Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
"Across our country, everyday people like you have experiences and ideas that haven't previously been heard. This is your chance to speak your mind and help set the policies that will guide this campaign and change the country"
Step 1: Present your ideas; in the form of ideas, telling your story, uploading a video or recording a message.
Step 2: Collaborate and Debate: Here Obama says "In the coming months we will be helping you collaborate with others across the nation to define and refine the best ideas and incorporate them into our vision for the future. We'll make it possible for other people to weigh your ideas and give their own thoughts on the issues."
Step 3: Define a New Direction; the philosophy being: "As the best ideas from the community are refined, we'll use your feedback to find the best and important submissions and incorporate them into the campaign's policy."
This all suggests that rather than simply commenting on policies, interaction of those who sign-up to 'My Barack Obama' will actually shape policy initiatives if he becomes the Democratic nominee and perhaps also if he becomes President; this of course is not specified.
Some forms of interaction are already going on. In an open thread begun by Scott Goodstein tells readers that "This afternoon we sent Obama supporters who signed up for text messages a note about the upcoming debate tonight... We asked folks to tune in and text us back with their thoughts about the debate. A few of the responses that came in just before the debate started: Jayson will be "watching for a Darfur question" while Kelsey wrote "you are truly inspirational and perhaps the only person capable of reversing all the damage that has been done since Bush took office". We even had a text from a Howard University student who was headed to the debate. But that all reads as just a little too censored and congratulatory.
As is the contribution from high school teacher 'Angela': "A lot of people drop out of teaching after the first couple years, because it can be an extremely difficult job," she said. "It's not great every day, but the high moments keep you going. They inspire me to be a better person. I feel like I can change things by leading by example, and I think that's part of why I respect Senator Obama-- he leads by example". There seem to be a few too many words of support to suggest that this is open debate, and the videos that are posted are more citizen endorsements than anything else (see below)
If this is a new phase in political marketing, connecting people to decision making and the design of the political offering, where is the serious debate? While those who believe in Obama and support his campaign are clearly drawn to contributing, his initiative could draw others to the campaign who feel marginalised from politics. Maybe it is too risky at this stage in the process, the danger is that it maybe perceived as rhetoric if the debate is not started.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Simon Pleasants asks "With cell phone messages becoming the latest tool in the race for cash among the campaigns, we have to wonder what the most popular reply will be in texting lingo for those who don’t want solicitations? There’s always the “$0,” as in zero, on the phone pad. Or, No tks, TTYL". Fair point, what this demonstrates is another aspect of the technology driven professional campaign that is using all resources to increase the chances of victory. Edwards is planning to start a dialogue later in the campaign, though some commentators feel this should have been the first stage, by asking people to phone in their comments and issues. hese, accompanied by Edwards' response, will be posted on his website so pulling people closer to his campaign.
“I’m calling to remind you that with just over a week before the end of the quarter the time to act is now. I’m not asking you to help us out-raise everyone else. I’m only asking you for what we need to get our message of real change out to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other key states nationwide.”
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Too high to reach ?
Yes that is the British National Party, the party who promotes repatriation and has faced a range of allegations of racism. The party claims that after delivering their first 100 leaflets that: "Already our phone has been ringing with enquirers. One nice lady said she will go away and make us a long list of things to do!"
The better angels of our nature, perhaps this is the social responsibility theme that runs through all public political discourse at the moment."Call it ‘the driving power of social conscience’, call it 'the better angels of our nature’, call it ‘our moral sense’, call it a belief in ‘civic duty’. I joined this party as a teenager because I believed in these values. They guide my work, they are my moral compass. This is who I am."
Secondly there is the responsive government theme:
His approach is to give more power over policy to the members of the party through consultation, and the public through citizen forums and citizen juries. Though there was a slight linguistic hint that this was also about gaining electoral support: "determined that we reach out to all people who can be persuaded to share our values and who would like to be part of building a more just society". Whether this means a great deal is always questionable, speeches come and go and their link to actual initiatives can often appear tenuous. So a clear and distinctly new approach, or more of the same: that is the big question!"This week marks a new start; A chance to renew. And I say to the people of Britain: The new government I will lead belongs to you. I will work hard for you. I shall always try my utmost. I am ready to serve."
by far the biggest shambles of the night was Harriet Harman. After desperately clinging on to her Cabinet position for all these years, now Blair is going, she decided to stab him in the back and reject all the principles which she herself had backed for a decade. Amnesty for illegal immigrants? Taxing the David Beckhams of the world until their hair stands on end? Going on about people buying £10,000 handbags? She's lost the plot. So Harriet, tell me, by denying somebody the right to spend their hard-earned money as they choose, why does that make the poor better off? Hitting the rich will not improve the lives of the poor - it simply gets peoples backs up that deluded government ministers are attacking them for wanting to earn a good wage and wanting the freedom to spend it how they see fit. She seems to be on a one-woman mission to kill Blairism and everything that New Labour has built up in it's decade of success. It's not an unfair comment to say that she even outflanked Cruddas on leftieness, so much so that even Cruddas himself couldn't help but lavish praise on her. And of course, then we had the charade where she quickly tried to change her second-preference to Cruddas in order to scoop up more leftie votes, but she couldn't quite manage it because she still wants to make out she can win us votes in the middle-class South. Sorry Harriet, but you've failed there spectacularly. No self-respecting middle-class family would give their votes to a party that espoused your views.
At the start of this campaign, I originally considered giving my vote to Harman as she seemed pleasant, was generally loyal to Blair and was moderate enough to win us the middle England votes. She's destroyed all that and now she's going second-bottom after Cruddas. Congratulations Harriet Harman, you've managed to scare stiff about half the British population into thinking Labour is going back to the Michael Foot era - I'm sure that's really going to help come election time against Cameron's 'heirs to Blair'.
Dream Team 2009/10
Against all the odds it seems, and only because of the second preferences on the Cruddas ballot papers, Harriet Harman pipped Alan Johnson to be elected as Labour's Deputy Leader. Reports indicate that her popularity is highest among the parliamentary party and members but not the Unions or it seems the broader public [though this pairign offers a neutral outcome when balancing out those who would vote for the two and those who would not, 15% either way]. She has positioned herself as a loyalist but with an element of independence, emphasised her long-time commitment as a campaigner against gender inequality and soemone who is pledged to focus on the next election. Interestignly a Yougov poll conducted in May suggested that "Harman beat all her competitors on recognition, being trustworthy, being in touch with family life and, crucially, on making people more likely to vote Labour"; somethign she has promoted ever since on the front page of her website. Perhaps today's respnse is an indication that she may be the best known but that few know a great deal about any of tyhe candidates, as the next election could easily be as far away as May 2009 and the Brown government has until May 2010, Harman has time to make her mark and increase her profile and popularity; perhaps emphasising the qualities the May poll perceived her as possessing. Personally, I wonder how central her Facebook group, website and blog become to her communication.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
While interesting in terms of to allowing Youtube users and Labourvision visitors to pose the six Labour deputy candidates with questions, I'm not sure what stands out when watching this. There is Michael While, as compere, replying to Benn's 'How are you' with 'I'm racing this afternoon', not to mention his success in working out Hain is before Harman alphabetically. There is then White struggling with the blogger and Youtube user's non-de-plumes (Dr Dunk gets a giggle). There is the talk of out to re-engage the grassroots by carrying on the style of debate adopted during the contest. Or there is Hazel Blears saying that she has been in discussion with 'sister socialist parties' across Europe: 'socialist' is also a word used by Jon Cruddas less surprisingly.
The important question is the level of engagement that will continue. While both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are allowing the public or members to shape their policies how Labour seek to combat these initiatives while being in government, but appear similarly keen to engage, could be very interesting.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The work of Michael Rush has documented the increased prominence of the constituency role over the last two decades, and there are two reasons for this: the increased demand for good service by constituents and the increased number of marginal seats where an incumbent needs to build themselves a profile. However, there is another side to this story. The increased power of the PM and Cabinet leaves MPs with little room to scrutinise but they are expected to rubber stamp bills. The latter should be reviewed, but the constituency link is an important one that should be retained.
One MP who served 1955-1989 argued, in an interview, "my first duty is to the people who actually elected me, my second to the country I serve, I have no duty to party it has a duty to me". Is this the ideal? Perhaps the committee should find out what the country thinks an MP should do. If they are to be lobby fodder no longer in whose interests should MPs work?
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Dizzy's Opinionated Arrogance: media monitor par excellence
Norfolk Blogger: always fascinating
Iain Dale: political journalism with a slight bias, great insider stories
Recess Monkey: another insider, always provocative
Leverwealth: Not called David (Web 2.0) Phillips for nothing
Now I feel guilty for those I omitted!! But these are ones that have made me think in the last few days, and who often inform my thinking and writing so there we go. And now the rules for how to proceed:
Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. I thought it would be appropriate to include them with the meme.
The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).
Monday, June 18, 2007
A report released by the BBC claims that there is insufficient partiality in certain areas of their programming. I would probably agree; at times. Curiously there are two instances singled out on the BBC's website: the Make Poverty History narrative embedded within one Christmas special for The Vicar of Dibley, and their coverage of Live8; while Andrew Marr is described as having an "innate liberal bias". The report concludes, according to the summary, that impartiality is "not necessarily to be found on the centre ground".
I found this report, or at least the bits extracted, as rather odd in a number of ways. Firstly, while endorsement within programming of ideas by favoured characters is persuasive, one does not get the sense that all programming supports the Make Poverty History cause; instead there are a number of narratives that could be called persuasive being run across the board. Having watched Spooks and Judge John Deed, I find them anti-government; Eastenders is often a vehicle for social marketing [highlighting the problems facing parents of babies with Downs Syndrome for example]; should all of these be balanced and how?
On the specific issue of Live8, perhaps news coverage prior to the event gave more time and focus to Bob Geldof than Gordon Brown, Tony Blair or the concurrent summit. But there is also a sense here that it was clear who had some form of mass support. If staunch critics had been given airtime, to say that the UK should keep its money and ignore the Third World, what effect could this have had upon the BBC's image?
While impartiality is a worthy goal, it is questionable whether anyone can be impartial? While BBC Trustee Richard Tait argues in the press release that one of the 12 principles must be that "Impartiality is no excuse for insipid programme-making", is this not actually the likely result of the criticisms? It is claimed that these standards will shape every sort of programme, of every genre, so will this limit the ability of drama writers to tackle controversial topics unless they present a balanced view?
Finally though, the greatest evidence for partiality, which seems unmentioned, is the cynical stance which Tony Blair was talking about last Tuesday; where the journalist simply adopts the attitude that all politicians are lying. While this is not descriptive of all coverage, it is questionable how that type of interview measures up against two of the key elements that those questioned denote impartiality: [Let us hear different people giving their own stories in their own words 80%; Stand back and ask critical and rigorous questions of others 71%]. I can imagine a few politicians would argue that the first element is usually overshadowed by the latter! And for evidence, independent of any ideological position, see this clip!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
2 things GB should be proud of:
- Firstly, I believe he is the longest serving Chancellor in modern times, and that he can say that within his ten years there has been no serious crisis but a prolonged period of stability. Whatever the criticisms of certain decisions that is a significant achievement!
- On a more trivial note, sacking Charlie Whelan comes to mind, though not a nice act in itself, Whelan makes an excellent commentator whose skills were overlooked when he was simply Brown's spin doctor
2 things GB should apologise for:
- An annoying part is his quiescence during the Blair years. There is an invisible force field that seems to separate him from the cabinet decisions. He is often reluctant both to endorse or to criticise and as such he acts more like an impartial civil servant. Perhaps he has always been keen to be seen as a separate entity...
- Pensions, Pensions, Pensions; top-up fees I can handle, but the fact that state pensions are a miserly sum is appalling whatever the economic logic.
2 things GB should do immediately when he becomes PM:
- Firstly, initiate an independent enquiry on the cash for peerages scandal that gets to the bottom of the allegations with a view to ensuring no such accusations can ever again be levelled against a British Prime Minister.
- On the same day hold a full and independent enquiry into the lead-up to and prosecution of the Iraq War.
2 things GB should do while he is PM:
- Carefully consider the effects of various pieces of anti-terror legislation on British society, social cohesion and the central tenets of modern democracy.
- Reform government communications to ensure there is openness and transparency and that a civil servant is an impartial servant of society and not a political tool of the state.
But it was the criticisms that was the focus of attention. Accuracy, within media coverage, was deemed as "secondary to impact", and that the media elided "opinion and fact... as a matter of course" through the process by which the media focus as much on the "interpretation of what a politician is saying as [them] actually saying it" causing politicians to focus their energies on "rebutting claims about the significance of things said, that bears little or no relation to what was intended". It is hard to deny that these happen, one often gets the sense that the serious political journalists such as Nick Robinson and Jon Snow believe their opinions to be of more value than anything said by a politician and they infer meaning constantly; this must be frustrating. Equally the focus on sensationalism, the tabloidisation of news, means that serious politics can be pushed to the fringes. However, despite the earlier admissions Blair refused to effectively link the two. Labour's spin machine's raison d'etre is to hide anything that could be construed as negative from the media, hence what politicians say may have broader meaning but that the meaning is couched in hyperbole. Therefore as soon as there is a whiff of spin, the Westminster pack begin to sniff for the story that is obscured from them: a vicious circle!
Perhaps strangely Blair only chose to lay blame at the doors firstly of the BBC to an extent, but then the Independent "a viewspaper not merely a newspaper". This devalued Blair's position even more than attempting to dominate the moral high ground. Yes the independent has an ideological bias, but so do all newspapers so levelling accusations against the one that most vehemently opposed Blair's policies across the Middle East seems to be just sour grapes: an odd move for a man skilled in judging public and media reactions. Thus it appeared to be Blair raising the defiant finger to his left-wing critics and not beginning a real debate on the future of the relationship between the media, the political sphere and the public.
So what can we take from the speech? Clearly there is a problem. Firstly that politicians are too media-obsessed and concerned about receiving positive coverage; secondly that the media can focus too much on opining and not informing, and on the trivial, soap opera-esque aspects of the political drama rather than serious debate. Both of these can make politicians and politics seem detached and irrelevant among the public. But we cannot claim, as Blair did, that this causes cynicism. Media malaise research proves a link, however Pippa Norris found that entertaining reporting actually engaged the audience; so there are questions regarding the effects of democracy. So was this just sour grapes? Hard to tell. While Blair opened claiming to wish to "contemplate in a broader perspective the effects of a changing world on the issues of the future" his argument seemed curiously personal and rooted in today. His points are useful to an extent, but it would be hard to find unequivocal support from academic work in this area; so perhaps all we can do is take his points on board but see this really as his last act of defiance against a media he has always appeared to be trying, but failing, to control.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Burn into the air and atmosphere
Watching the rain come down.
Turn your head away, ignore the fear.
Watching the ice crash down.
Our father’s justice gets closer,
How could you screw us all over?
Rape, steal, and murder,
God bless the Almighty Dollar.
Generals gathered in their masses,just like witches at black masses.Evil minds that plot destruction,sorcerers of death's construction.
The concluding points are that a win is virtually in the bag as long as Labour:
- remain firmly camped on the centre ground of British politics, where elections are won and lost;
- focus on campaigning in the community;
- build our strength in the key Labour-held marginal seats;
- win back the seats we never should have lost in 2005.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
"I would like to see a system whereby, if enough people sign an online petition in favour of a particular motion, then a debate is held in Parliament, followed by a vote - so that the public know what their elected representatives actually think about the issues that matter to them."The plan has the backign of Ken Clarke and is designed to reinvigorate the relationship between peopel and their political representatives, as well as the power of parliament as a legislative body.
While the details need consideration, given the fact that the public are harnessing the power of the internet to express their views already, and currently petitions gain significant support this has to be a logical step forward in re-engaging the public in the dmocratic process.
By the way for those who agree that pubs should not all be forced to switch from glass to plastic, independent of whether they actually have fights on the premises, sign the petition at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/plasticglass
If we take the headlines. Two-thirds of members would go to a friend's civil partnership; according to The Christian Institute between 80 and 84% are strongly in favour. A different question but perhaps a disparity here.
Virtually 49% oppose abortion, seemingly independent of the reasons. National polls show high variance depending on the question. The opportunity for a termination has 70-80% support, but context can reduce this and prevention of pregnancy is supported as a better alternative.
34% are regular church-goers; Nationally this is 10% and sporadic.
34% also argue Immigration has been generally good for Britain; This is far higher than the national average in 2006 which was at 14%.
30% give money to International Development. Again this is higher than the national average for postal donations (21%) but two-thirds give on the street or to door-to-door collectors; so mixed responses maybe.
20% believe there should be no sex before marriage; surprisingly 25-33% agreed in a 2001 survey.
16% ride a bicycle, however Cameron is part of a 27.3% of the wider population according to research.
Only 3.2% are vegetarians, as opposed to 12% of the population.