Remain need to form an Anti-Brexit alliance to fight the election

While the Tories are busy being inwardly-focused and dreaming of the easily-won Brexit paradise as promised by Boris Johnson, the Remain side need to be thinking of the likely next General Election. The million dollar question must be whether they can form an Anti-Brexit alliance. The lesson of the last few years should be that the old two party voting pattern has broken down, or is at least on its last legs, to be replaced by a multi-party system, and that winning a majority has become very difficult. Thus a coalition will be needed and Remain need it to be their one. As Ian Dunt argues here, there are only two pro-Brexit parties and there are signs that they could ally. Given the multiplicity of Remain parties, the facing-both-ways ambiguity of Labour, and lack of a political home for the … Read more

Electoral law is being undermined and this is a risk for democracy

An important sign that a democracy is less than healthy must surely be when people cease to follow the rules which sustain it. Today has revealed yet more evidence that the Leave campaigns in the 2016 UK referendum broke electoral law. It is crucial to democratic elections that they observe the law, that there is no undue influence exerted at any stage, and that money is correctly spent. The risk in today’s febrile climate is that if the law has been broken, especially as in this case where the result was so narrow, people will start to question the legitimacy of the result. Thus faith in the system can be undermined and in a very severe crisis resort be made to further illicit activity. In the case of the UK referendum, the evidence is that spending limits were breached by … Read more

Data manipulation and the murky world of political advertising

Recent investigative journalism has shone a bright light on the murky world of digital data mining and political advertising. A US-UK company, Cambridge Analytica, with an off-shoot the Canadian firm Aggregate IQ, have been found to have mined huge quantities of personal profiles on Facebook and turned the data into a means for highly personal and psychologically targeted political advertising that some consider could have helped swing elections in marginal constituencies such as the Trump Presidential in 2016. Such is the concern over data manipulation that questions are being asked about the adequacy of the law in the digital age and whether further strengthening of regulators and a catch-up in electoral law are needed on both sides of the Atlantic. Why should political observers be concerned? The recent rapid growth of social media The context is the rapid shift towards … Read more

The strange death of the post-war British political order

When major change happens it can be hard to see what’s really happening. All is flux and uncertainty. In the British 2015 general election fundamental change is happening before our eyes and yet we can’t see what it is. We persist in thinking in terms of the old model of the political order when it has already gone and things have shifted beyond what we can conceive. It will take time for the new dispensation to make itself clear. What has happened is that the traditional post-war model of the nationwide two-party system elected by the “First Past the Post” (FPTP) electoral system in a unicameral, centralised state has finally hit the buffers and no longer works. Yet politicians and to an extent voters still think in those traditional terms when actually a fundamental re-alignment of the political order is … Read more

The great Scottish Nationalist wipe-out is a paradigm shift

The massive poll leads for the Scottish National Party (SNP) reported recently offers to change everything politically north of the border post the 2015 general election. It will be the great Scottish Nationalist wipe-out of their opponents which has been predicted since the 1970’s and now possible due to the dynamics of the 2014 independence referendum and the consequences of the 2008 financial crash. The SNP probably rightly senses that there’s a great opportunity, possibly a once-in-a-lifetime one, where it can control the balance of power at Westminster very much as the Irish Home Rulers did in the late 19th century and thus bring about a major shift towards home rule for Scots. Replacing Labour as the Scottish left-of-centre force They have been able to capitalise brilliantly on the massive explosion of enthusiasm for independence, particularly amongst the young, exposing … Read more

A hung Parliament after the 2015 election is a scary prospect

The likelihood of a hung parliament as a result of the 2015 UK election is causing a lot of uncertainty but worse than that the balance of forces is for once very unpredictable, and this in a country that “does not love coalitions”. The related forces of the rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in England, as shown in opinion polls, and the revolt against the traditional “major” parties, mean that instead of the old two-horse race between Conservative and Labour, there are now likely to be a third force of the SNP sweeping up almost all seats in Scotland and, along with a plethora of small parties, able to control the balance of power. There’s no one obvious political grouping; there may be a governing coalition or a minority … Read more

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