breaking news from the world of ideas

by Peter Franklin
Thursday, 12
December 2019
Reaction
07:00

Bernie Sanders is America’s magic grandpa

He may be 78, but the veteran socialist has a commanding vote share of young people

The last few polls are dribbling in, then it’s nothing until the exit poll at 10pm (oh, and the actual results). Not until 10pm, anyway. But to tide you over, here’s one from America.

It’s by Quinnipiac, and it’s mostly about the race for the Democratic nomination. The top line isn’t that exciting — Joe Biden is still out in front, despite everything. The interesting stuff is in the data tables, which reveal a chasmic generational divide.

Among the under-35s, Biden limps in third on just 11%. So who does find favour with young and young-ish voters? Is it Pete Buttigieg — who at just 37 is the youngest frontrunner by several decades? Er, no. He gets a humiliating 2% from his fellow kids. ...  Continue reading

by W. Bradford Wilcox
Wednesday, 11
December 2019
Seen Elsewhere
15:23

Why it takes a village of fathers to raise a child

The New York Times is wrong again about family structure and race

For those who doubt that family structure denialism is a thing on the Left, one need only open the pages of The New York Times this week. They ran an op-ed titled “The Myth of the Two-Parent Home” which sought to minimize the importance of family structure when it comes to “black kids’ success”. According to the article, “resources, more than family structure” are what really matter.

Drawing on her own research on high school completion, Harvard sociologist Christina Cross argued that “living apart from a biological parent does not carry the same cost for black youths as for their white peers, and being raised in a two-parent family is not equally beneficial”. The article’s broader message: for black children, the intact, married family is not so important, indeed not even close in its importance compared to structural factors like racial segregation and poverty. ...  Continue reading

by Freddie Sayers
Wednesday, 11
December 2019
Explainer
11:10

What we really learned from the YouGov MRP result

Whichever way the result goes, the Tories haven't convinced yet

There was much hand-wringing at around 10pm last night, as the final YouGov MRP model arrived, showing a dramatic narrowing and the theoretical Tory majority slashed from 68 to 28.

Every election, the polling world tries to correct for the errors of the previous cycle, and usually end up over-correcting. Last time, it was the YouGov MRP model that was much-derided and ignored, and ended up being eerily accurate; so this time, everyone is taking the YouGov MRP as gospel.

The trouble is, what the result most powerfully shows is really how astonishingly small changes in the vote share can produce totally different results. The previous YouGov model had the Conservatives on 43% and Labour on 32%, ending up with a majority of 68; the new model showing a majority of 28 has the Conservatives still on 43% and Labour on… 34%. This small change means 21 more Labour seats and a totally different world. But look at how many of those Labour seats only just get over the line since the previous model: ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 11
December 2019
Reaction
07:00

How we ruined election campaigns

This is a high stakes campaign — so why is it all so boring?

This is a high stakes election, but a low energy campaign. This week it finally flared into life, but with just three days to go it’s too little, too late.

Why was the rest of it so boring? Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I can’t help feeling that election campaigns used to be better. If so, here’s what’s gone wrong:

1. Length

Election campaigns last forever these days. It’s not just the official campaign period, but getting the election called in the first place — a process complicated by the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Let’s hope the next government repeals it. That way we can go straight into the campaign without the endless run-up, and get the whole thing done in three or four weeks. ...  Continue reading

by Ella Whelan
Tuesday, 10
December 2019
Debate
15:44

Confessions of a conflicted voter

I want to vote for a radical Left Brexit party, but there isn't one on the ballot

I have never enjoyed general elections — and have never voted positively in one. Sometimes I spoiled my ballot, as a protest against the injustice of being asked to hold my nose and pick the least worst of a god awful bunch. Sometimes I couldn’t be bothered. But having voted to Leave in the referendum in 2016, I feel completely different this year.

Even in 2017 General Election, those of us who had voted to Leave were still convinced we’d get our political demands recognised — I was complacent. But this Thursday is giving me a hernia — even in a seat as immovable as mine in Hackney North, I’m completely torn. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 10
December 2019
Reaction
12:09

Has the FT turned red?

For the first time in three elections, the pink paper is not endorsing the Tories

The Financial Times endorsed the Conservative Party at the 2010, 2015 and 2017 general elections. Not this time though. Instead, the paper’s “wholehearted support” went to candidates who share its “internationalist, pro-business” values.

But while the Tories weren’t embraced, Labour was rejected “as the party most distant from FT values,” not least because its “socialist blueprint would replace a thriving market economy with a statist model.”

OK, I guess that’s what you’d expect. Except that a few days later comes another editorial calling on western governments to borrow more and spend more, which is very much what the Labour manifesto promises to do. ...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Tuesday, 10
December 2019
Seen Elsewhere
07:00

South Korean women go on strike — and who can blame them?

The new 'Four Nos' Movement says ‘No’ to dating, sex, marriage and child-rearing

The South China Morning Post reports that a growing ‘Four Nos’ movement in South Korea encourages women to say ‘No’ to dating, sex, marriage and child-rearing. South Korean wives “are often expected to work, raise children, and care for ageing in-laws with little state or community help”, the article says.

To make matters worse, a prevailing beauty culture places heavy pressure on women to adhere to stringent beauty standards and behavioural norms require women to be “passive, childlike and bubbly”, as well as attractive, to be desirable. The ‘Four Nos’ and ‘Escape the Corset’ movements protest this along with a rising spy cam and revenge porn epidemic. ...  Continue reading

by James Billot
Monday, 9
December 2019
Idea
16:44

Are the Tories now the Social Democrats?

The centre-Left in the UK has taken on a very different form

Social democracy is in retreat. In the past two weeks alone, two left-wingers have taken over the German SDP and Romania’s SD Party suffered its worst electoral defeat ever.

So why have voters deserted social democrats and how could they be won back? At a Civitas talk on Friday, Labour Leaver and avowed social democrat John Mills had some suggestions:

“We have got to get the economy performing better and get the growth rate up to a better level. We need to avoid a situation where wages stagnate. Secondly, as long as we have a deficit of a £100bn a year, we are never going to get the government finances under control. We also need to reindustrialise the economy – that doesn’t mean we need to go back to the 1970s, but I think we need to get manufacturing back to 15%.”
- John Mills

It is a peculiar trend in today’s politics that as the Tories move to the Left on borrowing and spending, what remains of the centre-Left is running to the Right on the same issue. Indeed, John Mills’ talk of economic growth, deficit reduction and the 1970s sound more like something out of the 2015 Conservative Manifesto than any kind of social democratic platform. ...  Continue reading