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Month: May 2011

The future of political reform in the UK

So we (the Yes campaign) lost. We lost big time. Just like at the General Election last year – the Lib Dems – the main impetus behind the Yes campaign – saw their good performance early in the polls scrubed out by the time the country goes to the polls. This shows us three things. Firstly that they do not campaign well. Secondly that their support is the softest and thirdly people deep down do not like change.

So how does this translate to political reform in the future?

Firstly whilst most political commentators are speculating that political reform is done and dusted for a generation. I do not agree with this. A generation is what 20-25 years and that is an awfully long time. If we roll forward four years and yet again neither Labour or the Conservative Party are able to win a majority in the House of Commons then the No rhetoric of AV leads to more coalitions or minority governments will fall on deaf ears. Two non-majority governments in a row under FPTP would render that moot.

Secondly according to people on the doorstep they were voting against the Lib Dems in the locals and No on AV squarely as a protest vote against Nick Clegg. Multiple people are reporting that the number one issue on the doorstep was tuition fees – which is hilarious but it is true. So therefore people cannot at this point forgive Clegg for going back on his word for abolishing tuition fees should he become Prime Minister. The fact that he didn’t isn’t important. The public prefer lies and rhetoric to factual accuracy it seems.

However look back eight years now and the #1 topic on the doorstep was the Iraq War. The Iraq War is now not an issue. The people that took this country into that conflict are not in power any more. The PM is gone and that political party have a new management in charge therefore people don’t care too much.

So should the Lib Dems have new management in a decade people will not care about what happened in 2010. The electorate have short memories. Nick Clegg is a good man doing a very difficult job under pretty harsh circumstances but long-term that issue on the doorstep will be gone at some point.

Thirdly the Yes campaign were politically naive (as were the Lib Dems in 2010) and they need to evolve. The No campaign knew that to win all they had to do was spread a few lies, be negative and rely on their right-wing media to enforce their campaign. Negative politics is disgusting and horrible but it is mightily effective. George Bush won a second-term in the USA purely running a campaign on ‘if you vote for the democrats then terrorists will break into your house and night and kill you and your loved ones. That was the crux of his campaign and it worked.

For those not engaged with politics and don’t care too much but do vote then negative headline making will have a significant impact. Those in favour of political reform and the Lib Dems themselves must learn this.

So lets look ten years down the line at what are realistic scenarios. Firstly Nick Clegg is now either a backbencher or out of UK politics altogether. That removes the trust issue for many. Secondly we have had another coalition government of some form. That removes the ‘FPTP doesn’t provide coalitions often’ line. Thirdly the Green Party and/or UKIP have made more inrodes in terms of the national vote if not seats. Fourthly yet another few millions people have passed on who are staunchly Red or Blue and vote. With young people getting involved in politics being split far more than the oldest generation then they’ll have a bigger appetite for a fairer political voting system and fifthly it won’t be AV on the ballot – it will be STV or PR the country are voting on.

We all knew AV was not perfect but it was better than FPTP. If the country went to the polls on another system that was easier to understand (not that AV wasn’t easy but the media made a huge deal about how it wasn’t and scared many people who thought they would be forced to vote for the BNP as a preference) then they would have a much bigger chance of winning. Under STV then everyone would have their second preference counted if needs be and under PR then everyone knows the House of Commons would accurately represent the wishes of the electorate.

Fairer votes for all isn’t consigned to the annals of time for most of us. It will come up again and it might not be that far away. When it does though the Yes to change team will have to learn from their No counterparts on how to win an election. Until they do that then FPTP is here to stay.

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I have voted Lib Dem and #YestoAV

At around quarter past nine this morning I had got dressed, cleaned my teeth, weighed myself and I had more importantly voted in both the local elections and the referendum on changing the voting system. At my local polling station it was full of older people (I think I was the youngest by about 50 years or so) but I forged ahead and placed my x next to the local Lib Dem candidate and on the referendum for AV I voted Yes.

Now in all honesty I was a little bit torn on the former. I have not heard a thing from the local Lib Dem candidate. Not a thing. In the post I have received two pieces from the standing independent councillor and one piece of literature from the Tory candidate. I read the independents views and threw the Tory piece on the floor by my door never to be read. There were four names on the ballot paper – the big three and the independent. In all honesty this is a two-horse race between the Tory and the independent with Labour and the Lib Dems fighting over the wooden spoon. So in a way I felt my Lib Dem vote was wasted but now I’m a member I’m duty bound to vote for them whereas had I not been a member I may well have voted for Ron Woodley – the independent – just to try and keep the Tory out.

On the AV referendum it was more straight forward. I think AV stinks but FPTP is even worse. I’m very much an STV guy or PR but FPTP is a system for a two-horse race and in this day and age we aren’t in a two-party system. The Lib Dems are a very significant party and in certain pockets the Greens, UKIP and yes even the BNP have legitimate support. This makes the current voting system out of date and AV is at least a step towards a voting system that would be fairer and more adequate for the needs of the British electorate.

So there we have it. I fear that I have not voted for a winner today but heck I have voted and that is all I can do.

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American Justice – Sheriff strangles handcuffed and shackled teen

Sadly I see far too many of these types of videos. This one is one of the worst I’ve seen though although that one where Canadian police stripped a 15 year-old and hogtied her in a jail cell in the nip is still the most disturbing I’ve ever seen but I digress.

Sheriff Larry Amerson of Calhoun County, Alabama can clearly be seen in this video with his hands around the neck of a handcuffed and shackled inmate. Think about that for a minute and the ethics and the civil liberties behind this. We all want the police to be trustworthy people whom will treat anyone fairly even under strenuous conditions. I think everybody going for a career in criminal justice should take a look at this case, or at least the subject of police brutality. I’m beginning to wonder just what they are teaching police recruits in America. It seems though that maybe the problem goes beyond just the sheriff and partly lies with the culture

Reading the letters in The Anniston Star it seems as though the general public are fully behind the Sheriff. They think a bit of tough life and hands around a throat of a teenager toughens him up and will scare him straight. This may be the case but doing it in full view of a CCTV camera is dumb. The kid apparently was on a programme that it is hoped would ‘scare him straight’ but still I’m not sure that hands around the throat is the best way forward.

The officer is under an FBI investigation and the CCTV evidence is pretty damning. If he doesn’t lose his job he’ll be a very lucky man and I wouldn’t be shocked to see criminal charges laid at his feet.

I just wonder when people will learn that CCTV is everywhere and in this day and age you have to watch everything you say and do. Had this happened 25 years ago no-one would’ve heard about it let alone complaints made. A seemingly good career thrown away in a moment of madness. However as they say ‘if you can’t do the time then don’t do the crime’ and I’m pretty sure that is assault at worst.

Watch the video below to put together your own thoughts.

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Howard Webb set for Manchester United v Chelsea call

As the Daily Mail put it, ‘Howard Webb is set to be revealed as the controversial choice to take charge of Sunday’s potential title decider between Manchester United and Chelsea.’ However as we all know the Daily Mail are idiots so lets look at the claim that it is a controversial choice.

Last year Howard Webb refereed both the Champions League Final and the World Cup Final. Therefore he is widely considered clearly to be one of the very best officials in the game. He was England’s representative at the tournament and clearly has done a good job on both his big occasions. Yes some might say he let a bit too much go in the World Cup Final but still it wasn’t an awful performance. His display in the Champions League Final was spot on.

So having the perceived best or at least one of the best refs handle the biggest domestic game of the season is controversial? Are you kidding me Daily Mail? Do they know what controversial actually means? Who else was going to get the game? Can the FA find a ref who hasn’t pissed off Fergie at some point?

It was as clear as day that Howard Webb would get this appointment. It’s not controversial, it’s just the right thing to do. Webb has not been given nearly as many big games this season as they have spread it around but this is the biggest domestic game of the season and therefore it is a bit of a no brainer to put the #1 guy in there.

Sometimes I despair. I really do.

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The Roman Catholic church don’t mind Robert Mugabe. Apparently being a Roman Catholic is more important than being a good person.

Whilst flicking through my blog list earlier I came across this blog by Danier Furr entitled Vatican endorsement for dictatorship and mass murder and thought this isn’t going to end well. I clicked on the link and a small amount of sick burnt the back of my throat.

I agree that the church and politics should stand apart but this isn’t politics – this is a racist mass-murderer that we are talking about. This isn’t policy over taxes or free school meals this is a racist mass-murderer we are talking about. This isn’t a row over tuition fees this is a racist mass-murderer that we are talking about. This isn’t a discussion over whether NHS prescriptions should be free for all this is a racist mass-murderer that we are talking about. Ok I think I’ve gotten my point across.

It sickens me that just because he is Roman Catholic the church will turn a blind eye to what a despicable man he is. There is a difference between coveting thy neighbours wife and killing thousands of innocent people in a purge. I haven’t read the bible recently but I’m pretty sure mass-murder doesn’t get the thumbs up from the book. In fact I think it is frowned upon quite strongly.

Surely the most important thing for those in the church is to be a good person. Robert Mugabe is not a good person therefore he shouldn’t be a member of the church let alone be actively invited to important events. This just shows us all that the Roman Catholic church at times doesn’t practice what they preach.

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