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Posts Tagged ‘The Economist’

VAL 2015 | Många av de väljare som Margaret Thatcher fick att känna sig välkomna i partiet har övergett Conservative Party för UKIP.

David Cameron - Reuters

De är väljare som David Cameron nu måste locka tillbaka om man skall ha någon chans att vinna valet.

Hela deras strategi går ut på att locka tillbaka de väljare som står för något parlamentarikern Robert Halfon kallar ”white-van Conservatism”.

”White-van”-väljare, eller ”aspirational working-class voters”, refererar till väljare, inte så sällan småföretagare, som lockades av Thatcher på 1980-talet och Tony Blair på 90-talet.

The Economist skriver:

Over one in ten people who voted Conservative in 2010 have since left the party for UKIP, which detests the European Union and immigration. The defectors are typically male, white and working-class. Lynton Crosby, the Tories’ campaign chief, reckons that the party’s typical target voter earns about £15,000 ($23,000) a year—40% less than the national average—reads the Sun on Sunday, a right-wing tabloid, and values economic and national security above all else.

This analysis colours the entire Conservative campaign. In an interview on April 6th Mr Cameron urged UKIP voters to “come home”. At the party’s manifesto launch on April 14th, he described the Tories as “the real party of working people”. Two weeks later he called it the party of “the grafters and the roofers and the retailers and the plumbers”. He talks endlessly about security.

The Tories have courted white-van man in their manifesto and in the promises they have made on the campaign trail. The prime minister has pledged to create 50,000 new apprenticeships, expand free child care and take those earning the minimum wage out of income tax. He even promises to legislate against any increases in the government’s main revenue-raising taxes until 2020. He has revived Margaret Thatcher’s totemic bid for working-class support by promising to extend the “right to buy” social housing to tenants of housing associations.

The pursuit of van-driving voters also partly accounts for the Conservatives’ frequent dire warnings about the risk to Britain’s economic and political stability of a Labour government propped up by the separatist, left-wing Scottish National Party. Polls suggest UKIP supporters worry more about this than most.

Bild: David Cameron talar till anhängare i Abingdon, södra England, 4 april, 2015. Reuters.

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VAL 2015 | The Economist gav premiärminister David Cameron sitt stöd inför valet. Men det var inte ett helt självklart.

The Economist May 2nd-8th 2015

Även om det inte blev ett val mellan pest och kolera så var det åtminstone en fråga om ett val mellan två långtifrån perfekta alternativ.

Åtminstone när det gäller två frågor som den över etthundra år gamla tidskriften anser som centrala inför framtiden. Frågor där David Camerons Conservative Party och Ed Milibands Labour skiljer sig åt.

På omslaget hade man kokat ner alternativen till följande: ”Risk the economy or risk Europe”. I ledaren förklarar man sitt ställningstagande:

If the stakes are high, the trade-offs are uncomfortable, at least for this newspaper. Our fealty is not to a political tribe, but to the liberal values that have guided us for 172 years. We believe in the radical centre: free markets, a limited state and an open, meritocratic society. These values led us to support Labour’s Tony Blair in 2001 and 2005. In 2010 we endorsed David Cameron, the Tory leader, seeing in him a willingness to tackle a yawning budget deficit and an ever-expanding state.

Five years on, the choice has become harder. The Tories’ Europhobia, which we regretted last time, could now do grave damage. A British exit from the EU would be a disaster, for both Britain and Europe. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are better on this score. But such is the suspicion many Britons feel towards Brussels that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is probably inevitable at some point. And we believe that the argument can be won on its merits.

The Lib Dems share our welcoming attitude towards immigrants and are keen to reform the voting system. But they can at most hope to be the junior partner in a coalition. The electorate, and this newspaper, therefore face a choice between a Conservative-dominated government and a Labour-dominated one. Despite the risk on Europe, the better choice is Mr Cameron’s Conservatives.

[…]

Mr Miliband is fond of comparing his progressivism to that of Teddy Roosevelt, America’s trustbusting president. But the comparison is false. Rather than using the state to boost competition, Mr Miliband wants a heavier state hand in markets—which betrays an ill-founded faith in the ingenuity and wisdom of government. Even a brief, limited intervention can cast a lasting pall over investment and enterprise—witness the 75% income-tax rate of France’s president, François Hollande. The danger is all the greater because a Labour government looks fated to depend on the SNP, which leans strongly to the left.

On May 7th voters must weigh the certainty of economic damage under Labour against the possibility of a costly EU exit under the Tories. With Labour, the likely partnership with the SNP increases the risk. For the Tories, a coalition with the Lib Dems would reduce it. On that calculus, the best hope for Britain is with a continuation of a Conservative-led coalition. That’s why our vote is for Mr Cameron.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Economist, 2-8 maj 2015.

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USA | Demokraternas primärval ser ut att bli ett riktigt sömnpiller om ingen tungviktare vill konkurrera mot Hillary Clinton.

The Economist den 11-17 april 2015

Vad som skulle kunna sätta stop för hennes försök att bli president är om väljarna inte känner för att rösta på ännu en Clinton. Liknande problem har Jeb Bush på den republikanska kanten.

Möjligheten att Clinton kan bli den första kvinnan i Vita huset kommer naturligtvis generera nyheter framöver. Frågan är om det räcker.

Kanske är tanken på en kvinna i Vita huset inte längre lika spännande sedan USA redan har valt sin första svarta president. Ingen tror längre att en kvinna inte kan bli president.

Dessutom är Clintons politiska åsikter inte direkt kristallklara. Det är i och för sig inget ovanligt.

Vaghet används nämligen ofta som strategi för att minimera risken att bli en måltavla för motståndare.

Men om Clinton inte ens kan artikulera en tilltalande vision för USA finns det inte heller någon anledning att rösta på henne bara för att hon är kvinna.

Och när hon väl uttrycker några politiska åsikter låter det som … Bill Clinton.

The Economist har försökt reda ut vad hon tycker i olika frågor:

Candidates usually take sharply ideological positions during primaries, to woo the die-hard activists who vote in them, before tacking back to the centre as the general election nears. However, if Mrs Clinton faces no real primary challenger, she may not need to do this. Instead, she will need to woo enough Democrats to build a sense of excitement and grassroots involvement, without alienating swing voters. And if she cannot achieve the same stellar levels of support among black and young voters that Mr Obama did, she will need to fill the gap some other way.

She has made her pitch to women clear. She stresses her desire to help more of them into the workforce. She solemnly declares that women should receive equal pay for the same work as men (a position with which no one disagrees). In the past she has campaigned to make it easier for women to sue over alleged discrimination.

A big test involves white voters without a college education, who make up about a third of the electorate, but have drifted from the Democrats since Bill Clinton’s day. Mr Obama only won 36% of their votes in 2012, and might have done still worse if he had not successfully painted his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, as their worst nightmare of a boss.

Should Mrs Clinton win the general election, she will also need to be ready on Day One to deal with Republicans. There is virtually no chance that Democrats will win the House of Representatives in 2016, and even if they retake the Senate they will not have a filibuster-proof majority.

Expect Mrs Clinton to run to Mr Obama’s right on foreign policy. In interviews since leaving the State Department she has said that she urged him to take a muscular approach to Russia. She has chided Europeans for failing to stand up to Vladimir Putin (she wants them to send arms to Ukraine, for example), while crediting the reset with achieving at least one arms-control agreement and securing Russian help in talks to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. She has called the latest draft deal with Iran, brokered by America and other world powers, an “important step”, whatever that means. Last year she signalled that she would be more comfortable with stricter curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme. In a rare overt criticism of Mr Obama, she said in 2014 that the failure to help non-Islamist Syrian rebels fight against Bashar Assad had left a “big vacuum” for Islamic State and other jihadists to fill.

Mrs Clinton has come close to echoing Republican grumbles that Mr Obama is too apologetic about American power. She says that her country cannot solve all problems, “but there’s not a problem that we face that can be solved without the United States.” While ruling out a return to the hubris of the George W. Bush years, she hints that the time has come for America to re-engage with the world.

In domestic forums Mrs Clinton is fluent in the language of the modern business-friendly centre-left. She is keen on public infrastructure, universal education for the youngest children, lowering the cost of college and experimenting with German-style wage-subsidies for the working poor. She likes to see church groups working alongside strong trade unions and community organisations, and uses “evidence-based” as high praise for any policy. In 2008 she sometimes sounded like a deficit hawk, with slogans like: “We’ve got to stop spending money we don’t have.” In 2008 she also called for a “time out” on new trade deals, though as secretary of state she backed new pacts. During primary debates she called herself “committed to making sure Social Security is solvent” and said that the best route to reform lay through bipartisan compromise.

Läs mer: ”What does Hillary stand for?, ledare i The Economist.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Economist den 11-17 april 2015.

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PARTIER The Economist har tagit pulsen på det brittiska politiska systemet i ”Britain’s electorial system: The Breaking point”. Ingen uppmuntrande läsning.

The Economist February 21st-27th 2015

Även om det brittiska valsystemet inte liknar det svenska så finns det vissa likheter när det gäller de två största partierna.

I sin ledare skriver man:

Along with Sherlock Holmes and the rules of football, one of the great legacies of Victorian Britain is the Westminster parliamentary system. If voters want their voices to count, they have to choose between two large, boring parties.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Economist den 21-27 februari 2015.

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RYSSLAND | Ingen kan längre låtsas vara okunniga om Kremls propagandakrig mot väst. Nästan all media har vid det här laget rapporterat om det.

The Economist February 14th-20th 2015

Först ett utdrag från ”From cold war to hot war” där The Economist beskriver Vladimir Putins ”hybrid-war strategy”.

Destabilisation is also being achieved in less military ways. Wielding power or gaining influence abroad—through antiestablishment political parties, disgruntled minority groups, media outlets, environmental activists, supporters in business, propagandist “think-tanks”, and others—has become part of the Kremlin’s hybrid-war strategy. This perversion of “soft power” is seen by Moscow as a vital complement to military engagement.

[…]

Abroad, the main conduit for the Kremlin’s world view is RT, a TV channel set up in 2005 to promote a positive view of Russia that now focuses on making the West look bad. It uses Western voices: far-left anti-globalists, far-right nationalists and disillusioned individuals. It broadcasts in English, Arabic and Spanish and is planning German- and French-language channels. It claims to reach 700m people worldwide and 2.7m hotel rooms. Though it is not a complete farce, it has broadcast a string of false stories, such as one speculating that America was behind the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.

The Kremlin is also a sophisticated user of the internet and social media. It employs hundreds of “trolls” to garrison the comment sections and Twitter feeds of the West. The point is not so much to promote the Kremlin’s views, but to denigrate opposition figures, and foreign governments and institutions, and to sow fear and confusion. Vast sums have been thrown at public-relations and lobbying firms to improve Russia’s image abroad—among them Ketchum, based in New York, which helped place an op-ed by Mr Putin in the New York Times. And it can rely on some of its corporate partners to lobby against policies that would hurt Russian business.

The West’s willingness to shelter Russian money, some of it gained corruptly, demoralises the Russian opposition while making the West more dependent on the Kremlin. Russian money has had a poisonous effect closer to home, too. Russia wields soft power in the Baltics partly through its “compatriots policy”, which entails financial support for Russian-speaking minorities abroad.

Mr Putin’s most devious strategy, however, is to destabilise the EU through fringe political parties (see article). Russia’s approach to ideology is fluid: it supports both far-left and far-right groups. As Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss put it in “The menace of unreality”, a paper on Russian soft power: “The aim is to exacerbate divides [in the West] and create an echo-chamber of Kremlin support.”

The Spectator 21 February 2015

I The Spectator skriver Anne Applebaum om ”Putin’s grand strategy”som inkluderar att manipulera val och finansiera politiska partier i Europa.

We’ve spent the past decade arguing about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, almost anything but Russia. Meanwhile, Russia has been pursuing a grand strategy designed to delegitimise Nato, undermine the EU, split the western alliance and, above all, reverse the transitions of the 1990s.

Much of the time, they are pushing on an open door. The Kremlin doesn’t invent anti-European or anti-establishment ideas, it simply supports them in whatever form they exist, customising their tactics to suit each country. They’ll support the far left or the far right — in Greece they support both. Despite its economic plight, the new Greek government’s first act was not a protest against European economic policy but a protest against sanctions on Russia. Only then did it tell its European creditors that it might not pay them back.

If need be, Russia will court select members of the political and financial establishment too. In Britain, Russia has friends in the City, but also sponsors RT, the propaganda channel which features George Galloway and other titans of the loony left. In France, Russia keeps in close touch with industrialists, but a Russian-Czech bank has loaned Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front €9 million, with another €30 million said to be on the way.

[…]

A little bit of money goes a long way in Czech politics too. The election campaign of the current president, Milos Zeman, was openly financed in 2013 by Lukoil, the Russian energy company. Since then President Zeman — who doesn’t, fortunately, control the government — has argued vociferously against Russian sanctions, dismissed the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a ‘bout of flu’ and invited western-sanctioned Russian oligarchs to Prague. Nor is he alone. In Prague, I was invited to debate a close associate of Vaclav Klaus, Zeman’s predecessor, who complained at length about the pernicious influence of Germany and the EU. I asked him whether German companies had ever paid for Czech presidential election campaigns, as Lukoil does. He couldn’t answer.

Läs mer:”De är Putins soldater på nätet” i Dagens Nyheter. Simon Shusters ”Inside Putin’s on-air machine” i Time.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Economist den 14-20 februari 2015. The Spectator den 21 februari 2015.

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LÄSNING | Ett av julens små glädjeämnen är de traditionella helgnumren från The Economist och The Spectator.

The Economist December 20th 2014-January 2nd 2015

De illustrerar dessutom på ett bra sätt hur tidskrifter i olika länder ser på sina egna läsare.

Medan dessa två tidskrifter utgår ifrån att läsarna är genuint intresserade av att läsa verkar motsvarande tidskrifter i Sverige tro att deras läsare ser dem som en börda.

Förutom sina vanliga nyhetsartiklar om politik och ekonomi passar The Economist på att i sitt julnummer komplettera med längre artiklar kring historiska, religiösa eller kulturella ämnen.

Artiklarna är välskrivna och man får känslan att skribenterna fått fria händer att dela med sig av sin kunskaper och intressen.

I år kan man t.ex. läsa sjutton artiklar om alltifrån Magnas Cartas historiska relevans, ”the loneliness of Tony Blair”, Kinas svaghet för svinkött eller högerhinduismens ideologiska fader i Indien.

The Spectator laddar däremot upp med lite mer av allt i sitt ”Christmas Special”.

The Spectator 13-20-27 December 2014

Förutom artiklar och sina under året regelbundet återkommande kolumnister bjuder man också in nya eller mer sällan förekommande personer som får kåsera i dagboksform om lite av varje.

I år kan man t.ex. läsa en text av Frankrikes f.d. första dam Valerie Trierweiler vars nyligen utkomna memoarer Thank You For This Moment beskriver tiden med president François Hollande.

Skribenterna har här ofta en flyhänt stil. Och ofta skriver man med både humor och självdistans även när ämnet är seriöst.

The Economist och The Spectator lyckas både informera och underhålla. Och detta utan att fördumma eller snuttifiera. Det märks att man har lyssnat på sina trogna läsare och försöker förstärka det man är bra på och som man vet uppskattas. I Sverige gör man tvärt om.

Här verkar man mer intresserade av att fråga icke-läsare vad som skulle få dem att köpa deras tidning. Detta istället för att ge de trogna läsarna mervärde.

Problemet med en sådan attityd är att de som inte redan är läsare knappast kommer att börja läsa en tidning bara för att man går dem tillmötes. Risken är snarare att man tappar de lojala läsarna när deras favorittidning slätats ut för att tilltala fler.

Här har man ofta den irriterande tendensen att fylla ut alla former av publikationer med ”veckotidningsaktiga” artiklar som man lika väl kan läsa någon annanstans.

I Sverige vill alla tilltala den breda allmänheten. Ingen vågar satsa på en specifik läsargrupp. Det vill säga om inte segmentet är väldigt brett definierat (t.ex. modeintresserade kvinnor i en viss ålder).

I Storbritannien gör man tvärt om. Här strävar man efter att skapa en intim känsla av samhörighet mellan läsare och skribenter.

Ett exempel är att ovanstående publikationer har kvar något så antikvariskt som läsarbrev.

Dessa läsarbrev är ofta lika informativa och roliga som tidskrifternas egna texter. Ett grepp som dessutom både förstärker publikationernas profil och skapar ett naturligt band mellan läsare och skribenter.

Dessa skillnader i kultur märker man också när man tittar på morgontidningarnas söndagsutgåvor. I Storbritannien har söndagstidningarna också sin beskärda del av ”fluff”. Men dessa artiklar finns parallellt med undersökande journalistik och rejäla kulturbilagor.

Dessutom låter man ofta artiklarna skrivas av personer som har specifika kunskaper i ett visst ämne. Detta märks speciellt i recensioner. Hos oss förväntas alla anställda (och de är inte längre så många) skriva om allt mellan himmel och jord.

Inte konstigt om människor med speciella intressen hellre väljer tidskrifter och tidningar från den anglosaxiska världen.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Economist, 20 december-2 januari 2014 och The Spectator, 13/20/27 2014.

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UKRAINA Kartor har i alla tider använts för att både roa och sprida propaganda. Här är tre tidskriftsomslag på temat rysk expansionism.

The Economist 19-25 April 2014

The Ukraine crisis: The boys from the blackstuff”. The Economist, 19-25 april 2014.

Russia’s short-term objective is to sabotage the elections. “National elections cannot take place without Donetsk,” says Maksim Shevchenko, a journalist close to the Kremlin. Its long-term aim is to stop Ukraine ever moving towards Europe. Given that the February revolution was powered by aspirations to do just that, this would provoke unrest in Kiev and in western Ukraine. That is not a problem for Mr Putin. Russia wants to turn Ukraine back into a buffer state, with a level of disorder it can turn up or down. In the end, Ukraine may end up barely a state at all.

Time 31 mars 2014

Old World Orderav Robert D. Kaplan. Time, 31 mars 2014.

So what has Putin done? The Russian leader has used geography to his advantage. He has acted, in other words, according to geopolitics, the battle for space and power played out in a geographical setting–a concept that has not changed since antiquity (and yet one to which many Western diplomats and academics have lately seemed deaf).

The Spectator 8 mars 2014

Europe’s nightmare neighbour” av John O’Sullivan. The Spectator, 8 mars 2014.

Much will depend on what we think Putin’s longer-term strategy is. Does he want to reverse the revolutions of 1989 and 1991 and restore Russian control over central and eastern Europe? Or does he have the lesser ambition — itself not an appealing prospect — of creating small wars and irredentist enclaves in countries formerly within the Soviet orbit to keep them under Moscow’s control? It is likely that he does not know the answer himself.

Om krisen i Ukraina har fört något gott med sig så är det att väst inte längre kan ignorera kopplingen mellan maktpolitik och geopolitik.

Det är bara att fråga Vladimir Putin. Han har säkert en karta med helt andra gränser än vad man sitter med i Washington, London och Bryssel.

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