Posts Tagged ‘politics’

I’ve just voted. If you haven’t already done likewise, you have two hours left to do so.

I voted Yes.

I don’t think that AV is a great system – it’s no more proportional than FPTP. But it’s what’s on offer and it is slightly better than FPTP in two respects.

It helps to mitigate a situation where a candidate is elected to whom the majority of the electorate are opposed. e.g. a Labour candidate getting elected because the right wing majority in the constituency is split between UKIP and Conseratives. MPs that are at least tolerable to the majority of their constituents must be a good thing.

And it helps us to more accurately judge the support for medium and small parties. Under FPTP many people don’t vote Green, etc., because they see it as a wasted vote, and hence we have no idea how widespread the real support for these parties is. Better knowledge about what people really support must be a good thing.

I think we’re going to lose, and that we’ll be stuck with FPTP and (with a Lib-Dem collapse likely) a strengthened two party system for another generation. That seems like a bad thing.

A week is a long time in politics. On this blog it’s clearly ten days.

The Election

I have never yet voted (in a general election) for a candidate who got elected. This didn’t change. Overall, happy that the Greens got their first MP, happy that Cameron didn’t get a majority, disappointed by mostly everything else.

The Coalition

A Lib-Dem/Labour coalition was clearly not going to work, the numbers, personalities and media. So with the option between a Lib-Dem/Conservative coalition and a Conservative minority government, which would be the lesser of two evils? Considering that neither Labour nor the Lib-Dems can afford to fight another election and that Labour need time to pick a new leader and a new direction, I think that a minority government would have been asking for trouble. So, the Lib-Dem/Conservative might have been the least worst choice, not just for Nick Clegg, but for everyone.

The Government

There are a lot of people in the new cabinet that I don’t like. There are some I grudgingly respect and a few I actually do like. Taking a 5% pay cut is a good sign (but when the company I worked for ten years ago was getting into trouble we took a 10% pay cut…). Other than that it’s all noise and promises so far.

Rewriting the Unwritten Constitution

There seems to be a lot of confusion between the ability to bring down the government and the ability to dissolve parliament. As I see it the proposal (which currently lacks a lot of detail) will change things like this:

Currently Proposed
The Prime Minister has the right to dissolve parliament and call an election at any point, and must call one after five years The Prime Minister has no right to dissolve parliament and call an election. An election will take place automatically after five years.
MPs may force the resignation of the Prime Minister if more than 50% vote for a motion of no confidence. MPs may force the resignation of the Prime Minister if more than 50% vote for a motion of no confidence.
MPs have no way to dissolve parliament. MPs may dissolve parliament if more 55% vote in favour.

So the PM is giving up power, and MPs will gain a new power. So far so good.

The problem is with what happens after a vote of no confidence brings down the PM. Currently it would likely lead to the defeated PM resigning and calling an election. In the proposed system it would only do the first. So what if more than 50% but less than 55% of MPs hate the current government (e.g. in the current parliament, what happens if the Lib-Dems decide they want to get out of the coalition)? The PM would have to resign and then we’d be back in the same situation we were in after the election – horse trading and squabbling between the parties to form a new coalition or minority government.

If the proposed changes do become law, and if that 55% is, as the critics fear, high enough to prevent parliament being dissolved early, then Gordon Brown’s lasting legacy will be to have set the first Thursday in May as the date for all future elections.


My local candidates, assessed on the quality of their web sites.

Tessa Jowell, Labour

IA and Design: Nice use of YouTube and Google Maps (don’t re-invent the wheel, use the market leaders where suitable). Two equal width content columns means the user doesn’t know which piece of content is more important. Labour Party banner ad at the top looks like a banner ad. Accessibility and Privacy links go to so how can we tell whether they apply to this site?

Technical: Claims to be XHTML 1.0 Transitional, has 10 validation errors. Layout breaks in Opera 10.53. Email sign up things doo.doo is a valid domain name and dfsfsfd a valid postcode. JavaScript for TinyMCE and something call admin-interface.tao are loaded on every page – maybe these should only be loaded on admin screens?

Kemi Adegoke, Conservatives

IA and Design: Best looking site, not much else to say about it – simple but efficient.

Technical: Based on WordPress. Claims to be XHTML 1.0 Strict, has 85 validation errors. Kemi claims to “enjoy web development and writing the occasional bit of code”. Layout breaks very slightly in Opera.

Jonathan Mitchell, Liberal Democrats

IA and Design: It’s a Blogger blog – with commenting disabled. Only been blogging since February apparently. Black text on a mid-green background. All the text is in bold.

Technical: It’s a Blogger blog – claims to be XHTML 1.0 Strict, has 363 (!) validation errors.

Shane Collins, Green Party

Couldn’t find an individual site, so

IA and Design: Video should probably be instead of mugshot instead of tucked away at the bottom. Otherwise clean and efficient, if a bit basic.

Technical: Claims to be XHTML 1.0 Transitional, has 41 validation errors.

Elizabeth Jones, UKIP

Couldn’t find an individual site, so

IA and Design: Photo looks like it came from MySpace. Nice use of UGC in the Q&A section (but … how can blood sports be “a matter for the individual to decide”?)

Technical: Claims to be XHTML 1.0 Transitional, has 131 validation errors. URL is terrible from an SEO perspective.

So, we’ve learnt that the big parties spend more on web sites than the little ones; that no candidate can make a site that actually validates; that XHTML is hands down winner over ye olde HTML 4 or bright shiny new HTML5. Not much help in actually deciding to vote for. 🙁


Via Miss SB comes the Can you list all your MPs? meme.

  • 1973 – 1974 Geoffrey Howe (Con) Reigate
  • 1974 – 1976 George Gardiner (Con) Reigate
  • 1976 – 1979: Sir George Evelyn Sinclair (Con) Dorking
  • 1979 – 1983: Keith Wickenden (Con) Dorking
  • 1983 – 1992: Kenneth Baker (Con) Mole Valley
  • 1992 – 1997: John Patten (Con) Oxford West and Abingdon
  • 1997 – 1998: Paul Beresford (Con) Mole Valley
  • 1998 – present: Tessa Jowell (Lab) Dulwich and West Norwood

Baker, Patten and Jowell are the ones I was aware of, which was depressing enough…


Once upon a time I was sitting in a bar with some work colleagues and one of them told me I don’t vote. I leave it up to people like you who know about these things. At the time I was completely speechless but I’ve subsequently thought a lot about that statement and even though I’m not an American and hence have no vote, today is as good a day as any to mention this story.

I was flattered that I was seen as someone that other people trusted to decide the shape of their government. I was intrigued that someone was apathetic, not because they felt ignored and alienated by politics, but because they felt under qualified to particpate. Mostly, however, I was shocked that someone would so easily throw away their democratic rights.

When you have the opportunity to vote, vote. Vote because one candidate has better policies, or because the other candidate has dreadful policies, or because one candidate is a smarter, better person, or because the other candidate isn’t. You don’t have to justify why you vote the way you do to anyone other than yourself, so whatever criteria satisfies your conscience is good enough.