Bombs, bread or blind-eyes?
Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen… there’s a long list of countries where international military intervention is likely to continue during the 2015 Parliament, even without factoring in the likely impact of events, dear boy, events in adding yet more countries to the list. So how are the foreign policies of each party shaping up when it comes to intervention overseas?
How do you stop the extreme right?
France’s National Front gained a few seats but flopped when it came to making a big breakthrough in the latest French elections. What are the lessons parties fighting Ukip can learn from the National Front’s opponents on the right and the left in France?
Does anti-austerity work?
10 weeks on from Syriza’s election victory in Greece, what are the early signs of how anti-austerity policy promises turn out when put to the test in government? Perhaps it’s too early to tell, but that didn’t stop instant judgements on what it meant for the UK, so 10 weeks later is sheer luxury by that standard. And no, a few quick references to international talks isn’t a substitute for giving Greek domestic politics the same amount of scrutiny now that something has actually changed (the government) as was given to speculation about whether it would change.
5-1: what really happened?
Back in the 2012 Budget, the government said that despite reducing the top tax rate from 50p to 45p, overall people on the top tax rate would not get a tax cut – and indeed that for each £1 in tax cut given to the richest, £5 in tax rises was also being introduced (such as the ‘tycoon tax’ limit on tax breaks). Taxes for the richest are still a very live topic, so how has the data on the tycoon tax and other measures panned out?
Valence or spatial politics: who is right?
There’s a split running through political science over whether people’s voting behaviour is best explained via spatial models (voters working out their own views and those of parties on a range of issues and voting for the party they are closest to) or valence politics (picking parties based on competence at delivering goals which nearly everyone agrees on – such as lower unemployment). Which is right makes a big difference to what is worth reporting during an election (are all those policy choice websites brilliant or irrelevant, for a start), so how’s the evidence looking for 2015 and what does it mean for the media wanting to report what’s really determining the election result?
What are you going to do about chocolate-geddon?
There are growing fears that the world’s chocolate supplies are not going to be able to cope with demand. What should the government do?
This is not wholly flippant as it’s a question that flushes out an awful lot about a political party. Do you trust to the market? Do you worry about underlying environmental issues? Do you regulate international trade? Do you believe the best route out of poverty in developing countries is expanding their industries?
That’s all certainly more than the choice of jumper worn by the party leader. But I suspect it’s knitting-based stories I’m going to have to get by on.