Posts tagged ‘UKIP’
There’s never been a British general election campaign like this one! With just over a week to go before the May 6 election day it seems from the opinion polls that big changes could be on the way.
Here the Brits stand, midway between a Continental tradition of coalition government with multiple parties, and a US-style presidential battle between party leaders. The talk in Britain is of a hung parliament with no clear majority, of coalitions and of new voting systems. For some this is a threat (“look at Belgium!”), for some a promise (“look at Germany!”).
It’s the televised debates between the party leaders which have transformed this election. Nick Clegg, relatively unknown in Britain, former member of the European Parliament, member of Leon Brittan’s cabinet in the 1990s and now leader of the UK Liberal Democrats, was given his chance to shine. In an electorate still bitter at the parliamentary expenses scandal Clegg was able to distance himself and his party from the two parties which have dominated British politics for the last 60 years and to channel some of the indignation of the public in his favour.
His appeal to younger and sceptical voters seems to be particularly telling. We’ll see after the third debate next Thursday April 29 whether the Liberal Democrats can sustain their poll rating which puts them on level pegging with the Conservatives!
Britain’s relations with the EU have played a curious role in the debate so far. For both Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown the Conservatives’ secession from the European People’s Party was a stick to beat David Cameron. “Joining with a bunch of nutters” said Clegg. Cameron refused to be drawn in response other than to refer to the Polish president’s tragic death. Cameron might after all be prime minister in two weeks’ time and need all the friends he can get.
Cameron was also circumspect on EU policy issues, providing just enough to feed the appetite of a sceptical party (“in Europe, but not run by Europe”) and attacking the failure to hold a referendum on Lisbon, but giving no hostages to fortune. Take immigration for instance, which is one of the most emotive issues in this election. David Cameron, as well as Brown and Clegg, repeatedly stressed that Conservative policies would be directed at controlling the flow of “non-EU” immigrants, with passing reference to future accessions but not even a token threat to migration within the Union.
The catch phrase of the first of the debates was “I agree with Nick”, which did Mr Clegg no harm, but Gordon Brown did attack him for being anti-American – a clear confirmation of the British prime minister’s foreign policy instincts which give as much weight to the trans-Atlantic relationship as to Europe. Given his party’s opposition to the invasion of Iraq, it was an accusation that Clegg could live with.
It is impossible to predict how the euro-sceptic UK Independence Party will do on May 6. There is little sign that Europe is playing a major part in the general campaign, but any revolt against the main parties could translate into votes for UKIP and there are parts of the country such as Cornwall where anti-EU feeling runs strongly.
No one is counting their chickens. There’s little doubt that the Liberal Democrats will do well in terms of total votes in next month’s vote, but this could well translate into second place in many constituencies – the consequence of the first-past-the-post electoral system. My own prediction, or rather guess, is that the demand for change and poor turnout will hit the Labour vote, that the Conservatives will secure a small overall majority and that the Liberals will strengthen their position in the House of Commons.
This would not be a comfortable outcome if it put a newly elected prime minister David Cameron in hock to an anti-EU fringe in his own party.
The European Commission communicated with the people today. In fact, it launched an online poll, asking us to vote on the design of a commemorate 2 EURO coin. The coin will be released on 1 January 2009 to mark the 10 year anniversary of the Euro.
I’ve never seen an online poll of this nature being launched by the Commission before and I can’t help but think that this could be a useful way to sell the EU concept to the average man-on-the-street. And at last a bit of direct democracy in action. Actually, couldn’t the same principle be used to decide the fine details of legislation? But then again, asking the public to choose the exact auctioning percentage allowance given to industry under an emissions trading scheme probably wouldn’t catch the public’s imagination.
Also is this a dangerous game by the Commission, given the new Lisbon Treaty provisions regarding citizen petitions? If a million people suggest one coin design, win or lose, surely the Commission will legally have to consider it.
Anyway, back to the poll and I’d like to make four points:
Firstly I’ve had to enter my details to vote even though a key democratic principle of voting is that it is anonymous. However, there is a trade-off. By registering my details, I get entered into a prize draw for a high-value set of euro collector coins. I wonder how high “high-value” is. The world’s most expensive coin – the ‘double gold eagle’ coin – was sold in the US in 2002 for almost £5 million. Who knows, in a 500 years, maybe this commemorative EURO coin will be worth the same.
Secondly, coin number 5 is clearly the best.
Thirdly, I’m surprised that UK citizens are allowed to vote. A pre-requisite for choosing the coin must be that you can actually use it in your country. Plus shouldn’t we expect a potential sabotage as UKIP members vote en masse for the coin number 4, clearly the least inspiring.
Fourthly, I’m a little bit disappointed that I can’t submit my own design. One EU step at a time I guess…
A week or so ago we did a round up of the institutions, parties and MEPs we had found surfing the EUtube. We also mentioned a site we had come across called TubeMogul, which allows you to compile and contrast traffic to videos on YouTube and 8 other video sharing platforms. Well a week on we thought we’d share some of the graphs that the tool can create for you. It’s free of charge at present, after a simple registration process. You have to wait a day for your data but then you are off.
We have sought to keep it simple, so we’ve contrasted the traffic for the main three political European groups (sorry UKIP) since the last entry on the subject. Despite the prevalence of Socialist MEP bloggers it seems their group is a little bit behind in the video stakes.
You can also look at the cumulative numbers, which in the case above would show the ALDE with a commanding lead. Interestingly, once you have inputted the channels you can then drill down to see the breakout of traffic over time for individual videos on the channel. As we have done here for EUTube, which is the only one of the featured YouTube channels getting serious visitor figures.
Note that on Thursday last week the UEFA/Commission video on featuring armchair football, which incidentally is worth watching, managed to overcome our favourite “Come Together” Commission offering. A case of a vid going viral for a day – or simply lots of people at UEFA having a look? Finally, here is one for the MEPs, where iJules leads the field this week.