Big Brother beats Little Euro-poll

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Indy Politics

More people have been voting in the TV show Big Brother over recent weeks than at the last European election, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said today.

More people have been voting in the TV show Big Brother over recent weeks than at the last European election, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said today.

It is that lack of engagement in politics that partly prompted him to write "The Future of Politics", an in-depth look at why voters are turning their backs on elections.

Speaking at the central London launch of his 235-page book, Mr Kennedy said he hoped it would stimulate thought and debate in the Liberal Democrats.

He said the book is about "reconnecting politics", about restoring "idealism" in politics and not about caving in to populism.

"It is about politics itself, not just in this country but the political trends we see internationally," he said.

"More people are not engaging in the political process, not voting and not joining the political parties but are either taking direct action ... or are joining single issue focus pressure groups.

"More people have been voting in Big Brother over the past few weeks than voted in the last European elections. Now that is a sobering thought indeed."

Mr Kennedy said his book, which is dedicated to his parents Ian and Mary, should be read in conjunction with his party's pre-manifesto document.

It looks at the importance of Mr Kennedy's upbringing on a Highland croft, his appointment as leader a year ago, and the Liberal Democrats' by-election win at Romsey.

It expands Mr Kennedy's belief that cannabis should be legalised for medical use.

He focuses on why the voters are not voting and claims Parliament still seems like a gentlemen's club, despite the arrival of "Blair Babes".

Mr Kennedy also stresses that he usually finds Prime Minister's question time on a Wednesday "an irrelevant piece of theatre".

He calls on the Government to do more in areas such as social justice and in promoting environmental issues, but to be less involved in bureaucracy and regulation.

Mr Kennedy insisted that while his party would continue to press for constitutional reform, he did not want the Liberal Democrats' contributions in politics to "always be delivered and presented by reference to institutional relationships with the Labour Party".

He said that the maintenance and improvement of properly funded public services will be a "defining issue" for his party at the next election.

"I think we are presenting ourselves as a party which is modern, which is in touch and which is a party looking further forward in the 21st century," added Mr Kennedy.

The Future of Politics is published by HarperCollins, priced £17.99.

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