Archive for the ‘UK general election’ Category

Quotes

You and your lawmaker

Britain is a democratic country but a lot of people don’t feel that parliament represents them as an individual or as a community. A lot of that is down to our system of democracy. For example, at the moment we have a Conservative government that was only supported by 37% of the people who voted in last year’s election. What’s worse, no matter how circumstances change or our opinions change, we’re probably stuck with that government for five long years.* Your MP is supposed to represent you but he or she mainly represents the party that they’re a member of – that’s why I suggest that the whipping system in parliament (i.e. MPs being forced to vote the way their leader wants them to) needs a radical overhaul.

So of course we feel more than a little powerless, and that’s why the referendum was about a whole lot more than what was on the ballot paper. One sad thing about Brexit is that what we really need is a more representative democracy in this country, but through the Brexit vote theestablishment have contrived to give themselves even more power than they had before.

Anyway, what I really wanted to discuss, briefly, is the connection between voter and MP. MPs have as many as five opinions at once on any given subject:

  1. their own point of view
  2. their party’s policy
  3. the point of view of other organisations that they support (especially if that organisation pays them to represent it!)
  4. their constituents’ point of view, and
  5. a forming, or potential, opinion being shaped by events and information.

Our job, as voters, is to get our MPs to go with #4 or maybe #5. There’s a great website, They Work For You, that can tell you lots of things about your MP’s opinions. The question is, how to change their opinions, or to get them to vote more closely in line with their constituents’ views. (The latter is especially a problem in those places where the MP got less than 50% of the vote.) One very good way is actually to write to them.** There’s a handy form for this purpose at the Write To Them website. And you can follow up their reply (or non-reply). If you ask them nicely, they will also ask a question in parliament on your behalf.

Now, you may ask, is there any point in this? Aren’t they just going to ignore me? Well, yes, that’s a possibility, but remember that representing you IS THEIR JOB so they should at least be able to give a good reason for ignoring you. If they can’t, there is an ombudsman who will take up your case. Whatever happens, it’s vital that voters hold their MPs to account, not just at the ballotbox on election day, but in the long years inbetween.

THIS IS YOUR DEMOCRACY – USE IT!

*Of course, at the moment there is the possibility that parliament might agree to an earlier general election, but that would be an unusual thing to happen.

**Or you can write to the government, or even the prime minister.

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Posted July 1, 2016 by dadge

Quotes

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.

Posted June 13, 2016 by dadge

Quotes

The Referendum

1. Does the current system need replacing? I wouldn’t go so far as to say it needs replacing. Unlike some people, I never claim that First Past The Post (FPTP) is undemocratic. Every adult gets a free, secret vote, and participates in the election of representatives. If it’s not replaced, it does need reforming though. FPTP is not fit for purpose. It’s designed for a country without political parties – where each MP represents their constituents and isn’t at the beck and call of a party whip – or with only two political parties – when it will give a fair result in the number of seats. (Although, as the elections of 1951 and February 1974 showed us, even with just two parties, if it’s a close race it’s not always the biggest party that wins.)

The Alternative Vote (AV) is, in effect, a version of FPTP, rather than a replacement for it. Although we’ll number the candidates on the ballot paper, rather than just marking one X, it operates very similarly to FPTP, using the same constituency system (although, coincidentally, the constituencies themselves will be changed).

2. Should we replace FPTP with AV? Well, not if we can help it! There are two good systems of proportional representation. One’s called the Single Transferable Vote (STV) and the other’s called the Additional Member System (AMS). Both of these systems are used successfully in all sorts of elections around the world. AV is not proportional representation. In many cases you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference in the election result under AV compared to what it would’ve been under FPTP.

Hardly any countries use AV. Australia’s one of them, and, following last year’s Australian general election, I got the impression that AV is not particularly well-liked there. There were rumblings in one seat (in Perth, I think) where the “winner” “lost”. And you can look forward to plenty of that if AV is introduced here.

FPTP stinks. AV is also shit, it just doesn’t smell as bad.

In 1998, the Independent Commission on the Voting System produced what is generally known as The Jenkins Report. It stated in its conclusions: Within this mixed system the constituency members should be elected by the Alternative Vote. On its own AV would be unacceptable because of the danger that in anything like present circumstances it might increase rather than reduce disproportionality and might do so in a way which is unfair to the Conservative party. With the corrective mechanism in operation, however, its advantages of increasing voter choice and of ensuring that in practice all constituency members (as opposed to little more that half in recent elections) have majority support in their own constituencies become persuasive. (Chapter 9, paragraph 2) (Emphasis added)

The “corrective mechanism” mentioned is to have top-up seats. This mechanism is used under AMS, and has been introduced already in the UK for the elected bodies of Scotland, Wales and London.

So, AV isn’t proportional. What it does do is ensure that every MP has at least 50% support in their constituency. This is very important in itself, but it has other beneficial effects. It means that, in theory, there’ll be no more wasted votes. Tory voters in Liverpool and Labour voters in Surrey have a chance to elect someone a little more to their taste, perhaps. And this will also mean that politicians won’t be able to ignore these areas at election time. Remember that in recent elections, the parties have concentrated their campaigns in marginal seats, ignoring the rest of us, taking the rest of us for granted.

3. What’s the best protest vote? Supporting the retention of FPTP is a very establishment – and somewhat reactionary – position to take. Voting to replace it should be an easy decision to make. And yet a part of me thinks that if the vote is lost it’ll “serve them right” – “them” being the Government, and especially the Lib Dems who struck a deal with the Tories on the basis of something as mediocre as AV.

At the same time, the No campaign has resorted to some dirty tricks so it’s lost a lot of my sympathy. The posters saying nurses/soldiers etc. need more resources, not an alternative voting system, also stick in my craw. It seems to me if our nurses and soldiers are going to be working their arses off on our behalf, they should at least know that the government that’s making the decisions has the support of most of us. To take one example, Labour ruled from 1997 to 2010, making choices about how to spend billions of pounds of our money, including sending our troops into various battles, on the basis that a paltry 25% of us supported them at three elections. Our nurses and soldiers deserve better than that.

4. How are you going to vote? I’m going to vote Yes. For all the drawbacks of the system, and of the process that’s brought us to this referendum, it’s hard to escape the principle of the thing. Too many of our representatives are representing too few of us. Having AV will change that. We won’t like AV, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Posted May 5, 2011 by dadge

Quotes

Lib Dem targets

The Liberal Democratic party is entering interesting times. When you become the junior partner in a coalition you risk losing your identity and your support. In the long run this may be a risk worth taking, if future elections are fought under a more proportional voting system, but AV isn’t much better than what we’ve already got… So even though I think the next election will be a tough one for Clegg and co, here’s their list of targets. Interestingly, the list splits neatly into two groups: 14 or 15 ultra-marginals (mostly Labour-held, where some Lib Dem voters may drift to Labour, but Tory supporters could vote tactically) and the rest.

 

constituency

% behind

winner

1

Camborne & Redruth

0.16

C

2

Oldham East & Saddleworth

0.23

Lab

3

Oxford West & Abingdon

0.31

C

4

Sheffield Central

0.40

Lab

5

Ashfield

0.40

Lab

6

Edinburgh South

0.72

Lab

7

Truro & Falmouth

0.89

C

8

Newton Abbot

1.08

C

9

Chesterfield

1.20

Lab

10

Swansea West

1.42

Lab

11

Hampstead & Kilburn

1.59

Lab

12

Hull North

1.93

Lab

13

Rochdale

1.94

Lab

14

Harrogate
& Knaresborough

1.96

C

15

Watford

2.58

C

16

Montgomeryshire

3.50

C

17

Edinburgh North & Leith

3.64

Lab

18

St Albans

4.36

C

19

Newport East

4.79

Lab

20

Derby North

5.01

Lab

21

Weston-Super-Mare

5.10

C

22

Hereford & South
Herefordshire

5.13

C

23

West Devon & Torridge

5.35

C

24

Winchester

5.45

C

25

Northampton North

6.17

C

26

South East Cornwall

6.49

C

27

Bristol North West

6.50

C

28

City of Durham

6.63

Lab

29

West Dorset

6.84

C

30

Richmond Park

6.90

C

31

York Outer

6.92

C

32

Streatham

6.96

Lab

33

Pontypridd

7.59

Lab

34

Newcastle upon Tyne North

7.77

Lab

35

Aberdeen South

8.15

Lab

36

Islington South & Finsbury

8.19

Lab

37

Warrington South

8.29

C

38

Birmingham Hall Green

8.31

Lab

39

Romsey
& Southampton North

8.49

C

40

Colne Valley

8.75

C

41

Oxford East

8.87

Lab

42

Bosworth

9.27

C

43

Chelmsford

9.36

C

44

Plymouth Sutton & Devonport

9.62

C

45

Bristol South

9.79

Lab

Posted May 23, 2010 by dadge

Quotes

Conservative targets

David Cameron had two choices: no coalition and another election quite soon (which he might have won), or a rigid coalition which has a chance of lasting out a full 5-year term. For whatever reason (and the chemistry between Dave ‘n’ Nick must have something to do with it) he opted for the latter course of action. The plan now, within those five years, is to reform the electoral process in some way, at least by reducing the number of constituencies, at most by introducing AV. But, you know, the Whitehall wheels don’t always move quickly, and the path of true coalition love doesn’t always run smooth, so there’s always a chance we’ll have the next election under the same system and the same boundaries as the May 2010 edition. Hence the posting of these tables of marginals. I’ve already posted lists of seats where the three main parties have leads of under 5%, and now I’m working on the lists of target seats. Here’s all the seats that the Tories could take with a 5% swing from the winning party. (They need to take 19 of them to gain an overall majority.)

 

constituency

% behind

winner

1

Hampstead & Kilburn*

0.08

Lab

2

Bolton West*

0.19

Lab

3

Solihull*

0.32

LD

4

Southampton Itchen*

0.43

Lab

5

Mid Dorset & Poole North*

0.57

LD

6

Wirral South*

1.33

Lab

7

Derby North

1.36

Lab

8

Wells*

1.43

LD

9

Dudley North*

1.68

Lab

10

Great Grimsby*

2.17

Lab

11

Morley & Outwood

2.25

Lab

12

Telford*

2.37

Lab

13

Walsall North*

2.74

Lab

14

St Austell & Newquay

2.78

LD

15

Somerton & Frome

3.00

LD

16

Birmingham Edgbaston

3.06

Lab

17

Sutton & Cheam

3.31

LD

18

Halifax

3.38

Lab

19

Newcastle-under-Lyme*

3.59

Lab

20

Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland

3.63

Lab

21

Wakefield

3.63

Lab

22

St Ives

3.74

LD

23

Plymouth Moor View*

3.82

Lab

24

Gedling

3.86

Lab

25

Eltham

3.96

Lab

26

Walsall South*

4.29

Lab

27

Nottingham South

4.34

Lab

28

Chippenham

4.72

LD

29

Tooting

4.98

Lab

30

North East Derbyshire

5.20

Lab

31

Exeter

5.21

Lab

32

Chorley

5.21

Lab

33

Angus

5.22

SNP

34

Blackpool South

5.26

Lab

35

Brighton Pavilion

5.36

Green

36

Westminster North

5.37

Lab

37

Oldham East & Saddleworth

5.42

Lab

38

Southampton Test

5.46

Lab

39

Luton South

5.52

Lab

40

Bridgend

5.90

Lab

41

Dagenham & Rainham

5.95

Lab

42

Perth & North Perthshire

6.07

SNP

43

Delyn

6.14

Lab

44

Cheadle

6.23

LD

45

Banff & Buchan

6.26

SNP

46

North Cornwall

6.36

LD

47

Norwich South

6.43

LD

48

Gower

6.44

Lab

49

Penistone & Stocksbridge

6.55

Lab

50

Eastbourne

6.59

LD

51

Birmingham Northfield

6.65

Lab

52

Stalybridge & Hyde

6.71

Lab

53

Harrow West

6.82

Lab

54

Bury South

6.82

Lab

55

Bradford East

6.86

LD

56

Taunton Deane

6.87

LD

57

Scunthorpe

6.88

Lab

58

Berwick-upon-Tweed

7.00

LD

59

Vale of Clwyd

7.06

Lab

60

Wolverhampton North East

7.12

Lab

61

Eastleigh

7.20

LD

62

Hyndburn

7.24

Lab

63

Alyn & Deeside

7.31

Lab

64

Birmingham Selly Oak

7.48

Lab

65

Hammersmith

7.48

Lab

66

Argyll & Bute

7.59

LD

67

Darlington

7.90

Lab

68

Sefton Central

7.97

Lab

69

West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine

8.15

LD

70

Clwyd South

8.17

Lab

71

Bristol East

8.27

Lab

72

Don Valley

8.28

Lab

73

Torbay

8.29

LD

74

Coventry South

8.37

Lab

75

Moray

8.48

SNP

76

Batley & Spen

8.62

Lab

77

Newport West

8.92

Lab

78

Copeland

8.96

Lab

79

West Lancashire

8.96

Lab

80

Birmingham Erdington

9.22

Lab

81

Cheltenham

9.32

LD

82

Bolton North East

9.44

Lab

83

Leeds North East

9.56

Lab

84

Feltham & Heston

9.60

Lab

85

Carmarthen East & Dinefwr

9.62

PC

86

Brecon & Radnorshire

9.65

LD

87

Ellesmere Port & Neston

9.79

Lab

 

An asterisk indicates that the UKIP vote was significantly larger than the amount the Conservatives lost by.

Posted May 23, 2010 by dadge

Quotes

The Lib Dems’ most marginal seats, May 2010

 

constituency

% maj

over

1

Solihull

0.32

C

2

Mid Dorset & Poole North

0.57

C

3

Norwich South

0.65

Lab

4

Bradford East

0.90

Lab

5

Wells

1.43

C

6

St Austell & Newquay

2.78

C

7

Brent Central

2.97

Lab

8

Somerton & Frome

3.00

C

9

Sutton & Cheam

3.31

C

10

St Ives

3.74

C

11

Manchester Withington

4.21

Lab

12

Burnley

4.34

Lab

13

East Dunbartonshire

4.55

Lab

14

Chippenham

4.72

C

Posted May 23, 2010 by dadge

Articles

Labour’s most marginal seats, May 2010

In Labour,marginals on May 23, 2010 by dadge

 

constituency

% maj

over

1

Hampstead & Kilburn

0.08

C

2

Bolton West

0.19

C

3

Oldham East & Saddleworth

0.23

LD

4

Sheffield Central

0.40

LD

5

Ashfield

0.40

LD

6

Southampton Itchen

0.43

C

7

Edinburgh South

0.72

LD

8

Chesterfield

1.20

LD

9

Wirral South

1.33

C

10

Derby North

1.36

C

11

Swansea West

1.42

LD

12

Dudley North

1.68

C

13

Hull North

1.93

LD

14

Rochdale

1.94

LD

15

Great Grimsby

2.17

C

16

Morley & Outwood

2.25

C

17

Telford

2.37

C

18

Walsall North

2.74

C

19

Birmingham Edgbaston

3.06

C

20

Halifax

3.38

C

21

Newcastle-under-Lyme

3.59

C

22

Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland

3.63

C

23

Wakefield

3.63

C

24

Edinburgh North & Leith

3.64

LD

25

Plymouth Moor View

3.82

C

26

Gedling

3.86

C

27

Eltham

3.96

C

28

Walsall South

4.29

C

29

Nottingham South

4.34

C

30

Newport East

4.79

LD

31

Tooting

4.98

C