A silly long week-end of politics

 

            We read that the Av campaign has just got nasty. Some tell us the Coalition is under stress owing to the new tough rows going on. I don’t think so.

             I do not believe Mr Huhne, after the referendum, will pursue the matter through the courts. When didn’t elections throw up contested claims and dubious facts? Have the Lib Dems never put out a leaflet which others thought misleading at best? How much does Mr Huhne think AV elections would cost?

            I do not believe Dr Cable will resign because he thinks the government ought to let in more migrants than Mr Cameron will allow. I am still trying to work out why he thinks the Lib Dems are stopping unpopular policies within government, when he was the architect of the higher tuition fees policy which so far has aroused more protest than anything else. Nor do I think Mr Clegg really believes our present system of voting is a right wing plot, when it has been accepted by most people for many decades, and has elected socialist as well as Conservative governments.

            The Lib Dems have to stick with the Coalition, whatever the result on 5 May. They after all are the believers in Coalition politics, so they have to go the extra mile to show us how it’s done in the national interest. They signed up to a 5 year Parliament and a 5 year programme, and voted through a piece of legislation to reinforce the 5 year run. Surely they would not tear up such a promise so soon after making it? How could they be trusted in any future coalition talks if that is the way they behaved this time round? What would they say to the electors about such a U turn, when the deal was a referendum on AV, not a guaranteed victory for AV.

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40 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    We all know the Libdems are a pretty tricky lot of politicians.
    What we did not know was how very weak David Cameron and his lot were. Before the election they paraded as Eurosceptics who were going to change the education system radically, pay back the debt, remove the deficit, reform the Civil Service and give the Health Service back to the Doctors.
    Now people (like you) who talk like that have been sidelined into “the far right”.
    What a swindle. It plays right into the hands of the cynics and sceptics who do not believe in anything much.
    Meanwhile those of us who put our time and money into their ideals have been betrayed.
    I am so cross I could spit.

    • The ESSEX GIRLS
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      We entirely agree Mike and that’s why we’ve stopped trying and virtually ceased blogging. We too put in such a lot of effort and constructive ideas and so did our colleagues The ESSEX BOYS (one of them still blogs as CHEESED OFF).
      And what did we get? The Big Society and a raft of cop-outs and broken commitments.
      Mr Cameron is a washout in our view and is living up to the PR Boy tag with which New Labour labeled him at the outset.

      • forthurst
        Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that the influence of Oliver Letwin in negotiating the Coalition agreement and in day to day influence on David Cameron’s policies should not be overlooked. Any further development of this hypothesis I could offer would almost certainly be moderated.

    • APL
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Mike Stallard: “It plays right into the hands of the cynics and sceptics who do not believe in anything much.”

      Over thirty years of politics in the UK, I have watched politicians repeatedly employ ‘dog whistle’ tactics in the run up to an election, then about face to ‘business as it was’ immediately the votes are counted.

      One might be drawn to the conclusion that these people do not represent the population at large, rather they have established a new aristocracy, insulated and isolated from the people who’s interests they claim to represent.

      If as a result I am cynical and sceptical that, in my opinion slightly better than being credulous or repeatedly gulled.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted April 27, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink

      David Cameron is not weak. He is a Tory Wet and coalition with the LibDems comes naturally to him. He is also a self confident person and formidable at the dispatch box. He has force through fixed term parliaments – at least for the time being, equalised constituencies and diluted the consequences of a no confidence motion.

      If we want to influence Conservative policy going into the next election, we are going to have to communicate strongly with Mr Cameron, otherwise his will be the dominant voice in the manifesto.

  2. Jose
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Surely the Lib Dems are out of necessity having to differentiate themselves from the Tories. It is simply not in their interests to be constantly seen as the lackeys for Cameron to do whatever he wishes. It is a fact though that this differentiation might not stop them from committing electoral suicide!

    On the other hand, why should Cameron worry too much as the Lib Dems have far more to lose than the Tories if they decide to ‘walk the plank’.

    Cameron should pay a bit more attention to his own backbenchers and the public at large than the Lib Dem opportunists.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    If first past the post is a right wing plot, as they suggest, then why is there not a single party that believes in small government and self governance actually in parliament at the moment?

    True the mood music of the BBC and school syllabuses, to a large extent, set the big government tone over the whole country. Thus making sensible government hard to achieve.

    Credit where it is due to the BBC though – I can now justify my 2 BBC licence fees alone on the huge Desert Island Disc pod cast archive now available and the Early Music Show. Still it would be nice if just once in a while they did not take the big government, pro EU, global warming exaggeration/religion and fighting for “equality” and “fairness” line which cause so much harm to the country and the economy.

    Probably still best to avoid the actors, pop musicians, the “Arts” and politicians on desert island discs though or the lefty bias still comes through strongly.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      If I want to read the Times or the Guardian, there is nothing to stop me buying them.
      So why do I have to buy the BBC?

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        I am no fan of the BBC particularly its absurdly left wing, big government, pro EU, pro global warming exaggeration religion and its constant back door adverts. Nor the taxation/licence funding system or the absurd pay and pension levels. Nevertheless if I see it doing something good and educational I sometimes feel I should give credit where it is due and perhaps others might enjoy these programs too.

        As I understand it you only need a licence to watch “live” broadcast TV anyway?

  4. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    AV deserves to fail because it is a daft system. Ditto PR. The correct objectives are to be fair and accountable to local voters, not parties.

    • sjb
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      How is FPTP “fair and accountable” to the 900,000+ local people who voted UKIP at the 2010 General Election but do not have a single MP in the House of Commons?

      In the 2009 European Election held under a “daft system” 2.49 million voted for UKIP and they won 13 seats. A similar pattern can be seen in the 2004 and 2005 elections, too.

      Therefore, isn’t it likely that come a General Election most UKIP supporters do not cast their vote for the party they really want but instead feel compelled to vote Conservative because otherwise the Labour or LibDem may win the seat?

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        sjb

        UKIP is still seen by many as a one issue party. Hence, they attract more votes in European elections than general elections where they are not considered equipped to form a government.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted April 27, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink

        The one consolation prize if AV prevails is that quite a few Conservative, Labour and BNP voters would put UKIP as their second preference. I see UKIP as a useful goad to the Conservative party. Make sure that UKIP has the largest popular vote in the 2014 European elections and then the sparks will really fly.

        Reply Second pref votes are only counted if your first pref is for an unpopular party and if no candidate gets 50%. In most places Conservative and Labour voters putting UKIP 2nd will not make a jot of difference.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    John.

    Your comments are logical, as usual.

    But then when have the Lib Dems done anything logical for long.
    They have been out of governments for so long, they are now having to learn what real responsibility really is !

  6. JimF
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Yes there will be much gnashing of teeth when the vote is for NO. They will be demanding something, anything to show their Party that the whole Coalition exercise was worthwhile. Perhaps Cameron is playing the long game, all the time ready to woo Libdems who finally ask “what’s the point of voting Libdem?”

  7. Peter
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    It’s a pity Cameron didn’t do a better job on the election, then maybe there wouldn’t be a coalition.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Indeed “save the world” Brown was a sitting duck at the election had Cameron made the simple, and highly moral case, for less government, less EU, fewer parasites. Thus letting people to spend their own money, efficiently and directly rather than the government stealing it and wasting it on daft fashionable schemes or trying to buying votes.

      Alas he would rather continue tax & waste, over regulation and aimless wars in a mad suicide pact coalition.

    • rose
      Posted April 27, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      If he had called the Media bluff and gone all out for national independence and curbing immigration he would have won hands down. That is why previous leaders of the Conservatives who hinted they might do the same were demonised by the media – because it was feared they had a winning formula. Furthermore it wasn’t just a winning policy, but the only right policy to adopt in our predicament, for the good of the country.

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Huhne, Cable and Hughes are all positioning themselves to replace Clegg, hence all this synthetic huffing and puffing. The worst aspect of this referendum is that there is no turnout threshold. We could be changing our voting system with significantly less than 20% actually voting for such a change.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Huhne, Cable and Hughes all seem mad to me but then who else would want to lead the Liberal party.

  9. Alan Wheatley
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Surely a referendum on AV should offer the voter the opportunity to express their view by means of an AV?

    In third place is “No”: the campaign with the more stupid arguments.

    In second place is “Yes”: the campaign with the marginally less stupid arguments.

    And the winner is ….. “stop wasting my time and tax payers money on an enormous irrelevance”!!!!!

  10. Sarah
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I believe that the LIBDEMS are having a hard time actually being in government and having to make choices and decisions accordingly. They are a party more comfortable with micro issues and complaint. Hence protesting whilst actually being in government and concentrating on minutiae like internships. Old habits die hard! They haven’t got anywhere to go however as if they leave the coalition they will be a laughing stock. Their only choice remains making a success of it all. All very uncomfortable and therefore the squeaking.

  11. oldtimer
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The LibDems come across as chumps. Quite how they still manage to command so many seats in the HoC is a mystery. Maybe next time the public votes the penny will have dropped and they will attract the votes and seats appropriate for their incompetence.

  12. Lynda Bowyer
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I think the LibDems have shown themselves to be the brown nosing charlatans that they always were – its just that they managed to get into a coalition government for their true colours (deepest shades of brown) to be shown. I strongly oppose AV and all which is stands for. We do not have the need for a long drawn out and convoluted voting system. The majority of the populus will not turn out to vote as they will not fully comprehend the round after round of voting to pull out a sure winner. We fought for the democratic right to vote as women via the Suffragette movement. I, for one, do not want that very right to be denied me by someone now telling me how I am to vote. One person, one vote. Plain and simple. The one with the most votes wins. AV will only prove to provide the safety net for more coalition governments with the LibDems steering the Good Ship Westminster on any course which they choose to dictate.

    As a girl, and a coal miners’ daughter at that, I got sick of seeing in my Yorkshire heartlands the dispondency in people voting for Labour. A three-legged dog could be put in under the Labour banner and it’d win – ok its using the one person one vote system but the policies of Labour were absolutely dire. Thus was proven by the “tail wagging the dog” system which ended in the Miners Strike of 1984-1985 which I remember as a girl all too well. When able to vote, I voted Tory firstly out of spite and to lash out at the years of Labour diatribe in my local area at that time. As the years have progressed, I vote Tory with pride. Thatcher had sense, vision and drive – something which the limp-wristed politicians of today would do well to have even in a fraction of the amount which Maggie had.

    If we let Labour back in, especially as bedmates with the LibDems, it will do nothing for the forward advancement of the British economy and local government. One person, one vote for me, thankyou very much. If AV is used, I will simply refuse to cast my vote as I will not be dictated to how my vote shall be represented.

  13. David John Wilson
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The £250m extra cost of AV seems to be based on the fact that it costs three times as much per vote to run an election in Australia than it does in the UK. This calculation fails to take into account that most of the extra cost in Australia has nothing to do with AV but is due to the fact that it is a large mainly sparsely populated country. The extra cost of AV in the UK is unlikely to result in an increase of more than 10% rather than trippling the cost.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      If you are so well informed as to be able to tell us the likely additional cost, surely Huhne, a cabinet minister, can tell us precisely what the additional cost will be or perhaps he would prefer just to mislead us.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        I am sure it could be done for an additional £10m per election but given that the government will be organising it will doubtless cost £250M +. Just look at the costs of government buildings at Westminster and Edinburgh as an indication.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 27, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          AV is fiendishly complex and any attempt to count the votes manually would inevitably collapse into chaos.

          Except in Australia, where they’ve been doing it for more than nine decades – in fact for more than a century in Queensland where it started.

          Oh, and in Ireland, where they use AV for parliamentary by-elections such as this one:

          http://electionsireland.org/counts.cfm?election=2007B&cons=85&ref

          and even with nine candidates and eight counting rounds they seemed to manage it.

          The point is that although there were eight counting rounds that didn’t mean that there was eight times the work or time or expense.

          The first counting round, equivalent to the single count with FPTP, involved sorting and counting all 28,412 ballot papers, but the second involved only the 203 ballot papers in the pile belonging to O’Loughlin, the first candidate to be eliminated.

          And so on – only the 528 ballot papers in the pile belonging to Steenson to be reallocated in the third round, only 676 in the fourth round, and then only 893 in the fifth round.

          It was only in the last three counting rounds that the numbers of ballot papers to be dealt with started to become significant – 3,621, then 4,420 and finally 6,537.

          Taking everything into account my estimate is that the use of AV for a UK general election would delay the declaration of the result for an average constituency by a couple of hours, unless more tellers were employed.

          And the extra cost of the actual counts would be maybe £2 million on top of the present £6 million under FPTP, which itself is only about 5% of the total cost of a general election.

    • Derek Buxton
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      It could also haver something to do with the fact that the “electoral reform group” are running it and (some think ed)they have a conflict of interest. If AV wins (some think they will benefit from extra work) at every election.

  14. Stuart Fairney
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I have this mental image of ‘Vince’ doing something that would never get past moderation and Cameron shrugging and saying “Well that’s just Vince”

  15. pipesmoker
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    AV? I really don’t give a damn.

    Those around you are so steeped in their own impotence they are totally unaware of the concerns of the likes of me.

    Just one question on the referendum, EU, in or out?

    Until they do I will not vote again and when that dawns on them they will come to realise they have no more democratic right to govern me than Gaddafi has to rule Libya?

  16. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the 60 Lib Dems in Parliament will adhere to the coalition. If they fail to do so, around 50 of them will be jobless by the autumn.

  17. BobE
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    How to tactical vote using AV.
    Suppose its a shoe in Labour seat. Then your best bet is to vote Tory first and UKIP second. Third and fourth don’t matter. If enough do that then the safe seat drops below 50% and UKIP get a chance. UKIP is the only way to save our country now.

    • Andy
      Posted April 27, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      UKIP wont help. In fact UKIP have helped the EU cause because in General Elections it has taken support from Conservative candidates. In 1997 it cost a number of Conservatives seats.

      To save our country we need more Eurosceptic Conservative MPs which the leadership of the party will have to listen to and deal with. I have a Eurosceptic MP and that is why I give the Tories some cash every now and again, allow them to stick posters in the garden and generally wish them well even though I am not a party member.

      • BobE
        Posted April 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        The conservatives will never have enough Eurosceptic MPs to stop this descent into the EUSSR. The leadership are clearly Eurofiles. UKIP isnt a lot but its the only chance unless the Euro collapses. Which is a hope of course.

      • rose
        Posted April 27, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        The same here, Andy, except that we live in a Liberal pocket borough, both locally and nationally. You might think we had the best pavements in the country, but not a bit of it. We are thoroughly run down and neglected, while our local councillors propel themselves towards parliamentary seats. Any conservative could do better at representing us than they do, and surely wouldn’t be quite so EU crazy.

    • rose
      Posted April 27, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      And how do you vote tactically in a 3 way marginal seat with the ecologists coming up behind and UKIP nowhere in sight?

  18. BobE
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I bet that never gets out of moderation

  19. Neil Craig
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    FPTP is not a right wing plot – it is a right and left winf plot. Specifically it is supported by the 2 parties, Conservative and Labour, who retain close to a monopoly power position by effectively disenfranchising anybody who won’t vote for them. AV may not be much better than FPTP but it does lower the barriers to entry to new parties and as anybody who understands economics knows, low barriers to entry are good for the customer.

  20. Bazman
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Interesting how many people especially MP’s support Dominic Raab’s strike bill to force a majority vote in a right to strike. Coming from an MP who cannot muster half the vote in his constituency and about a quarter of whom did not vote.
    Probably the same people who support the sneaky trick of making the royal wedding a public holiday and not a Bank holiday so million of people in low paying tight fisted firms do not have to pay for the day off. No matter how much profit they made they are not sharing it with cleaners and the like. Maybe the cuts will help them.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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