Tuesday, 17 May 2011

There is no Alternative Vote - Electoral Reform & Reforming Labour

(A little behind the news, but catching up by the end, read on…)

Following on from my last post; so what happened to reforming this **** electoral system?

Referendum result: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13297573

Clegg, on his way out...

Walking away from reform..?

Well come on, let’s be honest, it wasn’t much of a reform. It was the Tories meeting the LibDems halfway on reform and even Labour weren’t hugely keen on it. The fact is it was still based on the First Past the Post system: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

You got your first vote and you could leave it at that, but if you were so inclined to rate as many of the other parties as you like, then it was a mish-mash, an amalgamation of voters’ after- thoughts, leanings and general persuasions.

The advocates said it would make MPs work harder as they had to get over 50% of the vote, giving them a stronger mandate as well, but it’s not really over 50% if they don’t reach that mark with first preferences. It’s crawling over the line with a vague nod of approval from someone else’s supporters; “aye you’re not so much of a c**t, here’s a number two”.

Number one or number two?

And because the candidate with the lowest vote drops out and their second preferences are redistributed and counted first, you could be taken past the post with the second votes of the extremist parties or the general nut cases; the Monster Raving Loonies or Respect… And who cares about their preferences, should any of them count at all…?! No, I’m only joking, I think we should have proportionality (just leaving out the nutters at the end of the day...).

The fact is, it was a s**t system. It wouldn’t make any difference in a huge amount of constituencies, wouldn’t get rid of the jobs for life attitude in the safe seats and wouldn’t make them work any harder. It would really only affect the existing marginal seats, perhaps creating a few more and they already work pretty hard in those anyway. Overall there would still be a similar discrepancy between the popular vote and seats won in parliament.

No actually, it was absolute f***ing b**locks! Half of the supporters only wanted it as a path to further reform and Proportional Representation, probably most of the LibDems. That’s hardly going to persuade a lot of voters who don’t have much interest in politics. And if your supporters can’t even explain it one or two simple sentences then you’re f***ed, simple as that.

And they couldn’t; “you simply rate the candidates in order of preference, then the candidate with the fewest votes drops out and they’re second preferences are redistributed, until someone gets over 50%.” Now that’s not a direct quote and it’s actually not that bad.., but if you don’t even have much idea about the current system works, that’s basically gibberish. And to explain it properly you need much more than that.

It’s not really that complicated, but when I first heard a description of it, I didn’t get it. I had to read into it. Well this is Britain, in the 21st Century; people ain’t gonna research the topic if they’re not that interested in the first place.

The FPTP system is simple and that would have had an effect. Though there are so many problems with it, a lot of voters wouldn’t fully appreciate that and it is relatively easy to understand, the alternative presented was not. I don’t know that there’s a deep core of conservatism in this country but faced with such a choice, in hindsight the result was obvious.

It’s not as if the Yes vote had a good example of it being used successfully, which would have been handy. They have it in Australia… They also have compulsory voting. Our forefathers fought for our right to vote they fought for our freedom, so let’s force people to exercise that right (on pain of a small fine...), the lazy ignorant f***ers..!

It seems slightly contradictory and though it does do a lot for turnout, it doesn’t sit very easily. We can learn nothing from them…

Obedient Australians voting...

I’ve heard the argument that with everyone obligated to vote, it will make MPs work harder to consider the needs of all of their electorate, because they will certainly be judged by all of them. At the moment they just concentrate on the swing voters, the groups that could tip the balance, as well as their core support.

So we are forced to do something we may not feel inclined to do or even to turn up to deliberately spoil your paper, so that those f***ing grabbing, sponging, duplicitous, lying, cheating, useless, clueless f***wits have to start doing the job they are paid to do and made a very conscious effort take up?! No, I’m sorry they should be doing their job properly, they are under public scrutiny and they should be doing the correct amount of begging and pandering to us for our votes, and ultimately at least trying to deliver for every constituent.

Grabbing f*****s!

The fact that the turn out is averagely ridiculously low simply illustrates their consistent and abject failure (as well as the s**t electoral system). They should be making the changes and start being persuasive, not dictatorial.

No, I believe the only system that we should adopt is some form of nationwide proportionality. Each vote will count and they will have no option but to campaign for every vote, whether you turn up or not, they can’t take the risk. Conservatives moan about the lack of local representation, so if you just throw the German system at them and there you have it; a combination of FPTP and PR. It’s a good example because it’s successful on a large national scale, but the regions here also have similar systems; in Scotland and Wales.

The German system truly combines the systems and provides the best aspects of both, AV was a fudge and a really bad one at that. I guess Nick Clegg had no option but to take it and could see PR on the horizon; they were heady days last May…

Summer love in..?

Nick Clegg doesn't see the funny side...

One of the main arguments against AV from the No campaigners was it leading to more Coalition Governments; ‘you think this Government is s**t, well that’s all you’ll ever get! You want that do you? Do you?!!’ And that's coming from the main party in the current Government… They claim FPTP gives us strong government and that it’s a good thing.

A proportional system would bring about hung parliaments on a regular basis (though the SNP did just manage an outright majority and Labour were close in Wales), but they manage to run countries successfully all over the world with such systems. And though many conservatives would have us believe it, foreigners aren’t all living in near anarchy; eating horse meat with their hands and defecating in the street. Not all of them…

I don’t think the last 30 or 40 years are illustrative of strong government working in this country, no matter what some might say. It may have worked in the past, but times have changed.

The two main parties have done very well out of the system and that is the truth behind their arguments. And for all their claims of being “progressive”, some of the strongest defence of the current system comes from Labour - http://labour.no2av.org/. They do extremely well out of FPTP, how else could they have commanded a very reasonable parliamentary majority from the 2005 general election on only 35% of the vote? And many Leftists now sneer at the Tories for only have, er, a little over 35% of the vote

“Progressive majority” sod that, there’s not even a need for it when they can manage to hold sway over the whole country with a commanding parliamentary majority with the backing of a little over 40% of the electorate. Change? Who likes change..? They’re on somewhere between 40-45% in the polls at the moment and they do well out of constituencies boundaries and the active electorates within their winnable seats, so they could very well again soon. They only bleat on about this progressive majority when they're falling short.

Everyone’s favourite propaganda tool Ellie Gellard was a firm no in the referendum, as clearly stated on Twitter that AV was the ‘wrong change’, and she gave a simple reply to my question about whether PR was the right change; “No”. It seems she’s not much a fan of reform, another ‘progressive’ there…

Without Labour’s whole hearted backing, AV had no chance. Clearly they’re horribly split on reform and it’s obvious why, they actually do the best out of FPTP, even though Tories are its strongest advocates.

Labour first mentioned AV in early 2010, knowing full well Labour would lose the impending election. They were fighting for survival, it was just a handout to LibDem voters and to keep the possibility of reform in mind for any deserting ‘progressives’, but it was transparent and to my mind distasteful (Peter Hain all over...). Clutching at straws, if they’d had any real interest why hadn’t it been at least mentioned some time before?

Apparently Blair was not a fan of reform (again, I wonder why..?), but f*** the financial crisis ‘getting in the way’, they dealt with enough equality s***e in the time Brown had ('manifesto pledge', give a s***..!). There would have been time for a serious debate on reform. But no, it was something close to an aside, a few months before the election.

So I took an instant dislike to the Alternative Vote…

Whose bright idea?

I don't know, but I don't like it one bit...

And it seems many were of the same opinion, not many were keen on it. Potentially it’s put back reform for years… Not very progressive...

Lord Prescott

Man of the people...

(What does our John think of Clegg's Lords reform?)

And what would happen to the ‘progressive majority’ if Scotland were to go its own way? Labour’s hopes would take a severe dent in England, 1997 is long forgotten. Without Scotland and also Wales, Labour’s support is drastically reduced as has been clearly identified many times and Labour would end up relying on their major urban strongholds in England.

2010 election results:

Before it became startlingly apparent how incapable and incompetent the Labour party are, the figures in England would have seemed concerning, but they are essentially the result of years of political incompetence and it’s long been the underlying reality in England.

Considering the abject failure of the party and that they were led by Gordon Brown, the figures for Labour in England are actually not bad, but that’s been the whole point, the dependency they created reaps its rewards. Now it’s the idea of a Leftist majority holding the rest of the country to ransom that's concerning; inflating the public sector, taxing and pressuring the low end of the private sector, continuing Labour’s years of incompetence and negligence.

Scottish independence does seem unlikely on current polling; there are apparently more people in England that support independence! Economic reasons may form the core of the reasons for that apparent anomaly, but the political reasons I’ve just mentioned also form a part. I wouldn’t actually want Scotland to go it alone but I do believe that it is only fair that the West Lothian question is addressed.

Anyway they’re not going to have a referendum for a few years yet, so who knows. For now the status quo remains.

Judging by the last few elections and recent polls, it does appear that a majority support ‘progressive parties’ (though Labour slipped back again recently), but it is relatively slim and propped up by Labour’s regional support, and the fact is; it only includes those polled and those that voted, though they talk as if it's the whole nation. The underlying picture is not so clear, nor is the homogeneity between the supporters of these parties apparent.

Many Liberals are left leaning and a lot of their support in the recent elections is going back to Labour. However, if Labour and the Liberals were ever to work together, the landscape would certainly change again and could rally support on the right.

PR would increase the chances of a progressive alliance occurring, but that sort of reform seems to have been set back years by the recent referendum. So any Leftists hoping for such an enlightened future have many of their ‘progressive’ comrades in the Labour party to thank for that…

Labour say 'No' to reform

Labour add 'substance' to the debate

Well done Labour...

For now Leftists look around and they see a ‘majority’ agreeing with them, at the anti-cuts protests, in Universities, in the public sector, amongst the Liberal Left urban middle classes, so they think that is the norm.

The Students United

Will never get any work done and cause a public nuisance..?

They also see the lack of numbers at Rally Against Debt, so they must be the majority…

The Rally Against Debt in London

Minority men?

They can easily find the support they’re looking for on the internet, there is a definite left wing leaning on many social networking sites and of course you can easily surround yourself. These sites do now have a wide age range, but they are still pre-dominantly younger and statistics and time have shown that younger people do lean more to the Left. It’s one reason Labour and the Liberals are keen on lowering the voting age, to maintain that majority and keep pace with the tendency to become more conservative as one gets older…

Is what you see on Twitter or throughout the internet representative of the UK at large? Maybe in years to come, but not necessarily now.

Only a year ago there was a clear example of the different worlds inhabited by sections of the British population, when so many Left leaning internet users agreed with Gordon Brown, in calling Gillian Duffy “bigoted”. As I wrote at the time they must move in some high minded circles if they think what she said was worthy of being branded ‘bigoted’ in such a way.

Brown and Duffy discuss the demise of 'Old Labour'

'You're a bigot...'

'Now f*** off'

In the same election 1,500,000 people voted for UKIP or the BNP, 5% of the turnout and making them the 4th and 5th largest parties. Again not very progressive and as I also stated at the time, many more votes than the Green Party, who gained a seat.

In South Wales the working classes are still predominant and support for Labour and anti-Tory sentiment is still strong, but it’s not the same in throughout England, amongst what were the working classes. While there is still a lot of traditional support for the various parties, the political breakdown in the UK has changed drastically. It’s not as simple as it appears to a lot of people, particularly the supporters of the very visible and vocal groups such as UK Uncut.

I don’t think the Liberal Left see, or they simply don’t accept, the reality of the situation. They certainly don’t admit it, for obvious reasons. The numbers are tight but the majority are not up in arms about the cuts, they may not be happy but that's not the same thing. A large number of people are going to lose out from spending cuts and we’ve seen a fair number of them on the streets and hear them in the media; the vocal minority (vocal, mobilised, time on their hands…). But many of the rest, they appreciate the significant problems that occurred under the last government and the need for change, even if many of them also lose out; individually, in the short term.

Many are simply silent, obviously a large number of people regularly don’t vote at all. Surely if they are angry about the cuts and this government, they know what they can do? They are simply not motivated, they might not support the Government or the Tories, but they must have some understanding of what is happening and they did not make the effort to support the opposition. If they are inclined to vote Labour, then Labour activists are doing a shocking job of mobilising voters…

'Hello... Do you like me..?'

'Why not?'

There will be fluctuations, when certain cuts bite and of course depending on how the economy performs, but maybe a good percentage of people are thinking that we should give this Government some time. That change is needed and at the end of the day what’s the alternative? Labour were planning cuts anyway. We would have screwed from both ends with them, but there you go. Hopefully they don’t get the chance any time soon…

It’s not about supporting the cuts (as I mentioned previously Rally Against Debt et al are essentially extreme), few people actually want public services to be cut. What a lot of people want is for the bureaucracy and inefficiency to be cut back.

But who make the cuts? The bureaucratic and inefficient…

The likes of UK Uncut and the public sector unions don’t want any cuts at all, not at all, and want higher taxes; that is not the majority opinion.

Anti cuts protestors

Majority men (and women)..?

These people think the nation is with them, particularly the working classes. Of course many are, but the vocal and visible Liberal Left are far removed from the working classes, classes that have changed in nature over the last 30/40 years.

What do the likes of Laurie Penny and Ellie Gellard know about the working classes?

Laurie Penny a.k.a. PennyRed

A striking yet familiar look...

Ellie Gellard a.k.a. The Stilettoed socialist

'Fair for all', but definitely fairer for our Ellie...

What does 'BevaniteEllie' have in common with her hero?

Ellie and the Browns

Not what you know...

They’re just two examples from the new generation of Left wing activists. There are thousands and thousands of them in the media and on the internet; they live in a world that bares little resemblance to the world of many of the people they claim to speak for.

When Labour were in power they didn’t fundamentally improve anything for their former core support. Throwing money at problems doesn’t necessarily solve anything.

Deal done

Job done..?

Do they have any idea?

As I was writing this post and after the recent failure at the polls, Miliband and Labour are already talking about 'Blue Labour'. Judging by the emphasis it's obviously an attempt to reach out to some of the groups I've indicated, working classes they've neglected and members of their former core support that have deserted them, many moving to the right of the political spectrum.

It's just New Labour all over again, trying to be all things to all men! They're reaching out for support they've lost including the middle ground that holds the key to their chances of getting back into power. It didn't take them long and I'm not in the least bit surprised, but one of the many concerns is when they've failed so many people in the working classes and in their strongholds, they will never focus on and actually solve their problems, because they've maintained their support.

It shouldn't be about the people who've deserted them, it should be about the people they've deserted.

Particularly low paid workers in the private sector. Dependency maintained a strong core of support for them, but I think some people really do need to look past what is happening under the current Government and take a good look at the Labour party, what they've done and what they've become.

I don’t think Labour are going to change or become a credible party any time soon.

Not for a long time...

The future's bleak Ed.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to my local polling station?

So the Rally Against Debt was held this weekend, a Right Wing answer to the recent TUC organised march - http://rallyagainstdebt.org/. It was never really going to attract many, barely in the hundreds. Not that many people are so vehemently in favour of government cuts so as to shout about it in the centre of London. However, that’s not to say there aren’t many who support the rally in principle and many more who understand the need for deficit reduction and public spending cuts.

Completely different motivations are involved in the different sides of the arguments and certain groups are more disposed to protesting. The particular ‘pro-cuts’ groups that make up the likes of ‘Rally Against Debt’ are essentially quite extreme and the numbers at the rally, in many ways, irrelevant.

Something much more relevant occurred recently, a truer reflection of public opinion. Not the protests on the 26th March of course, which went off pretty much as expected…

No surprises with the groups that attended the march and no surprise how it all ended

Shocking images from the Right Wing press...


The numbers in attendance were quite high, though estimates have varied throughout the media it could have been close to 500,000. More than many expected.

But did we see the true feelings of the nation, the ‘majority’ as the anti-cuts campaigners claim? The anger of a nation and the beginnings of a revolt, akin to the turbulence seen in the Arab world?

Well as I predicted the usual suspects, the parties with a vested interested and many with plenty of time on their hands… They turned up and made a lot of noise. And apparently a lot of the ‘anarchists’ were mighty upset by the end of the night, but it’s hard to say that the protesters as a whole were representative of anything wider than their specific groups, the groups I’ve previously identified.

Aside from the arrests, everyone went home quietly and not much has happened since. They haven’t built much momentum; it seems to have gone pretty quiet since then, no occupation of Trafalgar Square, no rising in the streets. In fact everything turned to the Royal Wedding and those people lined the streets. Protesting placards and revolutionary cries turned to flags and patriotic fervour.

London - 26th March


London - 29th April

Happy now?

Traditional Policing for the Royal Wedding

Controversial Methods for Anti-Cuts protests

There were two faces of the same country and you could examine the intricacies of the groups represented at these two events, but since then we’ve had a number of different and very significant votes; the local and regional elections and the referendum on electoral reform. As I mentioned in the last post; isn’t it these actions of democracy that represent the true feelings of the population at large? Of course it is, or at least, of course it should be…

If so many people are motivated to take to the streets and let their strong feelings be known, then surely they and so many more not quite as motivated, would make it to the ballot box?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/election2011/council/html/england.stm - Public opinion?

Well I’m sure Ed Miliband and so many others, will try to convince themselves that a significant statement was made by the electorate, but I’m not so sure. If the ‘progressive majority’ was heard in these elections, then it was by no means all of them…

Surely if there was as much anger as claimed, there’d be a movement for political change? But the movement for election reform was trounced in the referendum on the Alternative Vote, on a low turnout:


Although apparently the 41% turnout was higher than expected.

The fact is the Tory vote held up strongly in the local elections, considering the constant criticism of their cuts. Labour did well in England from a LibDem slump, but didn’t truly encroach on the Tories. In Scotland they lost heavily to voters who would never turn to the Tories, whether or not they really want independence in giving their support to the SNP. Only in Wales was support for Labour significant and even then this was more to the loss of Plaid Cymru as the Tories managed to make small gains and effectively stopped Labour from getting an overall majority. The Tories should be happy.

Labourites can talk about success at such a stage of government, only one year in, compared to previous governments. But these are political, economic and social circumstances never seen before. It’s like comparing the recent economic crash to the depression of the 1930s…

The LibDems are taking the hit by many of their former supporters or floating voters, for apparently going back on their word. And for their Leader being a snivelling wretch. Though I’d say Vince Cable is actually making a good fist of that role…

Mr Cable


Voters had an opportunity to stick it to both parties of government, but they didn’t. In Scotland they stuck it to Labour and in Wales, they simply clung to what they know best… The areas in which Labour did well in the local elections are many of their former strongholds and areas going to be affected by cuts, similar to the picture in Wales. It’s Labour’s ineffective and incompetent government that led them to these current circumstances, but all they see is the t*t being taken away by the Coalition, so it’s a natural reaction…

If you consider that Labour have made gains from the LibDems, then it seems the polling wasn’t too different from the 2010 general election.

If we went for a general election, even with Labour ahead in the polls, on the evidence of these local elections, it would be very close and the Tories could take it, possibly. The First Past The Post system could certainly produce an anomaly on a close vote (it did in 2005) and give the Tories a majority. It’s a messed up system.

So what happened to reforming it? More to follow in the next post.

But what happened to the anger against the government? If I were in the Labour party or involved with the likes of UK Uncut, I’d be reminding people about the ballot box and how to get there…

Ed Miliband finding his way to the ballot box