‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Friday, 30 November 2012

By-election warning to all three main parties

The by-elections of 2012 show the continuing centrifugal trend in voting, which is well established in political defections (see my posts for 5 and 23 October). Voters and defectors are currently moving away from the centre ground of British politics and in some cases away from voting altogether. Some are persuaded by simplified arguments on complex issues such as immigration and Europe. Some are disillusioned with all the candidates on offer.

In the 1951 election 99.3% of those who voted opted for the three main parties (in fact 96.8% voted for just Labour or the Conservatives). At the 2010 election 88.1% of voters opted for the three main parties (with only 65.1% voting for Labour or the Conservatives). On current trends these figures looks likely to drop further at the next general election.

The main parties are now faced with a strategic choice – chase the voters to the margins, or bring the voters back to the centre ground.  The major parties have generally acted as though ‘addressing’ voters’ issues on Europe and immigration means conceding some ground on policy to smaller parties such as the BNP and Ukip, rather than putting up a robust counter-argument to bring voters back to the centre. 

The three main parties actually have a common interest in addressing the Leveson recommendations, Europe, MPs’ expenses, party funding and immigration. Whether they will or not, remains to be seen.

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