Tag Archives: politics

Take rosettes out of politics to help resuscitate democracy


This is not a radical cry for the removal of political parties from our decision making mechanism. Far from it. This is merely a cry to those tiny number of people on the insides of national and local parties. Please, for the love of Hynd’s Blog, take off those ridiculous rosettes.

They are a symbol of one of the strongest held perceptions in politics and that is that politicians cannot be trusted. If you want to be listened to – start by taking off your rosettes.

For a long-time now I have encouraged any candidate of any political party to take off their rosette. This normally occurs when they are about to go infringing on people’s personal space and time by ‘door knocking’.

I do this not because their particular flavour of political party might be unpopular than but because politics per se is.

Or, to be more accurate, politicians are.

By wearing a rosette politicians shoot themselves in the foot on the first step they hope to take on their journey of democratic representation.

At the crux of my argument is the assertion that if you want a constituent to talk to you, let alone trust or vote for you, then you need to give yourself a fighting chance in the first few seconds on the doorstep. This is unlikely to happen if you were a badge that basically says, ‘Watch out, I’m a politician.’

As much as you might honestly believe that you are different to all the others, or your party is not like those overs, most people don’t share these subtleties. They see you – a politician – as untrustworthy.

New polling from IPSOS-Mori out today highlights how deeply rooted this mistrust of politicians is. Just 16% of respondents said they would trust a politician to tell the truth. This is an opinion as old as IPSOS-Mori’s polling.

In other words, even if you got a constituent to listen to you, about 84% of constituents wouldn’t trust what you have to say. This is more than bankers…a profession not known at the moment for their commitment to honesty.

This might seem like a trivial point but it is one of the pebbles on the starting line of democracy that is tripping up genuine interaction and engagement.

It’s axiomatic that the removal of the rosette is only the first step to rebuilding trust. The long road ahead in our efforts to resuscitate democracy involves strange concepts like keeping promises and working hard to represent constituents needs.

But that is for tomorrow. Today, still with 4 months left until the election, I beg and implore candidates and sitting MPs, MEPs and Cllrs alike – get rid of those ridiculous rosette.


Filed under Politics

UKIP and Greens to influence the 2015 General Elections

Both UKIP and the Green Party are consistently polling at record highs. Hynd’s Blog takes a look at how this might impact the outcome of the 2015 General Election. 

polling station
There is a broad feeling within the Westminster bubble that Labour will win the most seats at the next election. Opinion polls, with the exception of the aftermath of Miliband’s farcical conference speech when he forgot to mention the deficit (opps), show that Labour have consistently polled a few points ahead of the Tories.

Significantly though few expect them to secure enough seats to form a majority government. This means that a coalition is more than possible.

The latest uniform swing predictions put Labour short of an absolute majority by just one seat.

uniform swingIf this prediction comes true then Labour could comfortably (mathematically speaking) enter into coalition with one or a range of parties and rule with a majority government.

However, there is also a scenario where the Lib Dems (currently estimated to pick up 23 seats) fail to have enough support to help Labour secure a coalition with an overall majority.

With this in mind, the relative rise of both UKIP and the Greens and the demise of the Lib Dems takes on a whole new level of interest. No longer is it a given that the Lib Dems will secure enough seats to be able to go into coalition with Labour (or Conservatives) and form a majority government.

It is also worth looking at how in key marginal battle grounds the new found support for both UKIP and Greens might cause a split in the vote a cause an upset.

Those, including myself, who used to talk about the UKIP support just being an electoral blip, have surely enough evidence in front of them now to admit that they were wrong. Equally after a strong showing at May’s European elections and continued growth in support in opinion polls the Greens are increasingly securing their places as a major player in British politics – despite many commentators patronizing dismissal.

To illustrate the current consistent support both the Green Party and UKIP are enjoying I have looked back over the last 10 YouGov voting intention polls. This show that both UKIP and the Green Party are relatively consistent in their new highs within the polls (16-18 % and 5-7% respectively).


The next obvious question then is to ask where this new found support for these two relative outsiders is coming from.

Peter Kellner over at YouGov provides us with this useful infographic from surveys that had a collective sample is 26,724, of whom 1,314 said they would vote Green and 3,401 Ukip:
UKIPGreen demo
Kellner analysed these findings saying:

“In many ways the Greens and Ukip are mirror images of each other. Half of Ukip’s supporters are ex-Tory voters, while the Greens attracted half of their vote from the Lib Dems. Green voters are younger, more female, better-educated and more middle-class than the average – whereas Ukip voters are older, more male, more working class and far less likely to have a university degree. Ukip voters veer to the Right in ideology and choice of newspaper, while Greens veer to Left.”

UKIP, although picking up working class Labour voters, are overwhelmingly picking up former Tory voters. The Greens on the other-hand are picking up a lot of former Lib Dem voters.

If the Greens maintain this level and demographically specific support we can expect to see:

  • Greens returning Caroline Lucas as MP in Brighton Pavillion (Labour’s number one target seat in the South East).
  • A possible second MP in former Lib Dem strong holds (they are targeting Norwich South and Bristol West).
  • A significant impact on Tory/Labour marginals (likely to dent the Labour vote).
  • An increased threat of sitting Lib Dem MPs losing their seats – this is especially true in Lib Dem/Labour marginals.
  • Greens increasing their vote share across the country looking to secure deposits (by securing 5% or more of vote) and possibly beating the Lib Dems.

If UKIP maintain this level and demographically specific support we can expect to see:

  • The standing UKIP MPs (who knows how many other current Conservative MPs will follow Douglas Carswell’s example and defect) returned with little challenge.
  • UKIP gaining a significant number of seats (exact numbers are hard to predict but probably the gains will be counted on one hand).
  • A significant impact on Tory/Labour or Lib Dem marginal (likely to dent the Tory vote more than the Lib Dem/Labour vote).
  • An increase in vote share leaving them with at least double that of the Lib Dems.

In addition there is also a small chance, that UKIP (and even less likely Greens and nationalists) will secure enough MPs to become the minority partner in a coalition themselves – unlikely though.

With all this said and done we are left with more questions than answers: Is this the end of two party politics in the UK? Is our electoral system up to the job with the potential demise of two party politics? Will the Lib Dems enter back into coalition? Would Greens look to join a progressive alliance to form a government? Will Nigel Farage become the next DPM?

So much of this that seemed like an impossibility 4 years ago suddenly seems dramatically possible! When all the talk is of voter apathy it strikes me that there never has been a more exciting time to be involved in politics as the status quo is ripped wide open.

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The great Ed Miliband makeover

Last week I wrote of the ‘image’ problem that Ed Miliband – and by extension Labour – has. I highlighted the fact that the latest polls suggest just 26% of the electorate think Miliband is doing his job well and a whopping 64% think he is doing it badly.

To put it bluntly, this is not the sort of image that a potential Prime Minister in waiting wants.

Interestingly then in today’s Times ($), Sam Coates writes:

‘Labour’s new American election strategist will give Ed Miliband a makeover to make him more appealing to voters, amid jitters among senior party figures over a dip in the party’s poll ratings.’

This ‘American election strategist’ is of course the six figured salary man, Mr David Axelrod who oversaw Obama’s two election victories.

The Times article goes onto state that the Miliband makeover will,

‘look at Mr Miliband’s performance in front of the cameras. Until recently this was not a feature of Labour’s election planning. ‘There is no strategy for Ed the person,’ one senior figure said recently, despite widespread criticism of his performances. The party has been aware for several months that this is an issue. It has conducted focus groups in which members of the public were shown clips of Mr Miliband on television. The participants reacted badly.’

Or as the Daily Mail so tactfully puts it:

Ed’s dismal ratings: Four years on, he’s still less popular than Brown’

That’s right, whilst in opposition to an incredibly unpopular government, Ed Miliband is still less popular than Gordon Brown was in the dying days of the New Labour disaster.

It is interesting to see that this is on the Labour radar but one wonders, what’s the solution other than a coup d’état of the Labour Party leadership?

Can Labour win a majority in 2015 with Ed has the helm?

I don’t think so.


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Politics, passion and underground protest music

Put bluntly, Anglo-American popular music…whether it’s metal, rap, teen-pop or indie-rock, cannot help but stand for a depressingly conservative set of values”John Harris

Harris expresses a sentiment many of us feel – in our hearts of hearts, we know that there is something missing in modern music – a politics, a passion, a sense of protest.

The music mainstream is characterised by ‘soulless music, artless lyrics, goalless movements and heartless gimmicks’ and yet under our feet a revolution brews from the stages of music venues across the country.

This revolution has no base other than music’s third world, the underground.

I refer to the underground, as the ‘third world’ to reflect the Peruvian American rap artist Immortal Technique’s observations…that the underground has all the natural resources, the talent, the man power and the passion, but has none of the access to the music markets that remain so manipulated and dominated by the powerful few.

Just like the third world though, the underground also spawns creativity, protest and resistance.

While the mainstream stays eerily quiet, the pulse of popular resistance beats on. Musicians are coming together to articulate what many of us feel but are unable to express. These musicians are uncaring of the marketability of their work.

They offer the discerning listener a raw, passionate and articulate response to the injustices we see and feel.

While traditional structures teach us that the love between two men is immoral the music of the underground gives us the poetry to resist this prejudice.

From The King’s Will’s ‘Love Against Homophobia’:

To some people 
My love is somewhat alien;
When he comes up, they start subject-changing, and
In some states he’s seen as some contagion –
In those zones, he stays subterranean;
Some love my love; they run parades for him:
Liberal citizens lead the way for him:
Same time as some countries embracing him,
Whole faiths and nations seem ashamed of him:
They’ve tried banning him,
God-damning him,
Toe-tagging him,
Prayed that he stayed in the cabinet,
But my love kicked in the panelling, ran for it –
He’s my love! Can’t be trapping him in labyrinths! –
Maverick, my love is; he thwarts challenges;
The cleverest geneticists can’t fathom him,
Priests can’t defeat him with venomous rhetoric;
They’d better quit; my love’s too competitive:
He’s still here, despite the Taliban, the Vatican,
And rap, ragga in their anger and arrogance,
Who call on my love with lit matches and paraffin –
Despite the fistfights and midnight batterings –
My love’s still here and fiercely battling,
My love’s still here and fiercely battling,

In this underground world, lyrics carry the sentiment of a generation growing up surrounded by violence and prejudice that we are unable to articulate a response to.

The underground does not demand protest but offers a fertile space for resistance to grow.

The underground crosses causes, continents and musical genres. Just as under the streets of Harlem you will find the dirty beats of subversive hip-hop, so under the soil of Middle-England you find the subversive chords of new-folk…and no, I’m talking about Mudford and fucking Sons.

Chris T-T for example expresses the concerns of the rural working classes as he takes on The Countryside Alliances’ (we’ll call them ‘the cunts’ for short) hypocrisy when he sings:

You loved the fucking poll tax, you propped up Margaret Thatcher
And you didn’t give a fuck about Tony Blair
‘Til he threw your hobby back at ya

Of course, a world-wide underground does not escape attention. Immortal Technique comments on this in his track ‘Open your eyes’ when he says, “When they [The  Record Companies] need new assets, new artists to prostitute…, when they needed new concepts… they came to the underground”

Often music that pushes moral, social and musical boundaries becomes the pre-fix to new trends – new marketable trends. Subversive characters are marketable – think of John Lydon and his butter adverts.

So how should we, as consumers, respond to artists who rise up from the streets and onto the record company’s balance sheets?

Should we walk away from the likes of Frank Turner who sing of liberty and freedom whilst playing at the G4S/ATOS sponsored Olympics? No, of course not.

There is nothing inherent about protest being distinct from populism, and certainly nothing inherent about poverty and protest. Billy Bragg stands as a testimony as someone who has ridden a wave of popularity and prosperity and remained, relatively speaking, true to his values.

When Turner is quoted in The Guardian saying that “Rock n Roll will save us all” and that “anyone can take the stage” – The Guardian ‘raises an eyebrow’. For the rest of us it offers a signpost to resistance that surfaces in the mainstream.

When protest music such as Bragg, Turner or even Dylan rise up on to the airwaves and newspaper sheets of the masses, we should be pleased but we should never lose sight of where it came from.

The Underground.

Only in here will you find the raw passion, politics and protest that we are missing in most of our modern music.


Filed under Music, sexuality, Social comment

I am off to drink cider and roll around in some mud for a while – can that be political?

We are not just having a dig at Bono - shame!

That’s right ladies and gents – I am off to deepest darkest Glastonbury to drink cider and roll around in mud for a few days. Glastonbury is without doubt one of the best music festivals in the world (putting aside my gripes about this year’s “headliners”).

Yet, there is no real rest for this particular political blogger. Glastonbury is also unique for the amount of awareness raising it does for a number of causes that are close to my heart including, Oxfam, Wateraid and Greenpeace.

This year however, the festival is going one better. There is a grass roots movement happening organised by Art Uncut which aims to highlight the tax dodging of Bono and U2 (who are headlining the festival…As I said, no comment on the choice of headliners). Art uncut explains Bono’s situation as follows:

Before 2006 U2 Ltd, which deals with U2’s royalties payments, was registered in Ireland, the band’s native country, for tax purposes. At the time, Ireland had an astonishing policy of allowing artists to pay zero tax on royalties. In 2006, quite sensibly one might think, the Irish government decided to cap the income which can be subject to this exemption at 250,000 Euros per annum. Following this change in the law, U2 Ltd decided to move their tax affairs to Holland in order to pay less tax.

As such, they are dedicating a whole weekend of protesting to this situation including a high-profile protest at the gig itself. I look forward to seeing what will unfold. They insist that this is not just “having a dig” at Bono (which is a shame because I think that’s a pretty good reason in itself) but to raise awareness of the ethics of taxation. Christian Aid estimates that poor countries receive $160 billion less because of tax dodging. The Art Uncut movement make a full explanation of the problem here.

Glastonbury will defiantly provide incredible entertainment, from the mighty Gas Light Anthem, to the beautiful Laura Marling to the not so beautiful (but still lovely) Mark Thomas. It will also however, put ideas and causes to the forefront of people’s minds.

Whether or not people remember them after a few glasses of West Country cider though remains to be seen.

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