Tag Archives: social conscience

Short Term Thinking III

My last two posts provided the primer for a discussion of how post-industrial economies interact with the drive towards a democratic system from our current standpoint of an unplanned constitutional monarchy in which approximately two thirds of the country are not represented by someone they voted for, under any outcome.

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Short Term Thinking I

The economy (and political map) of Britain have changed radically since 1977. This is not a controversial statement. We’ve gotten collectively richer, while in the process metastasizing tumours of disadvantage which will take not years but generations, plural, to heal. We’ve shifted our economy finally and irrevocably from one based on most people working in manufacturing or primary industry to one where better than two thirds of the country work in service, knowledge or other tertiary industries. We have not evolved adequate union models for an era in which increasing numbers of the under-40s are self-employed and multi-skilled but broke and completely disenfranchised by demographic accidents and a broken political system. And we’ve had two, very long, governments in that time, one Tory and one Labour.

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Shambles

I’m considering shaving my head and getting a pair of antlers tatooed on it.

I thought I was indulging in black humour when I drew comparisons between the progress of Ghana toward democracy, and the current UK election. I really thought it would look funny later. But now I’m hearing about the kind of shit that used to happen under Achaempong. I’m hearing about police breaking through spontaneous protests of the disenfranchised outside polling booths.

The BBC report that hundreds of people in constituencies spread across London, Manchester, Chester, Liverpool, Bolton and Sheffield have been shut out of polling stations after multi-hour queuing. I fully expect to hear of more. I’m hearing about polling stations that ran out of ballots. I’m hearing about spontaneous protests at polling stations being broken by police.

The Electoral Commission have announced that they will be investigating electoral irregularities. 3 seats have returned and they are already saying this! In 1992, three separate sets of observers were in action; UN, some Swiss hired by the government and some Finns I never found out who hired. Everyone and the BBC agreed the elections were fair. One observer said on air, “If Eastern Europe could run elections this clean I’d be out of a job.”

Not if the returning officers of Sheffield Hallam have anything to do with it, mate. What we have here is students (the group most likely to vote LibDem) being separated from ‘residents’ into a separate queue. They were then processed so much more slowly that ‘hundreds’ (BBC) were turned away without being able to vote.

[ Edit 0040: Here is the 140-character saga of the Sheffield Hallam law student Rak Smith. Disenfranchisement in a modern democracy, tweeted live. I would like to congratulate Raksky for presence of mind and good liberal instincts in making a speech to angry riot police. And I would like to add my fury and support to the pleas of those who have been denied their right to vote. ]

This is scandalous. Leaving aside the convenient coincidence that this is Nick Clegg’s own seat; this is a travesty against one of the longest democratic traditions in the world. Be it conspiracy or not, it is most certainly cock-up, and that’s not bloody good enough.

We suspected that a hung parliament would reveal the bankruptcy of this system. There’s no evidence yet to suggest that the seats will accurately reflect the popular vote, so that is still likely. But it didn’t occur to me that we’d see the kind of voting irregularities we saw in elections run by the Bush regime.

I could never vote in Ghana. I campaigned, but couldn’t vote. And I remember what the polling queues looked like. Hundreds of people standing singing in the sunshine, baking and sweating and grinning their ears off. I remember hearing about violence in Gonja territory, and how fast it was dealt with. People were in jail by the end of the day. I predict now that no-one will go to prison for this. If we wouldn’t prosecute them for the Iraq war we won’t prosecute anyone for this.

BBC, in 2010, report that the police have broken picket lines in two places, where enraged voters who had been denied the chance to vote had blocked the ballot box until it carried their electoral rights within its seal.

The system is bankrupt. It cannot be permitted. I’ve heard calls for V masks in Parliament square. I’m inclined to echo them right now.

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JQP in Brief

In general, I continue to be very impressed by the Independent, who are acting like it and clearly enjoying it very much. Hear hear!

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I changed my mind

About going to bed. The BBC have just given me another look at the debate over the nuclear deterrant. And it sparked a thought.

First, a position statement; having said #iagreewithnick quite a lot lately, it’s interesting to discover I disagree with him on both nuclear questions. I suspect that nuclear power is going to play a part in bridging the energy gap, while we recover from 30 years of crass idiocy in ignoring the sustainability of our economy. I do not believe in the utility of nuclear weapons inside a biosphere. Nick disagrees with me on both counts. Interesting.

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Myth Factory

Broken Britain?

I’m not alone in noticing that the Economist are doing a good job of contrasting Conservative rhetoric with the data. The most significant bits of the article for me:

Chief among people’s worries is their security. Under Labour, fear of crime climbed until by 2007 it had become the issue that pollsters identified as the main complaint among voters. The heightened fears are a puzzle to criminologists, who point out that over the past 15 years Britain has experienced a steady, deep fall in crime. The statistics are notoriously hard to interpret, but according to the British Crime Survey, the Home Office’s most reliable measure though still far from perfect, crime overall has dropped by 45% since its peak in 1995. […] Violent crime has fallen too. It is now almost half what it was in 1995, and no higher than in 1981.

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JQP in Brief

Balls on the Back Benches

Not, unfortunately, Ed. Labour MP Graham Allen has written a very interesting post suggesting some out-of-the-box perspectives on British democracy. I agree with a considerable amount, if not all, of what he said but that’s not why I’m linking it. Continue reading

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