This blog collects perspectives on the election you won't find anywhere else, by political experts, based in the School of Politics and International Relations at The University of Nottingham.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Oh dear...

"It turns out to be all leaflets and trudging and stubby pencils..."

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy politics would be well advised to avoid today’s papers. Not only is there the masses of detailed analysis of the election results that always follows an election – loads of wonderful pie charts, tables, and multi-coloured maps – but there’s also story after story about hung parliament discussions and possibilities.

I would, though, recommend one piece in particular: Suzanne Moore’s column in the Mail on Sunday. Moore stood as a candidate at this election, in Hackney North and Stoke Newington. She is a little coy about her performance (she got 285 votes, or 0.6%), but the piece is worth reading for the insights that standing gave her about politics:

It is easy enough to watch The Thick of It and read spin-doctors’ diaries and look at blogs and imagine endless sophisticated strategising. It turns out to be all leaflets and trudging and stubby pencils and rows of people counting paper under strip lighting. It’s not about grand policy statements but listening to people rant about parking. Or the arms trade. Or their burst pipes. Or their rents. Or Afghanistan. Politicians, I now realised, over-promise because somehow punters ask them.
To which, the only response is: welcome to politics.

Perhaps all columnists in major papers – especially those who frequently pontificate about the political process – should be made to go through a similar experience, so that they understand what it is that they write about.

And yes, the same would apply to politics academics.

Professor Philip Cowley


  1. This is a point well made. I am a postgraduate research student in Politics and this was the first general election campaign I have worked on. Although not quite as disgusted as Suzanne Moore with the reality of the political process, it is a far cry from discussing 'strategies for Clegg' or 'the influence of the media' in discussion groups (or indeed on blogs!). Politics truly is local, and going out and hitting the streets with a campaign is the best way to find this out. The gulf between academia/mainstream media and reality is pretty huge.

  2. To my mind, the politicians are missing the major story - the electoral fraud that happens on a wider scale than people realise. I know quite a few people who voted twice or when they weren't meant to - all because the UK doesn't take basic precautions. I just read one blog comparing the UK with Sudan, and it's not far wrong (


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