The UK Budget 2011 is announced today and has been driving a significant amount of the current politics debate.
Spending cuts are a key concern for many, but some publications are taking a different slant. There is an interesting article in this week’s edition of The Economist about the ‘Big Society’. Please click on the following link for the online PDF version of the edition, see pages 18 and 19 for the article referenced in this post: www.economist.com. The article summarises some of the political history leading up to the current day, discusses recent political actions and spells out some of the ideals of the coalition Government. Summing up the main strategy of the Big Society: “It brings together three things: pluralism, localism and voluntarism”.
The Big Society: How will we get there?
The article outlines some of the fundamental steps that will be taken in order to achieve the Big Society and predicts some of the potential outcomes and consequences of these. Common misconceptions of the knock-on effects include the extent of reductions to the civil service: “Pluralism could lead to a much smaller civil service than anyone thinks. ‘Once you start letting people compete, it is incredible how few people you need in the centre,’ says one of Britain’s most senior mandarins. And, since the change is technocratic not political (the state, after all, is still paying), it will be difficult for a future Labour Government to reverse”.
The strategy also entails a certain amount of decentralisation of power to local government, but The Economist highlights that: “This localism is somewhat marred by the Tories’ deep distrust of local government”.
Learning to trust is not the only problem facing the coalition Government in the journey to the Big Society. Pushing the concept of volunteerism is also likely to present its own obstacles. The article points out that even some of David Cameron’s peers have their doubts: “Volunteerism […] is a big idea. The people around Mr Cameron argue that just reducing the supply of government won’t wean people off the state; you also have to reduce the demand for it […] In practice, however, the idea has flaws […] most people lack the time and expertise required, and there is not a lot of money around to help them (thanks to the spending cuts).”
A poignant example highlights a sizeable portion of the problem: “Britons seem to band together of their own accord only when they want to oppose something – such as the Government’s plans to sell off the nation’s forests, which they halted”.
Where is the money coming from and where is it going?
The Economist visually splits out Britain’s spending and receipts in the UK Budget 2010:
Source: www.economist.com page 19
How is it really going to work?
With a number of hurdles to surmount, the article underlines the key determining factor: Implementation, pointing out that the method is crucial: “Unless reform of the state is seen to be equitable and effective, citizens will not accept it”.
The analysis doesn’t stop there, but draws attention to two further issues: the Government’s breadth of ambition (“set against that of Mrs Thatcher, who did far less in her first year”) and that “most other rich-world governments will have to do the something similar soon. That is partly because of their fiscal situation: even America will have to start reconciling its revenues and its spending in the near future”.
“Mr Cameron, for all his haste, is at the front of a great wave” – we’ll be keeping our eyes open for the emergence of the next Big Society.
Read the full article here:
www.economist.com - See pages 18 and 19 of the PDF version of the edition.
Reading the World Wide Web
With the internet now a mainstream media, and the majority of households in the UK having broadband accounts – it is understandable that the internet has now grown to such a size that it can be overwhelming, and sometimes confusing when searching for specific information. According to Google, the number of unique URLs online has surpassed 1 trillion and continues to grow rapidly. If this content could be sorted, categorised and filtered into relevant intelligence it could be hugely valuable for organisations and governments alike.
In our new White Paper released today Using the Internet as a Market Research Database, we have taken the UK Election as a case study and used InfluenceMonitor™ to do the leg work for us in trawling the internet for relevant content enabling us to draw some very interesting and insightful conclusions.
Download our White Paper here: Using the Internet as a Market Research Database to find out more about some of these findings such as: how changes in the daily election poll results could be estimated by measuring the changes in the relative amount of online discussion.
Click on the icon below to download a copy of the complete White Paper as a PDF:
Alternatively, view a slideshow that gives an overview of the White Paper:
Change is an election buzzword, and ‘Vote for Change’ was part of a major advertising campaign. By monitoring how often this word is associated with each party or party leader we gain immediate insight regarding how much traction the relevant campaigns obtained.
The below graph shows the association analysis of David Cameron and Nick Clegg matched to the word ‘change’ in the UK election debate. If one of the party leaders was mentioned with the word ‘change’ more often than the other, their relative Share-of-Influence in relation to that word would increase. Our UK Election debate sample includes data from 77,000 sites between 29th March and 6th May. This association analysis shows:
- Nick Clegg had relatively low Share-of-Influence in the week of 29th March; this means that relatively little discussion included his name with the words ‘election’ and ‘change’ at that time compared to David Cameron.
- In the week of 5th April Nick Clegg made a gain, from 5% to 25%. This gain was disproportionate: his Share-of-Influence when ‘change’ was mentioned was twice that of his overall Share-of-Influence for that time: only 12 % (see dashed line below).
- In the weeks of 29th March and 19th April, Nick Clegg continued to make gains in his Share-of-Influence, overtaking David Cameron. This evidence supports the hypothesis that among the party leaders it was Nick Clegg who was gaining attention relative to the other leaders and the one who was most associated with change at that time.
- The growth trend in Nick Clegg’s Share-of-Influence did not continue past the week of April 19th; following that week, David Cameron regained his lead in Share-of-Influence from Nick Clegg and became the candidate most associated with the word change in the last few days preceding the election.
Last night Onalytica sponsored the drinks reception for the PdF (Personal Democracy Forum) post election review “Action Replay” at the RSA in London. We were able to showcase to a very interested audience some of the results of our analysis of the debate - analysis that we have been tracking in the run-up to the election.
The below chart shows a sample of ‘UK election’ daily buzz and influence – calculated using InfluenceMonitor between 6th April and 6th May. As the discussion was monitored on a daily basis, we can instantly see when the topic is most and least discussed. When the amount of talk rapidly changes – we can drill into the debate to learn why.
- 6th May had the greatest amount of discussion – the actual day of the election.
- There is a clear pattern of discussion throughout the days of the week – for example, the UK election was not discussed as much at the weekends.
- Weekly peaks coincide with Thursdays – the 15th, 22nd and 29th April – these were the days of the TV debates.
- The peak in discussion in the run-up to the election was Wednesday 29th April, the day of the third TV debate which gained most attention; this also coincides with “bigot-gate”.
- 6th April – the day the election was announced was also the day that saw the second most discussion, after the actual day of the election.
- It is interesting to note that at the beginning of this analysis, 6th April, when the election was announced - the share-of-influence was significantly higher than the share-of-buzz, however share-of-buzz caught up fairly rapidly and followed the share-of-influence throughout the remainder of the debate.
Onalytica has been tracking the online, public debate about David Cameron since September 2006.
The table below shows who are influential in the public debate on the topic of David Cameron.
|Website ||Influence |
|www.guardian.co.uk || 78.0 |
|news.bbc.co.uk || 75.6 |
|www.telegraph.co.uk || 60.7 |
|www.timesonline.co.uk || 41.9 |
|www.conservatives.com || 34.1 |
|www.dailymail.co.uk || 33.5 |
|www.independent.co.uk || 28.6 |
|www.bbc.co.uk || 27.9 |
|conservativehome.blogs.com || 21.7 |
|blogs.telegraph.co.uk || 17.0 |
|www.ft.com || 12.0 |
|iaindale.blogspot.com || 11.9 |
|www.spectator.co.uk || 11.6 |
|www.thesun.co.uk || 11.6 |
The Economist today carries an article about David Cameron. Its influence on the topic is 4.9, just after Mail on Sunday with 5.2 and ahead of Guido Fawkes at 4.5.
Looking at historical trends of influence on this topic, it is interesting to see that The Economist have roughly halved its influence (relative to The Guardian) in the last year on the topic of 'David Cameron'.