Would the UK be better off leaving the EU?

Euro notes and coins

Euro notes and coins

We would be substantially better off not being in the EU because the opportunity cost of us not being able to make our own trade deals with the emerging economies of the world is holding back British business. In terms of trade, the EU is now a millstone around our neck. Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, on the BBC Radio 4’s World at One on May 4.

Nigel Farage’s statement about UK trade repeats arguments regularly made by UKIP. As an EU member, the UK does not negotiate trade deals independently. Rather, the European Commission negotiates to a mandate set by the member states. His reference to “emerging economies” is because several of these countries are growing faster than, for example, most EU countries, offering growing export opportunities. Beyond this, the statement involves points presented as fact, but which are opinion – and questionable opinion at that, writes Professor Robert Ackrill. Continue reading

Fictional seven-party politics: who would win a battle of the best on-screen leaders?

House of Cards

Credit: Brian Rinker

Politicians themselves may have their faults, but recently we’ve been thinking that perhaps wickedly inventive screenwriters should shoulder some of the blame for disillusioned, apathetic voters, writes Phil Nodding and Jools Ayodeji.

It’s possible that they’ve raised public expectations by creating characters that we prefer to watch – leaving us underwhelmed by the banal and predictable platitudes of the real life party mouthpieces. 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

Transport costs – what the Politicians don’t say

uk trainsMany pledges have been made on the campaign trail, but one big question remains unanswered regarding transport, who pays? writes Dr John Disney from Nottingham Business School.

Pledges to freeze rail fares or limit fare rises to the Retail Price Index (note, not the lower Consumer Price Index) are likely to lead to claims for increased subsidy from train operators who have taken on franchises under different arrangements. Such changes in fares policy can only be implemented when a thorough review has taken place of rail franchising and that will take several years to complete. 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

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

Pro-GM but anti-EU, UKIP could cost UK farming

CowsUKIP’s proposals on food and agriculture are, unsurprisingly, framed as requiring exit from the EU and its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), writes Professor Rob Ackrill.

The CAP covers payments to farmers, and Rural Development – locally implemented activities promoting farm efficiency, environmental protection and wider rural economic development. Yet much of what is proposed does not require an EU exit to be implemented. In fact, some elements are already in operation. 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

A ‘jobs-led recovery’? Assessing the facts behind the Conservatives and Labour manifestos

WalletIn the run-up to the General Election, the two largest parties have attempted to paint different pictures of the economy, particularly what this means for people’s jobs, in order to justify their Manifesto commitments and – by extension – why they should lead the next Government, writes research fellow Chris Lawton.

The Conservative manifesto emphasises the strength of recovery in terms of the quantity of jobs created since the start of the Parliament in May 2010: “Thanks to the success of our long-term economic plan, Britain is creating more jobs than the 27 other countries of the European Union put together… Over the past five years, 1.9 million new jobs have been created; 1,000 jobs for every single day that we have been in government.” Continue reading