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What is politics?

By Tom Papworth
February 28th, 2012 at 2:10 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Comedy


Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.” – Ernest Benn


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The realignment of British Politics

By Simon Goldie
January 3rd, 2012 at 11:30 am | 6 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Jo Grimond, former Liberal party leader in the 1960s, famously argued for a realignment of the Left. When the SDP formed some thought this was the beginning of that realignment.

Now that the Liberal Democrats are governing in coalition with the Conservatives, the idea of a Left realigning that includes the Liberal Democrats seems fanciful.

Tom Papworth, in his post A Labour Party we could work with, sets out what he sees as the conditions for a coalition with Labour: not so much a realignment, more a practical arrangement dependent on what the voters do at the next general election.

The conditions that Tom sets out for the Liberal Democrats and Labour to work together reflect something else as well.

As all three parties adapt their policies to the changing economic situation and challenges that new technologies bring, we are seeing not so much a realignment of the Left but a realignment of British politics.

Politicians from all three parties talk about people having more control over public services, we hear about an enabling and responsive State and about giving power away.

People have different expectations of their politicians these days. As ideology has disappeared from public debate people see parties as a consumer choice: who will do their best for me?

Given people more control over their lives plays into the liberal playbook. But all parties are heading in the same direction. Each one needs to find ways to fit their approach and values to this new world.

For the third party, struggling in the polls, it is imperative that the Lib Dems carve out a niche that separates the party from the others.


A wave of referendums coming our way?

By Angela Harbutt
December 14th, 2009 at 11:30 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Culture, UK Politics

simon-cowell1YES, if Simon Cowell has his way……


In an interview with Newsnight this evening Simon Cowell admitted to giving serious thought to a political X Factor style show. In the interview he talks about picking a topic each show e.g “Should we be in or out of Afganistan and Iraq” ….”Knife crime” … (Capital Punishment???) , talking about it ( a bit vague on detail), a panel of “experts” to comment – and then “the public vote”.

What seems to tickle his fancy is the idea of “the people having their say”…well eventually . Ok what he probably means is telephone voting (a nice little earner for his company and the TV channel broadcasting the show no doubt) but the idea is intriging and will doubtless send waves of fear/excitement reverberating around Westminster. With a Simon Cowell show this would not be “a poll” of 900 people from some pre-selected panel, balanced by blah blah blah – this would be hundreds of thousands, millions possibly, making their views felt. Politicians doorstepped the next-day for their views on their party’s policies in light of the results……oh the chaos….

What sounded optimisitic was his idea that he could run 5 or 6 of these before the next general election (well that might prompt Gordon Brown to pull his finger out at least). But what Simon Cowell wants, Simon Cowell gets (can you really see a cash-strapped ITV turning down ANY Simon Cowell project right now?). 

This has a real chance of  getting off the ground. If he is serious….Cowell’s reputation would (a) almost certainly ensure that his programme would be snapped up by the lucky channel he talks to because  (b) Cowell’s reputation would undoubtedly guarantee substantial viewing figures to at least trialling it. After that it will down to just how good the show actually is – and he is as good as it gets – I cant see it being a turkey myself. 

Personally I liked the idea of the “red telephone” – enabling NO10 to call at any time during the show. Kirsty Wark could envisage Brown falling over Mandelson falling over Balls to get to the phone first … I am not so sure… but I can see Mr Hilton and David Cameron (as indeed Tony Blair would have) realising the wonderful opportunites that this might present. 

So could this be the new age of democracy?

Could Simon Cowell be the man needed to re-enage the public with politics? Will any of us like the answers the public gives us ? Could he actually achieve what Rupert Murdoch has tried so hard to do for soooooo long (financing loss making enterprises such as Sky News along the way) to influence politics in a significant way. The answer to the last question is yes, he could, and make money out of it. I have no doubt.

So brace yourselves, “Simon Cowell – the KING of Entertainment”, might just be set to be the “Simon Cowell – the most influential person in politics”. As Newsnight says…”The X man cometh”….

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