Yes folks, I do sometimes actually do blog posts about politics in amongst the techie geekery.
Been a curious old day in UK politics today. Conditional resignation of the Prime Minister, serious possibility of a coalitions government between Labour and the LibDems, our unbiased and truth seeking press seeing two of its most self-opinionated protagonists going a bit mental, one of them twice if anyone was watching Sky ‘News’ at about 10pm and the real possibility of electoral reform. Not to mention a large number of commentators including William Hague suddenly not understanding how the British Parliamentary political system works.
For the record, I’m supportive of electoral reform. I’ll admit I used to support First Past the Post on the basis that it provides clearer governments but in equal measure it has led to the increasing detachment of politicians and the electorate. This isn’t the fault of politicians, nor is it the fault of the electorate, but combined they create a spiralling effect that further undermines participatory democracy.
From the politicians point of view, armed with little more than a marked register, which cost about Â£30 a ward, you can write off bothering to talk to nearly half the electorate because they don’t bother to vote. It’s a chicken and egg scenario of course, but by either not voting to start with or not voting because they don’t hear anything from their elected representatives those elected or aspiring to be elected representatives don’t need to bother engaging with them because what they think is irrelevant to their electoral success.
Things shouldn’t be like this which is why I do support the AV voting system but even accounting for this, AV will do some but not a great deal to change this situation.
Personally I support compulsory voting. Only when politicians know that every vote is up for grabs will they engage more widely with the electorate and not concentrate on those who they know will probably vote. Sadly this isn’t on the table of voting reform and I’m sure would be called ‘Stalinist’ (Not that Stalin went in for voting and Democracy of course) or some similar adjective synonymous of oppression or the ‘big evil state’.
That said, AV (actually the Labour manifesto states a referendum on AV for the Commons) will do for me which along with all the other bits and bobs in the Labour Party manifesto, I’ve spent the last month of my life campaigning for.
It’s interesting to note from the LibDems manifesto that they are full on for the STV system of voting reform. Obviously there are always areas where there can be shifts in policy when forming coalition governments but it’s interesting to note where the Tories stand on electoral reform:
“We support the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections because it gives voters the chance to kick out a government they are fed up with.” Page 67 of the Tories Manifesto in case you were wondering.
A quite clear position on the what electoral system should be used for elections to Westminster.
Which I found rather strange that just after Gordon had said his piece outside Number 10 this afternoon that little Billy Hague immediately cropped up saying the Tories would offer a referendum on AV to the LibDems. (No-one at the back point and say the Tories are nicking our policies please, that would just be naughty).
It does however bring to question the extent to which the Tories respect our democratic system. Much to the dismay of the media, this is not America, it’s not a Presidential system, it’s a Parliamentary Democracy. While various commentators and news channels bang on about “we could have another unelected Prime Minister because they haven’t got an agenda of their own now have they? I’ve never voted for a Prime Minister. Every Parliamentary vote I have ever cast has been in the Walsall North constituency and they’ve all been for David Winnick who, to be fair, is probably a bit past it to be considering throwing his hat into the ring for the forthcoming (if there’s a coalition government between Labour and the LibDems) leadership election.
So odds on, like everyone else in the country, bar those 60,000ish people who are lucky enough to live in the constituency where a party leader who’s party forms a government happens to be the local MP, I don’t get to vote for the Prime Minister of our country and no amount of poxy US style Presidential debates are going to change that no matter what the pundits want.
So for William Hague who despite his political persuasions and views, but who is undoubtedly a fairly clever chappy to come out and abandon a key party manifesto pledge in little over 15 minutes after Gordon had openly offered electoral reform (which is in our manifesto) smacks of desperation from the Tories who are intent on getting into Number 10 at any cost, even if it means reneging on the platform they stood for election on only 5 days ago.
It’s been almost hilarious at times to see the reactions of the talking heads in the media. They don’t seem particularly happy chappies about about the idea that someone other than the Tories might be forming the next government. The lines are clearly scripted so I expect to see, should it come to pass “the government of losers”, “another unelected Prime Minister” and various other spurious rubbish bandied about.
However, if a lot more people voted Labour, LibDem, and any other parties thrown into the mix than did Tory then so be it. It merely exposes the interests and agendas of a politicised media for what they are.
I’ll be sad to see Gordon go. We didn’t have an election for leader of the Labour Party when Blair stepped down. Personally I think we should have but I would have voted for Gordon then and would do now. I don’t go for the approach that some have in recent days in calling for him to go. I’ve met him a few times over the years and nothing struck me more than the difference between how he has been portrayed by the media and the bloke in person. He probably is a flawed grumpy old sod at times but so am I, and that doesn’t negate the drive and motivation to make Britain a better and fairer place for all, to combat social injustice and open opportunity to all, irrespective of their backgrounds.
These are truly interesting times in UK Politics and I’ll be fascinated to see how things pan out. I may even start blogging about politics a bit more as well.
On a side issue which I note isn’t getting anywhere near the attention but certainly attracts my interest is the election for the new General Secretary of the Unite Union of which Len McCluskey is one of the candidate. I’ll be following this one closely.