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

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

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

Why social media won’t win the election (this time)

In the few years since a new generation of social media have transformed our idea of staying connected and reaching out to others, the online world has quickly turned into a political arena, writes Dr Jens Binder.

The 2008 US presidential elections, the YouTube elections, and the role of Twitter and other services during the Arab Spring are just two of the most prominent examples. It is to be expected that from now onwards every major election will be run, scrutinised, analysed and commented upon offline as well as online. Indeed, analysts have been quick to find social media metrics such as link shares and retweets on Twitter to provide further measures of conventional mass media campaigns such as the party leaders’ TV debate.

Although the trend is clear – there is no going back to the era before social media – it is very challenging to ascribe specific politics-related effects to media use. In the following, some of the likely and not so likely benefits of social media engagement on the side of political parties will be considered. Continue reading

Challenges facing the housing market

Council housingIncreasing house prices, limited housing supply, and problems of affordability characterise the housing market. 30 years of very limited new building in social rented housing have led to increasing numbers of households in private renting and renting for longer. Limited wage growth and risk aversion by banks since the financial crisis has meant that saving for a deposit has become more challenging.

The Help to Buy policy introduced by the Coalition government has tried to address this issue effectively reducing the amount that borrowers need to pay upfront. The Conservative party has indicated that it would retain this policy to 2020 if re-elected in 2015. Continue reading

Political Forecasting Unit – UK Election Forecast – 14 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

Political Storytelling and the Land of Make-Believe

Political storytelling

Dr Kevin J. Hunt is a senior lecturer in Visual Culture

Politicians talk a lot. Communicating clear ideas and workable policies to voters is key to winning an election and an inevitable part of political rhetoric relies upon telling stories. Representing a policy through a narrative description is a way of personalising an issue and perhaps helping a potential voter relate to an idea that might otherwise appear abstract. This is why politicians often recount how they met someone ‘just the other day’ who is due to benefit from their party’s policies and why, in live events, the candidates try to remember the names of audience members to indicate they are listening and responding to a specific situation affecting a real person. The aim is to show that a vote for that particular party will deliver a happier ending than any of the alternatives on offer. In other words, politicians work hard to construct narratives that they hope the electorate will believe in, repeat to other people, and vote for. Continue reading

Universities should be at the heart of our national debate

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University

Can we expect an unaccustomed and not entirely welcome focus on universities at the coming General Election? Or are we in a position where, as Oscar Wilde said, ‘There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about’.

It is a delightful epigram, but not one that those responsible for our major universities would necessarily endorse in the lead up to one of the most uncertain elections in recent history. Continue reading