Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A few lines on Politics Home

As most with a passing interest in political bloggery will know by now, Politics Home launched this week with the aim of creating a "Bloomberg" for politics. The leading personalities involved on the editorial side are Nick Assinder, Andrew Rawnsley and Martin Bright who are all fine journos and good chaps to boot, so I wish them well.

Meanwhile Freddie Sayers from the site has kindly emailed me with the results of their most recent Phi100 panel, an online focus group of cross-party MPs, senior political editors, commentators and campaign strategists.

The panel were asked: "How much do the following issues in the private lives of politicians influence the view voters have on them?" The results are listed below, with the percentage who thought it did have a negative influence on voters' perceptions of them in brackets.

1. Has a problem with alcohol (88.3% believe it has an influence)

2. Claims above average amounts from the taxpayer for meals and travel (77.4%)

3. Talks about green issues but is shown to use air travel much more than average (71.8%)

4. Has left his wife for another woman (55.8%)

5. Sends their children to private schools (51.1%)

6. Used cocaine when they were at university (48.8%)

7. Violates traffic laws (36.1%)

Politics Home is drawing the headline conclusion from this that "Cocaine is near the bottom of the seven deadly political sins." Fair enough - but I wonder if this is an issue on which the Westminster cognoscenti are ever so slightly divorced from the public at large?

For my part - and I'm speaking as a private individual here rather than attempting to second-guess the electorate - I would regard the use of cocaine at any stage of someone's life as leaving a very serious question mark over their fitness for public office.

For one thing, it indicates a lack of respect for the law of the land, which however much we might disagree with it, is something we are called on to follow. For another, it indicates to me a quite staggering degree of emotional immaturity.

Coke is bascially a drug used by social inadequates to maintain a self-confident facade and to make themselves "interesting." Of course most users end up talking complete bollocks but in a roomful of other cokeheads, that is unlikely to be noticed.

So I think the PHI panel are wrong on this one - but that is not to say I don't think Politics Home is potentially a great site.

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Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why these mythical 100 people in Westminster have anything useful to say when we already have official polling companies like YouGov who talk to voters.

Anonymous said...

I'm more concerned by the wording of issue 4, which appears to imply that all politicians are male.

Stephen said...

I'm not sure that you've got coke quite right somehow; you make it sound remarkably akin to getting drunk.

As an extra-curricular university activity I don't see why it should subsequently count against an adult inside or outside politics any more than outrageous clothes, Morrissey records, SWP membership, indebtedness, drunkenness, the occasional spliff, or any of the other follies of youth are.

But you Sir are clearly a puritan. Would a familiarity with alcohol or weed produce the same question mark? If not, why not? Could it be anything to do with the fact that cocaine appears to be a Tory drug of (past) choice by any chance?

Perhaps you could let us know how fit for public office you consider the members of the current cabinet who have admitted using illegal drugs at university, then we'll be able to place your views in context.