As a result of their free membership offer, I joined the ERS in July, and received my ballot papers for their Council elections yesterday morning. Several people I know, including two old friends and a few new ones, are competing for my vote. So I need to think it through and prioritise people.

One of the candidates, Chris Carrigan, has written some notes on the elections on the Reform groups site, which was founded in large part by activists heavily involved in the Yes referendum campaign who were very disgruntled with central leadership. I, broadly, shared those worries and concerns, and will be giving those involved, broadly, fairly high preferences, although nowhere near the order Chris has outlined.

Partially because Andrew Hickey has raised some concerns having read through the full set of manifestos already and noticed things I didn't. As I've said in the comments there, I know in some cases his concerns aren't justified, but can't say that for all the candidates.

So, I still need to decide my full running order, but the early ones are fairly close to fixed in my mind.

1 - Thom Oliver )

2 - Paul Pettinger )

3 - Arnie Craven )

4 - Jessica Asato )

5 - Andy May )

Up to now, all those I've listed have been pro reform of the way the ERS works, although the top two aren't on the Reform slate. My sixth choice? Is the complete opposite of a reformer. He's someone who's talents and abilities I have so much respect for that even if we do disagree on the future of the society, I'd want him to be heavily involved and giving the benefits of his decades of experience. I refer, of course, to 6 - Michael Meadowcroft )

To be honest, due to my knowledge of how STV and vote transfers work, I'm not sure after the last three I'll have much left to transfer on to others as I suspect and hope the last three I list will definitely get elected due to name recognition. Consequently I'm open to suggestions for my remaining preferences, I plan to vote for at least 15 people (the size of the Council), but a small fraction of quota after Michael gets on is likely largely irrelevent. Worth paying some attention to though, as I may be completely wrong and misread the field.

I'm also open to persuasion/suggestion if you know anyone else on the candidates list personally or politically and feel I've unfairly overlooked them. I may simply go with the order from Chris's above list, but I'm not sure how confident I am about some of those he favours. For example, Amisha Ghadiali is [one of] the only [two] visibly BAME candidates, and she appears competent, however her statement both on the website and in the ballot pack is riddled with typing and spelling errors, in one case her actual meaning is unclear. While I'm notorious for typos and similar, if I'm submitting something important for campaigning purposes, I always get a competent proofreader, that's just basic.

To most of you, of course, this is all completely irrelevent, as membership of the ERS is an unusual thing to say the least. However of my personal friends, the proportion involved is higher than the general population, and I welcome feedback from anyone with any interest or knowledge.

ETA: It's been pointed out in comments that I overlooked Eric Syddique when I wrote that line, it's now amended.
I'm running out of popcorn, wonder how good the final deal will be? Anyway, for those worried that the Lib Dems might "sell out" or whatever, a brief guide to internal party democracy:
Liberal Conspiracy » Liberal Democrats: the clue is in the name

Not sure why so many reformers seem to think that the membership would let Clegg take his pieces of silver, he sure as hell knows he couldn't get away with it.

Note to any Tory inclined readers; your manifesto includes a desire to improve democracy, extend referenda on issues, etc. So what's wrong with the idea of asking the voters how they want to elect Parliament? If you think reform would be so bad, surely you can win the argument in a referendum? What are you scared of?

Anyway, normal service may or may not resume ar some point, but, y'know, most interesting part of an election is always the aftermath, and we might end up getting exactly what I joined the party to campaign for, so I'm talking about that.
Clegg has been offered a deal by the Conservatives, who have executed a massive u-turn on their pre-election "no coalition" position. Mathematically, this is the only coalition possible, the so called "Progressive Majority" coalition is non-starter in terms of votes in the House of Commons.

So Clegg has to decide what he wants to do, and then persuade the Lib Dem party that this is viable. Note, as a democratic party, there are strict rules on this. Details, and my strong opinion )
I'm completely, utterly, committed to reforming our political and electoral system. It's the reason I got involved in politics, the reason I rejoined the Lib Dems, and the reason I've become very active within it. My long-expired membership of the Lib Dems was renewed at a time when Labour were riding high in the polls and passing legislation I abhorred. The party is committed to genuine reform of the constitution, and official policy is to call for a citizen's convention, a policy passed (with my vote in the conference chamber) significantly after I a argued that Britain needs a constitutional convention. We need electoral reform, but many in the Tory backwoods instinctively oppose it.

Jennie argues, and I agree with her, that they shouldn't oppose it, and sets out how we could sell STV in multi member constituencies to tribal Tories. But a citizen's convention is almost certainly the best way to acheive this.

The country needs stable government. The only viable stable government possible is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition. It's either this or another election in 6 months time. While I, personally, don't object to more elections (apart from the exhaustion, I really enjoyed the last few weeks), and a fresh election would favour the LDs in a lot of seats they only just came 2nd in, I don't think that's a good thing for the country.

LDs do not hold the balance of power

The Lib Dems do not hold the balance of power. They don't get to choose between parties. They can only choose between forming a stable Govt with some reform, and an unstable Govt with another election soon. That's not a nice choice. And Clegg has to make it, and and it's possible that I might have to go to a conference and vote on that choice.

That's not a nice position to be in.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

Why vote?

Apr. 7th, 2010 02:13 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 not sure you want to vote, 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. 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.
A nice little mix of stuff in this lot, though the politics averse amongst you should be warned that with elections next week there's a fair bit on that, though not much of it is serious. Posted to both LJ and DW with comments open for technical reasons that I can't be arsed to fix, LJ version: Europe, books, maps and snails—MOAR linkspam
A nice little mix of stuff in this lot, though the politics averse amongst you should be warned that with elections next week there's a fair bit on that, though not much of it is serious. Also posted to DW with comments open, linkspams don't crosspost easily due to limitations at Delicious.
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 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:
  • The House of Commons is elected as a representative cross section of British interests and opinions
  • A Cabinet is formed representing the views of enough members of the House to command a majority
    • Appointments are made based on support within the house and talent
  • The Cabinet discusses all major aspects of policy and agrees major decisions
    • The Cabinet is bound by Collective Responsibility and do not disagree in public
    • Ministers that cannot agree to a decision at all should resign
    • If the Cabinet no longer commands the support of the House, then the government should fall
In order for this system of government to work correctly, ministers have to be able to have free, open and frank discussions within Cabinet. If after discussion is over they come to a decision that a minister personally dislikes, the minister chooses whether this is a resigning issue or not. Robin Cook chose to resign before the Iraq War started. Clare Short was given assurances by the PM and had those assurances broken, so resigned after the war.  That's the way it's supposed to work. That the Government didn't fall is not the fault of the Cabinet/Parliamentary system of government.

The problem lies not with the way this individual decision was made. The problem lies with the corrupted system that our Parliamentary democracy has become.  This is the way it actually works:
  • The House of Commons is elected using a gerrymandered system created in 1947 that encourages:
    • an unrepresentative House with a two-party duopoly
    • A predominance of white middle class men in suits
    • Safe seats allocated by party fiat in which the rebellious are penalised
    • Party loyalty over individual thinking
  • A Cabinet is formed by the party leader, made up mostly of his/her friends or political allies
    • Appointments are made based on presentational ability and sucking up
  • The Prime Minister makes most major decisions and reveals them to Cabinet
    • Groupthink is both likely and encouraged
    • Discussion and debate is discouraged
    • Ministers who disagree with the PM are aware that challenging is a threat to their career
    • Super majorities from one party mean the Majority is rarely threatened
If a precedent is set for Cabinet minutes to be revealed during a period in office, then full and frank discussion within Cabinet is threatened. That it currently doesn't happen enough is part of the problem. If we are to retain the good aspects of the British system of Goverment, we need to get rid of the corruption and the parts that aren't working. Not attack the chances of the bits that sometimes do from happening.

British politics has allowed, over the last 60 years, to become increasingly corrupt and partisan. This is a fault of the electoral system, and specifically the introduction of uniform single member constituencies and the abolition of alternative voting methods made by the Representation of the Peoples Act 1948. We need to remake and revitalise the Parliamentary system of government. For that to happen, we also need to examine how and why the Cabinet system works.

If it's decided that the Cabinet should have disagreements in public, that Collective Responsibility can be abolished, etc, then so be it. I can see arguments favouring that, especially in the new information age.

But to call for the abolishing of a fundamental feature of the British system, that has been working effectively for over 300 years, over a single, specific issue in which an abominable decision was made, is to throw out the baby with the rather murky bathwater.

Parliament voted for the Iraq war. The nation almost certainly opposed it. That is the real problem. In defending the principles of our democracy, for once in his life, Jack Straw is right.

And if you think I liked typing that last sentence you really don't know me.
So, El Gordo has chickened out and is 'treating people as fools', almost certainly as a result of this News of the World poll. He's attempted to defend the decision but I concur with the Observer, this has sparked a Crisis for Brown as election ruled out. All of this leads me to this YouTube vid by Will/[ profile] whoukmy friend Mr Pack[1]:
Scary analysis of it from the perspective of the Tories:
A poll to be published by Sunday's News of the World puts the Tories ahead by 6% in marginal seats, with the party overall at 44% against Labour's 38%.

Translated into a general election, it would mean a hung Parliament with Labour holding 306 seats and the Tories 246.
They'd win 6% more votes, but 60 less seats according to the analysis. Can we have STV now PLZKTHX. Oh wait, that sort of forward thinking is beyond the Stupid Party isn't it.

The real question I guess is has this damaged Brown more for the obvious reasons, or has he hurt the Cameron Project by forcing Davy to tack to the right and go for a core votes strategy?
Crossposted on my journal and to [ profile] ukpolitics here

[1] Message from Mark: Will's work, but I put it all down to the management, so amended accordingly
Reposted here mostly for my reference, there's a referendum in October in Ontario on electoral reform (which those that know me will be aware is my big red button issue), [ profile] grrliz wrote a post explaining why she's not in favour, it's 8 well argued points, and on some of them (the failings of MMS as a bloody stupid system) I agree. But on others I strongly disagree, so I replied, I' reposting it here for my later reference:
Bullet point rebuttal of a bullet point post )
Cut for the sanity of your friends page.
Bugger, forgot to change the 'posti to' bit, so this ended up in my journal as well (briefly); a bit on Electoral Reform, the spurious "no-platform" ideal and why last night is a good reason to change is written up here in [ profile] ukpolitics.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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