My election notes. E-Day -1

by Pseud O'Nym

The news yesterday that Teresa May would, if elected,

 Change human rights laws if they “get in the way” of tackling terror suspects.

She said she wants to do more to restrict the freedom of those posing a threat and to deport foreign suspects.

The UK could seek opt-outs from the European Convention on Human Rights, which it has abided by since 1953

This makes me think if this blog I wrote three years ago about privacy; specifically it focused on the dichotomy between why politicians claim they are needed, under what circumstances they’ll be used and on whom and the practical implementation of them. Politicians are not in the habit of increasing our civil liberties.

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I’d always supposed Saudi Arabia to be joyless kind of place. But it seems I was wrong! The ruling elite there in fact do posses a keen sense of irony. Who knew? It wasn’t so much that Saudi Arabia was given a seat on the UN women’s rights committee, meaning that it is now one of 45 countries sitting on a panel

promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women

That was laughably absurd, rather like putting a fox in charge of security for a chicken coop. But it was their cutting of diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday because Qatar that really put the matter beyond doubt. The BBC reported that;

Broadly, two key factors drove Monday’s decision: Qatar’s ties to Islamist groups, and to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

Wealthy individuals in Qatar are believed to have made donations and the government has given money and weapons to hardline Islamist groups in Syria – Qatar says this is not the case.

Mmm. Would that be the same Saudi Arabia which it is claimed “remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban…and other terrorist groups” according to the US government? Or the same Saudi Arabia which has funded thousands of madras’s throughout the Middle East – schools that promote the kind of extremist version of Islam that leads to terrorist atrocities?  

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One of the things that baffled me the most at the start of this election campaign was the gap between the parties in the polls. Now I’ve been very dismissive of the polls, but all of them showed that Conservatives had a seemingly unassailable lead. One or two might be wrong, but all of them? The media were complicit in this, especially the print media, in depicting Jeremy Corbyn as a nice enough chap, but nowhere near competent enough to lead our country. And I’m thinking, ‘We’ve had years of austerity, yet wealth inequality is greater than it has been, public services are facing a funding shortfall yet tax avoidance, evasion, call it what you will is rampant, tax cuts for the rich are funded by cuts to disabled peoples benefits. If this were France, there would’ve been riots. Proper riots, not the looting of a few years ago. How in the name of sanity aren’t Labour streets ahead?’

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The first time Moby had bothered my ears was with the superb ‘Go’. It was magnificent! For me, it’s a sonic time machine that immediately takes me back to dancing like a maddo, in some dingy club with sweat dripping off the ceiling. The next time Moby bothered my ears was with the release of his ‘Everything is Wrong’ album. This was an altogether different proposition. Certainly it was danceable – the singles ‘Feeling So Real’ and ‘Everytime You Touch Me’ prove that, especially the remixes – but it was aimed more at the weekend raver, people who drank alcohol when clubbing. Next I knew was ‘Play’ an album that was so chart friendly, so far removed from ‘Go’, that every single track on the album was licensed for use in commercials. He’d literally sold out.

The Liberal Democrats are the same. For decades they managed to somehow pull the unenviable political trick of being in the political wilderness with no prospect of being elected into government, whilst simultaneously having worthily earnest manfesto’s, that people liked, just not enough people liked them. One might say that one begat the other. So in the 2015 election, the electorate voted them into a coalition with the Conservatives.

Soon it became all too apparent that they were just as venal and self-serving as the public imagines politicians to be. They had sold out in the same way I thought Moby had.

 

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This afternoon (last Thursday) typified the faults inherent the present first past the post system of electing a government. I had rather naively put up in a window a poster advertising my support of the Labour party but someone else in the house saw it, pointed out that they were going to vote Liberal Democrat and that some discussion might be needed on the matter. My initial reaction was best, I thought, kept to myself. But then I reflected on the fact that we live in a safe Labour seat -( a 26,000 majority in 2010) – and therefore any votes for any other party are basically wasted. As I have noted before in the 2015 election the Conservatives got 36.1 per cent of the vote which means that more people voted against them than voted for them.

The situation could have been changed in 2011, when a Liberal Democrat manifesto promise became a reality upon entering into a coalition government with the Conservatives. They proposed a referendum on proportional representation – basically every vote counts and the overall total of votes is translated into seats in parliament; essentially every vote counts. However, the Conservatives, sensing a sudden reversal in their electoral chances, chose a complicated method of proportional representation to put to the public vote. Their friends in the press did the rest. A vote for change to the electoral system was a vote for chaos, it was suggested. They also decided for added apathy to have it on the same day as local elections, notorious for their low turn out and those that did turn out to vote, voted against any change.

This situation reminds me of the recent French elections. Whilst Macron might well have got 66% of eligible votes in the second round,

The dust is slowly settling and the numbers are being tallied. While the standout figure suggests a big win for Emmanuel Macron, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the second round.

The following results are based on 99.99 percent of the votes being counted, and come from the interior ministry.

Macron gets 66 percent of the vote

Emmanuel Macron won 66.1 percent of the votes, leaving Marine Le Pen with 33.9 percent. That was a much bigger gap than the last polls suggested which had Macron at 62 percent.

Closer examination reveals that;

According to official results, the abstention rate stood at 25.38 percent – the highest since the presidential election in 1969.

That means some 12 million voters did not vote in the election, three million more abstainers than in 2012, when the turnout was 80 percent.

Among the abstainers it was the young (34%) and the unemployed (35%) who had the highest abstention figures.

Four million cast blank votes

The interior ministry reported a record number of blank and invalid ballots, accounting for 8.49 percent of all registered voters, compared to two percent in the first round.

So that means four million French voters went to the polls to cast a blank vote. That’s two million more than in 2012.

So adding the blanks to the abstentions, a third of French voters declined to choose between Macron and Le Pen — a record rate in nearly half a century.

In other words out of 47 million voters, some 16 million declined to cast a vote for either candidate. That’s compared to 11 million in 2012.

“That would make a total of one French person out of three who decided not to choose between the two candidates. It’s really a lot for a presidential election,” Anne Jadot, political science professor at the University of Lorraine, told AFP.

So if we look at the votes overall Marine Le Pen actually finished in third place on Sunday, behind Macron and abstentions/blank votes.

Macron picked up 43.6 percent of the vote (20.7 million votes), ahead of the 34 percent (16 million votes) who did not vote for either candidate and Marine Le Pen who won 22 percent (10.6 million votes) of the vote.

 

The French characterise this as a form of civic disobedience; inasmuch as they go to the ballot box but they don’t vote for any candidate and they’ve registered their disapproval.

If only there was a similar attitude in the British electorate. But then, when we were given the chance to vote for a change we didn’t take it. We are stuck with the present system – whereby more people voted against this government than voted for it – so my housemate might as well flush his vote down the toilet for all the good it will do.

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In the Conservative manifesto it says;

We respect the fact that society is a contract between the generations: a partnership between those who are living, those who have lived before us, and those who are yet to be born.

  • to restore the contract between the generations that provides security for older people while being fair to the young; and

That would be the coffin dodgers who voted overwhelmingly to leave Europe, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t have to live with the consequences for long? Where was their respect for any social contract?

Rousseau would be turning in his grave.

And it claims;

We will need to take sometimes difficult decisions that ask more of one generation in order to help another.

Unless, of course we put something in the manifesto that’s’ unpopular with press, in which case we’ll fold like an envelope.

 

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One of the things that has really annoyed me about the election is how often the electorate have made me want to smash my radio against a wall. It happens every time I listen to ‘Any Answers’ on Radio 4, the chance for listeners to air their reaction to the previous nights ‘Any Questions’. The last time it happened I was in my car, so smashing the radio would’ve been dangerous. It’s when people say things along the lines of they used to vote Labour for years, then they voted UKIP but now they’re voting Conservative. How on earth did they manage that that ideological journey? Have these people no firm unshakeable beliefs, no core values, and no fundamental principles?