Majority of Lib Dems support ‘No more page 3’ campaign (but big differences between women/men’s views on issue)

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

44% of party members back ‘No more Page 3’

LDV asked: The ‘No more Page 3’ campaign was recently launched urging The Sun’s editor to drop pictures of topless women from the newspaper. What is your view?

    10% – I support the ‘No more page 3’ campaign and would also support government regulation (either an outright ban or restrictions on the sale of newspapers/magazines publishing such pictures)
    44% – I support the ‘No more page 3’ campaign but would not support any government regulation
    29% – I neither support nor oppose the ‘No more page 3’ campaign
    15% – I oppose the ‘No more page 3’ campaign
    1% – Don’t know

Overall, there’s clear majority support for the recently launched ‘No more page 3’ campaign: a total of 54% (options 1 and 2) support it. However, there’s also a clear majority against any move towards government action to ban or regulate nudity in The Sun and other publications: a total of 59% chose options 2 and 4. A substantial minority, 29%, chose the option of neither supporting nor opposing the campaign.

However, it’s clearly a issue were the two sexes have different views, as this table reveals:

WomenMen
I support the ‘No more page 3’ campaign and would also support government regulation (either an outright ban or restrictions on the sale of newspapers / magazines publishing such pictures) 21%8%
I support the ‘No more page 3’ campaign but would not support any government regulation52%43%
I neither support nor oppose the ‘No more page 3’ campaign18%32%
I oppose the ‘No more page 3’ campaign7%17%
Don't know1%1%

I need to add a caveat to this data. Responses to our surveys are heavily skewed towards men. On most issues this seems to make little difference to the results: whenever we’ve tested it, the views of female Lib Dem members and male Lib Dem members do not appear to differ significantly on political issues. I suspected they might on this topic, though. However, the numbers of women who responded (c.100) mean the data is more prone to sampling error than is the case with our overall sample size of c.550.

That caveat inserted, it’s noticeable what a difference there is between the views of the women and men who answered. Women are far more likely to be in favour of banning/regulating Page 3-style material than men; men are far more likely both to oppose the ‘No more Page 3′ campaign than women and far more likely to declare themselves neutral.

However, the single most popular option for both women and men is the position of the campaign: for The Sun voluntarily to drop Page 3 without formal government intervention. Here’s a sample of your views…

I believe the paper needs to have a change of heart; however I believe that change of heart won’t occur without pressure from the public. The state is not called for in this instance.

Page 3 has effects in society far beyond the issue of newspapers being able to print what they want. When we have a truly liberal society that doesn’t denigrate and subjugate women, we can then let national newspapers print pictures of bare breasts.

During an industrial placement as a young student I was constantly tormented by older man comparing my body with today’s page three girl. I was the only young woman brave enough to go on the shop floor. It was a hideous, terrifying experience and made normal work difficult.

page 3 is now more a quaint tradition than much else, a mature approach to accepting modern attitude to sex & at the same time respect to each other, will not be achieved by banning a sexy type of picture, of either women or men

Another piece of silly nannying that treats voters like children.

Four countries in the world have nude models in their papers. I am not against topless modelling, I am against it (a) being available for children to view (b) it’s contribution to the sexualisation and objectification of women and (c) it being considered news. Not to mention the dire dire misogyny and gender divides it breeds.

I think newspapers should be entitled to print pictures of topless women, but that the particular case of the Sun doing it and making them mouthpieces for their editorial opinions is repugnant. It is a matter for consumer pressure rather than for government regulation, however.

Page 3 = very bad. (And one of many good reasons never to buy the Sun.) But government banning/restricting it would be so much worse. We’re a liberal party, right?

I am deeply disappointed that Nick Clegg has refused to sign up. The campaign is not calling for a ban – it is calling for The Sun to decide of its own volition that public opinion is against this use of naked women. Nick has missed the point completely

Newspapers publishing ‘page 3’pictures should be allowed to do so but should be restricted to the ‘Adult’ categories. When their sales began to fall they would soon stop publishing such pictures.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 550 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 28th and 31st October.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    30 Comments

    • AlanPlatypus 14th Nov '12 - 8:38am

      How illiberal. How prudish. How typically British.

    • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 14th Nov '12 - 8:49am

      As a strong supporter of No More Page 3, but not a ban, I’m really pleased – and in fact pleasantly surprised at these results. Since I’ve been writing on this issue, I’ve taken more abuse than I ever have before (not from Lib Dems, I hasten to add). Some of the comments I’ve received make the cybernats look like a bunch of cuddly teddy bears.

      There was an interesting comment from the No more Page 3 campaign the other day. Apparently the Sun on Sunday published an article about the effects of pornography. The paper’s own sex addiction therapist said:

      ‘Men using pornography tend to see women as sexual objects rather than as valuable people to be honoured and respected”

      Astonishing lack of self awareness when their own paper’s feature takes that sort of fundamental disrespect onto 7 million kitchen tables across the UK.

    • I notice nobody has commented on the irony that Lyne Featherstone who supports the no to page 3 campaign accepted an award from Attitude. A magazine that carries pictures of men in a state of undress.

    • AlanPlatypus 14th Nov '12 - 9:06am

      @Caron Lindsay

      All men use pornography, what does that say? Perhaps that’s the Sun’s sex addiction therapist doesn’t actually know anything?

    • If people dont want page 3, they wont buy the sun. stop trying to meddle in everything.

    • Robin Friday 14th Nov '12 - 10:23am

      What is it about the word “liberal” which makes you want to ban everything? Can I suggest you change your name?

    • @john hill

      “If people dont want page 3, they wont buy the sun.”

      It is not the purchasing of the Sun which is the issue. It is the question of an adoption and acceptance by society that women’s primary role is as sex objects, which is glorified in the way that tabloids approach their use of ‘kiss me quick’ nakedness. An acceptance which has been reluctantly adopted by many women because they do not think it can ever be altered. Personally, I think there is a way forward which is far from the Hijab (which is basically just another male-dominated approach to the same ‘problem’).

      The infantilasation of human sexuality, as promoted by the Murdoch-Desmond axis, compounds many ills in society. Their approach should be challenged perpetually, but not legislated against.

    • @Caron: There are two types of men: there are those that say they use pornography; and there are liars. Where does that leave your views on the objectification of women?

    • lynne featherstone 14th Nov '12 - 10:39am

      David – same old same old from you. Argument is not about specialist magazines – but about a family newspaper!

    • Malcolm Todd 14th Nov '12 - 10:46am

      Are most commenters really incapable of understanding that “I support the ‘No more page 3’ campaign but would not support any government regulation” means that most respondents to this survey (and Caron, who’s taking the flak individually for the same position) don’t support a ban? Or are they deliberately trying to muddy the waters?

      There is nothing “illiberal” about saying “I/we don’t think you should do that.” It only becomes an issue of liberty if someone uses force (whether legal or physical) to prevent you doing it, having failed to persuade you.

    • I put myself in the neither-for-nor-against camp but perhaps I should be in the opposition camp. I don’t really care whether the Sun publishes a page 3 girl or not. However, I do believe the effects attributed to page 3 by the campaign are vastly over-stated and I also believe that the arguments used by campaigners regarding the limited capacity of the male intellect generally and the prejudice against men who view page 3 specifically are pretty offensive and far more likely to alienate people than bring them onside. So for those reasons I think this campaign does the broader campaign for social equality more harm than good.

    • Lynne – I have a lot of respect for you and have supported your stance on many issues but on this I just can’t. Citing. ‘Family’ as the essence of your argument makes you sound like a 1950’s Conservative. The naked image (male or female) is not the problem here, it is the way society interprets that image. Getting rid of it from Page 3 will not actually do anything to tackle that problem. And teenage boys and girls will seek out images of attractive people whether this stays or goes. That is nature! We should instead be promoting nudity, humans and the adult human body as something beautiful to be celebrated and respected rather than something dirty to be exploited. That’s where the issue really lies . All this campaign does is skirts around it and polarises the debate and makes us look to be ignorant Victorian prudes who can’t get that difference. May be it would be better to tackle The Sun on its captions around these things, to suggest they don’t just carry pictures of women and that any naked pictures are conveyed in a less demeaning way. I’m really disappointed that we cannot actually have an intelligent debate over this. Especially disappointed that we don’t seem to be able to do it in a party that I thought was a lot more mature and didn’t just play to the gallery.

    • @John:

      “the prejudice against men who view page 3 specifically are pretty offensive”

      I find most men who ‘enjoy’ page three to be ‘offensive’ but almost invariably not ‘pretty’. ;-)

    • The good news is and the headline should be is that 90% oppose censorship.

      Perhaps Harriet Harman has infilt rated Lib Dem computers to provide the other 10% in revenge for her drubbing by Nick Clegg at PMQs last week.

    • AlanPlatypus 14th Nov '12 - 12:25pm

      @ TonyDawson

      The primary role of men and women is as sex objects, it’s what we do, it is our nature. That we’ve fortunately evolved to have other things as well does not obscure the fact that humans are a vehicle for reproduction. The quaint, almost puritan denial of this is one of the problems when having this debate. My problem is not with the ‘say no to page 3′ campaign but with the flimsy excuses given to support it. It’s ironic that Lib Dems would look to closer ties to Europe but seemingly many members would distance themselves from the typical European attitude towards sex and nudity. As I said before, how very British.

    • Nick Thornsby Nick Thornsby 14th Nov '12 - 1:59pm

      @ Tom P

      Does the data support that contention? 73% of women support the campaign compared to 51% of men. Of those who support the campaign, 71% of women and 84% of men oppose regulation. In other words it’s the lower proportion of men not supporting the campaign at all that is likely to lead to the figures above suggesting men favouring regulation?

    • Malcolm Todd 14th Nov '12 - 2:35pm

      @Tom P

      I’d go further than Nick: you’ve definitely misread something there. The figures show 21% of women supporting government regulation, versus 8% of men.

      It’s highly questionable whether *any* conclusions about different views of men and women should be drawn from this survey, given the sample sizes and other biases; but of those people who actually responded, women were clearly more likely to support regulation than men.

    • I don’t see any way to interpret this data to mean women are more averse to regulation than men. The top line is 21% of women favour regulation whilst only 8% of men do. Even if you include only those who support the campaign you get 29% of female supporters favouring regulation but only 16% of male supporters. Further this data is on one issue only and can’t be generalised.

    • “Page 3 has effects in society far beyond the issue of newspapers being able to print what they want. When we have a truly liberal society that doesn’t denigrate and subjugate women, we can then let national newspapers print pictures of bare breasts.”

      Only when we have a “truly liberal society” shall we be able to allow freedom of the press …

    • Malcolm Todd says – “There is nothing “illiberal” about saying “I/we don’t think you should do that.” It only becomes an issue of liberty if someone uses force (whether legal or physical) to prevent you doing it, having failed to persuade you.”

      It is naive to draw such a clear distinction between “persuasion” and censorship. If a major political party – a party of government indeed – were to mount a nation-wide campaign on something like this, the whiff of a potential ban would be in the background. “Lovely little publication, guv, wouldn’t want anything to happent to it now, would we ?

      Do we really want to resurrrect Mary Whitehouse (bless ‘er heart)? Have we not got an awful lot of better things to do?

    • Malcolm Todd 15th Nov '12 - 11:34am

      Denis:
      “It is naive to draw such a clear distinction between “persuasion” and censorship. ”

      Sorry, that won’t wash. There is indeed a world of difference between persuasion and censorship. I might as well complain that you’re “censoring” those involved in this campaign, by trying to “persuade” them that they shouldn’t be campaigning for it!

      “Persuasion” is at the very heart of what free speech is for.

    • lynne featherstone 15th Nov '12 - 2:25pm

      Ashley – the point is that you rarely see people reading explilcit magazines on the tube with images but you do see people reading the Sun with Page 3. It’s not old fashioned in any way nor illiberal to free individuals to do what they want so long as they cause no harm to others . I thought that was our posiiton – and I refer everyone back to the Conference motion that addressed these issues. If you don’t like the party position then put a motion in to argue a different case.

    • Martin Lowe 15th Nov '12 - 7:56pm

      @Chris (3.36pm):

      By your definition, we don’t have a ‘free press’ now – newspapers aren’t currently allowed to print pictures of erect penises, amongst other things.

    • Tony Dawson 15th Nov '12 - 8:08pm

      “AlanPlatypus :

      “The primary role of men and women is as sex objects, it’s what we do, it is our nature”

      Ah, so you are one of those beings who do not eat, breathe, sleep or work? :-)

      Expression of sexuality has a function in the life of those inhabitants of this planet who do not return every night in our green suits to flying saucers . But that expression does not include much ‘objectification’ among those of us with a sexual/mental age that runs into double figures.

    • @Alan Platypus
      congratulations on distorting the evidence to affirm your prejudices.

      Attitudes to gender reflect attitudes towards sex. Britain has a culturally unhealthy attitude which results for example in higher STD rates, unacceptable levels of domestic violence and sexual abuse, as well as damaging restriction of opportunities in the workplace and elsewhere.

      This culture must change, but it will not change by continuing to propagate p3 as a cultural institution which is interpreted and used as a source justifying that unhealthy and repressive sentiment.

      The Sun does not support progressive values of social equality, it supports social control and economic concentration, so the fact that nudity and gender objectification are linked in Mr Murdoch’s publication contradicts your point that this is either intended or used as a liberating artefact – context is all.

      If p3’s bare breasts were The Guardian rather than The Sun, you may have had a case, so perhaps you could write to Mr Rusbridger encouraging him to take up this cause.

      Either way it’s one more reason not to read those chip wrappers.

    • AlanPlatypus 16th Nov '12 - 7:50pm

      Sorry Oranjepan, Europe has a much more enlightened attitude towards sex and nudity than Britain does and generally sees lower rates of STDs and teenage pregnancies. Perhaps the British attitude of hiding everything sexual out of sight in a desperate attempt to deny that sex exists is one of the causes and not solutions to the problems we face.

    • Richard Swales 17th Nov '12 - 2:04pm

      I wonder if the survey respondent who said only 4 countries in the world have page 3 has only ever visited 4 countries.

      “It is naive to draw such a clear distinction between “persuasion” and censorship. ”

      The above is true, provided it applies to any attempts to associate a political party with the campaign rather than the campaign itself. The campaign would probably be more persuasive to the general public anyway without receiving the kiss of death from Nick Clegg. As far as I can see there are two possible reasons to associate a political party with the campaign:
      1) is a totally despicable attempt to get trick-votes on the basis of “We have no intention of passing legislation on this but we would like you to elect us as legislators anyway.”
      2) is that they know the initial campaign will fail despite the thousands of signatures and then the second part of the plan will be to declare a “market-failure” and have sufficient reason to liberalise (i.e. ban) page 3.

      So Clegg is right not to sign.

    • Alan,
      are you saying I’ve missed Rupert Murdoch’s conversion to become a supporter of Europe? I must congratulate him on seeing the error of his ways – when did this happen?

      …or are you simply confusing symptoms with causes?

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