Tuesday, 29 March 2011

That March Against The Cuts

Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman:-
But I'm entitled to my views - and I'm annoyed with the violent "protesters" (thugs?) who tried to wreck an important and historic march by rewarding right-wing, pro-cuts media outlets with the negative headlines and imagery that they had so craved.
I shouldn't really write this, because I'm probably just helping out the opposition, but if the purpose of this march was to basically convince people that the cuts were bad, and if the violence was going to harm that and if you had some idea that such people were likely to kick off, then wouldn't it have been better not to bother with the march?

I think the problem is that people who do marches and other forms of non-violent protest don't understand about why and when they work. They mostly work as a way of casting light on the situation, of having a strong moral case and convincing that you want the people to hear that will turn them towards telling the government to change things. That's why it worked for Gandhi and MLK - because what they highlighted disgusted the people in their countries (or in the case of Gandhi, Britain) and got them to change things. Now, the people in the UK know what the cuts are about, know that many on the march are 5-a-day co-ordinators or some other form of government non-jobbers, and don't exactly trust the unions, either. For that reason it was utterly futile.

Monday, 14 March 2011


I'm not exactly following the Charlie Sheen thing, but this Songify of his craziness is kinda funny:

(incidentally, I'm about 99% certain it's an act)

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Cranmer's Comments on the AV Letter

From Cranmer:-
Of course, if this reform passes, it is unlikely that the Conservative Party will ever again form a government: we will have perpetual coalition, with the Liberal Democrats forever cast as king-makers.
I couldn't care two hoots if the Conservative Party gets elected again or not. They're one of the 3 elite parties in this country that I want to see respond more to what the people in this country want, rather than just doing as they please. And AV will bring more players to the table and force them into doing so.

Secondly, we have no idea what would happen under AV because voting behaviour changes, because tactical voting almost evaporates. In some seats (like in the South West) it may even be that the LDs are beneficiaries of FPTP, as they're either the main or 2nd candidate.
The fact is that AV would mean that most general elections would result in hung parliaments, which take power away from voters and deliver it into the hands of politicians, who then proceed to negotiate deals behind closed doors, resulting in a government and a programme for which not a single person voted.
And of course, parties always deliver what's in their manifesto, never meet with their backers behind closed doors or pass legislation to keep certain wings of their party happy. Right...

That Letter By Historians on AV

From The Times (paywall)
The referendum on 5th May which threatens to introduce a system of ‘Alternative Voting’ – a voting system which will allow MPs to be elected to Parliament even if they do not win the majority of constituents’ first preference votes – also threatens to break this principle.

For the first time since 1928 and the granting of universal suffrage, we face the possibility that one person’s casting ballot will be given greater weight than another. For the first time in centuries, we face the unfair idea that one citizen’s vote might be worth six times that of another. It will be a tragic consequence if those votes belong to supporters of extremist and non-serious parties.

Twice in our past, the nation has rejected any threat to the principle of one citizen, one vote. The last time, in 1931, Winston Churchill stood against the introduction of an Alternative Vote system. As he argued, AV would mean that elections would be determined by “the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”. He understood that it was simply too great a risk to take.
Well, except for the London Mayoral Elections which are decided by AV.

Oh, little me, with my E in History, fisking a load of well-known Historians.

Monday, 7 March 2011

International Women's Day

A few thoughts:-

1. A man is still more likely to earn more than a woman. Yes, if she has children. Childless women do about as well as men.
2. Men have a far better chance of entering political office. Well, what's stopping you standing, and if the people like you, voting for you? That said, I'd never vote for a woman of child-bearing age. I want an MP working for me, not taking up to a year off and leaving me unrepresented.
3. Men have a far better chance of becoming a company director. Start your own fucking company, then. I'm sure that you'll crap all over those companies that have chosen less talented people than you.
4. As a man, you're less likely to be judged for promiscuous behaviour. And this comes down to simple biology. A man can theoretically create around 90 pregnancies in the same time that a woman can create 1, assuming enough willing partners. So, to get lots of partners is success. For women to be promiscuous means she's willing to give away her womb cheaply. Now, who really judges women hard for such behaviour? Men? No, men will happily just have a piece of that. It's women who do so, because it gives them a higher moral view of themselves.
5. As a man, you're less likely to fall victim to sexual assault. Sure, it's possible that a group of women could probably beat me in a fight, but it would be a rare woman who could do so on her own. We're physically stronger. Life's a bitch in that regard, but there's little a campaign can do to address it.
6. And unlike the 30000 women who lose there jobs due to pregnancy, there's no risk to your career. And we already have laws against that, so what do the International Women's Day people want doing about it?

7. Women are responsible for 2/3rds of the world done worldwide. Define "work", because frankly that sounds like bullshit.
8. Yet earn only 10% of the income. Which is probably because a lot of that is basically being a housewife, which isn't a job with an income, but allows your husband to go out and earn one without paying for a load of staff.
9. Every year, 70m girls are deprived of even a basic education. And what are they going to do with it if they got one? If your life is likely to be "get a husband, get married, have children, raise a family", how much use is an education going to be? Now, the nice part of us says "but education broadens your mind" and that's true, but to people in those countries, that's a luxury right now.
10. We're afraid to walk the streets at night. Thing is, that's partly the result of the sort of emancipation that women wanted. I'm not saying emancipation and freedom for women aren't good, that meeting your own boyfriend by going to clubs isn't a better world than introductions by parents and locking up your daughters, but it has to be accepted that the downside of that freedom is that women don't have someone to protect them.

I'm very supportive of freedom for women, but a lot of the IWD stuff is either fantasy, or based on the choices that some women want to have (at the cost of others). In fact, I'm convinced that the sort of feminism that wants free childcare is basically a feminism that supports middle-class women with careers over working class women without one.

Barnsley Central, UKIP, AV and Duverger

I've been giving some thought to the result in Barnsley Central, and what it all means.

One important fact is that turnout was way down on the election. This perhaps reflects the fact that by-elections are often protests against the sitting government and that it wasn't going to affect the math in parliament.

The reason I think that UKIP came 2nd was partly that they worked so hard, but also that people knew that they didn't have to vote tactically because it wouldn't change the status of the government. Win or lose, the LD/Con coalition was going to remain in place. So they could vote freely. UKIP doubled their vote and nearly tripled their share of the vote.

And if you look at EU elections, UKIP also score highly because with the PR system, people can vote freely.

This is, of course, why the 2 main parties are so against it. If they ever dramatically screw up (and the expenses scandal was such a screw up), people won't just think "he's a scumbag, but I'll vote for him because I don't want the opposite guy's party in", they'll find another party that they find nearly as agreeable and vote for them.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

One more for the "Councils Pleading Poverty" List

From the Daily Mail:-
Tendring District Council and Essex Police are so eager to catch employees having a puff behind the wheel that they've set up road blocks across the county.

Back to October 2010 on the Tendring website:-
Tendring District Council (TDC) is facing a funding gap of between £3million and £5million over the next four years - and tough decisions will need to be taken to balance the books.This will include looking at how many staff the Council will continue to employ and which Services it will deliver, and how.
Another one for my list.

Anyone have a full list of councils?

The "Councils Still Have Plenty of Money" Project

From Metro:-
A cash-strapped Southampton council has hired artist Will Rosie to help people decorate their wheelie bins.
This is the council where the leader said back in November 2010 that
"Some services will be reduced and some will go altogether. We will have to make difficult decisions and we will have to focus on services that are valued most by residents and businesses.".
It doesn't matter how you cut and slice it, if you spend money on an artist to decorate wheelie bins, even if that's 1 penny, then that's 1 penny you can't spend on meals on wheels, parks, pavement repairs or whatever else.

So, here's my proposal to anyone reading: let's find as many of these as we can, and see which councils are really cutting back to the sort of core services they should be providing. Let's see how many are really cash-strapped and how many actually seem to find the money to piss away on projects like this sort of nonsense.


Still combines all the functional problems of a phone with all the portability problems of a laptop.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

AV: Duverger's Law

OK, so I've been looking for a name for this thing where people graduate towards 2 parties under FPTP and I've discovered there's a law called Duverger's Law (Duverger was a French sociologist).  I feel better now as I have a name for it.

If you want to know more, read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger's_Law. It explains why I have such a passionate hatred of FPTP (because it means that politics remains the reserve of existing players rather than working more like a market).

It's also why nearly all the anti-AV writing out there is by people connected with the 2 main parties.

Boris Johnson on AV

From The Daily Telegraph:-
First-past-the-post has served this country well, and served dozens of other countries well. We would be mad to go to a great deal of trouble and expense to adopt a system that is less fair than the one we have.
As it works so well, why don't the Conservative Party use it to elect their leader?