Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “disenfranchised”

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,”

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” Mr Hislop told them.
BBC News Website 12 March 2015 : Hislop says private-state school gap widening (answering questions from Schoolchildren.)

I could accept this slogan if I had a vote that had any effect. But we have a problem in that most of us are in constituencies where our vote is not going to make the slightest difference. It’s a similar situation with the slogan,

People fought and died for the vote; you have an obligation to use yours.

I don’t buy this either – but mean no disrespect to those who fought for a wider suffrage. The problem is the fight is nowhere near finished.

So, what’s to be done – in general and in May 2015? Read more…

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By George (2), a Bradford Spring!

Another George is in the headlines and outside the marginals a parliamentary seat has changed hands. (Ref: George Galloway wins Bradford West by-election,). BBC News 30 Mar 2012).  Unfortunately I suspect it is a one-off, but underlying this result there may be a “crack in the dam”. Read more…

An Alternative Voting System

The Conservative – Liberal Coalition has promised a referendum on the introduction of the Alternative Vote (AV), yet:

  • The Conservatives will campaign against AV in the referendum
  • AV is not the reformed system that the Liberals want
  • AV will not bring about the change that most of those calling for reform want

Read more…

Electoral Maths and Legitimacy

Time to push the numbers around:

Total seats in Parliament, 650
less non participating:      6 (5 Sinn Fein & the Speaker)
Participating Seats        644
Votes required for an effective majority = 644/2 : 322+1

Conservatives Seats announced 305 (BBC 306 figure includes Speaker)
plus expected to win in         1 Thirsk by-election
Subtotal                      306
plus Ulster Cons & Unionists    0 - that was a great idea!
plus DUP                        8 - here's to the pork barrel
Total poss. Conservative Camp 314 - 19 Short

Possible Opposition
Labour                        258
Liberal                        57
SDLP                            3
Alliance party of NI            1
Sub total                     319 (representing 52% of the vote)
                                  - 4 short of a majority
Scottish Nationalists 6
Plaid Cyrmu           3
Total Nationalist               9
Green                           1
Maximum Total non-Tory camp   329

(Check 329+314=643 – this compares to 644 effective votes: the difference is an Independent (anti-Tory link) Unionist who I have not allocated to either Camp)

So clearly:

  • Conservative 306, trumps Labour 258, but …
  • Labour/Liberal (and associates)  319, trumps Conservative 306, even
  • Labour/Liberal (and associates)  319, trumps Conservative + DUP 314

It comes down to how you measure legitimacy.

Does “winning” with 36% of the vote give you a “better legitimacy” than second and third place with a combined 52% of the vote?

Or does a coalition representing 52% of the popular vote have more legitimacy than any other combination?

How much weight to you give to someone who has come first?  If you argue that 36% in a predominantly three way fight is OK, is 27% legitimate in a predominantly four way fight, and 23% in a five way fight?  The Scottish Nationalist minority administration in Scotland (a predominantly four-way fight) had ~32% popular support.  Of course in Scotland the 68% non-nationalist element could (if they got their act together) vote out the Scottish Nationalist administration – because they have an approximately proportional voting system – so they hold power with the tacit consent of the representatives of the people.

36% of the popular vote giving you 47% of the seats just does not feel legitimate.  It could land us in the grease.

The Aftermath

Well I have had at least six hours sleep, breakfast and a bit of exercise – which probably makes me more competent to pontificate than most of those on the television.

Random headlines: Read more…

Polling Station Chaos

So it seems we cannot manage an election.  Faulty Ballot Papers, Insufficient Ballot Papers, Insufficient Staff to Process People Queuing, Insufficient Capacity at Polling Stations to organise a Lock-In for all those still queuing at 10:00pm.

It’s being called a scandal that people have been denied a ballot paper.  True (and embarrassingly obvious), but minor compared to the majority of us (outside the marginals) who have been given worthless ballot papers which will have no effect on the result what-so-ever.

Drawing to a Conclusion

but what conclusions?

The confusion between electing a Parliament and a Government is rampant

We have seen a campaign by three prospective government leaders.  But outside the marginals we have not seen campaigns for membership of parliament.  This would not appear to be a Parliamentary Election. Read more…

Who chooses the Prime Minister?

David Cameron on Andrew Marr (2 May 2010) condemns Proportional Representation, saying:

It’s not the voter choosing the prime-minister

No David, it’s not – but neither is First Pass the Post (FPTP).  FPTP makes a few voters very important in electing the MPs in the marginals – and that determines which party has the lotto majority in the House of Commons.  The House of Commons then (by not voting down a government in a no confidence debate), selects the Prime Minister (the person “most able to command a majority”).

Proportional Representation makes a better job of choosing the House of Commons, and more of the voters matter.  Under STV around 80% of votes matter – in all constituencies. (see previous thread)

If Cameron really wants “the voters to elect the Prime Minister”, let him propose a Presidential System.  Unless he does that he is just being sanctimonious, two-faced, and self-interested (i.e. a politician) in his attitude to PR.

A “Contract” with the Parties

The Conservatives have published “A contract between the Conservative Party and you”.

We go into the general election on 6 May with trust in politics and politicians at an all-time low. And I can understand why: the years of broken promises, the expenses scandal, the feeling that politicians have become too remote from the people – they’ve all taken their toll.

That’s why I’m making this contract with you.

For too long, you’ve been lied to by politicians saying they can sort out all your problems. But it doesn’t work like that. Real change is not just about what the government does. Real change only comes when we understand that we are all in this together; that we all have a responsibility to help make our country better. This contract sets out my side of the bargain: the things I want to do to change Britain. But it also makes clear that I cannot do it on my own. We will only get our economy moving, mend our broken society and reform our rotten political system if we all get involved, take responsibility, and work together.

The analysis is not bad:

  • trust in politics and politicians at an all-time low
  • politicians have become too remote from the people
  • we all have a responsibility to help make our country better
  • mend our broken society
  • reform our rotten political system

The conclusions are a bit lacking.  If we have a responsibility to help make our country better, let’s make sure everyone’s vote counts – as voting, genuine voting, should be a fundamental responsibility.  But outside the marginals, we do not have genuine voting.  In my constituency:

  • If I vote Conservative, I get a Conservative
  • If I vote Labour, I get a Conservative
  • If I vote Liberal, I get a Conservative
  • If I don’t vote, I still get a Conservative

If fact I live in a modern day “rotten borough”.  This (and similar situations in most constituencies) contributes to politicians becoming “remote from the people”.  We don’t matter, and I doubt it will change until we can genuinely choose our representatives. The pledge to enable us to “get rid of politicians who are guilty of misconduct”, is not the same as being able to choose our representative in the first place.  I suppose I ought to thank the Conservative Selection Committee in my constituency for choosing my next MP, it saves us all the bother of voting (and keeps our new MP from actually having to get our support).  As long as he keeps in with the Selection Committee (and is not “guilty of misconduct”), he is in for as long as he wants.

We don’t trust politicians and until they have to ask us for our trust (and give us the option to refuse to give it), the situation will not change.

If Cameron wants to mend the broken society so that we are “all in it together”, perhaps he should extend his “manifesto invitation” to “join the government of Britain”, to those of us who are disenfranchised. He could do this by signing up and committing to genuine electoral reform.  Until then he is still peddling lies, and does not deserve our trust and will belong in a “different society” to the rest of us.

Our political system needs to change. Politicians must be made more accountable, and we must take power away from Westminster and put it in the hands of people

I could not put it better “Dave”, put power back in our hands by giving us a voting system that allows us to express genuine preferences between candidates.  That would be “line one” of my contract with you or any other Party.  You can play with the economy (and continue to lie to us about it), but until you fix the system to make you accountable to us any other promise (contractual or otherwise) is worthless.

Outside the Campaign

It looks as if we are only experiencing a portion of the election campaign.

The IFS, quoted on the BBC News Website Parties defend spending cut plans 28 April 2010 15:17 shows that none of the parties have come clean on the economy.

Parties' planned cuts and the spending gap

This would seem to me to say that each party has a massive hidden (or at best unspecified) manifesto, and without sight of it we cannot make a responsible choice as to what is best for the country.  So I guess that we will have to vote according to what seems best for our own pockets.

Just as well outside the marginals that our votes don’t count?  In the marginals I suspect the campaigning will be getting very parochial.

What a lousy system and what a mess will be left after the result; possibly a government without a mandate, a whole lot of unaffordable promises and a massive amount of previously concealed spending cuts and tax rises on the way.  Bound to raise confidence in the political system and the honesty of politicians.

But if a politician was honest enough to tell us the truth, what would happen?

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