Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: little bit o' politics

  1. #1
    Papa Smurf
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Planet Scathe
    Posts
    12,528
    Thanks
    163
    Thanked 573 Times in 379 Posts

    Blog Entries
    6
    Rep Power
    15

    little bit o' politics

    I was browsing, as you do, and came across this. . A new book called "Obamaland" by a british journalist i have never heard of called James Delingpole. The blurb surprised me : "Delingpole saw what "change" (read: socialism) did to Britain"

    Socialism? In Britain? New Labour? are you having a laugh? The mind boggles. I have requested my free chapter so i can have a laugh first hand.

    This begs the question though, just how right wing is the world becoming, that the left wing is a distant memory?
    The political compass shows Barack Obama as the right wing moderate he is. Has everyone taken the PC test there?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Oxford
    Posts
    677
    Thanks
    45
    Thanked 277 Times in 148 Posts

    Rep Power
    7

    Re: little bit o' politics

    Generally, I find one dimensional ways of describing people's beliefs have a value so close to zero, the difference doesn't matter. Two dimensional charts are exactly twice as valuable.

    'Left' and 'right'; 'authoritarian' and 'libertarian'; 'conservative' and 'liberal' are all labels of convenience, rather than capturing much that's particularly substantial. By using small words to capture big differences, a lot gets lots.

    The questionnaire was heavily US focused, picking issues that are important in the US and only marginal elsewhere (eg abortion) and, economically, focuses almost exclusively on another vague term 'big business'. For people from other countries, the issues that are important are quite different and would cause a very different location on these scales (eg I'm a kiwi: a far better indicator of economic attitudes relates to the use of subsidies to farmers).

    As for all politicians being clustered close together - the only appropriate response is, "well, d'uh....". Barack Obama and John McCain were both trying to grab the same votes (those swing voters that actually decide the elections). And they both had teams of pollsters working out how to appeal to those voters - the appropriate policy positions to take and so forth. Plus they had already been successfully elected (to the Senate, then in their party primary), thus had obviously appealed to a large number of voters. So it's expected that their position is going to closely reflect the country's political positioning: putting yourself in the middle to appeal to as many people as possible. They put their own spin and twist on it, but the underlying policy is going to be very similar. The real difference between the two was rhetoric, not substance. The same was true in NZ in their recent elections (National won largely because Labour had been in power too long). The same is true of the current differences between Labour and the Tories.

    Very rarely, you get a transformational politician, but they are very rare. Thatcher and Reagan did offer something radically different from their predecessors. But even the shift towards that particular brand of economic liberalism in the 80s (Thatcher, Reagan et al) was less about transformational politicians than politicians successfully reading, then riding a wave of change in the way the electorate was thinking.

    Generally, most political analysis, particularly that in the mass media, is weak. It needs to be simple to retain mass appeal. Being simple makes it superficial: kicking out crude classifications which tell you nothing of value.

    In reality, there are hundreds of issues that people get combined to make political positions. Most people care about a small set of these, and these are usually ones that have some direct impact on the individuals.

    I would be more interested in looking at positions on particular families of issues (justice, taxation, international relations, protectionism, attitude to family) and looking at some more attitudinal measures (pragmatism/idealism, skill at negotiation etc). But these are too hard to get across in a 30 minute news bulletin.

  3. #3
    Registered User NZ Monkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Auckland, NZ
    Posts
    1,109
    Thanks
    191
    Thanked 209 Times in 129 Posts

    Rep Power
    7

    Re: little bit o' politics

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    Generally, I find one dimensional ways of describing people's beliefs have a value so close to zero, the difference doesn't matter. Two dimensional charts are exactly twice as valuable.
    Flocinaucinihilipiliphication at it's finest. It's one of the rare cases where its more consise to explain the meaning rather than use the correct term in the first place Plus, I never thought I'd ever get a chance to slip that word into use anywhere - so I'm making the most of it!

    The same was true in NZ in their recent elections (National won largely because Labour had been in power too long).
    Three terms is a long time for a partyís opponents to compile a list of mistakes over, and a long time for the public to forget just how bad the last lot were. Letís hope Key turns out to be the kind of messiah half the country were sold on him being, because I donít have much faith in the National old guard still there.

  4. #4
    Papa Smurf
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Planet Scathe
    Posts
    12,528
    Thanks
    163
    Thanked 573 Times in 379 Posts

    Blog Entries
    6
    Rep Power
    15

    Re: little bit o' politics

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    The questionnaire was heavily US focused, picking issues that are important in the US and only marginal elsewhere (eg abortion) and, economically, focuses almost exclusively on another vague term 'big business'.
    I would say its heavily "western" focused - with concepts anyone "in the west" can get a handle on. Remember it is a British site.

    As for all politicians being clustered close together - the only appropriate response is, "well, d'uh....".
    You speak about individual politicians as if they are important. This, to me, is an entirely American concept. Here we vote for parties and parties traditionally provide a wide range of policy across the political spectrum. The very right wing New Labour managed to get in power based on, it seems, matching many conservative policies whilst promising just enough social change to appeal to more voters.* In actual fact, nothing changed much at all. We are now in a situation similar to America - parties feel they must be majorly right wing to compete. Its also apparant that other American attitudes are appearing - there was a bizarre unprecedented uproar when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, because "we did not vote for him". Well, no, you didn't vote for anyone to become Prime Minister, you voted for a party.

    And they both had teams of pollsters working out how to appeal to those voters - the appropriate policy positions to take and so forth.
    Are you saying they had people researching the correct lies simply to appeal to voters ? is that the way politics should work do you think? I can understand that voters are more savvy than they were, say, 50 years ago, but we can't allow the voters to steer government - thats what politicians are for. Parties must give options - not try to become very similar to another party just so they can win power...whats the point of that? who does that serve but THEM ?

    Very rarely, you get a transformational politician, but they are very rare. Thatcher and Reagan did offer something radically different from their predecessors. But even the shift towards that particular brand of economic liberalism in the 80s (Thatcher, Reagan et al) was less about transformational politicians than politicians successfully reading, then riding a wave of change in the way the electorate was thinking.
    Really ? That would be why Thatcher was so popular then and why Scotland - previously quite conservative - voted ALL conservatives out. This comment makes me wonder how old you are? - its only in the last 30 years there has been "more of the same" - there was quite a lot of transformational politics going on in the decades before that

    Generally, most political analysis, particularly that in the mass media, is weak. It needs to be simple to retain mass appeal. Being simple makes it superficial: kicking out crude classifications which tell you nothing of value.
    No, it needs, or tries to, remain impartial - there is plenty of good political analysis and comment e.g. Jon Snows recent "the nightmare is over" comment for the end of George W's Presidency. I think you're confusing Political Analysis with general tabloid reporting on political 'celebs' and a general dumbing down of the news. Most people are not really interested in politics.


    *in fact i remember at the time NEW LABOUR came to power, you could get a free copy of the conservative manifesto online from their friendly helpful website, whereas the labour party site was basically a shop where you could buy new labour baseball caps, pens and the like and they would allow you to BUY a manifesto. Yes - BUY! Summed it all up for me
    Last edited by Dreadful Scathe; 5th-February-2009 at 10:15 AM.

  5. #5
    Registered User NZ Monkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Auckland, NZ
    Posts
    1,109
    Thanks
    191
    Thanked 209 Times in 129 Posts

    Rep Power
    7

    Re: little bit o' politics

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe View Post
    You speak about individual politicians as if they are important. This, to me, is an entirely American concept. Here we vote for parties and parties traditionally provide a wide range of policy across the political spectrum.
    You make a valid point about parties being the dominant political entity, but I think it's a mistake to think that individual politicians cannot be important.

    At the moment in NZ, we have a National lead government with John Key as the Prime Minister. Although it's early days yet, Mr Key appears to be handling the role of leadership we competently in an MMP environment in which delicate negotiation is a vital skill.

    Were Mr Key to be killed tomorrow by a rogue meteor, the Prime Ministership would pass to his Deputy Prime Minister; Bill English. Mr English was previously the leader of the National party, but had managed to "lead" the party to the most humiliating defeat ever seen in NZ politics in the 2002 election. Under his bungling leadership the party completely lost direction and was reduced to holding on a handful more seats in parliament than some of the minor parties. He did a bad job as a party leader.

    Assuming of course that Mr English hasn't improved 500% in the last 8 years, I think it's fair to say that overall effectiveness of the National Party would be seriously impacted by the change of a single politician in this case. Let alone a government comprised of the National party and several other political parties with their own agendas.

    On top of that, it's also fair to point out that while parties are supposedly entities in and of themselves, they are still comprised of individual people. While often one person within a party may not make much of a difference to it's overall competency, half a dozen people in key positions can make a very big difference. Were those people to be removed or somehow neutralized, the values the party acts on may undergo a significant shift, and one the voting public could not have foreseen.

    Again, I'm not saying that it's all about the individuals either - you do make some good points DS. I just think that in practical terms certain individuals have a disproportionate amount of influence within political parties, and this matters to the people who vote for them.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Oxford
    Posts
    677
    Thanks
    45
    Thanked 277 Times in 148 Posts

    Rep Power
    7

    Re: little bit o' politics

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe View Post
    I would say its heavily "western" focused - with concepts anyone "in the west" can get a handle on. Remember it is a British site.
    As I said, the questions were very US focused. That necessarily makes them Western focused. Regardless of the origin of the site, the bias was very clear.
    The very right wing New Labour...
    Very right wing in some respects not very right wing in others. As I said, simplistic concepts produce simplistic analysis. The current Labour inherited and extended the monetarist economic policy of the previous conservative Government.

    Are you saying they had people researching the correct lies simply to appeal to voters ?
    Nope. Lies is your word. I talked about how they target their message.
    is that the way politics should work do you think?
    It's the only way representative democracy can ever work. To gain power, you need to be voted for. To be voted for, you have to appeal to enough of your constituency to win the election. To appeal to your constituency, you need to know what appeals to them and then make sure you say the right things to get their attention. This is not lying. Being surprised or outraged at this is fairly common; but it doesn't change the fact it's inherent in democratic politics.

    ... we can't allow the voters to steer government ...
    Actually, the whole point of democracy is that the voters do steer the Government. I think what you're saying is that we can't allow voters to steer the parties, but even that claim is only valid within a worldview of strong idealism. One mechanism voters steer the Government is by changing the party in Government, but they also influence the behaviour of the party in Government. This is neither new nor surprising. In countries with proportional representation, the Government is more likely to be a coalition of parties, rather than a one party Government.
    Parties must give options - not try to become very similar to another party just so they can win power...whats the point of that? who does that serve but THEM ?
    Labour's (quietly stated) reason to shift their economic policy was that they believed without that shift, they would never return to power. As for the claim, "Parties must give options" - I'm not sure who, exactly dictates that they must. If you are saying that the parties don't currently give options, then it seems clear that there is nothing to say they must. Perhaps you are saying you think they should give options? But what's the point of giving options if those options will never give you power to act upon them?

    Really ? That would be why Thatcher was so popular then and why Scotland - previously quite conservative - voted ALL conservatives out.
    And voted for a Labour party with some very similar economic policy: the reaction was based on style and personality, not policy. Thatcher was at the forefront of a worldwide wave to shift economic policy from Keynsian to monetarist. That still holds sway for around 25-30 years. Only in the last few months has anyone seriously suggested moving away from that approach. Thatcher was brutal in the way she conducted the transformation and not very sympathetic to the pain that was caused. But, again, this was fairly common across the world.

    New Labour adopted substantially similar policies, but their style and approach to implementation was different (perhaps because they could afford to be, after the conservatives had made all the really harsh changes). I see that as a shift for labour from idealism to pragmatism, not a shift to the left. That is a far more radical change. This isn't dissimilar to the Tory's a few decades earlier. Labour's creation of the NHS in the 50s (along with nationalising a bunch of industries) was attached by the Tories at the time, but left largely intact until Thatcher in the 80s. And even she wasn't able to dismantle the NHS. And that change itself was really a theme of social welfare that had been bubbling around in the western world since the depression - the New Deal and the creation of the social welfare system in NZ are great examples.

    its only in the last 30 years there has been "more of the same" - there was quite a lot of transformational politics going on in the decades before that
    Not really. The issues that differentiate the parties tend to shift over time, but the gap between the parties is never particularly large when taking into account the whole spectrum of political issues. For example, in the 1960s, the Conservatives self-destructed and Labour got in to power in an economic downturn. Labour came in an instituted a bunch of social programmes, but did relatively little to change the economy. Prior to that, you had a couple of world wars and a depression, which meant that you had relatively little flexibility in policy (the depression did create the desire for welfare in the electorate). Prior to that, the Labour Party barely existed. But the important point is that major changes introduced by the Labour Governments were not undone by the following conservative Government: they had to shift their policies to look more like Labour.

    The major changes in the last 30 years that have impacted politics have been technological. This has created a media environment that is quite different, meaning far more people are more informed about politics, albeit at a superficial level. I would argue that change is the real driving force behind the seeming similarity of the two parties - it's purely a product of visibility.

    No, it needs, or tries to, remain impartial
    Impartiality doesn't exist: everyone has their own biases and there's not really a mechanism for removing them. And that's not really the issue. If you get a deep, insightful analysis, the bias of the authors becomes irrelevant, because the analysis will provide you with enough information to draw your own conclusions.
    there is plenty of good political analysis and comment
    I've seen very little in the mainstream media (and that includes the examples you provided). There is good analysis out there, but you have to go hunting in more specialised publications to find it.
    Last edited by geoff332; 5th-February-2009 at 01:13 PM.

  7. #7
    Papa Smurf
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Planet Scathe
    Posts
    12,528
    Thanks
    163
    Thanked 573 Times in 379 Posts

    Blog Entries
    6
    Rep Power
    15

    Re: little bit o' politics

    what an excellent reply, ta. I can't think of anything else to say on this really - except for "imparitality" ; the bbc at least HAVE to remain impartial, they are a public broadcasting company. This was highlighted recently with their refusal to show the 3 minute Gaza appeal video.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Oxford
    Posts
    677
    Thanks
    45
    Thanked 277 Times in 148 Posts

    Rep Power
    7

    Re: little bit o' politics

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe View Post
    what an excellent reply, ta. I can't think of anything else to say on this really - except for "imparitality" ; the bbc at least HAVE to remain impartial, they are a public broadcasting company. This was highlighted recently with their refusal to show the 3 minute Gaza appeal video.
    I don't think they do. I understand where you're coming from: the BBC are Government established and funded. If the were to show clear favouritism towards any party, then that would be a serious problem (and I think they do a good job at not doing this).

    But that impartiality is not the same as not having a bias. From a news perspective, they make decisions about which stories to cover, which ones to give more attention to and so forth. BBC, as a journalistic organisation, are more likely to publish a story that will be popular than a story that will be unpopular. That's a form of bias, and one that's perfectly normal for a journalist. One obvious bias is that the BBC is very pro-British. That's hardly surprising or necessarily a problem, but it is a strong bias.

    Another example, in my previous post I think I was impartial (I doubt anyone would know from that whether I supported either party). But it was heavily biased. One bias was my belief that the abstracted attitudes of the society are more powerful in determining policy than the positions taken by political party's or individuals; that thread was running through my analysis.

  9. #9
    Papa Smurf
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Planet Scathe
    Posts
    12,528
    Thanks
    163
    Thanked 573 Times in 379 Posts

    Blog Entries
    6
    Rep Power
    15

    Re: little bit o' politics

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    I don't think they do. I understand where you're coming from: the BBC are Government established and funded.
    more than that - they have to behave a certain way as per their charter. This was pointed out in the latest issue of Private Eye; although many MPs were happy to jump on the BBC bashing bandwagon re the Gaza appeal - it was the very charter that only they had the power to affect, that the BBC was adhering too. So if the MPs don't like it - change it - don't just moan about it.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Some quotes
    By Dreadful Scathe in forum Fun and Games
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 11th-June-2010, 12:01 PM
  2. 1980's Politics
    By Jazz_Shoes (Ash) in forum Chit Chat
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 6th-January-2006, 09:30 PM
  3. Replies: 45
    Last Post: 22nd-November-2005, 01:50 PM
  4. Ballroom Shows - a bit like buses!
    By Rhythm King in forum The Land of a 1000 dances
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 25th-August-2005, 04:57 PM
  5. A bit of evangelism
    By azande in forum Chit Chat
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 16th-August-2005, 01:10 PM

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •