Comments for http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html en-gb 30 Tue 02 Jun 2015 19:45:59 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html Ian http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=98#comment85 This duty to keep informed sounds all well and good in practice, but it's not straight forward or even practical for everyone.Keeping up with all the political news, reading manifestos and deciphering them (given that much of the population isn't in tune with political terminology) takes time and effort, perhaps more than people working long hours can manage.Enter the political journalist, who's job it is to do all this keeping up with all these things and condense it for other people. Again, nice in theory, expect this inheritently puts the journalist in a position of power, and as mentioned several times above, confidence in journalism has fallen dramatically.With all the information now accessible, you could probably find out the political views of the author, and allow somewhat for the bias or read a few articles from different points of view and come to some sort of opinion of your own based on what you think you've found out. But again, you're expending a lot of time and effort.So what's Joe Bloggs to do?Well, he could come home after his hard days works and start researching politics. Given that he's perhaps not very acedmeically strong, is probably a bit tired and just wants to get it over with, he's unlikely to form a robust evidence based view, but at least he'd have tried.Alternatively, as he appriciates some of the difficulties, he might decide not to bother, as spending that time putting in an extra shift to make sure he makes his morgage payment this month is going to have a bigger impact on his life overall than any electoral result.Then there is the middle ground, he votes the way he's always voted, or the way suggested by the paper he reads on the bus home or the way his friends vote, since they're "his kind of people", and although he might not agree with every small detail, it'll be generally acceptable to him.It's easy to see why option 1 isn't the nations favourite pass time. Option 2, makes some sense in his case, but of course it means he gets no say, and adds to the problem of power moving towards those working in and around politics, who potentially have more reason to vote. Option 3 might work, but really he's just voting in the dark, which in some ways is worse than not voting at all.What would you have him do? Sun 28 Feb 2010 13:02:35 GMT+1 politicallyincorrect http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=97#comment84 #84"Let's assume that 10% of the refuseniks genuinely could not vote, as opposed to could not be bothered to. That gives a figure of 16,026."Oops, my bad. The 90% figure is of course 24,167 / 10 * 9 which comes to 21,750. So a swing to the Lib Dems would have unseated Hague by giving them a majority of 3,010.Sorry. Wed 24 Feb 2010 13:01:55 GMT+1 politicallyincorrect http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=96#comment83 #73"If you live in a constituency with a massive Labour or Conservative majority then your "single vote" is not going to make a difference. This may be why quite a lot of people do not vote and maybe the new proposals will overcome this "apparent" apathy."You're overlooking one thing - in a lot of constituencies, the "massive majority" only exists due to low turnout. If the can't-be-bothereds and there's-nothing-in-it-for-me crowd were to make the effort, there could be some pretty big changes.Let's take a couple of examples. First of all, here is the 2005 result for William Hague's supposedly safe seat of Richmond, in North Yorkshire:Total electoral roll: 69,367There were 45,200 valid votes cast as follows:Hague, W.J. (Conservative): 26,722Foster, N.R. (Labour): 8,915Bell, J.D. Ms. (Liberal Democrat): 7,982Rowe, L.A. (Green): 1,581William Hague won with a majority of 17,807.However, that left a total of 24,167 registered electors who didn't vote or spoiled their papers. The electoral commissions pays absolutely no attention at all to spoiled ballots.Let's assume that 10% of the refuseniks genuinely could not vote, as opposed to could not be bothered to. That gives a figure of 16,026.If that 90% had all voted Lib Dem, as a tactical protest against the red and blue Tories, Hague would still have won, but with a majority slashed to 2,714. Not enough to unseat him on its own, but far more of a telling message than just sitting at home in front of EastEnders or scrawling None Of The Above on one's ballot paper.Now let's look at our Dear Leader's 2005 result. Here it is:Registered electors for Kircaldy & Cowdenbeath: 71,603.There were 41,796 valid votes, cast as follows:Brown, G. (Labour): 24,278Bath, A.T. (Scottish National Party): 6,062Cole-Hamilton, A.G. (Liberal Democrat): 5,450Randall, S.R. (Conservative): 4,308West, S.C. (Scottish Socialist Party): 666Adams, P. (UK Independence Party): 516Parker, J. (Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party): 425Kwantes, E.S. Ms. (Independent): 47Sargent, P. Ms. (Independent): 44Gordon Brown won with a majority of 18,216.This time, there were 28,807 refuseniks. Taking off an assumed 10% genuine reasons leaves 26,826. All they would have had to do was vote for Ms Sargent - that would have been enough to depose the Dear Leader.Now, I'm not daft enough to think that is a realistic prospect in safe seats. But it is in other constituencies. If 10% of the Redditch stay-at-homes had voted Conservative, we wouldn't have had to suffer the embarrassment that is Jacqui Smith, for example.And I appreciate that it would need a big change of attitude; but it does go some way towards debunking the assertion that people can't make a difference. They can, if enough of them - only a relative few in some cases - are prepared to get off their backsides and go down to the polling station.If the sort of behaviour I've suggested were to become widespread, politicians would try much harder - they'd have to if they wanted to be elected. As it is, they can safely rely on voter apathy and ignore the power that people just won't exercise. That is dangerous for us all, because it leads to complacency. Complacency leads to arrogance, and we can see all to where where that's brought us to - second-rate incompetents who have happily presided over taking us close to bankruptcy, launching an assault on civil liberties that would have made Nicolae Ceausescu blush and willing following a foreign power into starting an illegal war.Don't forget that an MP has to be elected. Even if nobody turned out to vote, the returning officer would have to make a random selection. Like it or not, that is how the system works, so unless people are prepared to vote for a party that will change it, that is where we are.So no, I don't think you've produced a show-stopper at all. Some very good points, but it's not the last word. Wed 24 Feb 2010 12:50:56 GMT+1 Kenneth http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=95#comment82 #80. PalusKegI must admit that if this was Conservative prime minister the BBC would be trawling for MPs, ministers and civil servants to dig the dirt (as they regularly did with John Major). Instead they have set their sights on discrediting the charity, it seems.To be fair, I think the bullying charity was out of line going public. Wed 24 Feb 2010 12:20:00 GMT+1 David Lilley http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=94#comment81 # 73.Come on please. I have finished this one with a sound argument, a show stopper.I only engage with an argument if I have a show stopper.Mark, others, please give me an anti-thesis and we can go-forward. Tue 23 Feb 2010 00:47:38 GMT+1 Angel_in_Transit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=93#comment80 #80I am very pleased with the dignified response from the Bullying Helpline to No 10's seemingly scurrilous accusations. Bullying is a serious breach of employment law and, if there is a potential case, then No 10 should have acknowledged this in a professional manner within due process. (No 10 would not know that until they hear from the Employment Tribunal.)The counter claims against the Helpline that it was "acting in a conflict of interests" (being both a charity and a commercial concern), do not stack up if all its activities have been vetted and approved by the Charity Commissioners.I foresee much legal wrangling taking place which will hardly be what Brown wanted. Someone may be in for a really big rollicking.... which could be some more egg on No 10's face and more potential claims..... ad nauseum. Mon 22 Feb 2010 17:30:48 GMT+1 PaulusKeg http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=91#comment79 If the BBC is non partisan why are they not letting the public comment about the big story of Brown's bullying. I mean even a BBC director Greg Dyke was a Labour party member and donnor. I am sure the story is true that why everyone in the Labour party hates him yet their to scared of retaliation, intimidation and destroying their election chances. I remember when he had the leadership threats he got everyone together and bullied them into backing him, that why he unlike Cameron wants to keep the power of the whips (Whip's essentially are glorified bullies, if you don't agree with us your sacked). The bullying claim does not surprise me one bit. Mon 22 Feb 2010 15:03:40 GMT+1 FedupwithGovt http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=90#comment78 77. Statist.Not sure the politicians are smart enough. Plus I don't think the majority of the electors give a damn - for that I blame the media. Mon 22 Feb 2010 14:44:45 GMT+1 LippyLippo http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=89#comment77 I disagree with the assertion from #73 that if all political parties are starting to sound the same, then they are being driven by pragmatism and not idealism. If only! I believe it's a clear sign that they are all simply sliding into the same rut, and that is in no way a good thing. Nobody actually wants to do anything for fear of seeming didactic. Like the liberal parents who are too frightened of their offspring to discipline them, so we have politcial parties too scared to actually govern. They do what's popular rather than what's right (according to their ideology of course!). Keep everyone happy. But laissez-faire never works. In the scramble to please everybody, they paint themselves into a corner, and the population loses respect for them. Like the children of our liberal parents, the population starts to look about for other influences - and they are generally misled by the 'wrong crowd' - those who wish to profit from the situation. Big business starts to exert its twisted influence, which is exactly what we're seeing now. And the Government is happy to let them! Absolutely shameful.I'm all for pragmatic government, and quite often the middle ground is the way to go, but what we have is fear and paralysis from those we have elected to govern us. Someone in charge needs to grow a spine. Mon 22 Feb 2010 14:23:37 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=88#comment76 76. FedupwithGovt 'Change the system.'Yup. My vote goes to the Democratic-Centralist Party aka National (Webbian) Socialists, aka Chinese Stalinist Party - any chance of getting a few of their activists over before the election? Are we smart enough to make it work though? Mon 22 Feb 2010 13:21:14 GMT+1 FedupwithGovt http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=87#comment75 Change the system. First past the post does not really help to get people involved. It's a case of, 'well the tories always get in here, or labour always get in here'. A system where you know your vote will make a difference might make people more willing to vote. The other problem of course is that politicians are held in such low regard at the moment and they only have themselves to blame. Also the media have been dumbing down at an alarming rate. There is a lack of analysis in the news and finding the truth is like looking for the Scarlet Pimpernel. Not voting is a good protest, however, the politicians in their narcissism think it is just the voters being lazy. Mon 22 Feb 2010 12:32:17 GMT+1 Angel_in_Transit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=86#comment74 #73I like this comment. It is sound on reasoning and opens up the "can of worms" of what happens in Parliament. David Lilley touches on "the use of the whip", which includes pairing off within its many "avoid having to vote" alternatives. Abstention is a powerful tool when an MP wishes to deny the whip without risking the chance of having the whip removed. It would be appropriate in a true democracy to look at spoilt ballots and non-voters as a measurement of dissatisfaction with our representatives instead of always seeking to refer to people as "too lazy to bother". If democracy was dynamic, very few would be "too lazy to bother". The dynamic between representative and voter is like a failed relationship which runs along the lines of "you don't bring me flowers any more", and there probably wasn't very much love present to start off with. How to make democracy more dynamic? Change it. Completely. Mon 22 Feb 2010 10:45:42 GMT+1 ruralwoman http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=84#comment73 "It would seem that politics is a turn off"Yep your dam right were turned off... the electorate are utterly sick of Lies, Spin, Liars, Dodgy Expense Claims, Touched up Posters, Non Elected Fixers with Long Titles.We want an honest John warts and all! I like many others may well spoil my ballot paper or vote oddly as a protest in the forthcoming election. Mon 22 Feb 2010 10:12:40 GMT+1 David Lilley http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=83#comment72 Mark,I have never understood this one. You can "vote" for A, B C etc or you can "vote" for none. You are still "voting". If you choose not to make a cross that nevertheless reflects your position. That is your position ie. your "vote". In a debate, even in the Commons, you can abstain and the number abstaining is a reflection of the strength of the motion. It is as valid a statistic as the number who say yey or ney. The only important events are (1) freedom to present a lawful proposal, (2) freedom to debate the proposal and (3) freedom to vote freely on the proposal.You could even argue that it is better that some people do not vote, for whatever reason, because the result will then be determined by those who have sufficient "interest" in the issue. This would yield a better result than the issue being determined by a lot of people coming forward and voting yey or ney on the basis of "I have always voted Labour" or "I have always voted Conservative" irrespective of the issue.I have often failed to vote for good reasons. If you live in a constituency with a massive Labour or Conservative majority then your "single vote" is not going to make a difference. This may be why quite a lot of people do not vote and maybe the new proposals will overcome this "apparent" apathy. But is is only "apparent" apathy.If there is real apathy, what is the problem? If a voter cannot see any real difference between one party and another and does not vote, that is excellent. (1) It is a "vote" that there is nothing much to choose between parties then therefore the parties are all mainline and not ideology driven as they used to be. (2) If there is a large floating vote then there is a stimulus to catch it with a good manifesto. (3) If there is nothing much to choose between parties then we are iterating towards good government.Banging on about low voter turn-out is a cry for some kind of "whip" system when it is better to have "free" voting. An example of free voting was the fox hunting bill. An example of bad voting is when we have a majority parliament and the whips rather than the strength of the argument determines which bills become law.Don't worry about voter turnout for the reasons given above. They would all turnout if voting rights were proposed to be amended to be akin to shareholder voting rights ie. proportionate to "interest" in the success of UK Plc. This proposal has some merit. If you are paying UK Plc £1,000s pa in tax you earn better voting rights than those paying in less. And if UK Plc prospers that is good for everyone especially those who have not been born yet who will have to pay for the "jam today, National Debt reduction to be born by future generations". Sun 21 Feb 2010 23:37:32 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=82#comment71 70. Oilman 'I for one will follow the news and carefully exercise my vote. To do otherwise is to dishonour the sacrifice of braver people than us.'What if, during the last major war, Britain erroneously fought the very people who were desperately trying to stop Europeans from destroying themselves, and we still can't see this? Sun 21 Feb 2010 21:12:10 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=81#comment70 70. Oilman 'I'm the first male in 4 generations of my family that has not had to fight to preserve our democracy. It may be flawed but its still the best option available and we should be grateful that others protected it for us.'It's not democracy, it's degenerative, decadent populism. It's self-destructive too - an objective fact if one looks into birth-rates across the liberal-'democracies'. Few people know how to look, so few people are aware of this fact. Most of the media caters for the politically stupid. Most of the media is just after money. Sun 21 Feb 2010 21:02:37 GMT+1 Oilman http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=80#comment69 I'm the first male in 4 generations of my family that has not had to fight to preserve our democracy. It may be flawed but its still the best option available and we should be grateful that others protected it for us. I for one will follow the news and carefully exercise my vote. To do otherwise is to dishonour the sacrifice of braver people than us. Sun 21 Feb 2010 20:39:49 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=79#comment68 67. PatNInterrupt 'I don't think labelling someone "not too astute" because their view of the world differs from your own subjective view is a very constructive form of criticism, or of moving the debate forward. The politicalcompass site seems pretty astute to me, an indeed I think it is quite non-idealogical. Something anyone with an open mind should try and learn from.'Ok, perhaps you're right.How about 'politically naive' or 'politically ignorant', instead? Sun 21 Feb 2010 19:58:05 GMT+1 Andrew Dundas http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=77#comment67 I'm a former marketing person who's ordered advertising selections from amongst media. So the decline in newspaper reading and TV news viewing are changes that I've been able to observe closely.I suspect that readership of written publications is as high as ever. Quite probably higher. But the writing people read is in magazines, the internet and, in the USA, in closed circulation newsletters.Editors are driving readers away from newspapers because they're no longer trusted as suppliers of unadulterated news. That TRUST is the property of the shareholders not the editor. Every sensational story that wins a few extra sales from the news stands boosts the editors standing in his trade, but also undermines the trust of newspaper readers. They recognise the exagerations, enjoy the chit-chat and then decide that the paper is unreliable. The editor who answers to his daily and weekly conferences is not usually driven by building long-term reader loyalties. Like bankers' dealing rooms, they're judged and paid on their short-term gains: too bad that circultions are falling in the long-term. That's not the editor's problem nor that of her star writers either.There's no easy answer to all this. Except to remind ourselves that occasionally a really big story comes along that sells-out every copy that can be printed. The aerial bombing of the twin towers in New york was one of those events. But otherwise, readers have already turned to specialist magazines and web sites. For as long as they are each judged as reliable by their followers. Sun 21 Feb 2010 19:36:44 GMT+1 PatNInterrupt http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=76#comment66 Statist,I don't think labelling someone "not too astute" because their view of the world differs from your own subjective view is a very constructive form of criticism, or of moving the debate forward. The politicalcompass site seems pretty astute to me, an indeed I think it is quite non-idealogical. Something anyone with an open mind should try and learn from. Sun 21 Feb 2010 12:41:23 GMT+1 Doctor Bob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=75#comment65 Politics is about policies and leadership, not personalities except in that politicians should be communicators good enough to get their (truthful) message across.I judge by deed, not word so try to keep up with how politicians have performed, what mistakes they've made and how well they recovered; promises not kept (and if not, why); where they've interfered where they shouldn't etc.When I work on my investment portfolio I keep tabs on what's going in the economy, sure, but mainly how CEOs, Chairpeople and others perform. Here, people do count because they're the ones who make or break a corporation. I'm not interested in how pretty they are, nor how good they party. But, yes, one has to look at what they at times of bust and boom. I look at the company "books" and several investment indicators. I would not chuck money at something iffy. Were I rich enough I'd probably invest in startups and riskier stuff.Same with politicians. If they're efforts are iffy (as in education) for all the Education, Education and Education, the standards of education have not gone up much even if the exams are dumbed down. Health: they've done their best but centralisation might be the cheapest, a strategy misunderstood by politicians as they just move numbers (sorry, I mean "patients") drawing them into a factory system. If the Chancellor/PM has squandered money, refusing to account for the cost of an actual change, not when the function has settled, then, no. But above all, I want politicians to have held proper jobs outside politics for several years, prefeably be faced with redundancy, repossession etc.Labour has made many mistakes: raiding pension funds, selling our assets at rock-bottom prices, the 10p tax issue (my wife is now in a pension trap less than 65 so she loses out there. And so on. Their performance in implementing their policies is poor. The Conservatives are no way consistent enough - their isn't worthwhile occupational experience on the front bench, possibly excepting Kenneth Clark. It's in these areas I keep informed. As a business analyst I ask questions until I get sensible, useable answers and often these fail to meet my expectations. So I shall be looking to minor parties to prop up with my vote. Fri 19 Feb 2010 23:45:42 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=74#comment64 The sad fact is, if the analysis is correct, most people in the liberal-democracies have been radically misled politically for decades. Most have no grasp at all of how this has been done, i.e. what sustains it, and anyone who does will be induced to feel 'paranoid'. Those least susceptible to the conditioning are psychopathic, who tend to do rather well. Fri 19 Feb 2010 19:56:41 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=73#comment63 63. PatNInterrupt 'Re some of the points raised above in relation to statism and anarchism, the site www.politicalcompass.org makes some very interesting points. Essentially pointing out (the obvious?) that one of the major issues we have is that the two main parties both represent centre-right, authoritarian(fascistic?)government, which few, if any people in this country would actually want.'Not too astute at that site (or else they're a bit too fond of conservatism/anarchism)...We're actually a tad short of regulators/fascists don't you think? Fri 19 Feb 2010 19:12:44 GMT+1 PatNInterrupt http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=72#comment62 Mark, thanks for this topic. It seems pretty clear from the comments that indeed many people in Britain are pretty passionate about politics from all parts of the political spectrum.It is also obvious that it is the system that is the problem and indeed something not far short of non-violent revolution is needed to change it. Voting in a de facto two-party, FPP system is akin to rearranging deck-chairs on the Titanic for our 'democracy'.Maybe you can use your privileged position at the BBC to help instigate some movement on this front??Re some of the points raised above in relation to statism and anarchism, the site www.politicalcompass.org makes some very interesting points. Essentially pointing out (the obvious?) that one of the major issues we have is that the two main parties both represent centre-right, authoritarian(fascistic?)government, which few, if any people in this country would actually want.As the editor suggests:"Voter turnout is highest when ideological differences are most significant. This helps explain why the voter turnout is lower in the US than in all other western democracies , most of which have a multiplicity of parties and proportional representation. In the UK, voter turnout may continue to fall to US levels. Lowering the voting age isn't likely to excite participation in elections when the choice is less and less to do with a clash of visions than mere managerial competence. And without those traditionally big choices, one might well wonder where this is going to ultimately leave democracy." Fri 19 Feb 2010 17:51:32 GMT+1 Angel_in_Transit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=70#comment61 #52 et seqThe only points being missed are the ones you choose ignore. And your childish assumption that anyone who disagrees with you must read the Daily Sport rather sums you up, doesn't it?Was your dissertation titled "How to make one brain cell appear intelligent"? Fri 19 Feb 2010 17:35:33 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=69#comment60 59. General_Jack_Ripper as a substitute for conservative/anarchist - try 'psychopath'. Fri 19 Feb 2010 17:17:26 GMT+1 sirbarrbarr http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=68#comment59 If we do not have the weight of a high turn-out of voters at the next general election we really do run the risk of a collapse of out society no matter which party or national government wins. Whether people are not our type of people, or as Zim calls them "scum", the political parties must get together as one to encourage all voters to vote. Newspapers of all colours must join in a campaign to emphasise the importance of voting and ram home the message that if you dont vote, you get the government you possibly didn't want. Worse, someone could rise from the "scum" and take advantage of a weak government and force on us an alternative regime. This next government will direct our future way beyond its actual term. Sound education for the masses on the importance of the vote is urgently needed. For heaven's sake, if people can vote in TV competitions or hobble out to buy a lottery ticket, they can make the effort to vote. Fri 19 Feb 2010 17:17:12 GMT+1 General_Jack_Ripper http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=67#comment58 Invader-ZimThat book was written by Eamonn Butler who is the Director of the Adam Smith Institute, an organisation that boasts about its involvement with the Thatcher government.This institute was one of three think tanks that wrote policies for Thatcher and is responsible for the disaster that has been the privatisation of our utilities/transport/national infrastructure as well as the move away from manufacturing towards a service based economy, mass migration in order to keep wages down and the abandonment of employee rights.To claim this book is full of facts is a joke; it is an exercise in Conservative propaganda and historical revisionism.I'd recommend people read it, but only so they can recognise the fist full of lies the Conservatives and their supporters use on a daily basis. Fri 19 Feb 2010 16:05:13 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=66#comment57 53. General_Jack_Ripper - Yes. Fri 19 Feb 2010 15:24:56 GMT+1 Invader-Zim http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=65#comment56 43. At 10:08am on 19 Feb 2010, Angel_in_Transit51. At 2:27pm on 19 Feb 2010, Statist wrote:Making the assumption that you read literature other than the Daily Sport: -I reiterate - check out the book "The Rotten State of Britain".AKA how Labour lost the UK a generation and cost us a fortune.Facts, facts and more facts.If you still trust Labour after reading the book then you are beyond hope. Fri 19 Feb 2010 15:08:56 GMT+1 Invader-Zim http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=63#comment55 This post has been Removed Fri 19 Feb 2010 15:02:07 GMT+1 Invader-Zim http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=62#comment54 Let us also take the governments attitude to experts.How about the episode entitled the "POSTMAN AND THE PROFESSOR".The labour Johnson is a Postman - a union reject, drunk on his own sense of self importance.The Professor was an expert in his field on the harm of drugs.Quite rightly he clarified the dangers to society of drugs, tobacco and alcohol.The Johnson didn't like the data so he briefed against the Professor.It became apparent that the Postman was the real Nut not the Professor.This is cut throat Labour - they brief against anything that does not fit their small minded world view. Fri 19 Feb 2010 14:57:23 GMT+1 Invader-Zim http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=61#comment53 This post has been Removed Fri 19 Feb 2010 14:46:42 GMT+1 General_Jack_Ripper http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=60#comment52 @ Statist #46You're wasting your time mate, no matter how much evidence you provide to show that the New Labour party of the 1990s-present day is a neo-conservative party with absolutely no political, ideological or moral connections to the old Labour party the majority of people in this country are too blind/stubborn/ignorant to be able to accept this.All they see is the big red rosette, and to them this is all the proof they need of New Labour's Marxist/Communist/Socialist ideals.I know this is a very depressing thing to accept but unfortunately a large percentage of our population don't have the intelligence to find their own backside with two hands and a map, never mind differentiate between two totally different political groups with similar sounding names. Fri 19 Feb 2010 14:44:14 GMT+1 Invader-Zim http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=59#comment51 43. At 10:08am on 19 Feb 2010, Angel_in_TransitClearly you have missed the point.I achieved all of the things listed despite the evils of a Labour, not because of them.Hardwork, education and ambition have allowed me to achieve.Over the last 12 years I am worse off.I pay more tax.I pay tuition fees despite Labour lies that they would not be implemented.I have seen the decline of UK society when compared with other areas of the world.My mother was a victim of the target rather than patient orented national health service - an investigation into her death is still ongoing.Having submitted a paper to the treasury on the dangers of the Economic downturn - only to have it dismissed by IAN PEARSON (egg on his face now) - MINISTER to the Treasury, I think I am well placed to understand the Labours Peabrained Politics.An informed public is not a Labour public.I suggest you settle down and return tou Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer. Fri 19 Feb 2010 14:35:42 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=58#comment50 49. DisgustedOfMitcham2 'If you really want to show the political class what you think of them, vote for the smaller parties or independent candidates. Now if everyone did that, then the results of the election really would be interesting.'That would be fine IFF said independents were then strictly forbidden to group along old party lines. What would work, is if we had a one-party system... like errrr.......China!!! Fri 19 Feb 2010 14:27:13 GMT+1 SSnotbanned http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=56#comment49 It seems like stating the blindingly obvious but...A politician needs no qualifications, just your vote. Broken electioneering promises or other, does not mean the person(s) can be charged with wilful fraud, bad conduct.There is no contract, only the promise of another election in a few years time where a new set of promises can be reeled out....the foolocracy remains. Fri 19 Feb 2010 14:22:58 GMT+1 DisgustedOfMitcham2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=55#comment48 #26, Bryn The Cat:If everyone who believes none of the political class did that it would show parliament what utter contempt we hold it in."Sorry, but you are so wrong about that. It would show the political class that all they need to do to get elected is to rely on a very small number of core supporters. They would still get elected and would be laughing all the way to the expenses claims office. They really don't care what you think just so long as they still get elected.If you really want to show the political class what you think of them, vote for the smaller parties or independent candidates. Now if everyone did that, then the results of the election really would be interesting. Fri 19 Feb 2010 13:29:13 GMT+1 DisgustedOfMitcham2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=54#comment47 Very thought provoking blog, Mark.It's a fundamental problem of democracy that if people don't understand what they are voting for, then the whole system fails. I have believed for quite some time that that has already happened.I totally agree with PatNInterrupt's suggestion (#6) that the ballot paper should be linked with some kind of a test. Not sure about testing maths, though, but maybe some simple questions to test basic awareness of what the current political parties have put in their manifestos. If anyone doesn't score sufficiently high marks, their vote isn't counted. For example, anyone who answers that Labour are committed to scrapping ID cards or that UKIP are in favour of ever closer political union with the EU would fail the test and wouldn't get a vote.It's a radical suggestion and would doubtless be unpopular with many (predominantly politicians, as they rely completely on a badly informed electorate to get away with what they get away with), but I truly believe we'd end up with far better governments as a result.Mind you, that may only work if we also act on bigsammyb's excellent suggestion (#30) that manifestos should be made legally binding. At the moment, you could have a thoroughly detailed knowledge of a party's manifesto, and still not the slightest clue what they would actually do when they get to power. Fri 19 Feb 2010 13:26:42 GMT+1 Dave H http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=53#comment46 Having become involved with the campaign against the government's home education proposals, I find the degree to which MPs are just voting drones for their parties is depressing. Even when a government MP speaks against proposals, come the vote, they've voted the way their masters have told them to.Perhaps if we could have wholescale reform of the system, with MPs subject to recall votes, and the petition proposal to force Parliament to address issues with debates and legislation if enough signatures were collected, things might improve and people might take more interest if they thought they were having an effect. However, getting most MPs to vote for it would be like getting turkeys to vote for Christmas.Having an arrogant government in power that has stopped listening to the people, despite consultations and other fancy exercises, has put a lot of people off. We had the backlash in 1997 to a long period of Tory rule, and indications are that we may be getting a similar effect now. Most people ignore politics, but as the allegations pile ever higher and the news stories ever juicier, people start to take notice and Mr Angry spreads from Surbiton to other parts of the country. Fri 19 Feb 2010 13:18:47 GMT+1 Statist http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=52#comment45 33. Invader-Zim 'Labour have a history of ruining the nation - (check out the late 1970's), cultivating the work-shy scum class and feathering their own nests.For everyone's sake .... get them out.'But this wasn't Labour was it? The USA would not allow that. This was New Labour. These were entryists who jetisoned Clause IV and got their money from places other than the unions - look into where, recall the cash for Ks and Ps?Wake up to what's been going on, for decades. Calling onself 'Labour' doesn't make one's policies socialist. What's wrecked (devolved/dissolved) the UK over decades are 'Conservative' policies, NEO (i.e NEW) Conservative policies.....These are anarchists. Libertarians are literally anarchists (look it up). Give this some thought. Fri 19 Feb 2010 13:07:05 GMT+1 virtualsilverlady http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=51#comment44 41 bigsammybYou are quite right in what you say and I have no argument with you over that.But where are these progressive people who have plans to make things better?Could it be that they are just not being listened to? Fri 19 Feb 2010 11:53:42 GMT+1 piscator http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=50#comment43 The Media must take some of the blame. Lets face it the country has been in a terrible crisis for quite some time now, and nobody seems to care. If people are getting their news from the BBC, and this website, you can hardly blame them. The stories are brief and unexplained. Half a page, with a picture. Pencil sketches, lifted from other news sources, usually planted ones. 24 hr news repeats the same 3 stories over and over with no professional insight obviously displayed. Radio4 does some excellent in depth investigative reporting, which I doubt if anyone much listens to it, because they are doing something else, but the excellence doesn't seem to reach the news room. I would rather see comments and insight from real reporters and commentators giving us facts then MBs full of paid posters and partisan nutters. At one time there were acres and acres of news coverage. Now there are football fields and football fields of dumb PR and pixels. Fri 19 Feb 2010 11:03:15 GMT+1 Angel_in_Transit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=48#comment42 #33,#34So your poor, labour fixated upbringing yielded you mortgage, savings, a chance to pay three university tuition fees, but you attack it. You attack it from your self-interested perspective, just as politicians of ALL colours will, no doubt, also be doing.Self interest is selfish, and, for a whole generation people were encouraged to be selfish by Thatcher. Those people have moved and are moving into our ruling classes in masses. Do you think that may be why our franchise has become meaningless?Who do you think you depend on for your microprocessor, your motherboard, your graphics card, your memory chips, your sound chip/card and speakers, your monitor, your keyboard, your mouse, your printer, and your modem? What makes them dirt cheap? Could it be a labourer in a far off land who works twelve hour shifts for a pittance and goes home knackered to watch their favourite soap? Fri 19 Feb 2010 10:08:28 GMT+1 John Ellis http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=47#comment41 Professor David Nutt: Drugs, Science and Politics – A Volatile MixtureThe drugs adviser dismissed by the Home Secretary Alan Johnson for publicly criticising Government policy on the classification of ecstasy and cannabis will be speaking with Dr Evan Harris, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and Lib Dem Science SpokesmanNetwork: Global Date: Sunday, 21 February 2010 Time: 18:00 - 19:30 Location: St Giles Church Hall Street: Woodstock Road Town/City: Oxford, United Kingdom Fri 19 Feb 2010 00:31:23 GMT+1 bigsammyb http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=46#comment40 #40. virtualsilverladyA man who is 30 who still thinks of himself and any issue he passes judgement on in terms of left or right or a leaning to a politcal ideology has no brain.The world is not changed by people who are unreasonably idealist, the world is changed by progressive people who see things for how they really are and come up with a plan to make things better.Anyone who has made up their mind about any issue before hearing the facts is a moron. Thu 18 Feb 2010 19:41:54 GMT+1 virtualsilverlady http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=45#comment39 22 John Wilkes'If a man isn't a liberal at twenty, he has no heartIf he isn't a Conservative at thirty, he has no brainIf he isn't disgusted with all politicians at forty, he has no internet connection.Perhaps the ages could change but the message doesn't.Idealism is essential for getting things doneThe big disappointment comes when those who told us what they would do for us fall down on their promises.Power is and always has been a corrupting influence.' Thu 18 Feb 2010 18:00:08 GMT+1 Megan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=44#comment38 Nowadays, it seems to me, people - at least, those who pay any attention to current affairs - are more interested in issues than parties. Hence the disaffection come election time, or even before, when instead of being able to express their opinion on the issues that matter to them at the ballot box, they have to pick the party that's the 'least bad' fit to the views that they hold... bad enough even without the lack of confidence, as mentioned above, that any party is actually going to do what it said it would once they do get in. We no longer feel that the person we elect to represent us actually does so - he or she is a representative of the party and not pf the electorate. Since when did your MP ask around the constituency about what the voters would like said on their behalf in a parliamentary debate on a given subject? Even if you write and say how you'd like them to vote, the reply will be along the lines of their party's opinion on the matter (if you get one, that is - at least mine replies to letters!) without reference to the views of us, the people who employ them!This, I believe, is the root of perceived 'indifference' or 'apathy' towards politics. Thu 18 Feb 2010 16:42:49 GMT+1 Andrew_F http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=43#comment37 That last graph is really worrying. What happened to make turnout drop so sharply it went backwards in time? Thu 18 Feb 2010 15:49:19 GMT+1 Euforiater http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=41#comment36 It's a good thing that newspaper readership is down; that means less people are influenced by newspaper owners i.e. the very rich. There are many more sources of news on the internet and this allows us all to decide for ourselves instead of being dictated what to think. Given two opposing viewpoints most people can work out the truth.It's understandable that politics is such a turn off because most of us see politicians as pointless bureaucrats determined to make their mark in whatever way they will most, err, make their mark. It doesn't seem to matter what they do when they get to their positions of power, the point is just to be there, and the game is to stay there as long as possible.I had to laugh when I saw a tv program about how Tony Blair and Gordon Brown plotted their way into the corridors of power (nothing illegal suggested here, BTW)! Finally the whole plan came to fruition, and after years of prodding Tony to make way, Gordon finally got there and seemed to wonder "what do I do now"? As John Lennon once sang, He's a real Nowhere Man..I'd like to know what politicians REALLY think about world poverty, overpopulation, the creep towards faith schools etc. But all we get is watered-down sentiments designed to appeal to as broad an electoral slice as possible. Thu 18 Feb 2010 15:05:46 GMT+1 RonC http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=40#comment35 We have to look at this from at least three age groups.The first are those people who fought for their vote. They see it as a right and duty but sadly most will always vote for the same party (class) irrespective of how they perform. It is these voters who are dying off and why the turnout is falling.The second age group are the Baby boomers, my age group 55 to 65. These people have heard it all before and are often left frustrated at the constant failure of any party. We are still hearing about how they promise to fix the same problems they promised to fix when I first voted when I was 18. They have spent billions in taxation including the North Sea Oil and Gas and privatisation revenues during those forty years but have we progressed? Not a jot!It amazes me how you can listen to politicians on programs like Question Time and you feel yourself nodding in agreement saying yes that’s right, but when they come to power it never comes to fruition. Why is that?It is like there is another force within Whitehall which has a greater power than the elected members, perhaps it is called Brussels.As a lad I remember many of the older generation discussing issues long before I understood them and their parting line was, ‘Well it doesn’t matter what we think, we will never change it!’, perhaps there is a clue there because that is precisely how I feel now. Unless I vote Tory or Labour I don’t have a voice.Finally we have the younger generation. These people are not idiots and they are certainly better informed than we were but they also have the lack of future prospects to influence their decision to vote. Why vote, there is simply nothing in it for them.However, of all the elections this is the one election where people should vote. If like myself you are disenfranchised and fed up with the contempt with which we are treated then go and vote, but vote for a minor candidate. If you think that by not voting or spoiling your vote will have meaning forget it, they will simply accept their result even if it was only 100 votes as vote of confidence. Our politicians thrive on public apathy. Thu 18 Feb 2010 13:48:57 GMT+1 newshounduk http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=39#comment34 The election of any party is inevitably a compromise in that no one party will be seeking election on a manifesto that appeals to a majority of voters on every particular issue.Prior to any election it might be helpful if the parties got together and produced a list of issues and had a referendum on those to see what the majority of voters wanted in respect of those issues.In that way any elected government would have a very clear idea as to what the public wanted and a very clear mandate to act on those issues. Thu 18 Feb 2010 13:28:19 GMT+1 Invader-Zim http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=38#comment33 I suggest everyone reads the book - "The Rotten State of Britian".This tells you everything you need to know about the mis- management of the economy, the hijacking of the civil service, the centralisation of power within number 10, the culture of labour spin and the drift towards the "Yes men cabinet".Read it and weep.Revolution may be the only answer. Thu 18 Feb 2010 13:25:55 GMT+1 Invader-Zim http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=37#comment32 I was brought up in a family who were staunch Labour supporters.A Labour PM could squat and take a dump on the whole community and the labour lemming eloctorate would still vote for them.As I grew up I ensured I was better informed, keeping up to date with current affairs and the Political mis-management of the nation.I will never vote labour.I am considered a traitor to my family; no argument, however persuasive, will change the mind of a brain washed, ill-informed labour lunatic.My children have been given the freedom to make up thier own minds based solely upon the facts. Of course they have decided that the current labour lot are a bunch of crooks and not worthy of a vote.Sadly, Labour relies on the corrupt union institutions, the ill-informed TV soap additicts, poorly educated and workshy layabouts to keep them in power.This is a cycle that is very difficult to break.Labour has cost me a fortune.My savings yield no interest, my mortgage is paid so I don't benefit from the bail out of the "irresponsible home owners".I have paid 3 sets of univeristy tuition fees, despite the labour pledge(or should I say Labour Lie) that tuition fees would not be implemented.Labour have a history of ruining the nation - (check out the late 1970's), cultivating the work-shy scum class and feathering their own nests.For everyone's sake .... get them out. Thu 18 Feb 2010 13:18:02 GMT+1 ABGB http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=36#comment31 W C Fields said he never voted for anyone, only against. Whether you're a for or against type of voter, it seems like floating voters are lacking real choice in this election. What we need is a proper battle between credible leaders but with Gordon Brown clinging on to the Labour leadership there's no chance of that happening. We've got to get Gordon to go so we can have a true democratic process. ABGB.co.uk Thu 18 Feb 2010 13:15:22 GMT+1 General_Jack_Ripper http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=34#comment30 CIA Torture Jet wrecks with 4 Tons of COCAINE"This Florida based Gulfstream II jet aircraft # N987SA crash landed on September 24, 2007 after it ran out of fuel over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula it had a cargo of several tons of Cocaine on board now documents have turned up on both sides of the Atlantic that link this Cocaine Smuggling Gulfstream II jet aircraft # N987SA that crashed in Mexico to the CIA who used it on at least 3 rendition flights from Europe and the USA to Guantanamo's infamous torture chambers between 2003 to 2005."http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/12/12/19210/608/933/420107I've read several stories regarding this incident and several others just like it in foreign language newspapers that were published in different countries yet the UK media decided it wasn't worth reporting.And Mark wonders why people are no longer reading British "newspapers". Thu 18 Feb 2010 12:59:42 GMT+1 bigsammyb http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=33#comment29 Mark you seem to be missing a fundamental part of the issue. Why is it important for voters to be aware of the issues they are voting for and the policies candidates claim to be implementing if they are voted for when there is not only no gurantee but most of the time not even the slightest chance they will go thorugh with it?You see my point? Government manifestos are not worth the paper they are written on so what exactly is the point of the eloectorate even reading them?The government talk about reform, but i suggest a drastic reform that will truly put trust back in politics:-Make manifestos LEGALLY BINDING.If a government manifesto was legally binding then the electorate would be able to make an informed choice. I suggest that any government who gets in to power is held respnsible for the promises it made and if it breaks those promises then the leader should face criminal prosecution if they are unable to legally justify the reasons they were unable to implement policies.If a party has a good reason for not implementing a policy then fair enough (we live in turbulent times) but when a government makes a policy like a free vote on the lisbon treaty and it reneges on it then the leader should be sent to prison.You might think this sounds harsh and most parties would refuse to participate, well that would be a good thing.Let labour and the conservatives etc disappear and let them be replaced by switched on propar parties that actually do what they say.Afterall the government is constantly trying to mess with the judicery i think its high time the judicery started messing with government. Thu 18 Feb 2010 12:24:54 GMT+1 David Craig http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=32#comment28 It is telling that Mark Easton thinks that a valid test of political awareness would be to identify personalities - not policies, not platforms, not principles, but the characters in the media's ongoing soap opera coverage of politics.If Britons are ignorant of politics, it is because they are so badly served by political journalists. Thu 18 Feb 2010 11:27:45 GMT+1 PatNInterrupt http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=31#comment27 John Wilkes - great comment. Very true. Thu 18 Feb 2010 11:12:59 GMT+1 jon112dk http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=30#comment26 Fundamental issue for me is that they are all targetting a small number of swing voters in a small number of winable constituences. On top of that they increasingly target special groups (women with children, ethnics, ecozealots etc etc).Overall result is that a large number of ordinary folk who don't fall into any of the above demographics feel increasing left out. Personally I can vote for the tories to tax me, cut services and screw me over or I can vote for labour to tax me, cut services and screw me over. You'll excuse me if I'm not overwhelmed with motivation. Thu 18 Feb 2010 11:11:04 GMT+1 Bryn The Cat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=29#comment25 For all those disaffected by politics and the political system / troughing MP's simply spoil your vote. Cast it to show you care, but spoil as a method of stating "None of the above". If everyone who believes none of the political class did that it would show parliament what utter contempt we hold it in. Thu 18 Feb 2010 11:08:04 GMT+1 outofstep http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=27#comment24 johnwilkes is right. Since we are governed by political parties rather than by the consciences of our "representatives", PR is the most appropriate way to establish our collective will. Furthermore, it would probably lead to weaker government and that gets my vote any day. Thu 18 Feb 2010 10:43:39 GMT+1 CarolineOfBrunswick http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=26#comment23 Sorry for being so literal minded, but why would people in a town in Pembrokeshire recognise a photograph of a LibDem backbencher for Birmingham? Even if they have been keeping themselves informed via the BBC website they would have seen John Hemming's image 3 times (according to Google) - the last time in June 2009.Which newspaper should we read to get coverage of parliamentary debates and all candidates standing for election?PS. Well done in finding how to put pictures in the backgrounds of charts and how to smooth the lines. Can you stop it now please. Thu 18 Feb 2010 10:41:57 GMT+1 General_Jack_Ripper http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=25#comment22 The following link tells you all you need to know about British politics:http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/peter-oborne-james-jones/pro-israel-lobby-in-britain-full-textThe UK government serves far too many outside interests while ignoring the needs of the UK population. Thu 18 Feb 2010 10:17:17 GMT+1 johnwilkes http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=24#comment21 Mark, you and the rest of the political pundit club couldn't have got it more wrong.The fact that ordinary people are so apathetic towards voting is an indication that they are very, very well aware of politics, politicians and the political system.'Representative', MP's, who we are allowed to elect every five years, who have no legal obligation to carry out any of the promises in their manifestos and who then become mere, 'whipped-in', lobby fodder, voting for measures which the public neither want nor need.Who amongst the public was ever asked whether we wanted to be involved in Bush's oil wars?Who amongst the public was ever asked whether we wanted to be turned into a constantly watched, tracked, databased, police state?Who amongst the public was ever asked whether we wanted to hand over our pensions, social services and our childrens inheritance to bail out a bunch of fat-cat bankers?I have never, in a long life time, witnessed such a level of debate about politicians. But do you seriously expect that if we were talking about the relative merits of the inmates of a prison, (who is the least criminal amongst them), that we then go out and vote for them to govern us?Newspapers may well not sell. I see that as an indication of the intelligence of people who don't wish to pay good money for pages of celebrity gossip, competitions and the inane drivel of such intellectual heavyweights as Peaches Geldof et al.There is plenty of news on the web; news that has not passed through the filter bed of Murdoch or BBC censorship.The people of this country dismiss the democratic process simply because it is not a democratic process. It is a fraud and a sham.Bring in PR and delegate MP's and the polling stations would be bursting.To paraphrase Churchill,If a man isn't a Liberal at twenty, then he has no heart.If he isn't a Conservative at thirty, then he has no brain.If he isn't disgusted with all politicians at forty, then he has no internet connection. Thu 18 Feb 2010 10:05:20 GMT+1 icewombat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=23#comment20 As a voter I want to be informed, but gordan will not tell me what plans he has to sort our the mess we are in, all he tells me is that he will keep spending? Thu 18 Feb 2010 10:04:33 GMT+1 Al Somerville http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=22#comment19 Once politics is about management rather than ideology, people don't really engage, just whinge.It's just turned into a workplace-style relationship: you mutter about their daily uselessness, write it down on your regular (say, for example, 5 yearly) assessment form and expect to be ignored by the system.On a related point, the piece by Adam Curtis on Newswipe about everyone being as paranoid and untrusting as Nixon now was very worthshile polemic. Thu 18 Feb 2010 10:04:08 GMT+1 Sean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=20#comment18 What about the duties of political parties? Over the past decade, it's become clear that manifesto pledges are not worth the paper they're written on. It's obvious now that no- one can believe what a Prime Minister says at the Dispatch Box (Iraq- Bliar) or a backbencher says in a debate (Trafficking- MacShane.) Are voters supposed to have a duty to disbelieve what elected representatives say? Or are we supposed not to care when we're lied to? That puts the cart before the horse. The only way forward is to hold politicians to the same level of expected honesty as any other person in any other walk of life. Make manifesto pledges limiting and binding under Law. Change the system so that a breach of promise forces a new election. (Urgent unforeseen issues could go to a plebiscite.) So long as politicians are the only people in the country allowed (expected, even,) to lie to their clients, and get away with it, there's every reason for us to treat them with the deepest contempt. Thu 18 Feb 2010 09:25:19 GMT+1 Angel_in_Transit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=19#comment17 "The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." (William Orville Douglas)This quote, from the US Supreme Court, establishes the right of every citizen to be free, and the responsibility of every citizen to ensure freedom for all is assured. That means that the "right" of every adult citizen to vote is accompanied by a "responsibility" to ensure that every adult citizen has that chance.Any other interpretation would clearly fall at the very first fence. Don't enter the Grand National Election, Mr Easton, it would be a very painful experience. And stop taking those "liberal left wing tablets", they are hyped beyond their worth. It is very interesting to note that when voting was taken seriously (say pre-1980) the trade union movement suffered much trauma over mass meetings where votes were often "show of hands". This was frowned upon by a certain woman who believed there should be secret ballots. So trade unions were forced to ballot members. There was an instant decline in voting numbers but still winners and losers.The media were first to jump on the decline in numbers, the difference between "for" and "against", not because they indicate a failure of "responsibility" but are an indication of apathy for the trade union leadership. The media cannot have it both ways. Thu 18 Feb 2010 08:45:35 GMT+1 Kenneth http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=18#comment16 It seems to me that the main political parties are all the same because they need airtime and ‘good copy’ on tv. The only way to do this is to avoid the disapproval of opinionated BBC news staff. So Labour move to the right and the Conservatives find a Tony Blair clone and move to the left.We need to get rid of the judgmental nature of BBC news and get back to reporting facts. We shouldn’t be in a position where tv news editors have more power than elected representatives. We shouldn’t have the democratic process hijacked by a few unelected nobodies.As far as declining audiences, surely, if the BBC were to stick to facts and stop the spinning, it would surely attract more viewers. News can be interesting but if each news story consists of 30 seconds of news and 90 seconds of the BBC’s opinion about the news then it is little wonder why people lose interest.Perhaps we should lose the monologues from people like Nick Robinson. Perhaps we should see and hear more of our MPs and less of the world according to the BBC.The irony of this is that the subject is being brought up by one of the people that is causing the problem. The answer is simple. You and your colleagues should leave the BBC so that we can be free of spin and propaganda and allow us to do our own thinking and make our own choices. Thu 18 Feb 2010 02:48:57 GMT+1 zeno http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=17#comment15 By voting I would, all else aside, be registering my acquiescence in the present system of government. By not voting I shall exercise my one option to register my rejection of that system. I do not suggest abstention on the grounds of civic duty, more as a matter of enlightened self-interest. Wed 17 Feb 2010 23:27:48 GMT+1 muggwhump http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=16#comment14 The reason for the apathy by voters is simple really, slowly but surely more people are waking up to the idea that all the parties are the same. This is why you can't get an answer out of any of them to a direct question, because if they answered honestly then they would all give the same reply! Who is going to cut what after the election? They won't say with any clarity because its going to be the same whoever wins, they just don't want to admit it! The politicians define the political debate of the day, but how much of that debate is about policy? Not much, if any. People are sick of it, they see through it for what it is. there is no real choice and whoever you vote for there will be no real change. We have a political class now, totally remote and out of touch with the voters, they all stand for the same thing so we have no real choice. What about today? The Tory and Labour Employment ministers were arguing over the closure in 2008 of many job-centres with the Tory saying that this was wrong, but the policy of both parties is to bring in private companies to find work for the unemployed and at the time the Tory line was that the Government should be doing it faster! So its the same policy. Do they think we are stupid? All politicians like to argue over the trivialities and shunt any relevant debate off into the sidings, its a wonder more of us don't vote for independent candidates, maybe this time we will! Wed 17 Feb 2010 21:56:08 GMT+1 balancedthought http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=15#comment13 Hi Mark,here are my points, a couple are political a couple media one social and one political and media focussed.The fact that both parties are now free market liberal democrats mean that there are less clear demarcations between the parties. You are quite right in calling it the rise of managerial politics. There is no political project out there. Peoples lives are relatively OK they don’t see that politics will have a very great affect on their lives. That might change after the cuts to the public sector which will cause a deep and sustained depression.With our current voting system very few peoples votes count. If there was PR maybe more would see the point but whilst there are effectively safe seats people will not bother voting.It is actually a good thing that people have stopped reading the papers as they were such nasty right wing nonsense. At least people can have some opportunity to see balance if they access a variety of sites. One significant issue that you did not consider is the fact that although there is a lot of news there is little analysis. So with our 24 hour news culture people constantly are aware of news but it takes an inquiring mind to to look below the sensation. This is hard work and because people are not that bothered and politicians battle for their narrative to be the dominant one. A very good example is the global economic crisis, in which the right want us to believe it is all Gordon Browns fault - rather than unregulated free market capitalism which tried to sell products to people who could not afford them. This frustrates and confuses people and ultimately switches them off.Finally there is the peculiar thing. Most politicians dress look and speak weird compared to normal people. Take David Cameron for instance. Most people in their everyday life don’t run into ex members of the Bullingdon club. He looks like a chinny as people would say and talks unlike most people - like he has a plumb (or silver spoon) in his mouth, automatically singling himself out as a toff. Whereas Gordon Brown uses some vowels in very strange ways.As is often said politics is show business for ugly people. Our society is obsessed with celebrity and they just don’t have the x factor. Wed 17 Feb 2010 21:44:00 GMT+1 Wheelchaircharlie39 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=13#comment12 Who should we the Disabled Vote For and Trust with our Future ?.We have both the general election and local council election's, here in England and the UK, which are and will be only a matter of weeks and months at the most away.So we have a suggestion, please both the able bodied, but especially Carer's, chronically Ill and/or Disabled people, Elderly Resident's with age related health problems, lastly parent's of disabled children and/or young people with Special needs (THE CIDERS Community) VOTERS.When you come to desiding who to vote, for ask those standing for and asking for your votes the following question's.One; How many women, ethnic and disabled politician's and/or candidates, have you standing locally, regionally and/or nationally, as MP's and/or Councillor's.Two; Are you as a politician and/or your party, DDA Compliant and if you claim your are, how are you DDA Compliant.Three; What as a newly elected politician and/or party in control of the council and/or Government, are you going to do for the RIGHTS INTEREST AND WELFARE OF Carer's, chronically Ill and/or Disabled people, Elderly Resident's with age related health problems, lastly parent's of disabled children and/or young people with Special needs (THE CIDERS Community).Four; Are you as a politician and/or your party, meeting your ownlegal duty under the Military Covenant, also if you become the Council and/or the Government of the day, how will you see the Military Covenant will be honoured, to Current member's of the Armed Forces, Military Families, Veteran's, lastly and especially to military personnel wounded, chronically ill and/or left disabled, now, tomorrow and in the future for the rest of their lives.Lastly how will you support, care and look after the families of hundreds of military servicemen and women Killed-in-the-Line-of-Duty, or see they are publicly honoured on local war memorial and their military graves and tomb stone are looked after too.If they the politician's asking for your vote, and cannot answer these questions to you own satisfaction, then answer on your ballot paper, VOTE FOR NONE OF THE ABOVE, is my advise because they are not worth our votes. Wed 17 Feb 2010 21:29:45 GMT+1 John Ellis http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=12#comment11 It would be nice to see some actual news on the news and not blip news on a 24 hour cycle..I read news from mostly Internet so much easier to pick and choose valid news that matters to me and not as someone put it news Someone thinks id like to hear.10# Shevek yer funny little graph blip...Mark would the same happen if you took say pics of lady gaga, take that and some other random pop stars of the moment with no branding on them how many people could identify them outside of a certain interest and age group.this smells of randomness. Wed 17 Feb 2010 20:43:42 GMT+1 virtualsilverlady http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=11#comment10 It has been the gradual dumbing down of news over the past few years that has turned off the man in the street.Even with 24 hour news we are subjected to the 'sound bite' of only a few minutes every fifteen minutes.We want to know more but apart from a few several minute interviews there is no more.In between the more important stories like sport the weather and the latest about some celeb who doen't really matter our education on what is really happening in the world is very limited.The most revealing programme last night was on BBC Parliament. Rivoting stuff listening to Mervyn King and the LSE economists being questioned by the treasury select committee and it wasn't even advertised.Anyone listening to that would have learned far more about what is really going on than any newspaper or news programme can ever tell you. So why do we have to unearth the truth ourselves or be lucky enough to be so bored with what's on TV we turn to BBC Parliament?Is there some sort of embargo on the popular press that people are now forced to use the internet to get at the truth?That's of course if they want to know. Most are just too busy or not bothered if it isn't put in front of their noses. This only helps the politicians who believe we'll be happier in our ignorance. Wed 17 Feb 2010 20:43:12 GMT+1 Shevek http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=10#comment9 The graph of general election turnout appears to turn back on itself. Graphs didn't do that when I was in skool. Is this some kind of metaphor for the political situation in 1974, or an example of more modern creative accounting from the graphics department? Wed 17 Feb 2010 20:20:33 GMT+1 ghostofsichuan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=9#comment8 There are more opinions than news. The media has failed to cover the true impact of the banking betrayal. The loss to personal reirement accounts went unaddressed while large sums of tax dollars went to banks with the result being little movement in a positive direction for the economy. Why would people be interested in elected bodies that betray them and their interest. A cleaning of the house would be in order to correct this but that is unlikely as well. The national wealth was redistributed and it went upward. The middle class has been abandoned by the politicians and they tend to be the voters.....How many times do you think the public can be fooled before they no longer show interest? Wed 17 Feb 2010 19:46:58 GMT+1 kaybraes http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=8#comment7 The fact that few people recognise our parliamentarians is more a reflection on the quality (or lack of) of the people who populate our parliament. A look at any televised debate shows serried ranks of overwieght half asleep ladies and gentlemen who serve only the interest of the particular political dogma that gives them a better living than the people they are supposed to represent. We have two main parties fighting tooth and nail to gain advantage over each other with no concern for the needs or wants of the electorate, and a few minor parties who have become an irrelevance and survive by criticism of the main two parties,making promises to gain favour, secure in the knowledge that they will never be called upon to make good these promises. Today's parliamentarians seem to lack any degree of honesty and integrity, and though politicians have always been expected to be sparing and evasive with the truth, it now seems that telling blatant untruths, the falsification of figures and deliberate misleading of the electorate has become acceptable. Perhaps it is the fact that so many of them are either from the law profession or from the political environment within the major parties that they have now become inherently dishonest. It is however long past time to reform our political system to give the people of this country honest representation by honest representation without the burden of toeing the party line. I'm dreaming again. Wed 17 Feb 2010 19:30:59 GMT+1 Pip http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=6#comment6 You would have thought that the reduction of ideology politics would have increased news readership during an election as voters would not simply be voting based on partisan loyalties. Instead, they would need to do a bit of research to decide which party’s policies were most appealing.Despite criticism of 24hour news, that too should increase public awareness of political issues. News does not change that quickly in a 24hour news cycle and the result is a great deal of repetition. The news of the day should be drilled into a person’s head by bedtimes, politics included.The difference between theory and practice, I suppose…www.governing-principles.com Wed 17 Feb 2010 19:25:41 GMT+1 PatNInterrupt http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=5#comment5 I think simply put, the experiment in universal franchise has been a disaster for democracy. 'Mobocracy' is our current state of affairs.It is time to only allow 75% (some might argue less than that) of the population to vote based on a simple test score, thus ensuring some kind of involvement. The test should probably be based on simple school-age maths or logic to ascertain whether the potential voter is capable of dealing with the complexities of politics and issues facing the country.75% seems pretty fair as it would include the vast majority of the population, including bright kids, thus removing the arbitrary minimum age for voting, whilst denying those most likely to vote purely for gain through unaffordable welfare-bribery from the process.No representation without taxation. Wed 17 Feb 2010 18:38:02 GMT+1 Weary Pedant http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=4#comment4 Sorry, "Sajid Javid" appeared at the end of my last post. This is because I was going to mention that he is the Bromsgrove Tory candidate - I cut and paste it to make sure I got the name right. He would probably wish to disassociate himself from any of my postingsApologies for the screw-up. Wed 17 Feb 2010 17:27:51 GMT+1 Douglas Daniel http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=3#comment3 Voter ignorance is pretty much essential to our current political system. If people knew what and who they were voting for, the system as we know it would be in chaos. For a start, when a referendum on Scottish independence eventually gets put to the public, the only thing that will stop a "yes" vote being returned is the Scottish electorate being misinformed about the benefits of independence against the supposed "benefits" of the union. This will be accomplished thanks to the media allowing Labour, Tories and Lib Dems to continue to peddle their half-truths and downright lies about independence, while ignoring the pro-independence voices like they normally do.It's not the only thing. If the general public really understood the outrageous waste that is PFI and properly understood just how bad privatisation has been for our "public" services, we would likely see an entirely different political landscape, with the two main parties being almost obliterated for their various shady deeds over the past 30 years.This kind of stuff is out there for people to find if they want to, but most people don't even know about people like Noam Chomsky, let alone bothering to get hold of their books. Semi-well-known journalists like Nick Davies and George Monbiot write books exposing various dirty truths, but clearly most people would rather read celebrity biographies. Why bother finding out the real truth when a more palatable version (i.e. non-truth) is so readily available from the TV, newspapers and internet? Wed 17 Feb 2010 17:19:40 GMT+1 Megan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=2#comment2 It is probably more important to be informed on issues and policies than the individual players of the great game of politics. Some people feel that the two go hand-in-hand, but it is often the case that an individual is appealing while some of the policies he supports are not (or the other way around). As an aside, I've just received a ballot paper from my trade union, in which it states on the paper "Read the enclosed candidate statements before making your vote." Good advice, whatever the election! Wed 17 Feb 2010 17:10:52 GMT+1 Weary Pedant http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=1#comment1 The UK is a representative democracy - so therefore the local candidates views are what is relevant. Bromsgrove current representative is Julie Kirkbride (Con). John Bercow is the current Speaker and so could probably be called the MPs representative - so why should we need to know him?Surely it is the policies and the effectiveness of the parties to implement them that count. Character is important, but it should only be at a local level - Julie Kirkbride is my MP and has lost my respect.Failure of the parties to explain their policies - or the population to bother getting informed - is an issue, but personality politics is a distraction and is normally negative.I look forward to the time when the country is so well run, I forget who the Prime Minister is.Sajid Javid Wed 17 Feb 2010 17:09:25 GMT+1 CComment http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/a_duty_to_keep_informed.html?page=0#comment0 The understandable cynicism, if not downright contempt, that the electorate feels about politics and politicians isn't helped by the constant barrage from 24-hour news stations. The emergence of these channels has meant that instead of 20 minutes a day of accurate, informed news we now get 24 hours a day of what non-elected commentators and "experts" think has happened or might happen or will happen. It's a unique blend of televisual gluttony and constipation and it's killing democracy. Caledonian Comment Wed 17 Feb 2010 16:57:09 GMT+1