem is with media

Winners and losers in George Osborne’s spending review

Written by Peter Taylor-Gooby.

George Osborne always plays the role of the smiling conjurer who pulls the rabbit out of the hat and steals the scene with aplomb. In his 2015 spending review and autumn statement, the surprise announcement was that cuts to tax credit will not be as stringent as expected – although housing benefit claimers are the losers. Concealed within the chancellor’s hat are cuts of more than 50% in grants to local government and tense optimism about the growth, employment and pay forecasts on which everything depends. Continue reading Winners and losers in George Osborne’s spending review

Britain has the chance to turn young people into voters – here’s how

Written by Anja Neundorf and Kaat Smets.

Support to lower the voting age to 16 is growing across Europe, and the UK is no exception. It’s looking more and more likely that young people will be allowed to vote, in time for the upcoming EU referendum. Better still, a bill in parliament proposes to overhaul of the way we teach young people about politics. By giving them the vote – and explaining how and why they should exercise it – we have a unique opportunity to re-engage young people with our political system.

A solution like this one is desperately needed: young people are notorious non-voters. While turnout levels are going down among all age groups, young adult turnout is undergoing an even more rapid decline. In fact, the gap in turnout between young and old in the UK is by far the largest of any European democracy.

To make things worse, recent changes in registration rules mean that young people can no longer be automatically registered to vote by their parents, universities or colleges. If they fail to register before November 20, as many as a million young voters could be left off the electoral register. This would be another massive blow to youth participation in politics. Continue reading Britain has the chance to turn young people into voters – here’s how

Negative Campaigning Does It Help Or Does It Hurt?

Written by Annemarie Walter and Cees van der Eijk.

Negative campaigning is a widely applied campaign practice[1] and was part of the 2015 general election campaign. Negative campaigning occurs when a party chooses to focus on criticizing the opponent’s weaknesses instead of advocating own strengths when communicating with voters.[2] A party resorts to attack behaviour in an attempt to become voters’ preferred party by diminishing positive feelings for opposing parties.[3] Practitioners of negative campaigning generally believe it to be a successful campaign tool.[4] However, contrary to popular belief there is little scientific evidence that the practice of negative campaigning is effective.[5]

Whether a party decides to make use of negative campaigning depends on the expected balance between what the party will gain and the risk the party faces. Although negative campaigning has the potential to strengthen parties’ electoral attractiveness, the use of negative campaign messages is not without risk. Attack behaviour can result in negative feelings towards the attacker instead of the target.[6] This is the so-called “backlash” or “boomerang” effect. Therefore, only when the expected benefits outweigh the risks involved parties resort to attack behaviour.[7] Recently, we examined whether the use of negative campaigning helped British parties to improve their electoral attractiveness in the 2015 general election campaign.  Continue reading Negative Campaigning Does It Help Or Does It Hurt?

Negativity: The Campaign Promise That No British Party Kept

By Caitlin Milazzo and Jesse Hammond

The 2015 general election campaign was rife with promises. Amidst those made about immigration, the NHS, and Britain’s relationship with Europe, we also heard repeated pledges from party leaders that their campaigns were – and would remain – positive. The reality, however, was quite different. By the start of the short campaign, many Tories were expressing concern that the party’s negative campaigning was having a detrimental effect on support and would prevent David Cameron from securing a majority in Parliament. Cameron was quick to defend his party’s positive message, but his defence sounded hollow when he went on to warn the public of the potential dangers of an SNP-Labour alliance in the same interview.

Someone listening to that interview might have questioned the Prime Minister’s definition of a negativity. While his statements were arguably not overly personal or derogatory, his message was most certainly negative in that it contained a less-than-flattering message about his party’s opponents – and that is the classic definition of a negative appeal. Discussing your opponent(s) can take many forms. For example, you might refer to their policy positions, qualifications (or lack thereof), or in the case of a sitting MP, to their previous record. But the content is almost always negative in the sense that it focuses on the weaknesses of the opponent. Continue reading Negativity: The Campaign Promise That No British Party Kept

Remember, remember…it’s about counter-terrorism

Written by Louise Kettle.

Every year, on 5th November, the British celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. Local communities hold bonfires, place a “Guy” effigy on top and set off a spectacular array of fireworks. But what is all about?

The tradition dates back to a Parliamentary Act passed in 1606 (the Observance of 5th November 1605 Act) which called for an annual celebration and thanksgiving. The event was introduced to commemorate the successful thwarting of a terrorist attack against King James I of England and IV of Scotland – perhaps the most famous counter-terrorist operation in British history.

The year before, on 5th November 1605, a group of English Catholics had attempted to assassinate the King by blowing up the House of Lords at the state opening of Parliament. The objective was to remove King James, a Protestant, from the throne in order that he would be succeeded by his daughter Princess Elizabeth, a Catholic. Continue reading Remember, remember…it’s about counter-terrorism