Daily Archives: March 5, 2011


Nick Clegg The Death of Voting Reform

I am a strong supporter of proportional representation, by the single transferable vote. I believe it would open up our politics and roll back some of the corporatism that makes our national politics so unresponsive. The purpose of this post is not to argue that case; we can do that another day.

Alternative Vote seems to me only very marginally preferable to first past the post. Rather than everyone having a good chance to be represented in a multi-member constituency, increasing diversity, AV advantages the inoffensive, it brings the elevation of mundanity. It is only marginally better than FPTP, which advantages the offensive and the funded to the exclusion of everyone else. The main reason I shall vote yes in the referndum is that at least AV will dispense with the ridiculous argument that the British people are incapable of ranking 1,2,3.

But after Barnsley Central it must be extremely likely that the AV referendum will be lost, because the electorate will fear it will bring an electoral advantage to Nick Clegg.

I rejoined the LibDems after Norwich North because I learnt from that experience that electoral politics in the UK are near impossible for an individual to crack. Ironic then that, as just an individual, I polled very nearly as well in Norwich North as the LibDems did in Barnsley – not just as a whole national party, but as a party in government. Indeed, as just an individual in Blackburn in 2005 I polled significantly better than the LibDems did in Barnsley Central.

Not only did I rejoin the LibDems, but at the LibDem Special Conference in Birmingham I voted for the coalition. But that was for a coalition agreement that bears no relation to what the government has actually done. I did not vote for £9,000 tuition fees. The LibDems could have abstained on tuition fees as the agreement I voted for provided – but it turns out that agreement was merely to placate the membership and bore no relation to what the right wing enthusiast Clegg actually intended to do in government.

Free schools, £9,000 tuition fees, ideological market mechanism reform of the NHS bringing yet more bureaucracy, internal invoicing, accountants and waste, 28 day detention, the continuation of control orders, war without end, children still in immigration detention, no sign of an open inquiry on complicity with torture…. I shall be astonished if anyone votes LibDem ever again. There must be some extremely happy Tories out there. Did they always know Clegg would turn out to be to the right of Thatcher?

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Perspective

NATO air strikes have killed 80 civilians in Afghanistan in the last two weeks alone, including nine small boys who were out together collecting firewood. We have been raining down death from the sky around the world on innocent people pretty well every single day since 2002. Gadaffi’s use of air power is very wrong, but is on nothing like this scale.

The people who are positing a no-fly zone over Libya are precisely the people who support and sustain the bombing of children in Afghanistan. The lack of self-knowledge, the complete absence of any perspective, is bewildering.

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