Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Refutation/Debunk of yet another #No2AV Blogger... (grass roots labour)

Debunking of argument in original article at Grass Roots Labour

Arguments against AV put together by CLPD’s Secretary
Sunday, 19 December 2010

•    AV benefits the Lib Dems.  It has been estimated by the British election study team at Essex University that under AV the number of Lib Dem MPs would rise from 57 to 89, while the Tories would drop from 307 to 285 and labour from 258 to 248.
If you put tribal party issues above democracy then you may support this argument, but if you support democracy and think parties should be accountable then this is no argument at all. 

•    The only countries using AV are Australia, Fiji and the Pacific island of Nauru (The Papua New Guineans dropped it and the Fijians are having their doubts).
I have never been a fan of 'follow the crowd' just because it is a crowd (think lemmings) its the end of any progress at all - again maybe this argument suits tribal party supporters. However, of these examples only Australia is comparable - and they are doing pretty well on it.

•    AV makes coalition governments much more likely.  The Lib Dems will be the kingmakers – they are as likely to go with the Tories as with Labour.  “AV opens the door to a new political world in which coalitions become the norm, and single-party majority government a distant memory.  Defeat for AV could quickly end the Coalition Government.  But success would bind it together – for a long time to come” Vernon Bogdanor, Cameron’s tutor at Oxford.
This claim for more coalitions, quite simply, isn't supported by the evidence! Canada use FPFP and have had dozens of hung parliaments, Australia uses AV an has had even fewer than the UK.

•    AV does not take account of the second preferences of all voters, only those of the least successful candidates.  This was a point made about AV by Winston Churchill in 1931 – “The decision is to be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”.  In other words, an MP’s success could be determined by the preferences of UKIP or BNP voters.  This situation could therefore well lead to the major parties adjusting their policies, for example on immigration, in order to appeal to the prejudices of these voters in the hope of picking up their transferred preferences.
This could only have been written by a party tribalist - most people don't support one candidate 100% and support the others 0%. All candidates are a compromise - with good and bad points. Someone who votes BNP may well be a labour supporter who just wants stricter immigration controls. A supporter of any party may vote UKIP if they don't like being goverened from Brussels.

•    There are many more spoilt ballot papers under AV.
Is this just made up? If true, then you need to look at why they are spoilt before making any decision based on it... Its not against the law to spoil a ballot paper if you want to!

•    AV will not make politics more open and honourable.  After a general election we would see unseemly horse trading between parties, with manifesto promises and campaign commitments being jettisoned.
Again was this just made up? What is the evidence for this statement? The current UK coalition parties have acted as described here - but this is under FPTP! If anything this is an argument against FPTP...

•    AV may not produce a more proportional result than FPTP.  For example under AV in Alberta Canada, one party obtained 90% of the seats on 54% of the vote.
Like FPTP, AV isn't a proportional system, so it doesn't make sense to criticise it for not being proportional! - if proportional representation (PR) is important to you then it would be very simple to switch from AV to AV+ (which is a proportional version of AV) once AV is introduced.

•    AV has been described as an “anti-incumbent” system, which accelerates trends.
Yes and?

•    Under AV tactical voting becomes part of the electoral architecture.  AV encourages tactical voting in a structured and formalised way.
No. Tactical voting means voting for someone other than your favourite candidate to (hopefully) stop an even worse candidate getting in. Under AV you just vote honestly... nothing tactical about it... you will get the best candidate possible from your preferences. There is no 'tactical' voting under AV.

•    If you live in a constituency where Labour is in third place, your vote for Labour is totally disregarded and has no effect concerning Labour.  It becomes a full-value vote for the Lib Dems if you transfer to them.
How is this a bad thing? If your first choice can't win then you still get a choice of which of the others wins without tactical voting! Vote Labour (even if they have no chance), show your support save their deposit! Then give your next preference to the candidates in the order you prefer them.

•    It is possible for a more weakly preferred candidate to end up winning.  AV would quite often produce Lib Dem victories in constituencies that are either primarily Labour or primarily Tory.
I don't know what 'weakly preferred' means here. To win under AV you need 50% of the votes - how is that 'weakly preferred' ?

•    “AV led to a significant drop in the number of people voting in Australia – that’s why they had to make voting compulsory.  AV doesn’t help democracy, it stands in its way”.  Margaret Beckett.
Sorry, but this was just a lie - voting in Australia was declining before AV was introduced, AV actually gave it a bit of a boost.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Yet Another simple example of AV beating FPTP - so say #Yes2AV

Imagine for a moment an election with two candidates - for the sake of argument one labour one conservative.

The election gives a result of 60% to labour, 40% to conservative - so the voters get a labour MP.

Now imagine again, but this time at the last moment another candidate comes forwards - a LibDem. This (for the sake of argument) splits the previous labour vote, but doesn't change the conservative vote.

The result this time is 25% libdem, 35% labour, 40% conservative - so the voters get a conservative MP.

See what happened? An extra candidate ran, they didn't win, but they changed the result !

Some people claim FPTP is fair because the person with the most votes wins - but this example shows that just isn't so... AV demands  the winning candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. A candidate who only has 40% support could never be elected, regardless of how much the voters are initially split between the other candidates.

So say #Yes2AV !

(ps. Feel free to swap the party names around - this isn't a party political point, it is a voter/representation/democracy point)

Refutation/Debunk of another #No2AV Blogger...

Saw some yes to av arguments at at by twitter user @KerriiPrince, no comments allowed there, so debunked it here..

I like First Past The Post. I believe that the most votes should win. In most competitions around the world, the most votes wins. It’s surely common sense. It means you have the greatest support. If someone has put you second place, they clearly don’t want you to win that strongly.

It is quite possible that the winner under FPTP would lose a head to head with the 2nd or even 3rd placed candidate... This particularly benefits extremest who don't have much support, but do have very specific support. i.e. The BNP could win an election where 35% of voters are racist, but 65% are anti-racist. All it takes is the anti-racist vote to be split between two or three other parties.
(see my earlier blog really-simple-one-of-ways-av-is-better)

If we vote No2AV, we can say that it wasn’t enough. Okay, to some it will look like pro-FPTP, but those people are idiots. You can’t just assume that. In AV did pass, one would naturally assume we want AV. You can’t ASSUME that we voted yes in demand for further change. That isn’t on the ballot paper.

An idiot? Only in your opinion, I can live with that. The choice offered is FPTP or AV - yes to one is de-facto no to the other... How you interpret that is up to you.

It is a strict decision between FPTP and AV. FPTP means most votes win. Okay, someone can win with 35% of the vote, but they have the most strongest support, rather than with AV when a candidate can win on 4th preference votes. Not exactly strong support, is it?

This was your first point which I have already answered. There is no sense or logic in a particular candidate winning with less than 50% of the vote *just* because the other votes were split between a number of preferable candidates... All of whom lose...

Look at how much it would cost to change the voting system. Why would they then change it AGAIN? They wouldn’t.

'They'? its our money - the government have no money other then ours, if 'they' don't spend it as we want then it just shows that our democracy is not working as it should.

But in any case, voting under AV need be no different to voting under AV+ (a form of PR) - the only difference is the way the votes are counted - so none of the money spent on switching to AV would be wasted, it would be the 'first instalment' towards PR (if that is what people subsequently wanted).

Forget assumptions and biased views, but actually read the question. “Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the ‘alternative vote’ system instead of the current ‘first past the post’ system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?” You have a choice between AV and FPTP. Nothing else. AV is, as NICK CLEGG described, “a miserable little compromise” - it isn’t fair. And most of you know that deep down, but you feel that you should vote yes as it is your only hope of getting further reform. It isn’t, it really isn’t. And the Yes2AV campaign should stop using scare tactics to win in May.

Like most politicians, Nick Clegg has said a lot of rubbish - but that doesn't mean every thing he says is automatically wrong (or right). Don't let a politicians support (or not) influence you - the choice is simple and both systems are simple enough for anyone to understand (if they want to) so everyone can make their own choice based on the facts/arguments.

No need to 'look deep down' and 'see what you feel' - just read the facts, compare the systems and make your choice.

I will be voting ‘No’ to changing the voting system in May. I hope you will too.

Its your choice - but a No vote will be bad for the country and a disservice to future voters.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Another simple example of AV beating FPTP - so say #Yes2AV

As I spend more time Looking at FPTP and AV and having discussions and debates the issues get clearer and clearer and arguments get more and more refined. The latest simple argument to come to the surface is as follows.

The winner of an election held under FPTP could quite possibly have lost a head to head election against the person who came second (and/or even the candidate who came third!). So in a straight choice, the winner under FPTP may well *not* the most popular of the top candidates.

This is why AV insists that a candidate must have more than 50% of the counted votes - once the weaker candidates are knocked out, the candidate who is elected clearly *is* more popular than their close rivals. With more than 50% voting for them, they are the majority candidate.

There are some people who like the idea of minority parties being able to 'steal' elections in this way, (because votes against them are split between many other parties), it may even make parliament more proportional - but I certainly don't think this is the way to fix other broken parts of our political system. AV will repair our broken elections, next we can repair our broken parliament.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Rights and Responsibilities - The devils tax on your soul.

The words 'Rights' and 'Responsibilities' are often heard together.

However, if you think about when you have heard them together and think of who was doing the saying, you will almost certainly find it was someone emphasising 'responsibility' rather than 'rights'.

This is because it is a complete fiction that rights come with any responsibilities.

Rights are absolute - if something is not absolute then it is not a right at all, it is a contract for service/reward. And as contracts can be declined by either party, there is nothing to base any reliance on.

The 'rights carry responsibilities' line is deceiptful in several ways. As well as attempting to trick you into thinking your rights are in some way negotiable or come at a price set by another, it also attempts to rob you of any credit for any responsibility that you do volantarily choose to accept for any reason.

Noone is obliged to anyone else 'by right' - every act, however small, that you make to help another is yours, given freely, and you deserve 100% of the credit.

When those with power say 'rights carry responsibilities' they are seeking to tax your good will, your soul, your humanity. They are seeking to get a return for themselves for something that is already yours (a right), that must be allowed to freely exercise.

Humanity is not the responsbility of the government. Humanity used to be in the remit of the church (as a moral code - whether or not you beleive in deieties), but as the church long since sold its moral soul for 30 peices of political silver it has thouroughly vacated that position.

Right are your own, don't let the state fool you into paying tax on them in the form of an artificially imposed moral duty. And take full credit for any act of kindness towards others, it is yours to give as only you see fit.

Friday, 10 December 2010

LibDem Renegers - How they can be punished with #Yes2AV

(but only if that's what their voters really want)

Assuming Lib Dems get no 2nd or later preferences and no increase in vote, then any below 50% will be out at the next election under AV - and it wouldn't take much for those over 50% to come down a bit.

Lib Dems who voted FOR tuition fees changes

NameConstituency2010 %age of Vote
Gordon BirtwistleBurnley35.7%
David WardBradford East33.7%
Malcolm BruceGordon36.0%
Jo SwinsonEast Dunbartonshire38.7%
John HemmingBirmingham Yardley39.6%
Danny AlexanderInverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey40.7%
Stephen GilbertSt Austell and Newquay42.7%
Sarah TeatherBrent Central44.2%
Paul BurstowSutton and Cheam45.7%
Duncan HamesChippenham45.8%
Lynne FeatherstoneHornsey and Wood Green46.5%
Nick HarveyNorth Devon47.4%
Michael MooreBerwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk45.4%
David HeathSomerton and Frome47.5%
Tom BrakeCarshalton and Wallington48.3%
Andrew StunellHazel Grove48.8%
Jeremy BrowneTaunton Deane49.1%
Edward DaveyKingston and Surbiton49.8%
Sir Alan BeithBerwick-upon-Tweed43.7%
Steve WebbThornbury and Yate51.9%
Norman BakerLewes52.0%
Nick CleggSheffield Hallam53.4%
Vincent CableTwickenham54.4%
Norman LambNorfolk North55.5%
David LawsYeovil55.7%
Don FosterBath56.6%
Alistair CarmichaelOrkney and Shetland62.0%

Lib Dems who ABSTAINED on tuition fees changes

Sir Robert SmithWest Aberdeenshire and Kincardine38.4%
John ThursoCaithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross41.4%
Lorely BurtSolihull42.9%
Tessa MuntWells44.0%
Chris Huhne(at climate summit)Eastleigh46.5%
Stephen WilliamsBristol West48.0%
Martin Horwood(at climate summit)Cheltenham50.5%
Simon HughesCheltenham50.5%

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Why should someone's 2nd or 3rd preference count the same as someone else's 1st?

This is a question that keeps coming up.

Under FPTP everyone makes a single mark on the ballot and every vote counts the same. So when people think about AV allowing a number of preferences, and the final result being based on some 1st preferences, some 2nd and maybe some 3rd or even 4th, they question why a persons later preference should count the same as someone elses 1st preference.

The answer  to this is quite simple - if a persons 2nd preference is being counted it is because their original 1st prefence has been knocked out. Their original 2nd preference is their 1st preference of the remaining candidates!

So when it comes to the count, you count the 1st preference among the remaining candidates.

To extend this, to make it clearer still, even under FPTP are your 'ideal' candidates even on the ballot? If no then the person you vote for is not your real first preference - just like AV you can only vote for the 'best of who is available'.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

BBC - Last throws of a failing empire?

I have been surprised by BBC Radio 4 twice recently.

BBC were sycophantic to labour in government - it is only through favours delivered to government that they could preserve their existance as a publicly financed private company with tax raising powers.

Before Labour, with a Conservative government, the BBC were equally left wing in outlook but at that time the BBC had a place in popular imagination that was unassailable - 'where would we be with out the BBC?', just like the NHS, people had been fooled into believing that it was the envy of the world and the UK had 'the best in the world'.

However, once the BBCs virtual monopoly on broadcasting (particularly Television) was broken (initially by Sky) and with the collapse of BSB (British Satellite Broadcasting, the deeply flawed public sector satellite TV project, now taken over by by Sky, hence the current name 'BSky B') people realised that they owed the BBC nothing, the BBC was nothing special - and the BBC had been milking the public for years.

In light of this collapse of public support for the BBC and its need to re-ingratiate with the public to maintain government support for its tax raising powers, maybe I shouldn't have been surprised by what I heard - but I was.

The first surprise was during a broadcast discussion about health - particularly regarding recently released research on the regular taking of aspirin and how it reduces the risk of death from various cancers.

We heard the usual nannying, interfering (at out expense), busy bodies with an eye to generating future work for themselves speak of how the public should consult with them (and their GPs) etc before doing anything at all. Citing various obscure, small groups of people who may have adverse reactions - effectively risking most peoples health to reduce risk for the few...

Then, the surprise, a libertarian! who said that individuals are perfectly capable of making decisions for themselves, and deciding for themselves whether they want or need any additional advice. I could hardly beleive my ears... The BBC giving air time to a non-collective, non-socialist, free-will supporting individual - wow!

The other surprise by the BBC was also on a health issue and the use of 'nudging' individuals to improve their health by changing their lifestyles.

The usual BBC promoted guff poured forth about improving public health by cutting smoking, drinking, fatty foods etc.

But then, again, in chimed a libertarian! who pointed out that these issues are not public health issues, they are personal health issues, individual lifestyle choices - choices for individuals to make, not for the state to interfere with.

When the health nannying interviewee went on to talk about how the state needs to counter the huge advertising budgets and drives that these 'risky' products benefit from, the libertarian pointed out the stupidity of the state actively trying to undermine honest, legal advertising by a private company by trying to match it pound for pound at our involuntary expense by producing yet more advertising to counter it.

Wow - again... The BBC are clearly rattled, they know they need to change.

Of course, this doesn't change my view that the BBC should be disbanded as a public sector organisation. Its entire hierarchy are the *wrong people* they cannot be trusted to run the organisation - trying to wheedle their way into the good books of their detractors is not going to work, we know the BBC cannot be trusted and that any improvement in their apparent independence will only last as long as it is in the personal interests of those in charge. I demand the right to vote with my wallet. As long as there the BBC retain their virtual monopoly they destroy the market for competitors, leaving us without choice.

Monday, 6 December 2010

More bogus claims against AV... (debunked)

1. AV IS OBSCURE: Only three countries in the world use AV for their national elections: Fiji, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.

AV is well known and understood... so what definition of obscure is being use here?  Is the Eiffel tower 'obscure' because there is only one of it? Is Big Ben 'obscure' because there is only one of it? Are the Egyptian pyramids obscure because they only exist in Egypt and are relatively few in number?

2. AV IS UNFAIR: Supporters of fringe parties can end up having their vote counted five or six times – and potentially decide the outcome of the election – while people who backed the mainstream candidates only get one vote.

Just plain untrue - in each round of voting every valid vote is counted - if there are five rounds, then every vote will have been counted 5 times. Everyones' vote is counted the same number of times, counting towards the highest marked preference that is still in the race.

3. AV IS UNEQUAL: AV treats someone’s fifth or sixth choice as having the same importance as someone’s else’s first preference – but there is a big difference between positively wanting one candidate to win and being able to ‘put up with’ another.

In every round of counting everyones first/top preference from the remaining candidates is counted - and all count the same. In each round of counting its one voter, one vote.

4. AV IS ‘EVEN LESS PROPORTIONAL’ THAN THE CURRENT SYSTEM: So concluded the independent Royal Commission chaired by the senior Liberal Democrat Roy Jenkins in 1998

Carefully and misleadingly edited quote there missing out the qualification "and in some circumstances ... it is even less proportional". Meaning, of course in other circumstances it can be even more proportional! But as neither FPTP nor AV claim to create proportional governments the whole line of argument is rather moot.

5. AV IS ‘DISTURBINGLY UNPREDICTABLE’ – another warning from Roy Jenkins. Elections fought under AV would either wildly increase the majority of the winning party (e.g. Labour in 1997, the Tories in the 1980s) or create hung parliaments by giving the balance of power to the third party.

This interpretation of Jenkins comment is entirely the authors own. In the report the statement is unsupported. But, as already covered 'proportionality' of any government produced by of any non-proportional system (FPTP or AV) is moot. And the fact that AV in Australia has produced fewer hung parliaments than FPTP has in the UK maybe renders 'predicatability' irrelevant as we can actually rely on experience.

6. AV IS NOT WANTED – EVEN BY THE YES CAMPAIGN: Before the general election, Nick Clegg described AV as "a miserable little compromise" and the Electoral Reform Society said they did "not regard it as suitable for the election of a representative body, e.g. a parliament".

Not wanted? I want it, and so do many people I have spoken to. But, in any case, this is what the referendum is to decide! The referendum is happening the only reason to attempt to pre-judge it in this way petty politicking.

7. AV IS NO-ONE’S FIRST CHOICE: AV was not in the manifestos of either the Conservative Party or the Liberal Democrats. Many people who want voting reform have spent years campaigning for proportional representation – which AV is not.

It is my first choice for electing MPs... I can't speak for people I haven't spoken to, but 'first choice' is irrelevant, the choice we are being offered is FPTP vs AV. The referendum is on which is better not whether one or the other is perfect.

8. AV IS COMPLEX: The Government will have to spend millions of pounds explaining to voters how AV
works to prevent a fall in turnout at elections. In Australia, the only reason they have high turnout is because they made voting compulsory.

Complex? What is this claim based on? In Australia turnouts were falling before AV was introduced and actually increased slightly following the introduction of AV - voting was made mandatory *after* this. A good proportion of the people I have met who are in favour of AV don't vote under FPTP because they consider it ineffective and a waste of time - if this is typical then we can expect turnout to increase significantly if AV is introduced, as people feel their vote is no longer 'wasted'.

9. AV IS EXPENSIVE: Under AV we won’t be able to count ballot papers by hand on election night if we want a quick, decisive election result. Local councils will have to purchase electronic counting machines that are very expensive and prone to malfunction.

Again - what is this claim based on? Many results will require only one count as at present, and if there are later rounds there is no reason that they should take long as only the votes for the *least popular* candidate need to be re-allocated.

10. AV IS NOT THE REFORM WE NEED: There are lots of genuine reforms which would go some way to restoring people’s trust in politics – but changing our voting system to AV is not one of them. That’s why it’s a shame that we’re about to spend £90 million and five months debating a system that nobody really wants.

Well the answer to this is just 'tough' - its what we are being offered. FPTP vs AV. If our MPs as elected under FPTP were good at representing the public will then maybe there would be other reforms on offer -- but FPTP is self-evidently a huge break on reform, another good reason to drop it.

(Original article/blog at didn't allow comments - hence me posting here)

New intake MPs supporting #No2AV

These new bods have joined the previously announced dinosaurs in supporting FPTP as preferable to AV.

Its is worth remembering that these MPs won under FPTP, but under AV a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to win - so many (if not all) would have gone to further rounds of counting - and it could well be that a different candidate was more popular than them.

I say 'if not all' because even those with more than 50% may have benefited from 'tactical voting' where they got votes from people who didn't really support them but wanted to help make sure that a different candidate didn't win - so had the vote been under AV where people can honestly state their real preferences even those results could have been different (if it more accurately representing the views of the voters).

NamePartyConstituency% of votes
Chris WilliamsonLabDerby North33.0%
Gavin ShukerLabLuton South34.9%
Guto BebbConAberconwy35.8%
George EusticeConCamborne and Redruth37.6%
Stuart AndrewConPudsey38.0%
Julie HillingLabBolton West38.5%
Tristram HuntLabStoke-on-Trent Central38.7%
Toby PerkinsLabChesterfield39.0%
Jake BerryConRossendale and Darwen41.8%
Karen LumleyConRedditch43.5%
Julie ElliottLabSunderland Central45.9%
Thomas DochertyLabDunfermline & West Fife46.3%
Kwasi KwartengConSpelthorne47.1%
Yvonne FovargueLabMakerfield47.3%
Karl TurnerLabKingston upon Hull East47.9%
Zac GoldsmithConRichmond Park & North Kingston49.7%
Nick BolesConGrantham and Stamford50.3%
Michael McCannLabEast Kilbride Strathaven & Lesmahagow51.5%
Priti PatelConWitham52.2%
Dominic RaabConEsher and Walton58.9%

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Really simple - one of the ways AV is better than FPTP.

Meat eaters read  this:

Under FPTP - if 79% of people in a group want burgers for dinner but evenly split between McDonalds, Burger King, Wimpy, Wendys, whereas 21% want a veggie Mung Bean Salad - then if every one votes for what they most want then every one ends up with nasty salad instead of tasty beef in a bun !! The Veggie option getting more votes than any other single option - but still on 21% of the votes.

Under AV - everyone would have ranked their choice of dinner - burger eaters probably putting the Bean Salad last (if ranking it at all). The first rounds of counting under AV would probably drop one or two of the burger joints, those voters having their vote moved to their next choice. Eventually the most popular burger joint would be selected (with over 50% of the counted votes).

Yes the vegetarian 21% would be disappointed, but if the option is 79% being disappointed - so be it.

Veggies read this:

Under FPTP - if 79% of people in a group want veggie food for dinner in Brighton but were evenly split between wanting to eat at FoodForFriends, TerreATerre, BombayAloo, WaiKikaMooKau, so the 21% who want Veal and Foie gras get to choose for everyone.

Under AV - everyone would have ranked their choice of dinner - vegetarians probably putting the Veal and Foie gras last (if ranking it at all). The first rounds of counting under AV would probably drop one or two of the veggie diners, those voters having their vote moved to their next choice. Eventually the most popular veggie joint would be selected (with over 50% of the counted votes).

Yes the carnivorous 21% maybe disappointed, but if the option is 79% being disappointed - so be it.

Everyone read this:

People who want their own way even if it means the majority are disappointed will prefer FPTP - as they can potentially win by persuading only 21% of people to agree with them. 79% will be disappointed, but what do they care if they have got their own way?

People who want their own way even if it means the majority are disappointed will prefer FPTP - as they can lean on others to vote 'tactically' the way they want them to, with threats of the most 'unwanted' option winning if they don't.

Party fanatics actively support FPTP (whether overtly or just by saying no to AV).

The rest of us, voters, will benefit from AV, parties will not.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Chief Polices Officers Contempt and Insubordination towards Theresa May

Theresa May and the Police are back in the headlines as the new government delivers on a promise for 'Elected Police Commissioners'.

However, it is worth looking back at the very first major announcement that Theresa May made regarding the police and how that has panned out.

29th June 2010 Theresa May addressed ACPO (the association of chief police officers - a private company that directly controls policing within the UK) she told those present that the wasteful, box ticking 'policing pledge' and 'confidence target' were scrapped with immediate effect.

This was also covered (with some joy) on this site:

However when we come to look at what these unaccountable Chief Police Officers have actually done following this direct instruction from the senior, accountable member of government to whom they should be obedient, I am afraid it is not good...

Chief Police Officers seem to have entirely ignored this instruction - they are known to be very left wing, and strongly supported the previous 'NuLabour' government and were enthusiastic in adopting their wasteful box-ticking exercises - but insubordination?

I contacted my local police force using a freedom of information request on 17th July 2010 asking what impact this scrapping had had on them.

They failed to reply (as required by law) and following an internal review I eventually received a reply on the 26th of August 2010 - confirming that the scrapping of the police pledge and confidence target had made absolutely no difference to Sussex police whatsoever!

I then made another request on 28th August 2010 regarding the continence of these scrapped targets
asking for copies of correspondence, minutes etc of any meetings/discussions that had occurred internally.

Following another unsatisfactory response, on 2nd October I requested an internal review of this request also. Now the 30th November I finally got a response to this, which found information not originally disclosed.

However, apart from a single circulated memo, Sussex Police seem to be claiming that no discussion or consideration was given to Theresa Mays scrapping of these targets - and there is nothing to support the reponse that they gave to my initial request!

Elected Police Chiefs - yes please, and they need to be uncontaminated by previous contact/responsibility for existing Chief Police Officers - we need people who can kick ass and stop our Chief Police Officers (and their disgusting commercial money spinner 'ACPO') showing such contempt for the people of this country and our elected representatives.

Amazon drop Wikileaks - I drop Amazon.

Christmas is coming, Amazon could well expect to be looking forward to a bumper month - but I won't be helping them...

I have just sent Amazon the following message using their 'contact us' form (
Following your withdrawal of services from Wikileaks, I will not be making any purchases through Amazon until further notice.
I will also not be doing business with any companies that use amazon webservices for their sites, and I will ensure these companies know why I am not using them (amazons contempt for the general public).
Amazon have built a business on the back of simple and rapid communication made available by the internet - for Amazon to seek to limit that benefit to others is disgraceful.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Real Reason the Conservatives are Scared of AV (secretly terrified) ?

The Conservative party is well noted for having two wings.

There is a paternalistic, aristocratic wing that holds sway at the top of the party (Cameron, Osborne, IDS, the Tory Lords etc), and there is a dynamic small-state, free-enterprise, and generally more libertarian wing (characterised by the likes of Douglas Carswell, John Redwood). It is notable that William Hague started way over to the libertarian side, but has shifted over time so is now solidly on the other wing of the party with the grandees.

These groups have been forced together because under FPTP a split between them would result in Labour holding power for ever more - the Conservative party is already a coalition of disparate forces, the current coalition government is just a widening of that compromise.

However as the conservative compromise is extended on the left (towards the LibDems) it is straining heavily on the right - the small-state, free-market, EU-Sceptics are being marginalised more and more and are getting less and less comfortable with it.

However, under AV, voting is not so crude as to allow vote splitting to 'let in' an unwanted party/candidate. Under AV it would be perfectly possible for the conservative party to split into its two natural constituents, allowing voters to prioritise paternalism against liberty without the risk of 'letting in' a far more left wing alternative candidate.

AV will free the Conservative party to split with out damaging the right of centre political postion - this will be good for voters (who will have a finer grained choice of candidates to prefer), but will be bad for the current Conservative party grandees, and hierarchy - who put their loyalty to an arbitrary organisation above freedom and democracy in the UK.

AV will destroy the Conservative Party, but completely renew a more powerful right of centre movement in the UK. Bad for the party but good for the principles it claims to support.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Standard #No2AV lies about AV debunked.

"AV allows supporters of smaller parties to have more votes"
(recently repeated by David Blunkett)
AV has multiple rounds of voting and all valid votes are counted in every round. If your most preferred candidate is still in the running then your vote for them will be counted, if your most preferred candidate has been knocked out then your highest preference who is still in is counted instead.

"Fiji abandoning AV shows that it is not a good system"
(recently repeated by Margret Beckett)
Fiji was subject to a military coup. The military government have abandoned all elections, it isn't AV that they had a problem with it was democracy!

"AV will result in permanent coalition government"
The last 28 Australian elections (under AV) have delivered 2 hung parliaments, the last 28 UK elections under FPTP have delivered 3 hung parliaments. So not only has AV not resulted in permanent coalition, it has actually resulted in fewer coalitions in Australia then FPTP has over here!

"AV will cement the existing parties in power forever"
No one can present a worked example of how this is supposed to happen! If I see an example I'll update this entry - but this claim seems to have been plucked entirely out of thin air.

I intend to add to this list over time, so it may be edited over time.

AV vs FPTP - which will deliver the best MP for YOU ?

Surely the answer to this question is the one that really matters?

1) FPTP (First Past The Post)
- You decide which candidate (or party) you like most and you vote for them by putting an X against them.
- You decide the most important thing is to keep a particular candidate (or party) out, so you decide who is most likely to be able to beat them and you vote for that candidate (or party) by putting an X against them (this is known as 'tactical voting').

Your job is done, the count is then done (you don't see this bit):
- The votes for each candidate are added up.
- The candidate with the most votes wins.

The result is announced:
The  candidate you voted for may have won and now be your MP or they may not have won and your MP will be whoever most other people voted for.

2) AV (Alternative Vote)
- You rank the acceptible candidates in the order you prefer them.

Your job is done, the count is then done (you don't see this bit):
- Votes (1st preferences) are counted.
- If any candidate gets more than half of the votes then they win.
- If no candidate gets more half the votes then the least popular candidate drops out and the votes are recounted. Anyone who voted for a candidate who has been knocked out has their next preference counted instead.
- If there is still no candidate with more than half the votes then this is repeated (drop out and recount) until there is!

The result is announced:
Your MP will be who ever you gave highest preference to and was not knocked out as the 'least popular' during the count.


I think it is apparent that under FPTP you will either get the MP you voted for. Or you will get one of the other candidates but you will have had no influence over which other one it is.

Also, under FPTP one in five people (20%) don't vote for the candidate they like most, they vote tactically to try to keep another candidate out - so even if their vote does help the winner, it isn't who they really wanted anyway.

Under AV your multiple preferences will have been taken into account - so even if more preferred candidates are knocked out (as least popular overall) you will still have had a say in which of the others eventually does become your MP. And that MP will have received over 50% of the votes counted, so will have most voters support.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Only say no to AV if you want FPTP for evermore.

This is about the May 2011 UK voting reform referendum. FPTP (first past the post) vs AV (alternative vote). Arguing that a vote for FPTP is a dead end, while a vote for AV is an end in itself and the only path to any future change too (skip to the end for the meat).

I haven't blogged that much on the electoral reform referendum, I've mainly been debating it on twitter (@pperrin). There are plenty of blogs putting great arguments in favour of AV (mind you, I have yet to see a case for FPTP that stands up to any scrutiny at all - I am genuinely surprised that there is nothing in its favour!). I don't see that much point in repeating exactly the same stuff. However I do seem to be coming up with a number of unique benefits that no one else has considered yet and this is one of them...

I was never particularly adverse to FPTP but after investigation I have came to like AV and consider it far better than FPTP. Over the past few months as I have considered it more and more and argued the case with others, I have discovered new angles and found opportunities and benefits that it will give the UK and UK voters and have come to like AV more and more and FPTP less and less.

This aimed at article is aimed at those who don't like FPTP or AV - and explains why I think they should say yes to AV as the most likely way of getting further reform.

Here we go...

Scenario 1:

So you are really #No2AV and #No2FPTP (maybe #Yes2STV or #Yes2AVPlus) what happens if the next general election is fought under FPTP?

This is simple to answer, it is what has happened at every election since FPTP was ever used. There is a tiny chance of a hung parliament with a pro-reform party holding the balance of power and calling for reform and a massive chance of either Labour or The Conservatives a party getting an overall majority and nothing happening on reform ever again...

Scenario 2:

So you are really #No2AV and #No2FPTP (maybe #Yes2STV or #Yes2AVPlus) what happens if the next general election is fought under AV?

Possible national totals for 1st preferences and number of seats in parliament
Party1st Prefs (% of total)Seats (total 600)
Lib Dem20%50
or (if you prefer)
Party1st Prefs (% of total)Seats (total 600)
Lib Dem20%50

AV will have delivered individual MPs that most constituents can support, but we will (most likely) have a single party majority government that less than one third of the peoples unreservedly support - people will not find this acceptible.


The illegitimacy of our governments (as set out above), an illegitimacy that FPTP hides, will be laid bare. This is not a 'fault' of the voting system, AV will just make plane what has been true all along.

If anything can lead to further reform, it will be this result at the next election following a resounding #Yes2AV win...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Voting Reform - AV ends safe seats for unpopular MPs.

Under FPTP bad and unpopular MPs can often be impossible to remove. This can occur when the bad MP represents a party who have overwhelming support in their constituency.

Despite voters not liking or wanting the MP, under FPTP the voters feel obliged to vote for the MP otherwise an unwanted party may win the seat!

You may think well why not put up another candidate that supports the same party as the sitting MP? Effectively two candidates for the same party, the unpopular sitting MP and a new untainted candidate?

Well under FPTP this just wouldn't work -- it risks splitting the parties votes between the two candidates this could (again) mean that an unwanted party winning the seat.

However, under AV, this would work just fine... Voters could give preferences to both candidates -- knowing that if one is knocked their vote will transfer to the other - they can choose which candidate of the two they prefer with no risk of their vote 'letting in' a different party.


Some people have said that they think this an unlikely scenario (unofficial/independent party candidates running against official party candidates), but it has been observed that this is what happened when Ken Livingstone failed to be selected as Labour candidate for London Mayor in 2000, and Frank Dobson won their nomination. Ken (for better or worse!) ran against him was expelled from the Labour party but went on to beat Frank and won the office of Mayor. While 'independent' and as Mayor Ken applied to rejoin the labour party in 2002 finally being readmitted in 2004 and going on to be the official Labour candidate that year.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Brighton and Hove MPs reject call for EU budget cuts as tuition fees go through the roof

At a time when national governments are making cuts of up to 25% to 40% on budgets, is it too much to ask the EU to make cuts to its budget too?

Well I wouldn't have thought so, but the EU are demanding an inflation busting 6% increase! Our (UK) contribution will aparantly go up by enough to cover student tuition fees twice over!

This was being voted on in parliament last Wednesday (13th) A brave MP did put an amendment calling for the budget to be cut, but this was defeated by a massive 252 to 42.

Mike Weatherly MP (Con - Hove) voted against a reduction as did Simon Kirby MP (Con - Brighton Kemptown) while Caroline Lucas (Green - Brighton Pavilion) did not vote at all.

The people of Brighton, Hove and Portslade should be asking serious questions of the MPs they elected to protect their interests.

The rest of Europe is not happy:

So why are the supposedly EU-Sceptic Conservatives being so compliant?

Roger Helmer MEP (Con) seems to be realising the truth about the party he is a member of:

Friday, 8 October 2010

Will a Yes or No vote on AV make a PR referendum more or less likely? Answer from the horses mouth!

A lot of people who support PR (proportional representation) are unhappy with the proposed AV (alternative vote) referendum.

AV is no more proportional than FPTP (first past the post), in fact, depending on circumstances it can be more or less proportional than FPTP. But as neither was designed to be proportional, this should not be surprising.

So should PR fans vote Yes or No to AV? Or maybe abstain?

Well, one of the arguments is whether the result of the AV vote will make a future referendum (on PR) more or less likely.

- Some say 'A No vote will show there is no appetite for electoral reform, so the issue will be settled for a generation'.

- Others say 'A No vote will show that AV was not acceptable, and we will be offered a wider choice instead  - including PR'.

- Others say 'A Yes vote will be a major reform, so there will be no appetite for further reform for a generation'.

- Yet others say 'A Yes vote will get the electoral reform ball rolling and show there is an appetite for it, so will rapidly lead to another referendum - including PR'

See the problem? It can be argued that any result will either rapidly lead to another referendum (on PR) or that any result will put it off for a generation!

So what is the truth? Would the outcome of the AV referendum change the likelihood of a later PR referendum? Well I decided to find out, by asking the person who will ultimately decide whether we have an other referendum (at least in this parliament). I wrote to the Prime Minister, David Cameron and asked him.

And just as soon as he replies, I will pass on the answer!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

William Hagues 1977 Conservative Conference Speech - A Likely Lad, now Lost.

Hague — 'What sort of world do young people want?'

As a 16-year-old, I represent what may well seem to be the last generation for the Conservative Party. By all accounts, some ten per cent of first-time voters voted Conservative in the last general election. If that trend continues then perhaps some mathematician in the hall would care to work out just how many years it will be before it becomes impossible for the Conservative Party to win a general election.

That lack of support stems largely, in my belief, from the fact that the party is seen, rightly or wrongly, as standing for the maintenance of the existing political and economic order. The young people who voted so overwhelmingly against our party last time are people who believe in change — not change for its own sake but change because they are dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs in Great Britain. But the only form of change that has been offered to them in the past has been a change to the left — an irreversible shift of power, as the Labour Party has called it, supposedly to the people but in reality to the centralized state.

They must now be shown that it is possible to change in other directions. Indeed, not only possible to change but necessary to change. Every subsequent Labour government has encroached upon the liberty of the individual citizen. Every subsequent Conservative government has failed to do more than only marginally restore it.

What sort of world do young people want? Like the rest of the British people, they share the aspirations and hopes of the Conservative Party, but in this case it is not translated into Conservative votes. They want a society where effort and initiative are rewarded instead of stamped upon, where those who work the hardest receive the greatest reward, where those who take the greatest risk receive the largest profit.

They want to live in a world where it pays to work and, more important, where it pays to work in Britain. They do not accept the socialist argument that the government knows what is good for the people better than the people do. They do not want to go to Callaghan's promised land, which must surely rank as the most miserable and abhorrent land that has ever been promised to the people of a nation. But most of all they want to be free, free from the government, the government that they think should get out of the way, not intervene, not interfere in their lives. And I trust Mrs Thatcher's government will indeed get out of the way.

There is at least one school, which I think is in London, where the pupils are allowed to win just one race each, no more, for fear that the others might feel inferior. That is a classic illustration of the socialist state, which draws nearer with every Labour government and which Conservatives have never reversed. Half of you may not be here in 30 or 40 years' time, but I will be and I want to be free.

Economic policy can guarantee that freedom. Denationalization of certain industries and forcing others to cover their costs, large and progressive cuts in public spending, the year-by-year reduction of the proportion of the GNP spent by the state, in short, the creation of a free market economy.

There comes a time, as a country moves nearer towards a socialist state, when the party of the left ceases to be the dominant party, the reformer, and it is the party of the right that becomes the party of radicalism and change. If we should fail now to reverse the progress of socialism, we can write off the future of this party and of the country. But if we rise to the challenge and if we determine to roll back the frontiers of the state, we will not only capture the imagination and support of the younger people; we will save free enterprise and Great Britain, and create a capital-owning, home-owning democracy for the young people.

Conservatives - The new party of the Left

In case there was any doubt in anyones mind about where the Conservative party now stands, George Osborne confirmed that it is very firmly on the Left of the political spectrum.

In his conference speech (text here: he says

That modern government exists not just to provide resolute security at home and abroad, but also to provide the best in education and healthcare, and support for the Big Society.

This is clearly left/marxist thinking. No true conservative would gold plate public services in this way. A true conservative or supporter of the centre or centre right would support 'adaquate education' and 'adaqute healthcare' - they would leave individuals with their own money in their own pockets to decide if they wanted to pay for premium 'best' quality services.

Socially, a true conservative believes that the state provides a 'safety net', not cradle to grave premium state service provision of all things. We cannot afford it, it provides no incentive for anyone to be productive in anyway, it removes choice from the individual, and most importantly the state is not competent to provide services.

The states incompetence in service provision has been proven time and time again - the initial setup and transition often goes well when there is something to prove (and the people driving it are highly motivated).

But once the state monopoly is established the service rapidly decays in terms of quality and efficiency - as has been proved again and again.

State provision equates to a monopoly and monopolies are as bad in the states hands as they would be in private hands.

Osborne is a marxist fool, and he is in good company at the top of the Conservative party.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Royal College of Physicians and their dodgy stats on Passive Smoking

First things first - I am sure that smoking is bad for the smokers health and I have no doubt that tobacco companies conspired against the public to hide this information in the past. I am also sure that everyone in the UK knows that smoking is bad for the smokers health.

However, a while back I was intrigued by the figure of 17,000 under 5s needing to be admitted to hospital each year as a result of passive smoking their parents smoke. This figure crops up everywhere and seems to be the basis of all arguments against individuals smoking in presence of others (whether adult or child).

I traced this figure back to 'Smoking and the Young' a Royal College of Physicians publication where the figure is calculated, and then started disecting it. At which point it pretty much falls apart.

1) It uses for admissions figures from the 1970 cohort survey (published as a book 'From Birth To Five') to calculate the percentage of admissions that it attributes to passive smoking.

- The survey did not register the reason a child was admitted to hospital (i.e. whether it was potentially smoke inhalation related or not (say a broken arm or cigarette burn!)) only whether the admitted child's mother smoked.

- The survey qualifies is figures stating "it would be dangerous to interpret information on hospital admissions as an index of ill health in the population, they are presented here merely as events that occurred in a population of children". This qualification given on the basis that admission of children to hospital could often made on social reasons (ie maybe whether the mother had other children or worked etc so may have difficulty caring for a child at home) rather than a pressing medical requirement for hospitalisation.

- The survey only registered whether a mother smoked when the child was aged 5, not whether they had smoked while the child had been growing up, nor whether they had a partner who smoked.

2) It uses the 'General Household Survey 1988' to estimate the total number of under 5's admitted to hospital in a year.

- This surveyed only 1400 children aged 0-4 of which around 25 had a hospital admission in that year (for all reasons). This Royal College of Physicians have extrapolated this to estimate for a population of 3.4 million(!).

So from this very shaky base, of children of mothers who smoked on their 5th birthday who were admitted to hospital for any reason in a year, using data in a way that it was specifically not intended for, then extrapolated over several orders of magnitude. We get headlines declaring that 17,000 children are admitted to hospital with breathing complaints brought on by passive breathing their parents smoke.

There may be evidence of damage caused by passive smoking - but if there is, then this isn't it.

I hope these kind of jokers aren't let anywhere data on (say) global temperatures... they will probably claim the earth is freezing away or boiling away or something and insist that they get evern *more* of our money to 'do something about it'...

** Edit 18th Sept 2013 **

There is a more recent report
Its stats seem to be merger of many other studies - each of which could be as poor as that set out above(!) - but even this puts the hospital admission figure at 9,500 for all under 16. Almost half the number for a group three times the size compared to the original information... So while the figures are unreliable, it certainly confirms that the Royal College of Physicians cannot be trusted to produce reliable statistics.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

What is 'proportional' anyway?

As I see it at the last general election the results panned out thus:

Party%age of Vote%age of Seats%age of governmental power

So while I support AV as a better way of selecting an MP than FPTP, I think talk of PR (proportional representation) based on seat numbers is currently entirely misguided, and has been for most (if not all) of its history.

Who cares how many seats you have if you have no power over government?

So lets get our MP selection sorted out (#YesToAV) and then there is a whole new discussion to be had over how our selected MPs go on to represent us in government.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Work-less needn't be Hope-less

Deregulating private casual labour - legitimising cash in hand.

Private citizens making small payments to other private citizens for work/service/products should not have to contend with the full burden of employment and taxation law. In fact I beleive they should not have to contend with any law whatsoever.

Any citizen should be able to pay up to (say) £30 a week to another private citizen with no strings attached. Any citizen should be able to receive such payments from a number of citizens up to a total of (say) £100 a week with no strings attached.

People wanting to offer small services like hairdressing, gardening-labour or selling small items would be allowed to do so off their own bat with no further ado. People at the bottom end of the economy could get started in making a living honestly, honourably and legitimately with minimum of fuss - no tax, no payroll no overheads.

The UK has to urgently create many jobs for people who have been workless for a long time, and create opportunities in the private sector for large number of public sector employees who will are likely to find their current jobs cut as part of the deficit reduction programme.

Once we are again a nation of workers, there will be ample opportunity for people moving up to make their contribution to taxes etc. But the priority now is to get people in to the working habit and to reduce their dependence on the taxpayer.

Small business is the only way to create jobs quickly - we need to get moving - and we can't start too soon.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Can it be fair that the person third in the first round goes on to win under AV?

There has been a bit of fuss over one of the results in the Australian election that was held under AV.

The key part of this is that the person who came third in the first count (Wilkie) went on to win!

Jackson (Labor)35.9%
Simpkins (Liberal)22.1%
Wilkie (Independent)21.7%
Couser (Greens)19.0%

Some people said this had to be unfair as Jackson and Simpkins seemed so much more popular.

However what actually happened is that Couser was knocked out and almost all of his voters had put Wilkie as next choice. This put Wilkie up from third into second place, so Simpkins was knocked out next. Once his supporters next choices were counted up Wilkie was in first place with over 50% of the votes and so Wilkie won.

Realistically, under First Past the Post, the result would almost certainly have been the same!

This is because in FPTP the greens would have realised that they had no real chance, so voting green would let Labour win. Accordingly they would have voted tactically and voted for Wilkie in the first place!

So the result is probably the same, in which case what is the advantage of AV?

Well the advantage of AV is that looking at the first preferences (above) we know the true level of support for each party - the greens have 19% and keep their deposit, and Wilkie knows that many of the votes that got him in belong to Green supporters.

Under FPTP the result would be the same, but the Greens would probably have (unjustly) lost their deposit, and Wilkie would not have realised how many of his votes were from people who were really Greens.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

FPTP vs AV and the Office Lunch

Ok, your office/department is organising a social - lunch at a local restaurant (on the bosses credit card!).

The local restaurants include a Chinese, French, Italian, Tex-Mex, Indian and Pub-Grub.

Choosing with FPTP:
FPTP: "Where do you want to eat"
You: "I like Indian most"
You: "But if people don't like Indian food, then I'd go for Tex-Mex"
FPTP: "You only get one choice."
You: "Oh... I like Indian and TexMex but others might think its too spicy, I don't want Chinese... OK I'll say 'Italian', thats safe not my favourite but should beat the Chinese".

Chosing with AV:
AV: "Where do you want to eat"
You: "I like Indian most, but if we cant do that Tex-Mex, but if we cant do that French..."

See how FPTP makes you 'self-censor' yourself? If you aren't absolutely sure your favourite will win, there is a strong reason to chose something you don't really want just to avoid something even worse!

With AV you just say exactly what you want - simple.

Monday, 23 August 2010

FPTP vs AV in an ice cream cone.

FPTP = What flavour Ice Cream do you want? If its not available you'll get what your given.

AV = What flavour Ice Cream do you want? If its not available what flavour would you like instead? And if thats not available what flavour would you like instead?

For voters there is no downside of still having a choice even if your first/second etc choice isn't available.

For political parties the advantage of FPTP is that you only get once chance so you have to 'take it or leave it' they don't need to put themselves out to attract your vote

25th August Addition
Checkout my short (1min 23sec) animation demonstrating the above on YouTube

Sunday, 22 August 2010

AV -> PR

When people look at PR - they always focus on how to get an elected house where the number of representatives matches the proportion of the vote received by the representatives party.

These various systems of PR rely on ever more complex methods of recording, collecting and counting peoples preferences at the ballot box.

I beleive this is a mistake. All these methods are based on an assumption that every representative/MP should have one vote each. I see no reason that all MPs should have equal voting rights.

If a party get (say) 20% of the popular vote, then that party should have 20% of the votes in parliament -- regardless of the number of their MPs that are elected... instead of one MP one Vote - each MP of each party would wield a proportion of that parties popular vote...

Say there are 3600 votes in parliament, then with 36% of the popular vote and 307 MPs each Conservative MP would wield 4.2 votes, with 29% of the popular vote and 258 MPs each Labour MP would wield 4 votes, with 23% of the popular vote and 57 MPs each LibDem MP would wield 14.5 votes, with 1% of the popular vote and 1 MP the Green MP would wield 36 votes.

There are a few refinements that may be required - UKIP got 3.5% of the popular vote but have no MP's - so there may be a requirement for 'additional members' maybe the most popular three UKIP MPs being made MPs with 'national' constituencies wielding 43 (or so) votes each. It may also be undesirable for an individual MP to have 'too many' votes - this could be diluted by (again) appointing additional members with national constituencies.

However the first step is to get AV, this works on its own, but the national share of 'first votes' could simply be used to implement a system like that described above...

Yes to AV !

1) What is FPTP (first past the post)?

FPTP is the electoral system currently used in the UK when electing MPs. When people think of 'voting' so a group of people can choose a slngle option from a list of alternatives they are probably thinking of FPTP.

A list of candidates/options is presented, and each person allowed to vote (the electorate) is allowed to say which option they would most like to be selected (they vote), or they may decide to leave the choice to others and not express any preference so don't vote (they abstain).

2) What is AV (additional vote)?

Like FPTP a list of candidates is presented, like FPTP a voter can select the single candidate they want to win. However, the voter can also indicate which other candidate(s) they would prefer if their first choice candidate doesn't win!

The voter numbers any acceptible candidates in order - first choice with a '1', second choice (if any) with a '2' and so on.

When votes are counted, if no candidate gets more than 50% of the votes cast, then the worst performing candidate is removed from the poll and the votes are recounted - any one who had voted for the removed candidate will have their second preference (if any) counted instead. Again if no candidate gets more than 50% of the votes counted, the next worst performing candidate is also removed and the votes are counted again as before.

Eventually, as candidates are removed one by one, a remaining candidate will receive over 50% of the recounted votes and so 'wins'.

3) Why is FPTP being challenged at all? What is the 'problem' that is supposed to need solving?

Using FPTP with only two options is quite simple and straight forward - the option that the majority of voters select wins!

But with more than two options (like 3 or 4 different political parties), it is possible (and quite common) for the option that gets the most votes, doesn't actually have the support of the majority of voters.

i.e. with 3 parties if two get 33% of the vote each and the other gets 34% then the party with 34% wins even though they were supported by far less than half (50%) of the voters. You have a situation where 34% of the electorate 'beat' 66% of the electorate!

It can be argued that this is 'fair' because they are more popular than either of the other two, it can also be argued that it is 'unfair' because most people wanted someone else...

Because of this perceived 'unfairness' - tactical voting has become popular. In this case, where people don't want a particular candidate to win, they vote for whichever candidate is most likely to beat them (instead of the one the support most). They will do this even if there is another candidate that they would prefer to win. Voting for a candidate that is almost certainly going to lose is often called a 'wasted vote' even if it is the candidate that you most want to win. This situation puts pressure on people to vote for people they don't really want to win just to avoid someone else they like even less winning.

So despite the FPTP voting slip being very simple, the process people go through to choose who to vote for (not just policies, but whether or not their vote might be 'wasted' etc) is quite complex.

Tactical voting also means that their is no true record of the preferences of the people of the country - some votes will be for preferred parties/policies/people but many will be for non-preferred parties/policies/people just to try to stop even worse parties/policies/people from getting elected. It is impossible to separate the different types of vote out.

So the problems are:-
a) Questionable mandate of an MP with less than 50% of the vote.
b) Difficult decisions to be made over 'wasted votes'
c) Difficult decisions to be made over 'tactical voting'
d) No real record of the peoples preference

4) Does AV fix these problems?

a) Questionable mandate of an MP with less than 50% of the vote.
Once the worst candidates are removed, the winning candidate will have more than 50% of the votes counted - more of a mandate than 34% vs two candidates with 33%!

b) Difficult decisions to be made over 'wasted votes'
There are no 'wasted votes' - if your main candidate is knocked out, your next choice will be counted. Right up until a candidate has over 50% or the counted votes.

c) Difficult decisions to be made over 'tactical voting'
There is no way of voting 'tactially' voting for what you beleive in is the most likely way of getting your most prefereable MP, and of not getting the MP you don't want at all or prefer least.

d) No real record of the peoples preference
The first preference votes across the country will be a true reflection of peoples preferences. I beleive this is what most scares the old established parties! regardless of the election results and numbers of seats etc. We will have a clear and honest picture of what the people of the country really want - a picture that politicians cannot feign ignorance of.

5) What of PR (proportional representation)?

Well AV is not PR, but neither is FPTP. So PR is almost irrelevant to this argument. But, not toatally...

The first preference votes in AV are an unambiguous record of the preferences of the UK public! Following AV, implementing PR (if wanted) would not require any change to the voting system - we would know the proportions to be represented, so implementation of PR would be a change to the mechanics of the way parliament votes, no change to the way the public votes!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

British Justice - so what?

British Justice (for better or worse) is the result of hundreds of years of experience, negotiation, discussion etc

What we have is the result of thousands of British people over many generations - it is our 'settlement' between the British Citizen and the State.

We are quite precious about it (after all a lot of work has gone into it!) We abhor the idea of 48 days detention without trial, we hate the idea of trial without jury - people have fought and campaigned against these things.

But now 'our' government allow UK citizens to be extradited to other EU countries at the whim of those other countries judiciaries - the UK citizen has no right of recall to their native institutions - the foreign courts demand is submitted to without another word.

This is no different to the American 'extra-ordinary rendition' every one was so angry about. But this time almost no-one seems to care.

FFS whats wrong with everyone?

We (British Citizens) are not just subject to UK law, we are subject to the law of each of the other 26 countries of the EU - laws over which we have absolutely *ZERO* influence. Laws we don't know, don't understand, laws we probably cant even read.

Am I the only person angry about this?