STV & the Labour Party

STV & the Labour Party

There’s a sudden revival of interest in STV as the LP adopts it as a means of electing the CLP reps. There are in my mind, three problems with STV for party managers and one for voters. The fact that “order” can be critical in the results is important. When combined with the degree of discipline within Party voting blocs and the propensity to bleed votes from the block, getting the quota early is of advantage to parties. The problem of avoiding having large numbers of your votes trapped in the losing quota is also critically important for party managers particularly if the quota is high.

The Order based nature of STV counting leads to a series of well-known problems with STV in that it is one of the easier systems to game and has a number of design features which encourage manipulative or gaming behaviour. STV is not monotone, participative, consistent nor does it meet the No-Betrayer criteria.

There is no strategy that can compensate for a bloc’s voters not voting for all the candidates in the slate. Even within the activist or membership layer, many are more committed to their faction than to the Party, which may lead people to desert their first choice slate for another as the individual candidates become distasteful to the voter. I am curious if we could model the effect this ‘bleed’. The speed of desertion may well be determined by the slate construction as some on the slate might be exceptionally unacceptable to the otherwise loyal electorate. We should also note that not transferring reduces the quota[1] and so is equivalent to a (part) vote for all remaining candidates and acts as de-facto vote in favour of the highest remaining contender.

Early success militates against having votes lost in the losing quota, particularly as the STV transfers surpluses before eliminating candidates.

If running a complete slate, the offer of a recommendation to support as a second choice is not worth so much.

The disadvantage to voters is that their optimal strategy may not involve voting in a straightforward way as it may be best if someone likely to pick up a lot of transfers is eliminated before the transfers occur. This is more acute in instant run-off elections and depends on whether they want a candidate to win or prefer that others lose.

I can’t see what to do about weak discipline. If we take the example of the UK where we have Labour, the Greens, the Lib Dems and the Tories, we can see how people, who’s first choice might be, say, Labour might switch to the Green list after one or two votes for what ever reason and the Greens might go in both directions to Labour or to the LibDems. The system is designed to have this effect.

[1] This is the failure to meet the Participation Effect. …

Knowledge Graphs

Knowledge Graphs

I attended a Capco/Semantic Web Company webinar, on Knowledge Graphs which provoked these thoughts, on how far we’ve come, new solutions to old problems and the social inhibitors to new technology adoption. The complexity of the data administration problem is why specialist tools have been developed and matured to the point that Gartner produce a Magic Quadrant on Meta Data Management tools, in which the Semantic Web company’s Pool Party appears as a visionary. The MQ report is currently being distributed, as is normal, by one of the “Leaders”, Informatica.

Andreas Blumaur, who was one of the speakers, repeated his suggestion, start small with committed users and that possibly the best 1st solution is a semantic search. (I thinl I’ll have another look at implementing something on my wiki.)

I have felt for a while that semantic web technology could be used to match work to resource in the cloud, with cloud entities advertising their capability using XML, it shouldnn’t be a stretch and with Azure, these systems are being defined in XML. The other application that interests me is if the XML/RDF models can be used to create a model of the person in the enterprise, maybe implemented in SQL; my current researches have not been fruitful. …

Labour’s leak, rights of privacy and the public interest

This is the first part of my three part article on the Labour leak of a management report into the activities of Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) in its handling of anti-semitism complaints. This part looks at the act of the leak, the legal (or lack of) immunities, the rights of the employees and those of the management and the anti-corruption laws, basically the legal position outside the rules of the Party. For more, see overleaf ...

Voting Systems Theory and STV

Voting Systems Theory and STV

It is important to understand that a bunch of clever people have thought hard about voting systems; we don’t have to invent this. I remember that our management in Sun Professional Services tried to imbue us with the mantra, “Innovate, Don’t Reinvent” and others have declared that the process of innovation is standing on the shoulders of giants. Voting system qualities known as criteria have been defined. There may be some as yet undiscovered criteria, but it would be best if we debate the pro’s and con’s using an agreed categorisation and science.

One has to be brilliant to be both in a minority and right, and most of us are not that brilliant.

Wikipedia, on their article, Comparison of Electoral Systems, says this,

Attitudes towards systems are highly influenced by the systems’ impact on groups that one supports or opposes, which can make the objective comparison of electoral systems difficult. … To compare methods fairly and independently of political ideologies, voting theorists use voting method criteria, which define potentially desirable properties of voting methods mathematically.

Wikipedia – Comparison of Electoral Systems

One thing we should note is that not all criteria can be applied to all systems, the key differences are between single winner systems, and multiple winner systems and then between list based and non-list based systems.

While some consider and seek to judge instant run off elections, sometimes referred to as the Alternate Vote as a special case of STV i.e. an STV with only one winner, the fact that there is only one winner makes it a separate and quite different system. This is shown by the fact that it passes and fails different voting criteria. Also, in AV elections, there is no transfer of a surplus votes and the minority i.e. the wasted voted can be as high as 50% – 1. This is better than simple plurality systems where the losing proportion can easily be quite high majorities. It seems to me that one critical goal of democratic voting systems should be to ensure that the “wasted” or losing votes are as small as possible.

Some criteria only apply to singe winner elections, and while it’s hard to game an STV election, it is not impossible. Games can be played by candidate/parties or by voters. STV’s problems come from the fact that surpluses and eliminations occur in an order and thus transfers are impacted by this ordering.

The Wikipedia article tests STV against 7 voting systems criteria and fails it on five. Some of the criteria seem to be remarkably similar and, it seems to me, all relate to honesty and motivation in voting behaviour and how the voting system reflects this honesty. STV fails the Monotonicity Criterion as there are cases where you can support your preferred candidate by down ranking them. It fails the Consistency criterion, probably by design and I am not sure it’s all that desirable, but this is about sub-set aggregation which can’t be done in STV. It also fails the Participation criterioan, that your voice is always stronger if you vote, and “No favourite betrayal”, where you have no incentive to vote for anyone other than your favourite.

It’s certainly not perfect but we should learn from thinkers that have gone before us.  …

Fatal Weaknesses

Fatal Weaknesses

This is part II of my commentary on the Labour Leak, it looks at the missteps and failures to control the bureaucracy from 2015 to 2019 and looks at the structural faults, the need for a robust segregation of duties, how Labour has changed its rules to make expulsion of alleged antisemites or troublemaker’s easier and how McNicol’s eventual departure allowed both damage to be continued and a cover-up to become deeply embedded within the Party.

Labour’s policy consultation

Labour’s policy consultation

The Labour Party has extended its national policy consultation and so policy proposals, comments and votes can be made at In order to vote you must have a “my labour” login and login to the policy site. If not a member, you need to register at the site itself.

I have written proposals on the economy, a post-Brexit trade & co-operation deal, employee protection, and the surveillance society & police powers. I have supported proposals on free  movement/immigration, and anti-union laws, It’d be great if if you could vote them up,

I would be grateful to be pointed at great proposals on social care, social security and education.

Other’s may find this & this on a Post-Brexit deal, inspired by Labour Movement for Europe worth voting up. …

What cost equality?

What cost equality?

51.5% of Labour MP’s are women and 20% of Labour MP’s are BAME.

But what about the class background of MP’s?

29% of MP’s went to private school (7% of the population did), 14% of Labour MP’s went to private school.

25% of MP’s went to Oxbridge (0.5% of the population did)

50% of MP’s went to the Russell Group of Universities, 24 ‘top’ universities (11% of the population did).

In 1979, 15% of MP’s came from ‘blue-collar’ backgrounds. In 2019, 3% did!


Point of Order

Point of Order

An apology. I was led to believe that Labour’s NCC had been restricted to appeals on procedural grounds only; on a more serious reading of the rules, it would seem this is not so. Appeals can be lodged on the grounds that the NEC exceeded it powers by taking a decision other than one authorised by rules. This includes the constraint below,

There is sufficient evidence in documentary or other recorded form to reasonably conclude that the charge is proven and justify the sanction proposed;

Labour’s Rules 2020 C6.I.b.iii (P.24)

So an appeal can be lodged on the grounds that the evidence does not reasonably support the determined sanction.

Point of Order, Chair! The speaker is talking bollocks. …

Closing the Stable Door II

Tye Labour Party’s inquiry, now known as the “Forde Inquiry” after its independent chair, Dr Martin Forde, into the leaking of its investigation into the activities of its complaints team and senior management has published a call for evidence. It’s web site is at fordeinquiry,org and the call for evidence page is here and behind the image.

I plan to make a submission based on Unanswered Questions, also Closing the Stable Door and a third one based on the various acts in breach of the member’s charter, the rules and the law which impacted me personally.  …