26 June 2009

Swing to the Left: Conservative Gain

Here are the results of an opinion poll for the forthcoming Norwich North by-election:

CON 34%(+1), LAB 30%(-15), LDEM 15%(-1), Green 14%(+11)

If accurate, it looks like the Conservatives will gain this seat from Labour.

But look at what has happened to the vote. Labour's support has dropped massively, and has mainly gone to the Greens. Now analysing political parties simply in terms of left-right is a crude measure, but nonetheless it is obvious from a quick glance at their policies that Greens are to the left of Labour. This poll represents a significant leftwards shift in attitudes in Norwich North.

So a shift to the left results in a gain for the right. Yet another flaw with first-past-the-post.

22 June 2009

Tory Tantrums

Congratulations to John Bercow on becoming the new Speaker of the House of Commons. Lets hope he is bold enough to push through the changes needed to Parliament to start the long process of restoring trust in democracy.

However it seems many in the Tory ranks are not happy. As Bercow was being dragged to his fancy new chair, their faces were like smacked backsides. He may be a Conservative MP, but Bercow is apparently not the right type of Conservative MP. Despite this lack of support from his own party, Bercow won a clear majority with a margin of 51 votes between him and his establishment rival Sir George Young, showing he has support from Labour and the Lib Dems.

The line is from the Tory aggrieved is that this is party political shenanigans by their rivals. By choosing the candidate that they didn't like, they were creating disunity in the House for the sake of one-upmanship.

The Tories are being pathetic.

If one was to write a formula for the ideal unifying candidate, it would be Bercow. He is from the opposition benches, but holds moderate political views, and seeks reform. That should be a big tick for the Conservatives, Labour, and the Lib Dems respectively. Yes, Bercow has glided away from his staunch right-wing days. Why does this create such bitterness amongst his supposed political allies? And then for these bitter Tory souls to expect everyone else to change their vote to appease their resentment - unreasonable to say the least.

The only people who would have been happy with the election of Bercow's rival is the Conservatives. The Eton-educated Sir George Samuel Knatchbull Young 6th Baronet had served as a Minister in the previous government, and actively talked down what he thought should be done in terms of reform in his address earlier in the day. Young was never going to attract significant support away from his Tory friends.

I await with baited breath to see what John Bercow does with his new position, and will reserve judgement upon him until the processes he initiates begin. I hope the Tories find some dignity and offer Bercow the same.

19 June 2009

The Financial Struggles of Nadine Dorries

Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, is, errr, highly popular across all sides of the political spectrum. On her blog today, she wrote (emphasis mine):
I have never claimed for furniture or gardening or petty cash or anything other than expenses incurred as part of my role as an MP. In fact, to date, I have spent almost £2000 of my own money this year entertaining constituents in the House of Commons. As a single mum with a number of dependents and responsibilities, that is money I have struggled to afford.

As a bleeding heart liberal, I have great sympathy and admiration for most single parents struggling to find the money needed to raise their kids. But my heart is failing to bleed for you, Nadine.

MPs are some of the best paid people in the country. Their incomes put them well within the top 10% earners in Britain. MPs earn about triple the average income. If you think you struggle, Nadine, please think about how single parents bringing in a third of what you earn cope.

In particular, think about this when you (inevitably, I fear) vote for tax cuts for the dead rich and married couples, when you could be voting for tax cuts for people on ordinary incomes instead.

12 June 2009

The Answer is Yes

The question is here. Please take a look.

How Democracy Works

First Past The Post is an awful system. Still, it could be worse...

11 June 2009

Enough Downfall Already!

According to the Telegraph, this hiiiilarious (sigh) video is a Youtube hit. At time of writing, Youtube reports the video has received 828 views. How is that a hit?

Adding subtitles to Downfall was funny the first time. I think the first iteration of this idea I saw referred to Hitler being removed from time-wasting online game iSketch, posted to b3ta links in September 2007 (now removed from Youtube due to copyright). It was funny then. Since then at least 30 versions have been created. It is no longer funny. Now, nearly 2 years on, this particular iteration of a tired idea is "news", according to the Telegraph.

How long before keyboard cat suffers the same fate?

5 June 2009

Conservatives Votes Won vs Seats Won

For now, this lists the results that have been easily provided on the council's website.

Staffordshire: 43% of the votes, 79% of the seats. Difference: 36%.
Lincolnshire: 47% of the vote, 78% of the seats. Difference: 31%
Oxfordshire: 43% of the vote, 70% of the seats. Difference: 27%.
Leicestershire: 44% of the vote, 67% of the seats. Difference: 23%.
Lancashire: 42% of the vote, 61% of the seats. Difference: 19%.
Hampshire: 48% of the vote, 65% of the seats. Difference: 17%.

David Cameron on Proportional Representation:
But it’s also why a Conservative government will not consider introducing proportional representation, as many participants in A New Politics have demanded. The principle underlying all the political reforms a Conservative government would make is the progressive principle of redistributing power and control from the powerful to the powerless. PR would actually move us in the opposite direction, which is why I’m so surprised it’s still on the wish-list of progressive reformers. Proportional representation takes power away from the man and woman in the street and hands it to the political elites. Instead of voters choosing their government on the basis of the manifestos put before them in an election, party managers would choose a government on the basis of secret backroom deals. How is that going to deliver transparency and trust?