Jonathan Bartley's blog

An ‘irrelevant’ argument? No, actually

For years, the Lib Dems have struggled with the accusation of ‘irrelevance’. They have pointed out quite rightly that smaller parties struggle against an electoral system which works against them, and media which give most of the attention to the two big parties.

For Nick Clegg to now lay into the SNP leader as "irrelevant" and a "two bit player" smacks of double standards. Nether does it do anything to encourage respect, or aid the development of a ‘new politics’. But the most important point is that it perpetuates an arrogant narrative also held by the two big parties, which suggests that smaller parties have little of value to say.

The electoral myth of redemptive violence

Two interesting comments so far today about the use of (verbal) violence in politics and election campaigns.

Walter Wink amongst others, has highlighted the 'Myth of Redemptive Violence' which extends too to the words that are used, and suggests there is another, and better way - particularly when it comes to blows to the face.

How powerful is your vote?

How powerful is your vote? There's now a new website which can tell you.

In the 2005 election, more than half of all voters voted against their winning MP. There were an estimated 25 million wasted votes, which were 'thrown away'.

In the absence of a proportional voting system, in the UK, the voters with real power to choose the government are those who live in marginal constituencies, and these are who the main parties and media focus on.

David Cameron’s ‘maximum wage’ could affect around 200 people (possibly)

A few weeks ago I argued on BBC1’s Big Questions for a ‘maximum wage’ – a link between the lowest paid workers and the highest paid, to tackle inequality. The idea has been proposed by the New Economics Foundation.

Writing in today’s Guardian David Cameron seems to be advocating it for the public sector:

'Efficiency savings'? This row is about people, not numbers

The row over the proposed National Insurance increase has continued today, which some are interpreting as small change. It is true that £6 billion isn’t very much compared to the overall annual Government budget of hundreds of billions.

What has become lost in the row - and is symptomatic of a much wider problem with many election issues - is that this is about people’s lives. To put things in a different perspective, £6 billion is also what it costs to employ 300,000 people a year on £20,000.

Ethical election games: 'Follow the Leader'

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) have produced a fantastic tool which will highlight how the big party leaders will be spending their time this election - targeting a very small number of marginal seats. It will be very revealing about where their values lie.

BBC Today Programme stoking immigration debate?

Those who want a sensible debate about migration would have been frustrated by The Today Programme stoking up the issues this morning when John Humphrys interviewed Gordon Brown.

Michael Caine: 'Self-Preservation Society' or 'Big Society' ?

The Tories brought out Michael Caine to their press conference this morning alongside David Cameron, which raises serious questions about the extent to which they believe 'we are all in this together'.

What message does this send? As well as showing how willing some parties are to embrace the cult of celebrity, it also shows how Cameron (and Caine) are reluctant to tackle the issue of growing inequality. This seems to be more about the 'Self-Preservation Society' than the 'Big Society'.

Gordon Brown’s heckler ‘shouts at the world’, Murdoch, Mail and calls George Osborne a ‘slimeball’

So we have the first heckle of the election campaign. Ben Butterworth (@benbutterworth) shouted at Gordon Brown this afternoon and then proudly tweeted: “might be in the news later chasing Gordon Brown to his limo asking why I couldn't get my boy into a decent state school. He didn't answer.”

Busting the myths about immigration

The Migration Parliamentary Group has produced two fact-sheets prior to the election to help deliver a more balanced debate.

Each fact-sheet challenges one big myth surrounding migration, which is often repeated in public debate, with links to research: