Why the polls got it so wrong in the British election

imageIf the opinion polls had proved accurate, we would have been woken up on the morning of May 8 to a House of Commons in which the Labour Party had a chance to form government. By the end of the day, the country would have had a new prime minister called Ed Miliband, writes Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams.

This didn’t happen. Instead the Conservative Party was returned with almost 100 more seats than Labour and a narrow majority. So what went wrong? Why were the polls so far off? And why has the British Polling Council announced an inquiry?

We have been here before. The polls were woefully inaccurate in the 1992 election, predicting a Labour victory, only for John Major’s Conservatives to win by a clear seven percentage points. While the polls had performed a bit better since, history repeated itself this year. Continue reading

Why Satirical Dismissiveness Dominates Political Imagery

Credit: Byzantine_K

Credit: Byzantine_K

While politicians are often regarded as verbose – especially in their attempts to answer the question they would prefer to have been asked rather than the one actually posed to them – the media that surrounds us is increasingly visual, writes Dr Kevin J. Hunt.

Within the final week of campaigning it is interesting to consider the type of imagery, both official and unofficial, that seems to have dominated the 2015 election. Continue reading

Labour’s rent control plans may have unintended consequences

HousingEd Miliband has pledged that Labour would introduce three-year tenancy agreements for private renters under which their rent increases would be capped at the rate of inflation, writes Professor Michael White.

The Conservatives quickly rounded on the idea of re-introducing rent controls, with London mayor Boris Johnson writing in The Daily Telegraph that it was “an idiotic way to tackle the problem of high rents”.

The history of rent control in the UK has been problematic. Designed to maintain affordability, limits to rent rises introduced in the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act 1915. This was designed to be short term but was kept in force after World War I in some form until 1989. It reduced the investment attractiveness of the private rented sector leading not only to its decline but also creating a significant drop in the quality of private rented accommodation. Continue reading

NHS future looks grim – yet politicians still make election promises they can’t keep

fingers crossedIn every UK election in recent years, the financial situation of the NHS has come pretty near the top of the list of concerns among voters. In 2015, the campaign is taking place against a backdrop of five years of financial austerity that has been seriously affecting public services, writes Professor Malcolm Prowle.

Although the NHS was deemed to be “protected” from the pressures of financial austerity, it was left with a tiny amount of growth in resources each year and was also given a target of making £22 billion of efficiency savings over a four-year period. This contrasts sharply with the first 62 years of the life of the NHS when it received substantial increases in funding each year (even if the voters weren’t always aware of this). Not surprisingly, the service is really feeling the strain. 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 do as women?

woman at deskAs we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March in this a General Election year it is pertinent to ask, what can we do as women ?

First of all are you registered to vote? There is still time. It is less than 100 years since all women were given the vote in the UK. Please use your vote.

Secondly, out of 650 MP’s only 148 are women and there are only four women in a Cabinet of 23. Ask your candidates their views on this disparity and how they intend to work on influencing a fairer representation of women…..a representation that fairly reflects our population. Continue reading