Controlled Votes 88


Nationalisation is popular. I mention in every talk I give that a large majority of the population wish to see the railways re-nationalised, but neo-con dominance of the party machines makes sure there is nobody you can vote for, who in our buttoned-down party system might ever get elected, who supports that view. Wings Over Scotland has an opinion poll which shows massive majorities for nationalising both railways and energy companies, with no difference of opinion between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Yet even the SNP does not give the voters any way to assert their view on nationalisation. I am, for the first time, contemplating seriously the advantages of direct democracy.

The latest YouGov poll gives these UK voting attentions:
Conservatives 32% (n/c)
Labour 32% (-2)
UKIP 16% (+1)
Greens 8% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
SNP/Plaid Cymru 5% (+1)

There is no doubt that television debates do have a real influence on voting intentions during the election campaign. To include the Liberal Democrats but exclude the Greens and Nationalists is becoming increasingly indefensible – particularly as the SNP looks certain to have an absolute minimum of 20 MPs after the election, and possibly many more. I would put money on there being more SNP than Lib Dem MPs this time next year.

This is about the hard manipulation of power, pure and simple. The fact of the matter is that only the nationalists and the Greens have anything like a radical agenda. It is not just about the broadcasters favouring particular parties as institutions. It is about the broadcasters making sure that even mildly left wing sentiments are not seen as accepted in an establishment forum. They are terrified of letting the voters hear things with which they actually agree.


88 thoughts on “Controlled Votes

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  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Sorry, not only one – four (Bob Costello, Kenny, Jbond and OldMark). Not the usual shower, I note.

  • eddie-g

    “I would put money on there being more SNP than Lib Dem MPs this time next year.”

    Unfortunately, you won’t get very good odds on it! Most bookies have each picking up in the region of 28-30 seats. But I agree with you on the idea, I don’t see any scenario where the Libdems manage to outperform expectations.

  • johnstone

    Who said ‘Exit the insular little prisons of our minds’.???

    Was it David Cameron or Nick Clegg
    could it have been Ed Millipede or Nigel Fart
    or was it Nici S or Nati B?

    Yes, that’s the correct it was none of the above. It was …Russel Brand .. based on Plato Allegory of the Cave (perhaps)

    -Plato has Socrates describe a gathering of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to designate names to these shadows. The shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

    BTW
    Israel/Palestine, Russell Brand/Sean Hannity: Round 2 (The Trews E114)
    more than 2 million hits

    Israel/Palestine, Russell Brand/Sean Hannity: Round 3 (The Trews E114)
    more than 3 million hits

  • John Robertson

    There is no justification at all for excluding any recognised party from the debates – simply because ALL of them are national parties in that their members are elected to the “national” parliament.

    The other argument is that, as the LibDems are only standing in 266 seats out of the 650 (so far) and UKIP in even fewer, neither of them can be classed as national parties! In which case, why should someone in an non-LibDem/UKIP area have to watch Nick or Nigel in the debates when they can’t vote for them?

    There are loads more obvious reasons why the exclusion is really stupid – however, the real question that the naysayers haven’t answered is why not include them?

  • fool

    As Habba has complained about the lack of life on this thread I thought do I have any ideas. Here is one:

    What does Craig mean by “Direct Democracy”? Online daily plebiscites?

    There is an article in the Economist this week about Bitcoin, which I really don’t understand, but it explains in passing that there are regular online discussions about some particular development and when there is a consensus the developers (of whom there are apparently 5) put the necessary code in place, and then the test comes as to whether the users / bitcoin miners adopt the development or fork off (nice verbal phrase that). Worryingly If 51% of the mining infrastructure comes under single control then it would appear they might be able to raid the bank and seize all the bitcoins.

    Could there be some analogous application of this approach to Direct Democracy?

    Could everyone somehow participates through mass discussion until a consensus emerges. This might not be through an old fashioned vote. We are many of us in a community with diverse views and interests. A simple vote often oppresses a minority i.e. a vote / referendum is sometimes like the 51% running off with all the bitcoins.

    Does the technology exist for more sophisticated methods of developing a consensus. I am not a geek but am envisaging a sort of virtual market place of ideas, where the solution to a particular problem is thrown about about until some patterns form and a consensus emerges, which the government of 5 (maybe 7!) puts into effect on a trial basis. If it is taken up it works.

    Does this sound crazy? To Anglo Saxon legal ears surely yes because how can you put a law into place for testing. Laws need sanctions they are not optional (although perhaps the nudge unit might explore this?).

    But what if we look not for the development of Laws (WITH THEIR BLACK LETTERS) but for new conventions or acceptable social norms, which are then accepted by the majority.

    A recent book on Italy commented that Italians are notorious for flouting laws but very strict in their adherence to conventions. If the conventions are good then that is a sound basis for society. Similarly, in traditional Chinese society and legal theory knowing the conventions of how to behave is the basis for a good society whereas a legalistic society is deemed to be indicative of a failing state i.e. rigid legal rules are not derived from God, King or a higher principle, but are actually deemed down right bad.

    So my foolish suggestion is that maybe Direct Democracy can be (or perhaps already is) a way to develop some consensus amongst communities about what is a right and wrong way to behave. There is some flux in society and some people may have lost their moral compass. This might be a good time to all re-think what is ok and what is not. There can be some flexibility but the essential principles must become deep rooted….so deep rooted that people know and accept when someone is compliant with principle or convention even if they are on the face of it flouting the law (or forking off).

    Apologies if I sound like an old hippy.

  • johnstone

    Coming to Edinburgh on 26-27th Nov 2015
    World Forum on Natural Capital… euphemism for the pricing of nature

    no amount of models, maps or meaningless cliches can over come the weaknesses of the mechanisms for the valuation of ecosystem services better known as NATURE!!!

    http://www.naturalcapitalforum.com/
    -To learn more about the motivation of companies and to analyze the status quo, the Global Nature Fund has recently published the study “How companies value natural capital – taking stock and looking forward”. In our study we distinguished between two applications of “natural capital accounting”. On the one hand we looked at the use of economic valuation methods for a certain project, at a certain facility or a specific decision-making problem. We called this the “CEV-approach” as it is based mainly on the Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV) of the WBCSD. Dow Chemical’s work with the Nature Conservancy however does fit into the category as well. On the other hand we analyzed how companies apply economic valuation to assess their entire value or supply chain – which we called the “EP&L-approach”. Since 2011 more companies have followed PUMA’s ground breaking work, e.g. the Otto Group in Germany or Novo Nordisk of Denmark as well as Yorkshire Water in the UK.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Fool

    Thanks for posting those thoughts and ideas. I may come in again in due course but in the meanwhile I think I’ll wait and see if they elicit any meaningful, reasoned on-topic discussion…..

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    On contradiction to what I just wrote, I’d like to respond to a couple of John Robertson’s comments.

    1/. “The other argument is that, as the LibDems are only standing in 266 seats out of the 650 (so far) and UKIP in even fewer, neither of them can be classed as national parties!”
    ____________________

    We have to apply a little common sense here because the reductio ad absurdum of the above is that a party is not “national” unless it stands in all seats.

    I think that standing in 266 seats out of 650 isn’t too bad, especially if the seats where they are standing are spread out reasonably over the whole country. A party standing in only 10 seats (for example) would obviously be a different case.

    2/. “In which case, why should someone in an non-LibDem/UKIP area have to watch Nick or Nigel in the debates when they can’t vote for them?”
    ____________________

    The obvious answer there is that that someone does not have to watch the debate.
    Indeed, it would be pointless for him to do so, unless as an aid to deciding whether he should not make the best of it and vote Conservative or Labour instead.

  • fred

    I think the decision not to include the SNP was probably made for technical reasons. The debates are broadcast live so there wouldn’t be any way to include subtitles.

  • Kempe

    ” Wings Over Scotland has an opinion poll which shows massive majorities for nationalising both railways and energy companies, ”

    No mention of buses though, odd that. Even the Tories are getting behind the idea of re-regulation of the bus network but so far nothing from the UK’s most left-wing party the SNP.

    Now that wouldn’t have anything to do with Stagecoach boss Graham Souter effectively bankrolling the party now would it?

    http://www.passengertransport.co.uk/2014/11/‘the-big-mo’-is-now-with-bus-regulation/

  • John Robertson

    “We have to apply a little common sense here because the reductio ad absurdum of the above is that a party is not “national” unless it stands in all seats.”

    The issue is the definition of “national”? In the case of UK parliamentary elections there are no “regions”, “boundaries” or “countries” – it’s all one homogenous area voting for members of a single body.

    This seems to about about fabricating ever more ridiculous excuses for limiting democracy (the same arguments are also used to justify EVEL). Plenty other countries have multi-party debates – there is absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t work in this “nation” (see above for the definition ;-)).

  • Kenny

    Craig, you are absolutely right. I think you should investigate if there is even a BBC ban on certain expressions, such as “nuclear disarmament”. I was watching Patrick Harvie being interviewed on the national BBC (on YouTube, of course, won’t pay the licence). After the interviewer got over her initial shock that he was supporting independence but was in a party OTHER THAN THE SNP (!), a party that was actually in opposition to the SNP at Holyrood, she completely gagged when he mentioned banning Trident and getting rid of nuclear weapons forever — and quickly ended the interview. I honestly felt the BBC has certain guidlines over things which must NEVER be mentioned on air…

  • Vronsky

    STOP PRESS: Tasmina has lost in Falkirk. Apparently Sunday Herald now set to trash her as ‘former Tory’.

    Now watch Airdrie…

  • George Duncan

    Could the individual parties be REPRESENTED within the debates in PROPORTION to their popularity? Or would that be too dangerous a notion?

  • Vronsky

    @fool

    “Does the technology exist for more sophisticated methods of developing a consensus.”

    You might be interested in Loomio, a collaborative decision-making tool used by radical Spanish party Podemos. We’re starting to use it here as a response to the huge surge in SNP membership.

  • Peacewisher

    @George: You are talking proportional representation. That means REAL democracy. Happens in most of Europe, of course. 38degrees were founded in UK on that principle after 2010 election. However, as we know, Westminster makes all the decisions, probably censors BBC news, and certainly won’t listen to us.

    Russell Brand’s latest:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFE1rAAG-Is

  • Cameron's head frowning on a pike

    Right, the British regime is terrified of letting the voters hear things with which they actually agree. Even more, they are terrified of letting voters learn what they have coming: the minimal legal standards of the civilized world. Specifically, The International Bill of Human Rights. The UN Charter. The Rome Statute.

    If you don’t know the duties and obligations required of any sovereign state, Tory, LibDem, Green, or SNP, then Fuck off, you don’t deserve to run for dogcatcher. If the state you hope to helm can’t meet the standards, then fuck it, we’ll rip it apart, give the UK what the USSR got.

  • Puzzled

    The FOI party is the only party that matters, it just obtained the UK abstention from the Palestine recognition vote at the UNSC under our very noses. It was the driving force behind nobbling any attempts under The Law of Universal Jurisdiction against war criminal tzipi livny. A right Charlie for the cattle and another Charlie for the holocaust deniers!!

  • Mary

    Tories should fear Miliband not Farage – Lord Patten
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30860010

    ‘The Tories should be much more worried about Labour leader Ed Miliband than UKIP’s Nigel Farage during the general election campaign, former Conservative Party Chairman Lord Patten has said.

    Mr Miliband was “highly intelligent” and a “good debater”, the peer told BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.’

    🙂

    What’s his game?

  • Mary

    38 Degrees/TTIP

    Good news: yesterday, MPs voted to say they want power over what’s in TTIP. [1] Tens of thousands of us got in touch with our MPs this week asking them to do just that – and we won!

    It was a symbolic vote, and only a handful of MPs turned up. But now that MPs have said they think they should have a say on what’s in TTIP, ordinary people could have more power over the final deal.

    Why? Because if a real vote happens, we can put pressure on our MPs to do the right thing. It’s an election year, so they’re worrying about what their voters think.

    So – a step in the right direction!

    And that isn’t the only good news on TTIP this week. On Tuesday, the EU Commission was forced to admit that 97% of people who responded to a TTIP consultation were against the bit of the deal that could let private companies sue our government. [2]

    38 Degrees members flooded that consultation in our tens of thousands – a third (!) of all responses across Europe came from Britain. [3]

    The EU has decided to ‘suspend’ negotiations on this controversial part of the deal. [4] Maybe they’re hoping this will make the fuss die down. They might try and put it back on the table when they think we’re not looking.

    But we know that we won’t stop until the interests of ordinary people are put above the interests of big business. We’re turning the tide. Let’s keep going.

    PS: TTIP – and 38 Degrees members! – made it on to the radio this week. If you’d like to listen, it starts at 35:00.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04xg3kj

    [1] House of Commons Hansard: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership:
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150115/debtext/150115-0003.htm#15011570000001
    The Guardian: MPs debate TTIP: Politics Live blog:
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/jan/15/nick-clegg-hosts-his-call-clegg-phone-in-politics-live-blog
    [2] European Commission: Consultation on investment protection in EU-US trade talks:
    http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1234
    [3] The Independent: TTIP: Activists triumph as contentious US free trade deal clause suspended:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ttip-activists-triumph-as-contentious-us-free-trade-deal-clause-suspended-9976090.html
    [4] The Independent: TTIP: Activists triumph as contentious US free trade deal clause suspended:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ttip-activists-triumph-as-contentious-us-free-trade-deal-clause-suspended-9976090.html

  • nevermind

    The Lib Dems signed this new diversion, because they knew how many students would decline to vote for them after they thoroughly failed them.

    Students from overseaS

  • nevermind

    sorry about above, I swear I did not post it, the functions just failed and with a double stroke on the keyboards up key it posted itself.

    The Lib Dems signed this new diversion, because they knew how many students would decline to vote for them after they thoroughly failed them.

    Students from overseas were never able to vote, unless they are EU migrants who are allowed to vote in local elections only, such as myself.

    UK students past voting record shows the same apathy that befalls all other voters under an unfair, disproportional FPTP system. This is forever perpetuated by the two main parties, they would loose the advantage of their guaranteed minorities, the potential for postal voting fraud and other manipulative methods.

    A fair vote as in Ireland, were those unable to walk and the disabled get voting attendants visiting on the day with ballot slips and ballot box and were STV counts and allocates seats far more fairly than any other method. I regard the AMS system as fair as STV, not fussed which of the two, but its essential that any devolution of power comes with power for the voters,. allow them to the best of their elected representatives and that can only happen in a fair proportional system.

    Those parties who deny us a fair vote and who make it difficult for students, are no different then those in the US who try and do the same with the poor African American population.

    This is the time to vote for those who have long term policies, who want a common good, re- nationalise the railways and energy companies for better coordination and for a fair voting system.

    Thanks for the lazyness of MP’s, not turning up for the TTIP vote. It is one control freakery too far.
    My question is, who want to stop trading with the EU, Russia, China and many east Asian countries, when the TTIP is refused?

    It is wholly unnecessary for trading, its about controlling trade and markets, control over farmers with patented GMO’s, and control over small independent producers. The WTO should oppose it because it homogenises trade and diminishes competition, why is it even discussed?

    I think Jon Snow is right, its time to disengage from the US, not take their word for it, not endure their foreign policy goals at the detriment of our own EU policy goals, not ape their political system, national debating style and control over voters.

    That special relationship is becoming a noose to us, the people.

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