Leaders’ debates should be enshrined in law

Christian Weaver

Christian Weaver

The absence of a head-to-head, proper interactive debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband is an affront to the British electorate who, on the whole, would have wished to see both party leaders question and address each other on matters affecting our everyday lives.

Some people might feel that the interviews both leaders had with Jeremy Paxman separately on March 26 were sufficient. I don’t.

Cameron should have agreed to this debate, as well as the recent ‘Seven Leaders’ debate right from the beginning. He has been ‘playing politics’ with this issue at a time when the general public is frankly sick of politicians and increasingly cynical of the political process. Continue reading

Political Forecasting Unit – UK Election Forecast – 16 April 2015

votesProfessor Leighton Vaughan Williams, director of the Political Forecasting Unit (PFU) at Nottingham Business School, will be giving the PFU’s official forecast of the election result at least once every day up to and including Election Day, May 7.

The 2015 UK Election Forecast uses a weighted combination of a range of variables, including adjusted polling analysis and a number of market-based predictors. Continue reading

Political Forecasting Unit – UK Election Forecast – 15 April 2015

Professor Leighton Vaughan WilliamsProfessor Leighton Vaughan Williams, director of the Political Forecasting Unit (PFU) at Nottingham Business School, will be giving the PFU’s official forecast of the election result at least once every day up to and including Election Day, May 7.

The 2015 UK Election Forecast uses a weighted combination of a range of variables, including adjusted polling analysis and a number of market-based predictors.

Wednesday 15 April

Conservative 286 (inc. Speaker)
Labour 271
SNP 42
Lib Dem 26
UKIP 3
Green 1
Plaid Cymru 3
DUP 9
Sinn Fein 5
SDLP 3
Independent 1

Total = 650

Continue reading

Political Forecasting Unit – UK Election Forecast – 13 April 2015

Professor Leighton Vaughan WilliamsProfessor Leighton Vaughan Williams, director of the Political Forecasting Unit (PFU) at Nottingham Business School, will be giving the PFU’s official forecast of the election result at least once every day up to and including Election Day, May 7.

The 2015 UK Election Forecast uses a weighted combination of a range of variables, including adjusted polling analysis and a number of market-based predictors. Continue reading

An uncertain future for Higher Education

Cap and symbolsAs somebody who has logged many years in higher education and who assiduously follows HE policy wonks, blogs and tweets, I have never known an era when the future for universities is more uncertain. In advance of the general election, I have blogged about the HE Hustings in Westminster which took place in early March.

Below, I try and distil a few more issues which occupy the HE policy landscape. This is inevitably a list which reflects my own, and English, preoccupations, and it is therefore partial – in both senses of the word.

There are several bodies which aim to influence future government policy on HE. The Million Plus think-tank and the University Alliance mission group have laid out their wishlists, while Universities UK, the vice-chancellor’s representative group, has set up a Student Funding Panel due to report after the election. Continue reading

Reform of zero hours contracts could be a defining point of election campaign

Peter McTigueSince writing my last piece for the NTU election blog, the issue of zero hours contracts has featured heavily in the media. In last week’s leader’s debate on Channel 4 David Cameron admitted that he could not work under a zero hours contract and it is clear that the Labour Party are keen to attack on this issue as they believe it exposes weaknesses in Conservative arguments about the strength of the current economic recovery.

At a campaign event in Yorkshire later today, Ed Miliband will say that a future Labour government would guarantee zero hours workers the right to a regular contract after 12 weeks. While further details are yet to be released, this is a key policy pledge by the Labour Party and one that has been welcomed by Trade Unions. Continue reading

The NHS is unsustainable, but the UK is not alone in this issue

hospitalAt the current time, the state of the National Health Service is perhaps the most controversial theme in the on-going general election campaign of 2015 with strong concerns about the lack of funding for UK health services.

However, the UK is not alone in this issue. A recently published international study of healthcare systems (of which I was a co-author) and which covered countries across both the developed and developing world, has suggested that most existing health systems are unlikely to remain sustainable in the absence of additional funding and/or the adoption of new, innovative approaches to delivering healthcare services. Only 9% of respondents indicated that the existing approach to financing health services in their country was sustainable in the long-term while 64% stated that it is unlikely or impossible to continue with the status quo. Continue reading

What can we learn from the words in the Chancellor’s Budget speech?

480880465Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the UK, George Osborne, delivered his annual Budget speech. Just as the broadcast had concluded, a radio show a colleague was listening to was discussing the Budget and had spotted that ‘choice’ was a major theme in Osborne’s speech this year.

This got me thinking that we could compare this most recent speech with his five previous ones (between 2010 and 2014) to see if there are any other words or themes that emerge more prominently than before as the next election looms.

A quick keyword analysis reveals that the following words appear significantly more frequently in yesterday’s speech than Osborne’s previous ones combined:

National, debt, choose, truly, we, share, down, savings, falling, standards, statement, autumn, back, five, powerhouse, you, latest, challenges, row, ago.

Continue reading

Five myths about Europe that need busting before the British general election

EU flagAs we gear up for the 2015 general election, EU issues are bound to feature prominently. Sadly, much of what is being said is hogwash, particularly when it comes to EU membership itself.

The Conservative Party has promised to hold a referendum on EU membership if it wins in 2015. UKIP has of course been long known for its opposition to the status quo. The party’s representatives take every opportunity to talk up the nefarious influence eurocrats have on the lives of ordinary people – from dictating our human rights to undermining our democratic traditions.

And now Nigel Farage is seeking to push for a referendum before Christmas.

The problem is, when British voters are told the choice is a simple in/out decision, they are being lied to. There will be multiple options on the table if the UK votes to exit. And to understand the implications of these, it is important to understand what being in the EU means for the UK.

There are a number of myths circulating about what membership of the EU really means and what would happen if the UK were to leave. Before the UK heads to the polls, we need to bust them. Continue reading