Monday, March 15, 2010

Party priorities: Putting together the playlist

Over the next few weeks I'll write some posts looking at the priorities of the main political parties. In line with my recent post about being open to voting for smaller parties I'm planning to look at about nine.

I could have begun by looking at what each party thought about a policy area - e.g. health, education, but this can be misleading. All parties have a certain amount of political will and capital that they can spend on the things they care most about. UKIP may have a wonderful transport policy, but chances are they're not going to spend a lot of time talking about it when they knock on doors.

I'm going to try and catch the mood music in a party - the prominent melodies, ideas and themes. I won't rely just on what the parties themselves say are their priorities, but look at how the overall composition of actions and words comes across . Although I'm not going to be completely unopinionated (I'm guessing you won't be shocked) I will try and give people the benefit of the doubt - it would be very easy to tear into the contradictions within every party and just create lots of noisy feedback.

I'm not planning to look at the Northern Irish parties, although in the unlikely event that I have any readers across the Irish Sea I'm happy to do requests!

So the top 9 in share of the vote from 2005 are as follows: Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, UKIP, SNP, Green, BNP, Plaid Cymru & Respect. Depending on how things go I may throw in the Liberal party, the English Democrats and the Christian Peoples Alliance. There's no end of tiny parties out there to choose from, although most of these are only fielding candidates in a few of the 650 seats.

Only five of the parties can claim any kind of national reach: UKIP have currently declared 438 candidates and the Green Party 295. The BNP currently cover one fifth of constituencies with 137. Small parties normally have a wider base than is evident at a general election, as the first past the post system and large constituencies prevent much progress. Most put their limited resources into European and local elections where victory is more plausible.

I'm going to approach them in alphabetical order which means I'll be starting with the BNP. Trying to exclude the BNP from political debate is counter productive. Whether you like it or not they articulate the concerns of at least 0.7% of the population (2005) and in a liberal democracy everyone deserves the right to be heard.

1 comment:

  1. Will look forward to this Jonathan. Remembering hot debates we've had in years past I would value your views more than the main stream press. Agree regarding BNP. Let them talk, as they did on Question Time last year, and that will be enough to convince most people not to vote for them. Rob