Tag Archives: philip cowley

Why the ideal candidate is a local GP (who preferably left school at 18)

There’s an interesting article in Political Studies journal by Rosie Campbell and Philip Cowley which attempts to find out ‘What Voters Want’. Published last year, it looks specifically what they want in terms of the characteristics of their candidates.

The core of the study consisted of six split-sample internet surveys. Each survey involved respondents reading two short profiles about hypothetical candidates, and then answering four questions about those candidates. Following Kira Sanbonmatsu, our research design included profiles of two candidates (Sanbonmatsu, 2002), whom we (initially) called John and George:

John Burns is 48 years old, and was born and brought up in your area, before going to university to study for a degree in physics. After university John trained as an accountant, and set up a company ten years ago; it now employs seven people. John has interests in the health service, the environment, and pensions, and is married with three children.

George Mountford is 45 years old; he lives in the constituency and studied business at university.He is a solicitor and runs a busy local practice. George is passionate about education, with two children in local schools and a wife who is a primary school teacher.

Posted in What do the academics say? | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Bob Worcester forecasts Lib Dems to be reduced to 24 seats in 2015. I’ll run naked down Whitehall if that’s the result.

At a conference fringe meeting on Monday evening, the pollster’s pollster Bob Worcester, MORI’s founder, made a forecast of how many seats the Lib Dems will win at the 2015 election: 24.

His prediction was based on current polling which he’d fed into the Electoral Calculus website and implied the number should be 17. His slightly higher punt allows for known Lib Dem strengths, such as our MPs’ habit of holding on tight in seats we win through sheer Stakhonovite grit.

Forecasting the next election is a bit of a mug’s game, as the Coalition means there’s no past precedent to …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 77 Comments

How Labour saw Clegg before the 2010 election TV debates

clegg debateThere have been a couple of fascinating posts this week by election expert Philip Cowley, a politics professor at Nottingham University. They reveal for the first time the internal briefing prepared for Labour dissecting the debating skills of each of the three party leaders — Clegg, Brown and Cameron — ahead of the 2010 leaders’ debate.

Yesterday’s focused on David Cameron. Today the spotlight of hindsight is shone on Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown. Below is the assessment of the Lib Dem leader — and what’s perhaps most interesting …

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Are politicians really getting younger?

“The worship of youth has diminished – perhaps generally – in recent years.” So said Vince Cable a couple of weeks ago in a newspaper interview which inflamed speculation he’d be partial to a tilt at leading the Lib Dems. It also prompted various politicians-are-getting-younger pieces in the media.

LibDemVoice’s Mark Pack took the time and trouble to dig out the data. He showed that while the trend-line in the first half of the last century was for prime ministers to get older, in the 50 years since there has been a movement towards younger premiers (James Callaghan being …

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Book review: Peace, Reform and Liberation – “the first port of call for anyone wishing to learn more about Liberal and Liberal Democrat history”

There has long been a need for a single volume history of the Liberal and Liberal Democrat parties covering the entire period from its roots in the constitutional struggles of the seventeenth century to the present day.

While Liberal history has received plenty of attention from historians, previous studies of the party have been limited to a specific eras or themes. In many ways of course the party has several histories. This includes the origins of the Liberal tradition in the Whigs of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the heyday of Liberal government in the middle of the nineteenth century, the party’s decline and near extinction between the 1920s and 1950s, its recovery in the second half of the twentieth century, and now the challenges of governing in coalition with the party’s historic enemies, the Conservatives.

So it is welcome that the Liberal Democrat History Group has sought to fill a gap with Peace, Reform and Liberation.

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The four best books on the British general election of 2010

Over the last few months, I’ve read (and mostly reviewed on this site) all the books I’ve found published so far about the 2010 general election and the subsequent coalition negotiations, not to mention a fair number about the political events leading up to the general election over the preceding years.

I’ve yet to read a book that is really bad, although many do have very similar content to each other. A few gems either have original content or present that common ground in particularly strong ways. So based on that here are my top four recommended books about the British …

Posted in Books and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

LibLink: Tuition fees roundup

Ahead of Thursday’s vote on student fees, advice is coming in thick and fast.

Here’s what some senior Lib Dems have been writing publicly on the issue.

First, Chris Rennard, who concludes:

The crucial test for wavering Liberal Democrat MPs this week should be: is what has now been negotiated fairer and more progressive than the system Labour left behind? If it is, and I believe that it is, then I believe they should vote for it. For me, there is a simpler test. Under these new proposals, I know that an 18-year-old like me who had no parental income would

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The British General Election of 2010: a book worth reading

There are two simple tests I have for books that recount events I was in some way involved in: do they accurately retell events that I have direct first-hand knowledge of and do they tell me something new about events I was one step removed from? If a book pasts both those tests, chances are the rest of the book is interesting and well-informed too – and The British General Election of 2010 by Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley passes both tests with near flying colours (the description of Guildford as a “top” Liberal Democrat target betraying an over-attention to swings to win list over actual party priorities whilst the quote from Disraeli about coalitions is actually rather misleading).

In large part that is because their account is based on hundreds of off the record interviews carried out during the last Parliament and in the immediate aftermath of the general election. Because the interviews have been carried out across political parties (and across factions within them), the authors present a much more robust picture of events than is the fate of some journalists who source their off the record information much more narrowly.

Posted in Books and General Election | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

How often are Coalition MPs rebelling?

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart, from the University of Nottingham, have been looking at how often backbench government MPs have been rebelling in this Parliament:

Out of the first 110 divisions in the Commons since Parliament resumed, there have been rebellions by government MPs in 59. That is a rate of rebellion of 54%, simply without parallel in the post-war era…

The Conservative rebellion rate of 35% … is higher than the rate of rebellion by government MPs in all but four of the post-war sessions. The Lib Dem rate of 28% is higher than that seen by government MPs in all but seven post-war sessions. (It is also noticeably higher than the rate of rebellion seen by Lib Dems in any session for which we have data, going back to1992-93 when the rate of rebellion was at 9%)…

For all that, at no point since May has the Government’s majority been in any way threatened. The lowest Government majority thus far has been 58.

For one thing, although the frequency of rebellions is alarmingly high, the average rebellion is small, comprising just six MPs. (The average Conservative rebellion is seven MPs, the average Liberal Democrat revolt is even lower at just three MPs). The largest Coalition rebellion thus far – on Europe – involved 37 Conservative MPs, not enough to threaten the Government’s majority, not least because the Labour Opposition frontbench abstained. The largest Lib Dem rebellion saw ten MPs support Charles Kennedy’s amendment during the Report stage of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill that would have made numerous exceptions for preserving large islands and large geographical areas as whole constituencies.

And second, so far the two sets of Coalition rebels – Conservative and Liberal Democrats – only rarely vote against the Government on the same types of issues.

That last point highlights an important asymmetry which points to the Coalition lasting for a longer rather than shorter time. When it comes to rebellions from the backbenches, it is predominantly one party or the other which has unhappy backbenchers. However, when it comes to disagreements at ministerial levels within the Coalition, the tensions have not been between the two parties in coalition; rather, they have been along shifting lines that cut-across parties. Ministers agreeing with each other across party lines yet rebellious backbenchers not doing so is almost the perfect combination for the Coalition’s long term survival.

It also shows how Liberal Democrat ministers are – so far – much more successful at finding allies in Conservative ranks (most notably over immigration, Trident and control orders, where heavyweight Conservatives have been arguing for the same policies as Liberal Democrats) than rebellious Liberal Democrat MPs, who have tended to rebel on issues that might win Labour, but not Conservative, backing.

A coalition with wobbly wings: Backbench dissent since May 2010

Posted in News | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Election2010: excellent new elections blog

I’ve certainly criticised academics a few times for not really getting political campaigning – and so spending time looking in the wrong place (such as in my post on internet campaigning) but one exception to that certainly is Phil Cowley of Nottingham University. So it’s not a great surprise that the new Election 2010 blog run by him and colleagues is looking very good, with a regular feed of relevant content – but also content that isn’t simply duplicating what is elsewhere.

You can take a look at Election2010.blogspot.com.

Posted in General Election | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

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