danieldwilliam: (Default)
LIke a Janus faced Casandra the Tartan Shortbread Institute of Scotology has been retained by John McTernan to run the Labour Party's election campaign peer in to both the future and the past and divine 25 True Facts about the second May government


  1. In an echo of the '45 Atlee government May's Queen's Speech will be accompanied by a rousing rendition of the traditional Tory favourite, The Sash My Father Wore.
  2. Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond will be elevated to the Lords like a modern day Statler and Waldorf. They will strike down on Teressa May with great vengance and furious anger. The Daily Mail will declare them to be "enemies of the people".
  3. Every Tory MP over the age of 65 will be wrapped in cotton wool and kept in a quiet dark room away from rich food, sharp objects and difficult questions. Tory MP's under 35 will keep away from their cocaine dealer and dominatrices. That will hurt them a lot more than it hurts me.
  4. Gina Miller will win the first by-election of the new Parliament, defeating Zac Goldsmith (Indepedent), by 45 votes and one runway. Claude Junker will die of laughter.
  5. Farage! Nigel Farage! will re-enter British politics in England's greatest hour of need, a cross between Churchill and Edward the VIII. Pint in one hand, cigarette in the other and clutching the hijab he braverly wrestled from a terrified resident of Bradford in order to protect her from her own false consciousness and internalisation of the patriarchy he will illuminate British politics like the Sun King. He will never, ever, ever become an MP. Ever. Baldrick has more chance. A sex tape of him and Katie Hopkins shagging under the coats at the Briebart Christmas party at Nakatomi Towers will be released under the title Die Hard with a Brexit. Is that what you want? Because that's what will happen.
  6. Scotland will beat England at football after England score an own goal from the penalty spot.
  7. Jeremy Corbyn will set the Tory Party some really difficult geography homework. Questions will include - Where is the Suez Canal? How many counties are there in Ulster? Where can you park an illegally funded battle bus in Thannet South? What does the Scotish Navy keep at Holy Loch? How many runways does Heathrow Airport have?
  8. Arlene Foster will declare herself to be a bloody difficult woman. The Daily Mail will declare her to be "an enemy of the people."
  9. An ill-judged attempt at cross-bench reconcilliation will see Sir Mhari Black knighted but later arrested for headbutting William Rees-Mogg after he propositions her in Classical Greek. It will be the most shared video on the BBC website of 2017.
  10. A wall or possibly a tunnel will be built along the Irish border - Sein Fein will pay.
  11. Tony Blair will challenge Farage! Nigel Farage! for the leadership of the UKIPs. The much coveted leadership position of Britain's favourite far-right home for nutjobs and racists will eventually be held in tandem by Natalie Bennet and George Galloway under some sort of job share arrangement. They will be declared "enemies of the people" on alternate days.
  12. Smarting from their shock winning of most seats in Scotland and humiliated by their second best result ever Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP will turn away from talk of #indyref2 and get back to the day job, which in their case is preparing Scotland for a second independence referendum.
  13. Philip May will consider redecorating Number Ten but unable to get Corbyn to agree on a colour scheme he will abandon the project on the grounds of there being no point, after all they're moving soon.
  14. Several Tories will suffer self-inflicted injuries stabbing themselves in the back whilst vying for an opportunity to betray Boris Johnson. Boris Johson will be arrested by MI5 after breaking in to Number 10 to measure for curtains.
  15. After not U-turning on a snap election and not U-turning on the dementia tax and not U-turning on National Insurance May's strong and stable government will dilligently pursue her "secret" plan for a Die Hard Brexit. Oh yes they will. They will. Stop sniggering. It's not like she campaigned for Remain before the referendum is it? She's never going to betray Johnson, Davis and Doctor Liam Fox or the trust of the English people. Not! Going! To! Happen!
  16. The repair bill for the Palace of Westminister and Buckingham Palace will be so large that both buildings will abandoned. The Queen will move in to David Cameron's duck house. Parliament will relocate to Jeremy Corbyn's shed so long as Ken Livingston can rehome his newts.
  17. Teressa May will enact the Conservative Party manifesto of re-nationalising the railways, ending tuition fees, bringing in a £10 minimum wage and No Surrender.
  18. Pete Wishart will go missing at sea whilst sailing a ship called Dignity the wrong way through the Minch. Ruth Davidson will be arrested riding a riding a bison called Cruelty the wrong way down the Euro-tunnel. She will be sobered up, wiped down and placed in the professional care of Patrick Harvie. Harvie wil relish his new day job as a celebrity social worker. The bison will be declared "an enemy of the people".
  19. Gangs of university students will intimidate Tory MP's by hanging round outside their offices defiantly showing them their postal vote applications and copies of Pepper vs Hart.
  20. In the spirit of One Nation Toryism for which she is justly famed Teressa May will commision a super-group of the remaining Smith, Billy Bragg, the Pogues, Kate Bush and Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber to produce a new arrangement of the Famine Song to become Britain's new national anthem. The Daily Mail will declare them "enemies of the We Are The People."
  21. 47 Daily Mail journalists will be killed in what, at first, is thought to be a jihadi attack on the newspaper's head office. Police will later confirm that Paul Dacre exploded upon discovering that the UK isn't going to leave the Single Market after all.
  22. May's Brexit plan will leak more often than the Labour Party manifesto and David Davis' pants. Mostly it will be leaked by the European negotiators reporting back to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament as they are legally obliged to. No one in Europe will think this is strange.
  23. A new centrist party will form from a merger of the Lib Dems, The Yorkshire Party and the Provisional wing of the BBC and claim the fertile centre ground of British politics. In the third general election of 2017 a combination of viral targetted Facebook attack adds and a Mary Berry cookery book fundraiser will see them break through and win Clacton from the SNP.
  24. The issue of same-sex marrages in Northern Ireland wil be settled by an arm wrestling match between Nigel Dodds and Ruth Davidson's bison. As a result of the contest LGBT humans of all genders and none will be welcome in a progressive Northern Ireland free of the reactionary and bigoted politics of the past.
  25. Ken Clarke will finally succeed Teressa May as Prime Minister, leading a government of national unity. He will call a snap election in January 2018. And lose.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Some quick throughts on Trumps first 100 days proposals. He should strike fast before House Republicans remember that they hate him.

http://www.npr.org/2016/11/09/501451368/here-is-what-donald-trump-wants-to-do-in-his-first-100-days

Read more... )
danieldwilliam: (electoral reform)
For those of you watching in black and white the pound is now at its lowest level against the US dollar in 31 years, trading this morning at $1.2757.

That's below the value it touched just after the EU Referendum result.

This isn't a result of Brexit. This is a result of us *talking* about Brexit. My guess, for what its worth, is that if we ever get round to actual Brexit we'll see the pound worth more or less one US dollar. Its high over the last twelve months was 1.55. Dollar parity would see the pound worth 2/3rds of its value a year ago.

You'll start to see this in inflation figures over the next few months. The next Bank of England quarterly inflation report is due on the 3rd of November and this will be the first one where the whole period is after the referendum and the fall in value of the pound. Anything that is imported, anything where large parts of the components are traded in dollars and anything involving lots of oil will get more expensive.

The FTSE 100 share index, made up of large multi-national firms, so not really a great measure of the UK economy, rises to a near record 7,000 points. It is traded in pounds. In dollars, it's down 2% this year. Basically people with dollars are taking their valuable dollars and buying cheap pounds to buy shares in FTSE 100 companies at a bargain. Apply the same logic to other UK stock indices.

If you are able to negotiate yourself a payrise now might be the time to start. Or if you're a pensioner with a triple locked pension and investments in the FTSE 100 sit back and crack open a bottle of English sparkling wine.
danieldwilliam: (electoral reform)
Where does  Brexit leave voting reform?

Very difficult to tell. It will depend on the how the cascade of crises we're about to have tumble. That is probably true for many things.

My view is obviously coloured by the fact that I think our poor voting system is one of the contributory factors in the Brexit vote. If you think that I'm an out of touch Guardian reading, metropolitian liberal elite wanker who is part of the problem then my diagnosis is unlikely to be persuasive.

There are I think a number of binary positions to consider that build up to some scenarios.

Brexit either will or will not happen before 2020.

The government either will or will not collapse.

The Labour Party will recognise that it has lost the firm support of many traditional voters or it will not.

Scotland either will or won't become independent.

The Party system either will or won't break down.

As a reaction to the shock to the Party System can progressives or conservaties gather round a vote winning leader or a vote winning platform or not? Are social liberals and economic liberals allied or opposed? Do they converge or diverge?

Amongst that there are some scenarios that favour voting reform or constitutional reform more widely.

For example, the government collapses before Christmas, without Brexit, the Labour Party runs on a manifesto of putting power back in the hands of people with a constitutional convention, electoral reform and regional devolution.

Or the less favourably, the Tories don't implode and quietly don't invoke Article 50, we get to 2020 and the North of England votes for UKIP, Scotland votes for independence, and the Tories continue to run the country just has they have been for the decade before.

I think we need electoral reform but it is difficult to persuade people that it the solution to the problems that they have in their lives because they don't see the connection between voting mechanics and how power is operated and how power is used to apply resources to solve problems.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)

A serious thought about the EU Referendum and the possibility of a second Scottish Independence referendum.

I was, and am, in favour of Scottish Independence within the EU.

I was, and am, in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU.

I wish I could have both. If we can not have both I think we should pick the EU over the UK.

Ideally, for me, Scotland would become independent from the UK whilst both were in the EU. There would be a natural and pre-existing trading arrangement. We (Scotland) would have to ride out a few years adjusting to running our own country, getting a workable currency and setting our tax rates right. It would be difficult in the short term but I think, on balance, probably, better economically and politically in the medium term. This is a guess not a promise and I might be wrong. Other people thought so and I respect their thought processes and their right to their own values and risk preferences.

But we don't live in an ideal world. There appears to be no sweet spot where we can have easy trading relationships with both the rest of the UK and the other 27 members of the EU. The next few years are going to be economically challenging in exactly the same way as Scottish Indepdence was always going to be. Avoiding the sunk cost fallacy we have to make the best of the situation we are in today, not the best of the situation we thought we were in a week ago. We have to go forward from where we are. Where we are, today,  is in flux, with both peril and opportunity on all sides.

And so, it might now be the case that Scottish Indepedence as  part of the EU is the best option for my country even if it wasn't when the rest of the UK was an EU member state.

If that is the case I think we should do it quickly. To quote the first and greatest British playwright

"Thereis a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of theirlife is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."

and

"If it were donewhen 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly"

The position of the SNP before the EU referendum as I saw it was a) to reserve the right to hold a second referendum to Scottish people, and b) to actually wait until there was a pent up demand for independence. Fair and resonable under the circumstances in my view. But slow, so slow, so flat footed.

I think those circumstances have changed. We have a very strong vote for Remain in Scotland. Is that a proxy for a vote for Independence? Maybes Aye, Maybes Nay. There's only one way to find out soon. And find out soon we must. There is an opportunity for Scotland to profit from England's error. If we move quickly, quickly to establish a firm invitation to remain in the EU, quickly to hold and win an independence referendum and then quickly to set our trade and taxation policy so as to predate on England's uncertain future by encouraging international businesses currently located in England who want an Anglophone location in the EU to relocate to Scotland rather than Ireland. Which if they are going to do, they will do sooner rather than later.

Are the people of Scotland up for this? Only one way to find out. If we wait until we are certain the opportunity to walk away from the implosion of the UK with at least our own country and economy and people intact will be gone.

So I think Sturgon should get on a plane and fly round every European capital and ask them to jointly and severally invite Scotland to stay in the EU. If successful she should announce a referendum to be held before Christmas. If that is for independence then we negotiate SExit alongside Brexit and stay in the EU.

If unsuccessful we are not any worse off. If we wait to see how damaging Brexit will be and how that actually affects public opinion the damage to us will be done and the opportunity to ameliorate that damage with some prudent, sharp business will be lost.

To be clear - I am absolutely advocating that we (Scotland) conspire to stab our closest ally and dearest friend in the back. Et tu Scotus. We should not stand with them whilst they try to work out how to be a non-European nation. We should take advantage of their distress to prosper ourselves. What choice have they left us? What choice have we left ourselves.

I vote for #IndyRef2 within six months.

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
This isn't a prediction but more of a prior or a baseline.

As you sow, so shall ye reap and sometimes you are not the harvester but the harvest.

If Scotland is to become independent and pick up any benefit of businesses wanting to keep an Angolphone office inside the EU it will need to become independent within the EU pretty fast. I'd be disappointed if Sturgeon wasn't on a plane to Brussels and Bonn today.

Indyref Part 2 within a year. Yes wins by a narrow margin. Scotland opens popcorn but realises it actually has some work to do so sells the popcorn. Watch the predatory corporation tax rate and the subtlely lax banking regulation. (Let's hope we have the sense to keep some of the tax revenue back for the next crash.)

Chaos in the Tory Party. They either need to back off the central plank of their economic policy of reducing the deficit through spending cuts or they need to magically make the economy not be affected by the referendum result or admit that their economic credibilty is worth about as much as the pound. So, the emergency budget will be devisive - for them - and brutal for the working classes in the North of England and the Midlands. I'd expect May to emerge at Tory leader and the next PM.

Chaos in the Labour Party. Corbyn is utterly pish. Essentially backed Leave.  I thought he'd manage to communicate with people and shift the Overton Window a bit but it feels like he's sitting at his desk writing strident blog posts, filing his paperclips and gazing at the pin-ups in the Morning Star. However, the Labour right hasn't re-organised in to a coherent post-Blarite grouping and, to be honest, doesn't have much in the way of quality to offer either.

I think we probably avoid a snap general election. Jeez, that would be messy.

Plan A - we (they) end up having a second EU referendum post exit negotiations on the question "Do you want to stay in the EU or take the actual deal on offer?"

Plan B - Britain (aka England) gets left to dangle for a year or more and ends up in the European Economic Area but on pretty strict terms, probably including Schengen. (I personally won't be sorry about this. I like the EU, I like free movement, I like every closer union and being forced to join the EEA will be a much needed punch to the nuts of post-imperialist little Englanders. Also, I'll be living in a post-independence Scotland.)

Those are not our Plans A and B but the German's Plans A & B.

Ten or twenty years after England joins the EEA it votes to rejoin the EU finally shorn of its illustions that the rest of the world owes it any favours.

The working class of the North of England and the Midlands continues to be slowly evicerated by the Conservative Party. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a hand-made Italian brogue stamping on a face, forever.

But not I think in my country.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)

Schools in south Edinburgh are pretty much full. Some combination of immigration, a spike in birth rates and the general good quality of the schools attracting people to the area means that most of the primary schools and all of the secondary schools are expected to be over-subscribed over the next ten years.

Various people are trying to find various ways of addressing - basically building a new primary school and a new annexe for the secondary schools.

One of the factors that is driving increased rolls is that my local secondary school picks up the Gaelic Medium teaching for Edinburgh and the Lothians.

I've been very sceptical about the promotion of the Gaelic language in southern and eastern Scotland for years now. Now the implications of the policy are begining to impact my own children's education I'm now more personally sceptical.

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
My next stop takes me north to the family home in the Northern Isles for a look at the Highlands and Islands. A land of wild winds, huge constituencies and  Liberal Democrat voters. Turn out in the Highlands and Island was 58.9%. Glasgow managed 47.4%. Some people in the Highlands and Islands have to swim to the polling station and they managed a clear 11% better turn out than the Glaswegians who only have to stumble out of the pub in the morning to vote. And, yes, I am going to continue to mock Glasgow for its appalling turnout. When fewer than one in two of you bother to vote you deserve all the mockery you get.


Party

Regional Votes

% of Vote

Constituency Vote

Constituency %

Constituency Seats

Evenutal List Seats

Total Seats

% of Seats
SNP 81,600 40% 91,088 44% 6 1 7 47%
Conservative 44,693 22% 39,493 19% 3 3 20%
Labour 22,894 11% 24,246 12% 2 2 13%
Scottish Green 14,781 7% 0 0% 0 1 1 7%
Liberal Democrats 27,223 13% 47,465 23% 2 - 2 13%
UKIP 5,344 3% 0 0% - 0 0%
Women's Equality 0 0.00% 0 0% - 0 0%
RISE 889 0% 0 0% - 0 0%
Solidarity 793 0% 0 0% - 0 0%
Independent 3,689 2% 1,253 1% - 0 0%
Libertarian 0 0% 0 0% - 0 0%
A Better Britain – Unionist Party 0 0% 0 0% - 0 0%
Animal Welfare 0 0% 0 0% - 0 0%
Scottish Christian 3,407 2% 1,162 1% - 0 0%
205,313 100% 204,707 100% 8 7 15 100%


Looking first at the real votes on the regional list. The order of election was Conservative, Labour, Conservative, Conservative, Green, SNP, Labour.

This is another region where the SNP pick up a disproportionate total of the overall seats, 40% of the vote garnering 47% of the seats.

That Green seat is now held by John Finnie, one of two former SNP MSP's to resign from the SNP over NATO membership and sit as quasi-independents in Holyrood. The other was Jean Urquhart who was the lead candidate for RISE in the Highlands and Islands. Both MSP's, after resigning from the SNP committed themselves to honouring the SNP's manifesto as they had been elected on the regional list in 2011 on that manifesto. A pair of honourable individuals.

The Green's seat is a 5th round pick. So provided that the other honourable duo of McArthur and Scott hold the seats of Orkney and Shetland it should be a good prospect for the Greens to retain the seat.

The last seat to be allocated was for Labour and the margin looks pretty narrow. Some 800 or so more Conservative voters would have cost Labour the seat.

There is the usual leakage of SNP votes in constituencies to the regional vote but in the Highlands and Islands the big swing between region and list is away from the Liberal Democrats who mislay some 20,000 votes between one ballot box and the other. The Conservatives increase their share of the vote in the PR list, the Greens didn't stand in any constituencies and the small parties pick up 14 thousand votes between them. No Better Britain - Unionism party or Animal Welfare Party in the Highlands or, sadly, the Women's Equality Party but the Scottish Christian Party pick 3 thousand votes on the list putting them just behind an independent candidate. Rise and Solidarity barely trouble the scorers.

Looking at counter-factuals. The Conservatives could have won a list seat at the expense of the Labour Party. Perhaps they should have bused in some volunteers. Only one seat was close enough to have perhaps impacted the list race. Moray saw the SNP win by 2,875 votes over the Consertatives. The SNP would have picked up a compensating seat on the regional list.  Na h-Eileanan an Iar looks closer than it is. It's a small seat. The winning margin for the SNP over Labour was 3,496 - which would make this marginal in the big city regions - but turn out in the Western Isles was over 60% and this was the only seat in which the SNP polled more than 50% of the vote.  The SNP did finish first or second in every seat.

Final thoughts on the constituency votes. Both Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott hold their seats of Orkney and Shetland with comfortable, nay epic, majorities. Mcarthur  and Scott gathered 67% of the constituency vote. The Nothern Isles seem to have put the Carmichael business behind them and sent two Lib Dems to Holyrood. I'm personally pleased about this.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Along the M8 to Glasgow where nearly as many people voted as didn't bother. Turn out was 47.4% which compares pretty badly with the 57.9% turnout in Lothians. Seats are more disproportionately allocated than in Lothian. The SNP polled 45% of the proper vote but left with 56% of the seats. The Greens 9% of the vote for 6% of the seats.




Party


Regional Votes


% of Vote


Constituency Vote


Constituency %


Constituency Seats


Evenutal List Seats


Total Seats


% of Seats
SNP 111,101 45% 128,443 53% 9 - 9 56%
Conservative 29,533 12% 28,906 12% 2 2 13%
Labour 59,151 24% 70,378 29% 4 4 25%
Scottish Green 23,398 9% 6,916 3% 0 1 1 6%
Liberal Democrats 5,850 2% 7,865 3% - 0 0%
UKIP 4,889 2% - 0% - 0 0%
Women's Equality 2,091 0.84% - 0% - 0 0%
RISE 2,454 1% - 0% - 0 0%
Solidarity 3,593 1% - 0% - 0 0%
Independent 0% 699 0% - 0 0%
Libertarian 271 0% - 0% - 0 0%
A Better Britain – Unionist Party 2,453 1% - 0% - 0 0%
Animal Welfare 1,819 1% - 0% - 0 0%
Scottish Christian 1,506 1% - 0% - 0 0%
248,109 100% 243,207.00 100% 9 7 16 100%



The order of regional seat allocation was Labour, Labour, Conservative, Green, Labour, Labour, Conservative.

The last seat looks like a good seat for the Conservatives. In the final seat allocation they had a margin of about 3,000 votes over Labour, the Greens and the SNP. To win the seat would require those parties to increase their regional votes by 20%, 13% and for the SNP a whooping 30%. A safe enough seat for the Greens but lots of work to do to win a second list seat.

There is evidence of constituency votes switching from the SNP and Labour to the  Greens and a host of small parties. These smaller parties polled just over 19 thousand votes between them.

The Liberal Democrats do noticeably worse in Glasgow than in the Lothians with 3% of the regional vote, only about 1,000 ahead of UKIP. The Women's Equality Party do a little worse in Glasgow than in the Capital. Just over 1% of the vote in Edinburgh, just under 1% in Glasgow. Rise and Solidarity do a little better in Glasgow. Had they combined themselves they would have finished above the Liberal Democrats in 5th place. 313 more people love animals in Glasgow than love Christ. Or at least 1,819 people are prepared to vote for the Animal Welfare Party and only 1,506 for the Scottish Christian Party. Both were beaten by A Better Britain - Unionists who favour a unitary British state with social democracy for all.


The SNP hold a very strong position in the Glasgow constituencies. They won all nine of them. Their smallest majority is over 3,700 and in all but two of the nine seats they won an absolute majority. The only excitement in the constituencies is that the Greens, running Patrick Harvie in Glasgow Kelvin came second to the SNP with 24.3% of the vote. The Green / Labour vote share if combined would have seen the Green's take the seat. The SNP would have then won a top up seat in the regions so not much incentive for Labour there but, really, these minor parties ought to stop messing about and splitting the left of centre vote. Harvie winning is about the only plausible counter factual I can think.

 Once again, 111 thousand regional votes net the SNP nothing extra but provided a solid back up to the constituency vote, Had they slipped up in marginal Kelvin they'd have been relieved to see that many people in Glasgow went #BothVotesSNP.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Lothians

I'll be trawling through the Scotitsh election results with some excel and some plausible counter-factuals - trying to assess how close the election result was. I'm going to start with the Lothians because it's home turf and, as a Green party member, a fertile strip of beneficent and right minded voters.

Overall turn out was 57.9%. Seats generally aligned well with the regional vote tally. There is evidence that people are shifting their votes from the First Past the Post constituency vote to the regional list vote with votes flowing from the SNP. Lib Dems and Labour to the Conservatives,  and Greens.




Party



Regional Votes



% of Vote



Constituency Vote



Constituency %



Constituency Seats



Evenutal List Seats



Total Seats



% of Seats
SNP 118,546 36% 137,996 42% 6 0 6 38%
Conservative 74,972 23% 67,837 21% 1 3 4 25%
Labour 67,991 21% 84,975 26% 1 2 3 19%
Scottish Green 34,551 11% 4,644 1% 2 2 13%
Liberal Democrats 18,479 6% 29,095 9% 1 1 6%
UKIP 5,802 2% - 0% 0 0%
Women's Equality 3,877 1% - 0% 0 0%
RISE 1,641 1% - 0% 0 0%
Solidarity 1,319 0% - 0% 0 0%
Independent 1,344 0%
Libertarian 119 0%
327,178 100% 326,010.00 100% 9 7 16 100%


Starting with the regional list (also known as your proper vote). Seats were won in the following order.


Conservative, Green, Labour, Conservative, Labour, Conservative, Green

Had the Lib Dems not won Edinburgh Western and the Tories not won Edinburgh Central and Labour not won Edinburgh Southern the Greens would not have won their second seat.

The second Green seat is pretty marginal. In the last d'hondt round the Greens had 17,275 and Labour 16,668. Labour would need another 834 votes to gain the last seat over the Greens. The SNP would have need 2,042 extra votes to pick up the last seat over the Greens. Pretty tight.

If all of the UKIP voters has switched to the Tories this would not have been quite enough for them to gain a 5th seat.

The first Green seat is pretty safe. Won on the second round by a comfortable margin. It would need an additional 2,935 votes for the Greens to win the seat on the first d'hondt round.

Looking at the Constituencies - it is arguably the case that Alison Johnstone cost Alison Dickie Edinburgh Central for the SNP. In which case, from a Green point of view, good. As a Conservative loss in Edinburgh Central would have cost the Greens Andy Wightman's second Lothian list seat.

This assumes that all of the Green voters would have voted SNP. They might all have plausably voted Labour, in which case the Greens have cost Labour a second constituency seat.
Edinburgh Southern, Edinburgh Western and Edinburgh Pentlands are close. Not razor thin but close. Modest swings would see Labour lose Edinburgh Southern, the SNP lose Edinburgh Pentlands or the Lib Dems lose Edinburgh Western. Each of theparties would make up the seat on the regional list. A Labour or Lib Dem loss would do so at the expense of the Greens.

118 thousand list votes didn't get the SNP much. They were pretty comfortable winners in the constituencies they won. They would have needed a few thousand more votes to over-hang and win a list seat. But, if they'd have a couple of thousand extra votes they might well have won one of the constituencies and not been awarded the list seat.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I am entirely okay with the Scottish election results.

Although I was (and am) pro-independence in 2014, in practice it's not really on the table this Parliament - barring Brexit disasters. I don't think it's the most important issue facing our country. Plenty of stuff that we could have discussed didn't get talked about during the referendum and we should deal with some of that before going round to that particular constitutional question again.

I think the SNP are a competent government. I like that. They are also sort of centre-left. I like that - well more than a centre-right government. Rhetoric doesn't quite match the action and I think I know why that is. I can live with it.

I think the SNP have a tendency towards centralisation and close control and a broad stripe of authoritarianism. Which I don't like.

They have a tendency to be a bit soft on environmental and energy issues when jobs or the interests of their donors are affected. Which I don't like.

I don't want a Tory government (see pro-independence) and I'm not sure I quite trust the Labour Party to be different than the SNP in terms of being centralising, authoritarian not-quite-as-centre-left-as-they-think-are and I don't trust them to be competent

So a situation where the SNP remain in government but in a minority government requiring support from the more left wing and more environmentally minded Greens and from the more localist and liberal Liberal Democrats actually suits me just fine.

And if this means that it is 20 years until indepedence instead of 10 or that independence never happens - well that's a price I'm perfectly willing to pay for better, more democratic, more radical government today and over the next couple of decades.

Other plus points include...

The Labour Party having to have a long hard look at itself and I hope come out as a more liberal, more radical, more democratic, more vibrant organisation.

The Tories being the lead opposition party and getting some scrutiny beyond "Ruth Davidson looks mighty jolly on a bison and isn't it progressive that the Tories have a woman-lesbian-Glaswegian-person as leader."

The Greens get a decent chance to build up some organisational structures and some expertise over the coming 5 years.

People might stop shouting "Saor Alba - c'mon wour Nicola!" as if that some how made everything alright.

Frankly, it's about as good as it was going to get.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I doubt the Tory election expenses scandal is going to bring down the government.

It looks like the Tories may have over-spent in 29 seats during the General Election. If this is so that might trigger by-elections but I think only in the 22 seats they won.

I can't readily see a list of the 22 potential seats but given the target areas lets guess 10-ish Lib Dem and 12-ish Labour potential wins.
If the opposition parties won all of the potential by-elections the Tories would have 308 seats to Labour's 244. Adding up all the probably Conservative supporting parties they would have 319 from 4 parties, the non-Tory supporting parties would have 325. This assumes a complete rejection of the Tories by the Lib Dems. But the party disposition looks more unstable, requiring six party co-ordination and including the SNP working with the Labour Party.


If the Tories held half of the potential by-election seats they would have 319 seats and their "coalition" would be 330 to the oppositions 313.


Not sure the Lib Dems or the SNP would fancy bringing down the government and triggering a general election under those circumstances.

So the best case for the Labour and Lib Dem parties is a weak Tory minority government. The more likely case for the opposition is a pretty stable minority government - particularly in England.
danieldwilliam: (electoral reform)
Mixed results on my predictions of the Scottish election results.

The SNP did less well than I expected. I'd predicited them winning an absolute majority based on a more or less clean sweep in the constituency vote on a vote share of just short of 50%. As it turns out they won 59 out 73 seats on 46.5% of the constituency vote. Their list vote share of 41.7% was significantly lower than I expected. They've gained constituency seats but not held up their list vote enough to avoid a net loss of seats.

I expect when I get hold of the detailed results there will be a couple of near misses and something about vote efficiency and d'hondt to be said. Hey ho.

The Tories did much better than I expected. I thought the Labour Party would just about hold on to second place overall. The Conservatives ended up with 31 seats to Labour's 24. The Tories behind the Labour Party on vote share 22% to 22.6% in the constituencies but ahead 22.9% to 19.1% in the regions. The Labour Party constituency vote looks widely dispersed and therefore inefficient.

Who'd have thought that one of the posher bits of Edinburgh would turn out to be a Labour stronghold?

The Greens did a little less well than I thought they would. I'd predicted 8 seats, they (we) won 6. However, a pretty decent result for the Greens who triple their representation, increase their vote share in the regions, return two MSP's for Lothians and did pretty well in Glasgow Kelvin and Edinburgh Central. The 2.2% increase in regional list vote share seems to have been enough for the Greens to take the last seat in several more regions.

Lib Dems win 5 seats. 4 Constituencies and 1 list seat. I think a bit of an improved situation for them. Their local infrastructure seems to be recovering and it's nice to bank a few constituency seats. I think the Lib Dems winning a few constituencies will be a factor in the Greens wining six rather than 4 seats.

UKIP no seats. Not even close. I thought they would be closer to winning a seat in a few regions. 40 thousand votes across the country. 2.0% vote share. I doubt they will pick up any councillors off the back of that position.

Looking further down the list results Solidarity and RISE both polling very low numbers. Between them about 25 thousand votes and 1.1% of the vote share. It's probably game over them. I'm not sure how they can keep an party infrastructure going with no representation and no prospect of any.

The Women's Equality Party polled just short of 6 thousand votes. That's probably not enough to build from. Particularly in a Parliament where 4 out of the 6 party leaders are women but it's good to see the apparatus in place for an electoral rebuke if Parliament continues to treat half the population as if they were not fully human.

Turn out was 55.6% - up about 5% from the 2011 election but no where near the referendum turn out.

A minority government. A majority in Holyrood for indepedence with 63 SNP and 6 Greens but I see no evidence that the nation is champing at the bit to have round two right now. The SNP with decent blocks of opposition on all sides. That should make for a more interesting Parliament.

in terms of winners and losers. Big winners are the SNP. Yes, they didn't do as well as the polls predicted or as well they did last time but any election you walk away from still being in government is a big win. The Tories and the Greens should be happy. I suspect this is peak Tory. It might be peak Green. The Lib Dems appear to have finally weathered the storm and rounded the point and other nautical analogies. The Labour Party will be disappointed. They need to win 20 seats from the SNP to have a chance of forming a government. UKIP very disappointed.

As for the predictions - were the polls wrong or was there a late swing away from the SNP? Was I paying enough attention? Or did SNP voters think they had the constituencies all sown up and distribute their list votes? Is that even the right question to ask. Difficult to tell.

More thoughts on the trajectory of the Parliament a bit later.
danieldwilliam: (electoral reform)
A few election predictions. None particular controversial or insightful.
Read more... )
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
The election in Scotland is shaping up to be a peculiar one. It seems more like an election to decide on the opposition. The widespread assumption is that the SNP will win, will win a second absolute majority, and are likely to increase their vote share and majority over the 2011 result.

The Green Party seems to be campaigning specifically on their abilty to provide an effective, positive and more interesting opposition than any one else. Neither the Labour Party or the Conservative Party are making a strong bid for govenment but rather presenting themselves as an opposition party that would like to be considered for government after spending the years 2016 to 2021 beating up the SNP. The Liberal Democrats still have such a long way to go to recover from the set back linked to their part in the UK government of 2010-15 that I think their electoral pitch is pretty much "You'll miss us if we go."

So most of the parties are making noises about effective opposition but only one party is talking about being in government - and that's the government. I'm not sure I've ever seen an election where most of the focus was on who was going to be the opposition. The twhole #bothvotes controvesy just goes to show that we're really talking about who ought to be the opposition and how effective that opposition ought to be.

I expect things will look different in 2021. By then the gloss will have come off the SNP, or rather the teflon. There is a strange mindset in Scotland at the moment that the SNP are not really responsible for their policy or administrative failings but that these are caused by They Westminster and that the SNP are really a left of centre party that would like to govern as a left of centre party were it not for They Westminister. Policy consequences and administrative cock-ups seem not to be sticking to the SNP. There is a more fanciful mindset amongst fervant nationalists, the sort of person who thinks that Yes didn't lose #Indyref, that there are in fact no failings and that any negative news about the government in Scotland is being made up by some cabal of Unionists in London. After 14 years of government, 10 as a majority government, with increased powers for Holyrood and the memories of the excitement of the 2014 referendum faded I doubt the SNP can maintain the delicate position that everything good that they do is due entirely to them, everything bad that happens is to the result fo Westminister and that any thing they fail to do is because of the constitutional constraints.

Or the SNP will largely avoid this, by luck or judgement, and the 2021 election will be about which of the four opposition parties the people of Scotland feel they could do without.

In either case, having been the effective opposition may well turn out to be important.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I read this interview transcript with Robert Gordon, author of the Rise and Fall of American Growth.

He's in the End of Growth school and has some particular observations on the impact of this on the USA.

To summarise the End of Growth school's argument; they suggest that technological innovation has slowed and that the new products it is producing are not transformative in the way that the new consumer products of the 3rd Industrial Revolution were. We might make existing things a little more cheaply or a little better but we already have, warm dry homes, near instantaneous communications, rapid personal transport, effective medicine, easy to run homes and broadcast entertainment. They suggest that there is nothing that big to come, probably ever again. And that that nothing new is going to arrive much more slowly than we have gotten used to.

Both points I fundamentally disgree with. I think there are transformative technologies to come and I think they will come more, not less rapidly, than we say in the 20th Century. More on that anon.

However, even if I'm wrong I think there is a fundamental transformation of society to come brought about by the application of technology that is currently in development. What if everything was free?

I think, even without radical new products the combination of machine intellegence, robotic manufacturing, autonomously operating vehicles, machine vision, data handling, the softwareisation of knowledge and machine scheduling of manufacturing and ordering puts a long-term and sustained pressure on the production costs of many household items. A second trend I observe is that the long run cost of energy is about to be capped by rewewables and then that cap is going to slow fall over the coming decades. The combination of human free production of material goods and cheap and stable energy means that living a dignified life, for most people, most of the time, becomes practically free.

With expanded production frontiers some combination of increased leisure time (either voluntary or forced) or fierce competition for position goods or housing.

And along with the increased leisure comes a reduction in the precariousness of living. Dignity and comfort can be maintained for very little, so savings and social security can ensure the wherewithall for a decent material standard of living easily. No more fear.

Social housing, either mediated through the state of the family is going to be a crucial element of the 21st Century.

There may not be radical new solutions to problems that oppress humanity but quantity has a quality all of its own - especially that quantity is available for free.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I was surprised by the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith. It's a pretty big event in British politics.

Duncan Smith says, better than Corbyn and McDonnell have managed to say, what the main problems with the Conservative economic policy are; that it is done for political reasons and not economic ones, that it hurts the poor and favours the rich, that it is done in a short term, grasping disorganised way, that we are not all in together and that it isn't actually working.

There are clearly interactions with the EU Referendum campaign and the shape of the Tory Party after that. There are clearly interactions with the inability of the Tory Party to disagree about Europe in a civilised way.

Cameron's retirement and replacement loom large.

And the three things collide - doubts about the Tories' economic policy and their fraticidal EU issues and their leadership issues.

Good, says I.

On Iain Duncan Smith himself I'm minded to take the resignation on face value - mostly. Reforming welfare is a big and difficult job. The only other organisations with as many contacts in their "customer" data base are, banks, energy companies and mobile phone companies. None of whom are exactly well known for their excellent levels of customer service and their cutting edge database management tools. It's a harder job when money is tight. Easier to transistion people from one set of benefit rules to another or from benefits to work if you can slip them an extra few quid and hire in some extra help to make it work.

And I believe Iain Duncan Smith is sincere in his desire to seek social justice for people by providing them with work and the opportunity to better themselves. They might be old fashioned values but that doesn't mean that the Duncan Smith doesn't hold them or that they aren't part of the solution to long-term unemployment, reduced economic growth, inequality, poverty and lack of opportunity.

And I can see how you can set off on one path and end up nudged on to another without noticing at first. That you start off trying to reform welfare so that it is cheaper to operate and targets more helpful social security at fewer people. That you aim to move in to paid work where you and they can. Then you find that not everyone has the same priorities as you. That as other people's mistakes come home to roost you are being asked to change paths from a reform of welfare with a consequent reduction in cost to an ever increasing reduction in cost regardless of whether this helps people in to work or regardless of whether they can actually live on social security.

And the mistake at the heart of this is Osbourne's. His basic failure to understand economics and his short term desire to keep beating the Labour Party with the stick of economic mismanagement by sticking to an austerity policy that by it's own lights wasn't working to reduce the deficit, was damaging other areas of economic policy consideration and which he could not abandon because he had used austerity to frame the election campaigns of 2010, 2015 and 2020.

Had Osbourne been right the UK economy would be growing at about 4% at the moment, productivity would be growing, wages would be growing and our main problem would be inflation. Oh, and the deficit would be a surplus and the ratio of debt to GDP would be falling quickly.

So I'm prepared to take Iain Duncan Smith at face value. Someone trying to do the right thing (in a way that I disagree with) who has been compromised by Osbourne's error and realised that no matter how much he reduced social security spending Osbourne would always be back asking for more.

I expect other resignations to come between now and the 23rd of June.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Something cropped up on the radio this morning that I've been mulling over to no great effect today.

The organiser of the Indian Wells tennis tournament suggested that women's tennis was economically dependent on the draw of men's tennis. He chose to couch this view in some inflamatory language. Serena Williams suggested that this was not the case. Robustly. Novak Djokovic in a nuanced response said that he thought prize money should correspond with the financial draw of the event and the competitors.

Which got me thinking about equality and what it means and how it's measured and how it's enforced.

As a general principle I think men and women should be paid the same for doing the same work. They should be paid the same for doing equivalent work. We should systematically lower barriers that restrict people taking on work or which segregates employment by sex or gender as much as possible. A male surgeon and a female surgeon should earn (on average) the same. Office cleaners (mostly female) should earn about the same as bin collectors (mostly male). The access of women to senior positions in the professions should be facillitated and the access of men to work in nursing or primary school teaching or at home with dependent children likewise. Senior bosses are over paid. Nurses and primary school teachers under paid. Some of this is to do with the gender doing the work.

If there are significant gaps in pay between sexes and genders doing the same work that's not right and the existing legal remedies should be deployed. With vigour. I'm open to the argument that the existing legal remedies are insuffient and should be enhanced. I'm not entirely persuaded that new remedies are required rather than more vigorous use of the current remedies but there's a discussion to be had.

Where things get a bit murkier for me is exactly the situation of sports players or entertainers where the volumes of participants are so low that an element of delectus personae - choice of the person - exists. If people would rather watch Novak Djokavic play tennis against Andy Murray than watch Serena Williams play Venus Williams then, on first examination, isn't that their decision and shouldn't Djokavic be free to reap the reward of his personal draw and fandom through higher income?

Ditto a comparison of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's earnings.

But then, as a society and as individuals do we value tennis played by men more because it, being played by men, is *proper* tennis. And tennis played by women is, by virtue of being played by women, not proper tennis but a lesser immitation. It is certainly the case that in sports played by men and by women, the women's game is seen as less worthy and less popular. In sports played primarily by women professional wages are low.

There's clearly (to me at least) something structural going on about how we value women and the work or sport they do.

But it's not entirely clear to me how we say to Djokavic - it's all well and good that people paid a £9 million to watch you play tennis and only paid £1 million to watch Williams play tennis but we're going to pay you both £5 million. (Assuming that it is the case that more people will pay more money to watch Djokavic than Williams.)

It's certainly not clear to me how we would enforce such a decision and require a transfer of money from the Djokavic to Williams in any legal system that respects the rights of the individual to make contracts to their own benefit of their own free will.

So, I'm a bit puzzled.

On Syria

Dec. 4th, 2015 09:23 am
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I'm against us bombing Syria on balance. I'm not sure it will have much effect for good or for ill expect to cost us some money, of which we are short, and to make us, rather than ISIS, directly and personally responsible for the death and maiming of civilians. So, given there is a certain financial cost and an uncertain moral cost but I can see it making little difference I'm against.

We are already bombing ISIS in Iraq. Many other people are already bombing ISIS in Syria. It's not clear to me that us spending my pension on additional jet fuel to join in in Syria will make that much difference in Syria or against ISIS. If it does, I'm not convinced that is a clear cut good thing.

The situation in Syria is very complicated. About the only thing that I'm clear on is that ISIL are utter bastards, anti-moral violent sociopathic ideologes who wish to export themselves at gun point and I'd more than happily kill as many of them as we can. This is a bit of an ususual position for me. I'm usually against extra-judicial capital punishment and against the death penalty at all and in favour, even in war, of the minimum necessary force. I'm making an exception for these people.

That said, I don't think killing them in large numbers will do much to improve the security of the UK or our friends, old or new, around the world. The Paris attacks used 9 people. ISIS has somewhere between 30,000 and 200,000 fighters. Assume perhaps that number again in sympathisers around the world who could be converted to active fighters if the conditions and the conditioning were right. So the numbers needed to attack a European city in a similar way to the Paris attacks is a very small proportion of ISIS available war-making capacity. As the US demonstrates on an almost daily basis one or two people who have taken themselves beyond morality and armed themselves with modest firearms are able to kill large numbers of people fairly easily. Bombing ISIS now won't, I think, prevent them having the resources to launch attacks in European cities over the coming ten or twenty years. Rather than bomb them to no effect we might as well put the time and effort in to removing the economic, ideological and political causes and basis for their support.

We find ourselves in a strategic trilemma. Perhaps a double layered one. Assuming we want a winner in the Syrian civil war we'd rather the Free Syrian Army and the Kurds won but the only think stopping Assad defeating them is that if he attacks them vigorously then he opens himself up to being beating in turn by ISIS. By bombing ISIS, if effective in damaging their conventional capabilty in Syria, we stop them pressuring Assad and the Free Syrian Army probably gets beaten and the Kurds beaten up. That assumes that we actually want the war to end with a clear winner. We may favour partition. We may favour a continuing war on the grounds that many of the states and non-state actors in the region seem keen on having a fight and we might as well contain that fight in Syria for 30-40 years until all the bastards and ideologes on all of the sides are dead. (In which case, we ought to be doing a much, much better job of finding new homes for the Syrians who are leaving. It's unfair to turn someone's living room into a boxing ring and then not offer somewhere else to go.)

So, by bombing ISIS we might indirectly help Assad beat the FSA and the Kurds. At meddling regional, global and super power level by bombing ISIS and helping Assad we might support a combination of outcomes that are not to our advantage or which are unhelpful to our allies or which lead in the medium term to a larger, wider, state on state conflict.

So, I'm not convinced that bombing ISIS in Syria will be effective in stopping them attacking us or effective in weakening their position in Syria and if effective in weaking their position in Syria I'm not sure this is an unalloyed good thing.

The causes of the conflict seem complicated. There are issues of democratic deficit. Issues of conflicting religious doctrine, both inter and intra faith, there are proxy considerations for neighbouring states who are concerned about the role Syria can play in bolstering their flanks or keeping their own internal political situation. There are issues of class conflict. There are issues of economics, trade, mercantilism and fundamentally, agricultural policy and water shortages.

(And I should add that my working model for what is happening in the Middle East is largely based on what happend in Europe during the 30 Years War. Which lasted decades and only really ended when all the various sides were dead. I am very sceptical that any diplomatic efforts will result in a lasting, binding peace. Too many people are looking for a fight in a context of too much bad faith and not enough money for any peace to hold. That's my guess.)

I tend to favour my brother's view that one of the most effective ways of preventing conflicts like the one in Syria is to give the citizens of those countries access to all the material goodies and opportunities for betterment that we in the West enjoy. Coca Cola and jeans, clean water and clean energy will cure more ills than our bombs can address. This requires us to give them access to our markets as a buyer and a seller, allow their young people to move here with relative freedom. Support their institutions in becoming as robust and transparent and governed by the rule of law as our own aspire to be. There is also a salutory lesson that if we in the West forget that our own security is built on a model of shared prosperity, freedom and opportunity we will create our own versions of ISIS and our own civil wars. Our polities are not exceptional except that we have done the right thing, more or less, for the last 200 years and we would be well advised to keep doing the right things.

Maybe bombing will help. I think not but it might. As I say, the situation is complex and deep. Weighing an uncertain outcome if we act and uncertain outcome if we don't act I'm for not acting. Evidence suggests that similar behaviour in the past has not helped either them or us. Evidence suggests that jet fuel and bombs cost money that we claim not to have. For me to support more bombing I'd need to be persuaded that either (and probably both) it would lead to a more or less certain improvement in the situtation in the short term and / or was part of a coherent plan to stabilise the region which even if not fully successful at least failed in a way that made things better. I'm not convinced of those things - so I weigh the certain cost of money spent on jetfuel and bombs that could be spent on my children's schools or my sister's health care and the uncertainty of any good coming of us intervening and I'm against us bombing Syria.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I have not been successful in my bid to be elected to the Electoral Reform Society Council.

Once again I managed a respectable mid-table exit from the STV election. I expect I shall stand again next time round.

I picked up a decent number of first preferences. It's always gratifying, humbling and surprising to be someone's first choice for something. Thank you to those of you who gave me a high preference.

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