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The EU Referendum and the democratic deficit

Oh, the irony. The UK might vote to leave the EU not because of the democratic shortcomings of that organisation but because of those of the UK…

Unfortunately, elections are about much more than the issues at hand. Local councillors know this all too well, as they lose their seat not because of anything they’ve done wrong but because the Chancellor put a penny on a pint of beer (or glass of wine, depending on the area). And here we have a momentous decision about to be made and the leader of the Remain campaign also happens to be the leader of the government: David Cameron. A leader who is not as unpopular as Mrs Thatcher, but unpopular enough. The Conservatives got 25% support at last year’s election (37% of the 66% who voted) so on day one of his new government there were already 75% potentially opposed to it, and him, and after 6 years of power there are lots of things that people want to give him a kicking for. Now is not the right time, but for a lot of people that’s a moot point.

Herein lies a very good reason why Labour should not have elected a contrarian like Jeremy Corbyn as their leader. In order for Cameron to pull this off, he needs the support of Labour, but Labour can’t give that support. Corbyn is too ambivalent and too honest. So Cameron is out on his own, making a good, positive case, but one that many folk won’t listen to because of who he is, and because our democratic system didn’t give a mandate. He thinks he has a mandate – those 330 MPs who were elected last May – but he and we might be about to discover to all our costs that the mandate is an illusion.

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Posted June 13, 2016 by dadge

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Grant Shapps on BBC Sunday Politics

In boundary changes,Lib Dems,Tories on October 14, 2012 by dadge

https://twitter.com/sillynobby/status/257466091146719232

https://twitter.com/poohugh/status/257467934253920257

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Tory Conference Special

In boundary changes,Lib Dems,Tories on October 9, 2012 by dadge

I’m at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week and I’m enjoying myself touring the fringe events. It’s a good opportunity to ask a few questions about the soon-to-be defunct(?) boundary review…

Bye Bye Boundary Changes – Bye Bye General Election Victory?

Is it all the Lib Dems’ fault?

Have the turkeys banned Christmas?

MPs put themselves ahead of the party?

Was the new law too aggressive?

Can anything be salvaged?

What are your answers? Don’t keep them to yourself!

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searchthemoney.com

In Labour,Tories on August 24, 2012 by dadge

Over the last few years, public-spirited individuals have developed various interfaces to let us make use of open-access government data. theyworkforyou.com is a great example, from the nice people at mysociety.org. The good thing is that the sites have been independent and even-handed, and don’t subvert the data by omitting part of it.

There’s been a worrying development today with the launch of searchthemoney.com, a site that shows you where Tory MPs have been getting their money from. Only Tory MPs, mind. The data is available for all MPs, but the site hides the data for the other MPs. (For a while this morning, the pages for the other MPs were visible, but they were removed when the organisers realised their “mistake”.) This has been done in order to damage the Tory party’s chances at the next election, but the trades unions who are paying for the site need to have a good long look at themselves. 1. It’s unhelpful, confusing, misleading and dishonest. 2. It makes it look like Labour MPs have something to hide. 3. It will only be a week or two before the Tories get their anti-Labour version up and running.

So instead of one honest website, we’ll end up with two dishonest websites. Well done.

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Full steam ahead

In boundary changes,Labour,Lib Dems,Tories on April 23, 2012 by dadge

Kevin Meagher wrote, on 5/1/12:

Boundary review, reviewed

Something […] that will bite the dust in 2012 is the parliamentary boundary review. This was a rash promise by Cameron to slash 50 seats in order to “reduce the cost of politics” at the height of Westminster’s expenses scandal. The figure was entirely arbitrary, so the new proposed boundaries are a dog’s breakfast. And the electoral advantage the Tories confidently predicted is not looking as attractive as first thought.

The seats of six cabinet ministers would be axed, including Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam seat and George Osborne’s berth in leafy Knutsford. The last election was fought on fresh boundaries so there is, technically, no need to fiddle again for a decade. Eventually the government’s political antennae will twitch and the whole thing will be dropped. There is too much political fixing needed to keep everyone happy. The government has better things to worry about.

My response:

1. The figure of 50 seats was not “entirely arbitrary”. Both the decision to cut, and the decision that it would be 50, were made on the basis of Tory research on how best to make the system work more to the their advantage. “Reducing the cost of politics” was a convenient smokescreen.

2. The new seats are a “dog’s breakfast” but this is because of the radically new rules being used by the Boundary Commission, again decided on by the Tories to make the system work more to their advantage. The new system has at its heart the concept of “cracking” – which you should be au fait with – which tends to favour the Tories.

3. The new seats will be somewhat better for the Tories than the current ones. DGMW, the FPTP system will still favour Labour for the time being, but the precedent the changes are setting will gradually erode that advantage over the years.

4. Pickles and co. made the changes a priority in order to reduce and eventually eliminate Labour’s built-in electoral advantage as quickly as possible. They want to redraw the boundaries every five years in order to achieve this. At some point they must’ve briefed their MPs about the rationale behind this, and the fact that some of them will have to suffer for the benefit of the party. Trouble is, some of them will go rogue e.g. Dorries.

5. Considering how important the changes are to the Tory Project, there’s no way that Cameron will drop the whole thing, and the LibDems are too weak to challenge it, even though by supporting the changes they are tying the noose even tighter round their own neck. The opposition to the project must come from Labour, but instead of mounting an effective campaign, Greg Cook went round the country in the autumn licking the Boundary Commission’s arse.

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Everything Cumbria

In Cumbria,Labour,Lib Dems,North West,redistricting,Tories on October 17, 2011 by dadge

Proposals:
Boundary Commission
Carlisle 79,030
Workington & Keswick 80,266
Kendal & Penrith 79,685
Copeland & Windermere 77,712
Barrow 73,677

Liberal Democrats
Carlisle 79,030
Penrith & Cockermouth 75,525
Whitehaven & Workington 80,314
Westmorland & Lonsdale 78,526
Barrow & Furness 76,975

Conservative
Carlisle 79,030
Penrith & Solway 76,325
Workington & Whitehaven 78,284
Westmorland & Lonsdale 76,274
Barrow & Furness 80,457

Labour
Carlisle 78,966
Penrith & The Border 74,211
West Cumberland 79,311
Westmorland & Lonsdale 77,425
Barrow 80,457

I haven’t checked the figures, though I can see that the Labour electorate for Westmorland & Lonsdale is wrong.

Not much difference between the parties really – they all agree that the Commission is wrong to continue to try to have separate Workington and Whitehaven seats. The Coalition proposals are very similar to that posted by greatkingrat on 2nd September. I can’t see much connection beween Penrith and Cockermouth, but that’s a minor problem compared to the faults in the Commission’s plan, to wit:

1. Barrow seat contains an unconnected part (the Grange area)

2. There isn’t much connection between the Lake District and the towns on the coast

3. Kendal and Penrith have been put together but cut off from the areas they serve to their west.

I think any of the three party counterproposals would be better than that. It’d be good to keep Appleby in the Penrith seat, but I can’t see a way to do it.

Edit: I’d forgotten about this, by Philip Davies, which is very nice:

 

The public enquiry into the new boundaries continues tomorrow (Tuesday 18 October) at Carlisle Civic Centre, but the message to the Commission seems pretty clear already.

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Conservative counterproposals – North West England

In Cheshire,Lancashire,Manchester,North West,redistricting,Tories on October 16, 2011 by dadge

Although the Tories’ ideas are, on the whole, a bit better than both the Commission’s and Labour’s, it’s still disappointing that they’ve endorsed the Commission’s methodology. I suppose it’s difficult for the governing party to discredit in any way a supra-governmental (or is it extra-governmental?) body, but on the other hand they are the people who are best placed to do something about the incompetence of the Commission.

Endorsing the Commission’s methodology brings them into direct conflict not only with common sense, but also with their local organisations and MPs. At the Chester hearings, MPs and party members lined up to criticise their own party’s counterproposals regarding Poynton, Henbury, Ellesmere Port, and Chester itself, inasmuch as those counterproposals endorse the Commission’s plans. Shame on their craven central office for hanging them out to dry! Why leave it to your individual MPs and councillors (as well as those few members of the public who understand the process) to suggest that the emperor is parading in the altogether?

Because of Cheshire’s unique position at this Review (a non-metropolitan county with wards of over 10,000 electors each) the counterproposal is bound to be a failure if it doesn’t split any wards. Without splitting wards, the obvious idea of moving the Groves, Weaver and Boughton Heath wards clockwise into the seats they really belong in is made impossible by the fact that it would give Chester an electorate of  80,769. The Guide to the Review does say that ward-splitting may be justified under exceptional circumstances and Cheshire has the most exceptional circumstances in England!

***

I had to laugh when, after reading this:

“We disagree with the principle of crossing the Mersey at a point with no transport links. The proposed Mersey Banks seat appears to be in conflict with the Commission’s own guidance, contained in the Guide to the 2013 Review, on detached parts. Our plan enables the Mersey Banks seat to extend eastwards
towards Runcorn rather than crossing the Mersey at a point with no links.”

…I noticed that their Warrington South seat has two unlinked parts! And their Tatton seat almost does as well, the only link between Runcorn and the rest of the seat being Newton Lane. It’s also difficult to see the link between Cliviger and Pendle, but the general pattern in East Lancs is good.

Their proposals make some headway on addressing the excessive border- and town-splititng of the Commisssion’s proposals, but they leave some new problems: Reddish, Chadderton, Royton, Clayton and Bredbury are all split, and arrangements in North Manchester are not ideal.