Reasons Labour should support AV

Say Yes to fairer votesMartin Kettle, in an article at Comment is Free, on the Guardian’s web site, called “Vote yes to AV if you want to see Tories feel the fear again” among other arguments says something I have been struggling to say. I don’t know if he is Labour Party member of supporter, but I am and so I have quoted it here, and hope that fellow Labour supporters consider it before voting next week. I also suggest you read the article in full. I am unsure if his focus on Labour and anti-coalition activists helps make the argument that AV is fairer than FPTP, but for those who won’t, or don’t want to consider the  issues on their merits, but only in the context of the current Government’s longevity and programme he has some interesting things to say which you should read in full. He concludes the article saying,

“Labour still thinks short-term and tactically, not long-term and strategically. It is obsessed with the wrong target, with battering the Lib Dems, with punishing Clegg for the coalition and the cuts, and using those votes to propel itself back into an overall majority. The first part of that may well happen, starting with the local and devolved elections. The second part, though, is much less certain. It depends on breaking the coalition quickly and winning an early election. But that isn’t going to happen, even if AV goes down.

If everyone in Labour thought straight they would see there is a powerful argument for saying that the coalition will be more weakened by a yes vote than a no. If you want to weaken the coalition you want the Lib Dems to be bolder in standing up for themselves against the Conservatives on a range of policy issues. That is more likely with the security of AV, which favours the Lib Dems because it is fairer, under their belt.

You also, however, want to weaken Cameron’s standing in his own party and strengthen the influence of the more rightwing Tories to create mayhem. A yes vote would be a lightning rod for these angry Tories. That’s why, if you want to harm the coalition, vote yes to AV. If you want to make the British establishment fear Labour again, vote yes.”

I understand how, in particular many Londoners, who will not have a chance to use their vote  may wish to vote in the referendum to punish the coalition partners but this isn’t a vote of confidence in the Government. Voting No won’t save the NHS or stop further privatisation, or reverse the cuts.

Use your vote in the referendum to change our politics, vote “Yes”, that’s what I shall be doing. …

What if we’d had a fairer voting system last May?

The New Statesman has a series called “Data Hound”, which appeals to me. Last/this week they ran an article on Voting Systems, which is not yet on the web. I thought it was quite good fun, so I have re-produced the graph here. They make the point that Alternate Vote, is not proportional, but that while “First Past the Post”, our current system, may exaggerate the victory of unpopular parties, “Alternate Vote” may exaggerate the victories of popular parties.

I argued earlier this week that there were principled reasons  for supporting AV and I hope that most people will vote on the basis of principle and not on the basis of party advantage. So while examining the potential results of last May is fun, I am not sure it should be a major factor in making one’s mind up.

What the idea above does for my argument that we need to restrain the ‘elective dictatorships’, I am not sure, but below, is what the House of Commons would have looked like under “First Past the Post” FPTP, Alternative Vote AV or Single Transferable Vote STV, a more proportional system similar to that used in the European Parliament elections.

If we'd not been using FPTP in May 2011

If the Liberals had had a choice, what would they have done?

In any event, I shall be voting Yes for fairer votes. …

Say Yes to AV

Say Yes to fairer votesI shall be saying Yes2AV next week, if I can get to a polling station, as I shall be working. It’s not much of an excuse, but its the last day of the working week and I shall be commuting back to Hampshire, particularly if I want to vote in the local authority elections.

I have finally made my mind up and believe that

  • AV will allow people to state their first preferences, we’ll get true idea of the locus of political debate in the UK and its constituent countries and regions.
  • its wrong that elections are decided by swing voters in about 50 seats,
  • MPs should have the, at least, tacit support of the majority of their constituents, FPTP disenfranchises people who live in areas dominated by their opponents; they either have to vote for their 2nd preferences, not bother or just hope their vote counts in the total national scores. AV will give more people a reason to vote.
  • I care more about stopping the ‘elective dictatorship’ of a single party government than I do about having a ‘firm’ government with a secure majority. Thatcher’s government didn’t listen to, well, anyone really and Blair’s majority isolated him from taking advice from his real friends and supporters, leading to tragic mistakes.

Finally it may have a liberating effect on political organisation and debate in this country; the tensions within the Parties may require them to ask their voters to help them resolve their debates creating new re-alignments.

It may be a ‘miserable little compromise’, but FPTP has been dying for years, its rarely used in civic society and we’ve been using more proportional systems in public elections more and more frequently, notably in the European Parliament, and in Northern Ireland. It’s not perfect, more proportional systems would be best but it’s better in my mind than the current system. …

Judicial Review of the Digital Economy Act

BT & Talk Talk, the two largest UK internet Service Providers (ISP) went to court towards the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 to obtain a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act, a law passed in the dying days of the last Labour Government. This law is designed to place duties on internet service providers to act on the instruction and on behalf of copyright holders and to authorise Web site blocking. On the 20th April, Mr. Justice Parker delivered his judgement.

This article is a personal summary of that ruling. The judgement is awfully hard to read and understand. I have an economics degree and nine years of Civil Service training! Actual quotes should be obvious, other representations are in my words, not those of the judgement. In some places I have got lost in the text of the judgement and while my summary is much shorter than the original, it remains pretty long. The impatient or easily satisfied can skip straight to the summary. …

Adventures in Faerun with an Apple Mac

Neverwinter NightsAppleI finally got Neverwinternights running on my Mac using WINE. It is clear from the old Bioware forums that to get it working on recent i.e. Intel based Macs needs virtualisation technology. There are choices here, but I chose WINE since it seems to leave the game’s code ‘closer to the metal’ than alternatives. I also wanted it to be legally free.

There have been some rat holes in this project, but I started at This has lots of great resources including some “How To…” pages and a forum. The best advice at  the time I started was to install from source, so I got introduced to git. I came to the conclusion, after being advised, that macports was a better way of installing and maintaining WINE on the MAC. (I also downloaded Porticus which is a GUI front end for macport and I had to upgrade my version of the Xcode developer package.) This conclusion was aided by the fact the game now works.

An article at arstecnica, called “Neverwinter Nights WINE Tutorial” states that the installer won’t work under WINE and my early experiments had found this to be true. The article suggests copying a good windows installation which I did via a DVD. The compressed folders are between 3.4 & 3.7 Gb, depending on how many saved games and add-on modules are in the folders.  The ars article also recommends copying some of the Microsoft DLLs, but they used a W98 build as their source, I am using XP. I have not copied any of the DLLs onto my Mac.

It seems to be working OK.

In summary its a three step process,

  1. Install macports and porticus
  2. Install WINE
  3. Copy the NWN folder from a Windows Machine

The first comment is by me, and discusses how I got doh123’s Wineskin to work. DFL 22 April 2011. …