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Liberal Democrats: the clue is in the name

by MatGB     May 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm

So, it looks like a deal is on the table and is now subject to the democratic processes of the Liberal Democrats. It also looks like Mr Cameron has been persuaded that keeping his own MPs on board might be a good idea.

There’s a lot of idiocy going around online, a huge amount of hyperbole, including DoS attacks on the Lib Dem phone lines, and flashmobbing the LibDem meetings.

Um, guys? It’s not the Lib Dems you need to persuade. Here’s why:

The Liberal Democrats are a democratic party

This means the leadership can’t just jump into bed with any other party, there are rules (the “triple lock”). In summary, 75% of MPs and 75% of the elected Federal Executive must agree to a deal. If they don’t, but the leader wants it and a majority of each do, then a special conference is called, at which 66% of conference reps have to agree to it. If they say no, but the leadership still want it, then a full postal ballot of members can happen, at which a simple majority can say yes.

Without approval? No deal. As commenter Mark Lightwood observes on a previous thread:

75% of Lib Dem MPs will not sign their own political death warrant – which is what agreeing to a deal with the Tories that doesnt have PR in it amounts to. It just won’t happen. Clegg knows this, and is a smart guy.

Mark appears to be a Green member (Mark, care to confirm?), but is spot on on this. Without a substantial commitment to STV, Lib Dem MPs know that propping up the Tories would lead to them losing their seats at the next general election. They won’t approve a deal.

So it goes to a special conference. I’m a voting member of the party, and would attend such a conference. For me, I joined the party specifically to campaign for electoral reform, it’s the main reason I’m involved. That’s true of a lot of members. For the rest? It’s a commitment that’s in the blood of the party. As the founder of modern liberalism, J. S. Mill, observes:

nothing is more certain than that the virtual blotting out of the minority is no necessary or natural consequence of freedom; that, far from having any connection with democracy, it is diametrically opposed to the first principle of democracy, representation in proportion to numbers. It is an essential part of democracy that minorities should be adequately represented. No real democracy, nothing but a false show of democracy, is possible without it.

And by minorites, we’re not talking “minor parties”, we’re talking everyone under or unrepresented in Parliament.

No agreement without a commitment to genuine electoral reform (and not just some fudge as if AV is enough) will work with the Lib Dem party. The membership won’t allow it.

If you’re wanting to lobby someone, and wondering why the Lib Dems are even talking to the Conservatives, turn around and ask the Labour party Where’s the offer we can’t refuse?

Tories are reticent for reform, but I believe they can be persuaded. Labour? Labour sold out their promises again and again. Even now, they’re not making a serious offer.

Stop wasting your time and theirs by harassing Lib Dem MPs, let alone paid Lib Dem administrative staff. Lobby the big two parties, the two that didn’t put a genuine commitment to genuine electoral reform as a bottom line issue in their manifesto. To read/listen to people moaning at this stage because Nick is attempting to find a workable solution with the Tories is nothing short of ridiculous.

Why vote? No point for most voters

by MatGB     April 7, 2010 at 9:00 am

Assertion: Turnout is affected by the likelihood your vote will make a difference and the amount of campaigning the parties are doing in the area.

In areas that are considered to be “safe”, a) voters are less likely to be interested and b) parties are less likely to run competetive campaigns, targetting resources and activists on marginal seats they may gain or lose.
Electoral Reform Society: Election already over in nearly 400 seats:

The Society has listed 382 seats which are ‘Super Safe’ in that they will not change hands even with a landslide on any conceivable scale. The Society points out, however, that there are many more seats where the outcome is a very safe bet, even if an upset is not beyond probability.

It is my belief that turnout is likely to go up, overall, in this election as it’s the first election since 1992 where the overall result is not a foregone conclusion.

But for residents of 382 seats out of 650, the local result is already a foregone conclusion. There’s a spreadsheet on the site to download; if you live in one of the seats listed, and you’re considering not voting, make sure you’re registered to vote. Go to the polling station.

Don’t put an X in the box.

Write “No Safe Seats; make my vote count” on the ballot paper.

Why should you do this? Because at an election, the returning officer must get the agreement of a representative of each candidate before a ballot can be rejected. Your already selected future MP will get to know how frustrated you are.

Prediction: after the election, if it’s as close as it is now, a large number of Conservatives will complain that they were robbed and that Labour got more seats than they deserved, or words to that effect; you already see this with the “we won the votes in England” meme.

They will, of course, completely ignore that the Lib Dems and Greens barely scraped the number of seats they deserve. What they don’t take into account is that the ‘safe’ Labour seats are very very safe.

Turnout is incredibly low in many of them; that doesn’t necessarily indicate disaffection, it just indicates that there’s no point in going to the polling station when you know the MPs won already. Labour seats see a much stronger falloff in turnout than Conservative seats, Lib Dem seats are in the middle.

The Conservative party says they like the voting system as is, rotten boroughs, safe seats, differential turnout and all.

It’s a damn shame that they’ve never bothered to try and understand it.

crossposted from my personal journal

In post-Soviet Russia, President blogs you

by MatGB     May 5, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Dear Gordon,

Look, it’s fairly simple. Social Media? You don’t get it. Your video on YouTube has been resoundingly ridiculed due to your terrible performance and complete lack of content. The person who did the production for it? Send them off to the Kremlin for some lessons, there’s a good chap.

Why? Have a look at this. Yes, that’s the President of Russia contributing to his regularly updated blog. I don’t speak Russian, but diplomat Nicholas Whyte, who does, describes it as “an impressive performance“, and even without understanding a word, he comes across as genuine and engaging.

Politicians can, if they put the effort in, use social media like blogs, twitter and YouTube effectively. But if they don’t put the effort in? It’s probably better not to bother than to do something badly.

But then Gordon Brown does everything badly.

Jack Straw’s right, Cabinet Government matters

by MatGB     February 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Jack Straw has decided not to appeal a decision and instead the Cabinet has voted, using the power allowed it by law the law, to prevent the release of documents, for the first time since the FOI Act was passed.

Y’know what? I disagree with Justin, Jennie and most Lib Dems on this. He’s right to do so. We can, and should, be attacking this, but not because Cabinet minutes aren’t going to be released. Cabinet minutes should not be released, it’s one of the basic principles of our Parliamentary democracy.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work:
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Standing on the shoulders of giants

by MatGB     December 25, 2008 at 5:13 pm

It is a time of year to reflect, to think upon what has come to pass, to learn from the past and thank those that brought us to where we are today. Today, especially, is an exceptional day for these endeavours, being as it is the birthday of one of the greatest and most influential men to walk those green and pleasant lands.

His works, agitation and beliefs revolutionised the world, and there isn’t a day that goes by in which we are not all grateful for his work and influence.
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Brian Coleman AM: Ignorant incompetent sexist buffoon

by MatGB     December 14, 2008 at 11:06 pm

Oh dear. Boris doesn’t half know how to pick ’em, right? This time, it’s his Chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Brian Coleman AM, that’s shown himself up. His crime? Complete ignorance of fire authority guidelines, a sexist attack on a female MP and a complete unwillingness to actually find out what you’re supposed to do in an emergency.

Beggers belief, doesn’t it? I think the worst aspect of the whole story is that the Tory press is completely on side with his story, and even when quoting fire service sources debunking his claim, have still joined in with his incompetent posturing.
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Blears on Blogging–Cluelessness or Wilful Ignorance?

by MatGB     November 6, 2008 at 2:15 am

Hazel Blears today gave an intriguing, wide ranging speech on a number of topics that I found interesting, thought provoking and mostly agreeable[1]. Unsurprisingly, the media has chosen to highlight the minor area of the speech in which she is both woefully misinformed and completely inaccurate. It is, naturally, the bit in which she talks about blogging [2].

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McCain campaign ‘is over’ says Fox News VP

by MatGB     October 25, 2008 at 9:43 pm

McCain supporter Ashley Todd after supposed 'attack'Yesterday, news began to emerge that a worker on the McCain campaign had been the victim of an apparently brutal assault. As details became apparant, the facts simply didn’t stack up. Most importantly, the letter ‘B’ apparently carved into her face by the supposed Obama supporting black assailant was reversed, as if it had been done in a mirror. As this was emerging, John Moody, Executive Vice-President of Fox news, said:

If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.
(my emphasis)

The story began to gain widespread traction, especially after being broadcast on a McCain/Palin supporting site called Sarah’s Army (post now removed), it was then picked up by The Drudge Report (buggered if I can navigate that site to find the story) and investigated fully by sites such as Huffington Post and then into print media such as a slightly sceptical Telegraph.

Today, the campaign worker in question has admitted it was a fake story, bringing Mr Moody’s prediction into play. Given that both 538 and Electoral Vote are both predicting an Obama landslide, is this finally the moment when the Republican supporting media will finally admit McCain’s done for?

Will Ms Todd be used as a convenient scapegoat, will they blame McCain for being ‘too moderate’ or will the palpable anti-science incompetence of Sarah Palin be accepted?

Or will the Republicans, like the post ’97 Conservatives over here, be unable to understand the depths of their own failure and be condemned to decades of opposition as they refuse to understand the way modern America is truly rejecting their extremist positioning?

ETA: Morus has more at Political Betting along a similar line, asking Who will get the blame in the GOP?

Hypocrite Green asks for goodwill from those he sued

by MatGB     July 4, 2008 at 12:48 am

This brightens my day. Fundamentalist campaigner may have to declare bankruptcy as a result of the court case I covered last December. He has apparently asked us licence payers to cover the costs:

in the interests of goodwill and justice

Seriously. This petty little fundamentalist bigot who misused a long outdated law as part of his personal crusade against freedom of expression now wants to be let off the costs of the case in the name of “goodwill”.
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Kay Burley on Sky News—Incompetent, ignorant or just malicious?

by MatGB     February 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Imagine finding out that your husband that you’ve been living with for a few years is actually the serial killer that has been terrorising your town. You’re invited to appear on a supposedly reputable national news programme for an interview and to put your side of the story, only to find that the most significant question you face is this:

Do you think if you’d had a better sex life, he wouldn’t have done this?

In all seriousness, is that even a valid question to ask? Is it in any way relevant? Is Steve Wright excused for killing at least 5 women because his wife didn’t put out enough? As Jennie puts it:

I’ve lost count of the times I have objected to this infantilisation of men – that they can’t be held responsible for their own actions; it’s all the fault of their mother/lover/grandma/female school teacher/murder victim/whatever – on feminist grounds, but surely it’s wrong from a male point of view as well? Don’t men want to be grown ups? Do they actually want to be mothered and smothered into irrelevancy?

Can’t speak for the entirety of the gender, naturally, but this one sure as hell doesn’t. Both Iain Weaver and comedian Mitch Benn give more details on this loathsome excuse for an interviewer, and it has enraged Debi Linton so much that she has started a petition to sack Kay Burley from a position she is palpably unsuitable for.

I have no real belief that such a petition will be effective, and I’m equally uncertain about the efficacy of OfCom, but it can at least be used to highlight the issue. The comments on the Sky News website are gratifyingly negative about the interviewer and the question, so there may be a chance.

Your opinions: is there any justification for asking this question at all? Isn’t it about time the media grew up about sex and relationships and stopped trying to blame crimes on innocent bystanders?

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