I get occasional suggestions regarding the content and tone of the Blog. One, which I suspect may not have been entirely serious, was that I should take the Blog ‘down-market’. More sex, more gossip etc. The person who made this suggestion might be, at least briefly, mislead by the title of this post into thinking that I have decided to follow that advice.
Sadly – for at least one of you – that is not so. The title is simply a reference to an excellent, recently-published book: Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box: 50 Things You Need to Know About British Elections. Edited by my friends Phil Cowley, of the University of Nottingham, and Rob Ford of the University of Manchester, the book is based around a very simple idea: getting fifty leading analysts of elections (and related matters like public opinion), and asking them each to write a short chapter based around one key idea or finding from their research.
When I first heard about the idea of the book from Phil I was a little bit sceptical about it. I’m very glad to say that my scepticism was completely ill-founded. There’s a wealth of interesting empirical nuggets, and fascinating ideas, in the book. It’s also written in a simple, readable style – for once there are no thickets of academic jargon to have to cut your way through. Personally, I have found the length of the chapters make them perfect for a little bed-time reading. (You can insert your own jokes about going to bed with a psephologist here – although insert is perhaps a word best avoided in this context).
Among the many subjects covered in the book are:
• How meaningful are the answers that people give to opinion poll questions
• How ethnicity has replaced social class as the key social division linked to voting behaviour in Britain
• The effectiveness of different local campaigning methods
• How distinctive are female and male political preferences and voting patterns
• What sort of characteristics people prefer in their elected representatives
• And cats. (Well, obviously cats).
There’s even one chapter about elections in Wales, written by someone who should be at least vaguely familiar to the readers of this Blog. (I’m not quite sure how that character managed to sneak into the list of fifty leading psephologists, but there we are). You can see a PDF of the final version of the Welsh chapter here.
I’m confident that anyone who finds this blog interesting reading will also very much enjoy reading the book. So I’d encourage you to buy one.
And while you’re about it, how about buying a few more, as the perfect Christmas present for all your friends and family? You know they’ll be grateful.