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 Post subject: Royal Wedding, Electoral Reform, and ROYAL BABIES thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:47 
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Because we haven't officially discussed either yet, and both are just a few weeks away now.

Are you excited?
What do you think?
Who'd be Will's second preferen-['Bang!'].


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:50 
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Heavy Metal Tough Guy

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I'd like to take this opportunity to officially thank Craster for reminding me to book those few days off in the middle to get 11 straight days off.

Also, I'm quite looking forward to the whole wedding thing. I might buy some bunting and have a tea party.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:52 
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A blog post I wrote about the referendum, which kind of sums up my views (original here):

Quote:
For as long as I can remember, I have been a politics nerd. I've mellowed a lot in recent years, so probably can no longer give you the turnouts and returns of every election in Borcestershire South or reel off the names of the junior ministerial positions and their PPSs, but the old fascination remains with me and old habits die hard.

A badge of honour for the politics obsessive is to be able to name as many different voting systems and describe their likely effects on recent general elections as possible. Buy me a drink, and if I really hate you I will happily go into details about the d'Hondt mechanism or the precise details of how the Single Transferable Vote really works. Naturally, if I'm feeling cynical we can skip that part and go straight to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem and discover that the perfect system cannot exist so we're wasting our time altogether (actually, I've been fascinated by his work since I first came across it as an undergraduate, and it's a compelling argument).

On 5 May 2011, we lucky Brits are going to have our first national referendum since the 1970s. Woo-hoo! And what major matter of constitutional significance is going to be put to the populace, who will spend the run-up to the great day discussing all the issues inside and out? Is is the long-promised vote on the Lisbon Treaty? Perhaps a grand, final, 'in-or-out' poll on the EU? Or maybe it's a new plan for replacing the House of Lords, or booting Cornwall out of the Union?

Nope. It's about reforming the voting system. Now, I've never been a fan of First Past the Post (FPTP). I don't like how it radically distorts a party's support leading to absurd situations where Labour in 2005 can get a majority of 60 or so with a smaller percentage of the vote than their losing share in 1992. So, I could get excited about this poll. Mixed-member systems, like the ones they use in Germany or in Scotland, are a viable option, as they keep the constituency link but also amend the distortions of FPTP by having a set of seats awarded in order to keep the parties' shares in (rough) proportion to their support. I'd happily vote for that.

Likewise, I would gleefuly mark my 'X' in any box that would introduce proper full-on Single Transferable Vote (and get a nice career in touring the country telling all and sundry how it actually works), or, heck, even the Borda Count system they use for the Eurovision Song Contest. It's not proportional, but does take into account people's preferences and, crucially, we all know how it works. Plus returning officers across the land would be obliged to say 'null points' for at least one of the candidates, and we, as a nation, would all laugh in unison.

But we're not getting any of these options. No. It's either First Past the Post, or the Alternative Vote (AV). Now, AV is handy for club elections or, in the supplementary vote form, for choosing London mayors. I just don't feel it's a big enough change to really merit any public attention (and, vitally, is not used at Eurovision), and let alone a national referendum. It isn't a proportional system, but merely allows people to rank candidates in order of preference, so the eventual victor will ultimately have the support of 50%+1 of the electorate. And that's all it does. At the constituency level, it might be good for the MP to know that he has the support, even if it is topped up by second or third preferences, of over half of his constituents. It won't ensure that a party with 35% of the vote can hold 60% of the seats in the Commons, and indeed I've seen simulations where it exaggerates this effect. I want a more proportional system, which this change will not give me.

The poll is a couple of months away. Since I came of age, I've voted in every election I can. I was one of the 6 or so people who voted in support of an elected mayor of Oxford, and I even once dragged a begrudging housemate along with me down to a polling station for a district council by-election because I felt it was important. I love voting. Yet, on this occasion, I want both sides to lose. Meh.


Anyone want to convince me one way or the other?


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:55 
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Post some lol-kates and I'll have a think about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:56 
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Nope don't care. What could perhaps have helped address our tiresome two-party system more than this new voting system might have been the Lib Dems not being a bunch of duplicitous power-hungry arseholes but that ship fucking well sailed.

At least I get a day off for the royal wedding.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:59 
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MR EXCELLENT FACE

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Squirt wrote:
I'd like to take this opportunity to officially thank Craster for reminding me to book those few days off in the middle to get 11 straight days off.


EXPLAIN

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:08 
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Everybodys gilf

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Pod wrote:
EXPLAIN


Good Friday, Easter Monday, Royal Wedding Bank Holiday, Mayday Bank Holiday. Two 4-day weekends in a row, take the 3 days off in the middle, spend 11 days at home.

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:12 
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Where are you?

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Kern wrote:
Anyone want to convince me one way or the other?

As I see it, we have two options:

Vote FPTP and the Tories in particular will argue that that is the end of the argument for voting reform. Labour will suddenly go quiet on the issue. It will kill the argument stone-dead for a generation, not least because the public did not vote for change.

Vote AV and the Tories and Labour will argue that is the end of the argument for voting reform, because, ultimately, the system makes little odds to them. However, the public will have voted for a change. This gives smaller parties and voting reform advocates ammunition to demand further changes.

Frankly, I think the referendum is a crock of shit. The options should have been FPTP or 'something else'. If 'something else' won, we should then have had impartial committees looking into the best system (or one person outside Number 10, screaming "STV!" at the top of their voice, until Cameron went "Oh, for fuck's sake, fine—just shut up and go away"). As it is, I agree that I want both sides to lose, but I want AV to lose slightly less, because that at least represents the hope that things might change again in the future—and so I'd recommend voting for that option unless you actually support FPTP.

markg wrote:
Nope don't care. What could perhaps have helped address our tiresome two-party system more than this new voting system might have been the Lib Dems not being a bunch of duplicitous power-hungry arseholes but that ship fucking well sailed.

Gosh, let's all try and stop coalitions ever happening in the UK, because this one's a bit shit. Let's ignore all the non-coalition governments we've ever had that have been shit.

Whatever anyone thinks about the Lib Dems right now—and, let's face it, they've hardly covered themselves in glory—it's pretty clear that they have at least been responsible for curbing the worst excesses of a rampantly Thatcherite Tory majority. We're getting 90% Tory rather than 100% Tory. However, it's also worth noting that the Lib Dems are—despite what we voted for—very much the junior party in government. Right now, we have over 300 Tory MPs and under 60 Lib Dems. Had we got the same coalition with PR, we'd have had about 230 Tories and 150 Lib Dems, and that total change in balance would, without doubt, have massively amended the government make-up; alternatively, we could have ended up with a more or less event split between Labour and the Lib Dems (roughly 190/150), and this again would have led to a huge different to what we have now.

What we'll instead get, as far as I can see, is reactionary politics forever, more or less mirroring the USA (choose right-wing or slightly less right-wing!), just with reversed colours.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:16 
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CraigGrannell wrote:
Vote FPTP and the Tories in particular will argue that that is the end of the argument for voting reform. Labour will suddenly go quiet on the issue. It will kill the argument stone-dead for a generation, not least because the public did not vote for change.

Vote AV and the Tories and Labour will argue that is the end of the argument for voting reform, because, ultimately, the system makes little odds to them. However, the public will have voted for a change. This gives smaller parties and voting reform advocates ammunition to demand further changes.

Frankly, I think the referendum is a crock of shit. The options should have been FPTP or 'something else'. If 'something else' won, we should then have had impartial committees looking into the best system (or one person outside Number 10, screaming "STV!" at the top of their voice, until Cameron went "Oh, for fuck's sake, fine—just shut up and go away"). As it is, I agree that I want both sides to lose, but I want AV to lose slightly less, because that at least represents the hope that things might change again in the future—and so I'd recommend voting for that option unless you actually support FPTP.


Yeah, pretty much all of this.

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:17 
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Sleepyhead

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I don't have time to make a long psot right now, but...

The argument to be made is not to ask if AV is the perfect system, but to ask if:

1 - It is better than FPTP, and
2 - What signals a 'Yes' or 'No' vote to reform send out

On point 1 I have yet to see a single argument that is even vaguely convincing in favour of FPTP. The only thing the 'No' compaign is leading with is that it is expensive and that it is confusing. On the former part it isn't really, and on the latter, are we really saying putting numbers on a piece of paper is more complicated that deciding who to support based on a whole cornucopia of policies?

AV makes it easier to oust unpopular elected officials and should signficantly reduce negative campaigning. It's no longer about being seen to be 'less bad than the other chap'.

It's also worth noting that David Cameron is a hypocrite for actively campaigning in favour of FPTP, seeing as if his party's leadership elections were done by FPTP he wouldn't have won, and would not be Prime Minister! It's more than faintly ridiculous for him to oppose the reforms that made him Prime Minister!

On to #2

A vote of 'No' is a steadfast vote of support for FPTP, and should the 'No' vote win, that's it for electoral reform for a generation or two. Any governmetn challenged on our archaic voting system can just declare that it is the will of the people, and that nobody wants change, else they would have voted for it.

A vote of 'Yes' is a vote that recognises we have flaws in our system and want to improve it. It is a mandate for improvement and reform.

I really can't see any reason for anyone to vote 'No' other than for purely party political reasons, and in the great pantheon of reasons to choose something, that ranks amongst the worst.

And an abstained vote is a 'No' vote by another name, as you are voting with your feet against electoral reform.

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:19 
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Sleepyhead

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So, yea, what CG said.

:D

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:22 
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And he had better formatting.

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:22 
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Is Kate Middleton fit or do the Royal low breeds she stands next to make her appear fit by comparison?

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:23 
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She's fit.

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:30 
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baron of techno

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Yes.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:30 
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Meh.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:32 
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Lord Humongous

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*continues with the right royal tug*

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:38 
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CraigGrannell wrote:
markg wrote:
Nope don't care. What could perhaps have helped address our tiresome two-party system more than this new voting system might have been the Lib Dems not being a bunch of duplicitous power-hungry arseholes but that ship fucking well sailed.

Gosh, let's all try and stop coalitions ever happening in the UK, because this one's a bit shit. Let's ignore all the non-coalition governments we've ever had that have been shit.

Oh golly gosh indeed. The point wasn't really anything to do with the voting system but more that hardly anyone is going to vote for the Lib Dems at the next election. Sticking to their principles would have seen them gain a lot of supporters rather than lose them, what the few party leaders chose to do instead has arguably mitigated some of what the Tories are doing (though I'm not even really convinced it's done much more than legitimise it) but at the next election I think they'll be fucking nowhere. What they've gained is a referendum that is highly unlikely to even succeed for some frippery with the voting system which wouldn't even help them much anyway. Yeah well played.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:53 

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I don't believe there's anything the Lib Dems could possibly have done to come out of this any better.

By forming a coalition with Labour, they'd have been accused of perverting democracy by allowing the 'losing' party to remain in power.

By not forming a coalition with either, they'd have been accused of allowing their inaction to prevent the formation of any kind of strong government in this country.

They were fucked before the election even happened.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:05 
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Yeah perhaps, I can't help feeling that they've doomed themselves to obscurity for a long time, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:22 
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Gogmagog

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markg wrote:
Yeah perhaps, I can't help feeling that they've doomed themselves to obscurity for a long time, though.


But they have done it n such a spectacular fashion.

Think that the 'No to AV' vote campaign will win through, couple that with a royal wedding; Cameron emerging as a leader through the soon to be war in Libya; and a resurgence in the economy ; at the next election a Tory majority will be retruned for the next two parliamentary terms.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:23 
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MaliA wrote:
at the next election a Tory majority will be retruned for the next two parliamentary terms.


Blimey. That's quite the pronouncement.

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:24 
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Gogmagog

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Oh, and no to AV, yay for the Royal wedding, although I'm disappointed that there'll be no gold horse drawn carriage.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:27 
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Gogmagog

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Craster wrote:
MaliA wrote:
at the next election a Tory majority will be retruned for the next two parliamentary terms.


Blimey. That's quite the pronouncement.

Mainly due to the Lib Dems being holed beneath the water line for the foreseeable future, unless Clegg can find Maddy in a burning building and rescue her whilst winning the European Cup for England, and Labour are somewhat rudderless at present.

But this isn't about that, so I'll discuss it elsewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:31 
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Where are you?

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markg wrote:
Oh golly gosh indeed. The point wasn't really anything to do with the voting system but more that hardly anyone is going to vote for the Lib Dems at the next election.

But that's not a reason to not vote against FPTP. We should have six Green MPs, but we have one. Had we got six, perhaps the Greens would have fielded more candidates next time round, reopening the battle for the left in the UK. Hell, the BNP should currently have ten or more MPs, and I'd have welcomed that, partly because it would have reflected what the voters voted for, but also because it would have doomed that party into obscurity when its MPs did absolutely fuck-all for five years.

FPTP is a vote for 1800s-style reactionary politics and cementing a two-party system, where we bounce back and forth every few terms, and get radical overhauls to things that don't need overhauling, because the 'new' party feels the need to do stuff, to show how great it is. On the world stage, the UK looks desperately outdated and depressingly rigid and inflexible from a political standpoint, with 'strong' government instead of debate and some actual democracy and widespread representation. (That's not to say coalition is always the best way, but it does at least often lead to compromise and more people's views being taken into account regarding policy.)

Quote:
Sticking to their principles would have seen them gain a lot of supporters rather than lose them

Thing is, ever since the coalition, the right-wing press has done everything it can to kill the Lib Dems (under the misguided assumption that a snap election would return a Tory majority—perhaps true initially, but that's certainly not the case now). The worst of this was Cable, who was certainly naïve and stupid with his comments and openness of opinion, but was fully against the Murdoch Sky takeover, which now sails through under the wing of an of-course-not-at-all-biased Tory. (The worst from the country's standpoint was probably David Laws's resignation. He fucked up, but he was also precisely the right person for the position, and his being kicked out of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury position was a big blow to the UK. Danny Alexander? Pfft.)

Still, you're right in that the Libs desperately need to show some backbone, to stop themselves being cast adrift entirely in 2015. At the rate they're going, it'll be back to 1992 levels (20 seats), if they're lucky. I'm guessing they'll maybe get 15. Mind you, the Tories continue to pull an amazing piece of PR. They do something shit and everyone blames the Lib Dems. The Tories must be pissing themselves about this—although with Labour's resurgence, the Tories should be mindful that in 2015 a demolished Lib Dem partner may mean they all lose.

Zio wrote:
I don't believe there's anything the Lib Dems could possibly have done to come out of this any better. By forming a coalition with Labour, they'd have been accused of perverting democracy by allowing the 'losing' party to remain in power.

The point there is that option didn't even exist. Too many Labour MPs were against coalition, and the majority as it stood probably wouldn't have been stable enough. The idea of a 'rainbow coalition' existing purely for voting reform was nice in theory, but the country had more pressing problems—and without firm resolutions from all parties, there was no way forward.

Quote:
By not forming a coalition with either, they'd have been accused of allowing their inaction to prevent the formation of any kind of strong government in this country. They were fucked before the election even happened.

Agreed on both counts. The other major problem was either the polling at the time was bollocks or people were flat-out lying regarding their voting intentions. It's clear that on the day there was a pretty big swing from Lib to Con. That meant the Lib's maintained their share of the vote from the largely 'protest' cut in 2005, but the polling suggested it'd be higher. That coupled with FPTP meant that the Libs got utterly fucked in every possible way. That a party can get a larger share of the vote and lose seats, and end up with 57 seats when it should have had well over 140... No matter how you feel about the Liberal Democrats and the state of British politics, that is precisely why we need to take FPTP out back and shoot it.

If anyone's interested, here's the comparison I made at the time regarding what we voted for and what we got (approximated, with 'what we voted for' based on true PR):

Image

And, yeah, I'd also back PR giving us 20 UKIP MPs, because despite the fact UKIP are a bunch of arseholes, enough people voted for them that they should be represented.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:33 
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Sleepyhead

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The Lib Dems have actually done a good job; they're just laughably shit at the politics and spin of it.

Pretty much every unpopular thing this government has done has been a Tory plan, and some of those (fees, f'rinstance) were tempered and reduced by the LibDems... and yet the LDs are the ones losing votes despite sticking to their guns on the matters most important to them (and no, tuition fees was not one of their major policies - read the manifesto - so they had to bend on that one).

The Tories are just very good at manipulating (or, indeed, owning) the media and presenting their people in a good light. Just look at Boris Johnson. They guy's clearly smart, entertaining and playing the popularity game very well... but simultaneously wasting insane amounts of money on failed projects (Shepherd's bush renovation, Routemaster buses) and going back on his actual election pledges (bus fares have gone up 40% in a couple of years, he hasn't stood up to the rail companies, etc etc.)

That's just politics.

All that said, I still hold out hope for humanity and the country, so will keep on in the belief that the 'Yes' vote will win over the 'No' vote, purely on the two principles that:

1 - Most parties other than the Tories are backing the change, and
2 - I think more people want change than are excited/happy with the current system so much so as to go out and vote for the status quo to remain (in other words, a pro-reform person is more likely to vote than someone who believes FPTP is the bestest electoral system EVAH!)

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:37 
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Sleepyhead

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Y'know what? I think I'll just leave this to Craig.

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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 14:39 
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Part physicist, part WARLORD

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Curiosity wrote:
Y'know what? I think I'll just leave this to Craig.


Just copy his formatting.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 16:11 
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CG has summed things up pretty well, and he does, indeed, have good formatting. I just can't bring myself to vote in favour of something I disagree with. It's like I'm in a café and they're offering BLTs with or without cheese, but I do not want a BLT but want a pasty.

Oh, and very crafty of the 'No' campaign to redirect http://www.yes2av.org to their pages.


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 Post subject: Re: Official Royal Wedding and Voting System Referendum Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 16:23 
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baron of techno

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Stop saying CG. EBG is CG.


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