Sunday, 10 October 2010


From Wikipedia:

Class dealignment

Class dealignment is a term used to describe a situation where members of a social class stop aligning themselves in terms of class and believe that they no longer belong to a certain class. An example of this would be if the working class began to view themselves as lower middle class.

Class dealignment took place in Britain post-1960s, when people were more likely to pursue tertiary education, have professional jobs and consequently more affluence.

[edit] Partisan dealignment

Partisan dealignment is quite similar to class dealignment. Partisan dealignment is the process whereby people no longer vote according to their social class (i.e. in the UK, working-class voters voting Conservative or Liberal Democrat instead of Labour). This happens as people lose their traditional class loyalties to a particular party. An example of this would be the Barking and Dagenham results in the 2006 local elections, in which a traditional Labour area voted for the extreme-right British National Party.

Also the term refers to a decline by voters to their political party; that is a decrease in party loyalty and voters be less attached to their party. This dealignment shows that short term factors might play a larger role than usual in whether a candidate receives a vote from someone of his party. Several factors can be attributed to partisan dealignment such as a greater political awareness and socialisation, intensive mass media coverage and decline of deference; disillusionment both with parties and politicians, and most importantly, the poor performance of government.

Essay Planning/Criticism

Discuss the view that the decline In Turnout at elections is the most important trend in voting’

Election commonly understood as a period of time during which all citizens entitled to vote, decide to choose their candidate by casting a ballot. Turnout is a number of voters who actually participated in the elections. In the course of this paper I`m going to discuss if a lower turnout is a popular trend nowadays and if yes, what are the reasons for that.

First of all, differences between parties have diminished since some of the big issues of the past like Capitalism versus Communism and peace and warfare, of the cold war have ceased to be so relevant. Nowadays, the distinction between party programs are often not fundamental ones. Most of the people vote for some political party because of charismatic leader at the head of it. If there is no charismatic leader they choose not to vote since the differences in political programs are not substantial. This leads us to the point that many voters across Europe and America seem disillusioned with the performance of parties in office and politicians who represent them. In the 70s,80s and even 90s had been much bigger than nowadays. In Britain since 1997, the voter turnout is slowly decreasing. Another reason for that may be the increasing importance of various pressure groups. Descendants of the commited voters of yesterday are today`s pressure group campaigners who see pressure groups as a better way to influence the governments policy that taking part in general elections. Pressure groups can represent all points of view within the society, being a true voice of the people. It seems that people care more about quality-of-life issues such as ecology or rights of the minority groups. Pressure groups arguably represent those causes more effectively than do the parties that contest elections.

On the other hand lower turnout might not be a sing of political apathy and resentment but may reflect broader contentment. Some may feel that they do not need to go out and vote because everything seems to be going along satisfactorily. Another reason may be elections for the European Parliament. Since European legislation overrules the national level one, voters might find it more useful to take part in election for MEP`s which turnout had risen from 31,6 in 1979 to 38,8 in 2004.

In the conclusion I want to say that all aforementioned factors cause that , lower turnout in general elections is inevitable. People tend to participate in the politics in many other ways somehow undermining the idea of choosing MP`s. Referendums, initiative, and recall vote are institutions of direct democracy which I think are going to be very popular in some future. Compulsory voting is not an answer for anything. You cant force people to take part in political life, you need to educate them .Moreover I think that democracies are swiftly drifting from representative type toward direct democracy. Its also just a matter of time till European Legislation will become even more powerful. All this factors are going to lower elections turnout in the future until some sort of direct Democracy would be entered in force.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Homework - week 4

Do two of the following:

3 Discuss the view that referendums should be used more often in the United Kingdom. [30]

4 How democratic are elections for the House of Commons? [30]

5 Discuss the view that the decline in turnout at elections is the most important trend in voting behaviour.(30)

Hand-in date: 16 October

Saturday, 2 October 2010

News and Political Bloggers

Adrian MichaelsAlex SingletonAlex SpilliusAndrew M BrownAndrew GilliganAndrew OsbornBenedict BroganBryony GordonCeri RadfordChristopher HopeCon CoughlinCristina OdoneDamian ThompsonDaniel HannanDavid HughesDean NelsonDouglas MurrayEd WestGeoffrey LeanGeorge PitcherGerald WarnerGuy WaltersIndia LenonJames CorumJames DelingpoleJames KirkupJanet DaleyJonathan Wynne-JonesJudith Potts Julian KossoffMalcolm MooreMary RiddellMatthew MooreMelissa KiteMelissa WhitworthMichael DeaconMonty MunfordNile GardinerNorman TebbitPeter FosterPeter ObornePete WedderburnPhilip JohnstonRichard PrestonRichard SpencerSarah MarcusStephanie GutmannTim CollardToby HarndenToby YoungWill Heaven

Thirteen years of Labour


Daily Blogs


Constitutional, Parliamentary and Electoral reform...presentation.


Essential Politics from the BBC

Thatcher archives

Hundreds of documentaries

Friday, 1 October 2010

Dr Farhang Jahanpour

Three links:

1. .................

2. .................

3. .................

Iran, what happened, where now?

Tories target Miliband

Eleven ways they will target him:

1 Deficit denial. Cameron's belief is that the economic cycle is on his side. He hopes that UK plc will be growing by 2014-2015 and voters will reward him for dispensing the restorative medicine. There will be a more immediate upside for Labour if it fights every big cut but, over time, there will be severe brand damage. Labour won't be trusted to do the right thing and that will blight Miliband's "new generation".

2 Union influence. The result of the leadership contest could not have been better for Conservatives if they had stage-managed it themselves: a knife-edge victory where the votes of public-sector unions made the difference. The power of Unite, Unison and other post-industrial unions to bring essential public services to a halt is likely to dominate the news over the next two years. Miliband has to decide if he will defend public-sector workers - who now get better pay and conditions than most private-sector counterparts - or whether he'll take them on.

3 Yesterday's man. David Cameron began his leadership by telling Tony Blair that "you were the future once". Just about the worst election slogan in modern times was Bob Dole's 1996 promise to be a bridge to America's past. The Conservatives want to paint Ed Miliband as yesterday's man, defending failed settlements in education, welfare and the size of the unresponsive state bureaucracy.

4 A leftwards drift. Blair and Gordon Brown suppressed the desire of many Labour activists for greater union rights and taxes on the rich. During the leadership race, the old instincts ­returned: even David Miliband promised to review the tax status of private schools. This is the Old Labour politics of envy, not the New Labour politics of aspiration. Will Ed Miliband be strong enough to keep on the centre ground when the unions are paying nearly all of his indebted party's bills?

5 No appetite for modernisation. Over half of grass-roots Labour members think they can stay in their comfort zone, waiting for the coalition to falter, avoiding significant changes. That's the wrong strategy: two-thirds of swing voters are waiting to see Labour change in "fundamental" ways before they'll support it again.

6 Labour disunited. Alastair Campbell joked that Miliband might have won his slim victory because of Peter Mandelson's eve-of-poll intervention. Tory HQ will hope these attacks on the New Labour establishment continue, and they will be encouraged by the fault line that emerged in Manchester between Mili D and Mili E. Newspapers love split stories and eagerly seized on the elder brother's unhappiness at the Iraq references in Ed Miliband's first big speech.

7 Egalitarianism. Labour's electoral college may have loved Miliband's commitment to greater equality, but the last thing "squeezed Middle England" will want after years of austerity is more self-sacrificing taxes. The threat of redistribution will undermine Miliband's potentially popular promise to defend universal benefits.

8 Libertarian on crime. Kenneth Clarke's unpicking of Michael Howard's old "Prison works" policy is unpopular with a clear majority of voters, so Miliband's decision to back Clarke ends the possibility of Labour outflanking the Tories on this potent issue. He should have listened to Alan Johnson in Manchester, who said that the fundamental civil liberty is to be safe on the streets.

9 Odd Ed. The new Labour leader isn't so much Red Ed as Odd Ed. Only 36 per cent think he is prime ministerial, according to a poll conducted for the Conservative Party. Is it the staring eyes? That he hasn't done anything outside politics? His claim that he was "too busy" to register as his child's father is certainly odd.

10 The rejected Brown legacy. Miliband's emphasis on representing the "new generation of change" shows that he understands the need to free himself from the Brown and Blair years. His Manchester speech may not have contained a Clause Four moment, but disowning the Iraq war was an attempt to wriggle free from the past. What voters really want, however, is some humility and an apology for one of the biggest debt burdens in the developed world.

11. Previous voting record.

Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.

Voted very strongly for introducing ID cards.

Voted very strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.

Voted moderately for replacing Trident.

Voted a mixture of for and against a transparent Parliament.

Never rebelled against the government line for the entire Parliament

This originally appeared here

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Homework - week 3

Make sure you can define all key Politics terms in the syllabus but also that you learn these three:

a. from the Guardian

b. from Interpolitics

c. the non-American ones from here

and when they appear here....

Monday, 20 September 2010

State of Nature

Was there ever a state of nature? I am reading An Introduction to Political Philosophy pages 6-8.

Rousseau & Locke: the state of nature ¹ a state of war. But they give different answers as to why.

Locke: b/c people are moved to a significant extent by an innate knowledge of right and wrong.

Rousseau: (1) b/c savages are solitary and their desires are simple (only food, sex, and sleep); and (2) b/c savages are moved to a significant extent by natural compassion.

Rousseau: Locke and Hobbes wrongly equip people in the state of nature with traits that arise only in society:

· contra Locke, savages have no sense of morality

· contra Hobbes, savages have no greed or vanity

So Rousseau’s state of nature is peaceful and free of vice. But Rousseau’s savages seem more like brute animals than humans.

If humans could find themselves in a world without a state what would that state be like?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Homework - week 2

Due in on 30 September:

Consider the extent to which short-term factors are now far more important than
long-term factors in shaping voting behaviour.


Pressure group activity in the UK presents a major threat to democracy.’ Evaluate the
arguments in favour of this view.

500 words for each

Decline of print

From the Independent:

As recently as a year ago, it would have been inconceivable that a senior political journalist would quit a newspaper to work for a website. Even today, the departure of Paul Waugh, deputy political editor of the London Evening Standard, to become editor of, could be seen by some as a sideways move.

But it is a sign of the growing prestige of political websites such as PoliticsHome that they can attract journalists of Waugh's calibre. Perhaps it's not so surprising that Waugh, of anyone, has made the leap: he has established himself as one of Westminster's leading bloggers, and his Twitter feed is followed by 8,610 people. If any lobby correspondent has capitalised on the opportunities of the web, it's Waugh.

"The reaction from colleagues has been fascinating," he says. "A lot of them are shocked. Some people are saying I am the tipping point. But they all see that the future is online. When I started Tweeting, people said I was bonkers, but it has proved to be tailor-made for politics. It's a phenomenally quick and agile way of reporting."

While plenty of journalists have adapted to the demands of multi-platform newspapers, few could draw the same number of readers – or authority – without the masthead.

Some have successfully made the transition: when Times media editor Dan Sabbagh was made redundant, he set up the media website Beehive City. After breaking a number of stories the site has established its authority. The challenge is how to convert that into a revenue stream.

According to Paul Staines, founder of the Westminster gossip blog Guido Fawkes, specialist websites do not generate significant revenue through advertising, but can boost their creator's media profile, which can translate into revenue. "Iain Dale is the best example of this. Through his blog he has become a media brand, and that generates money."

Political websites will always have a limited audience, says Staines, but they can draw viewers from further afield by mixing insider gossip with stories of wider interest.

"Guido has mass appeal because it has a tabloid scandal element," he says. "We get more traffic than The Spectator or New Statesman sites. This is because we mix things up, and we can run an up-the-skirt picture of Emily Maitlis, which the guys at The Spec would be too embarrassed to do."

Staines makes a living from his blog, and employs only one other person. "The advantage that a website like mine has over a newspaper is that we don't need to rent offices in central London," he says. "My website costs maybe £5,000 a year to put out." His income comes partly from advertising, but also from acting as a story broker: he sells stories to newspapers on behalf of anonymous sources.

Waugh's arrival at PoliticsHome will herald a change to the site's formula. Founded in 2008, it has been "obsessively neutral" up to now, says co-founder Freddie Sayers. "We launched PoliticsHome as an aggregator of political news," he says. "We took our cue from the Drudge Report, so we collect the things worth looking at on one neatly organised page.

It makes the messy and intimidating world of political news easier to access."

Since then, the site has evolved from providing links to providing brief wire-style stories. "We've made a point of only making news judgements. We now see it developing to bring in more personality, and Paul's blog will be part of that. Huffington Post [an American news website] is a great example of half aggregator content, half opinion. I increasingly think a mixed recipe will be more successful."

PoliticsHome is a bigger operation than Guido Fawkes, employing eight staff and a number of interns, but it is also able to offer a service for which it can charge. This summer it launched a two-tier subscription service: a £9 per month lite edition, and a £39 per month professional service, which Sayers describes as "the Bloomberg of politics", offering a tailor-made monitoring service.

Clients include civil servants, unions and PR firms, and Sayers is pleased to have subscriptions from the BBC and The Guardian, which questioned the site's impartiality last September after Lord Ashcroft, the Conservative Party donor, bought a 57.5 per cent stake in it for £1.3m. "The proof is in the pudding; if they thought we were skewed they wouldn't pay."

Sayers says the site has remained editorially independent, and he has not received any complaints. "Lord Ashcroft has never even been into this office," he says.

A date has yet to be set for Waugh's move, though it is hoped he will start in October.

"I will miss newspapers," he says. "But my actual work will not be all that different."

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Homework - week 1


1. ‘Referendums represent a more democratic form of participation than the opportunity to vote in elections.’ Discuss.

2. A cabinet minister once described pressure groups as creatures which strangle efficient government. Discuss how justified this view is of pressure groups today. (25 marks)

Hand in date: by 21 September 2010