Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More fools

From the comments below on "BNP Fools":
I don't think the university graduates of the SWP understood the system either. Their Left List put out a leaflet saying: "The proportional representation system means the only way to stop a minor party like the BNP getting elected is to vote for a progressive, left alternative. Under the PR system just piling up voted for New Labour will not block the BNP. But voting for the Left List can stop the fascists getting a seat on the London Assembly". I think I'm right in saying that this is just not true. The D'Hondt system favours the bigger parties, so piling up votes for New Labour, the Tories, the Liberals or the Greens would precisely have been the way to have blocked the BNP. In this respect a vote for the SWP/Left List or any other very minor party would have been a wasted vote. Am I right or do you need a Ph D in statistics to understand all this?
London Socialist is right.

In a sense what they are suggesting has some basis. In a PR system, every vote cast for a candidate other than the BNP does increase the chance of that party getting the seat instead of the BNP.

Further, with the 5% threshold, every vote cast changes absolutely the number of votes they would require in order to enter the assembly.

But, the d'Hondt system is superproportional for larger parties, and simply voting to big up the Labour vote would be more likely to help them snatch the seat to prevent the BNP from filling it.

The only way what the SWP were suggesting could work would be if there were large scale transfers from Labour to the Left List - this would be to take advantage of the additional member system, but if this had happened thoroughly, the SWP/Left List would have gained 8 seats with 650,000 votes, and the BNP would still have got in. Likewise, if the left did manage to pull of such a stunt, it's likely that the BNP would have been able to pull votes off the Tories.

As it is, the votes for the also rans (Christian Peoples Party, English Democrats, UKIP, Respect, Left List, One London) come to 228,214 - that represents about two seats, and probably represents, more or less, the super proportionality of the larger parties. The majority of these are right wing votes, and so would otherwise have fallen to the Tories. But, then, the aim is to keep the BNP out, so better Tories than fascists?

Mind, an extra 95,000 votes for Labour would have taken a seat off the Tories, which would in most terms mean a reduction in the potential voting weight of the BNP, since it would make it harder for them to act as the pivot on which a Tory majority could hang.

If you're going to play these games, at least play them right.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

The rout?

Now, this time last year, I was toying with placing a bet on the next election. My bet was - Tories as biggest party in a hung parliament.

I'm begining to be glad I didn't squander the £50, now.

My reasoning was, although the Tories were climbing in the polls, they needed a disproportionately large swing even to be the largest party, about 8% - their vote is very clumpy, and in their south eastern heartlands, they need about 20,000 per seat to get elected, whereas Labour takes northern seats with about 10,000 votes (some less, terrible turnouts up there).

We are heading for Tory government now, cheifly, the thing I've noticed over the last few ballots, is the Fib-Dems are starting to spiral down again, Yellow Tories are now voting Blue Tory because of Cameron's "progressive coalition" - played for and got,he's pulled some Fib-Dem voters to him.

What can Labour do? Their gradual slide down in the polls has become a rout: a give away budget hasn't stemmed the tide; Brown lacks charm, charisma or the famous vision he promised us - just more and more dull technocratic nonsense that's been blown away with the loss of his competence talisman. A lurch to the left seems unlikely. All they have left is events, dear boy, events.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Burma 'guilty of inhuman action'

That's what big Gordy says.

Money shot:
Mr Brown told the BBC that a natural disaster had been turned into a "man-made catastrophe" because of the negligence of the ruling generals.
That would be scanned.

The self interest and self preservation of the ruling elite of Burma/Myanmar[*] is causing unecessary pain, suffering and death to hundreds of thousands of people - a crime of enormous size.

But, wait:
Ten years later, the number of undernourished people in the world remains stubbornly high. In 2001–03, FAO estimates there were still 854 million undernourished people worldwide: 820 million in the developing countries, 25 million in the transition countries and 9 million in the industrialized countries.
Sayeth the Food and Agriculture Organisation. EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIFTY FOUR **MILLION** undernourished folk in the world. Further:
• Over half a million women still die each year from treatable and preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The odds that a woman will die from these causes in sub- Saharan Africa are 1 in 16 over the course of her lifetime, compared to 1 in 3,800 in the developed world.
• If current trends continue, the target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in
Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
• The number of people dying from AIDS worldwide increased to 2.9 million in 2006, and prevention measures are failing to keep pace with the growth of the epidemic. In
2005, more than 15 million children had lost one or both parents to AIDS.
• Half the population of the developing world lack basic sanitation. In order to meet the MDG target, an additional 1.6 billion people will need access to improved sanitation over the period 2005-2015. If trends since 1990 continue, the world is likely to miss the target by almost 600 million people.
According to the Millenium Development Report 2007.Finally, a quote found on Wikipedia
According to Jean Ziegler (the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for 2000 to March 2008), mortality due to malnutrition accounted for 58% of the total mortality in 2006: "In the world, approximately 62 millions people, all causes of death combined, die each year. In 2006, more than 36 millions died of hunger or diseases due to deficiencies in micronutrients"[9]."
All of which is to say, that there is a preventable catastrophe going on daily - a slow background grind, and that the reason we are not mobilising now to end it entirely, is because of the need to preserve the interests of ruling elites, who are prepared to countenance such inhumanity so liong as they're allright Jack.

[*]note: since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw (CIA World Fact Book).

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

BNP fools

So, I was at the count listening to the BNP counting agent recounting why he thought he "mixed race" grandson he was raising should be entitled to join the BNP, because he is culturally British - though, he said, he understood it is important to protect the species.

I really didn't want to kick off, it was a count, and I was surrounded by them, so I let it go.

Their election agent later explained the election strategy to me - they weren't standing any constituency candidates, because if Labour and Conservatives got more of those, they';d be entitled to fewer list seats.

Clearly, they don't understand the additional member system and the d'Hondt rules.

In the GLA there are 25 seats. 14 are elected in single member constituencies under First Past the Post. 11 come from the list. As you can see, there are more FPTP seats than list, so the first thing to note is that a party can win more direct seats than their proportion of votes would allow. This is especially the case considering that plurality elections allow the biggest minority to win, so, say, a vote of 26-35% could be enough to take each seat.

Labour and Tories did split the 14 seats between them, 8 and 6 with 37% & 28% respectively. (that is 32% and 24% of the seats - a subproportional tally).

The way the d'Hondt works, is you take the total number of votes cast for the list, and divide it by one plus the number of seats gained.

# Votes835,535665,443252,556203,465130,714
% Votes34.05%27.12%11.22%8.29%5.3%
# Seats118321
% Seats44%32%12%8%4%
As can be seen from this table, the parties who only received their d'Hondt votes basically got close to their proportional vote in representation (actually, the BNP are under represented, but, then, the whole problem here is one of rounding, and the rounding is only 1% in this instance.

Here's how the seats would have looked if the election had only been a d'Hondt list based one:

# Votes835,535665,443252,556203,465130,714
% Votes34.05%27.12%11.22%8.29%5.3%
# Seats118321
% Seats44%32%12%8%4%
Look familiar? d'Hondt actually favours larger parties anyway. If we exclude the 15% of votes for parties that failed to get representation (i.e. only take our percentages from effective votes) we get the following table:

# Votes835,535665,443252,556203,465130,714
% Votes40.02%31.87%12.10%9.75%6.26%
# Seats118321
% Seats44%32%12%8%4%
Which is, in effect, the percentages if these had been the only parties standing and voted for.

Now, you can manipulate the additional member system, if you stand as two parties, or, if you have a sister party standing in the FPTP seats you can swing a few constituencies to. But the BNP thinking was bunkum, they neither gained nor lost from not standing in any FPTP seats.

Just proof of stupidity.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

DAF lives

Right, the campaign is over, so I'm back to writing here. I have a couple of ideas, but first, Fritzl.

It is just such an horrific story - perfectly Sadean in its construction of an underground Kingdom in which the unfettered desires of its creator could be given free reign, and which would not exist without him. Indeed, had fritzen died at some point over the last 24 years, all his children in the basement would have been condemned to lingering deaths. Maybe he liked that thought.

Here he was, not just the father, but the sole possesor of his children, and their provider. Without him, they would perish.

Its hard to find a word for such egomaniacal behaviour other than wicked. In its pure form, there was no necessity for it, no grounds of poverty, just the pure exiercise and abuse of power fit for 121 Days of Sodom.

Now amount of punishment could constitute retribution for his crime. No amount of deterrent could have stopped him. he found the perfect way to comit hundreds and hundreds of rapes - and threw in torture beyond imagining - all with no way of being caught.

I wouldn't pretend for a moment that such people would not exist under socialism. I would hope that a change in family relations would erase this sadean patriarchal drive, but doubtless such manifestations of personal egocentricity on such a grand scale would occur. Obviously, with the near eradication of property related crime, such cases would be so few and far between that not only would we be deeply shocked by them (as we are by this) but would have machinery on hand to deal with them effectively.

Finally. I nearly cried when I heard a passing comment on the radio. The children, it seems, stood and gaped open mouthed the first time they saw the moon.

They gaped open mouthed the first time they saw the moon.


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