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Category archive for: Politics

UKIP: A flash-in-the-pan or a long-term insurgent?

By James Dennison, Matthew Goodwin and Caitlin Milazzo

New political parties, it was once said, can shoot up like a rocket but come down like a stick. Since its sharp rise from 2010 the UK Independence Party (Ukip) has been described in similar terms; a protest party that has captivated our attention but which is unlikely to remain on the political landscape.

Nigel Farage and Ukip might have won the European Parliament elections in May, and two parliamentary by-elections in Clacton and Rochester and Strood, but they do not have sufficient ‘staying power’ to remain as a significant political force. Thus one commentator concluded: ‘I doubt now that Ukip will ever establish itself as a serious force. There simply isn’t the time before the general election, and after the election everything will be different’.

But to what extent, if at all, is this true? With less than five months until the 2015 general election, is Ukip likely to fall out of the sky like a stick or might the party be attracting a more durable following?

Continue reading UKIP: A flash-in-the-pan or a long-term insurgent?

Not Love, Actually

By Philip Cowley 

Everyone knows that people don’t much like MPs. But spend any time around Westminster and you’ll hear a much-repeated caveat: whilst people don’t like MPs as a species, they quite like their MP. For politicians it’s a bit of a comfort blanket; after years of press and public hostility, they can reassure themselves that the animosity is nothing personal, that whilst other politicians may be disliked, they personally are OK. More than a few are banking on this helping them out come next May.

It’s only partially true, though.

There is a difference between how people view MPs in general and their own MP, but the difference is often exaggerated.

Continue reading Not Love, Actually

The Rise of ‘Britain First’

By Matthew Goodwin 

FOLLOWING several turbulent years for the far-right in the UK, Britain First is probably the most significant group currently in operation.

Nick Griffin’s British National Party used to be the dominant movement but has now essentially collapsed after financial issues, disastrous election results, and political infighting.

Similarly the English Defence League, which first emerged in 2009 to oppose what it claimed was the ‘Islamification’ of British society, has also disintegrated following the imprisonment of its young leader and internal divisions.

Britain First, which focusses on opposing Islam and British Muslims, is led by former BNP member Paul Golding who in earlier years was Nick Griffin’s right-hand man.

Despite being a registered political party, they seldom contest elections. When they stood in the parliamentary by-election in Rochester and Strood, they failed to win even 60 votes.

Continue reading The Rise of ‘Britain First’

Will Nigel Farage win Thanet South?

By Matthew Goodwin 

After by-election victories in Clacton, and Rochester and Strood, Ukip is now hoping to establish a larger presence in the House of Commons. With little over five months to go until the general election, and aside from these two seats, Ukip’s top prospects in May 2015 include seats like Boston and Skegness, Castle Point, Thurrock, Great Yarmouth and Great Grimsby. Another seat that is firmly on the radar is the Kent seat of Thanet South, where after much deliberation Nigel Farage has decided to stand.

But last week the assumption among Kippers that Farage will join Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless on the green benches was challenged by a constituency poll from Lord Ashcroft. It painted a bleak picture for Farage. In sharp contrast to the 44 per cent lead that Carswell enjoyed in the first poll in Clacton, or the 9 per cent lead that Reckless had in the first poll in Rochester and Strood, the snapshot suggests that in Thanet South Farage might not even be looking at victory.

Continue reading Will Nigel Farage win Thanet South?

Measuring Corruption

By Paul M. Heywood & Jonathan Rose

The World Economic Forum estimates the cost of corruption to be more than 5% of global GDP (US $2.6 trillion), and the World Bank believes over $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year. Of course, given the secretive nature of corrupt exchanges, we cannot know the true value of how much is actually lost, but there can be little doubt that corruption represents a major cost to the public. Given such staggering numbers, it is understandable that both academics and policymakers would want to develop measures of corruption. These measures aim to show how much corruption exists in the world and where it occurs, and ultimately provide guidance about how to stop it. Unfortunately, currently available measures of corruption are beset by conceptual, methodological, or political problems (or a combination of all three) that constrain their utility as a guide to developing effective anti-corruption policies.

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House of Cards and other Conservative Fictions?

By Steve Fielding

As the party associated with maintaining the status quo, Britain’s Conservatives have historically been more comfortable using popular culture to advance their ends than their supposedly ‘improving’ rivals on the left.

When mass democracy arrived in the interwar period Conservatives therefore saw the potential in using fiction to promote their ideas. The party produced stories, one of which ‘A New Jack the Giant-Killer’, featured an evil gnome called ‘Discontent’ preaching Socialism.  At the same time, Conservative cinema vans toured the country showing short films, which dramatised its propaganda. Some Conservatives even considered buying a cinema chain and producing movies with sympathetic themes.

Continue reading House of Cards and other Conservative Fictions?

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?

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