David Miliband – the ‘elephant in the room’

Miliband

Credit: Riots Panel

More coming in from Nottingham Trent University politics expert Dr Matthew Ashton on Labour, and how the party responds to this major blow.

“After this devastating defeat, Labour now faces two big questions about the future of their party. The first is the obvious one about who the next leader is going to be; the second is whether they lost because they were too left wing, or not left wing enough. Should they try to return to the centre ground of the Blair/New Labour years, or present a genuine left wing alternative to the Tory agenda? Continue reading

‘Big losers are the pollsters’ – Dr Matthew Ashton

Dr Matthew AshtonDr Matthew Ashton, a lecturer in politics at Nottingham Trent University, is providing us with some expert view as the full picture around the election results becomes clear.

“Alongside Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP, the big losers are the pollsters. It was like 1992 all over again, but worse. The current result in no way resembles what they were predicting 24 hours ago. From an academic perspective there are a couple of reasons why this might be. Continue reading

Labour crime policies offer few surprises

Roger Hopkins Burke

Roger Hopkins Burke

The general election of 1979 drastically changed the place of crime in politics, writes Roger Hopkins Burke.

Thatcher’s promise to be tough on crime is arguably what won that election for the Conservatives. This set a precedent, wherein being seen as soft on crime became politically unappealing. The Labour party eventually responded to this agenda, and Blair’s promise to be “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” became the rallying cry of the New Labour movement.

The crime section of the new Labour manifesto opens by acknowledging crime as a cause of fear and insecurity. People certainly fear violent crime, but the statistics suggest that it is very much on the decrease, and has been since the mid-1990s.

Much of this has taken place during the New Labour years, and the Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that reported violent crime between 1995 and 2014 has fallen from 3.8 million in 1995 to 1.3 million in 2013/14. Over the past five years, reported violent crimes have dropped by 21%, with public disorder offences fallen by 29%. Over the same period, crimes involving weapons have decreased by 34%, and homicides by 28%. Continue reading

Safer prisons as a reflection of a safer society

Crime and punishment may not be as high on the agenda of most political parties for this election, but important issues remain open for debate, writes Dr Karen Slade.

The reason for the lower prioritisation for this election may be because, accordingly to key metrics, crime has been falling through successive governments. Paradoxically, although crime was falling, prison numbers in both England & Wales and in Scotland remain as two of the highest rates in Europe.

Party promises around prisons can often focus on ‘who can sound toughest on crime’ but are also likely to include promises around improving rehabilitation – and here is the paradox. The main issue? Sending someone to prison fractures their life, and their families, isolating them from positive influences as well as negative ones. Prisons are also dangerous places that have negative consequences on physical and mental health, may increase a sense of being splintered from society and having a knock-on effect for those on first-time and short sentences of an increased risk of crime. Continue reading

A whistle stop tour of the parties’ sporting pledges

In my last blog I discussed the peripheral status of sport and physical activity in the election campaign, writes Dr David Hindley. Since then all the manifestos of the main political parties have been unveiled, thus providing an opportunity to analyse the content and to examine what pledges, if any, they are making with regards to the sporting field.

In the case of the Conservatives, perhaps unsurprisingly, reference is made to building upon the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the pledge to continue to support elite sports funding. Alongside this is the promise to deliver a number of mega-sports events, including the World Athletics Championship in 2017 and the Cricket World Cup in 2019. Continue reading

Heading for election burnout? Why some people would rather relax in front of their favourite TV drama

Here we are with less than a week to go until polling day and I can honestly say that, whatever the outcome, I will be glad when it is all over, writes Sue Dewey.

Frankly, I was close to being bored on the day that Parliament was officially dissolved ahead of the election; all those various unctuous media types all looking to grab headlines and air time whilst trying to make a name for themselves and one well known presenter in particular who appeared to think he could dictate the way the cards will fall, all by himself. Continue reading

Hard Evidence: will young people vote, and does it even matter?

As the final stages of the 2015 general election campaign unfold, it looks like we could end up with a multi-party coalition of at least three – and possibly more – parties, writes Professor Matt Henn. This would be unprecedented in the modern era of British politics.

But a shadow falls over the election in the form of voter abstention by the British public. Declining electoral participation rates have been a feature of recent general elections, with people voting in far fewer numbers than in previous decades. In Britain, nowhere is the divide between citizens and mainstream democratic politics and the state more apparent than among today’s young people.

A major concern of national politicians is that young people seem increasingly reluctant to vote in elections. Only 44% of registered 18 to 24-year-olds participated at the general election in 2010, remaining well below youth election turnout rates recorded during the 1980s and 1990s, and significantly less than their older contemporaries. Continue reading

Whoever governs, Britain’s Africa policy is tied to the UN and the EU

Dr Marie Gibert

Dr Marie Gibert

The hallmark of Britain’s policy towards Africa is continuity, writes Dr Marie Gibert.

Under the coalition, Africa has not taken the morality flavoured prominence it had in Labour’s foreign policy, but the core of the relationship has nonetheless been upheld.

Of course, Britain’s colonial past in Africa still weighs heavy, especially with regard to countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Somalia. But Britain is also tied to Africa by its permanent seat and veto power on the UN Security Council.

The Security Council spends a lot of time on Africa, where some of the UN’s largest and most costly peacekeeping operations are deployed. Since no future UK government would want to give up this privileged position, Africa is destined to be a permanent fixture on Britain’s multilateral agenda. Continue reading