The British Politics Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by DarthKarde, Apr 8, 2003.

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  1. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Yep, no need to shout our outrage from the rooftops.

    Heh. Leave that to americans. :D
  2. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
  3. ask-the-younglings Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jan 18, 2004
    star 5
    I'd also like to point and laugh at the voter turnout, as it seems so many like to do at the US.

    I would like to see a number of new options on a ballot paper.

    1. Abstention (for those who simply don't feel represented by any candidate and wish to formally register that this is the case)

    2. Anti-vote or vote of no confidence (this one I would use a lot - for people who don't feel represented by any candidate, but believe that one or more of the candidates are actually dangerous and wish to cast a vote against them without voting positively for anyone else)

    3. Protest vote/Tactical vote (for people who want to make a positive vote, but are doing so on tactical grounds or in protest and wish to register that this is the case)

    Essentially, I don't think the government has the mandate from the people that it claims, and that our democratic process needs to become more flexible, and our government more accountable to the people. Discuss?

  4. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    I agree with point 1 but have issues with point 2 and 3.
  5. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    I agree with point 1 but have issues with point 2 and 3.

    Likewise. I have no problem with allowing a formal abstention but the other two options are IMO dangerously undemocratic. Anyway I agree with the comments that Professor Anthony King made during one of the election programmes. His basic point was that turnout is often low when the result is already beyond doubt i.e 2001 general election (59%) but that when it is a close contest turnout is much higher i.e 1992 general election (78%). Turnout in local elections is almost always low because so few people care about local government.

    On another point can someone please tell me what on earth the Conservative party has been doing in the last two weeks. Is it just my imagination or does the party really intend to fight the next general election on health. It simply defies belief that any political strategist could even contemplate such a move. If the battleground is health the conservatives might as well give up now.
  6. Darth_MacDaddy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2003
    star 4
    His basic point was that turnout is often low when the result is already beyond doubt i.e 2001 general election (59%) but that when it is a close contest turnout is much higher i.e 1992 general election (78%).

    Whilst I appreciate your point, doesn't evidence suggest this not to be the case. Look for instance at 1983 and 1997 GEs - where the result was beyond doubt but there was no significant drop in turn out, similar to the 2001 GE. Also turn out has dropped since the British Political system returned to a 3-Party system. Around the late 80% turnout for elections between 1945 and the early 1970's and dropping consistantly to around late 70% thereafter. IMO 2001 was a freak result because the electorate cared so little about any of the major parties - something for which I cannot see an end to for some time.
  7. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    A formal option for abstention would likely encourage people to abstain, I should point out. It might attract more people to the ballot box, but the question of whether those who would have gone anyway would be attracted to the formal abstention option must be considered.
  8. Darth_MacDaddy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2003
    star 4
    A formal option for abstention would likely encourage people to abstain, I should point out. It might attract more people to the ballot box, but the question of whether those who would have gone anyway would be attracted to the formal abstention option must be considered.

    But then we will have formal figures for the level of disaffection with the political parties, rather than the vague mising 40% we had at the last election - only to be told by Tony Blair he has a mandate from the electorate.

    [face_monkey]
  9. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    Voting serves the purpose of producing results, not statistics. An official 'non-vote' would still be just that. While it might give you a figure for 'disaffection', it would still represent a person's failure to engage in the political process. The turnout figures already give us a fairly good statistical idea of how many people care about politics, and how many don't.
  10. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I'd personally like to extend an apology to all in Britain for having two U.S. presidents in as many weeks on British telly having near-blowups.

    You have your own wonderful government. No need for us to pawn ours onto you.

    BTW, apparently the White House has lodged a formal complaint with the Irish gov't over his interview even though he knew the questions three days in advance.

    8-}

  11. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    only to be told by Tony Blair he has a mandate from the electorate.

    He does have a mandate from the electorate. You might not like that the fact, and I certainly don't, but it is a fact.
  12. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    British Marines forced into Iranian waters

    Here's the latest from the scotsman.com about the detention of the marines last week.

    To be fair to Iran, perhaps they considered them trespassers? I remember those waters near the border were really contentious during the Iran-Iraq war. Iran last year laid claim to a portion of land territory it lost during the 80's war.
  13. Darth_MacDaddy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2003
    star 4
    Voting serves the purpose of producing results, not statistics. An official 'non-vote' would still be just that. While it might give you a figure for 'disaffection', it would still represent a person's failure to engage in the political process. The turnout figures already give us a fairly good statistical idea of how many people care about politics, and how many don't.

    True, but maybe somewhere in my distant hope it would make the politicians actually realise this.

    On the other hand the present figures don't explicitly give a good idea of how many people care about politics - just that so many people don't vote for one reason or another. An absebtion vote is an active stance against the government - something which is completely different in my eyes.

    He does have a mandate from the electorate. You might not like that the fact, and I certainly don't, but it is a fact.

    If I'm being honest your right. The system (First-Past-The-Post) of which I have always championed as a stable system which produces strong accountable governments, has given Blair his dictatorial powers, regardless of the fact that only 1 in 4 of those eligable to vote for him did so. Sadly, Blair is happy to hear the 'voice of the electorate' give him a mandate at an election, but is seemingly deaf to the cries of the public when it doesn't suit him (argueably, the euro-sceptic vote at the recent Euro-elections, or the Iraq War are examples).

    [face_monkey]
  14. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Only 13 days until the publication of the Butler report and from what is being said it seems that it will be quite critical of the government. Apparantly after the farce of the Hutton report, Lord Butler is determined that no one will call his report a whitewash.

    Very interestingly the Birmingham, Hodge Hill and Leicester South by-elections take place the following day.
  15. Darth_MacDaddy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2003
    star 4
    from what is being said it seems that it will be quite critical of the government

    Thee hath hope!

    [face_monkey]
  16. ask-the-younglings Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jan 18, 2004
    star 5
    The point of an abstention & anti-vote would be a move towards a more direct democracy - a greater articulation of individual will in the ballot box.

    It's partly a personal thing... if there were a general election tomorrow, there would be no box I'd be preparted to tick, yet I still want my voice heard.

    I appreciate that this could, and probably would lead to weak government - a government in power without an express mandate from the people, but hey - I like honesty.
  17. Darth_MacDaddy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2003
    star 4
    Conversly you could argue that fear of the abstention vote would make politicians and government more responsive to the public - as opposed to the dictatorial swash of the hand we get now.

    Introduction of an abstention vote and mandatory voting would require significant alterations to the way elections are run and the consequences of election results. If the rate of voter apathy continues to increase such that it is then this maybe become an issue that the political process may need to give some consideration to in the future.

    [face_monkey]
  18. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    Well, after todays Butler Report-Read:Whitewash (Everyones responsible but nobodys to blame [face_laugh] ) Is Tony Blair going to be given a bloody nose in tomorrows Bye-Elections?

    Tony Blair had that nasty, vindictive, smug smile back on his face on the news this evening-But will he get it wiped off tomorrow?

    Here's hoping. ;)
  19. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    Our Tony is becoming more and more a characture of himself as he becomes more and more arrogant. Nothing sticks to this guy and its really begining to piss me off!

    How can the Government accept responsibility but nobody from Government pays the price?
  20. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Is Tony Blair going to be given a bloody nose in tomorrows Bye-Elections?

    I don't know about Liecester South but I expect Labour to hold Birmingham Hodge Hill with a majority of 3,000 - 4,000 minimum. The seat is really strong Labour territory. Although 2 of the 3 wards are suburban they are very much working class suburbs with some very large and very unpleasant council estates. People there might not love New Labour but I expect that they will mostly vote Labour, through gritted teeth. Also the Lib Dems seem to have got their candidate choice badly wrong. Their candidate works for the Mobile Phone industry getting permission for mobile phone masts. This hasn't gone done well with the voters and she has been heckled time and again during public appearances. Furthermore the Birmingham Lib Dem's are very anti moblile phone masts and many activists have refused to campaign. I also expect that Respect and the National Front will both poll quite well.

    EDIT: I'm posting this superb article from today's Times, by the outstanding columnist Simon Jenkins. It sums up Blair, The Iraq war and the two inquiries almost perfectly.

    Whatever Butler's verdict, Blair will know no shame

    WHEN Margaret Thatcher took delivery of the Franks Report on the Falklands in 1982 she sat down carefully in an armchair. She closed her eyes and told her secretary to read her only the last paragraph. It concluded: ?We would not be justified in attaching any blame or criticism to the present Government for the Argentine junta?s decision to commit its act of unprovoked aggression in the invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2 April, 1982.? Mrs Thatcher said: ?That?s all right then,? and went back to work.
    Present in that room 22 years ago was Lord Butler of Brockwell. He has now had to write a similar last line for Tony Blair. He knows that war is always a sort of defeat and that democracy demands closure. In the Falklands, British soil had been invaded and British lives had been spent regaining it. Who was to blame? The answer lay not in the evidence, which damned Mrs Thatcher?s style of government, but in that last line. Lord Butler must answer the same question, but in such a way as not to overstep his remit. His job is not to bring down an elected leader even if he may nudge him towards the pedestal edge.



    Last February I wrote that the run-up to the Iraq invasion needed no further inquiry. Lord Hutton had reported. He found copious evidence that Tony Blair and his entourage were guilty of deceiving the public, and duly declared them innocent. So stunned was Mr Blair by this whitewash that he asked Lord Butler for a second opinion. I expect the latter tomorrow to reverse Hutton. Everyone who fabricated the case for invading Iraq will be blamed. Then each will be individually let off the hook. Good, Mr Blair will say with relief, and go back to work.

    These inquiries are not courts of law, nor are they political show trials. Their reports are peculiar, part beginner?s history, part government audit, part political sensation. No prime minister resigns after such an inquiry. Butler, like Hutton, was set up to avert a resignation not precipitate one. It was meant to let time pass and allow distance to soothe any political turbulence.

    Downing Street?s game plan for Butler is to delegate it ?downstream?. Findings of duplicity and naivety in the handling of intelligence will be?studied with care?. Implementation will pass to Cabinet secretaries, intelligence agencies and management consultancies. What matters politically is how the report plays in the country. This is no congressional investigation. America goes to war with trumpets blaring, and monitors war with equal vigour; witness Michael Moore?s Fahrenheit 9/11. Britain?s parliamentary select committees, under the MPs Donald Anderson and Bruce George, are doormice in comparison.

    The Butler inquiry advises the executive, but that is headed by the Prime Minister. Whatever conclusion is
  21. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    I suppose the only problem with saying it's now down to the voters, is that everybody knows that by General Election time, Iraq will be a fading memory (until Blair is next in a crisis and has to ask the British people for their support) and elections are never won and lost on things like war and foreign affairs. The coming election, like all previous ones, will be fought on the economy, health, education, crime, asylum and transport. So, saying it's now down to the Voters to punish Blair, is OK in theory, but in practice it's highly unlikely to actually happen.

    Our system should be rigerous enough to hold the government to account, whilst it's sitting, but at this point it quite clearly isn't.
  22. Darth_MacDaddy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2003
    star 4
    Also, come next election, I will be surprised to see more than half the population vote. Apathy is the biggest party and sadly that means Mr Blair and his pathetic attempt for a government is the winner.

    Wake up Britain and vote in anybody except Labour!

    [face_monkey]
  23. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    A poll in the Birmingham Evening Mail has Labour retaining Hodge Hill quite easily. From what I here Leicester South is looking quite close with the Lib Dem's making a strong challenge but Respect might split the anti-war vote enough to save Labour. The conservatives look set for a humiliating third place in both seats.
  24. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    No change there then? ;)

    Given these are both safe Labour seats, and any protest vote will go to either Liberal or RESPECT, will the Tories be disappointed coming 3rd? Will we be entering into a new Tory leadership crisis tomorrow?
  25. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Given these are both safe Labour seats, and any protest vote will go to either Liberal or RESPECT, will the Tories be disappointed coming 3rd? Will we be entering into a new Tory leadership crisis tomorrow?

    You are quite right that both seats are traditional Labour territory where protest votes will go mainly to the Lib Dem's but the conservatives's came second in both at the last general election and so these seats are of a similar nature to Brent East. Coming third in both will be blow to the conservatives, if they were to be well placed for victory at the next general election they should be challenging strongly in these seats. It is worth noting that the conservatives won a by election in 1977 for Birmigham Stechford, which covered most of the area that Birmingham Hodge Hill now covers (The fact that they lost the seat in 1979 when they actually won the general election shows how volatile by elections can be).

    However this won't provoke a tory leadership crisis for two reasons. Most importantly Howard is in a much stronger position that IDS was before Brent East, bad by election results only topple leaders who are already in trouble. Secondly what really angered people in the party about Brent East was not the defeat but the campaign or rather, the lack of one. This was largely the fault of Therasa May (clearly the most inept chairman in the history of the party) who should have ensured that a proper campaign was run. In the end whips office cobbled together a campaign of sorts for the last week or so after getting pleas from local activists who couldn't understand why central office was not providing any assistance.

    Juist a bit of trivia G-Fett. Care to guess as to how many by elections the conservative party has won in the last 15 years?
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