Monday, May 16, 2011

I wonder if Rupert Read also supports the murder of democracy protesters?


Seeing as Rupert was so keen on the absurd concept of Western "humanitarian intervention" in Libya I wonder if he is also a strident supporter of the brutalisation and murder of pro-democracy protesters. That was the bargaining chip given up by Hillary Clinton in return for the Arab League's blessing of the Libya escapade. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

brief Fisk on Tory Lord electoral propaganda


My target is this Torygraph article on Lords reform containing the following para:
"One senior Conservative source in the Lords said of the draft [Lords reform] Bill: “This is fantasy land. It’s a joke. How can you have PR for the country rejected in the AV referendum and then bring in PR for the Lords. The whole thing is utterly ridiculous.”"
Firstly, PR wasn't even an option in the AV referendum. This is certainly one of the reasons why the Yes vote was so low.

Secondly, the referendum vote wasn't a democratic rejection of anything.

The only thing that's ridiculous here is UK "democracy".

Saturday, May 07, 2011

on democracy and the 2011 UK electoral referendum


The results of the referendum on whether to change the UK electoral system from First Past The Post to the Alternative Vote have now been counted and the data is available from the Guardian website. The headline claims that the "Yes2AV" campaign suffered a "thumping defeat". Lets look at the data a bit more closely and see if it backs that up. 

A numerical summary of the results shows the following:


On these grounds the "thumping defeat" seems a reasonable claim. However, I'm an advocate of democracy being based upon the votes of the entire electorate. If you multiply the percentage of votes by the turnout you get the following:

Electorate                           44,481,131

Turnout                                     43.3%

% of electorate voting Yes          13.2

% of electorate voting No            28.4

By these standards neither campaign was close to persuading a majority of the people to support them. I consider this result, rather than representing a rejection of AV, to represent a rejection of the referendum. Let me restate that plainly and in bold text:
28.4% of the electorate is not a majority and the results of this referendum cannot be considered to represent "the will of the people".

So what does this referendum show? Much criticism had been leveled at the referendum even before it took place- specifically the lack of a real choice of alternative electoral systems on the ballot. AV has been broadly rejected by campaigners for electoral reform (punkself included) as being just as unproportional as FPTP. Another criticism was that the sole question posed on the ballot was which of the two voting systems the voter preferred. No option was given to register support, or otherwise, for electoral reform . Its a certainty that a fraction of the electorate didn't vote because they supported electoral reform but not AV. The money and effort that went into organising this referendum, the campaigning and analysis, the column inches and news slots, the rhetoric, posturing and agitation; all of that has been utterly wasted. And in the midst of a climate of apparently desperate austerity that is being used by certain parties to justify tearing the heart out of our society. (It would be wrong of me to say that all of that effort has been completely wasted- for those same sociopathic parties they have been a most useful diversion from the real issue I identified).

I could sit here all day pulling reasons for low electoral turnouts out of my arse but I think it far more helpful to opine that what this referendum has shown us is that our democracy is exactly as broken as I keep saying it is. Most commentators are fantastically indifferent to the fact that we are being governed by a coalition between two parties that collectively gathered just 38% of the electorate's approval. I am stunned by the readiness with which the broader commentariat are prepared to ignore the fundamental injustices of UK politics and happily conduct their dissections, post-mortems and what-iffery precisely within the framework of the current electoral paradigm. If people don't care about the democratic framework within which society is built then any other issue about which they profess to care is irrelevant, a Straw Man for their disengagement with reality. Pick your metaphor of choice: Fiddling while Rome burns, rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, pissing in the wind, etc. The obvious solution is for voting to be made compulsory, necessitating some sort of national referendum to change the electoral sys . . . . Oh.