chapter  11
8 Pages

Chattering classes: The moderation of deliberative forums in citizenship education

ByROSS FERGUSON

The wake of any general election should be a time of optimism as Parliament gets a fresh start, fresh faces and potentially fresh impetus. However, the mood around Westminster following the two most recent general elections has been somewhat marred by successive low turnouts. As Philip Gould, Labour’s polling guru, describes, it is as if politics is a game being played out in front of increasingly empty stadiums (Gould, 2003). Although analysis of the data reveals this trend has been underway for some time, the 2001 general election was a watershed. Turnout dropped to its lowest point since 1918, with fewer than 60 per cent of eligible voters showing up at the ballot box. Four years later, in 2005, and despite a major effort by the political class to encourage participation, just 61 per cent cast a vote.