Boundary Review

The Electoral Commission has outlined rough plans on where the reduction of MPs from 650 to 600. As expected, traditional Labour strongholds will lose seats. But is it “gerrymandering”, as Labour have alleged?

Not exactly. It’s an undeniable fact that the current system, as is, is horribly skewed towards Labour. The 2005 election, for example, gave Labour 90 more seats than the Tories in England, despite losing by 0.3%. Labour also enjoy their concentrated support in inner-city areas, which allows them to win a lot of urban seats (and the reverse for the Conservatives, in business districts and rural areas). This creates a squeeze on smaller parties with even support, such as the Liberal Democrats, but also the Greens and UKIP.

Why does the skew exist? Well, there’s several reasons for this happening: Continue reading “Boundary Review”

A customary Mark Twain reference.

Damn you, Mark Cole, for doing the title I wanted to do first. Even so, I was up tonight waiting for the by-election result with bated breath… and we lost by 3,000 votes. It’s actually not bad, if you think about it. The Lib Dems are riding on 8-10% in the daily YouGov polls, but we still make a decent showing at the first major poll, to the point our share in the vote rises just ever so slightly. Tim Farron was right to call this a “score draw”.

Because, really, Debbie Abrahams didn’t win because she was a good candidate. She isn’t. Colne Valley, depending on the time of the week, is the next constituency over from me, and she didn’t really have a support base; indeed, I saw more support for the Lib Dem candidate (which was dwarfed by the support for the Conservative candidate and eventual winner Jason McCartney). She also fantastically crashed on polling day taking a Labour seat into third (although, admittedly, Colne Valley is a three-way marginal). Continue reading “A customary Mark Twain reference.”

Betrayal or pragmatism?

One criticism I often come across when talking about politics, and/or the Liberal Democrats, is that Nick Clegg supposedly “betrayed his principles for a shot at power”. I’ve come across that exact line several times. But was it really a betrayal? I don’t think so. Of course, the Liberal Democrats in the Conservative-led coalition are proposing policies that they probably wouldn’t do in a Labour-led coalition, and are having to alter their policies on things like tuition fees. Even so, coalition with the Conservatives was pretty much inevitable come 10:02pm on 6th May. Continue reading “Betrayal or pragmatism?”

e-Petitions: bad for democracy?

So, the Coalition have announced the return of the e-Petitions system previously in effect under Blair and Brown, with one clear change: petitions will be more readily be debated by Parliament. This is touted as a welcome change, where very few, if any, petitions under Labour actually changed government policy. The most notable one that did was a 2-million strong petition against the proposed system of road pricing in 2007, where Blair changed from “we support this” to “we still support it but we admit we’re not going to enforce it”. But with any sort of public consultation like this, it often falls by the wayside because of people being just uninformed on issues, such as a 250,000-strong petition to oppose a supposed “mega-mosque” in the London Borough of Newham that hadn’t even been proposed. And then there are the silly ones, like a 50,000-strong petition to make Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson the Prime Minister. Under the proposed rules, Parliament would probably have been forced to debate the latter two with a hard and fast rule of 100,000-supporters-means-debate-in-Parliament, wasting time that should’ve been spent passing actual laws. Continue reading “e-Petitions: bad for democracy?”

Labour and Tuition Fees: An Addendum

Today’s the day that MPs will vote on whether to raise the cap on tuition fees. And, as they have been doing since Browne was published, Labour are currently digging into the Lib Dems for not caving into them breaking the NUS pledge. Including Tom Harris, MP for Glasgow South, who as you may recall, voted for the HEA2004, to which I challenged him on Twitter: Continue reading “Labour and Tuition Fees: An Addendum”