How journalism and PR can co-exist

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As George Orwell once said. “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

This does suggest a level of mutual exclusivity between the two fields.

In his recent speech at the Charles Wheeler lecture the BBC’s economics editor Robert PReston described  PR companies as “the enemy”. It has long been a bone of contention within journalism that PR companies attempt to approve copy, control access to sources, spin everything in sight and protect sources at the expense of the truth.

However, with a Cardiff University study finding that one in five newspaper stories and 17% of broadcast stories been verifiably derived mainly or wholly from PR, it would seem that PR companies have got behind enemy lines.

Despite what Preston would see as a dangerous fifth column, it must be argued if the journalistic craft is anything it’s the ability to pick through sources, ascertain their validity, fact check and find truth?

Well, yes it is. However, with ever decreasing budgets, squeezed deadlines and less than 30 minutes per story, shameless promotion does slip through the net. The US now boasts 4.1 PR specialists for every one reporter (1) and this trend seems only set to increase.

However it doesn’t have to be this way. In the animal kingdom, a relationship between two different species is described as symbiotic and can be defined in three ways; parasitic, communal and mutual.

To give this some context the parasitic relationship is when one party (the parasite) benefits and the other (the host) loses.  An example of this is ticks. A tick will feed on the blood of mammals. In exchange it will give the mammal Lyme disease which causes kidney, joint and hearty problems.

The industry equivalent is the PR exec who feeds stories to reporters which are not fact checked and is riddled with inaccuracies. The parasitic PR exec gets its client name in the news and in exchange gives the reporter the journalistic equivalent of Lymes disease, loss of reputation, credibility and retractions to print.

The second definition of a relationship is far more preferable and is described as communal. This is when one species benefits and the other is not harmed. An example is natures is the Remora fish. It attaches itself to sharks, rays and whales and then scavenges left over food they have left. Despite the clear cheek of this benefit scrounger of the sea it has no negative ramifications for its partner.

If we apply this to the journalist/PR relationship we get the PR exec supplying the reporter with verified and supported sources. However, they might be poorly written, missing key details or inapplicable to that reporters brief. This hasn’t negatively impacted the reporter as they would have to written stories themselves anyway but it was hardly a net positive for them and takes time.

The final relationship is mutual. This when both parties benefit from the arrangement. It is based around being stronger together than apart. To see this you need do no more than look out of the window. Bees and plants. The bees needs to gather nectar in order to get it through the winter, and the plant needs to spread its pollen in order to procreate.

PR companies, the blooming flowers, are literally nothing without the journalistic bees to come and spread the word. However the journalistic bees are only going keep returning to the flower if they are receiving top quality pollen in the form well written, valid, fact checked stories.

If PR companies insist on parasitic relationships they are eventually going to kill their journalist hosts. However if a mutual relationship can begin, it could be a vital lifeline to the over stretched journalists.

If you are in PR remember, if you can’t be a flower be a Remora fish. Just never be a tick.

Steaming piles of BS spouted during the migrant crisis

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Having just returned from a well meaning but overly self congratulatory “refugees welcome” march it seems necessary to spend a few minutes correcting, tweaking and obliterating some of the “facts” confidently spouted by commentators, politicians and members of the public.

The sheer volume of vacuous crap on display in recent months has been quite impressive. Now don’t get the wrong idea. I am not just going after those favouring a closed door policy. ‘Cuddle a Syrian campaigners’ are just as guilty of dropping steaming turds of inaccuracies as the ‘we have no room’ UKIP berks.

Leaning right doesn’t mean you hate refugees. 

I was struck on this march how vociferously anti-right the tone was. I am not talking about the far right, I am talking about how anyone straying right of centre was essentially accused of wanting to sink every refugee vessel in the Med.

More people voted for the Tory party in the last election than any other party. Bad for the poor, good material for political bloggers. To suggest that the 11+million people who voted Conservative are indifferent to the suffering of children washing up on the shores of Greece is just wrong.

By all means rail against David Cameron only deciding to take more refugees when the focus groups told him that he should. Do not however, accuse anyone who voted blue of not caring about the suffering of others.

The left do not have a monopoly on compassion.

It is mainly the Wests fault.

Here is the real cherry on top of the steaming cow pat.

Usually said knowingly by someone who thinks they are well informed but who has actually missed a great opportunity to keep quite.

“Well none of this would have happened if we hadn’t invaded Iraq” they say while trying to exude a brooding intensity which belies their utter twatishness.

Yes, the US/UK led invasion of Iraq destabilised the region. Attempts to impose a western style democracy led to the fracturing of a state which has very deep ethnic and religious divisions. These conditions made it far easier for ISIS to take root.

However this argument can be made indefinitely going back to the dawn of time. Why not blame Saint Ambrose? The Bishop of Milan who 1500 years ago did more than anyone to establish religions primacy to state and promote the persecution of different faiths.

There comes a point when the person to blame for a horrific action is the person committing the action. The groups who behead aid workers, use rape as an instrument of conquest and desecrate historical sites are, lets face it, the ones mainly to blame.

Do not justify their horrific acts.

Stop saying economic migrant

Really stop and think about the phrase economic migrant. It is essentially someone who is moving to another country to improve their economic prospects. Most refugees come from Syria, Eritrea and Nigeria. This definition could easily apply to those people. They all want to improve their economic prospects.

However this really doesn’t tell the whole story.

Take Nigeria. As a Nigerian you will live with the very real fear that Boko Haram are going to arrive in your village, abduct and rape your daughters, killing anyone who resists. Obviously jobs are somewhat hard to come by in such a place. However is it really fair to label the family leaving to escape this hardship and economic migrant?

Lets look at Syrian ‘economic migrants’. Your whole family has either been gassed by your government, beheaded by insurgents or lay in the rubble that was your house. You have two children left and your town is a literal bomb site. You have no way of supporting your family and keeping them safe so you leave. Yes, to get a job abroad. But it is a highly inaccurate description of there plight to describe them as ‘economic migrants’.

Eritrea is insane. The government has systematised forced labour so as soon as a person reaches adulthood they have indefinite community service. If you stop, you go to prison. The government has also shown its proficiency in systematising crimes against humanity by using rape and mass murder as a weapon (see a great article here).  If you leave Eritrea you will be able to get a proper wage for the first time. But can we define leaving virtual slavery economic migration?

These people are refugees.

We do enough

Shut up. You know who does enough? Lebanon. We are are offering to take twenty thousand refugees (over 5 years). That is 0.03% of our 60 million population.

Lebanon was at one point receiving 20,000 every two days! They have a population of 4 million and over 1 million refugees. That is a quarter. They are doing their bit.

6 Sensible things that need to happen but British politicians are too scared to do.

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In a world of 24 hour news, with Gillian Duffy’s behind every corner ready to pounce on any ill-conceived opinion uttered by politicians, our MP’s are living in fear. Now it is not necessarily a bad thing for politicians to have to think through what they say but this fear of being misinterpreted can prevent perfectly sensible policies seeing the light of day. Below is a small and by no means comprehensive list of sensible policies that politicians are too scared to try and implement.

MPs should take their 10% pay rise

MP’s do not decide on their pay any more because an independent body, the IPSA, set their pay for them. This body has recently recommended that they have a 10% pay rise. Terrified of the optics of taking a pay rise when most of the country is going through austerity MP’s initially pressured the IPSA to change their decision and when they refused most MP’s vowed to give the £7000 increase to charity.  This is absolutely the wrong decision. They should take the pay and and put it in their pocket.

“What madness is this?” I hear you cry. “Members of Parliament don’t deserve a pay rise! They have already bankrupted the country singlehandedly by spending all of our money on duck houses and 2nd homes for their cats to live in”. Well yes they (generally) demonstrated a pretty shocking disregard for the tax payer leading to the expenses scandal but in order to stop that happening again they have already set up an independent body to set their pay.

The reason that the IPSA suggested an above inflation increase was to bring MP’s pay in line with equivalent public sector roles. To create an independent body and then completely ignore its decision completely undermines the point of having it. There are many reasons why MP’s should be paid more; more talented MP’s, encourage people from poorer backgrounds, potentially short career, stops PM using cabinet jobs as a carrot etc. Raising MP’s pay is a sensible policy but politicians are scared to proceed.

Truly reform the NHS

The NHS is more than just a British institution. It is an intrinsic part of our values. It is a belief that every citizen has the right health care regardless of social standing or wealth. Quite rightly it is something we jealously guard.

However it is in desperate need of reform. It needs 8 billion pounds extra just to continue. It constitutes nearly 20% of our spending and is second only to pensions.

Despite being such a huge part of our budget it is politically toxic to even mention significant NHS reform. Using the phrase “private sector” in conjunction with the National Health Service is liable to get a politician hounded out of office. The inability to have a genuine conversation on NHS reform prevents sensible decision making which in the long term, ultimately harms the NHS.

Invest heavily in renewable energy

Renewable forms of energy generation tend to be more expensive than their coal or gas based counterparts. However much of this is for the simple reason that we have used coal for two centuries. This gives coal the benefit of efficiency saving techniques, economies of scale, a competitive market and established supply chains.

Given time and investment renewables could be as cheap as coal, gas, & oil with the added benefit of having the Netherlands above water, breathable air and polar bears not just on glacier mint wrappers.

De-criminalise possession of drugs.

Giving people a criminal record for possessing drugs for their own personal use doesn’t make sense. While it is understandable if you cannot get on board with the idea of making all drugs legal (link) there is a very strong argument for not criminalising people for merely possession (supply is still punished heavily).

Imagine however if the home/justice secretary mentioned that they were considering decriminalising possession, the press would dub them immediately “soft on crime”. Even after they explained that all the evidence pointed to the fact this would simultaneously reduce pressure on our police and prisons and keep the possessor more invested in society they would still be derided by the right wing press as spineless hippies.

Stand out. 

Lets call this the Boris Johnson effect. Even people (like yours truly) who doesn’t like Boris cannot help but find him a little refreshing. He is different, he says what he thinks and he cocks up. In a world where every politician is desperately trying to avoid saying something they can be held to at a later date his unique brand of moronic bumbling connects with a lot of the electorate.

The point is whether you like him or not you feel like you know him and where he stands which is not something that can be said for most politicians. Not that I blame them exactly. In the age of twitter you are only one mis quote away from a lynch mob. Best to just say generic terms.

This is a shame because it firstly allows people like Nigel Farage to gain foothold because he is perceived as straight talking and a genuine bloke. A little more individuality would certain go a long way to engaging voters and rebuilding trust.

Thats right. Sometimes it is actually better for a politician to do nothing more than tell everyone that they have no changes planned.

Think of the economy, schools or the police. Every time a new government comes in they announce sweeping reforms, reorganisations and new measures of success. This means that ideas never have a chance to embed. Good practice never has a chance to entrench and those ever talked about efficiency savings are never seen.

Obviously most politician would baulk at the idea that they are running for office on a platform of “doing nothing” but I for one would find it refreshing.

British Politics Bingo!

Hello one and all and welcome to British Politics Bingo. The game for all the family! All you need to play is too much time on your hands and an overwhelming desire to be continuously misled by those chosen to lead us*. Below are 8 choice phrases commonly said by our noble MP’s along with phrases uttered by the even more nobel and trustworthy media which is holding them to account.

“Hard working families”– If you are a hard working single person fuck you! If you are a family man who likes an extra hour in bed fuck you! We all know the only people worthy of any legislative attention is the oft cited hardworking family.

“Chaos left by Labour”– The Conservative backbench MP’s trademark. When they finally get that interview on the Daily Politics or Question Time that they have been hoping for since they were studying PPE at Oxbridge, “Chaos left by Labour” seems to be all they can say. Indeed nothing else seems to truly sum up the “28 days later” scenario the last Labour government left them.

“End up like Greece”– You can’t have high standards of education, a properly funded armed forces or legal aid else you will “end up like Greece”. All MP’s who can really only truly achieve arousal through a nice deep austerity program always say this to keep the doubters at bay. Forget the fact that actually there are huge structural differences between the UK and Greece. We all know we are only one more disability benefit claim away from complete collapse.

“Widescreen TV”– A real favourite of the right wing press. It is usually employed to describe the affluent lifestyle of people on benefits. You know the “family of nine with I-phones and a wide screen TV”. It is meant to enrage the reader as it conjures up images of legging clad Vicky Pollards getting fat(ter) off the back of hardworking families. The really hilarious part of this is that it is hard to get tv today that isn’t widescreen.

“Let me be clear”– David Cameron’s go to phrase when he wants to answer a question absolutely clearly! Unfortunately it is usually not the question that was actually asked of him.

“We are listening”– Stand down red alert, chill out and relax. The government are listening. Just when we were getting worried we find out the the Government are going to listen to us**!

“Cutting Waste”- As much as I would like to descend into a slightly middle of centre rant at this point I will hand over to the master of ranting David Mitchell.

“Long Term Economic Plan”- You don’t need to worry. There is a long term economic plan. The fact that it simultaneously manages to change 5 time a week and and yet always disproportionately hit the poor and disabled is neither here nor there.

*When we say chosen to lead us we mean have a majority with less than 25% of the electorate voting for them.

** By “us” we obviously mean a small focus group aiming to yield the maximum amount of votes for the smallest amount of effort.

10 Things to take away from this election

As someone who advocates for logical, rational, middle of centre politics, last nights election results were about as welcome as a black, Polish, homosexual MEP at a UKIP party conference.

The liberal, centre party has evaporated and nationalism is on the march. Below are ten things we can take away from last nights election. Excuse the brevity of the points. A more detailed analysis will follow.

1. An outright majority does not make a stable government.

At the time of writing the Tory party is on course for a majority of about 10 suggesting this guarantees a strong government is a dangerous fallacy.

The Conservative Party has notoriously rebellious back benchers. These now have the ability to pull the party to the right. If just 20 out of 325+ Tory MPs rebel, they could bring the government to a standstill. This could force Mr Cameron to rely on the votes of the homophobic Northern Irish DUP.

2. Labour have taken their heartlands for granted.

There are no safe seats anymore. Labour assumed they had them in the bag. Mr Balls can probably testify this is not the case.

3. Electoral reform has to happen.

The Scottish National Party had a great night. They won an unprecedented 56 seats with 1.5 million votes.

Contrast that to the Lib Dems who had an awful night winning only 8 seats but got more than the SNP with 2.3 million votes.

This is our democracy. We are all equal. But some are more equal than others.

4. Irony is delicious

Most of the people who defected from the Tories to UKIP campaigned against the AV referendum. This essentially made their votes irrelevant when they then voted UKIP.

5. Nationalism is on the rise and it is dangerous.

Patriotism is a good thing. Patriotism is pride in ones identity, community and nation. It pulls people together and is to be encouraged. The best thing about patriotism it is not predicated on dislike or enmity of other identities. Nationalism is dangerous and sets up a “them against us” political culture. Read history books and see where that leads.

6. There is a huge opportunity in the centre of politics.

Most British people are central leaning, they are moderate and they don’t like extremes. The party that can establish themselves as a credible centre can hold the balance of power.

7. The EU referendum is coming.

There is no getting away from it. If you thought Scotland’s referendum was hard fought and historical you haven’t seen seen anything yet.

8. This literally couldn’t have gone better for the SNP.

Lets make one thing perfectly clear. The overriding aim of the SNP is an independent Scotland. It is the first line of their constitution.

With this in mind nothing could further this aim more than an outright Tory majority with no electoral mandate in Scotland.

9. This is bad time to be poor, unemployed or weak.

I am going to do very well with a Tory government. I’m a white, home owning, able-bodied, middle class male with a good university education.

Due to the Tory pledge not to increase taxes, the 12 billion of savings will come from cuts. This won’t affect people who can afford private healthcare, private education and private homes.

Being disabled, poor or badly educated is now a choice. It is your fault and you will have to pay the price.

A mark of a society if how it treats the weakest within it. Not sure we look good right now.

10. You are very lucky.

Despite the gloomy and depressing tone of this article there is cause for hope and not just because George Galloway lost his seat.

You live in a country where when a party loses an election they call their opponent to congratulate them. They do not protest, call in the army or riot. For this we should all be very grateful.

Who should you vote for in the UK general election if you care about climate change?

Friend of Well Hung Parliament Dr Mat Hope has kindly agreed to do an article exchange! As very much the beneficiary of this exchange I want to thank him and direct you to his excellent site http://www.climate-hope.co.uk.

Well, the Green party obviously, right?

Not necessarily. While the Greens may score the best on environmental issues including climate change, the UK’s weird electoral system makes things that much more complicated.

There are two main issues you need to consider alongside what the parties are promising on climate change when choosing who to vote for: where you live, and what you want your vote to do.

Once you factor these into your considerations, it’s a much murkier picture.

First past the post

I’ll go through the voting permutations in a minute. But it’s important to first recap the ground rules of the UK’s very particular system. So, as briefly as possible, let’s go back to school.

The UK’s electoral system is known as first past the post. That means the party with the most seats once the votes have been counted is invited (by the Queen; yes, really) to become the government.

To determine the biggest party, the country is separated into constituencies or ‘seats’, each with one MP. In the UK, you don’t vote for the prime minister, you vote for an MP, knowing their party leader will become prime minister if they win the most seats.The candidate with the most votes in any seat, even if it’s less than 50% of the vote, becomes an MP.*


If no party gains more than 50% of the seats, they can ask another party to join them in forming a coalition government – just as David Cameron’s Conservatives and the Lib Dems did last time.The main problem with this system is that, like the US presidential elections, the overall majority (in terms of the percentage of the population that votes for a party) doesn’t matter a jot.

It also means the vast majority of votes don’t really count, as there’s only a handful of seats that are genuine contests between more than one party. For instance, where I live, the Labour candidate has a huge majority, and all the polls suggest the incumbent will keep his seat, so it’s really unlikely, arithmetically at least, that my vote will count towards who gets into government.

This may seem like a bad thing, particularly since this election is set to be extremely close. But it actually opens up a lot of options for what I can ‘do’ with my vote. Especially if, like me, your vote is likely to be decided on a single issue.

So, if you care about climate change, who should you vote for?

Fortunately, Carbon Brief has already done a lot of leg work for me in collating the parties’ climate change promises in this handy grid. In the finest journalistic tradition, here is my guide to how you should vote if you care about climate change, based almost entirely on – sorry, derived from – Carbon Brief’s guide (with a little added analysis).

1. Vote for the Greens

The Green party, unsurprisingly, make the biggest promises about tackling climate change. If you could choose a government purely based on which party would likely do the most to tackle climate change, you would choose the Greens.

They promise to strengthen the UK’s legally binding emissions reduction goals under the Climate Change Act, increasing the target from an 80% cut by 2050 to a 90% cut by 2030. They are also very much the party of renewable energy, promising to make the UK’s energy system zero carbon without the aid of nuclear power, though they support CCS as a transition technology. They would also end fossil fuel company tax breaks, and promise to close all coal plants by 2030.

So there you go, ladies and gents, the winner of this climate change election is… the Greens. Except, of course, they won’t win. And you voting for them won’t make it so.

If you live in Brighton and maybe Norwich, go for it. You may end up with a Green MP. Everywhere else, there’s a strong argument that it is a wasted vote.

2. Vote for Labour

So if not the Greens, then who?

This election is going to be a straight shoot-out between Labour and the Conservatives in terms of who is going to be the biggest party. So you could vote ‘tactically’ and pick whichever is the better on climate change between those two.

In that case, vote Labour, hands down. Back to the Carbon Brief grid…

Launching Labour’s manifesto, party leader Ed Miliband said “[T]ackling climate change is an economic necessity and the most important thing we must do for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.”

Labour says they will set a legally binding decarbonisation target to “remove carbon” from the electricity suppy by 2030. Labour also pledges to create a million green jobs, and continue to support the growth of onshore wind.Labour seemingly wants to depoliticise the UK’s increasingly vicious energy politics by creating an energy security board to oversee the delivery of the government’s plans. That’s perhaps ironic since they could, probably fairly, be accused of starting the bickering with their pledge to freeze energy bills.

The Conservatives, in contrast, have seemingly ruled out implementing a binding decarbonisation target. They’re also explicitly pro-fracking and anti-onshore wind. The main thrust of their manifesto is that they’ll try to meet the UK’s emission reduction targets as cheaply as possible.

It’s unlikely you’ll be in a seat where Labour and the Conservatives are competing directly. But if you’re in a seat that could go to Labour or a party other than the Greens (and arguably, even then), the climate change vote is for Miliband’s crew.

3. Vote for the Liberal Democrats

But say, for some mad reason, you don’t want to vote Labour. Well, I suppose you could vote for the Liberal Democrats.

That’s perhaps not as crazy as it sounds.

The Liberal Democrats are seemingly conducting their campaign on the basis that they’re neither Labour nor the Conservatives. What they ‘are’ is still a bit vague, but they’re definitely, definitely not exactly the same as Labour or the Conservatives. And they will totally keep their promises this time, they promise.

The Lib Dems are set to get an absolute kicking on Thursday. But if you care about climate change, there could be a good reason to vote for them. Namely, they may well end up being the make-weight in a Conservative-led coalition (again). And, arguably, they actually did a pretty good job at anchoring the Conservatives somewhere near climate change policy sanity last time out.

The Lib Dems’ climate change policies are pretty similar to Labour’s. They promise to implement a decarbonisation target, support some nuclear power, allow well-regulated shale gas, and create 250,000 new green jobs.

Many political insiders consider Ed Davey, a potential future party leader, to have done a pretty good job in trying conditions as energy and climate secretary. It’s possible that the Lib Dems could keep that portfolio in any new coalition government.

So, if you think the Conservatives are going to be the party to form a government, possibly with the Lib Dems, it may be wise to try and get as many of Nick Clegg’s lot involved as possible.

4. Vote for UKIP

Just kidding. Don’t vote for UKIP.

5. Vote for the Greens (yeah, I know i’ve already said this)

But say you feel uneasy voting for a party just because they might, just might, make another party less crazy, what do you do then? Well, we’re pretty much back where we started.

Climate change is not that high on any of the parties’ political agendas. In which case, it may not matter who ends up leading the government. Whoever it is will probably only tweak the status quo rather than overhaul it, which is arguably what’s needed if we’re serious about tackling climate change.

But one of the good things about the UK’s political system is that there’s some power in opposition, too. A good showing across the national polls would help the Greens’ profile, and ensure their representatives get more screen time to try and force the governing parties’ hands, even if it doesn’t actually get them into government.

So why not vote for the one party who you can be pretty sure will continue to bang the drum on the climate change?

Oh. Because they won’t win. And voting for them could indirectly lead to a Conservative government. I forgot.

Well, return to Go…And best of luck making your mind up come May 7th.

*Note for US readers, we don’t have a separation of powers between the legislative and executive in the UK. So if the US operated on a similar system, Obama could have remained a senator while also being president, basically. 

Issues that the Green party should be championing in the election that aren’t the environment

Ah the Greens. “I’d love to see the Greens get in” the statement uttered by every left of centre voter right before they don’t vote for them. So how can the Greens ever hope to get into power when even people who want them to be elected won’t vote for them? Well one great solution would be to shout about a number of key policies they have which are not directly linked to the environment. That way you don’t just appeal to eco-warriors and people living close to sea level. Here are four policies that the Greens could quite literally fight an election on without necessarily appealing to their key demographic.

The EU referendum

So it wouldn’t be outrageous to say that the further right on the political spectrum you are the more likely you are to be against the EU and therefore in favour of a referendum you think would lead to an exit. You would therefore think that a political party broadly positioned to the left of all of the other mainstream parties would be against a referendum.

The Greens however are in favour of a referendum in order to use it as a mechanism to reestablish the direction and make up of the EU. They want to move it away from endless focus on free trade and promote “genuine cooperation” and enhance democracy (you can find it in full here).

Most of the UK is eurosceptic in leaning. Usually this not necessarily because they are bigoted little Englanders but because they have legitimate concerns about the European Union and its future direction. They are not against the EU fundamentally but are uncomfortable with its current form. However the only outlet these people have for this is essentially UKIP, who, let’s face it, are bigoted little Englanders.

A concerted push to establish that the Greens are not anti European but are against the EU in its current form could be a huge vote winner if properly utilised.

Nationalise railways

Without a doubt one of Labour’s most popular policies in the lead up to the election is the re-nationalisation of the railways. This is also a longstanding Green party policy.

Most of the electorate are in favour of turning what is a natural monopoly back into a state asset especially following consecutive year on year fare hikes.

If the Greens could tap into the public’s annoyance that the unglamorous maintenance of the railways is conducted by the state and the profitable part run by the private sector they could have the potential for a huge return in terms of votes. Plus it would directly compete with one of the more left leaning Labour policies thus peeling off some of the core Labour vote.

Ban proactive recruitment of overseas NHS staff

The Green party have promised to ban proactive recruitment of overseas staff for the NHS. This is motivated by a desire to safeguard the NHS, keep high standards and reduce UK unemployment. This stands in stark contrast to UKIP who have the same policy but it is motivated by a desire to have as few brown people near them as possible.

There is a real political opportunity to be had by being a party that is perceived to stand up for the rights for British people and the NHS whilst not being driven by closet xenophobia. By positioning themselves as such they can appeal to a larger spectrum of voters while remaining true to their core voters with eminently sensible policies like amnesty for long term illegal immigrants.

Clear policies- e.g. Raising school age to 6 if parents want it

“There is no difference between any of the parties”. This utterly moronic statement is shouted by politically illiterate muppets across the land. Despite the fact it is clearly not true to anyone with the ability to use a search engine it does present a political opportunity.

A clear and emphatic difference in policy is what engages people. “If I vote for party A they will do this, if I vote for party B they won’t”. It is really simple and engages people far more than “both parties will cut the national debt but one will do it over 5 years from an increase in tax on the top 8.3% of earners whereas the other will do it off the back of cuts with no effect on frontline services”.

The Greens are in a great position in that they can position themselves as both a protest party by virtue of having few MP’s and a legitimate alternative by having clear, evidence based policies. A good example of this  is the current Green policy of giving parents the option of raising the starting age of children in school to 6. If one takes even a cursory glance at the best performing countries in terms of primary schooling it is overwhelmingly countries that start children in school at an older age. It allows for great learning through play, language skills to develop and stops children being immediately behind because they are less developed than their peers.

A few clear, different policies with a scientific basis could propel the Greens into the political mainstream.

Well Hung Parliament (William Hayward) is a Cardiff based political commentator and journalist.

He Tweets @whungparliament

He blogs at https://wellhungparliament.wordpress.com

He Facebooks at www.facebook.com/parliamentwellhung