Tuesday, 14 April 2015

GA Conference 2015 - DANNY DORLING

The Geography of Elections - Danny Dorling


Dorling enticed a room full of geographers during the Conference's keynote address by using a series of maps to illustrate the polarisation of voting in the UK.

In particular, the following points are worth noting and thinking on...
i. The Conservative vote is becoming increasingly segregated at an unsustainable rate e.g. in 1918 - 17% and in 2010 - 17%; Dorling pointed out that whilst a degree of concentration was needed to win seats, in this case in the South East, too much concentration in certain areas would not win an election - hence the inevitable hung parliament on the horizon (a long term trend since the 1970s).
ii.If the Greens were savvy, they would rally students in key marginal seats in order to win more seats; as opposed to being thinly spread across the country and winning may be only one seat!
III. He then touched upon the fact that our vote only really counts in the marginal sears...

However, Dorling's key point was that 'WE' need to keep perspective and look at things from an international perspective to observe, and understand what actual radical change is possible - as opposed to the minority squabbles of keeping the centre status quo i.e. the 99% bowing to the whims of the 1% and letting the superich influence our politicians.

If you look at the politics of Europe; specifically comparing the distribution of voters for different parties it is clear that MUCH variation exists and that there are incalculable alternatives...a different (better) way of doing things?!

The recession was a watershed moment for many countries but not just in terms of economics, it catalysed in many countries a rejection of the incumbent politicians/parties and often was followed by a radical shift in either direction e.g. the rise of the right in France and that Greece is an excellent example of a dissatisfied populous looking for a workable and practicable alternative - it is worth noting that if the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) does not work, then Golden Dawn (XA) could come to power!

Dorling then moved away form the election to focus on scale and the global issues which we need to be more concerned with e.g. Europe as a Continent is shrinking in terms of its population (only currently topped up by the youthful Eastern Europe populous and migration to Western Europe.

At this juncture, Dorling moved onto looking at a series of maps from his colleague's, Ben Hennig's website: http://www.viewsoftheworld.net/

Reiterating that many UK citizens view the past with rose tinted spectacles and wish for the old days...especially those who were not alive during the period...this wistfulness and desire to return to the 'good old days of Empire and power', Dorling suggests, means that people look to blame anything that is different e.g. migrants - what Dorling refers to as the immigration narrative.

He tocuhed upon the fallacy of the American Dream - everyone can get rich....by outlining the reality that only 1% of the population can ever be in the 1%.

The latter point links to Dorling's book "INEQUALITY AND THE 1%"

"Since the great recession hit in 2008, the 1% has only grown richer while the rest find life increasingly tough. The gap between the haves and the have-nots has turned into a chasm. While the rich have found new ways of protecting their wealth, everyone else has suffered the penalties of austerity.
But inequality is more than just economics. Being born outside the 1% has a dramatic impact on a person's potential: reducing life expectancy, limiting education and work prospects, and even affecting mental health."

Dorling’s book is essential and foundational reading for anyone who wishes to think about (or indeed change) the present organisation of wealth and power in the UK.

For a brief insight check out the following talks below:

Video 1 - RSA video on inequality and the 1%

Video 2 - RSA why social inequality persists

Website link to Danny Dorling's homepage