When 2nd best is actually best!

Another note on proportional representation. We elect MPs for two purposes, to represent us in Parliament and to choose a Prime Minister.

Sometimes the best and most supported answer is a compromise of 2nd bests which only a Parliament can deliver. i.e. the former role is more important.

Opponents of PR, within the LP, have a vision of a Labour Govt., exercising the powers of the elective dictatorship, (presumably without the corruption) ruling on the basis of a minority plurality. This always ends badly.

As other’s have said, the UK’s system i.e. FPTP is little used in democracies, and truth be told, not used in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales or London.

PR may or may not benefit Labour or the progressives in the UK, but the UK is a ‘flawed democracy’ and something must change to ensure this kakistocracy is never repeated. …

A step too far?

A step too far?

Johnson’s in a bit of bother, and it’s not his Johnson this time, at least as far as we know. The outrage that has the media’s attention is that he is accused of having said, “No more fucking lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands!” This is disgusting but almost as bad is the fact that this has been kept hidden for over 6 months.

When you add to this, the Greensill Fund affair and Cameron’s lobbying, where it seems the Tories are ready to let Cameron hang out to dry, the failed and extortionate priced track and trace system (£37bn and counting), shipping contract to a company without ships, the lobbying for favoured tax status and contract for ventilators to a company that’s never made them, the failure to acquire PPE for NHS staff and many more. To this we can add the creation of a No 10 press suite which they no longer plan to use, the murky finances of the redecoration of the No 11 flat, and the resurrection of the Arcuri affair (narf narf), this Govt. is the epitome of corrupt although it doesn’t seem to have come through in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index yet, although they identify the pandemic as a major global threat for corruption. For more on corruption and impunity see, “Corruption Britain has reached new heights under Boris Johnson’s government” at the New Statesman (£). …

A better Brexit?

Another Europe (AEIP) have issued a pamphlet, called “The fundamental problems in the UK-EU trade deal and how it can be reformed”, it’s release is announced on the AEIP blog and commented on in the Guardian, Labour group urges Keir Starmer to back better Brexit deal

Luke, its author has started a thread on twitter which I have unrolled here. Central is the argument that the negotiated sovereignty is bogus and that it would be more efficient even in liberal terms to synchronise some laws and regulation. It catalogues what it sees as the weaknesses of the agreement and the demands are summarised as,

  • Harmonisation with EU standards, with a no-downgrading principle written into future deals
  • A review and weeding out of regulatory duplication
  • Re-joining EU programmes on the basis of common interest e.g. Erasmus and Erasmus+
  • A mutual rights agreement for UK and EU citizens to reinstate free movement rights
  • Promoting a democratic economy, with state investment and industrial strategy sitting alongside strong protections against cronyism
  • The creation of a forum in which to cooperate on human security and foreign policy

I am disappointed that he doesn’t talk about the customs union, as this is key remedying the collapse of the SME import/export industry and part of the threat to the Good Friday Agreement.

I am also disappointed that he doesn’t talk about Parliament and while I understand why, I think it’s a mistake, but I am equally disappointed with the apolitical nature of UK trade and business commiussion and the support it has won in the PLP. Its a lack of a political defence of the EU and its internationalist future that has led to us being where we are today.  …

Pasokification: evidence from Germany

While Labour campaigns for the most extensive local elections in decades with one Parliamentary by-election, much internal attention is turned to its strategy. There are important lessons to be learned from Greece and now Germany. In 2013, the SPD, Grüne and die Linke won a tiny majority in the the Bundestag, but the result of the election was another Grand Coalition of the CDU & SPD. I wrote at the time,

We’ll see if her prediction, that the smaller party always get screwed remains true. It’s hard to believe that the SDP will allow her to do it twice.

Me on this blog 25 Sep 2013

The polls are quite different today. The SPD has been in government since the fall of the wall, mainly as junior partners in a Conservative led government. In 2013, the SPD won 25.7% of the vote, (in 1998 it was 40.9%) today they are trailing Die Grune at 15%. For those for whom the mantra without power we can do no good, I ask how much good do you think the SPD have done over the last four years.

Here is where all the parties stand today.

I have chosen to use a stock price chart type, solid boxes are movement’s down, white boxes are movement’s up, line’s up are the 6 month high (if different from the open or closing score) and lines down are the 6 month low (if different from the open or closing score). …

The Senedd, proportionality and size

The Senedd, proportionality and size

I have been thinking how many politicians is the right number and how to build proportional voting systems, these came together in a chat about the Senedd, so I thought I’d share.

The Welsh Parliament is elected in two classes, one class (40 seats) is elected in constituencies by first past the post, the remaining 20 are elected in five super constituencies of four members elected using a D’hondt count. The D’hondt count is done allocating the first places won in the count by a party to their constituency assembly members. This means that the results i.e. the number of assembly members/party are proportional within the super constituencies subject to rounding. This is as is done in London.

Acadmemia may suggest that assemblies that are too small become dominated by the executive, which in Wales is limited to 14, while those that are too large become prone to low quality legislation and corruption. It has been suggested that the optimum size of the Welsh assembly would be 147 based on a cube root rule. See also, “Wales needs 20 or 30 more Members of the Senedd, says committee” at Wales Online.  Other work suggests that we, in the UK have too few elected politicians because we have the House of Lords and too few councillors.

Proportionality depends upon the ratio of list AMs to constituency AMs. In Wales it’s ⅓, 43% in Scotland, 44% in London and 50% in Germany, who also have very finely calculated additional seats to eliminate rounding errors and any ‘crowding out’ effect.  i.e. the Bundestag is not of a fixed size, but as one reduces the size of the top-up class of seats, we reduce proportionality. …

The Fabians canvass for policy

The Fabians canvass for policy

Momentum have run a policy primary to decide what topics and motions to push for Labour Conference 2021. The Fabians seem to have decided that this is a good idea and issued a shorter, more guided questionnaire to the world at large. They ask five questions, ... a new policy Labour should back that could transform the country, one thing Labour should do to reconnect with voters who rejected the party in 2019, one commitment from the 2019 Labour manifesto that the party should abandon, one idea for creating more unity and harmony in the Labour movement, and name one Labour MP the party should make more use of. The last is just asking for trolling, my answers are overleaf/below and feel that I have a right to offer my advice as I only left the Fabians last year having joined it to help me rethink my ideas about policy and strategy. ...

Red towns, blue suburbs

Red towns, blue suburbs

Arguments on why we lost the last election, and how to win the next continue apace. There is much talk of the Red Wall and how to win it back, unfortunately everyone is focussed on the man who used to “keep whippets in the [outdoor] latrine”, this article by Danny Dorling, précised in his blog, and reinforced by this article in the Economist written by someone else, suggest the problem is elsewhere, that it’s not the towns but their suburbs together with the growing inequality in our society. There is also plenty of evidence that age is also a factor. One commentator suggests it’s a surprise these seats didn’t turn Tory a while ago. …

Cowardice

Cowardice

Just a quick note, a comment on ‘desperate from Hartlepool’, and a longer comment from the Irish Times on Britain, the EU, and the creation of compulsive narratives.

Starmer’s rejection of rejoining, is a slap in the face for those members and voters who want to do so, and that number is growing. Starmer’s strategy would seem to be based on that of an Ostrich and following Corbyn’s, “what unites Hull and Hackney is social justice, we shall not be divided by Brexit” whcih worked so well. This issue cannot be avoided and the post brexit trade deal is poor. It’s killing SME importers and exporters and is exacerbating tensions in Northern Ireland and fuelling racism in Britian. Starmer’s positioning reminds me of some of the games I have played where one positions your party according to one metric, usually tax to ‘win’ the game; it’s also a return to focus group led policy making.

You can’t make Brexit work without engaging with the failings of the current situation and policy. In my mind this requires reentry to the customs union and single market.

The Irish Times article is a damning indictment of Labour’s silence in the knowledge that, that silence concedes space to poor policy and xenophobia and its hard to turn an oil tanker round, once the big lie is established, its opponents will always be on the backfoot.

Image by Vicki Nunn from Pixabay …

Sometimes fate is just

Sometimes fate is just

Just doing some reading to justify my assertion that the current Commission is the second worst, to discover that Nigel Farage had objected to one of the Barroso Commissioners as they had been found guilty of illegally funnelling tax payers money into their political parties, having been pardoned by Jacques Chirac. It’s almost funny because of what happened next? Farage and UKIP accused of similar offences and had to repay it and justice finally caught up with Chirac. In fact, Farage was late, as this was the second Commission to be proposed as the first had included an Italian Christian Democrat whose views on Homosexuality and Women made him unacceptable to the Parliament as the nominee for the Commissioner responsible for Justice and Human Rights. …

An unhappy anniversary

An unhappy anniversary

Someone writes to me, “I’m not sure the UK can pat themselves on the back for intentionally looking after themselves, much like the US. Germany also funded research into the Pfizer vaccine but didn’t secure a 1st order before the EU, taking a more Internationalist approach. They’ve also secured their own orders since, probably because of Germans getting fed up with the slow EU roll out. Without the EU a lot of smaller member states would have struggled to get in the queue that’s the difference. Unfortunately now that UK have received plenty but not exported any to EU it’s getting tense and the rhetoric unhelpful. Macron has been an idiot but Merkel and the EMA have not. Good distraction for UK government from world leading death toll and billions wasted on PPE and test and trace. It’s also a good case for saying that the UK should be part of the leadership of the EU then this drama may not have happened.”

To which I added, that the grandstanding and threats by Macron & Von der Leyden has been exceptionally unhelpful; it’s possible that this Commission is the 2nd worse there’s been and for the record, the German’s like us, only seem to put 2nd rate politicians onto the Commission. We don’t need to defend the Commission but should always remember that for vaccines to work, we need people other than those that paid for it to have it. We should also forcefully make the point that vaccines are not enough, it is necessary to have a well functioning, track, trace and isolate programme which the UK does not, with adequate compensation for loss of income from public health compliance.

By saying it’s a vaccine bounce and there’s nothing we can do, we collude with a policy that has led to the highest death total in Europe and a policy which is trying to get people back to the work place irrespective of safety, again! I hope that there is no reason to slowdown or reverse the unlockdown, but it is not planned as a complete reversal even today. …