Monday, 4 May 2015

Go on, make Dave's day

5 years ago, my it does seem longer, David Cameron went to the polls with some very specific commitments, strident views on the threat of minority government and a plea to vote him out in 5 years if he didn't deliver.  This Thursday is your opportunity to reward him.

Have you forgotten David Cameron's contract?  Here it is, in full:

Sunday, 26 April 2015

What - you've got a vote?

As a political nerd (geek?) I'm growing increasingly frustrated by the appalling coverage of the place of Scottish MPs in Westminster. A few facts need aired:

1. Of the 650 MPs, 82% will be representing English constituencies

2. The English press complain that English MPs have no say on Scottish issues yet Scottish MPs, in common with all other MPs, also have no say on Scottish issues. With the exception of reserved issues the bulk are devolved to the Scottish Parliament. We vote for Scottish MPs to represent us at national level and protect our legitimate interest in reserved areas - that's democracy.

3. There are 58 MPs representing Welsh and Northern Irish constituencies, in common with their Scottish counterparts they have no say in their representative bodies (Scotland has 59) - who's running scared of their influence?

4. Devolution created a federalised UK, the fact that Westminster MPs failed to address the paradox of English representation at that time lies squarely on their shoulders. As I see it 82% of MPs failed to represent their own constituents best interests - it's not the Scots, Welsh or Irish who are at fault.

5. Scotland voted to remain in the Union, their electorate have a right to vote for whomever they want. This is not undue influence, it's democracy and it's never perfect.


Sunday, 8 March 2015

The winner takes it all?

Labour won't answer the simple "SNP - friend or foe?" question - so there they are red-faced, grotesquely wriggling, squeaking and squealing in a tight gap, firmly lodged between the stone of stupidity and the mountain of complete lack of understanding of political tactics. It's fun in a knuckle biting way, my hands are bleeding profusely but I'm quite happy. The reticence of Labour shoe-ins to do anything other than pretend that the only way to convince the historically disengaged Scottish electorate is to treat them like the idiot-children of "Old New Labour" is insulting, the electorate have changed, did you miss that memo?  How very dare they threaten us with a seemingly random selection of self-evident sound-bites that equate to - vote for anybody else, don't get us, and that'll be really bad (sic).

The Sky News chart below is hilarious in a very sanguine way, and in one polychromatic infographic, a compelling reason to abolish first-past-the-post elections.

With so much effort being put into trying to convince the electorate that they know nothing about the complex world of politics, that without a helpful and upstanding member of the establishment telling them how to vote they'd end up eating their ballot paper, you've got to wonder why we are allowed a vote at all.  But let's not go there, for that is where madness lies: we could end up with a non elected second chamber, a monarch or a scrutineering committee drawn from the house - that wouldn't be democratic at all, would it?

Anyhoo back to my ramblings...

What really boils my pot is the inevitability of it all, no matter what we've done, how we've cast our votes, we get the same white middle-class-career-politics-prime-minister surrounded by business worshiping clones, don't we?  They may be available in red with a blue tint, or blue with a crazy glint, but that's not enough.

I know none of the UK parties (that count) are talking about electoral reform, any notion in that direction has long since curdled.  So now in a unexpectedly welcome turn of events they're having it forced on them, red hot and inserted right where they didn't expect.

We didn't witness a collapse or wholesale reform of our democratic system as a result of the injurious banking collapse, our representatives changed little after the expenses disclosures, Snowden, Manning et al haven't halted the perpetual war being used to remove our freedoms, austerity has crushed the poorest and most disadvantaged into a margin where all they can do is feed off each other whilst tacitly accepting that they have to pay for their own discomfort, all the while the rich and powerful amass wealth and influence beyond the dreams of avarice, aren't we due some payback?  In short there was no revolution, at a time when it might have been most easily justified, I was disappointed personally, but I think something just might have pricked the usually politically somnolent electorate.

It's becoming clear that we are no longer falling in line and identifying with the traditional political binary, that's got to be for the greater good.  It may be disconcerting for the tacticians within the 1 vs 0 traditional parties, who seem unable to make sense of it, personally I'm clapping like a hungry performing seal at that thought; herring breath, loud barks and everything.

Other countries, and close to home Scotland, have alternative electoral systems, I'd argue superior to FPTP and certainly more able to reflect the range of opinion within society. Scotland's adoption of AMS and STV is to be credited in part for the recent departure from the flip flop of Labour or Conservative we've lived with throughout the 20th century.  What's dawned on voters fortunate enough to live north of Hadrian's Wall is that by engaging with politics and voting they can effect change, wherever their cross goes.  Sure some complain that hand in hand with this goes minority governments, compromise, discussion, temporary alliances on an issue by issue basis - isn't that positive? Embrace it - it might just be a step closer to consensus and representative politics, this voter thinks so.  Throughout my adult life I've never voted for the winner in any election, but as I've come to realise that's not the point, is it?

Here's hoping that Westminster takes note, this may be an opportunity to find a way of embracing more representative politics, long overdue after the lowest common denominator self-harming coalition we've lived with for the last 5 years.  Oh and on that subject don't get me started on fixed term periods of employment for politicians, I only wish the overly patronised hard working public could be guaranteed the same.

Vote SNP, vote Labour, vote Green, vote Conservative, don't vote as a protest, campaign for something - just engage; you might just be surprised what happens.  After a 5 year gap in my blogging, that's what I'm trying to do, right here.