March 12, 2008

In Ireland the political system is proportional representation based on the single transferable vote in multi seat constituencies.In order to be elected you need to exceed a quota which is the total number of votes cast divided by the number of seats in the constituency plus one.So far, so first year politics.This has a number of admirable effects including in no particular order:

  1. The possibility for smaller parties and independents to be elected
  2. The increased likelihood of coalition government which in my view is generally preferable to single party government (Ok what’s Italy about? So shoot me – I only did first year politics)
  3. The ability to vote tactically to ensure the party/candidate you least like is least likely to be elected
  4. You can punish the party you like by not voting for all their candidates or not giving them first preferences thereby increasing the likelihood of them not winning all or most of the seats in the constituency. You can soften the tough love though by giving them “your number two” or further down the ballot depending on how cross you are.
  5. It makes for amusing inter constituency rivalry within political parties.
  6. Single agenda people get elected and occasionally end up linked to government with a pledge their generally useful agendas will be satisfied.

 So where am I going with this. Well, you see, it’s the Labour party here in the UK. Dearie dearie me. They badly, in my view, need to be not in Government or at least be in Government with someone else who will occasionally remind them that they need to keep some tenuous link with reality. The problem with not voting Labour is the alternative government is the Conservatives. It will be a cold cold cold day in hell that I would ever ever ever (are you getting this?) vote for them. Memories are too long, some things are not forgiven and Norman Tebbitt is still alive to remind us that the nasty party has not gone away you know. 

Yes, we could vote Liberal Democrat in the off chance of a hung parliament but is it worth the risk given government in this country is essentially decided by a shockingly low number of votes, the net effect of which is that the particular holdings of any party are strikingly, well, disproportionate, to the result PR with all its imperfections would return. Anyone for 18 more years of the Tories?

So we hope for the best that somehow someone might realise that the detention limits as are, are probably fine unless someone can convincingly argue otherwise (sit down Norman, by someone I mean not you), that public private partnerships are not such a good idea given the private bit likes to fleece the public bit, that they really need to tone down the nanny state and finally, and this is what is really making me cross today, they need to realise that allowing gay Iranian boy Medhi Kazemi to be deported with nowt but a cheery wave and a state sanctioned advice to be “discreet” will see him hanged.

It makes section 28 seem positively benign.


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