Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Radicalisation and extremism


Background as you came in...

PPT VID1: 1:50 Russia Today PM Cameron's Plans to Tackle Extremism

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Policy or Personality? Which decides voter choice?

“The public debate and the media, which is becoming increasingly celebrity culture, rather hysterical, sensational, and reduces the whole thing to theatre. Everybody’s election campaigns are presidential, everything’s attributed to the party leader. What matters is how the party leader eats a hamburger and all this type of thing." - Ken Clarke, former Tory government minister, 2015 

He also appealed to the media to raise their sights from personalities and focus on policy. “The media treatment of any politician over unsubstantiated allegations, be it David Cameron, me or anyone else, is wrong and too much of our media is obsessed with personality politics, obsessed with personal criticism of politicians and therefore detracting from very serious issues around housing, living standards, jobs or world peace.

“I say that kindly. I’m a member of the NUJ actually. Can we try to have more of a grown up media? Or is that too much to ask?” - Jeremy Corbyn 'has not decided' whether to kneel in front of Queen

ISSUE: Has politics, or at least the coverage of this, become just another genre of TV/media entertainment, centred on personalities and 'star' power? Does our media properly perform its 'fourth estate', 'watchdog' duties?

Jez, he can rock a knitted jumper...
The media has a new bogeyman with 'Red Ed' duly vanquished...

But maybe he needs a bullet-proof vest?

The radio interview, as reported by ITV News:

The equally disastrous appearance on the Sunday Politics Show with Andrew Neil (start from 4:17):

The former Green leader defends her on C4 News; should/does Lucas' superior media performance matter?

Media coverage was consistently condemnatory and dismissive of Bennett - does this harm the Greens? Consider how closely UKIP's fortunes are tied to Farage.

As the recent spotlight on The Sun's page 3 has reminded us, Rupert Murdoch's entry into the UK media market back in 1968 (buying the NoTW, spectacularly closed in 2011 after the phone hacking scandal broke, and The Sun in 1969) has had far-reaching consequences. A comparison of the nature of newspapers then and now is extraordinary: all, whether popular/tabloid/mid-market (the red-tops) or quality/broadsheet have hugely upped their coverage of soft news (sport, celebrity, human interest) and cut some aspects of their hard news (politics, foreign affairs etc).

This has led to the development of two terms to describe a phenomenon which has since spread beyond the press into all media: tabloidisation and dumbing down.

Have the media, with their frequent focus on personality of leaders and the soap opera of parties' internecine (internal) splits and rivalries rather than policy, turned politics into another form of entertainment, 'politainment'?

There are those who would argue that the media does not in any way perform its fourth estate, watchdog duty as the guarantor of democracy. Noam Chomsky famously argued that it operates on a 'propaganda model', filtering out any radical content that challenges the governing elites (Manufacturing Consent) and creating a false sense of political competition (Necessary Illusions). Russell Brand has rather less scholastically put forth similar views recently, urging people not to vote.

Use the resources below to make up your own mind...
Politainment. The big story of 2014. Politainment is what unites Boris, Brand and Farage, the men who dominate our political dialogue to such an extent that we’ve given up talking about it in favour of talking about them. It’s an old idea (Texan politico Bill Miller coined the phrase “Politics is show business for ugly people” back in 1991, before Jay Leno), but with a twist. Today’s personality politicians are all (to some extent) outsiders. They don’t have to stand a chance of making PM – or stand at all – to make the weather. The centre is so indistinct that the fringe has become the natural area of interest. A sideshow has developed, with circus acts to match. Ugly business for show people. [Lauren Laverne, The Boris, Brand and Farage show: why politicians should steer clear of showbiz]
Politainment, a portmanteau word composed of politics and entertainment, describes tendencies in politics and mass media to liven up political reports and news coverage using elements from public relations. Of doubtful virtue, declining amounts of content and substance can easily be compensated by giving news stories a sensationalistic twinge. Politainment thus ranges on the same level as edu- and infotainment. [Wiki]
Living Color: Cult of Personality.

Nigel Farage plays Fruitcake or Loony on HIGNFY

Click below to view further resources

Their policies are erratic, but their leading lights have pledged support for slashing taxes on the rich, privatising public services and repealing basic workers’ rights.
Sentiments, though. Just 36% of voters believe that Nigel Farage was privately educated, even though he was schooled at the prestigious fee-paying Dulwich College; over half believe the same for the state-educated Ed Miliband. Farage has successfully effected an everyman appeal, complete with the almost compulsory pint of bitter at every photographic opportunity. He doesn’t sound scripted, but rather talks in the language of common sense; he presents himself as the outsider against the machine. In a world of relentlessly on-message, professionalised career politicians, it takes little to shine. (Rochester byelection: beliefs of Ukip voters are soaked in leftwing populism)

Nigel Farage's Weather Forecast on BBC Politics Show
Notably, this was uploaded by 'UKIPwebmaster'.

Gordon Brown Overheard Calling Woman Bigot

Gordon Brown Hears the News...

A Typical HIGNFY Gordon Brown Feature

WochIT News: Green Party threaten to sue over 2015 TV Debate exclusion

Ed Miliband on HIGNFY

Ed Miliband Repeats Himself

Discussion: Media's Portrayal of Ed as Wallace

Telegraph: Tips for Ed's New Media Adviser

David Cameron: Miliband is a complete mug

David cameron labels Nadine Dorries 'frustrated'

WebCameron (spoof ending)


Some further resources for researching this question:;;;;;;;;;;

2015 Election Campaign:
Comparison of Mail/Metro coverage.
Attacks on Ed Miliband's personality: Stephanie Flanders condemns intrusion; Mail/Metro (owned by same company) coverage compared;

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Political Compass Test

This links into an earlier post, in which I set out resources explaining the terms 'left-wing' and 'right-wing'.

The PC website carries a 'test' or survey which invites you to express on a wide range of issues, and then seeks to map your views onto the spectrum of left- to right-wing and authoritarian to libertarian. You might question its judgements on the essential nature of our current political parties, but they make for a useful talking point:
Some contentious judgements!

You can take the test here.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Interactive world map lets you track every country's migration history

Monday, 7 September 2015


You will be formed into small groups with the 20-minute task of researching one major news story from summer 2015: 15 minutes to research individually, then 5 minutes to organise your findings as a group so you can brief the class on this issue.

You can present your briefing with or without display technology: the format of your briefing is down to you.

Start by agreeing a group leader who can check everyone is looking at a different resource to gather information, and help organise bringing your individual findings together into a briefing that is easy to follow.

Each student will contribute a short briefing, with some facts, quotations, opinions.

Each group will present a briefing on their topic which presumes the audience (the class!) has no knowledge on this topic or event. the style or format of this is up to, but must feature everyone's contribution. This should last around 2 minutes: its a short briefing!

Each group should also select an appropriate YouTube video and pick out a section of around 1 minute to show. Copy the URL and paste it in as a comment (scroll to the very bottom of the post and click 'add comment'). If you click share below a video, you can tick a box to make that link start playing at a specific point in the video.
Click on the web page address to highlight it; copy [CTRL+C] and paste as a comment to this post, adding your topic and the time the video should start at
I've provided a very basic Google link, but you could try key words with news sources such as BBC or Guardian (BBC will be simpler usually, Guardian [newspaper] or Telegraph or Independent more complex, Mail or Express or Mirror less so).

(look under the pictures for a hyperlink taking you to a simple google search for news on this story)

1: A storm brewing in the far East... BASIC SEARCH.
2: Cutting remarks branding government action as cruel ... BASIC SEARCH.
3: Burying a peace deal? BASIC SEARCH.
4: Leeds to rival London? BASIC SEARCH.
5: Jez we can? BASIC SEARCH.
6: Man oh man... BASIC SEARCH.
7: Degrading and downgraded... BASIC SEARCH.
8: Trumped up views? BASIC SEARCH. The gaffer.
9: Straight outta excuses? BASIC SEARCH.