According to several pundits, the Leave vote in 2016 would precipitate a realignment in UK Politics. Whilst Brexit has dominated the political discourse ever since, the main parties remain intact and the voters are faced with the same choices they faced before the referendum.
The first National Assembly of the Renew Party may herald the beginning of a challenge to that status quo. The event taking place in Westminster today welcomed around 200 activists who gathered to discuss ideas and plan the disruption of the status quo, with the primary goal of pushing a second referendum. Party co-leader Annabel Mullin revealed that the party already has around 120 candidates in place to fight the next election with that number expected to rise significantly. “We are planning for elections… local, regional and national,” Mullin confirmed.
Whilst the party is still small, the resounding applause for every single speaker, indicates that The Renew Party may well be the most unified party in the country.
The first past the post system in the UK means that most of our votes don’t count. It’s been suggested by the electoral reform society that up to three quarters were wasted in 2015. Some voters don’t bother voting, many vote tactically but many can’t because the party they support is likely to be third or worse in their constituency. In 2015, 50% of votes were cast for losing candidates .
Swap my Vote has been created to tackle that problem. The platform uses social media to help pair voters who want to swap, each casting each other’s preferred vote where it counts most.
You decide which party to support and a party you would be willing to vote for tactically in your local constituency. The platform delivers a list of people with the opposite preference. Pick a partner to swap your vote with (the polls can help you see where it will make most difference). If your partner agrees to the swap, it is confirmed. Swap my Vote also puts you in touch with each other’s Facebook or Twitter profiles.
Yesterday, Channel 4 presenter, Krishnan Guru-Murthy posted on Twitter about the refusal of many politicians to answer questions from the public and journalists. He asked whether we should end the free airtime given to politicians who offer slogans, speeches and pooled clips without allowing their views to challenged.
“Would you like to end the slogan-dominated election speeches and see politicians properly questioned? The reason they get away with their current accountability-light campaigning is partly because the media facilitates it.
“We cover their speeches and events on a pooled (shared) basis so they know their slogans will be on TV and social media regardless. They get this free platform whether or not they agree to answer questions from either the public or journalists. If the media acted together it could say speeches only get covered if there is proper questioning. Would this be right or wrong?
“For example : Chancellor was to do interviews today. Yesterday said no presenters but yes to corrs. Now he’s just done a pooled clip.”
In every election the main parties keep certain politicians away from the media spotlight due to their divisiveness or unpopularity. Until his rather faltering appearance on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning James Hunt was noticeable by his absence.
The leading light of the Brexit vote Boris Johnson has been keeping a low profile and it is being said that several of his Cabinet colleagues want him sidelined. Boris isn’t however easily gagged and he’ll be making a foreign policy speech later today and has a number of broadcast appearances planned later this week.
The Time has reported that at least three senior ministers want the PM to silence the foreign secretary. One said ‘BoJo’ should be given “lots of important meetings in various foreign capitals” between now and the election on June 8.
That said there’s lots of comment in social channels that the PM, who has ruled out TV debates is herself keeping a low profile. With a 20+ point lead in the polls it probably doesn’t matter much whether or not she talks to voters.
Broadcaster Cathy Newman hit the headlines after she tweeted on Sunday to say that “ushered out of” the South London Islamic Centre in Streatham.
She had was taking part in Visit My Mosque day and said afterwards that she believed it must have been a men-only mosque, but was not made aware of this at the time. CCTV footage shows Newman leaving on her own after speaking to someone inside the mosque.
Today she announced her decision to break from Twitter as a result of the controversy.
@cathynewman1/4 I have written to South London Islamic Centre and offered my sincere apologies for tweets sent in haste after I visited there in error.
@cathynewman 2/4 I accept my tweets were inappropriate and regret the use of the word “ushered”.
@cathynewman 3/4 My language was poorly chosen and has caused a great deal of offence. I deeply regret that this happened.
@cathynewman 4/4 I shall now be taking a break from Twitter.
A new system of individual voter registration has wiped a million people off the electoral register with students particularly affected.
People now have register to vote individually rather than one member of a household or a college residence filling in the form. The number of people registered to vote has fallen sharply in many university towns. The Electoral Commission has said that 30% of 18 to 24-year-olds are currently not registered to vote.
Today (5th February 2015) is National Voter Registration Day (NVRD)created by the non-partisan Bite The Ballot group with the aim of inspiring as many as possible register to vote ahead of the 2015 General Election. Co-founder, Michael Sani, said: ‘NVRD is a day for the nation to come together. It’s a day for all of us, as citizens, to celebrate our democratic rights. But it’s also a chance to prove to decision-makers that we hold a stake in society; that we’re registered, that we’ll vote – and that we want more from our democracy’.
Last night the day was launched with the hashtag #NVRD and a ballot box projected on to the House of Commons in partnership with the UK Parliament.
Anyone can register online now here https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and find our more about Bite the Ballot here http://bitetheballot.co.uk/nvrd/#sthash.bsM48Z1b.dpuf
People must register before the 20 April deadline or they will not be able to register to vote in the election.
Earlier this year the UK Parliament posted a quick, handy video guide to the General Election on their official YouTube channel. Suprisingly there’s a Monty Python reference in there. Can you spot it?