Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, and Elections #ge2010

Lies about possible coalitions, lies about Hung Parliaments and the economy, lies about the need for reform, and lies about Nick Clegg.

I was a little bit confused this Monday morning.  I saw headlines about how Nick Clegg was likely to join the Tories in a coalition.  Then I read how he'd said this on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 on Sunday.

Now, I watched the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.  Nick Clegg said nothing of the sort.  He said that if Labour won the most seats in this year's election, but came third in the popular vote, then they should have no automatic right to have a crack at forming the next Government.

He said that the Tories, assuming they won the popular vote, should have first crack at the whip of attempting to form a Government.

He said he wouldn't rule out working with anyone, because the exact situation is uncertain and it would be foolish to say such a thing, but that the public would be unlikely to support Brown to remain.

He also repeatedly and patiently explained his very sensible regional work permits policy while Andrew Marr seemed to wilfully misunderstand him, like a belligerent pub local parroting half an argument he overheard someone else have just the other day that he didn't quite understand the first time.

Because of the unfair electoral system, there is no way the Lib Dems could get enough MPs to force through electoral reform entirely on their own steam.  They'd need the support of one of the other two parties - it's a bit of a Catch22.

And this graphic demonstrates perfectly why:


It's a screen shot of the BBC's Election Calculator.  I set all three parties to an equal share of the popular vote, to see what would happen.  Labour would only just miss out on an overall majority, with more than three times as many seats as the Lib Dems, with the Tories exactly half way in between the two.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Up The Creek Without A Mullet, by Simon Varwell

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading a book called Up The Creek Without A Mullet by a friend of mine called Simon Varwell.

I met Simon four years ago through the kindness collective Join Me.  He's a lovely chap with a fondness for bad puns, and his book is about his early attempts to visit every place in the world with the word "Mullet" in its name.

It all started when he was traveling with a friend in Eastern Europe and to pass the time they tried to spot as many mullet haircuts as possible in a single day.

He later found out there was a village in Albania called Mullet, and then started to take the game slightly too far.  When he had the opportunity to accompany our mutual friend Kieran back to Albania, he couldn't resist starting his challenge.

Admittedly I got an extra level enjoyment out of the book every time Simon mentioned someone I also know, so I'm a little biased, but it's a very well written and entertaining book that anyone can enjoy.

Somehow I managed to track down a decent copy of his appearance on New Zealand current affairs programme 'Close Up' in 2008, for your enjoyment.  It also explains the concept much better than I ever could with the written word.  This is my friend:


Some of the profits from the book go to Kieran's charity Aid Convoy, which does fantastic work getting supplies to where they are needed, sometimes in very dangerous circumstances.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Voter Apathy Now So Bad The Politicians Are Joining In

That there on the left is what the House of Commons looked like debating one of the most important Bills in the history of free speech and copyright protection.  Looks a bit... empty, doesn't it?

In fact, over 100 MPs waltzed in after the debate was over and cast their vote to pass the Digital Economy Bill, while a further 412 MPs - that's 64% of the total in the Commons, didn't even bother to show up and vote at all.  The Conservatives were the worst offenders - just 9 of them (4.7% of their total) used their vote.

And yet you can bet that if there is low turnout for the General Election on 6th May, these will be among the first people to criticise the British electorate for not engaging in democracy.

I find it frightening that so many MPs fail to understand the importance of new technology, and it says much that one of the ministers responsible for driving this Bill through Parliament thinks that the IP in "IP address" stands for "Intellectual Property".

In fact the politicians have so little understanding of this issue, that they'll happily pass a new law clamping down on intellectual property theft with one hand, whilst stealing images from the BBC website to use in their childish poster campaigns with the other.