Tales From the Bitface (Posts about election)https://devilgate.org/enContents © 2020 <a href=”mailto:martin@devilgate.org”>Martin McCallion</a> Thu, 11 Jun 2020 11:58:20 GMTNikola (getnikola.com)http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rssGeneral Election: Vote!https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/Martin McCallion<h2 id=”tl-dr-vote-against-the-tories”>TL; DR: Vote Against the Tories</h2> <p>This is long, and I’ll understand if you don’t want to read it. So, a summary.</p> <p>The election should never have been called; Labour should have resisted it when it was. But now that it’s here we need to take advantage of it to protect the NHS. And maybe hold out some hope for stopping, or at least softening, Brexit. Because with the Tories we’ll only get a disastrously hard crash out.</p> <p>Vote to stop the Tories and save the NHS.</p> <p><!—more—></p> <p>And now, a table of contents. Yes, this is <em>that</em> long.</p> <nav id=”TOC”> <ul> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#calling-the-election”>Calling the Election</a> <ul> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#the-fixed-term-parliaments-act”>The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#brexit”>Brexit</a></li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#saving-the-nhs”>Saving the NHS</a></li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#thoughts-on-corbyn-past-present”>Thoughts on Corbyn, past &amp; present</a> <ul> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#around-the-referendum”>Around the Referendum</a></li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#post-referendum”>Post Referendum</a></li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#the-big-improvement”>The Big Improvement</a></li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#manifesto-destiny”>Manifesto Destiny</a></li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#back-to-brexit”>Back to Brexit</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#may-madness”>May Madness</a></li> <li><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/#conclusion”>Conclusion</a></li> </ul> </nav> <h2 id=”calling-the-election”>Calling the Election</h2> <p>Calling the election at all was at best a cynical ploy by Theresa May. Labour looked weak. She thought she could get a hugely increased majority for relatively little effort. So despite her repeated promises that should would not, she called a general election.</p> <p>Now, however, it might have backfired on her. The polls have shifted (though we know we can’t trust polls). Quite dramatically by some measures. It’s looking like she might end up with a <em>reduced</em> majority. Or even — dare we hope? — a radical change. A Labour majority seems implausible, but a hung parliament? That’s beginning to look a lot like a real possibility.</p> <h3 id=”the-fixed-term-parliaments-act”>The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act</h3> <p>But what of the act that was supposed to remove prime-ministerial whim from the choice of election date? It turns out it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. The <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed-term_Parliaments_Act_2011”>Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011</a> contains a clause that allows the current government to call an election if it has the support of the house.</p> <p>Not, I note, with a simple majority. Obviously that would be ridiculous for anything really important. No, a two-thirds majority is needed.</p> <p>And was easily obtained, owing to the failure of the opposition to oppose; and now May wants to repeal it anyway. But more on both of those later.</p> <h2 id=”brexit”>Brexit</h2> <p>When the election was called, my <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2017/04/18/scattered-thoughts-on-the-general-election/”>initial reaction</a> was that it would be all about Brexit. Nothing else loomed so large. And that was why I had concerns about Labour, because Jeremy Corbyn seemed committed to carrying on the madness that the referendum started.</p> <p>I wrote then:</p> <blockquote><p> [P]eople will be torn between voting on the normal things they care about: health, security, homes, welfare, the economy… — and the big thing of our time: Brexit.<br> …<br> I can’t in conscience vote for a Labour party that won’t clearly place itself against Brexit. I just can’t. This means I have to leave the party, I guess. Corbyn called today for “A Brexit that works for all.” No, no, no. </p></blockquote> <p>I didn’t leave the party, and though there’s still some truth in that, things have changed. I’m not entirely sure when, or how; but somewhere along the line — the publication of the manifestos was certainly part of it — the normal things began to matter again. They never stopped mattering, of course, but they came back into focus.</p> <p>One of the normal things in particular: the NHS.</p> <h2 id=”saving-the-nhs”>Saving the NHS</h2> <p>The Tories — modern Tories, at least — have never really supported it. They have always pushed privatisation of it, or as much of it as possible. Though to be fair, the last Labour government at fault there too, with their public-private partnerships.</p> <p>Tories, of course, have pushed for privatisation in everything, not just the NHS, at least since Thatcher. But even Thatcher kept her hands off the NHS. Not so this lot. Thatcher didn’t leave much to privatise, so their eyes are firmly on the last great publicly owned body.</p> <p>I fear that if May’s lot get back in, especially with an increased majority, we could see the beginning of the end of free universal healthcare in the UK. We are in that much danger.</p> <h2 id=”thoughts-on-corbyn-past-present”>Thoughts on Corbyn, past &amp; present</h2> <p>I voted for Corbyn as leader twice. I had my doubts, but he always seemed to be on the right side; and as well, there was no good alternative (not the second time, anyway).</p> <h3 id=”around-the-referendum”>Around the Referendum</h3> <p>Then I felt totally let down by Brexit &amp; after. To be fair, his “trigger Article 50 now” comments were slightly misinterpreted, but expressing himself like that just added to the idea that he couldn’t handle himself with the media.</p> <p>And that was certainly true in the first several months. It was like he — the party as a whole — had no media management at all.</p> <p>And at no time did he resist Brexit.</p> <h3 id=”post-referendum”>Post Referendum</h3> <p>Then there was a series of mistakes, or bad decisions:</p> <ul> <li>The three-line whip on the first Article 50 vote.</li> <li>Not resisting the invocation of Article 50 at all, even when criticising it.</li> <li>Waving through the vote to have the election. Because even if he didn’t want to stop it, how much better would it have been to make the Tories call a vote of no confidence? If only for the <em>schadenfreude</em>.</li> <li>Then he chose not to join the debate because May wasn’t involved? That’s what we call missing an open goal.</li> </ul> <h3 id=”the-big-improvement”>The Big Improvement</h3> <p>Things have — and he has — got so much better since then. Somewhere along the line he started to come across as the dignified, statesmanlike man of principle that we knew he was. What changed? Was it better media management, or did the media actually start to give him some proper time?</p> <p>I don’t know, but the result is that the polls have turned round dramatically, giving rise to a measure of that most terrifying of things: <em>hope</em>.</p> <h3 id=”manifesto-destiny”>Manifesto Destiny</h3> <p>Everything in the Labour manifesto is better for the country than everything in the Tory one. It’s as simple as that. “For the many, not the few” is the tag line they’ve been using, and it’s great. Simple, to the point, meaningful. And accurate.</p> <p>Not to mention costed. No “magic money tree” here.</p> <h3 id=”back-to-brexit”>Back to Brexit</h3> <p>Although they haven’t said so, I could see a Labour government offering a second referendum. At least you can imagine them being more open to considering the possibility. Especially, of course, if they were in coalition.</p> <p>Now that takes us to the next question: if it’s a hung parliament, can we trust the LibDems not to back the Tories again?</p> <p>I mean, surely, this time… But that’s what we thought he last time, and look where that got us. So it’s a worry. But the LibDems are likely to get some of their old seats back, and Labour almost certainly can’t get a majority with the way things have changed in Scotland, so a coalition is our best hope.</p> <h2 id=”may-madness”>May Madness</h2> <p>Now let’s turn our attention to our gloryless leader.</p> <p>Theresa May has presented an increasingly bizarre face to the world over the last few weeks:</p> <ul> <li>Her “Me, me, me” approach to presenting Tory policy (“If I lose six seats…” you only get one); that’s not how politics in the UK works.</li> <li>She wants to reverse the country’s stumbling steps toward better voting systems, such as the proportional system for the London Mayor.</li> <li>Politicising the terrorist attacks: <ul> <li>first troops on the streets, <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2017/05/27/losing-the-war-on-terror/”>as I discussed</a>;</li> <li>and now she wants to tear up human rights legislation. Next it’ll be internment, I shouldn’t wonder.</li> </ul> </li> <li>She was seemingly scared to debate the other party leaders on TV. Debates may not be quite standard in British elections yet, but that is the way the world was moving.</li> <li>Oh, and along with voting reversals, she wants to <em>repeal</em> the fixed-term parliaments act, for what little use it was.</li> </ul> <p>In short, it seems like she just wants to go backwards to an imagined Little-England past.</p> <h2 id=”conclusion”>Conclusion</h2> <p>It won’t surprise you in the slightest to hear that I’m strongly advocating voting <em>against</em> the Tories, in whatever way you can have the most effect. I will be voting Labour, of course, but then I live in one of the safest Labour seats in the country, so that doesn’t have a lot of effect.</p> <p>However, I’ll also be joining other Labour members from Hackney tomorrow in heading over to Westminster North, which is a Labour marginal. I’ll be helping to get out the vote there.</p> <p>To you I say, please vote. Vote to stop the Tory mayhem. Vote to save the NHS.</p> coalitionelectiongeneral electionlabourpoliticstorieshttps://devilgate.org/blog/2017/06/07/general-election-vote/Wed, 07 Jun 2017 17:33:21 GMTScattered Thoughts on the General Electionhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2017/04/18/scattered-thoughts-on-the-general-election/Martin McCallion<div><h3>An Election Unlike Any Other</h3> <p>This election is going to be completely unique in our lifetime, probably ever. Because people will be torn between voting on the normal things they care about: health, security, homes, welfare, the economy… — and the big thing of our time: Brexit.</p> <p>There were close to half the electorate who voted to stay in the EU (close to half the turnout, anyway). There’s no reason to suppose that any of those have changed their minds, even if many now talk in terms of acceptance. There are plenty who voted the other way who wish things had gone differently. And the non-voters are an unknown.</p> <p>If a party — or a coalition — were to clearly stand on a platform of stopping Brexit, or even of promising a second referendum, they would be in a position unlike any party ever. Or so it seems to me.</p> <p>Unfortunately only the Liberal Democrats seem to be even close to that position.</p> <h3>I Can’t Vote Labour</h3> <p>I can’t in conscience vote for a Labour party that won’t clearly place itself against Brexit. I just can’t. This means I have to leave the party, I guess. Corbyn called today for “A Brexit that works for all.” No, no, no.</p> <p>I imagine this means I’ll be voting Lib Dem. Possibly Green. I’m not sure where they stand yet. In one sense, of course, it doesn’t matter, as I live in one of the safest Labour seats, but that’s not really the point. I’ll be writing to Diane Abbot to explain my position, but I don’t imagine it will change hers, which is to support Corbyn, even though her constituency is one of the most pro-remain in the country.</p> <p>I voted for Corbyn as leader twice, but he’s very disappointing now. Though I have to say that his policies on <em>literally everything else</em> would be dramatically better than the Tories.</p> <h3>Why, and Why Now?</h3> <p>Why has Mayhem changed her mind on a snap election, and why now? The obvious thing is the Tory lead in the polls, and to take advantage of Labour chaos. Nothing to with Brexit at all, not directly.</p> <p>But something I was seeing on Facebook tonight was the idea that they were about to lose their majority, when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) brings charges for electoral fraud against up to 30 Tory MPs. The prosecutions will still happen, but they won’t affect the position of MPs who get elected this time round (well, unless they get convicted, of course, but I’m guessing the Tories will quietly deselect the ones who are likely to go down).</p> <h3>Effect of Fixed-Term Parliaments Act</h3> <p>My first reaction was, “They can’t: what about the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act?” Turns out that contains a clause that lets the sitting parliament ignore it, as long as they get a two-thirds majority. The irony of that figure was not lost on me, as possibly my most-retweeted tweet shows:</p> <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Snap general election called. Ironic that to ignore Fixed-Term Parliaments Act needs a two-thirds majority. Unlike, say, leaving the EU. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/fb?src=hash”>#fb</a></p> <p>— Martin McCallion (@devilgate) <a href=”https://twitter.com/devilgate/status/854281181864624129”>April 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <p><script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8”></script></p> <p>Without Labour voting with the government they wouldn’t get that two-thirds. Corbyn has cheerfully agreed to go along, missing an open goal. First, the opposition should oppose the government, as a general principle. Unless the government is doing the right thing, which is not the case here. More amusingly, if they didn’t get the two-thirds, they would have to go for a vote of no confidence. That is, a Tory MP would have to stand up in the House of Commons and move that “This house has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.” Even if they could come back from that, Corbyn should have forced it just for the lulz.</p> <h3>Polls Can’t Be Trusted</h3> <p>All is doom and gloom, because the polls look so bleak. Except… if there’s one thing the last few years have taught us, it’s that we can no longer rely on polls.<sup id=”fnref:bookies”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/04/18/scattered-thoughts-on-the-general-election/#fn:bookies”>1</a></sup></p> <p>On <cite>Newsnight</cite> tonight <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Mason_%28journalist%29”>Paul Mason</a> says he thinks Labour will win. Gotta admire his confidence, at least.</p> <div class=”footnote”> <hr> <ol> <li id=”fn:bookies”> <p>Or the bookies, and don’t get me back onto that argument about how bookies’ odds can be mapped to percentages of expected voting. <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/04/18/scattered-thoughts-on-the-general-election/#fnref:bookies” title=”Jump back to footnote 1 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> </ol> </div></div>BrexitBritain todayelectionJeremy CorbynlabourLibDemsMayhempoliticsTheresa Mayhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2017/04/18/scattered-thoughts-on-the-general-election/Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:47:48 GMTCon/Dem Nation?https://devilgate.org/blog/2010/05/13/condem-nation/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><h4>Betrayed?</h4> <p>My initial reaction to the Liberal Democrats’ decision to form a coalition with the Tories was a combination of disappointment and a sense of betrayal (with a side order of impending doom, of course).</p> <p>I was, perhaps, naive. <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2010/05/05/disappointment/”>I said</a> that I was voting LibDem, and that I actively wanted Labour to lose (while stressing that I wanted the Tories to lose even more). I was, I think, hoping for a hung parliament, which of course is what we got. But I was labouring (heh!) under the delusion that the LibDems were ideologically relatively close to Labour, and far enough away from the Tories that siding with them would be unthinkable.</p> <p>Clearly I was wrong.</p> <p>I had convinced myself that the only reaction of the LibDems to a hung parliament would be to join with Labour; and that seemed like the best possible solution.</p> <h4>Wasted?</h4> <p>On election day my friend <a href=”http://tonykeen.blogspot.com/”>Tony</a> Facebooked to the effect that he had wasted his vote (and it’s really annoying that, as far as I know, there’s no way to link to an update or a comment in Facebook). I answered:</p> <blockquote> I don’t agree. The only way you can waste a vote is to not use it. For example I voted LibDem in a safe Labour seat, but that isn’t “wasted”. In fact, it would have been more of a waste to vote Labour. </blockquote> <p>My son made the same point when I told him about that discussion. Diane Abbott got 54% of the vote in Hackney North and Stoke Newington. (That’s a proper majority.) My vote wouldn’t have made any difference, though, would it?</p> <p>But in the days immediately after the election, as Clegg took his party into talks with the hated Tories, I began to regret my decision. It really felt like I had “wasted” my vote; or maybe misused is the better word.</p> <h4>Things Can Maybe Get Better?</h4> <p>However the <a href=”http://www.libdems.org.uk/latest_news_detail.aspx?title=Conservative_Liberal_Democrat_coalition_agreements&amp;pPK=2697bcdc-7483-47a7-a517-7778979458ff”>coalition document</a> that they published today is remarkable. If you’ve read any of my political posts over the years, you’ll know that the biggest thing going on for me for some time has been ID cards, and all the associated post-9/11 terror-panic fallout. So to read this, from the wordprocessor of the Tories (and LibDems) is remarkable:</p> <ul> <li>A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.</li> <li><p>The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.</p></li> <li><p>Outlawing the fingerprinting of children at school without parental permission.</p></li> <li><p>The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.</p></li> <li><p>Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.</p></li> <li><p>The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.</p></li> <li><p>The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.</p></li> <li><p>The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.</p></li> <li><p>Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.</p></li> <li><p>Further regulation of CCTV.</p></li> <li><p>Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.</p></li> <li><p>A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.</p></li> </ul> <p>I mean, that’s pretty much everything we could want on civil liberties, right there. And a few other points are good. As my friend <a href=”http://twitter.com/soapyfrogs”>Stuart</a> said: <!— http://twitter.com/soapyfrogs/status/13853737157 —> <style type=”text/css”>.bbpBox{background:url(http://s.twimg.com/a/1273278095/images/themes/theme1/bg.png) #9ae4e8;padding:20px;}</style> </p> <div id=”tweet_13853737157” class=”bbpBox” style=”background:url(http://s.twimg.com/a/1273278095/images/themes/theme1/bg.png) #9ae4e8;padding:20px;”><p class=”bbpTweet” style=”background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:16px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px;”>Most important line of the agreement? - We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes. <a href=”http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23ge10” target=”_new”>#ge10</a><span class=”timestamp” style=”font-size:12px;display:block;”><a title=”Wed May 12 14:23:57 ” href=”http://twitter.com/soapyfrogs/status/13853737157”>Wed May 12 14:23:57 </a> via <a href=”http://www.tweetdeck.com” rel=”nofollow”>TweetDeck</a></span><span class=”metadata” style=”display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6;”><span class=”author” style=”line-height:19px;”><a href=”http://twitter.com/soapyfrogs”><img src=”http://a1.twimg.com/profile_images/125558742/cartoonme_normal.jpg” style=”float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px;”></a><strong><a href=”http://twitter.com/soapyfrogs”>Stuart F Wallace</a></strong><br>soapyfrogs</span></span></p></div> <!— end of tweet —> <p>(Gotta keep embedding those tweets, you know.)</p> <h4>Dismal Science?</h4> <p>On the other hand, I’m no economist; but as <a href=”http://devilgate.org/blog/2010/05/05/disappointment/”>I said before</a>, I don’t trust right-wingers to run the economy. And right now, I have a gut feeling that cutting back on public spending during a recession is exactly the wrong thing to do (cutting back on most public spending is nearly always the wrong thing to do, of course).</p> <h4>Keep On Keeping On</h4> <p>In conclusion, <a href=”http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/05/meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the.html”>I agree with Charlie</a>, pretty much. I don’t trust the Tories, but let’s see whether Clegg &amp; co can keep this thing on track. And let’s keep a close eye on them all, and keep that list above in mind.</p> <p>You never know: maybe this really is “The New Politics”.</p></div>Britain todaycivil libertiescoalitioneconomicselectionid cardslibdempoliticstoryhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2010/05/13/condem-nation/Thu, 13 May 2010 00:42:20 GMTWorrier presidenthttps://devilgate.org/blog/2008/11/03/worrier-president/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><p>There’s a Warren Zevon song called ‘Worrier King’. It contains the line, ‘I’ve been up all night, worrying what November’s gonna bring.’ Given that US elections are always In that month, there’s little doubt what he was worrying about.</p> <p>If Warren had lived he’d be worrying now, and I have a shrewd idea in which direction his concerns would be facing. I’m not American, and I’m worrying. Though I can’t deny that my worry is diluted with a lot of hope and excitement.</p> <p>Tuesday night’s going to be a long one, and whenever I collapse, it won’t be over. But at some point on Wednesday, there’s going to be a new dawn for America, and maybe for the world.</p> <p><em>Edited to add:</em> It’s actually ‘wondering what November’s gonna bring’. </p></div>electionmccainobamapoliticspresidentusazevonhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2008/11/03/worrier-president/Mon, 03 Nov 2008 07:02:22 GMT