Back to: The Scottish Political Singularity, Act Two | Forward to: A message from our sponsors: now with added gaming content!

Aftermath

Okay, discuss.

Two notes:

1. Here's the historic 1945-2010 election turnout chart broken down by UK country. Here are some notes on historic turnout by the Independent, going a little off-message (their Russian owner insisted they back the Conservative party). Turn-out is currently estimated around 62-63% of the electorate, but hit 82% in parts of Scotland, and seems to have averaged around 75%.

2. Ed Miliband (Labour leader) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat leader) both look likely to resign. Meanwhile the count isn't final yet, but the Conservatives are on course to form a narrow majority (22 seats to declare, 13 needed, LD on 8, so if they get 5 more seats they can form a Con/LD coalition, and 13 to rule outright).

NB: Play nice. Moderators will be wielding yellow and red cards freely in event of any gloating/triumphalism or sour grapes: let's keep this polite

UPDATE as of 12:40pm it's a confirmed Conservative majority. Clegg, Miliband, Farage resigning (rumours that they are to be the new Top Gear line-up cannot be confirmed at this time). 30% swing to SNP in Scotland virtually wipes out all other parties—Labour, Conservatives and LibDems down to 1 seat each. Interesting times ahead ...

MODERATION NOTE

The following topics keep coming up in the discussion thread. They are nothing to do with the 2015 General Election results, they are derailing, and any further comments on these subjects will be unpublished as soon as I see them:

* US ethnic politics in the south vs. the coastal states
* Anti-semitism and its manifestations
* Whether what Julian Assange is alleged to have done constitutes rape

445 Comments

1:

One thought: after the recent elections (AV, independence, GE) will the politicians take the lesson that "there's no such thing as a campaign that's too negative"?

2:

A thought from a random person on twitter: if Scotland had voted en masse for Labour ... it still wouldn't have stopped the Conservatives winning. I'm pretty sure Labour voters in England will want to blame the SNP for this mess, but that dog won't hunt.

3:

At the moment, according to the BBC, 15 seats to go, and tories are at 320, versus 228 Labour.
Also the radio scotland phone in is getting a bit acrimonious.

4:

Wow: before I went to sleep, it looked like Con/Lab were neatly tied at 35% based on a BBC forecast I saw. With the US elections being forecast in scary accuracy these days, how was this drastic swing not predicted?

5:

72% turnout here in Bristol West, that's something to be proud of I guess. Everything else is making me a bit depressed, well, until the results for Thanet South get announced...

6:

Mild schadenfreude moment: George Galloway loses seat in Bradford West, blames defeat on "zionists and racists".

He lost to Naz Shah, a muslim womens' rights activist, anti-poverty campaigner, and feminist.

(This is about the only time I can recall when I've ever agreed with Katie Hopkins about anything. Stopped clocks ...)

7:

This is definitely not the outcome I was expecting or hoped for. Looking at the stats Labour gained seats in England but the conservatives gained more. It strikes me as likely that most lib dem supporters switched to labour but plenty of labour switched to Tory.

The few slim hopes I have for the next five years:

1) The Tory majority, being very slim, means they're quite ineffective. Given the long standing back bencher problem in the Tory party they won't be able to store even ten of their own MPs voting against them (assuming the other parties band together).

2) The disparity of vote percentage to seat percentage might reignite the vote reform movement. Seems doubtful though as the SNP benefited from FPTP this time, bizarrely I might have to rely on UKIP leading the charge on this one.

3) By instituting EVEL or similar the Tories will have to start devolving more power to other parts of the UK.

4) Labour will have to do some serious introspection and figure out just what they are. Fingers crossed for a new strong leader with a platform more than just Tory lite.

8:

The vote share change chart on the BBC suggests that most lib-dem voters went tory/ ukip, which is odd, or suggests that some people's attachement to a more liberal society was not very strong.

9:

Actually the charts just show that lib dems lost
seats whilst labour and conservatives gained them (labour only gaining in England). I don't find it plausible that lib dem voters switched on mass to conservative/UKIP. Disputes disollusionment in the party that's a big change. I think it's more likely they mostly switched to labour but labour voters swapped to Tory or UKIP on larger numbers.

10:

I think the comments about the slim majority that the Conservatives will have are likely going to be misleading. The opposition is split across a large number of parties, and it feels likely that in the short/medium term Cameron will have a party that's sufficiently organized to get key business through (such as boundary changes and the EU referendum, and their budgets).

11:

I knew that Galloway had lost, but not those subtleties! Boggle.

Other than "God help us all", the only other comment I can make is
to reserve judgement. It all depends on whether the government
treats this as a victory over the infidel and a mandate for
promoting the Only True Policies, or whether they at least wave a
small olive branch to the defeated (and Scotland). I cannot guess
which.

12:

Yes, Labour + all Scottish seats don’t add up to a majority.

Unfortunately, the way the Conservative machine hammered away at the "SNP threat" in the last week of the election tells you that their internal focus group / polling work was telling them that issue would get the vote out in their favour above all others.

All that stuff about "locking David Cameron out of Downing St." from Sturgeon was a massive recruitment drive for wavering Con/Lib & Lab/Con voters in the south to vote for the blue team.

13:

I agree that the Tories will get their get business through. Calls for electoral reform will also increase, and while the SNP did well with FPTP, they also got over 50% of the popular vote, so they would do well in any system, especially any one with some degree of constituencies. Only UK-wide proportional representation would really harm their vote, and even then I'm not sure, as I could see parties in the north of England voting for them. I know of quite a few people in England who wish they could vote for the SNP or Plaid Cymru but they don't stand in England unfortunately.

14:

Unfortunately you may be right. Even if there was a strong Lab/SNP/LibDem alliance they would have twenty or thirty votes less than the Tories (going by the current numbers).

15:

Most of the votes that the Lib Dems lost here went to the Greens, I wouldn't be surprised if that's happened elsewhere as well.

16:

@6 Charlie, genuine question: why the hate on Galloway?

The piece you link to does not spell out the five charges levelled against him by the (then his) Labour party in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion:
· he incited Arabs to fight British troops
· he incited British troops to defy orders
· he incited Plymouth voters to reject Labour MPs,
· he threatened to stand against Labour
· he backed an anti-war candidate in Preston.
Should soldiers never disobey?

He did minimize the charges against Assange. Do you agree with the Swedish prosecutors' far opposite view?

Is it the cat suit thing? A personal dislike?

17:

It is also notable to look at what the minor parties have been up to. The BNP are dead in the water, UKIP haven't managed very much, and the Greens saw very little support indeed. Given that the Green manifesto was long-term economic suicide and short-term comedy as were their candidates, this is unsurprising.

18:

I can at least take some comfort in the fact that Mark Reckless lost his seat and it's just been confirmed that Nigel Farage lost in Thanet South, and with only a few seats left to declare it looks like UKIP have lost some ground. It's not very comforting though, when at time of writing the Tories are 3 seats away from a majority with 13 left to declare.

19:

Paul Mason proposed the explanation that Lib Dems switched to Tory (basically Coalition voters continued to vote Coalition) and Labour voters went to UKIP, which fits the pattern known pre-election.

20:

1) Fuck.

2) The England results appear, to me, to explain why Labour were trying to avoid being publicly tied into the SNP before election day. In fact, south England other than London appears to be xenophobic against actual UK citizens...

3) Fucking bastard fucking shite on a stick.

4) % change, for the top few parties, with only 16 seats left to declare: C +0.4, L +1.4, SNP +3.2, LD - 15.1, UKIP + 9.5. Green total share of vote, 3.8%.

Proportional results for the top two would/should be C 238, L 212; they both outperformed, but C by a lot more.

5) I wonder when the fixed-term act will be repealed?

21:

Just heard that Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP (right-wing anti-Europe nutters) has not won the seat he tried for. VERY relieved. He claimed he would resign from his party if not elected, I wonder how he'll weasel out of it.

His conceding speech didn't mention his earlier promise to resign within ten minutes if he lost. What a surprise...

22:

When they do exit polls in the UK, do they ask people why they voted a particular way as well. I'd love to know the answer to that question. As an outsider looking in, I personally think the Tory willingness to trust the British people with an an EU vote as well as fear of change probably put the them over the line. In addition to this, Labour came across as Tory Lite... why vote for them when you can vote for the real thing. As a bit of a romantic, I can't wait for the Federated Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and maybe Ireland (I know I'm fantasizing)

23:

Sure were a lot of people ashamed to admit in the opinion polling that they were going to vote Tory.

24:

We fought a war to get out of that last time it was tried. Actually, scratch that; we fought several wars to get out of that. Even proposing Ireland join the Commonwealth is politically risky.

If you meant Northern Ireland, I suggest you say so next time; precision in naming is necessary in these islands (which is official diplomatic terminology for the British Isles, because anything else will cause fights - rather proving my point).

25:

"He claimed he would resign from his party if not elected, I wonder how he'll weasel out of it."

It is my understanding that he did NOT say that. I thought he would resign as the leader of his party.

26:

Thing to bear in mind now

The EU referendum vote is GOING to happen, it has to (given how slim that Tory majority is). The impact and the problem with it is comparable with the issue of the SNP not having a plan - it's a dirty big risk factor.

I hope Cameron is as devious and smart as I give him credit for - because this is going to take Houdini crossed with Einstein powers to navigate.

And the SNP is going to scream when it does, with no way of stopping the vote.

27:

Well, that was unexpected.

Some random thoughts. It seems that (In the UK, at least) progressive parties only win when they can line up their lofty vision & ideals with a pragmatic, realistic approach to government - something Labour failed miserably to do this time around.

From an outsiders perspective, the SNP have done a much better job - combining their record in the Scottish Parliament with a strong anti-austerity message. Will they be able to do the same in 5 years time? Honestly, no idea.

Going back to the pragmatism v ideals point, I think the reaction from many Labour supporters on social media is a neat indicator of their problem. A Tweet, quoted directly - I won't name names:

"You voted for kicking people who can't kick back. You voted for selling Britain by the pound. You hateful f*cking idiots."

(Do I need to asterisk out naughty words? No idea.)

Anyway - similar vitriol, despair & superiority seems widespread, variations on a theme of: "The electorate is too stupid/evil/deceived/heartless to do the right thing. How can they possibly be so wrong?".

If you're blaming the electorate, you're doing it wrong. You win by getting people on board with who you are now - and giving them a reason to travel together towards where you want to go.

The "purity" of progressive thinking makes this much harder for left-ish parties to achieve.

On a tangential note: Despite using it myself (it's just so easy!), how much longer can we continue using left- or right-wing as a single-dimensional statement of political position? It's such an idiotically limited concept...

28:

The terms have been around since 1789, doubt they'll go out of use anytime soon. Unfortunately humans like to simplify and have a two(ish)-category system is easier than identifying groups by a multitude of stances.

29:

Didn't I read somewhere that the SNP expect to get a "second chance" vote for independence out of the EU referendum, which as you said is a certainty now.

30:

It puzzles me as to why a referendum on EU membership is so contentious; the EU we are a part of now in no way resembles the loose trading alliance that the original referendum decided on. Furthermore when we look to outposts of howling barbarity like Norway and Switzerland, it would appear that it is actually possible to trade with the EU states whilst not being a member of them. China in particular seems able to trade with the EU with great aplomb and efficiency, so clearly non-membership of the EU is no barrier to trade.

Britain is also perfectly capable of legislating for its self, so I do wonder why we need to pay through the nose to be part of a union which for the most part takes the money and otherwise pointedly ignores our interests.

I must be extremely stupid not to see the benefits of this relationship. Perhaps someone could point them out?

31:

Can't wait for the EU referendum. Can't wait.

More chaos.

32:

I also fail to understand why an EU membership referendum is such a terrifying prospect. Implicit in much criticism of it again seems to be a superiority and attitude of "We can't trust the electorate to do the right thing!" which is frankly offensive.

And that's coming from the opposite direction to you :-) I believe strongly we should stay in the EU - but only with the agreement of the British people, and only if our continued membership makes the EU better.

33:

I must be extremely stupid not to see the benefits of this relationship. Perhaps someone could point them out?

If you want to access a market of 3-400 million from the inside, there's not much point being in a country on the outside.

Plus there is no certainty that you retain trading rights without limits (quite unlikely really).

If you want to leave, you really need a damn good plan as to how you are going to work it.

(personally I think it's best to be french, give it lip service, but ignore anything you don't like)

34:

Apparently Farage commented that he was never happier than right now.

Which has already prompted an international response.

35:

Jan,

Britain runs on a First-Past-The-Post (FPP) system, meaning each parties share of seats is based on total seats won in individual electorates, NOT the percentage of nationwide popular vote they won.

The popular vote *was* actually quite close between Labour and Conservative (31% versus 35%), but conservatives were winning many more individual electorates (Labour votes wasn't translating into individual seats).

It would be interesting to consider what would have happened under a proportional representation (PR) system. In my country of birth (New Zealand), we've had proportional representation for 20 years.

The FPP electoral system of the UK really is looking antiquated now.

36:

Re: Jimmy81
While many commentators use the one-axis system, others use a two-axis one with an additional axis of authoritarian/libertarian. I have also seen a couple of three-axis systems but they don't appear much at all in the press.

Re: DanH
Norway and Switzerland end up having to follow most EU legislation, without being able to vote for it. We also get a lot back from the EU, although it is less then we in, yes, but part of the aim of the EU is equalisation of wealth across regions. As for it ignoring our interests, it is more accurate to say many of our MEPs don't bother standing up for Britain's interests in the European Parliament. UKIP MEPs are especially bad at this, but the complaint from other member states is that we complain about the EU but our MEPs don't bother joining EU committees which we are perfectly entitled to and don't actually do much to form the legislation that they end up voting on. Currently we seem to trying to do an isolationist policy that we realised was ineffective 100 years ago.

37:

Well, if you call quadrupling your vote (which is what UKIP and the Greens did) "not much" or "very little support indeed". In reality, what prevented success was the UK's unfair electoral system, not any failure on the part of these parties to win hearts and minds.

(Disclaimer: I come from NZ, a country with a fair electoral system, where the results match the proportion of votes cast, give or take threshold effects (which are small). I look at the UK's system, with its archaic method, its unequal electorates, and its backwards administration, with outright horror. "Mother of parliaments"? More like "senile, mad-cow infected parent who you barely recognise anymore")

38:

The SNP did well, but now they have only two directions: down or out. And judging by their past behaviour, the tories are going to make it easier to choose "out".

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the conservatives will respond to the SNP victory not with "English votes for English laws (but not an English Parliament)" to nobble Labour, but with a genuine commitment to a devolved, federal UK. But I doubt it.

39:

As a recent immigrant (just in time to vote on independence, but not in the GE), I have learned *so* much about UK politics in the last 24 hours. Much of it is quite alarming (proportion of seats seems unrelated to proportion of votes), and confusing (why are people so worried about a hung parliament?).

But it is also interesting. I have never before felt like there was so much potential for real change around me. The difference between Scottish and English is suddenly more than an accent and a general feeling: You can clearly see on the map now, both people want very different things (and some of them are much better represented than others).

I have woken up to a twitter and facebook stream full of people who overnight had changed their stance on independence. And so many flabbergasted or simply disgusted at the discovery that huge parts of the country are inhabited by very confused or very xenophobic people.

It's quite an interesting time to be alive in this particular place.

40:

Farage has said he's standing down. Clegg's resignation is official as off about 10 minutes ago. (Autocorrect insists he should be Clog btw.)

It looks at first glance like the LibDem vote went everywhere - I'd guess that's possible because their performance last time was an all time high with the "I'm with Nick" effect of the TV debates, so there are a number of floating voters. I still find it hard to imagine too many LibDems defecting straight to UKIP though.

I suspect, although we won't be able to tell for a while, the Conservative campaign rallied the faithful, plus the influx of LD defectors offset the defectors to UKIP just better than the Labour defectors to the Greens and UKIP were offset by their gains from the LD. In a lot of marginals that's given us the Con gains. Plus, of course, outside of Scotland, the SW stronghold for the LibDems which has gone blue was never going to be happy hunting ground for Labour.

The real smacking for both Labour and the LD in Scotland hasn't made a difference to the ultimate result but the loss of those two big chunks of seats (-40 for Labour and -10 for the LibDems) really make it look more dramatic. Labour actually gained 15 seats in England, not a terrible result on a normal night, although not as good as the Conservatives +19.

Overall - I guess a lot of those undecided were shy Tories. I'm still more than a little shocked. Hoping the disappearance of Farrage implies the disappearance of UKIP too.

41:

Why the hate on Galloway? Where to begin?

Look at how many constituencies he's represented over the years and how deprived they are and how much he's done for them. He shows every sign of being a pathological opportunist, out for number one, with little interest in helping his constituents or working within existing frameworks to get stuff done. In recent years he's allegedly converted to islam, used his bully pulpit to denounce speech he disapproves of, and begun ranting about evil zionists under the bed, in a mode that's a dog-whistle (over here) for anti-Jewish. (Hint: look at my ethnic origin.) Finally, he's a rape apologist and really fast with the ableist slurs: so much so that he'd probably be more at home in UKIP.

To see him get his come-uppance from a disability-campaigning feminist reformist muslim woman (who's a way better advertisement for campaigning feminist reformist muslim women than, say, Ayaan Hirsi Ali) is just perfect.

42:

Apologies - you're right, I was remembering it wrong.

43:

Note that the percentage share change you use is UK wide. Which makes it wildly inaccurate for the SNP, who only stand in Scotland: in one seat they got a +39% swing, which is an all-time UK record, and overall they scored just shy of 50% of the vote, a +30 point share change since 2010.

44:

Wow. That was not something I'd seen coming based on the polls, and it cost me quite a bit of money as a result. That's going to be nothing compared to the long-term political effects though, which look set to go way beyond mere policy adjustments. A couple of things that I find the most worrying right now, and which I'd love to hear some feedback on as a foreigner, are these:

1) Do you expect a second referendum? Now that Labour has been completely uprooted in Scotland, the LibDems are practically gone and Cameron has conducted an campaign exclusively focused on English voters and denouncing the SNP, there seems to be no political force left that still connects those parts of the UK. And if the SNP push for another round, can/will the Westminster government simply block it?

2) What are the prospects for electoral reform in the next few years? With Labour's Scottish seats gone and its long-standing advantage in England apparently diminished, do you think they'll join the call from minor parties? Can we expect a referendum on some more proportional system, like a shift to multi-member districts?

3) So the EU referendum is coming, and with the Conservatives split on this issue, it's probably going to fall to Labour (and the SNP in Scotland) to make the case for membership, but they now look like a very spent force. The opinion polls just before the election saw a solid lead for the "stay" camp, but as we saw last year, that can be deceptive. Do you think they can actually get a serious organization going across England to marshal the votes, and is that going to accelerate the flight of Labour voters to UKIP that we've apparently seen yesterday?

45:

Ah, man, sell the country to the rich and tell them it'll defend them against the scary Celts? WtF?

The stupid, it burns!

I suppose with Mudoch media as a major force it's not too surprising, but damn.

46:

Please note that while the USAns fought just one war to suppress the Slaveowners' Treasonous Rebellion, and it killed around 2% of their population, the most recent major civil wars on the British Isles killed up to 10% of the population and raged for over a decade (google on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms). There was a smaller civil war half a century later, too, but we don't call it a civil war: it was a Glorious Revolution, and they stopped hanging Catholics shortly thereafter. Except, ahem, in Ireland, where Shit Kept Getting Real, repeatedly, and still hasn't entirely quietened down.

Here's a clue: the only stuff in "Game of Thrones" that George had to make up was the magic and dragons and supernatural elements. The politics he cribbed wholesale ...

47:

... how much longer can we continue using left- or right-wing as a single-dimensional statement of political position? It's such an idiotically limited concept...

The words themselves are neutral, they have whatever meaning we give them. Whatever will fit into one dimension.

(Cue the SF thought about two-dimensional space warfare.)

For myself, I use two axes. There's left and right, and then there's forward and back. My own position varies between the Radical Center and the Radical Front.

Forward isn't left or right. It's a start toward a conversation not limited by those concepts.

Though I'm afraid it's possible that when I attempt that line of thought people may tend to decide I'm just kooky or something.

48:

Ian, note that the EU is a lot more popular in Scotland than in England.

Note also that Nicola Sturgeon already insisted that any EuExit vote would have to pass separately in all member countries.

Now, she didn't have a constitutional leg to stand on before this election, but if she makes continued membership of the EU a campaign plank in next May's Scottish election, along with a committment to a further ScotExit referendum if Scotland votes to stay in the EU and England votes to leave, and if she then wins the Scottish parliamentary election by the same sort of margin that she won in Scotland yesterday, then it's hard to see how Cameron could say "no".

I realize this is a chain of dominos. But I think if Cameron pushes the EUExit referendum and is then careless enough to lose to the UKIP supporters, the UK will fracture for sure.

(Note that on September 18th, the under-30s were largely for independence. The two groups that broke against it were: English incomers, and over-50s. The over-50s are ageing and dying off, and the English incomers may have second thoughts if staying in the UK means leaving the EU.)

49:

Moderator's note: this blog doesn't give a flying fuck about your potty mouth, as long as it's not emitting abuse directly at another commenter/moderator/blogger.

50:

I must be extremely stupid not to see the benefits of this relationship. Perhaps someone could point them out?

Oy, where to begin?

Apart from the fact that London is the world's main trading exchange for Euro currency and bonds, and we'd lose the business if we quit the EU ....

Apart from the fact that a huge chunk of our hypertrophied banking sector have announced that they'd flounce in the direction of Frankfurt if we left (and, like it or hate it, banking is a big chunk of the economy) ...

Apart from the fact that other EU members are our largest trading partners by a long way and if we left we'd suddenly face a bunch of unwelcome tarriffs and paperwork issues ...

Apart from the fact that the huge chunk of boring regulatory legwork that feeds into legislation that the EU commission and parliament do would suddenly boomerang on Westminster, overloading the Commons with work they're not accustomed to doing more than rubber-stamping ...

Apart from the 2-3 million British citizens who live freely elsewhere in Europe suddenly having to obtain visas/residence permits or go home, causing a sudden blip in housing demand ...

Apart from the huge pressure that would be imposed on NHS facilities by all those old farts living in retirement in Spain coming home ...

Apart from an estimated 14% drop in the UK's GDP if it leaves the EU ...

Apart from the fact that most of the EU tax funds raised in the UK are also distributed in the UK, and provide vital support for outlying regions (so that without EU funding Liverpool and Newcastle would resemble Detroit) ...

Why on earth would we want to stay in the EU?

51:

''..., then it's hard to see how Cameron could say "no".''

Actually, it's dead easy. He just passes a unified vote Act,
tells her to sod off, and ignores all objections. Any attempt
at actual obstruction is treated like insurrection. You have
mentioned the 17th century; now consider the 18th. No, it
wouldn't be as bloody, but don't underestimate the self-
righteousness of that bunch.

52:

Good god Idiot, fancy meeting you here.

Yeah, as zarzuelazan notes above this sort of vote looks really odd from NZ. We've done the whole 'electoral reform' thing in living memory to get away from FPP.

OTOH, related to that, we've also seen a fair bit of new parties having a surprising number of inexperienced MPs. You find some gold that way, but also an embarrassing amount of dross. If I was a senior SNP MP at Westminster I'd be a bit worried about that - there's going to be some mistakes in the next 2-3 years as the mass of new MPs find their feet.

53:

Yep - I was getting verbose and edited down a comment to the effect of "multiply by 10 to get the on-the-ground impact of this extraordinary figure", reckoning that the figures spoke for themselves. It's mind-boggling.

54:

That's when things turn nasty. For army-on-the-streets-confronting-civil-rights-marchers values of nasty.

(Army? What army? It's been cut to the bone: not a profit centre, you see ...)

55:

The "unfair" system has long been recognised by a lot of people. The trouble is that the big two parties - and Labour will probably come back from this and still count - are rather well served by it in general.

They say, with pretty solid historical justification, that the party that wins the popular vote gets a boost that enables them to deliver a stable, effective government that will deliver on their manifesto plans. Of course those of us who voted for other parties, which is usually a majority of the population, are less convinced this is a good thing.

"Stable government" is held up as a mantra and whenever alternative methods such as PR is suggested, Italy and the stupendously high number of governments they've had is held up as an "OMG, do we really want to go down that route?" fear tool. The fact that, closer to home than New Zealand, countries like Germany seem to manage it perfectly well and to be a power-house economy and all the rest never gets mentioned.

That said, although I'm scared to find I live in a country where 14.1% of us voted UKIP, FPTP means I live in a country where I'm relieved we only have 1 UKIP MP. If we had PR we'd have about 92 UKIP MPs today. Having a Tory majority is going to be bad enough. A BlUKIP coalition? It really wouldn't bear thinking about.

56:

And 'financial services' account for 20% of the foreign
exchange (i.e. external money) that we get. Even excluding
the flouncing off, we know that the USA wants to tighten up
on money laundering, and London is THE centre for the nominally
respectable form of that. If our usefulness to the USA as
their fifth column in Europe goes, they will tighten up, and
our balance of payments crashes.

57:

2) That seems highly unlikely. The Conservatives have a lot to lose by going proportional. Same as last time, basically. And the people who have been f'd over the most through FPTP aren't in the majority without Scotland, which has profited quite nicely this time around.

58:

Yup.

There's a reason the SNP is pro-EU; Salmond has a background in economics and he isn't a fool.

59:
That’s what I would have thought a few years ago. But then I became familiar with the Poole-Rosenthal work on Congressional voting. They use a clever algorithm to jointly map bills and members of Congress in a hypothetical issues space. The number of dimensions in that space is arbitrary — but they found that historically just two dimensions accounted for the great bulk of voting. One dimension corresponded to left-right on economic issues; the other was basically race/segregation.—Paul Krugman, Dimensionality, 2009

In the USA, the graph only has not much more than two dimensions, and one of them is dark indeed.

60:

Yes.

"Army? What army?"

Not a problem. Just do what the USA did in Iraq. There are
plenty of private companies that you can call in.

61:

I am not an expert, but I'm curious.

Apart from the fact that London is the world's main trading exchange for Euro currency and bonds, and we'd lose the business if we quit the EU ....

Would you lose it? Could it turn out that important people prefer the world's main trading exchange for EU currency to be outside the EU?

Apart from the fact that a huge chunk of our hypertrophied banking sector have announced that they'd flounce in the direction of Frankfurt if we left (and, like it or hate it, banking is a big chunk of the economy) ...

Assuming it did happen (when have we been able to believe what bankers say about anything much?), how would it affect the real economy? If trillions of dollars pass through bankers' hands and a few hundreds of billions stick to them, how does that help anybody else in britain? I'm not saying it doesn't, just wondering about the details.

Apart from the fact that other EU members are our largest trading partners by a long way and if we left we'd suddenly face a bunch of unwelcome tarriffs and paperwork issues ...

Would they in fact want to do that? If unhindered trade is good for Britain and good for EU, why would they want to stop it because of some political spat?

Apart from the fact that the huge chunk of boring regulatory legwork that feeds into legislation that the EU commission and parliament do would suddenly boomerang on Westminster, overloading the Commons with work they're not accustomed to doing more than rubber-stamping ...

That one is easy, just go on rubber-stamping the EU commission except when there's some strong lobby that says not to. In the USA, traditionally California has been ahead of other states at various regulatory things and so lots of other states have just rubber-stamped the California regulations.

Apart from the 2-3 million British citizens who live freely elsewhere in Europe suddenly having to obtain visas/residence permits or go home, causing a sudden blip in housing demand ...

That's a big concern. But to balance it, you get to require EU citizens who live freely in Britain to obtain visas or go home. Wasn't that one of the purposes of the thing?

Apart from the huge pressure that would be imposed on NHS facilities by all those old farts living in retirement in Spain coming home ...

That one looks like a serious drawback. Cheaper to keep them in Spain where the climate is better and various things are cheaper. Oh! Perhaps the british government could negotiate a deal with the Spanish government to keep them?

Apart from the fact that most of the EU tax funds raised in the UK are also distributed in the UK, and provide vital support for outlying regions (so that without EU funding Liverpool and Newcastle would resemble Detroit) ...

If EU doesn't collect the taxes but the british government does, then it could distribute them the same way. Or not, and then face secession issues.

It looks to me like when the things EU gives you are good for people with political clout on both sides, they can arrange to just keep doing them. Easier to keep the informal status quo than to change it, and they don't want to change.

It's when the EU gives you a complicated bargain, this for that, that people with clout are likely to want to keep their this while the other guys want to keep their that.

62:

At first pass, it looks like the same problem here in Red State Amerika. 72% average turnout, higher in Scotland, labor and lib-dem voters didn't show.

The Republican "Majority" in the US is based on computer drawn gerrymandered districting (US Congressional or Legislative District = Constituency), if we had a proportional system say in Ohio, Democrats would have a majority in the House of Representatives.

So the Republicans got their base out (I dabble in Local Politics here in Darkest Arkansas), and Democrats couldn't get anyone to show up and vote, because there was no one to vote for. I keep saying we should put "None of the Above" on the ballot, so at least I can register a real protest vote.

One meta analysis says the Republican Majority is based on 19% of "potential" voters. But they got them to the polls.

63:

For them as is interested (and that's likely precious few, as this doesn't impact the rest of the UK much since there's a majority government), fuck all change in NI.

I say this with no little amount of resignation and bitterness.

(More detailed: One step sideways, one jump green-to-orange, one half step back. Yay for tribal voting! Not.)

64:

Army? What army? It's been cut to the bone: not a profit centre, you see ...

More that the Army is a signally inefficiently-led public sector organisation, that has failed to deliver for the last decade plus - even though there's no question that the workforce is capable and motivated at the lower levels. Granted, there have been contributing lunacies from Government (Clare Short in 2003 as a prime example, Gordon Brown as Chancellor is another)

- As a Department of State, laughably unable to balance its books (to his extreme credit, Philip Hammond achieved something almost unique among Defence Ministers - producing a credible and balanced budget that the Treasury now takes seriously)
- Failed in Iraq (big hint: if you as a General are losing in Basra, and the Iraqi Army is about to try and clean house, going on your skiing holiday is not indicative of competence nor involvement)
- Failed in Afghanistan (big hint: if you as a General insist that the forces deployed in theatre are sufficient to the task at hand, and they aren't, your judgement is going to be questioned).
- Never managed to deploy more than 10% of its strength into theatre, but still run white-hot in several pinch-point trades - even after a decade-plus of fighting.
- Mismanage its equipment programme so insanely badly as to render our heavy armour obsolescent (tank upgrade put off for a decade, existing ammunition stocks are nearly out of date, and we can't produce more; APC upgrade only just starting; Recce vehicle upgrade only just starting)

Other little management things didn't help, like the Adjutant-General handing over all recruiting to Capita, then joining their board as a Director; or writing a contract with Capita that insists that the Defence IT Infrastructure is up to the job of managing recruiting, only to discover that it's nowhere near capable. Or forgetting that the Reserves need to recruit, and screwing that up completely too.

Maybe turning an Army Reserve of 65,000 in 1990, to one of 40,000ish in 2000, to one of 11,000 by 2012, is a sign that you've mismanaged things. Particularly when you as a General insist that you can re-recruit to 30,000 but utterly fail to make it even halfway. Then blame the reservists for the situation via leaks to the Telegraph, when that same reserve is budgeted, equipped, commanded, trained, and assessed by Regulars.

Sorry, the Regular Army needs another Kitchener or Cardwell. Maybe a sharp axe will send the message to them that it needs to sort itself out.

65:

I'm starting to think "England" is no longer a useful political entity. Ignoring Scotland, which has it's own story completely, on a normal map of the country there's an unsurprising huge swathe of blue because of all those large area Tory seats.

But, pretty much as predicted, London is a splash of red. The North-East is a wash of red. There's a wash of red travelling up the Mersey and up the Eastern side of the Pennines. None of those have changed in a generation really.

There are odd dots of red in other places, some are just anomalies. York Central is still Labour but most of the rest of North Yorkshire is rural and Conservative, that doesn't change often. But most of them are places where Labour bucked the trend we're seeing in Con-Lab marginals and won those seats.

Assuming Labour has a good election in 2020 the big red areas will largely not change - London probably will a bit because some of the dots there are blue and marginal still. But some of those isolated red dots will apparently grow and become little puddles, or big ones.

If they're really serious about extending DevoManc as well as delivering Devo-whatever it's being called now to Scotland, there are lots of places that are geographically distinct and politically and historically distinct enough that they should be able to be picked out.

Mind you, having heard the "One Nation" rhetoric I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of U-turns on a lot of these devolution measures.

I'm not sure who the internal bigwigs of the Labour party are but I find myself hoping they'll pick a woman this time. Although it seems Harriet Harmon has ruled herself out.

66:

Alas, no: the Army is indeed a profit centre. It's not just the equipment contracts, it's the privatised logistics contracts, and the massive contracts for training with Our Generous Friends in Serco.

Coming soon: base security, and privatising the military prisons.


The Army is a major profit centre, for some.

Also: relocating the Faslane nuclear base to England would require billions of pounds... In construction costs, disbursed to Our Generous Friends in the construction indudtry.

67:

Speaking as an English incomer to Scotland, I voted no in the referendum, but if the UK does leave the EU, then I would vote yes to independence and hope I could get Scottish citizenship.

68:

Note that one of the Tory initiatives the Lib-Dems successfully spiked was a massive redistricting that would have reduced the number of seats in the Commons (benefiting, naturally enough, the Tories). It would also have reduced the number of Scottish seats drastically (no surprise, as they were only ever going to go to Labour or the SNP).

Betcha Cameron tries to push that one through again.

69:


It looks to me like when the things EU gives you are good for people with political clout on both sides, they can arrange to just keep doing them.

I think this argument will not - cannot work, thanks to the external (but often self-inflicted) pressures on our politicians.

Two recent examples.

(1) The German attitude to Greek debt should be driven by a mix of the economics and EU macro politics. Instead, Merkel (who is a political leader in a stronger position than any UK PM since early years Blair) is to a fair extent driven by internal party politics.

(2) The theoretical Labour+SNP alliance which Milliband was forced to rule out completely, even to the extent of talking. In the hypothetical situation that, in the end, didn't occur, they would both have had considerable political clout shortly after the result: external factors forced EM to tie his own hands.

On UK withdrawl from the EU, and on Scottish withdrawl from the UK, I think the emotional scars that will result will be substantial and long lasting - at least two political cycles (so 10-15 years). I think those will stop most of the sensible political compromises and collaborations from being possible. Yes, it's likely crazy. But in the aftermath of a contentious break-up, at least one side won't have the political clout and stability to make the sensible deals to keep doing mutually good things.

70:

Ian, note that the EU is a lot more popular in Scotland than in England.

Oh I know, that's kind of what I was pointing to.

Sturgeon can't demand ANYTHING now. That's what I mean about winning the battle and losing the war. If she says "it has to be agreed in scotland" then she helps cameron by playing into his hands as the bogeyman EU zealot trying to prevent the Englishman from asserting is democratic right. He can ignore her and the SNP - he can use them even.

The SNP realistically has less power now than it had yesterday. They have shot their bolt, scotland is a lost cause for everyone - so why bother being nice?

And any demand for another referendum can be safely treated with contempt.

There's a game plan here somewhere, I just wish I could spot it. Take a look at cameron's acceptance speech again - it was off, there was something happening there.

71:

I'm only interested in Northern Ireland MPs as an academic exercise, sorry.

The trouble is, from the outside, it's very tribal, and the differences seem very, very peculiar. I can get behind the differences between the unionists and republicans - I don't have to sympathise with either side to understand that's a huge difference. I'm old enough to remember what Sinn Fein are, and I think the SDLP are broadly after a similar political spectrum but have always supported a political, non-violent, solution. So I can understand that.

But what's the difference between the DUP and the UUP? The difference is small enough they agreed not stand against each other in most places from what I understand, but not everywhere, because one lost a seat to the other somewhere. Um, what?

And so on...

If I lived there, I'd make the effort to find out more. But I don't. And while it's not an irrelevance, it's never really important enough to me for me to spend the time it needs to try and unpack it. Sorry.

72:

One way to think of politics is not as a line of people, left and right, but as a big circle.

Front is sane, back is insane. Start off at the front middle, where a lot of people are represented. As you start going further left or further right, the views get more extreme until extreme lefties and extreme righties meet in the middle, at the back, at a position I shall term "Bloody bonkers and functionally insane".

I've probably missed a lot there, but as an over-simplified diagram, it works quite well.

73:

Other little management things didn't help, like the Adjutant-General handing over all recruiting to Capita, then joining their board as a Director

(Shakes head)

Don't you know that's just how the business of government is done these days in the UK? I mean, this is the new normal, not some weird scandal: the system is broken that way by design, because it's been captured by the rentier corporations (our new aristocratic overlords).

74:

Would you lose it? Could it turn out that important people prefer the world's main trading exchange for EU currency to be outside the EU?

'Exchange' has a technical meaning in this context, and probably isn't what you meant.

But: Yes, there is plenty of historical precedent for this.

The biggest centre for trading in US dollars pre WW2 was London. As a result the main USD interest rates index is (still) a LIBOR index. So most big USD interest rate swaps between Wall St banks and etc won't settle on London bank holidays (Actually the world of high finance is a world of historic evolved kludges like this - no-one would ever deliberately design anything as bad as the processes by which trades worth billions are transacted)

So when the Queen dies, vast numbers of huge US dollar transactions will suddenly move to happen the day after her funeral instead on that day. And hundreds of programmers around the world will pull all-nighters to make it so. It's a strange world.

OTOH:

But govts can exert pressure to push such things back into their own area. Right now (post 2008) there is strong international desire for govts to gang up on the banks and avoid "regulatory arbitrage" where global banks move their trading to wherever the regulations are weakest, In the current environment I think it would come down to how badly the EU wanted to force EU banks to predominantly trade in the EU. If they all trade in one place, that will be where the critical mass is.

75:

The basis for Scottish citizenship on independence, per the SNP, was: anyone living there at the time, or anyone who was born there, could claim a Scottish passport. Also note that the likeliest constitutional framework for Scottish independence would be to dust off the paperwork from Irish independence, in which case everything is relatively clear-cut ... and anyone with UK citizenship would have automatic right of residence, and vice versa, even a century later.

76:

Silver lining department: that circa-2030 dystopian north British novel I was thinking writing after Laundry Files book seven has been saved from the jaws of an anti-austerity U-turn! I get to torture my characters! Yay!

(LF book 8 would then follow.)

77:

The definition of living in Scotland/residency is one I've never been sure as I'm a student and so only living in Scotland 9 months of the year. I suppose if their was a referendum I'd just make sure I was in Scotland at the right point to become a citizen.

78:

"privatising the military prisons"

On a tangential note, that would be a real shame. When the prisons inspectorate assess MCTC Colchester, it generally gets a gleaming report. Granted, it has very few prisoners and they're of a very different nature to the typical prison, but "the MCTC remains a model custodial institution"

https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/media/press-releases/2015/03/military-corrective-training-centre-a-model-custodial-institution/

79:

At risk of answering my own comment, I suspect that there would be no private company willing to take on MCTC Colchester; with just fifty or so prisoners and the specialised corrective training they have (and their status as military personnel) there just isn't the scale to turn enough profit. All you could do is privatise the catering or groundskeeping, which I expect is already done.

80:

Thoughts and questions from across the pond:

1. A true disaster for the Liberal Democrats. It never seemed to make sense from over here for them to ally themselves with the Conservatives to begin with, and I guess the voters didn't feel that way either.

2. Why were the polls so wrong? Was it a turnout issue, incompetence, or something else?

81:

That comment is not a good way to cheer me up.

82:

"2. Why were the polls so wrong? Was it a turnout issue, incompetence, or something else?"

A significant number of Tory voters don't like to admit it. If you're doing well in life and don't need much in the way of services, voting Tory puts more money in your pocket at the expense of the more vulnerable members of society. It's in your own self-interest, but admitting this to a pollster is distasteful.

83:

It's what I now plan to do instead of a third "Halting State" book. Similar "fifteen minutes into the future" feel, but no second person, not set in Scotland, and a sideways lurch into dystopian fantasy. (I said I was writing urban fantasy this decade, didn't I?)

84:

I don't blame you for your disinterest. I'm not even sure that I could summarise in such a way that would explain rather then cause further confusion.

Suffice it to say that the vast majority of the NI electorate vote based on tribal affiliation and nothing else (but since the most impactful policy decisions are made in Westminster, by parties who won't even field candidates in NI, there's not much policy to actually vote on anyway).

To explain the DUP and UUP, I'm going to badly paraphrase a line from Good Omens: "If you'd been specially trained, and looked very closely, you might be able to tell the difference." In slightly more meaningful terms: the DUP gleefully use bigotry, racism, sectarianism, and anything else that stirs "fear of the other" (although they're getting better at cloaking these tendancies and dog-whistling instead) to keep their base on side; the UUP can sometimes play the same games, but tends to lean more towards trying to be an actual political party with some real policies. Since they're both strongly in favour of maintaining the union -- and that's really the only distinction that matters to most of the NI populace -- they've started making "pacts" in some constiuencies where the Unionist vote splits evenly between them and therefore lets in middle gorund parties (yes they do exist) or worse REPUBLICANS! (You have to pronounce that last word in an Ian Paisley accent for full effect.)

The whole thing is demented. And depressing.

85:

The polls seem to have been accurate to the national numbers; the problem was the polls to seats analysis.

86:

It is truly fucking depressing that "piledrive the economy into the ground, let it start to recover 8-9 months prior to the election" works as a political strategy. I mean, I knew the political science suggested that was the case, but still, I didn't think there was anyone cynical enough to do it as strategy. And having been around in the USA since the Reagan years, I thought I was pretty cynical about what stunts a right-wing party would pull.


Might as well put George on the throne as absolute ruler. I don't think a 2 year old could do much worse than "Call Me Dave"

87:

Overheard at my gym's reception desk this morning:
Customer 1: "... truly dreadful forecast."
Receptionist: "Never mind dear, we'll just have to get on with our lives the best we can."

It could have been a weather forecast, I suppose, but the TV screens in the gym were all showing the BBC Election Forecast ticker...

88:

I am an American so my understanding of UK politics is distorted by culture and distance. I know that political definitions can differ greatly.

From what I can understand, the Conservatives in the UK are basically cut from the same cloth as Republicans in the US. Love big business, love to beat up on those gosh-darned welfare mooches (the poor benefits kind, not the corporate subsidies kind). Even as the Brits enjoy social and welfare programs far more enlightened than what are available in the States, the Conservative are hell-bent on dismantling them and embracing American-style "small government" where the expenditures are bigger than ever but going to private contractors rather than government agencies.

How is it that they've got people voting for them, then? In America it's due to a complicated stew of history and reasons that basically boil down to "people are idiots." Baked into the American DNA is an idealization of the rugged individual who cowboys along on his own terms needing no one but himself and this in turn gets twisted around so that people who are poor only have themselves to blame; if you really wanted to be rich, you would be so don't come crying to me. There's usually a kernel of wisdom buried deep within that nugget of turd. Yes, it's good to stand up for yourself, yes, it's good to do what you can for yourself before asking for help, but if the mill's been shipped to China and there's no work to be had, this is a problem you can't bootstrap your way out of. This isn't an individual problem, this is a societal problem.

What sort of political black arts gets the common Brit to vote against his own best interests and side with the party of Thatcher, may dung and misery be upon her?

89:

Sorry to detour into US politics, but keep in mind that something over 40% of voters in the US do not belong to either the Democrats or Republicans. They just vote for whichever candidate they dislike the least.

If the US did somehow switch to a proportional system or instant runoff of some sort, then I suspect we would suddenly have a bunch more parties and neither the Republicans or Democrats could get a majority on their own.

90:

I doubt my opinions on either of these will be shared by many (or have much basis in fact), but...:


1. A true disaster for the Liberal Democrats. It never seemed to make sense from over here for them to ally themselves with the Conservatives to begin with...

The LDs, with their strong history of pushing for electoral reform, were in a "put up or shut up" position in 2010. They'd long argued that coalition government wasn't a weakness of PR or AV but a strength. Given how big an issue this was historically for much of their core support, they'd have no legs to stand on if they hadn't gone in to coalition with someone, and the personalities and lack of experience involved meant that the Tories were the only real option.

I think many of the top LDs still believe that they had to try, that it was their best option to show that their beliefs about how to govern would translate into positive consequences. The results, however...


2. Why were the polls so wrong? Was it a turnout issue, incompetence, or something else?

This opinion genuinely comes with no evidence, but I'd look at the UKIP vote, and their polling in general over the past few years. UKIP have received better than 12% of the votes, an increase of over 9%, but have been polling over 20% at points in the past year or so.

Although the initial narrative was that UKIP took votes from the Tories, in the past few years it's clear they've taken them from both the main parties. I guess that what happened to the polls is that the pollsters don't have a good model for those that were UKIP voters/supporters but who, for the past year or so, now claim to be undecided. If you take that roughly 7% of the electorate and shift them from the undecideds into the Tory camp, then you're in the ballpark.

Add that to the anti-SNP campaigning, which I believe switched the soft UKIP on the Tory side to the Tories, but not the soft UKIP on the Labour side back to Labour, and you get a retro-active "justification" for the Tory strategy.

I say this without any substantial knowledge of how the polling companies vet their sample, mind.

91:

Without having done any actual research, my thought is this: Suppose you live comfortably in middle England; you are steadily employed and healthy, and have no regular requirement for anything that the welfare state or public services provide; you own your own means of transport, so don't rely on public transport (which is mostly run by private companies now anyway); none of your utilities are (on the surface) provided from the public purse; your taxes just seem to drop into a black hole the leads directly to benefits scroungers and EU hangers on. Why would you *not* vote Conservative?

(Also throw in the assumption that all your political acumen is derived from the same newspaper that you've read since you were old enough to buy one yourself -- the impact of getting your whole political analysis from a single source is deadly to becoming an informed voter in the UK.)

92:

The LibDems didn't spike it completely, merely got an amendment passed that delayed it till this parliament.
what-next-redrawing-parliamentary-boundaries
If nothing else happens, the boundary commissions will report in 2018 with proposed constituencies for a 600-seat House.

93:

Sorry, the Regular Army needs another Kitchener or Cardwell. Maybe a sharp axe will send the message to them that it needs to sort itself out.

Forget Kitchener, the army needs another Byng to encourage the others.

Mind you, so does Westminster.

94:

>> What sort of political black arts gets the common Brit to vote against his own best interests and side with the party of Thatcher, may dung and misery be upon her?

In a word, class.

Nation-wide, 62% of households are owner-occupiers, 20% are pensioners, 15% own significant quantities of shares. Half of the people who are not in those groups don't even vote, so that's the group that determines elections.

In other words, people who voted Tory or Lib Dem last time, people who would use the word 'my' about a house price, share return or tax bill.
They collectively decided those things were more important to them than their wage, and so voted by class interest.

Fun thing about the modern economy; if wages never go up, they are a constant factor, and so politically irrelevant. Certainly Labour had no kind of visible plan that might cause anyone above minimum wage to think 'a vote for them is money for me'.

95:

You can bet - I've already seen it on the Internet. Both against the SNP and the Greens, but of course more with the SNP

An argument that always makes me wonder what, exactly, is that people are saying. "It is YOUR FAULT you abandon our party, disgusted, disillusioned, and went for somebody else. If you actually did your job of ignoring all the multiple ways we betrayed you and disappointed you, we would have won!"

Well, no shit. But maybe the solution was something else, dont you think?

96:

So is the Labor party basically weak-tea corporatist types akin to the Democrats in the States? In the US you have the Washington Consensus where there's not even a lick of daylight between the two parties on the important stuff: the American empire, bowing and scraping to big money. Many actual liberals are sick of their party abandoning those principles.

97:

The UK was nice while it lasted. That said, I look forward to fleeing the Christianist States of Murica to the People's Republic of Scotland.

98:

I suspect UKIP will be dealt a fatal blow by the EU referendum Cameron now has to offer, no matter what the result.

99:

BTW, I'm sick of the whole "It's About The Economy" thing.
That most certainly includes in/out when it comes to the EU or Scottish independence. If it really is all about money, we get what we deserve.

100:

I did a quick calculation for the results with proportional representation (Sainte-Lague/Schepers) and regional or national minimum quotas (5%). The results are here: http://blog.till-westermayer.de/index.php/2015/05/08/wahlrechtseffekte-am-beispiel-der-uk2015-wahl/

101:

Don't confuse class and money. There are far more socialists
in the upper-middle and upper classes than you seem to imagine,
and a significant number had moved to the Liberal Democrats in
disgust at the main parties. But we were also disgusted with
the way that they had sold out their socialist principles to
the monetarists, which accounts for some of the LD meltdown.

And to Gregory Muir: yes, that's what New Labour (i.e. the
Blairite version) is. Ed Miliband backed off a little, but
not enough to inspire the left and too much to inspire the
right.

102:

I think there was also a large amount of Anyone But Labour in the Lib Dem vote in the previous elections, and despite the Tory attempts to derail the economy, the legacy of Blair still hangs over UK Labour to a great extent.

Which meant that since the Lib Dems were useless, and given the Greens won't rate anywhere but Brighton, it was either UKIP or the Tories. And that's an easy decision between the callous bastards and the insane.

103:

UKIP increased its share of the vote, and are now the third largest party by votes

104:

The main raison d'etre of UKIP was to force a referendum on EU membership. They didn't need to win an election to do this, all they needed to do was threaten the Conservatives.

If or when the referendum is called, then UKIP can therefore disband and go back to whatever they were doing beforehand.

105:

From what I can understand, the Conservatives in the UK are basically cut from the same cloth as Republicans in the US.

Only somewhat.

Just as the Republicans are a coalition, so are the Conservatives.

Both parties are largely run by the Venal Wing -- the rent-seekers forking out pork to their private sector allies, with a revolving door to let the politicians and senior civil servants share the largesse.

But then things differ. The Screaming Jesus People just aren't very big in the UK (where there's an 85-89% supermajority in favour of abortion, for example) -- they're noisy, but they're an even smaller fringe than the Greens (and shrinking, not growing, unlike the Greens). What the Conservatives do have on their side is (a) the Squirearchy -- the surviving rump of the Upper Classes and their loyalist base in the established Middle Class, as opposed to the lower-middle and middle-middle class, who are postwar phenomena -- and (b) the Pensioners. Around 50% of social security spending goes on the state pension, and guess what's the only part of social security that the Conservatives ring-fenced?

It's no coincidence that their average constituency member's age is somewhere north of 70. The pensioners are the base who come out to vote for them (and old folks vote) and they vote for their wallets.

106:

Don't confuse class and money.

I'm using roughly the Marxist definition of class, where it's about the source of the money, not the amount.

There are far more socialists
in the upper-middle and upper classes

Sure, once you get to upper class, there are rather more than you might expect, although sill a clear minority. Always has been, back to Oscar Wilde.

It's just that those groups are quite rightly called the 1%; their votes are irrelevant (the newspapers they own less so).

With Cameron introducing gay marriage, saying nice things about the environment, and not doing much about immigration that any other party wouldn't, it's actually fairly hard to find a liberal/cultural reason not to vote Tory (except, of course, Scottishness).

So it really is about the economics. Labour fell into the trap of trying to _make the economics a cultural issue_; in order to be a nice person, you should give poor people more money. Some did vote based on that; more said 'it's my money, fuck off' (and apparently didn't tell the pollsters).

Imagine if instead they had successfully communicated the message 'you work for a living; we will arrange things so that people who work for a living _get paid more_; here's how'...

107:

@ Gregory Muir:

Whilst there are definite similarities between the GOP and the Tories, there are some massive differences too.

Probably the biggest difference is in social attitudes. David Cameron & the majority of the party in the last government were strongly in support of equal marriage & instrumental in establishing this in law back in 2013. With my understanding of US politics, this would be... unlikely, certainly for the more Tea Party wing of the Republicans.

On the "small government" approach too, whilst some of the more rabid may come close to US ways of thinking, in general I think most UK Tories would accept the state has more of a role to play.

So you're sort of in the right ballpark, but it would be a mistake to consider UK Conservatives the same as US Republicans, IMO. (Despite Thatchers's best efforts!)

108:

Why were the polls so wrong?

The pollsters will actually tell you they're within error on everyone, but Con are on the top end of the error bar and Lab towards the bottom of the error bar. While that's true, I suspect it's a statistician's cop out of the Mark Twain kind.

One possible error is the Shy Tories as mentioned by others. Another is that the pollsters have complex modelling based on previous voting patterns to try and account for that. But UKIP, the Greens and in Scotland the SNP have all have big swings in the favour, while the LibDem vote has collapsed. The modelling based on previous voting intention is almost certainly creaking at the edges with these changes. It might be worth the recycling value of a Labour Party manifesto but I'd put it closer to the value of a piece of paper after you've wiped your behind with it.

And finally, related to these, was the unreported and unusual pattern of undecided voters. Normally this declines towards election day. This year not so much. So as recently as Tuesday most polls (although they didn't show it in the headline figures) had between 25 and 40% of those saying they were going to vote still undecided. Traditional psephological wisdom says these tend to split 2:1 in favour of the incumber (whoever they are) just on the basis of "better the devil we know" it appears. This could be enough to account for the result more or less.

I suspect there's a systematic error, at least a systematic reporting error if not a systematic modelling error too, although getting at the raw data and actually proving it will be hard. If you're really interested, subscribe to the More or Less podcast (from the BBC) as they will look into it and carry a report when the pollsters come up with their explanations.

109:

So is the Labor party basically weak-tea corporatist types akin to the Democrats in the States?

Originally they were a socialist party. Then Tony Blair picked a fight with an abstraction in 1994. It's no coincidence that this happened during the Clinton administration -- I'm pretty sure the early model for Blairism was Clintonite triangulation.

Then Labour got into power and the machinery of privatization/rent-seeking got its claws into them at an individual level.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that the corruption perception index, which gives the UK fairly good marks, is way too simplistic to understand corruption as it is practiced in the UK today, and that we're actually no better than Berlusconi's Italy.

110:

He doesn't have to do *anything* to bring that back, because the spike was only a delay until 2017.

111:

Those numbers are fascinating but probably not very accurate: There is a huge incentive to vote strategically. I suspect that the smaller parties (Green, LD) would gain some seats simply because that wouldn't be necessary in a proportional system.

112:

If or when the referendum is called, then UKIP can therefore disband and go back to whatever they were doing beforehand.

Won't happen.

Didn't happen to Sinn Fein after 1922. Won't happen to the SNP (who will have a minor existential crisis if Scottish independence happen, sniff back a tear, and carry on trying to be the party of government).

Wouldn't happen to UKIP either.

The Iron Law of bureaucracy is one of the few things I see eye to eye with Jerry Pournelle about.

113:

Firstly, as an Englishman to the Scots... I'm so desperately sorry. I didn't vote for the fuckers either. I'd have voted Labour if they hadn't put up a Blairite apparatchik in my constituency.

Long term, some sort of localised Resilliance/Maker type operation to help mitiate the horrors of Austerity/Neo-Liberalism seems to be in order.

Short term, I'm going to get drunk and listen to Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" on repeat interspersed with Tanya Stephens "The Other Cheek"

Do you expect me,
To turn the other cheek?
Taste my tears and admit defeat?
Do you expect me,
To listen when you speak?
You never, ever practice, what you preach.
Do you expect me,
To still come out and vote?
No matter what happens, we're always broke.
And my people, seh dey tired o' bein' poor,
A the empress a chant and the lion a roar

114:

I'm surprised no one's talking about corruption in the vote count. There's always two explanations for why the pollsters get it wrong.

One is that they've got an ideological bias that prevents them from seeing what's going on (as in the 2012 US Presidential election, where the Iowa election market and Nate Silver nailed it and everyone else BS'ed themselves into absurdity by over-valuing their theories and ignoring their raw data).

The other answer (as in Wisconsin politics in the last few cycles), is that they're doing something like using an Excel spreadsheet to tabulate the votes at a high level, the votes are cast via (Republican built) machines that left no paper trail, only one person actually sees the data on that spreadsheet, and that person is highly partisan. Of course, said person self-reports as scrupulously fair, but with no one watched her (in the case I'm thinking about), there's no evidence of vote-rigging except some extraordinary elections results in a key district.

Obviously, the UK is so far ahead of the US in elections technology and surveillance that such a thing could never happen. Right?

115:

You're right, Sinn Fein didn't disband: it broke in two and fought a civil war, then the losing side broke in two again afterwards over the legitimacy of the Free State. The rump calling itself Sinn Fein at the end of the 1920s didn't regard their cause as accomplished, so why would they disband?

Basically they escape the accusation via historical contingency, though I have no doubt that in some other timeline Redmondite Sinn Fein has governed Ireland with a longevity that the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan would envy.

116:

I've been thinking that it's not the fringe parties that fall apart after major constitutional change, but the centre parties that allowed/endorsed the change. I'm thinking of the UUP and SDLP after the Good Friday agreement, and Labour after devolution in both Wales (to some extent) and Scotland (most visibly).

What this would imply for the Tories (post Brexit) and the SNP (post independence) I'm not sure. I can easily see the Tories splintering and UKIP picking up a lot of their constituency organizations, if not so many of their current MPs, leading to a long-lasting, substantial role. I don't understand enough of the SNP's internal politics to have a good guess as to what might happen, but it certainly doesn't look like any external party could make good on potential splits.

117:

Nah, bookies' odds had the Tories being the largest party and Cameron getting his second term, and they're hard to fool, being in the nature of an independent data set. Plus, it's a lot harder to commit election fraud when it uses paper ballots you make an 'X' on (and demand recounts of).

118:

Britain lacks both a traditional Left and Right parties now. UKIP could be the latter.

119:

I hate the thought that I'm now living under a political system that my favourite author is using as a dystopia.

Especially when he sees it as an opportunity to torture his characters.

Couldn't you instead write a novel in which we all live happily ever after under The Second Reign of Dave? Get it into the shops by the end of the month, and then at least I could have some happy illusions.

120:

"Obviously, the UK is so far ahead of the US in elections technology and surveillance that such a thing could never happen. Right?"

The UK is well *behind* in technology since we do voting with HB pencil and paper ballots. There are various shenanigans you can pull but it's pretty hard to corrupt the ballot.

Regards
Luke

121:

To summarise some of what OGH said here, Tony Blair realised several things about how the historical Labour Party had operated. First and foremost, he realised that much of the old Socialist doctrine, whilst sounding superficially quite plausible, simply did not work when applied in the real world. Common ownership of various means' can be taken to mean quite a few things (including inducting all workers into a partnership which owns any one business, or even at a great stretch shareholding), but it was normally taken to mean the ownership of commercial enterprises by Government.

Historically nationalised enterprises always ended up operating much less efficiently than did privatised enterprises (although once again, I really would like to see what a workers' partnership system would do), and given that Britain was competing against foreign rivals who were using the optimal capitalist system, there really was no choice in how to proceed.

Blair's other great genius was to realise that the Labour Party was its own worst enemy where general elections are concerned (some things do not change; it still is). A smart leader would thus do everything in his power to gag the majority of the Labour candidates, and distribute a sensible and electable message from Party Central. This method is still practised by all political parties with the exceptions of UKIP and the Greens.

This method got Blair into power very successfully indeed, and kept him there. Power seemed to be an end in its self for Blair; he goes down in history as a leader who was scarily successful at getting elected, but who was otherwise pretty crap at his job.

122:

Actually, in terms of paper trails and difficulty in rigging votes, I'd say you're well ahead of us, in a back-to-the-future fashion.

Thanks for clarifying that, and to Anonemouse as well.


Since the Iowa elections market also has money involved, I'd say that if you want good elections predictions, follow the paying bets, not the polls. After all, the polling organizations get paid whether they screw up or not, whereas the gamblers only get paid by being right.

123:

Have you ever seen a UK ballot? Ballots are counted in public, under the nose of inspection teams from all the parties, by hand.

OCR machines to tally ballots weren't in use in this election, as far as I know. (They're used in Scottish parliamentary elections because of the list system used for some seats, but a manual fallback is always available.) Touchscreen electronic voting machines are never used.

Nobbling the count would be really hard. (Hint: I've been at an election count.)

124:

I'm surprised no one's talking about corruption in the vote count.

Probably because one poll was nearly spot on: the exit poll. That was the poll that asked actual voters how they had just voted.

That poll seems to tally pretty well with the counted results, whereas the opinion polls all came to a different figure. When two different systems come to two different results, and one of those results is wrong, you blame that system.

Voting itself is pretty easy, and since it uses physical marking of a simple ballot slip with no electrical shenanigans involved and the count is also done in public in full sight of the candidates, there is relatively little space for corruption there. Postal votes are another matter, and there are dark rumours about first generation immigrants (particularly their women folk) being controlled by their community leaders. In recent days a court has overturned a recent election in the London borough of Tower Hamlets after ghost voters were identified.

125:

I don't understand enough of the SNP's internal politics to have a good guess as to what might happen

Nobody does, because the SNP just tripled in size in the past nine months! One of their new MPs has only been a party member for a year.

There's a lot of shakedown going on ...

126:

Yep. But everthing else is pure speculation. That would be the job for a future forecast professional, eh, SF author, maybe.

127:

I think there's a much simpler explanation of differences between polls (prevote or exit) and actual votes: The secret ballot. The converse of the secret ballot is that people lie to pollsters... or otherwise don't cooperate (my usual response to a pollster is "What part of 'secret ballot' do you not understand?").

I don't have access to the raw data any longer, but my recollection of a study done in the Balkans a few years back indicated that polls taken by true outsiders (who were not wearing baby-blue helmets or armbands) got statistically significantly closer-to-actual-voting results than did polls taken by those who were members (or at least potential members) of the electorates. Admittedly, FYRs are not Wearside or Northumberland or East Anglia, but this kind of behavior is also consistent with what I've observed myself in purportedly more-civilized* areas, especially if there's any alleged discriminatory tinge to any of the actual candidates.

* When the local birdcage-liner proudly declares that the region surrounding a major research university with a substantial foreign student and faculty population will remain demographically more Caucasian than the rest of the country — and treats that as a good thing, which goes unremarked upon by every other news outlet in the area — I question the presence of civilization.

128:

According to the BBC, the conservatives now have a majority of 12, having won 331 seats. Can anyone explain the maths behind that?

I understood them to need technically 326 seats, but in practice 323 because the speaker and Sinn Fein don't vote. I would assume then that 323 would be called a majority of 1, and therefore 331 would be a majority of 9. Where did the 12 come from? Have I not understood what majority means?

129:

No.

Most American "independents" are bullshitting, for the simple reason that declaring yourself "independent" has social prestige. I'm no mindless partisan! I'm a freethinking American who holds purely centrist opinions.

Which is, to repeat, complete fucking bullshit. When you ask people whom they support, rather than who register as, you get 48% Democratic and 39% GOP.

Data at the Pew Research Center: http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/07/a-deep-dive-into-party-affiliation/

Also see this chart: http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/pp-2014-06-12-polarization-0-04/

Charlie, apologies for the digression. This just happens to be a case of a fellow American claiming that the sky is green. Since so many of my countrymen like to pretend that there really are independents out there, I felt the need to fisk it.

130:

You just haven't thought about it.

Majority = difference between you and the opposition.

Total number of seats = 650. If you have 331, opposition must have 319. Majority = 12.

131:

This is nuts.

Look, this thread is about the U.K., not the U.S. If you're going to make a comparison, make one that (a) sheds light on the U.K. situation and (b) has some factual basis.

132:

The other thing to add to this, as well as paper ballots that are manually counted under close supervision by all the interested the ballot papers are handed out by people employed by the local council, not directly by the parties or individuals standing for election in any place.

I don't remember which polling station it was, but somewhere they were given misprinted ballot papers which missed off the UKIP candidate. They reported this and new papers were sent with the UKIP candidate on it but 79 people had voted. This was very publicly reported and although the the UKIP vice-chairperson laughed it off, you can be damn sure if the UKIP candidate had been close, they'd have asked for and absolutely have got some form of re-election. It *might* have been asking those 79 to revote, it might have been that whole station's worth of voters, if might have been the whole constituency - that's for the lawyer's (although I'm fairly sure there's a rule about it).

I'm sure these sorts of things have happened before but there's lots of eyes who tend to have a vested interest in making it public and processes in place to help them do that. Get as many eyes on it as possible and get them all empowered to report problems and issues they spot. God knows how it got to the point of printed papers without one of the candidates being distributed but even then it turned into a little blip rather than a major disaster.

133:

Also - Sinn Fein aside - If the poll really is a tie, the speaker of the house does actually have a vote that they can use, and it is usually in favour of the government.

134:

I know gloating is not allowed, but Georgie G losing to a female named Shah has got to be a classic come-uppance - couldn't have happened to a, err... umm ....

& Ryan @ 7
Au contraire.
Cameron will have no opposition AT ALL (other than the SNP) for at least a year, whilst Labour etc re-organise themseleves.
He can do what he likes.
IF he decides to go for a general devolution, in line with Scotland getting some form of devo-max (which he has promised) then he will succeed.
However the "nasty party" tory right wing will want to do otherwise, as will the "Civil Servie" who will drag their feet over any real devolution of power.
It is to be hoped that DC tells (all of) them to stuff it.

135:

Nige F has stated that he will resign - again - & now, I think he has ....
The attraction of UKIP was getting out of the corrupt bosses-ramp for big employers & manufacturers that the EU has turned into (Just as A W Benn predicted) - the non-attraction was some of their apparently racist policies & their GW denial.

136:

Probably because it's obvious what Cameron's going to do.
He is going to screw the EU for "benefits/rebates" that look good & then talk them up.
And then campaign for staying IN a "reformed" EU.
It'll all be lying smoke & mirrors & the little man & woman will still be shafted, but hey, if he does that he will get re-elected AGAIN in 2020 ...

Oh, btw @ 50
Apart from the 2-3 million British citizens who live freely elsewhere in Europe suddenly having to obtain visas/residence permits or go home, causing a sudden blip in housing demand ...
Oh yeah?
The "security theatre" just catching a TRAIN to Brussel or Paris is horrendous.
Fucking nonsense & we are supposed to have "free movement" says who?
Grrrr

137:

Oh yeah? The "security theatre" just catching a TRAIN to Brussel or Paris is horrendous. Fucking nonsense & we are supposed to have "free movement" says who?

Greg, if you catch a train from Brussels to Paris there's no security theatre.

That's because most of the EU is part of the Schengen treaty zone, within which there's free movement.

The UK opted out of Schengen specifically so we could have passport controls and security theatre on our borders.

What you're complaining about isn't the fault of the EU, it's the fault of the British government trying to hold the EU at arm's length.

138:

I will venture these speculations on the reasons this outcome:

  • "It's the economy, stupid!"
  • People have been propagandized to believe that the debt is the problem, so nothing can be done.
  • When things get tight, people get tribble, er, tribal.

    The insights of Keynesian economics, as well as Christian belief about charity, have yet to be assimilated into the mass consciousness.
  • It still astonishes me, when people are so miserable, they vote for more of the same.

    "There's nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow stripe and dead armadillos."

    139:

    Bercause
    It isn't the party of the madwoman any more, apart from rhetoric.
    Yest there is rent-seeking as Charlie says, but ... indications.
    This lot believe in & act on putting money into infrastructure, inclusing RAILWAYS - can you imagine "her" doing that?
    Ditto support for space & technical research - again the exact opposite of the madwomwan.
    WHat bothers me, pace remarks about Carwell etc is the state of the armed forces, especially the Navy (including it's now non-existent Air Arm.
    Is Cameron the new Stanley Baldwin, who did nothing 1933-36?
    I do hope not

    140:

    NO
    Because apart from one or two loons, even the tory party would not support many Rethuglican-US policies.
    Especially where religion is concerned, too.

    141:

    No, you have that wrong about Labour. True socialism does work,
    about as well as capitalism, as Atlee showed, and the saner of
    Wilson's changes (e.g. the Open University). The problem was that
    Labour went the same way as Tammany Hall, with state and local
    bureaucracy, partially based on handouts to its supporters and
    restrictive practice unions, justified by some bogus Marxist
    rhetoric. Heath tried and failed to alleviate that, and Thatcher
    largely broke it up. Unfortunately, she abandoned all the real
    socialism, while actually increasing the bureaucracy and a lot of
    the restrictive practices, but with quangos and Whitehall instead
    of the unions, state enterprises and local authorities. Blair
    then turned it into monetarism lite.

    My view is that Even Newer Labour's mistake was in merely trying
    to moderate Blairism, and in not going back to its roots, by which
    I mean true socialism, not bloody pseudo-Marxism, Tammany Hall
    handouts or any of that crap, but the spirit of the cooperative
    societies, schooling for all, the original national insurance and
    NHS and adult education (including the Open University). All
    with appropriate changes for the 21st century, of course.

    Recognise some similarity with Scottish political tradition and
    the SNP in that?

    142:

    Right
    Because we have MANUAL chacking of the votes, by multiple people, keeping each othe honest.
    The worm in the apple is postal voting.
    We had a particularly bad case recently - but the crook over-played his hand & he was disbarred from office & there will be a bye-election.

    Voting machines are much too easy to tamper with, which is why we don't have them...

    See also comments 117, 120 etc

    143:

    I didn't follow this election much (as can be seen by my lack of comments). From what I gather though, most of this election was over economics.

    So this would be a good place to ask the question: what is the difference between the parties when it comes to the "not poor enough threshold" (my phrase)?

    To explain. I grew up in a red state in the US. When describing the issue of benefits, I sometimes get people who say something along the lines of: "Yes, we know most of the people getting benefits are working. However, most can afford a TV or a smartphone. Therefore, anyone who owns a TV or a smartphone should be automatically disqualified from benefits because they're not poor enough." Obviously that position is way too cruel for me and for most people (only the VERY right wing draw the line there).

    On the other hand, every party has such a line. I mean, I doubt the SNP or labor would have considered subsidizing private boats for the poor. (Yes, I know all parties heavily subsidize private boats and jets for the rich).

    So my question is this: what is the "not poor enough threshold" consensus for each party? In the case of those living in an area where one party predominates, where do your neighbors set the "not poor enough threshold"?

    144:

    YES, Charlie, I KNOW.
    But I still want to moan about it, so there ....

    The people I'm going to feel sorry for, though are the unemployed & the low-paid & the zero-hours contracts buggers.

    Oh & elderly cynic @ 141
    No
    The SNP are a Presbyterian Nanny-party.
    ( Oh & Sturgeon is a total irrelevance at present - she is NOT a Westminster MP.)
    It's time to watch Salmond again, even if you don't like him - he ain't stupid.

    145:

    Hum...Shouldn't ' Democratic ' or ' Democracy ' comes in there somewhere? A little like...

    “DEMOCRATIC “..." People's Republic of Scotland "? Really?

    Oh DEAR oh DEAR! You aren't thinking it through logically are you?

    Now if The NEW, “PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF SCOTLAND " were to move VERY Swiftly before U.D.I. then it could have its own Special Forces ..You might be surprised to know just how many of the U.Ks /British/ English S.A.S /S.B.S. troops are actually Scots or Northern English... take possession of the “British “? Nuclear Deterrent that is Way Up There in the Howling Wilderness UP NORTH and safely FAR away from London.

    The said North that is fit only for FRAKing... that is only fit for mineral exploitation by The Tory Oligarchy.

    " Fracking should take place in uninhabited "desolate" areas of the North East, a Tory peer has suggested."


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23508595


    Only unusual in so far as this modern Peer was so arrogant as to dare say out loud and before a General Election what is common knowledge among the Tory Aristocrats.

    Lord Howell of Guildford argued there was plenty of room which could be used more quickly than proposed areas in the south of the country where objections had been raised.

    And Still the Tory Oligarchs WON the General Election!

    The Sad fact is that the Tories just don’t care what the former industrial heartlands think or how the Helots might perform in this Voting Thingy that they are obliged to go through from time to time. The Tory Oligarchy/ Neo Aristocracy were only seriously challenged politically in recent years by...NEW LABOUR who achieved their success by echoing the Tory Aristocratic self confidence of ..." Follow ME lads -Over the Top! It’s bound to be all right “You don’t want me to link “Black adder Goes Forth “do you?

    How does it go? “Here comes the NEW Boss Just like the Old Boss”

    Nothing NEW there: look up, '...

    " TYNE AND WEAR COAL AND RAILWAYS

    Coal mining activity continued to increase in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with mining concentrated around Tyneside and the Washington area of Wearside. Around 7,000 pitmen worked in the region in 1787, growing to 10,000 by 1810. Coal mines were opening in the region at places like Newbottle (1774), Lumley (1776) Washington F Pit (1777) and Penshaw (1791). Coal mining would spread to the Hetton area of east Durham, where the coal was much deeper, after 1800 but it was not significant in south-west Durham until after 1825. This is partly because south west Durham was further away from the ports of Tyne and Wear where ports were served by an ever increasing network of colliery railways. The new railways were largely funded by a cartel of wealthy coal-owning families called the 'Grand Allies' who included the Russells of Brancepeth, Brandlings of Gosforth, Liddells of Ravensworth and the Bowes family (Earls of Strathmore). William Russell, a Sunderland banker who bought Brancepeth castle in 1796, was the country's wealthiest commoner. "


    Worth repeating ...

    " William Russell, a Sunderland banker who bought Brancepeth castle in 1796, was the country's wealthiest commoner. "


    http://www.englandsnortheast.co.uk/CoalMiningandRailways.html

    Won’t Get Fooled Again EH?

    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/who/wontgetfooledagain.html

    I'll save you the trouble...


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYMD_W_r3Fg


    But SCOTLAND is different eh, wot ? None of these English Aristo-cats up in the Purity of the High...er, upper bit of the United Kingdom!

    No risk of the Political Democratic purity of the Upper bit of the North degenerating into something like...

    "The DPRK is the Juche-oriented socialist state which embodies the idea and leadership of Comrade Kim II Sung, the founder of the Republic and the father of socialist Korea."

    http://korea-dpr.com/

    Well that’s all right then.

    Just in case you hadn’t guessed? I’m REALLY looking forward to Our Dear Leader... er, that is to say Our Gracious Hosts dystopian fantasy...

    “ @ 83:
    It's what I now plan to do instead of a third "Halting State" book. Similar "fifteen minutes into the future" feel, but no second person, not set in Scotland, and a sideways lurch into dystopian fantasy. (I said I was writing urban fantasy this decade, didn't I?) “


    I’d be fucking astonished if he couldn’t outdo my pitiful attempt at Gloom for Beginners’.


    Mind you, at the moment, after staying up all night and watching the latest news on High Technology T.V. Screens, my eyeballs feel like spheres of molten glass that have been lightly sprinkled with road salt mixed with sharp sand so I’m not at my best.

    Anyway, US of Americans don’t like dystopias so I wouldn’t stand a chance at the next HUGO awards so why bother? What’s the point of Anything really?

    We are ALL DOOMED! DOOMED I TELL YOU!

    146:

    " It isn't the party of the madwoman any more, apart from rhetoric. "

    Depends on what you mean by " rhetoric "

    The Present Day ...

    " London council in 'social cleansing' row over bid to move tenants to Birmingham .... Tory-led council of Wandsworth accused of ‘bribing’ social tenants after sending out letter offering up to £7,000 to relocate to the West Midlands "

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/06/london-council-social-cleansing-row-move-tenants-to-birmingham

    And Way Back Then?

    Way back in the distant happy smily days of Mad Maggie ?

    No wonder she was reputed to be somewhat pychologically unstable as it were ..

    " The Maggie diet - whisky, spinach and 28 eggs a week "

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247164/The-Maggie-diet--whisky-spinach-28-eggs-week.html


    Anyway, way back then ? Do you remember Dame Shirly Porter?

    "Dame Shirley Porter, Lady Porter, DBE, (born 29 November 1930) is a former Conservative leader of Westminster City Council in London.[3] She is the daughter and heir of Sir Jack Cohen, the founder of Tesco supermarkets. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1991[4] by John Major after delivering "a spectacular victory" in Westminster for the Conservatives in the 1990 elections.[5]

    While leader of Westminster City Council she oversaw the "Building Stable Communities" policy, later described as the "homes for votes" scandal and was consequently accused of gerrymandering.[nb 1] The policy was judged illegal by the district auditor, and a surcharge of £27m levied on her in 1996.[6] This was later raised to £42 million with interest and costs. She eventually settled in 2004, paying a full payment of £12.3 million.[7] "

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Porter


    " rhetoric " ?


    147:

    The SNP are a Presbyterian Nanny-party.

    Greg, you're getting a bit tiresome here.

    Did you notice the bit about their membership tripling since the referendum? Nobody knows what the SNP is right now, not even Nicola Sturgeon: a ton of the grass-roots mojo that used to power Scottish Labour has gone their way, and the traditional Glaswegian presbyterian base is long in their past, a small rump.

    (And in case you forgot, let me remind you: Salmond is the guy who got kicked out of the SNP in the 80s for being too left-wing and not "tartan Tory" enough. If you think Clegg dragged a party out of its track and diverted it, you haven't seen anything until you look at what Salmond did to the SNP.)

    NB: I am not an SNP voter. Nevertheless, my hat's off to him.

    148:

    the speaker of the house does actually have a vote that they can use, and it is usually in favour of the government.
    More generally in favour of the status quo, Speaker Denisons's Rule to be exact.

    149:

    Personally, I favor "Commonwealth of Scotland and the Isles." But don't specify which isles. That way, you Scots can always hook up with, say, Greenland after the marriage with Denmark dissolves. Or Sealand. Or whoever.

    150:

    Looking from the outside, Germany, it looks like the UK is following the common European trend. Nationalism is back and has left the far right corner. Southern Europe has been developing nationalist left parties. Scotland follows that route. England develops like Northern Europe.

    151:

    The western part of the US in particular is moving fairly rapidly to all-mail balloting, using paper and pencil. In the states that have adopted it, it's enormously popular across the entire political spectrum. A couple of the other western states have systems that allow voters to elect to always vote by mail -- in the most recent election, more than 50% of the votes cast in both of those states were mail-in ballots. I expect both of them to go all-mail within a few years.

    Paper and pencil voting -- the wave of the future!

    152:

    "( Oh & Sturgeon is a total irrelevance at present - she is NOT a Westminster MP.) "

    That’s the point...She is NOT A WESTMINSTER MP! She is the Scottish SNP leader, The First Minister, at a time when the fracture lines in the United Kingdom have opened up and Scottish Independence has become a very real possibility just a short time after the referendum ruled it out.

    What she is is, well ...The Boss...

    " Nicola Sturgeon: ‘I just want to shake things up a wee bit’

    Her party lost the referendum, but Nicola Sturgeon is riding a tidal wave of popular support. Will she soon wield power below the border? The breakout star of the election campaign talks independence, nerves and not doing a Nick Clegg "

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/02/nicola-sturgeon-im-the-boss-now

    She is a Scottish WOMAN who can say with full confidence...


    " “What a fantastic sight,” Sturgeon says to the crowd. “It’s absolutely wonderful to be here in Glasgow. It’s particularly wonderful – no offence, guys – to see so many women. My pledge to you is that the SNP will put women and gender equality right at the heart of the Westminster agenda. Better health care, better education. We’ll campaign to put an end to the Tory austerity and the Tory welfare cuts that are hurting so many women. I stand here today as the first woman first minister of our country. Every day I hold this office, I will work to ensure that every woman, every wee girl across this country, gets a chance to do what I’ve done and follow their dream.” "

    Bloody HELL! Never thought that I'd see that in my lifetime and I plan to live to be at least One Hundred and Fifty years old.

    153:

    ... Except that the biggest similarity is between Scotland and the Scandinavian countries rather than Southern Europe!

    Whereas structurally (if not demographically, or -- superficially -- politically) England is coming more and more to resemble the United States. Two divergent economic zones (red/blue, the north vs. the south-east), privatization and neoliberal policies used as an excuse for pork-barrel corruption, scapegoating of the poor and of minorities.

    154:

    And, of course, assuming the SNP have reasonably good party discipline and there's no reason to assume not, dismissing the party leader as an irrelevance just because she's not a Westminster MP is kind of short-sighted.

    Does anyone really imagine they'll do much without consulting her? Just because she's not physically there they have these strange devices called telephones and this thing called email. Ok, for instant decisions she won't be actually in the debating chamber but if they've got a strategy, she'll just have to trust the team to deliver.

    155:

    Been thinking about what has happened in this years' election all day. I must confess when I found out this morning what had happened I just felt *bleh* x.x .

    Me personally over the last few years I've had this odd feeling - namely that it has felt ever since the coalition (that was) seemed to be going almost backwards into the 1980s. Now if anyone here is reading this, is young (let's say in their 20s and won't remember the 1980s) you're about to experience just what it is like to have a full-blown tory government in power.....I've already heard someone mentioning the return of the "snoopers' charter".

    Must admit one thing that has really frustrated me about this election is the idea of "safe seats". I live in the southern UK (note, southern not south east or west). And the seat here is "a safe conservative seat". So safe that they might have well saved everyone here a journey to the polling station(s) and just pre-printed an "X" next to conservative on the ballot papers. Safe seats. Grr.

    BTW Nigel farage(UKIP) has stated he's going to resign, but apparently will now "have a rest" and then consider re-applying for leadership of UKIP...

    But sticking with what's happened though. I guess there's three deciders that will set the outcome of recent contemporary politics. These are;

    - Scottish referendum (already held, but could return again depending on what happens in the future);
    - 2015 Elections (Done, conservative slim majority);
    - EU referendum

    You'll note that the first one - the referendum either won't happen again for a long time or it'll be back on the books in the next five years. Depends on what happens 'tween then and now.

    So here's the nightmare scenario for 2015-2020 IHMO;

    - Conservatives pass all kinds of insane policies though the media manages to convince everyone "it's all ok". If the economy is doing fairly well they'll really make a meal of it.
    - EU referendum - with the votes cast the UK decides on cameron default, i.e. EU membership on economy only.
    - Scotland gets either no new powers, or dosen't get independence or only gets "Devo max" (which could now mean literally anything.
    - No changes nor any sort of reform until 2020.

    "Devo max" could now mean anything. It could mean more powers for scotland, or it could mean all scottish MPs now get a free biro. David cameron is pretty much free to define "devo max" however he cooses.

    Or an alternative;
    - Conservatives pass all kinds of insane policies though the media tries to convince everyone "it's ok" it increasingly upsets people;
    - EU referendum - either leads to "stay as-is" (labour default?) or leave completely (UKIP default). Sidenote: If the UK leaves the EU completely does that tigger EU collapse?
    - UK ~2020 has to give itself a new name? What happens to the queen? Walls go up between scotland/UK?

    There could of course be some sort of "unknown unknowns" between now and 2020 or even the EU referendum - assuming it takes place. Maybe some sort of political scandal does damage? Maybe there's one privatisation too far? What about the BBC, does it get a royal charter re-new? Anyones' guess really.

    As to the labour party with this election loss they have two choices as far as I can see. They can either try to re-hash and reignite the long-dead blair embers ("New new labour", anyone?) or they can try to start to look a bit like the SNP to get back votes.

    For the lib dems they've come very close to death in this election. Two things IHMO I think they need to do to stay in with a chance to even remain alive - firstly, swear *never* to go into coalition with the conservatives ever again, and to dump any right-wing policies that they might have. If they do that, they might just remain alive. Not thriving, but just to stay alive.

    A possible wild-card to throw into all of this. What happens to the EU in the next 5 years? Does the EU slowly fall apart or just dribble away bit-by-bit; does it experience a sudden collapse? Or does it slowly but surely start to recover, and in 5 years' looks *better* than in recent times (which presumably would also mean the end of UKIP).

    A second possible wild-card to throw in is the world economy. If that hits and causes problems in the UK david cameron could promice everyone a free goat and he'll get nowhere. A UK economy falling apat or going downhill would by 2020 possibly do unto the conservatives as has happened to labour today. If that happens, labour loosing this election could be a good thing as they could then come back with completely new people and say "we have the answer on how to fix things"!

    One more thing. Why have I got the feeling (esp. on the bbc TV coverage) that the people covering the election have seemingly almost wanted to shout "conservative landslide"? :-(

    156:

    "Did you notice the bit about their membership tripling since
    the referendum?"

    A good question is why. I can see three obvious reasons:
    Sod those buggers in and from London, who treat us like dirt
    Let's have some real socialism back, not monetarism-lite
    We want Scotland to be fully independent

    Your guess as to the relative importance is likely to be better
    than mine, but I suspect the above order. Today's exercise:
    translate Nemo me impune lacessit into Glaswegian :-)

    157:

    On the turnout front: don't forget that getting on the electoral roll requires more effort than previously, resulting in a smaller electorate. This will slightly inflate headline percentage turnout figures.

    158:

    So, this near-future fantasy dystopia...

    Does it include a Scottish independence movement?

    159:

    Re Galloway, I'm still baffled after reading your reply, Charlie.

    My main concern is not about G himself, but rather the left/labour movement quitting their defence of the non-elite majority and putting most of their effort into other issues, not all sound, all the while shrinking into an irrelevant minority.

    Galloway has been a voice of that old left, and for that I value him. His defeat could also be the defeat of a that current, and I would find that very disheartening. So, I'd like to be persuaded that Galloway personally deserves all the intense dislike he gets.

    Your reasons for not liking him were many, and perhaps you left out some that also matter to you, like being too close to Cuba, or the Saddam speech. Please let me go over what you did bring up, in order, and I thank you in advance for further clarifications.

    >Look at how many constituencies he's represented over the years and how deprived they are and how much he's done for them. He shows every sign of being a pathological opportunist, out for number one, with little interest in helping his constituents or working within existing frameworks to get stuff done.

    Galloway is very visible on non-local issues. For me, that is a good thing. Is he really the worst MP when it comes to local issues? Are there no other carpet-baggers who will try and get elected where they have a chance? Don't any of those do any good? Why the hate on this one?


    >In recent years he's allegedly converted to islam,

    What? If true, why would that be bad?


    >used his bully pulpit to denounce speech he disapproves of,

    "Denounce"? Why can't anyone denounce what they disapprove of? I don't think he called for Hebdo to be censored.

    Your link points to a piece titled "George Galloway Calls Charlie Hebdo A 'Racist, Islamophobic, Hypocritical Rag' At Freedom Of Speech Rally". In the same piece, it is noted that "The Pope has said anyone who insults his mother can expect a punch".

    >and begun ranting about evil zionists under the bed, in a mode that's a dog-whistle (over here) for anti-Jewish. (Hint: look at my ethnic origin.)

    Is this the crux of the matter?

    For one, mind-reading is tricky.

    In this case, the situation is not even Necker-cube symmetric. The guy Galloway goes out of his way to name his Jewish heroes, talks about travelling to South Africa way back when, staying with Jews who were fighting apartheid.

    He does take the Arab side in Palestine, but for me that is not proof of anti-Semitism.


    > Finally, he's a rape apologist and really fast with the ableist slurs: so much so that he'd probably be more at home in UKIP.

    "Rape apologist" here is a semantic sleight of hand, I think. You may stretch "rape" however you like, but you don't get for free the full-on outrage that narrower concepts rightly invoke.

    Are husbands who penetrate their sleeping wives also rapists to be jailed and publicly listed as sexual offenders? If so, I'd say this is not yet commonly accepted.

    Finally, I don't think you can serially marry non-white women, father their children, and still align yourself with the UKIP.

    160:

    Stopped clock: I have no problem with people being close to Cuba -- US sanctions have acted to shore up the Castro regime rather than to weaken it -- and Galloway was pretty much right about Al Qaida, Saddam, and recently about the unwisdom of trying to deal with IS by bombing.

    But you're shifting the goalposts a lot (especially on the rape apologia, for which I'm going to give you a yellow card -- nobody is alleging that Assange was married to the women who accused him of rape/nonconsensual penetration). And you're missing out what Galloway didn't do, namely represent his constituents, most of whom live in very deprived neighbourhoods and were short-changed out of a decent local representative so that this guy could showboat on their immiseration.

    161:

    Random Thoughts: In the 1980s there was a fanzine called "Fuck the Tories". Today, you'd expect a blog. But would anyone dare publish it? (I would like to see GCHQ implement a crypto backdoor for a hand cranked Gestetner 300.)

    There used to be something called the Soviet Union. That, maybe more than the Labour Party, might have scared the Tories into a fake unity. Then everything seemed to change in a rush. Maggie got kicked out and the Berlin Wall fell, amongst other things. Will Putin be enough to stop Conservative in-fighting? With all the Russian money floating around the London markets, does he want more law enforcement, or less? Could he force a softer attitude to the Ukraine Confrontation?

    When does Google take over the NHS?

    162:

    I was pretty stunned by this one. I think the only thing we can do now is hope to win specific battles against the Tory's frankly absurd agenda.

    I'd suggest all British people write immediately to their MP expressing their concern/dislike for the idea of the snoopers' charter for instance.

    A bunch of early communication against this thing might nip it in the bud, cement some opposition or at least force them to abandon the crazier parts of it.

    163:

    Mazel tov, I don't think I've had anybody read as much into a passing bit of smartassery as you have into mine. :)

    164:

    'the bankers would slither off to Frankfurt, and banking is a big part of the economy...'

    Not for you, not for me, and not for anyone we ever met! Our net benefit from that industry comes in at less than 1%, doesn't it?

    165:

    Just wondering why the low-ish NI turn-out (not their election this time?) and whether the mail-in ballots have already been counted.

    166:

    How popular and effective is political satire these days in the U.K.?

    167:

    So, I'd like to be persuaded that Galloway personally deserves all the intense dislike he gets

    He gets the intense dislike, not necessarily because of his politics on the left, but because he is a naked opportunist, and first-class egotist.

    He's done some things well; for instance, his defence of the Union through an intelligent use of old socialist values during the Independence referendum was impressive; and his standing up to the Senate was likewise astute and effective.

    However, he was all too willing to suck up to tyrants if there was funding involved (remember him saluting Saddam's indefatigability? And ISTR a "World in Action" or similar programme in the late 1980s that made lengthy use of his correspondence with Zia ul-Haq to expose some quite disturbing "money for propaganda" behaviour). As soon as a constituency fails to get him the pulpit he demands, he's off, with suitable cries of foul play or betrayal, but without a look backwards.

    He's only interested in what's good for George, and he's just very clever in the vehicle that he has picked. He's not too greedy, and he's not too selfish - but he makes a good living turning up wherever he and the Socialist Workers reckon there are grievances he can piggyback.

    The biggest indicator as to his personality is whether people of similar political views can actually work with him. Half of his first constituency party's executive committee resigned rather than carry on working with him (13 out of 26), including a future leader of Scottish Labour...

    168:

    Some quick observations going by amount of seats won in recent political history;

    So for david cameron's 331 seats --

    - That's 5 *less* than John major won back in 1992 (Major got 336);
    - Tony blair (labour) in 2005 at his worst got 355 seats. That's 24 more than david cameron.
    - At their peak back in 1997/2001 labour got 418 and 413 seats respectively. That's 87 and 82 seats higher than david cameron.

    Granted labour did badly this time around, as did the lib dems. But why is the media then still in this almost euphoric "The conservatives did so well". Um - am I missing something?

    169:

    How popular and effective is political satire these days in the U.K.?

    As ineffective and irrelevant as it has always been since 1964.

    The people who make you laugh, and castigate our rulers between elections, can't change anything when the election itself actually comes. They are creative types, not psephologists or ideologues, or leaders of others.

    It's easy to get sucked into an echo chamber of lefty self-congratulation in places like Twitter.

    I was not immune, and idly assumed that Miliband could only do better than Brown, and that the influence print media has on political opinion had diminished.

    The left always underestimate the selfishness of the British voter, and the fact that it was the Conservatives, not Labour, who were best placed to exploit the collapse in the vote of the LibDems.

    (Most LibDem seats were in Tory heartlands.)

    And that the SNP, were best-placed to exploit the implosion of Scottish Labour.

    UKIP were the surprise disaster of the election, I thought they would have more impact on the Tory vote, and they would pick up between 4 and 10 seats.

    All the celebrity backers in the world won't save you. I feel the Left has blundered back into the Kinnock era, and I honestly wonder what might have happened if Labour had backed the Yes vote in the indyref.

    170:

    But why is the media then still in this almost euphoric "The Conservatives did so well". Um - am I missing something?

    The media [newspapers and the BBC particularly] just can't believe they called it right, and want to dress up a gain of twenty-five seats on the 2010 result as some sort of landslide-like vindication.

    171:

    Martin, re Galloway:

    Sure, he may have a huge ego. Then pity those who have to work with him. But why hate him?

    Opportunism? Was taking on the cause of the Palestinians for decades on end a clever plot to get ahead in life? Talk about loving challenges. What other politician in the UK made such "a good living" following that route? Running as an independent, is that as rewarding as being inside Labour, more in line with the prevailing winds?

    It's interesting to see that no single charge is put front and centre, but many are half-heartedly invoked and then dropped, as if some justification must be found, somewhere, for all the vitriol and contempt.

    The man may be despicable, but who did he harm, in point of fact?

    (Aside from some or all of his past constituents, of which I don't know, but then why single him out of 600+ MPs for a tongue lashing apropos of nothing?)

    172:

    Possibly because of the oil contracts being used to funnel money to the Mariam Appeal, and in no way being used to fund a comfortable lifestyle or pro-tyrant propaganda?

    Apparently, the Russia Today job earns a hefty sum. And is in no way propaganda for a foreign tyrant, of course.

    I don't hate him. I just despise him - he's so often found himself as the propagandist-for-hire to foreign tyrannies that it's hard to see him as anything other than a massive hypocrite. The key indicator would be whether he remains quite as invested in each cause once their money dries up, or whether he moves to his next stick with which to beat the Establishment. Hmmmmm...

    173:

    How popular and effective is political satire these days in the U.K.?

    Extremely good.

    Baron Cohen's latest role as this 'Nigel Farage' was his best yet.

    174:

    Democracy is largely a hoax imo. What really changes after elections? The media narratives maybe, but what else? What’s the upshot of this election for the UK?

    I think of democracies like hospitals, where the doctors allow the staff to hold “elections” for ceremonial positions with names like “Hospital President”. Meanwhile, the surgeries and other critical stuff continues to be done by the same doctors, no matter who’s elected.

    175:

    For over 150 years now, English voters have seen Liberal and then Labor governments which the majority of the English electorate didn't want put in by the "Celtic Fringe".

    It was part of the price of Empire.

    Empire's gone now -- or more precisely, it's run from Washington and the UK has "Dominion status", which as someone born Canadian I think is as funny as hell.

    In any case, there's no longer any reason for English nationalists to put up with that phenomenon.

    Some notes:

    English (and Welsh) LD voters, when they abandoned the party, split for the Conservatives -- by about 3:2, I'd say offhand. Hence the Tories took a number of LD constituencies even where votes for UKIP were fairly substantial.

    UKIP took quite a few voters from Labor, and in at least some constituencies more than they took from the Tories, which put the seats into the Tory camp.

    UKIP got over 14% of the vote in England; in fact, in total votes it got nearly half as many as Labor in England and in UK-wide terms as much as the LD and the SNP put together.

    If the UK had proportional representation, UKIP would have somewhere around 90-100 seats and would be potential kingmakers.

    The Conservatives got a bit over 40% of the vote in England, and if you add that to UKIP's share in England the total is about about 56%.

    Which illustrates a basic point: the English, specifically, are a conservative people -- in fact, a very conservative people, and quite nationalist. (Let someone explain why this is bad in England but the equivalent is good in Scotland.)

    If Scotland withdraws from the Union, the Tories will rule the rest from Westminster about 95% of the time. I very much doubt Cameron et. al. are unaware of this.

    176:

    An elegant shoe stamping on a human face? Really?

    I love Buzzfeed's If Headlines Expressed What Labour Supporters Really Feel.

    Krugman points out that the UK's austerity policies have been eased in the past six months and, without campaigning that reminds people of the history, that is more-or-less what voters take into account. That's a tip for political campaigners: remind people of the history. That demands integrity, though, which seems to be in short supply these days.

    177:

    Galloway is most emphatically an anti-semite. Not all "anti-Zionists" are anti-semitic, though most are(*) but all anti-semites are anti-Zionist, and he is. As Charlie says, it's the invariable dog-whistle, tho' the straightforward "Death to the Jews" article have been crawling out from under their rocks lately.

    That guy didn't shoot people in a kosher store in Paris because he thought the Balfour Declaration was a mistake.

    (*) particularly non-Jewish anti-zionists.

    178:

    The print media, the large majority of it anyway, are euphoric because with the exception of The Guardian and the Daily Mirror in rUK all the dailies (even The Independent to a lot of people's disgust) declared in favour of the Tories, although their Sunday sister paper declared "We're independent, we suggest you make your own mind up."

    That's no surprise for Mail (nicknamed by some the Daily Heil) and the Daily Telegraph (nicknamed by one and all, including its own readers the Torygraph). The Times and The Sun are both owned by Murdoch, who infamously hurled abuse at his own editors for "Not doing enough to attack Ed Milliband" so while they have changed sides historically, no surprises there. It probably doesn't help that "Red Ed" planned to force the papers to live up to Leveson fully, which will hurt The Sun's style of pseudo-journalism. The Express is also historically a strongly pro-Tory party. Even the Financial Times published a pro-Coalition piece.

    The Murdoch press was so Anti-Ed that although the The Sun in England was pushing the Tory "Dangers of the SNP" message, The Sun In Scotland endorsed the SNP btw.

    The BBC's euphoria is a bit different. They don't commission opinion polls (although they report other people's in their reviews of the day's newspapers etc.) but they do commission an exit poll along with the other broadcasters that do an election night special (C4, Sky News). The exit poll was the only poll to call the result anything like right (although there's a post from Survation saying their last phone poll was close, it was just so far removed from anything else they thought it was an outlier and decided not to print it. Assuming that's true, it means there's a late Tory shift that went undocumented.) With sales of print news still falling year on year the relevance of the print media is increasingly questionable, but publishing a poll hugely different to everyone else's and then, although not spot on, fundamentally getting it right - damn right they're happy. Lots of people will have seen the news and the forecast at just after 10pm and gone WTF? Then seen the news the next day and "OMG, the BBC got it right, the newspapers got it wrong for the whole month." It won't kill the print media, but it wouldn't surprise me if we see the biggest decline in sales from now to this time next year that we've seen for a while.

    179:

    The "Grand Allies" were crafty & enlightened enough to encourage a largely uneducated, but very intelligent employee of theirs to experiment with the machinery, as it lowered costs.
    Later on, they allowed him to work independantly, provided he still (part-time) did the job for which he was nominally employed by them.
    The results are still with us.
    Oh, yes, his name:
    George Stephenson.

    180:

    Charlie - you DID note that I said Salmond was the man to watch?
    Actually if DC is a crafty as it is now beginning to appear he is, he will neutralise the SNP, by making sure they get a really good dose of devo-max ( Whilst all the rest of us do as well ) & then remind them (the SNP, that is): "You are in charge in Scotland, now - you can't blame us any more .... "

    181:

    The actual map, on the ground, of the constituency perferences, as of yesterday, say that your statement is flat worng.
    Sorry about that.
    As for "dependence on state subsidies" people are finally beginng to notice that IDS (Whose constituency is right next door to this one) is a state-subsidy junkie himself.
    He & his wife's farms do VERY WELL INDEED from EU farm hand-outs, the crawling hypocrite.

    182:

    "Devo max" could now mean anything. It could mean more powers for scotland, or it could mean all scottish MPs now get a free biro. David cameron is pretty much free to define "devo max" however he cooses.
    Cobblers.
    There was a commission (the name of which escapes me) which recommended powers to be devolved.
    DC will stick pretty close to that - it IS a "manifesto commitment" after all.

    MUCH beter to hab=nd all the commission-recommended powers over to Edinburgh ( & possibly one or two other slivers) & then remind Scots' that whatever happens in Scotland, now, you can't blame "Westminster".

    183:

    Sadly, Galloway is of as much help to the Left as Gore. Both got their reputation destroyed by the media and in both cases because of very specific issues, rather than their quite obvious personality flaws.

    Anyway, amazed at the replies I'm getting here, a place I assumed to be a temple of clear-eyed rationality.

    Martin:
    Re the funding of his Mariam charity, links to proof of wrongdoing, please. I have no idea either way, but I'm not the one making claims.

    Re his working for RT, was that because the slots he was offered at BBC, Sky, etc, were all lower paying? Or because he keeps a principle of only taking his salary from "tyrants"?

    I'm not even sure what exactly makes Putin a "tyrant". Is that an Orwellian term for "leader of the current enemy"?

    Should RT be banned in the West?

    The guy also worked for Iranian PressTV, before they were banned from UK satellite broadcast by media regulator Ofcom in 2012 over something that sounded like a bureaucratic detail, but probably was more substantial. At the time, I thought the ban should a big story, but no-one seemed to care. Oversupply in the marketplace of ideas, I guess.


    joat:
    > Galloway is most emphatically an anti-semite. Not all "anti-Zionists" are anti-semitic, though most are(*) but all anti-semites are anti-Zionist, and he is.

    That's an emphatically unsupported assertion, followed by an irrelevant statement of indeterminate truth, finished by a fallacy of affirming the consequent where even the implication itself is false. What a doozy. Fascinating.

    184:

    Beacuse everyone except the bookies was expecting an even tighter "hung parliament" than last time.

    My personal opinion is that pathetic little Mr Milibean threw it away in the last week or so.
    His posturing with what is now called the "Ed-Stone" (An historic pun I'm NOT going to explain) may have exposed his basic infantilism.

    Of course, there are exeptions - there are still several MP's (Inclunding my near-neighbour) whose majorities have nothing at all to do with national politics & a lot to do with those MP's themsel;eves.
    I didn't vote "Labour".
    But I did vote "Stella"

    185:

    I must gently disagree with much of Buwaya's analysis of race in the US in general and in the Bay Area in particular.* As to the US in general, the real difference is that overt racism in the workplace has largely learned to keep its baser instincts to itself, or at least out of view of lawyers and the HR department
    VERY interesting.
    Just like the stinking prejudice against women in England & eapecially in many "High-powered City" jobs.
    Women are still at the bottom of the heap, when it comes to pay & promotion.
    There is some very unpleasant geurilla warfare going on below the surface - almost all unreported in the media.

    186:

    There is a strong sense even within England, that the UK government tends to govern for vested interests within the M25 (that's a sort of giant circle of a road around London in case your UK geography isn't up to speed).

    Labour governments, generally, do better about being more even-handed. Their policies tend to focus on delivering better services those in need and their core support has always been in the North of England and until Thursday night Scotland, but even they do nice favours for Greater London at the expense of the rest of the country too.

    Now, to some extent, that's always going to happen. Whether you're taking an economic argument (the City of London is a gigantic earner, at least until Brexit, possibly beyond) or a population-based argument (Greater London has about 20% of the UK's population) so it's always going to have a significant influence. But while I doubt anyone has gone through the distribution of funding, the way policies affect the regions and so on and determined the impact there is certainly a strong impression the balance is much more than 20% weighted in favour of London and it's basically shaped like a 3D version of a normal distribution curve - the further away you are, the worse it gets.

    Scotland and Wales both have a strong, distinct, national identity within the UK. In the case of the Welsh they have a long history of being militarily and politically repressed (much longer than the Irish although not as bitterly fought in recent history) and in the case of the Scots a long case of political grievances where very unpopular policies from parties they didn't vote for at all are trialled on them first. They have, before the Act of Union, a long and bitter history of wars with the English too.

    Both Plaid Cymru and the SNP can certainly be argued with a current and historical basis to parties fighting for equal representation of underrepresented and poorly treated groups. (There will be English people who howl about the Barnet formula for Scotland at that one I'm sure but tell them to check their privilege. Wales does badly from the Barnet formula.)

    Speaking as a Welsh woman I don't particularly feel oppressed by the English but my culture and language has been, although it's flourishing again now. I would, however, like to see Wales, (and the North of England where I currently live), get a better deal. I'm happy for the Scots to get one too. That comes, in my mind, at the expense of London. I'm not saying inside the M25 and the city get nothing, but that is seen to be a fairer distribution of resources, policy decisions that clearly benefit other regions and so on. The SNP, assuming they're honest about not moving for another referendum, seem to be pressing for that kind of thing.

    English nationalism is rather different. Traditionally it's a racist hate-group. Whether it's called the National Front, the BNP, the EDL or whatever, it's white supremacy hard right hate politics at its worst. UKIP has tried to distance itself from that and has certainly kept the worst of the extremists out but it's still promoting a radical anti-immigrant set of policies. Click through on Charlie's links in the previous thread for some of the charmers that did get through UKIP's screening.

    UKIP has added to this a strong anti-EU message. They tell a very one-sided horror story about the economic costs of being in the EU and the potential immigration "horror" of being in the EU. Yes, in theory, everyone in the EU could up sticks and move to Britain and in UKIP's dreamworld of course they would, but in practise it's not going to happen. Equally, if you ask different economists about the costs and benefits of being in the EU you get different answers. They're cherry-picking the data they like.

    Personally, I suspect the real issue is in 1976 we joined a club and sometimes (from the perspective of UKIP and the right wing of the Tory party at least) the ungrateful wretches don't do what we want. "Don't they know we fought a war so they wouldn't all be ruled by Hitler?!" Of course I'm one of the oppressed and ignored on the edge of my country so there might be an element of schadenfreude in seeing the poor English feeling like they're oppressed and people are ignoring them because they're out on the edge of the continent.

    Does that answer your question?

    (I should add that I'm also pro-EU. I'm not saying it's a perfect organisation, nor are all the decisions it makes the right ones. It's like any other human organisation, it can make bad decisions and it certainly does. But, overall, IMO, it's a good thing. And like a lot of semi-decent and better organisations it is by and large capable of recognising and correcting its mistakes.)

    187:

    Perhaps I should point out that the BBC actually censors what it
    says, in order to favour the Israeli actions. It invariably uses
    the term 'defence forces' even when describing the most offensive
    actions (e.g. against northern Lebanon, where there was no
    Hezbollah presence), and says 'Israel retaliated' even when Israel
    opened the offensive. And so on. And, yes, I look at many
    sources, including some Israeli ones. Regrettably, I read neither
    Hebrew nor Arabic, so have to rely on translations. And it is
    perfectly reasonable to consider that Israel has sacrificed its
    legitimacy by its actions. I shall not continue on this, not even
    if provoked.

    But returning this this thread:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/.premium-1.655558

    188:

    Dude. In general, you've been taking reasonable arguments and pushing them too far. It's a bit silly.

    The security-at-shul thing, though, is just fucking weird. I have never seen this. I have been to a lot of American synagogues.

    Oh, right ... you're also derailing a perfectly fascinating thread on British politics with some skewed anecdotes about your business experience and life in San Francisco. You've gotten weird enough to pull me. Can we stop now, please?

    Gentlefolk: some predictions (based on abstract political science theory, not what we really think) about the British (actually English) party system have been made over here. The we would be much obliged is someone could explain why we're wrong.

    189:

    That last sentence is ... interesting. To paraphrase my mother, her son speaks two second languages.

    Rephrase. Some predictions about the future of the English party system have been made at this link. Those predictions are almost certainly wrong. We would be much obliged if people with actual knowledge could explain to us why they are wrong.

    190:

    I would like to see GCHQ implement a crypto backdoor for a hand cranked Gestetner 300

    We know for a fact that the US Postal Service photographs and OCRs the addresses/labels/exterior of every item that travels through their network, and presumably logs the endpoints (metadata, y'all).

    It would be astonishing to learn that Royal Mail doesn't.

    We know that the carriers (both official postal services and courier firms) have the legal right to check that what's passing through their network isn't illegal, dangerous, or noxious. (Think: anonymous white powder, live wasps or venomous spiders.)

    I would be unsurprised to learn that the postal metadata tracking has algorithms that can distinguish personal correspondence and "weird" stuff like zines from the 99.9% of the postal load that is utility bills and junk mail. I would further be unsurprised to learn that most postal envelopes are transparent to intense light at certain wavelengths the human eye doesn't get on well with, or that there are other methods for non-invasively scanning the contents of an envelope and then capturing the data via OCR.

    Are you feeling lucky, punk?

    191:

    BIG-ASS MODERATION ANNOUNCEMENT

    I should have switched off comments while I was in bed.

    I have just unpublished thirty comments that in my judgement were off-topic. They were principally discussions of:

    * US ethnic politics in the south vs. the coastal states

    * Anti-semitism and its manifestations

    * Whether what Julian Assange is alleged to have done constitutes rape

    This is not the correct discussion for these matters and they are derailing.

    I may have missed one or two comments on those subjects -- I was in a hurry and the UI of the blog ain't great for nuking entire threads. If so, I apologize and I'll unpublish them too, unless I decide I want to keep them for some reason.

    192:

    "Are you feeling lucky, punk?"

    I am one of the fair number of people who could (easily) implement
    a cryptography mechanism that GCHQ could not crack, but I couldn't
    stop their traffic analysis. And why would they bother to crack
    such a thing? Just enter my house and replace a couple of chips
    and the power supply by ones that look identical, but broadcast
    every keystroke and button movement/click as a modulation of the
    ring main I am on. They can then pick that up from anywhere in
    the neighbourhood. Yes, we peasants can block any one of their
    techniques, but they will snoop if they want to.

    193:

    And why would they bother to crack such a thing? Just enter my house and replace a couple of chips and the power supply by ones that look identical, but broadcast every keystroke and button movement/click as a modulation of the ring main I am on.

    That would be very expensive. You could do it to a specific target -- a foreign diplomat, say -- but for everyday use it would be prohibitively expensive.

    Much better to just roll out smart electricity meters with a security services back door so they can report on traffic over the internet, then roll out "power saving smart plugs" and require vendors to supply them. Or even ban the sale of earlier, chipless, monitoring devices. Why do you think you can't buy tungsten filament light bulbs any more -- just CFL and LED bulbs with interestingly opaque control electronics on board?

    194:

    I have an inflated idea of my own importance? Yes, indeed, and
    your solution has been rumoured already to exist (but with the USA
    spooks pushing it). My last sentence is the real point - no, I am
    not feeling lucky, but equally well I am too unimportant to matter.

    195:
    I would be unsurprised to learn that the postal metadata tracking has algorithms that can distinguish personal correspondence and "weird" stuff like zines from the 99.9% of the postal load that is utility bills and junk mail

    They don't need anything complicated for this, the send of junk mail and bills already get nice discounts for pre-coding and packaging mail so its easy to deliver.

    Just concentrate on anything that comes in via a post office or letter box and you've already excluded almost all of the 'bulk' mail.

    196:

    I think the quick answer is that Anyone With Clue knows that we
    are heading into uncharted territory, and the ball is now in Davey
    Boy's court. It will all depend on whether he is statesmanlike in
    victory, whether his rabid knuckle-draggers sabotage that, or
    whether he leads his fanatics with fire and the sword against the
    infidel. And, even if we knew that, we would still be baffled.

    197:

    Noel, I suspect the problem with Duverger's law is that, if you go by this analysis, the natural constituency which Labour originally represented disintegrated during the 1980s and they're now running on fumes. The party no longer effectively represents the interests of their voters. Meanwhile, what that article doesn't point out is that the natural constituency whose votes the Conservatives ran on has also disintegrated. However the Conservative party has better lines of funding and is therefore learning to play the same motivate-the-base-through-FUD power chords that Karl Rove worked up in the 1990s and 2000s.

    Both parties are broken at a fundamental level. The Conservatives -- former party of stability, landowners, shopkeepers, and people who wanted to maintain the status quo -- now belongs to tax-exile rent-seeking lobbyists. The Labour party -- former party of class solidarity, blue-collar workers, and unions -- has been hit by the atomization of the working class (service sector jobs are far more unstable than old-style factory labour) and unions (thanks to Margaret Thatcher), and the increasing diversity of the interests it wants to represent. So they're both very visibly crumbling and voting for an upstart party isn't obviously a lost vote.

    Meanwhile, the new left/right coalition/parties for the 21st century haven't fully emerged.

    My guess is that over the next few elections Labour will haemorrhage support to (a) the Greens, (b) UKIP, (c) none of the above. Meanwhile, the Tory backbenches will grow increasingly unpredictable and uncontrollable in office, following the trend established by John Major's "bastards", with supporters haemorrhaging to UKIP on the right (as an external tea party). If the conservative party triangulates to the right, they'll lose support from the centre; if they don't move right, UKIP will cannibalize them. So the long term outcome will be a right wing party called either the Conservative Party or UKIP ... but the one thing it won't do is contain the former "one nation" conservatives, because they'll have defected to some centrist position or, more likely, gone extinct.

    Because the UK isn't one nation any more. It probably isn't even three or four of them. The English regions are diverging from London's economic trajectory at least as rapidly as Scotland.

    Thoughts?

    198:
    Much better to just roll out smart electricity meters with a security services back door so they can report on traffic over the internet, then roll out "power saving smart plugs"

    Don't power smoothers screw up power-line data transmission?

    199:

    "Because the UK isn't one nation any more. It probably isn't even
    three or four of them. The English regions are diverging from
    London's economic trajectory at least as rapidly as Scotland."

    They are diverging, but not as regions. Worse, many of them have
    been and are being taken over as 'second home' and absentee owner
    (landlord, employer and other) territory. Cornwall is perhaps the
    extreme example, and shows that this is not an accident, but
    semi-deliberate on behalf of Whitehall and London fat-cats
    (perhaps justified by the 'trickle down' claims). Phenomena like
    'gated communities' are on the increase in a great many places.
    This is reflected in the social differences, where it is common
    for a metropolitan area to have almost nothing in common with the
    hinterland of its region. The election reflected that.

    As usual, the first step in fixing that is to accept that it needs
    fixing, and I don't see much sign of that happening :-(

    200:

    That [statistical] Conservative victory in full

    Popular vote (Con, 2015): 11,334,920

    331 seats [36.9%]

    Popular vote (Con, 2010):10,703,654

    306 seats [36.1%]

    Increase of 637266 votes, [0.8% of votes counted]


    Votes per seat.

    DUP 23,032
    SNP 25,972
    Conservatives 34,244
    Labour 40,290
    Liberal Democrats 301,986
    Green 1,157,613 [Total number of votes cast nationally]
    UKIP 3,881,129 [Total number of votes cast nationally]

    With just an additional 4255 votes, the SNP would have won ALL the seats in Scotland.

    201:

    The direction that Labour and the Conservatives are going seems broadly similar to what happened in the US (though with some differences since the UK lacks a "Religious Right"). Prior to Nixon and his Southern Strategy, the Republicans were also a party of tradition and stability. And the Democrats were the party of labor (with internal conflict due to being both the party of minorities and of racist southerners still mad about the Civil War).

    Of course, it stops there because the US doesn't really have 3rd parties -- which is why the Tea Party conservatives are still Republicans, for example.

    As for the UK being separate countries, it seems from the outside that the long standing regional differences are coming to the forefront again. Scotland, Wales, and NI are obviously their own countries. But within England it looks like some of the old heptarchy divisions are still there.

    Northumbria is Labour, as is Essex (London). Mercia is more split but leaning Tory. Wessex, Sussex, East Anglia, and Kent are Tory along with the non-Saxon kingdom of Dumnonia

    202:

    Now that the election is over maybe it really is time to start to discuss what happens for the next 5 years. Not just about what potentially abusive policies the conservatives might pass, but also where the most political energy sits in the UK right now and if it moves or weather or not old established parties die off or not.

    Fortunatly right now one of those quesitons can be answered. The largest source of political energy right now? Definately not in westminister, it's in scotland and the SNP. But here's the question -- can the SNP and its energy move south, or are they always permanently confined to scotland? Would some sort of SNP "spin-off" party for england work?

    Prehaps - just maybe and it would be far too early to tell right now maybe one answer is a new party. I don't just mean a "relabelled party [incert old name here]" I mean something which starts off as some sort of political pressure group but then over time transforms into a political party. And with new ideas -- not just the old defunct ideas that it's only "private or public sector","this tax or that tax" or "it's 'free' markets or it's *really* 'free' makets".

    None of the political parties to my mind seem to be addressing any of the problems and issues which will be up and coming in this (21st) century - let alone problems and issues of today; the conservative party seemed to think in the (now finished) coalition and even now after their "win" (it isn't a win IHMO; I'm not seeing any massive deep-seated love-in for the tories) that it's actually still the 1980s. Where's the policies which reflect an understanding of increasing changes in computing technology for example? (I suspect most politicians have almost zero undersatanding of computers). Add to that all the other changes which politicians aren't talking about and don't even understand or even probably don't know about pretty much means one thing in my mind -- politics needs the perverbial boot up the bottom ASAP.

    Weather or not the energy from the SNP flows south and causes this to start to happen or weather or not it comes from elsewhere (take your pick: a pressure group evolves into a party; some sort of huge political scandal creating some sort of offshoot party; the internet maybe changing things allowing any completely new party to respond at speeds a magnitude above the existing parties, etc) as yet not currently known I have no idea. Right now, it is pretty much too hard to say anything - we're not even on the version 0.001 of all of this yet.

    However the years 2015-2020 do at least have the potentiality to be very intresting!

    203:

    " ... hit by the atomization of the working class (service sector jobs are far more unstable than old-style factory labour) and unions ... and the increasing diversity of the interests it wants to represent. So they're both very visibly crumbling and voting for an upstart party isn't obviously a lost vote."

    Would like to suggest that what you mean is what I refer to as the 'Contract Class'. Most K/IW (Knowledge/Information Workers) I know are finding it very difficult to find a permanent employment position. Contracts - either by project or short-term - are their only options. Because this is so common/widespread, I submit that this is the new 'labor reality'. Economic and social policy must reflect this ... Not sure what the U.K. employment/labor laws are, but appropriate recognition of 'contract employment' as the new reality would mean that regardless of the number of hours worked, whether you called someone a full-time, part-time, or contractor - the legal/financial obligation would be similar just pro-rated by that individual's wage. A lot of current political talk/policy is still based on the pre-millenium notion of a regular full-time 40hrs/wk day-job. This hasn't been true for at least 10 years based on personal experience. Ditto for life span (and age) of typical employees which also impacts social policy. (People are working/need to work past 65 therefore impacting costs and availability of various social programs/policies.)


    Someone up-thread mentioned that one of the politician's businesses is living off the corporate dole. Don't Brits ever post such info onto Wikipedia? Would make it much easier to do an analysis if all such info... with verifiable references... was available for all elected officials.

    204:

    I am coming to the opinion that what every sane blog needs is an active comment threat without politics, but knowing you lot somebody would start something.

    And we have a pretty decent set of regulars here, all things considered.

    At the end of the day, this election was decided by the media, radio and TV and newspapers, and the monied interests which control them. There's little hope of implementing any honest regulation now that it's clear that the government who does so can expect to lose the next election.

    The history of right-wing parties backed by the interests of bankers and industrialists is, ultimately, rather frightening.

    205:

    None of the political parties to my mind seem to be addressing any of the problems and issues which will be up and coming in this (21st) century - let alone problems and issues of today;

    Why would they? In politics, 5 years ahead is the distant long-run.

    Where's the policies which reflect an understanding of increasing changes in computing technology for example?

    What does that amount to?

    1. It's easier to put information together. But voters are no better at understanding it, so the practical effect is that it's easier to find a germ of truth for whatever rumors you want to spread. Big deal.

    2. The rumor networks are bigger and faster. And since people are less willing to believe the official media, they pay more attention to rumors even while they don't particularly trust those either. This is a quantitative change, probably not a game-changer. More effort at deniable rumors.

    This could matter to the media. I knew an American girl who traveled through eastern europe back in the USSR days. She was in a sort of pub in east germany (or maybe it was czechoslovakia, I don't remember) and there was a rack of newspapers on those bamboo things, and she went over to pick one up. Then she saw that everybody in the bar was looking at her. Everybody knew that the newspapers were shit and nobody touched them. Eventually that could happen here.

    3. Lots of little echo chambers. It might be possible to anonymously tailor messages for each of them, but will that get them to the polls?

    4. Maybe people turn conservative because there's just too much to think about. When my brain hurts I want to settle back and stop thinking.

    In the short run it's same-old/same-old with minor changes. If somebody finds some new approach that makes a big difference, everybody will copy them as best they can, and it will quickly turn into a new quasi-equilibrium.

    The new technology doesn't have a big effect, because politics is about getting people to acquiesce, or better to show support briefly every few years. And the public generally is as ignorant as the politicians.

    206:

    Regarding media coverage:

    Many moons ago, during the heyday of Eggdwina Currie and Spitting Image, what passed for a "local paper" — the Daily East Anglian — had a... specific political predisposition distinct from the London papers. (So did the pirate radio ships off the Norfolk coast, but that's for another time.)

    That leads to two questions:

    Do those papers still do so? Heck, since the 'net took over for Ceefax do they still exist (or, perhaps worse, all been gobbled up by London conglomerates or turned into advertising circulars)?

    More to the point, for the wide-circulation regional/local dailies, did they seem to have a better sense of the electorate than did the London echobox?

    207:

    I'm not sure I agree with your comment about there not really being regions emerging or per Andrew Gray's comment (currently #201) re-emerging (although I'm not sure the old Saxon Heptarchy is the right set of dividing lines although I don't think it's a terrible set).

    But from my last visit down there, I think Devon and even more Cornwall have a unique regional identity that is highlighted by the locals moving to the cities for a variety of reasons, the nuLocals being people escaping the rat race plus a mix of absentee landlords and like. Living in Yorkshire, while there is a move away from the countryside to some extent, there's a very distinct and very different regional identity. Move a bit further North to Co. Durham and Northumberland and Newcastle and the like and you get another one. And far less in the way of people escaping from London to the rural idyll.

    I wouldn't claim that Yorkshire has a single set of problems and solutions, it's big enough and diverse enough that would be silly. We have everything from post-industrial cities to (very small) financial and academic centres to widespread rural communities to what's left of several fishing communities. We have the remnants of the mining industry too. If you restore Hull we even have a once-thriving sea port. That's just in Yorkshire.

    Although I haven't lived there for over 3 decades, most of my childhood was spent in Wiltshire, between the rural economy, the MoD in one form or another and certainly where I lived next to no heavy industry that's a very different set of issues.

    I'm certainly not naive enough to believe if we had a regional government for Yorkshire, or for Yorkshire and the North-East (which would essentially double up on all of that) they'd wave a magic wand and solve them all. I wouldn't pretend to know what the issues for Wiltshire are any more but I'm sure it has them.

    I find I am naive enough to believe if we scrapped the HoL, had an elected supra-regional senate not dissimilar to the current HoC (although smaller) or some other model (PR for one), and then a federal UK with directly elected single chambers then the whole country might well be a damn sight better governed.

    To balance that sudden rush I don't think there's a hope in hell Callmedave will do anything that's anything like that. We'll have a snooper's charter, wave goodbye to our human rights, we'll have another top down reorganisation of the NHS "that we all love" that will *cough*accidentally*cough* privatise it even more. Not all the way yet but they'll carry on letting for-profit companies cherry pick the good bits and if we're unlucky enough to have another Tory government in 2020 they'll privatise the lot. And more and more power will be centralised to London and inequality will rise while, in the words of Alan Greenspan, we drive towards "the socialist ideal of no national debt" for some crazy ideological reason.

    There, I feel better now.

    208:

    What you guys should think about is decentralizing and devolving, as in the US or German systems - well, more the US system really, but you should have a look at the Germans, they have some good ideas.
    Let the various bits run things their way as much as possible. Let the social experiments run. Don't have everything run through London. Let every part run their NHS themselves (for instance), and fund it or organize it as they like. Even Scotland doesn't have the degree of independence of US states in most aspects.

    209:

    Sam Wang, on the polling errors: "A probable culprit is bad likely-voter modeling: turnout was 66% of the electorate, the highest since 1997."

    It's a good article; I recommend it, even though he seems to get some of the fine points of Scottish politics wrong.

    210:

    Just adding a belated note on the polling, re my opinion in #90.

    The pollsters are starting to suggest reasons as to why their predictions were off; here is fivethirtyeight's guess and here is the Guardian's summary.

    To some extent there's a lot of "we don't know yet", but the Guardian's summary says specifically that


    Based on the limited evidence available it is, however, relatively clear that it can’t simply be explained away with Ukip voters returning to the Tories.

    and


    The difference between Miliband’s party and the Conservatives is instead explained by a substantial number of previous Labour voters and supporters simply opting to vote for the Tories.

    If they're correct, and they know a lot more about polling than I, then that opinion in #90 is just flat wrong, and solely based on my naive optimism that that many people couldn't possibly be such fucking idiots.

    211:

    There's also the rural/urban divide which does make pure regionalism more complex. I just offer the old pre-England kingdoms as a possible basis for what the regions might be, roughly. Because it does seem like old boundaries have a way of popping back up.

    And looking at Europe as a whole, regionalism is on the rise after over a century of being suppressed in favor of more centralized nationalism.

    212:

    One side of my family came from Cornwall, I have lived there (very
    briefly) and I regularly visited relatives until the last close
    one died a decade or two back. I have been back quite a few times
    since. Cornwall is no longer primarily the land of the Cornish
    (in any real sense), and had and has as many differences from
    Devon as Devon does from Sussex.

    I believe that it is a mistake to think of the parties as having
    grass roots any longer. Old Labour and its supporters in the
    1960s was even more opposed to change than the Conservatives were
    then, and was almost as vicious as they are now. Few liberals
    (small 'l') regretted it when Thatcher broke it up. But she also
    broke the links with the old, aristocratic and fairly liberal,
    Conservatives - remember how the House of Lords stood up for civil
    rights when that Welsh windbag failed to? With Blair, most of
    the small 'l' liberals and a fair number of the old Labour
    socialists moved to the Liberal Democrats, but Clegg (with the
    best of intentions) destroyed that link.

    So I think that it was simply the Conservative FUD, as Haaretz
    said, plus the saturation coverage of monetarist propaganda from
    the newspapers and some television.

    In Scotland, people congregated around the SNP's banner, but I
    don't see anything on the horizon that would attract more than a
    few people south of the border. If the English Greens weren't
    such a woolly-minded bunch, perhaps.

    213:

    Except that London has always paid out more in taxes to the rest of the country than it gets back in investment.
    Still true, even with Crossrail.
    But, hey why let facts get in the way of a good old prejudice?
    However ....
    The EDL were loose down here a few hours back
    Good thing ... I got a large bucket of REALLY FRESH horse-manure for the "plots" ( from MetPodEquines of course)
    Bad thing ... the bloody pub was shut afterwartds, grrr ...

    Disagree re EU - it desperately needs reform, but ain't going to get it, as the corrupt gravy-train in the commission is too well-entrenched.
    I have now come to the conclusion that there isn't any single correct answer to that problem

    214:

    Actually you CAN buy tungsten-filament bulbs - they just have to be "ruggedised" for industrial use.
    I do, & will continue to do so, until (quite soon, I suspect) LED-"bulbs" are readily available for normal sockets & different colour temperatures.

    215:

    The English regions are diverging from London's economic trajectory at least as rapidly as Scotland.
    Are they?
    Manchester is powering-up again nicely, hence the Boy George's talk about a "Northern Powerhouse" - it is not entirely ( maybe only 75%) hot air.

    Thoughts?
    Lots of them - I do hope Cameron plays it craftu & gives Salmond/Sturgeon enough rope ( i.e. Openly given fiscal devolution) to enable tem to hang temsleves.
    While that's happening, especially of BoJo's directions are listened to, me just might get a federal United Isles.
    The alternatives are all unpleasant.

    216:

    There's not going to be any powerhouse if they go back to austerity, and they've given every indication they're going to do it.

    217:

    This past week I changed a number of incandescents out for 10W 820lm LED bulbs - £5 each from Tesco with a supposed life of 50,000 hours

    218:

    "Except that London has always paid out more in taxes to the
    rest of the country than it gets back in investment."

    In DIRECT investment, yes. Indirectly, even those of us in the
    rest of the south-east get really pissed off at the way that
    London gets the cream.

    219:

    And here we have Who came second in the UK election? from Kieran Healy. The map is definitely worth a look.

    It’s eye-opening, I think. The UK’s First-Past-the-Post election system means—to those of us raised on PR-STV—that there’s a fairly substantial discrepancy between vote share and seats. A consequence is that the electoral base of smaller parties, as opposed to their effective political strength, is easy to underestimate just from a winner’s map. In many constituencies, of course, the race was straightforwardly between the two largest parties. It’s Tories vs Labour, with one winning and the other coming in second. But that’s by no means the only story. In the Runners-Up map, Scotland looks more varied than before, and you can see the memory of Lloyd George in Wales. Meanwhile the South coast, Thames Estuary, and the East of England are also quite striking, as a sea of Tory blue gives way to Lib-Dems and UKIP support.

    220:

    I am more than ever convinced of the need for electoral and media reform in both the USA and the UK.

    221:

    "I mean something which starts off as some sort of political pressure group but then over time transforms into a political party."

    Have you not just described UKIP?

    222:

    UKIP was founded in 1993.

    Green Party: formed to replace the Ecology party in 1985, split in three in 1990 (the Scottish Green Party is not the same as the Green Party of England and Wales or the Green Party of Northern Ireland).

    Scottish National Party: founded 1934, but aside from a brief false dawn in 1945 it first achieved persistent parliamentary representation in 1967. Was pretty much rebuilt from the ground up in the late 1980s/1990s by Alex Salmond -- the previous incarnation were not known as the "Tartan Tories" for nothing, but by the late 90s it was a mainstream European social democratic party (with added Scottish nationalist focus).

    Here's the thing: political parties with a real chance at developing a base take decades to cultivate. It took from the early 1880s to roughly 1907 for the Labour Party to develop traction, and another couple of decades to form a government.

    Meanwhile, it's possible for a sufficiently whipped parliamentary party with a given ideology and no opposition to overturn the established order in 1-2 parliamentary terms of 5 years each. It's almost enough to make me envy the current US federal gridlock ...

    223:

    "Meanwhile, it's possible for a sufficiently whipped parliamentary party with a given ideology and no opposition to overturn the established order in 1-2 parliamentary terms of 5 years each."

    Which was why Blair was such a total disappointment

    224:

    And why Cameron 2015-20 will not be a disappointment to his core constituency.

    Who of course are not the folks who voted for him.

    225:

    We can live in hope he IS a disappointment to his core electorate though.

    And although I'm not the world's biggest Alex Salmond fan, we can hope his tea-leaf reading skills are still sharp when he says the majority will fall apart in 2-3 years.

    226:

    Sorry, rubbish
    This is some of the kool-aid that Thatcher always peddled.
    She hated London - bcause it was & still is, predominantly either left-wing old-fashioned (Harold Macmillan) "One-Nation tory or solid Labour.

    London was deliberately starved of investment ESPECIALLY in transport for nearly 30 years.
    Now we are desperately trying to play catch-up.
    Contrast the transport systems of Berlin, Paris & London ....
    I rest my case.

    227:

    Your model's broken in two ways. First, the European Parliament is elected by PR, and that nurtures smaller parties; UKIP got their foothold there (currently 24 MEPs) and the Greens, too, are growing at European level (more MEPs than the LibDems).

    Second, I had seven votes on Thursday: three for town councillors, three for county councillors, and one for a member of parliament. That allowed me to mix tactical voting with "encouragement" for the parties I really wanted to vote for. The more votes a party gets the more likely I am to vote for them next time. And if a party can run a council successfully then that encourages voters to back their MP. That's how the LibDems got a foothold. UKIP have just won Thanet council so if they can run that successfully then they will increase their chance of getting an MP there. And, similarly, the Greens gains in Bristol will help them towards that seat.

    I voted for PR, but it would have resulted in a parliament full of "untested" Kippers. Making UKIP and the Greens run councils forces them to prove they have a mature party system with proper vetting.

    I'm now tempted to argue that serving a term as county councillor should be a requirement for every MP. But I haven't thought that through and it's probably full of holes. (Not least, people be elected uncontested.)

    228:

    DevoManc: like it

    Just an idea: England is already divided up into 9 central government regions (e.g. West Midlands), each with a population of just over 5 million (same as Scotland). These regions already have a government office that shadows main functions (home office, dwp &c). In my parallel fantasy universe, a quick and unscientific mapping of results from constituencies to regions would give us 4 with Labour regional administrations and 5 with Conservative administrations. The Westminster Federal Government would retain foreign relations, defence, macro-economics &c. Tax raising at regional level, top slice to central. Boot on other foot.

    Back to reality: Strange the triumphalism from the Conservatives about a majority a bit worse than John Major's 1992 result. Those of us who are a little bit left of centre/liberal in sentiment need to understand the why really. I might find some not-committed tory party members who voted Tory somewhere like Oxford to find out what their thoughts were.

    Final thought: Only two things left to sell, NHS and education. What happens in the Tory admin after this?

    229:

    Charlie & Dirk & El 223-5
    I do hope you are all wrong.
    Cameron has the possibility of saving the Union & strengthening it, by going for devolution for all - which is how he is TALKING at the moment.
    What that translates into in reality is a n other thing, of course.
    I venture to disagree about the SNP being anything even vaguely resembling a Social Democratic Party, for reasons given previously.
    [ Hint: About 5 weeks back an SNP supporter was in one of my "locals" - slagging off the Londoners in particular & the "English" in general - in London ... & stating that we were going to have to finally pay up for the poor, cheated Scots - he was almost a caricature of the people shown up in the torygraph - but he really meant it. ]

    Which reminds me, to lament, again, the best Prime Minister we never had:
    Roy Jenkins of the SDP.

    230:

    “That leads to two questions:

    Do those papers still do so? Heck, since the 'net took over for Ceefax do they still exist (or, perhaps worse, all been gobbled up by London conglomerates or turned into advertising circulars)? "

    I can’t speak for the whole of the U.Ks local news ' paper ' coverage but from what I hear new electronic media communications has made it possible for hard copy to be centralised in printing plants and 'Journalists ' to operate from home as stringers for quite a large geographic area so that a 'Local' paper might still exist as a title but the actuality looks rather like this example...


    http://www.sunderlandecho.com/history-nostalgia/sunderland-echo-moves-to-new-21st-century-home-in-wearside-1-7213385

    Note that the previous move was from a printing shop and editorial office that actually overlooked Warmouth Bridge to a plant that was based in an industrial estate at the edge of the city.

    Modern local UK newspapers aren’t really based in any given locality and owe their allegiance only to their corporate owners rather than to their Town/City base.

    Corporate owners could use those nominally ‘local ‘ papers to put out any ' independent' local message they might wish to transmit to the proletariats and everywhere that message might appear it would appear to be 'Local'

    231:

    From Nick Cohen in the "Grauniad"
    Part of "Why Labour lost"
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    .....The universities, left press, and the arts characterise the English middle-class as Mail-reading misers, who are sexist, racist and homophobic to boot. Meanwhile, they characterise the white working class as lardy Sun-reading slobs, who are, since you asked, also sexist, racist and homophobic. The national history is reduced to one long imperial crime, and the notion that the English are not such a bad bunch with many strong radical traditions worth preserving is rejected as risibly complacent. So tainted and untrustworthy are they that they must be told what they can say and how they should behave.

    What truth there is in the caricature is lost amid the accompanying hypocrisy. The intellectual left deplores racism but uses “white” as an insult. It lambasts the sexism of the right, but stays silent as Labour candidates run meetings where Muslim women’s inferiority is confirmed by stewards who usher them into segregated seating .
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Yeah.
    Spot on.
    Of course, there are some Labour MP's who are not like that ( mine for one) but she is not that party, nor its leadership.

    232:

    London's transport starved of investment. You need to get out into the rest of the country a bit more.
    In the 1980s buses were deregulated and I remember clearly the chaos of the first day of deregulation in Greater Manchester. All the services had been cut and there were huge queues everywhere. A woman just in front of me pushed her child in a pushchair onto the bus and the door closed leaving the child inside and her outside as the bus drove off. She had to run to the next stop to retrieve it. Bus travel in the evening was much more difficult because of service cuts. Noting after this I moved to Leeds and saw the same chaos all over again. Thatcher never dared to force deregulation in London leaving you with an efficient bus service which was never disrupted.
    I could also mention the channel tunnel, HS1, Heathrow Terminal 5 and continuing investment in the tube which is one of the most efficient transport systems in the World.
    Local government in all metropolitan areas was affected just as much as London's. Londoners are so parochial. Be thankful for what you have.

    233:

    Many Londoners think the grade of caviar served up by their public services is not up to scratch and therefore believe that anyone from outside the M25 has no basis to complain about their own services as they obviously have been getting more than their fair share of the good stuff. Planet Earth to Greg: The rest of Britain doesn't get cod roe, never mind caviar even of the lowest grade.

    When you're looking back at investment-starved London, don't forget the Jubilee line, Crossrail and other infrastructure like the London Ring Main for water supplies, the Thames barrier etc. most of which were started or completed during the reign of the Grantham grocer's daughter.

    234:

    There are a few other bits and pieces left to sell. The remaining bits of RBS and Lloyds, which were always intended to me temporary part-nationalisations. There's also the Forestry Commission.

    The FC includes both recreational environmental and purely commercial activities. A limit on the proportion of FC land that can be sold each year means it is all treated as a single bloc even though it includes quite a bit of recreational and historic properties that would never be sold. The most effective method might be to separate the commercial and non commercial activities into separate organisations. And then sell off the commercial part.

    235:

    Two picky points and a pointless observation, with the points first:
    1 - It's probably not worth mentioning T5 as an indication of money being lavished on the capital, as I'm reasonably certain that it was privately funded. Ferrovial probably would have stopped it happening if they could - I do see they're hinting at the need for public funds for the third runway at HAL.

    2 - Having worked on a few smart metering programmes, I can assure you that it's enough of a hassle getting meter manufacturers making something that works and meets basics specs, never mind communicating back to David's Capita-sourced terrorism dashboard.

    And for the anecdote, I don't know how common this is, but my MP had a seeming insurmountable lead as a LibDem in the last election, so much so that I almost didn't bother voting for him. As it happens I did, but Vince Cable wasn't saved by my vote after 12,000 or so voters flipped from Lib Dem to Conservative. I haven't quite wrapped my head around how that happened yet. Did a lot of the Lib Dem seats go to Con? I would have assumed they'd switch to Labour, but apparently not.

    236:

    Yes - agree 100%.
    Right up to the last minute - literally inside the voting booth, I did not know whether I was going to vote Labour (for the first time). Then I thought of Blair and the usual condescension of the sneering Grauniad lefties when it comes to people who are stupid enough to "vote the wrong way". And voted LibDem across the board. I live in a Lab/Con marginal (Bedford).

    237:

    It's interesting to note that one of the reasons being given for getting the poll so wrong was that "fewer people have landlines".

    I would have thought they would have moved on from landline calls by now. Surely an app with some incentives to respond should be part of the mix by now?

    I know my landline is currently on blocked for anyone I don't already know - the spam is just too high.

    238:

    Speaking only for the US, my phone is in a different area code than where I live. AFAIK, the excuse for not using cell phones is that they may not provide an accurate geographic sample. With a landline, at least you know where someone is when they pick up the phone.

    I don't think this is a good excuse for not using cell phones, and I've certainly been hit by cell phone pollsters who know where I live. Still, that may be the excuse for why polling mistakes can be blamed on landlines.

    239:

    "My guess is that over the next few elections Labour will haemorrhage support to (a) the Greens, (b) UKIP, (c) none of the above."

    What about young talent? Will they also haemorrhage that?

    I mean, would a bright enthusiastic young person with an interest in politics find themselves in joining Labour, the Greens or UKIP?

    Here in my country (far, far away), part of what's killing our Labour Party is that any such young idealistic left-wing person is almost certainly a member of the Green Party, and that this has now been true for about 20 years, since our equivalent of the "Blair-ite" turn took true effect. It takes a long time for that to kill a party. But it most certainly will kill it.

    240:

    Looking at the potential Labour candidates for leader - what a bunch of sub miliband no-hopers. Do they really have no better options than that?

    If nothing else, it demonstrates that talent doesn't get drawn into politics.

    And far too many lawyers and economics majors.

    241:

    "Did a lot of the Lib Dem seats go to Con? I would have assumed they'd switch to Labour, but apparently not."

    12 went Labour
    26 went Conservative

    242:

    London's transport starved of investment. You need to get out into the rest of the country a bit more.

    - Or how to totally misread something I said.
    I made NO COMMENT AT ALL about the level of investment in non-London transport, did I?
    I am quite aware of the disaster of bus deregulation & the vile "pacer" trains, thank you very much.
    Granmother / Eggs / Suck

    Nojay @ 233
    You too.
    Stop whining & blaming London & the Londoners.

    The under-investment is general - it's just that it shows more in London, where the loadings are such that undercapacity results in things breaking.
    The projects you list were in spite of the madwoman & her friends, not because ... would you believe they had their arms twisted?

    For an illuminating saga (warning LONG) I suggest you read the blog-article & extensive correspondence in "London Reconnections" on the attempt by the corrupt road-lobby to close Marylebone (There's a lot on Settle-Carlislse in there too.
    Here you go:
    http://www.londonreconnections.com/2014/near-terminal-case-saving-marylebone-rail-road-conversion/
    Enjoy.

    243:

    Charlie you said "My guess is that over the next few elections...Thoughts?"

    I know you don't like to be called "Mr Singularity Guy" but "next few", that sounds like 3-5 election cycles. That's 15-25 years.

    Jeremy Howard says that in many fields machine learning systems are already beating humans in traditionally human dominated work such as Listening, Talking, Reading, Seeing and Writing.

    He's saying that the systems are getting about 1000 times faster and about 10 times more accurate every year. If they're beating humans in the lab now, what will they be like in 15 years? There's some good work being done on automating creativity so upper management isn't safe from automation.

    If you thought Scottish independence was a social change that was hard to see past I think that the coming 99.9% unemployment situation is going to be even harder. (Can anyone think of a profession that won't be swamped by robots that are a million times smarter than humans? I thought of "sex worker" but then thought about RealDoll and wasn't so sure) I don't see any current political parties anywhere in the world planning for that future. How that will shake out in a few elections time is probably impossible (for humans) to predict.

    244:

    "Then I thought of Blair and the usual condescension of the sneering Grauniad lefties when it comes to people who are stupid enough to 'vote the wrong way.'"

    Less than the condescension of the the Tories who are treating almost everyone in the UK like dirt beneath their feet? I don't get it.

    I know a "my party has left me" conservative in the USA, a moderately prominent blogger, who once wrote about how good it felt to vote for Reagan. I asked him, given all the awful things that that administration had done, if the lift he'd gotten from voting for Reagan was worth it. He didn't answer.

    I still don't get it.

    245:

    Thank you Greg for making my point for me. Yes, there is never enough investment in infrastructure in the UK but what there is goes disproportionately to London and Londoners whine because it's not enough for them and take umbrage when non-Londoners turn up with their empty bowl and ask "Please sir can I have some more?"

    Plans are already being laid for funding and building Crossrail 2 and you've not even finished spending the fifteen billion or so for the first Crossrail. Birmingham could really use a Crossrail-style underground to get folks in and out of the city centre more expeditiously but moving Hooray Henries from Surrey to the City on their daily commute will get funding priority because, well, London is *special*.

    Another example, the M25 has had bilions spent on it to construct and then upgrade it while the A1 in Scotland is still two-lane in places and dotted with pedestrian crossings, and that's the road that connects two capital cities with heavy lorries doing forty uphill with a tailback of cars and other vehicles stretching back a mile or more because there's no safe place to overtake (the accident rate is horrendous, of course).

    Londoners like you will ever whine that they're not getting enough of the good caviar while we outside the gilded palaces of the Metropolis wonder what this "caviar" stuff is because we never seem to see it, good or bad.

    246:

    "And why Cameron 2015-20 will not be a disappointment to his core
    constituency. Who of course are not the folks who voted for him."

    God help us, yes :-( When I go into tinfoil hat mode, I suspect
    that the way that education (as distinct from teaching skills) has
    been so discouraged, and the way that the media has been pushed
    into the hands of counter-Reithianists, is actually a conspiracy
    to dumb down the electorate. However, in more rational modes, the
    English language lacks a word for a tacit arrangement, rather
    than an overt one, as so wonderfully clarified in Watergate.

    As a loosely related note, one of the talking heads on the Papers
    section of the news last night was saying that Labour needed to
    move back into the middle ground, with the implication was that
    Ed Miliband was way out on the left. That's telling the inner
    cities and Scotland what's what!

    247:

    Here's a point to ponder; who's going to have more impact on the coming 5 years - the SNP (56 seats) or UKIP (1 seat)?

    248:

    You wrote

    - Or how to totally misread something I said.
    I made NO COMMENT AT ALL about the level of investment in non-London transport, did I?
    I am quite aware of the disaster of bus deregulation & the vile "pacer" trains, thank you very much.
    Since your original reply to Elderly Cynic was an answer to a complaint about London getting the cream the level of investment in non-London transport in implicit in your post.

    249:

    > We know for a fact that the US
    > Postal Service photographs and
    > OCRs the addresses/labels/exterior
    > of every item that travels through
    > their network

    ...and have since the late 1970s. The USPS was the financial backer of much OCR development. They fed a ton of money into college grants for software development as well as buying from contractors.

    The data logging is much newer, but that's how they get the tracking information if you choose to pay for it.

    The USPS is quite proud of their system and issued press releases and even a short film or two during its development. They'll go to any lengths for secrecy...

    250:

    My feeling is that the voting public as a whole (which isn't us here, nor even the bulk of people who communicate political stuff on social media) wanted competence in running the country - in particular the economy - above everything else. The Conservative Party claimed to offer this and no-one managed to undermine the claims, dodgy though they may be in places.

    Labour have manifestly failed to set out any sort of compelling view of what they should do, constantly seeming to be offering a sort of Tory-light austerity with little idea of how it would be radically different.

    For most people the current round of austerity hasn't really hurt, so they've gone for more of the above.

    Of course, one reason it hasn't hurt is that it's not been proper austerity. I've seen it claimed that when you look at the figures what the Conservatives actually did is pretty well what Labour offered at the last election. An example of how Labour have failed is that this time round the Conservatives are claiming that they will fund things by the growth in the economy - which is exactly what Labour claimed last time and were ridiculed for. I've not once heard Labour challenging that claim.

    So given this failure by Labour, and with no-one really believing UKIP or the (English) Greens could run the country they voted for the most competent party they could find. In England that was the Tories and in Scotland the SNP.

    Ultimately, I think the "Ha, ha, there's no money" note did a lot to lose Labour this election, and Labour's failure to shift the narrative from the Conservative line on the economy cemented it

    251:

    The point about Scotland is educational. On second thought North vs. South should better be seen as Core vs. Periphery. And Scotland is not (yet) an independent country. The factor of weakening London by strengthening Brussels may be in play here.

    But I think the core issue still stands. England is undergoing the same process core Europe is undergoing. A nationalist party of the right is rising. The gains of the Conservatives are minor. The large gains made this time were made by UKIP and adding up them, the Conservatives and small unionist parties you end up with over 50% of the popular vote.

    I would still say that the Scottish result must be explained by internal politics of the UK, but the English result maps with what you see in France, the Netherlands or Denmark. That suggests that it is happening due to a common reason.

    And as on the Periphery we see a nationalist left developing, I must conclude that the coming large trend in Europe is nationalism and the Tories are exceptional only by taking up some the momentum. I don't wish to comment on these policies being right or wrong. But you win elections this way. Labour lost in large part due to competition by UKIP and being against a referendum on EU membership.

    252:

    Cell/mobile phones are a sampling headache ... apart from not necessarily 'belonging' to any one geographic area, some are throw-aways therefore their inclusion could skew results, some people have more than one mobile phone/number, some people use their work mobiles as their personal phones, etc. At present, there is no one universal modality for getting at a representative unduplicated general population sample.

    Same applies for other electronic devices/modalities ...

    253:

    Of course there isn't enough money for transportation, there isn't as much money as needed for *anything*.

    OK, London has about 13% of the British population (8.3 million out of 64 million) so at first sight it would deserve 13% of the transportation budget.

    And that money can do so much more concentrated in a small area! Isn't that the fundamental point of cities? For what it would cost to build a single 4-lane road from the south to the north of Britain, you could put a thousand miles of four lane roads inside London.

    And for hospitals and fire services etc, it's cheaper to move the people close to the services than to provide services to people who're spread out.

    Doesn't it make sense to move people to London from other cities, as long as the water holds out? Keep people in other places as long as there's an economic necessity for them to be there, otherwise penalise them for it until they leave.

    The better services you provide in London compared to elsewhere, the more people will move there and the more votes there will be to provide better services. It all works out.

    254:

    You do of course have some workings to back up your statments? Maybe some figures about how much it costs to build roads and the different cost factors involved?
    Or are you being sarcastic?

    255:

    "So given this failure by Labour, and with no-one really believing UKIP or the (English) Greens could run the country they voted for the most competent party they could find. "

    Except both Greens and UKIP increased their share of the vote.
    UKIP quadrupled their share from 2010 and the Greens did about the same

    256:

    In addition, in an appreciable number of seats, both Labour and Tory, UKIP came second.

    I' re lost the link now, but there's a map of the constituencies by who came second out there. It's no guarantee of course (I suspect UKIP will curl up because it's a personal charisma thing) but their 2020 plan could be in good shape based on that map. History really suggests the Tories will fall back next time, as will the SNP. Labour are likely to do better unless they're disintegrating terminally, but if if UKIP are still a force they could do well, certainly in the Tory-UKIP battleground seats.

    257:

    An overly simplistic explanation of the result:
    1) The Scots don't like being told what to do by Westminster so decide to vote SNP as soon as it looks like a credible thing to do.

    2)The SNP, either by stupidity or arrogance or by cunning plan, decide to loudly tell Westminster what to do and that they will hold them to ransom and that under no circumstances will they work with those evil Tories etc.

    3) The English don't like being told what to do by the SNP and don't think Millibar is strong enough or is too weird to hold the SNP off so react by voteing Tory (voteing LibDem is not going to help either).

    258:

    The Greens are slowly eating Labour's lunch

    259:

    Grimsby was "interesting".

    The old MP. Austin Mitchell, was retiring. He's old-style Labour, and won last time with a very small majority, at the level where whoever won the overall election would be very likely to win.

    Melanie Onn, the Labour candidate, won with an increased majority. The UKIP candidate came third, after a campaign filled with claims of certain victory. Some of the things their candidate, and visiting big-shot campaigners, said about local issues and industries were obviously wrong.

    It's likely that the UKIP vote spoiled the chance of a Conservative win.

    260:

    "My feeling is that the voting public as a whole […] wanted competence in running the country - in particular the economy - above everything else"

    That's what the Republicans keep promising in the USA. What they have delivered so far is a financial disaster, a depression, and a pointless war. Seriously, doesn't anyone keep track?

    261:

    That's my personal experience but it's hard to be sure. And it's also very slow if generally true.

    262:


    Arch Tory Journalist Janet Daley had an interesting piece in the ToryGraph that I will link, not just for the Right Wing perspective, but also for a rather neat map that looks like the tile map that the BBC used on results night. The Map flicks between two views of the constituencies and gives a better impression of the balance of party political power North/South than most conventional maps manage to achieve.

    You don’t have to read the article if you don’t want to, just scroll down to the map which might be helpful to those of you from, say, the US of A who find it hard to visualise UK constituencies. Note the North Eastern section of the map.

    But here’s Daley ..Followed by the err, strangely trenchant - I'm trying to be polite here - and overwhelmingly Barking Mad - damn that didn't last long did it? - Right wing comment response to the piece.

    " I took the kind of punt that professional commentators are not supposed to risk last week. In the face of overwhelming polling data which was even endorsed by the judgment of the American statistical sage Nate Silver, and the virtual unanimity of my brother pundits, I forecast that the electorate would defy all predictions and vote decisively for the Conservatives.

    Based on nothing but the conceit of my own intuition, I ventured that so many people would be enraged and alarmed by the absurdity of the Labour leadership combined with the effrontery of the SNP which threatened to impose its will (“lock David Cameron out of Downing Street”, etc) on the vast population which had no say in its election, that they would turn out in force to register their resistance. "

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11594760/The-Tories-won-the-general-election-my-faith-in-the-British-people-was-entirely-justified.html

    263:

    Well, for the equivalent lighting to a 60W incandescent you need a 13W CFL or a 6W led. Ten times less electricity used is not negligible.

    As for the electronics... most of them are made in China, remember?

    OG.

    264:

    Or are you being sarcastic?

    Not completely. It's true that when you cut down transportation costs by putting things closer together, you can do things cheaper. Up to a point.

    It's true that bigger cities tend to suck people and business away from nearby smaller cities -- up to a point.

    Bigger cities get the votes to help them vote themselves more goodies -- up to a point.

    It's all true part of the time, but it's less than half the story.

    265:

    "...a thousand miles of four lane roads inside London."

    That is with land in London selling at around a minimum of £10 million per hectare (and I am being conservative here). So 1km of new London road would cost around £50m. That makes the cost of 1000 miles of new road in London at least £100 billion in round numbers. Whereas Scottish farmland is around £100k per hectare last time I looked. That 1000 miles of road comes in 100x cheaper

    266:

    You could call it Mega City One.

    I'm currently *sitting* in a version of Mega City One, a single metropolis with the same population as California. It gets infrastructure investment, boy howdy does it, but the big-spending projects in the past, now and into the future are aimed at transport links between Mega City One and its satellite communities. Next up, a 500 km/h plus maglev costing up to $100 billion, because steel-wheels-on-steel-rail shinkansens just aren't fast enough.

    Part of the reason for this effort is to make Tokyo a LESS attractive place to live, not something the London-centric investment efforts by the British government is going to do.

    267:

    Shanghai in 20-30 years' time will be interesting to see with its vertical high-density urban planning, very extensive public transit systems. Mostly interested in how it will compare with NYC. Recall my last NYC trip - driving between airports and seeing the urban hellholes, i.e., formerly blocks of high-density dwellings, long since abandoned. Or has there been some effort/success at inner-city urban renewal there in the past 5-10 years?


    268:

    Found the flip side to increased high-density urban planning ... excerpt is from an article published in The Guardian.

    "The result of these factors, in combination with population growth, is that in many cities the strain on both infrastructure (housing, water, sewerage, transport, electricity supply) and the quality of life (community, security, open spaces, air quality) is becoming unbearable. The New South Wales government in Australia – which has announced a $7000 incentive for residents to move out of Sydney – is not the first to pay residents to leave a city. At the beginning of the 20th century, for example, the Japanese government, perceiving the nation to be overcrowded, paid people in both Tokyo and the countryside to emigrate to Brazil. In the 1980s Suharto's government in Indonesia, with the help of the World Bank, both forced and subsidised a massive emigration from Jakarta to the outer islands. But it could be a sign of mass movements to come."

    Never would have thought any part of Australia was high-density. Boggles the mind!

    269:

    Sounds like you might have driven by some of the old housing projects in Queens or Brooklyn. Prospect Plaza Houses, possibly -- it was abandoned about 10 years ago and they finished tearing them down last year. I think the plan is to replace them with townhouses and smaller mixed use buildings rather than isolated residential tower blocks.

    270:

    Greg
    I'll see your Marylebone link and play Picc-Vic:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picc-Vic_tunnel

    Cancelled by the Heath government after 10 years work with construction actually started.


    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/the-northerner/2012/mar/14/manchester-localgovernment-underground-trains-picc-vic-secret-telephone-exchange

    Had this been for London the outcome would have been different.

    271:

    Antonia, there was pretty much no chance of the Tories getting elected in Grimsby (I live next door in Cleethorpes). Grimsby is a staunch Labour area (as you would expect from such an impoverished town with many social difficulties) and I can't imagine any way that they would the Conservatives would win here.

    I did fear that UKIP might make inroads here though immigration isn't much of an issue in the area, but it did help that their candidate, Victoria Ayling, was a shrill, right-wing nutjob (to be polite!) parachuted in from elsewhere. Thankfully, she got what she deserved.

    Mitchell has been a shocking MP for the past couple of parliaments, more interested in his own profile so it is no surprise that his majority has fallen. Mitchell's pre-election comments (disparaging articles in such newspapers as the Daily Mail and Times) seemed to be aimed at scuppering the Labour candidate, if anything! Thankfully, from what I've heard, Melanie Onn is genuine, hardworking, local to the area and a very good candidate, hence her success.

    As an aside, I was doorstepped by my local Labour candidate here in Cleethorpes the other month. We had a very good discussion - like me he was almost incredulous that the two Eds hadn't even attempted to rebut the Conservative/LibDem nonsense mythology that the recession was somehow caused by excessive Labour spending or that the (weak) recovery was anything but a complete success and a vindication of the coalition policies. Seemed like a decent bloke but unfortunately, he got nowhere near the incumbent Tory MP (who is also a decent bloke, it must be said).

    If a prospective MP standing in what was considered a possible marginal has no idea what the leadership of the party are playing at, you can see how the electorate might struggle as well.

    272:

    Just a quick note about the Financial Times endorsement of the Conservative Party.

    It was reportedly written by chief editorial writer Jonathan Ford. If you want to see what he looks like, check out the famous photograph of Cameron and Boris Johnson in their Bullingdon club DJs. Ford is the one standing next to Johnson.

    That's how the establishment works, apparently.

    273:

    (I live next door in Cleethorpes)

    So do I, and for once I genuinely regret not living in Grimsby, as in Melanie Onn it has a fantastic MP, much improved on the previous incumbent. I only hope the job does not grind her down.

    Though as Conservatives go Martin Vickers is pretty good. We managed to have a civil conversation even though I told him I had never voted Tory, and certainly wasn't going to start now!

    274:

    El@40 "Autocorrect insists he should be Clog btw."

    That's because "Clog" is the past tense of "Clegg".

    Charlie@190 TRX@249 US Postal Service scanning and OCRing everything
    The USPS can only carry the amount of mail they do because of heavy use of image-processing and bar-code technology; saving copies and metadata of the images they're already processing is unfortunately a trivially easy extension, especially as storage has gotten cheap.

    Back in the early 1990s I worked on a bid for a research project to do neural-network-chip reading of hand-written images - almost all mail used printed images which could already be OCR'd by conventional chip technology (death of Motorola 88000 considered annoying...), though most of the processing already used bar codes, and we were mainly trying to extract ZIP codes or city/state. Unlike most technology bids I'd worked on, where sales people who barely understood the technology were writing descriptions they hoped were correct about the complicated tech stuff I'd helped work on, on that project, I was the person who barely understood the technology writing bad science fiction about how the cool stuff Research was doing would work Really Well for them and they should give us a grant to develop more of it :-)

    275:

    UKIP is essentially the same sort of party as the FN in France, and several others, and it's a result of the same phenomenon; the refusal of the political class to listen to or bid for the votes of a large chunk of the electorate. Basically traditionalists and nationalists.

    Essentially, an attempt to ignore them to death by using the bien-pensant consensus to declare them non-salonfahig. Or to put it less charitably, as evil wild beasts who have to be kept down.

    Now we're seeing a 'return of the repressed', full of deadly anger.

    The right-wing parties have an excellent chance of eating the center-right out of existence, bit by bit, because they're willing to say things that the 'respectable' are not, even for political survival's sake.

    Or even if, driven to desperation, someone like Sarkozy or Cameron starts making the right noises, the intended targets know they don't really mean it -- it's mere rhetoric designed to lull them back to sleep.

    The crucial thing will be the tipping point where people in the Conservatives or the UMP or their various equivalents who basically like what Farage or Le Pen are saying think they can actually win -- in which case they'll stop supporting the center-right in order to keep the center-left out, a feedback cycle that would end with the right taking power on its own terms.

    At that point the guardians of respectability would be well advised to run far and fast.

    276:

    Sydney's not really high density (at least not in the New York/Tokyo/London/Deli sense) but the infrastructure planning has been atrocious and most of our immigrants understandably want to settle in the nice big cities with all the services and infrastructure rather than going rural. The problems are mainly in policy and planning rather than any physical limits - eg water supply looks bad every time there's a drought in NSW but the dams were all built years ago and everything that land on Sydney itself is allowed to run straight back out to sea.

    277:

    SFReader, this had to have been more than 15 years ago. Most of the abandoned areas in the outer boroughs had been rebuilt by the late 1990s; there are no more widespread abandoned zones within the city. When were you there?

    Ah, Brooklyn, back when it seemed half the buildings on Fifth Avenue were gutted and Bushwick looked like the Luftwaffe had just finished with it. This new place, well there's a reason I lie to casual strangers and say I'm from New Jersey.

    Anyway, SFReader, success in New York is now complete. The city now faces a severe lack of developable land in the face of idiotic zoning constraints, not terribly unlike London. Although you can still buy reasonably priced homes in the Bronx, parts of Hudson County, and Queens and Brooklyn beyond the subway. For now, at least.

    Andrew Gray: even when they were temporarily abandoned, the Prospect Plaza Houses presented few striking signs of being abandoned to anyone passing by --- they're like what, three or four buildings? --- and why would anyone driving between the airports wind up around there anyway?

    278:

    Completely totally flat wrong
    And filled with hatred & spite against London & its inhabitants.
    Your comments about moving Hooray Henries from Surrey to the City show just how totally out of touch you are - does this mean that the over half a MILLION people who commute to their various jobs by train every day are "hooray Henries" - no, of course it doesn't.
    Now, I'd be obliged if you would stop this, & please switch brain to ON?

    As someone has pointed out - London has twice as many people (at least) as the whole of Scotland [ "London" here being defined as "inside the M25" ]

    Ley me remind you that I follow transport in general & rail in particular, quite closely.

    HS2 will benefit noi just Brum, but Manchester & Leeds etc ... in fact I think they should start at the "top" end, rather than the bottom, but that's another story.

    279:

    Spot on
    Labour threw the election away, rather than the tories "winning" it ...
    Let's face it, a tax rate of over 45% just encourages cheating [ I can quote you examples ] & I repeat that Milibean's "stone" probably didn't help, either.
    Though I'm glad I won't be working under the tories new restrictive employment laws, assuming they get them past the Lords, & we'll all suffer from TTIP, I suspect.

    280:

    No
    J Thomas is correct
    It's what I've been implying & Nojay refuses to accept as fact, even though it is.

    There are contervailing disavantages - some new construction will be more expensive because of space constraints ( In all 3 dimansions in the case of Crossrail, etc ).
    But, if properly planned (as Crossrail has been) you gey more bang for your buck, anyway, so it all works out

    281:

    Oh dear
    You obviously don't know that I spent 3 years in Manchester 1964-7
    I am all too aware of PIcc-Vic.
    Incidentally, not just the Heath guvmin't fault.
    The various local authorities stopped singing from the same hymn-sheet & started arguing abouit details IIRC & that sunk it without trace.
    Look, Crossrail was proposed in about 1982 (ish) (Unless you count Gerry Feinnes "Four-track the Central Line" of 1963 ......
    It took from then until 2007/8 to get approval, over "the dead body" of Sir Nicholas Macpherson, very senior Tresaury bastard official.

    282:

    "Completely totally flat wrong
    And filled with hatred & spite against London & its inhabitants.
    ... HS2 will benefit noi just Brum, but Manchester & Leeds etc ..."

    Thesis: It is a disgrace that the very rich pay less tax than those
    on median incomes, and that many multinational corporations and
    property holders pay essentially no tax.

    Antithesis: That is completely, totally, flat wrong, and filled
    with hatred and spite against those who work hard and are
    successful. What they do benefits not just themselves, but even
    the poorest members of society.

    283:

    Interesting. It seems that an increasing number of people south of
    the border, and even in the south-east, are making half-joking
    references to wanting the SNP to start English branches, take over
    Labour and so on. Matthew Norman in the Independent is the latest.
    Personally, I am seriously thinking of buying somewhere in Scotland
    and becoming a Scottish non-dom in England! Apologies if that is
    a repeat: my memory is aging, with the rest of me.

    I don't think that the former is a completely ridiculous idea,
    because it would provide a banner for old-fashioned socialists and
    liberals to rally to (Who? Me?). Who's for the Federal Unity party?

    284:

    Western civilization is headed for a total crack-up in my opinion. Maybe people who are thinking long-term should simply migrate to areas where people share their values, and let new nations form organically. I don’t know about the UK, but this is already underway in the USA. Surely the maps are going to be redrawn fairly soon within (civilization formerly known as) the West soon, as it was in Iraq?

    285:

    Since the current UK top marginal rate, including all NICS, is about 63.5% and comes into force at about 42,000 PA, I think you're talking nonsense. Can you cite those examples, please?

    Also, of course, the top marginal rate had exceeded 60% for many many years in both the UK and the USA, but somehow right-wing nostalgis for aspects of the 50s and 60s never include that bit.

    (FWIW, my personal policy prescription for income tax is abolish NICS entirely, state pension rights to accrue through lawful residence, and kick off all labour rights and maternity / sick pay rights on day one of employment for all workers. Then set the marginal rate of income tax to quadratic interpolation between a lower rate of zero and marginal rate of zero exactly at the personal allowance - i.e. the p.a. is the minimum of the curve and there is a single repeated root - and a linear top rate. Each budget can then set the allowance, top rate, and level at which top rate applies, only.)

    286:

    No, he is not talking nonsense, though he is completely wrong.
    The problem is the top 'normal' tax rate, combined with a very
    large number of ways for the fat cats to avoid it. If Millibrain
    had had any sense, he would have said that he would set up a HMRC
    led analysis, with input from British companies, to recommend a
    major, fairer and less abusable simplification (and stress that!)
    of the tax laws, with the objective of starting on the reform by
    2017.

    For those who don't know, the first step is to be paid in share
    options (capital gains tax is lower), a good second one is to be
    employed as a contractor to your own company based in a tax haven,
    and so on. If you are as rich as Rupert, oops, Croesus and control
    multinationals, you can even turn your effective tax rate negative.

    287:

    Byng was an admiral. Ancient Carthage would impale unsuccessful generals.

    288:

    The entire tax regime really needs reform. Not that we're going to see it - and while this mob seem happy to leave some loopholes open, the other lot were going to patch and bail and pray.

    I'm self-employed. I actually gain from the "loopholes" although I don't exploit them. I don't earn anything like enough to exploit them either. But I do have a strong understanding why the rules are somewhat complex.

    But they're actually complex to the point they're a crazy, at least somewhat exploitable labyrinth. The rich as Croesus, for whom choosing a country from which to be paid, will always cause additional problems. But there are a lot of ways that slightly dodgy people not in that situation can exploit the crazy and sometimes contradictory rules, the genuine tax breaks and all the rest.

    We really do need a root and branch reform of it all. We need a honest discussion about where it all comes from (national insurance is a huge contributor to the tax pot for example, so it VAT but people moan about income tax all the time) and what constitutes a legitimate expense and why we might agree to a tax break - I don't object to tax breaks for pension contributions for example but I'm not so convinced they're vital that if they went away I'd be devastated. The list carries on and on though.

    289:

    Were so far behind. We use pencil marks on ballot papers and unpaid civically minded volunteers to count em. There are areas of concern.Postal ballots could be an issue, but it's effectively impossible to fix a national election.

    290:

    UKIP. Carswell is probably the new leader. He's a bright lad with connections inside the parliamentary Tory party. Cameron has a thin majority, with rather more "bastards"inside the tent than John Major ever had to deal with, and EU negotiations and a referendum to deal with.
    Interesting times, as the man said.

    291:

    As he says, it's not the city, it is the planning around them, which is endemic in Australasia.
    Sydney and Auckland share similar issues - awkward geography and chronic underinvestment in public transport and core infrastructure. Both cities have experienced power and water issues, and both have terrible traffic issues related to the motorway infrastructure.

    292:

    >UKIP is essentially the same sort of party as the FN in France

    No it's not, and I say this as someone who despises both parties. The French FN has identifiable roots in the French far-right and fascist traditions, going right back to the Dreyfus affair.

    UKIP, on the other hand is a splinter of the petit-bourgeois wing of the Tories.

    As I just I despise both of them - but not as much as I despise the so-called centre-left parties who wrapped up the working-class vote in a big ribbon and handed it on a plate to the Reaction.

    293:

    The interesting thing about the Telegraph illustration is how little things actually changed between 2010 and 2015.
    Effectively the LibDem protest vote from the previous election was utterly wiped out, and was split 66/33 between the tories and labour. But the vast majority of districts stayed exactly the same.

    The biggest gains for the conservatives seemed to be along the South East and South West areas, where they basically picked up every single changing seat, and the second runners tended to be UKIP.
    Which suggests to me that most of the lib dem support there was formerly conservative voters who decided that protesting was a waste of time.

    I'd love to see a historical graph of voting for the last ten or so elections based on those figures - not sure how far back you can go before redistricting becomes an issue.

    It certainly becomes clear that the main reason for Labour failing was the total loss of Scotland and an inability to appeal to traditional Conservative districts. I don't see that changing in a hurry.

    294:

    (Cross-posted at Noel's linked blog entry)

    Duverger's Law isn't wrong, but you're drastically oversimplifying the political geography of the UK. A more accurate (but still simplified) breakdown into regional monopolies and duopolies, following the 2010 election, would be:

    1) Safe Con: Most of rural England. The "Home Counties" surrounding London.
    2) Safe Lab: Urban "central belt" of Scotland. Southern Wales.
    3) Con vs Plaid Cymru: North Wales.
    4) SNP vs LD: Highlands and islands of Scotland.
    5) Lab vs LD: Urban northern England.
    6) Con vs LD: South-west England.
    7) Lab vs Con: London and central England.
    8) Unionists vs Nationalists: Northern Ireland

    Regions 1, 3, and 8 are basically unchanged, as is southern Wales. Conservatives did better than expected in the Con-Lab battlegrounds of London and central England (the "Midlands" around Birmingham and Nottingham). The LibDems collapsed, to the benefit of their principal opponents in regions 4, 5 and 6. Most spectacularly, the SNP demolished Labour one-party rule in urban Scotland, capturing seats which had been Labour since the 1930s.

    The dust has not yet begun to settle from the LD implosion and SNP takeover, and it remains to be seen what new rivalries will emerge.

    UKIP and the Greens are essentially protest parties without a significant base of seats. The single MP held by each is better understood as a local independent, rather than than a manifestation of the national party. Maybe one/both of them will expand to fill the gap left by the LibDems, but this would take a long while (probably well beyond the 2020 election). It took the LibDems 40 years to grow from a handful of MPs in the 1970s to the 57 seats they won in 2010.

    295:

    I am so completely unsurprised as to be unable to even begin to be sarcastic about this:

    Farage stays as UKIP leader after resignation rejected

    296:

    This isn't a surprise, it's what's meant by safe seats. Many of them really haven't changed since before the war.

    There *can* be changes - look at what happened in Scotland, where the use of the word unprecedented for a 30% swing in the votes might not quite apply to a single seat, but to see it in over 50 seats, then it surely does. But where I live is a safe Labour seat. In this "historically disastrous result for Labour" their share of the votes went UP by over 5% - that's despite both UKIP and the Greens quadrupling their vote share and, in fact, the Conservative vote actually rising slightly too (I think by 2%). If you look in many of the Labour safe seats it's hard to see how they can describe it as a disaster when their share of the votes has risen.

    The SE is largely Tory country with some odd Labour and formerly LibDem seats. The SW historically has been split between the LibDems and the Tories, at least outside of Bristol, which is big enough, post-industrial/metropolitan enough to be largely Labour.

    This is why looking at the map of who comes second is important. It doesn't really matter where the former LibDem votes went in the SW - the chances are they went Green, Labour, Conservative like elsewhere, although possibly more Conservative than Labour down there, whereas more Labour than Conservative up here. But as soon as enough of them had gone, the core Conservative vote who had come second in LibDem seats remained (and grew a bit) was bound to take over. Up in this part of the world it was a different story. If Clegg had lost his seat in Sheffield Hallam then Labour would have won the seat - he got 22,215, the Labour candidate got 19,862 and the Conservatives came third with 7,544. Tactical voting - almost certainly - Labour went up by 19.7%, LD down by 13.4% and Conservatives down by 9.9%.

    And while Scotland may or may not change in a hurry, the East and West Midlands are really the places you should be looking, not the South-East and South West. They change more frequently and are where the effort is concentrated. Nuneaton, for example, (which is actually a bit further North than normal) was one of the key target seats this time.

    297:

    Do the "very rich" (define, please) actually pay less tha those on median incomes?
    I don't know & I suspect no-one does.
    But, & v importantly but, I wasn't talking about the 0.1% - and there's a lot of confusion here, mainly cause by sloppy thinking, sloppy labelling & special pleading by all parties.
    I was talking about those between the top 2% & 0.2%, people, who though extremely well paid ( I'm talking about salaries over 125k & under 400k here ) are still employees, not owners/directors/partners.
    I know of a firm, [ No, I'm NOT going to tell you who - guess why? ] where, until recently, whilst the top tax rate was 40% ... & they quite simply, just paid up, no tax dodging, the works. [ They regarded that as "fair" & their contribution to a progressive tax system ]
    Then we got a top-band of 50% ... at which point, almost all of these people started looking for perfectly legal loopholes to reduce their tax bills.
    [ i.e. LEGAL tax avoidance, not illegal tax evasion - & what's more they had to be seen to be squeaky-clean in observing the rules, because of what they do for a living - a mere hint, never mind an actual conviction for evasion would ruin all of them & their firm, ok? ]

    The result?
    None of these people are paying as much tax as they were when the rate was 40%.
    What a waste of effort & time.

    Now, if you have some real, practical, workable ideas, I'm sure we'd all like to hear/see them, but there is an awful lot of rubbish spouted about this admittedklt very emotive subject.

    Disclaimer - I'm a pensioner with a total annual income of approx 12k, so I don't have any personbal interest, & my wife's income is above 60k & below 90k anyway.
    So there.

    298:

    "Cameron has ... rather more "bastards" inside the tent than John
    Major ..."

    Plus someone who is attending cabinet only to take the piss out
    of the tent, rather than in :-)

    299:

    Thank you - would it surpraise you that I agree with you.
    You are the first other person to notice the "NI" portion of "Income tax" - I deliberately left that out, for simplification.

    Oh & Elderly Cynic @ 286
    I'm largely in agreement with what you've just said, too, which may also surprise you!
    Trouble is, far too many people are jealous of anyone on the "40%" tax rate, & regard the sliver between the 2% & the 0.1% (Who are still almost all employees, remember) as the ones to go for "Because they are rich"
    Err ....

    300:

    Yup, spot on.
    My information-source on the legal tax avoidance I mentioned (Methods given, quite correctly by Elderly Cynic) who works in finance & tax would heartily agree with you.
    Her work-load is quite silly, simply because of the complication of the Byzantine labyrinth (*now there's a mixed metaphor!) of of regulations she works through for a living.

    REAL tax simplification & reform?
    And where does Charlie agree with Jerry Pournelle, again?

    301:

    ''Do the "very rich" (define, please) actually pay less tha those
    on median incomes?''

    Yes, proportionally. Above about 99.9% in the amount of money
    that they could arrange to be spent, either annually or in toto,
    but it is possible that the scams are in widespread use in the
    99%-99.9% range, too. And quite a lot of the first group pay very
    little tax. The people who pay the most are those between about
    90 and 99%, but many of us (yes, I am one) regard paying more tax
    (proportionally) than people with lower incomes as quite fair.
    No, I can't remember the reference, but remember that it is their
    EFFECTIVE income (as described above), and their income-as-such is
    often quite low.

    302:

    Voting patterns.
    Very interesting analysis for London & also nationally, by "Diamnond Geezer"
    Who obviously has a mths/ststs background form his postings.
    His comments on the election are Here:
    http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/election-result-2015.html

    and a follow-up, very interesting indeed, here ....
    http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/majority-2015.html

    Enjoy

    303:

    I am not denying that the 50% band was stupid and spiteful; I
    remember surtax, and the year that the maximum tax rate was put
    just above 100%. But it is lost in the noise as a factor of
    encouraging aggressive avoidance. Will Cameron do anything about
    that? Yes - for people below the 99.9% level - but he will leave
    lots of lovely loopholes for the very rich.

    304:

    Well the dust is starting to settle now that it's over. My thoughts thus far? It'll be an "intresting" five years and probably not very pleasent. And yes, the possiblity that this government might weaken relatively early on and be despised by 2020. Though it is far too early to say at this moment in time.

    One thing is correct however the owner of this blog I think is being proven correct. Labour is starting to talk about "appealing to middle class voters" and "apsiring", i.e. blair-era politics.

    Sounds like to me the beige dictatorship is most definately happening. In which case by 2020, there might not be any point in voting....

    305:

    Greg, more interesting about that is looking at the voting turnout numbers for the 2000s vs the 90s - a drop of 15%, followed by a rise to 66%.

    Which correlates to a huge rise in Labour support followed by a steady decline and rise in conservative votes.

    I wonder if the conservatives simply stopped voting before the Blair years, and have since returned, while now the Labour support has declined.

    306:

    Actually the votes are counted by people who are paid. I did it last time and got around £75. My wife did it this time for two days and picked up around £200.

    Paper ballots are way superior to the hackable machines they use in Ohio and Florida. And an honest recount is also possible.

    307:

    We 'English Irish Scottish and Welsh ' that are rhymed to be 'all tied up in Donkeys Tails ' as we heard when we were infants of my generation, are striving to adjust to the new reality of New Tory Ministers walking at speed ..SO Energetic and 'Pumped Up ‘...past the press pack at No!0 and waving the Tory Manifesto, whilst proclaiming that, 'IT ALL WOULD BE IMPLEMENTED!!! "

    And I don’t doubt it, because the Labour Party is in a state of disarray and fully occupied with Mourning their Loss - how could the Vile Voters Have Done IT? - and that state of affairs will continue for months whilst the embers of the fires of Family Feuds - set briefly aside a few years ago - are blown into life...SEE ..

    "Ex-Foreign Secretary David Miliband has criticised his brother Ed's leadership of the Labour Party, saying voters "did not want what was being offered"."


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32697212

    The only people who could harden resistance to the Tory attack on social welfare would be the Scottish Nationalists...and they will be really eager to help their Labour Party socialist brethren to a measured and effective resistance to the Tory Party in England won’t they?

    Yea, bound to! Not going to position for... 'See the vile English Tories have their Tails Up and are bent on DESTROYING the English welfare state as quickly as Possible ... Eleventy +++ ' Vote for US lest they impose their Will up here beyond the border.

    Something like that? And in the interests of preparing a fallback position just in case the Euro Referendum goes the wrong way and the English Vote to stay in! Oh Bugger, eh wot? Wither Independence and all that sort of thing?

    Never fear Scottish Persons...Nicola Sturgeon will have thought of that one... after all I have thought of it so she will be a long way ahead of me in contingency planning.

    " ..Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed David Mundell as the new secretary of state for Scotland.

    Mr Mundell is the only Conservative MP in Scotland.

    He had previously served in the Scotland Office as a junior minister.

    The SNP won all but three of Scotland's 59 seats in last Thursday's election, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats also only holding on to one seat each. "

    Oh, Dear Cuthulu and the Elder Ghods!

    " He had previously served in the Scotland Office as a junior minister."


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-scotland-32684659

    It is very tempting to take the view that the Tory Party have decided that...the oil and gas having run out Up North beyond the Borders of Civilisation, and the Falklands looking promising, and then there’s all that Fracking, Err, UP North not in the London Land, Heart of England .. So the Scots are more trouble than they are worth.

    What are the Odds that the Tories have decided that...? Bugger Them! WE will do as WE Please! And Stick That UP Your Kilts Scottish Persons!!

    308:

    I had meant to add this link. I blame scrambled Brain ...sorry about that, people with diseased spines really shouldn't bang their heads - even ever so gently - against a wall and thus scramble their thought processes. Also Head Banging dents the expensive paint work in my office...


    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/11970/david_mundell/dumfriesshire,_clydesdale_and_tweeddale

    This man’s record is Really going to appeal to the S.N.P. isn’t it?

    Actually it probably is going to be irresistibly attractive, in a, “Count Dracula Must DIE!! Grab Pitch Forks and Flaming Torches!! To THE CASTLE ..." Hammer Horror Movie sort of way.

    309:

    Just this minute recieved an e mail from General Secretary of the Labour Party
    ..

    " Arnold,

    We suffered a terrible defeat last week.

    There will be vibrant, vigorous debate about what went wrong and where the Labour Party should go next during our upcoming leadership elections — but first, I want to take a moment to thank Ed Miliband. For five years, he led our party with integrity, decency and great resolve.

    Many people have asked how they can pass on a note of thanks to Ed, so I'm gathering together messages from Labour members and supporters to send him on Friday. Arnold, if you'd like to write a quick note to Ed, click below — it can be as long or short as you like:

    Your message ....


    Leave a message for Ed

    This is not an ending for our party. Right now, our top priority must be to form the strongest, most vocal opposition to this government we possibly can. Everyone we fought for in this election needs us to keep fighting for them every step of the way over the next five years — and we have 232 brilliant, passionate MPs who are committed to doing exactly that.

    Thank you. More to come soon on the leadership election.

    Iain

    Iain McNicol
    General Secretary of the Labour Party

    21,945 and counting, Arnold:

    21,945 people have already joined our party since the election, ready to stand with us to oppose this government and fight for the Labour values of fairness, equality and social justice.

    Every new member makes our party stronger, Arnold. Will you be the 21,946th new member to join us in the last four days? It takes just two minutes:

    Yes, I'll join Labour today
    I'm already a member

    Thank you. "


    310:

    Sunday's Star Tribune (Twin Cities Minnesota daily) had an opinion piece about the UK election being a good example for the US to follow.

    The author's a political scientist, so he surely must be right.

    Feel better, Brits?

    311:

    That's wrong about North Wales.

    Four seats: Delyn, Alyn and Deeside, Wrexham and Clwyd South are all fairly safe Labour seats with the Conservatives second.

    One seat: Clwyd West is a Con/Lab marginal gained by the Conservatives.

    Two seats: Aberconwy and Clwyd West are fairly safe Conservative with Labour second.

    One seat: Ynys Môn (Anglesey) is a Lab/Plaid Cymry marginal held by Labour. The Conservatives are in a not too distant third.

    One seat: Dwyfor Meirionnydd is fairly safe Plaid Cymry with the Conservatives second

    One seat: Arfon fairly safe Plaid Cymry with Labour second

    The only seat where PC and Con are the two leading parties PC has an 18% lead.

    312:

    Ok:-

    Dear Cain,

    This is what you get for stabbing your brother in the back and looking like a character in a Nick Park Claymation.

    Thank You,

    Paws.

    313:

    I did say my breakdown was still simplified.

    Call north Wales a PC/Lab battleground if you like, or split Wales into south/central/north. The overall conclusions still stand.

    314:

    I just wish Britain had 3 year fixed terms so that if the people get tired of the scoundrels in power, they can toss them out before too much damage is done. Second thoughts also make the house of lords a real senate with at least 50% of its members elected halfway through the term of the commons. That would stir things up.

    315:

    Since the current UK top marginal rate, including all NICS, is about 63.5% and comes into force at about 42,000 PA

    Careful: Once you start include Employers NI contributions in your tax rate calculations, you have to rebalance all of the percentages, because whilst the other taxes are taken out of the employees pay, employers NI is not. So in effect, the employee is being paid the sum of "pay on pay slip" and "employers NI contribution" and the taxation percentages need to be rebalanced to match that total.

    So the upper limit marginal taxation rate is income tax @ 45 + employees NI @ 2 + employers NI @ 13.8 / 100 + 13.8 = 53.4%

    (I think that’s all the relevant taxes.)

    316:

    (mere mortals who earn > £42k but < £150k pay 49%)

    317:

    Actually, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show did a bit on the UK election too:

    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/full-episodes/f2nr6x/may-11--2015---john-legend

    Probably worth watching, if only to see what passes for comedy in the US these days*, and to see a promo for the rather interesting documentary that John Legend produced for cable.

    318:

    Note that's the marginal rate for employees.

    Up to £10,000 is notionally income tax free (NI is applicable above some threshold -- isn't it about 7K?). From £10K to £42K the income tax rate is 25%, plus about 6.5% in NI.

    Self-employed folks get to claim business expenses out of their profits so the level of income tax applicable to their income may be lower, as only profits are taxed. However they may also be liable to collect VAT on sales -- nominally a tax levied on consumers and paid back up the chain, but you've got all the paperwork headaches. In my case ... well, the Aeron chair I'm sitting on is obviously a business expense, as is the Macbook I just bought for writing while travelling. So is the rental/colocation fee for the server this blog runs on (it's a marketing expense). And so on. At the higher income end other options become possible, including forming a company and paying yourself a smaller salary than total commercial income, or a partnership with one's spouse. And that's before we get into the more esoteric forms of legal-but-arguably-unethical tax avoidance practiced by folks who earn so much that they can pay an accountant's salary to save themselves some tax.

    So the worst case for taxation in the UK is to be an employee on £150K a year salary.

    319:

    12% NI for employees in the lower threshold & 20% income tax Charlie.

    So for ordinary employees, you pay 20 + 12 + 13.8 / 113.8 = 40.2% of total income expense to your employer as tax.

    Self-employment looks like a considerably lower tax rate. Either I’m missing something, or the government expects the self-employed to be keener to dodge tax & so sets their rates lower than those for employees. High paid employees who don’t get paid enough (or don’t have a compliant employer who’ll pay into the relevant tax avoidance schemes) pay the most.

    320:

    oops. flubbed edit there - "don’t get paid enough to make the expense of tax dodging schemes worthwhile."

    321:

    The security theatre wouldn't disappear if the UK joined Schengen. The passport checks would, but the security theatre wouldn't. The Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission http://www.channeltunneligc.co.uk/ are responsible for the security theatre and they're nothing to do with the border, they're just there for security in the same way as the various aviation regulators require security checks before boarding a flight.

    An acquaintance of mine tried for several years to negotiate with CTIC so that he could perform the scanning on-board a train (in order to run sleepers to St. Pancras) and they refused point-blank to accept any system other than a secure platform and scanners in the station. No way will any station that's only running one train per day (well, per night) to London reserve an entire platform just for that train, so there's no sleeper service between London and the continent (Barcelona, Milan, Munich and Frankfurt were his planned first destinations).

    322:

    Bastards. I would have used the hell out of such a service!

    323:

    Clwyd (NE) is Lab/Con - and all of the Labour constituencies in it are pretty marginal, especially as there's been a long-term switch from Lab to Con over the last 18 years (much bigger than the national swing from 1997-2010); there is one Tory seat that might be safe.

    Gwynedd (NW) is the PC heartland, with a different party in each constituency contesting with them.

    Powys (central) is Con/LD

    Dyfed (SW) is half Con/Lab and half PC/Lab.

    Monmouthshire (SE, right up against the border) is Con and relatively safe.

    The rest of South Wales, ie Newport-Cardiff-Swansea and the Valleys is solidly Labour. There are a couple of posh Cardiff seats which aren't safe (Cardiff Central is Lab/LD, Cardiff North Con/Lab) and a few semi-rural seats like Gower where Conservatives can win in a good year, but there's 20 safe Labour seats, which is the majority of the Welsh population.

    324:

    London Direct Sleeper Group. There's a few traces of their press releases if you google around a bit.

    And yes, it would be brilliant. I was having a bit of a look at sleepers from Lille with a connecting shuttle to London, but the extra costs of running separate services (and the need for investment in Lille-Europe station) wipe out any potential profit margin.

    325:

    Security checks before boarding a train aren't unknown in the rest of Europe - you need to go through a metal detector and have your luggage X-rayed to get into the waiting area for the AVE high-speed trains in Spain, so Barcelona Sants certainly has the required facilities from a security point of view. (Not passport control, but I've never understood why this couldn't be done at St Pancras for trains coming from elsewhere in Europe.)

    But there's a pretty long list of "things we ought to be able to have, given the existence of a rail tunnel to France, but can't because of [reasons]". Direct trains from London to Frankfurt and Amsterdam seem to have been 2 years away ever since the tunnel opened...

    326:

    Charlie
    Thank you
    And that shows the ridiculous injustice of it all, doesn't it?
    Meanwhile, some people lower down are also badly off, whilst the really rich ( i.e. gross income over £1million) are doing all right, thank you very much.
    And nobody, neither labour nor tory seems prepared to actually do anything about it.

    Later - X-channel rail travel & the insane paranoia of the "security services" ( & the Channel Tunne Intergovernmental Commission, who are of course a security sock-puppet ) are just fucking ridiculous.
    The counter-example is/are the Alpine base tunnels into & out of Switzerland.
    What security checks?
    Utterly potty.

    P.S. Richard Gadsden - are you aware of the informed blog/discussion board at: "London Reconnections" ??

    327:

    The Independent has a nice cartoon today, summarising the initial
    policy statements nicely. Let's ignore the dangerous concept of
    non-violent terrorism, as I don't see a Scottish connection. But
    I had forgotten that the European Convention on Human Rights is
    written into the Good Friday agreement, which is an international
    treaty with Eire as well as being a cease-fire agreement with the
    IRA! And, as I understand it, the Human Rights Act is NOT a
    devolved matter, which raises the inflammatory issue of English
    Votes for English Laws (and Scottish Ones, Too). But I may be
    wrong there. Anyway, interesting times, everybody.

    328:

    X-channel rail travel & the insane paranoia of the "security services"... The counter-example is/are the Alpine base tunnels into & out of Switzerland.

    Except...

    Unlike the Swiss, we've had a domestic insurgency in the last two decades that by the end had identified capital infrastructure as a high-payoff target (see: cost of Arndale Centre, City of London, potential cost of mortar attack on Heathrow).

    We demonstrably have domestic nutjobs limited only by lack of organisation and external support (i.e. perfectly willing to bomb airports, tube trains, buses, pubs - but no Gaddafi or MV Eksund)

    Consider also that the failure mode of a tunnel through a very large chunk of rock is probably different from that of a tunnel under a very large body of water...

    329:

    And nobody, neither labour nor tory seems prepared to actually do anything about it.

    The system is working as designed, Greg. Surely you're old enough to have figured that out by now?

    330:

    My slight experience of international travel, pre-Schengen, suggests to me that the UK organisations have such a very different culture, because of a lack of experience of land borders, that they're always going to look a bit bone-headed.

    Yes, there's the border in Ireland.

    The British attitude is that nobody just walks into Mordor France. It's not quite stupid, when you have the English Channel on your border with France, but Spain. Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium will naturally see it differently.

    And many of the reasons for strict controls, things such as smuggling, were down to the way imported goods were taxed. We still have local taxes on some things, still smuggling of fags and booze from Europe, but being in the EU changes the whole game.

    331:

    as I understand it, the Human Rights Act is NOT a
    devolved matter, which raises the inflammatory issue of English Votes for English Laws (and Scottish Ones, Too).

    It's more complicated than that! Human Rights are a devolved issue, and while the HRA itself was passed in Westminster, the ECHR is written into the Scotland Act. So you can't abolish the HRA entirely without reversing or rewriting Scottish devolution in a big way. Human Rights are devolved, so in principle Westminster could just ask the Scottish Parliament to pass an Act (in Scotland) mirroring their reversal of the Act. But the Scottish Government just said "fuck no!" extremely loudly, with cross-party support (not just the SNP: Labour, the LibDems, and the minority parties are also opposed to it -- even Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, has come out in favour of the ECHR in the recent past).

    Also IIRC the Schengen Agreement/other EU framework treaties provide for suspension of member voting rights for a member nation that fails to implement the ECHR in law. To the event that David Cameron is the PM of big business and wants to stay in the EU, he'll have a hard time making his case if one of his other flagship policies gets our voting rights suspended, won't he? And I don't think anyone envisaged one chunk of an EU member bailing on human rights while another chunk of the same member state clings onto them like grim death.

    It's a horrendous legal Gordian knot, and I am looking forward to Michael Gove -- the omnicompetent journalist turned conservative superman -- trying to untangle it. With popcorn.

    (Hint: for the record I am all in favour of the ECHR and I think the idiots who want to get rid of it are dangerous totalitarian assholes. But I don't think they're going to get very far.)

    332:

    Yes, there's the border in Ireland.

    Last time I drove from Dublin to Belfast, the Iron Curtain border checkpoints consisted of a sign by the M1 saying "warning: speed limits now posted in miles per hour".

    (This was in the past 12 months.)

    There is a security checkpoint when you drive onto the car ferry back to the mainland, and very diligent customs inspectors lurk in the drive-through shed and ask if they can look in the back of your car. They're after cans of fuel (fuel duty is lower in NI than in England or Scotland), cartons of cigarettes, or maybe rustled sheep.

    333:

    So I had seriously underestimated the degree to which the worms in the can were venomous! I didn't know those Schengen issues, and
    they would be given even more teeth if Eire also opposes the
    change. Yes, indeed, I wish interesting times ahead for Michael
    Gove - which he already has, being placed under Teresa May. If I
    were a conspiracy theorist, I would suspect that he was being set
    up as the scapegoat, much as Andrew Lansley was for Cameron's NHS
    idiocies.

    334:

    £10_600 as of the start of this tax year. It's about enough to buy another paperback every month.

    335:

    Consider also that the failure mode of a tunnel through a very large chunk of rock is probably different from that of a tunnel under a very large body of water...

    I'm going to guess that you'll be just as dead whether you're crushed by rock or over-pressure, or drowned by salt water.

    Digging some of those trans-Alpine tunnels was a real bear though, for geological reasons (source being any reasonably comprehensive history of the projects), and replacing them is probably at least as hard as patching the roof of the Chunnel then pumping it out.

    336:

    Agreed, well except that I want nachos, salsa and pickled chillies for snacking.

    337:

    I remember that route about thirty years ago - it was very different then. For one thing, the road approaching the actual border was actively disrepaired, full of ruts and potholes to make it difficult to get up any speed on the approach.

    Some of the ferries across the Irish Sea crack me up. Metal detector gates for the foot passengers, but not for the cars? Why? Well sure, that ton of steel is going to make it difficult to find the knife in the glove compartment, but you could at least try.

    (We've gone into Rosslare, Dun Loaghaire and Dublin Port, from Pembroke and Holyhead, usually by car. Can't wait to see what it'll be like from Liverpool later this month.)

    338:

    Northern Ireland/Republic public transport services are now subject to random immigration checks en route (think of ticket inspector for passports/visas). I've heard reports of a number of individuals being caught out in both directions and deported (or at least severely inconvenienced). Technically, immigration on either side could do the same with private vehicles, but since there's no longer any manned border checkpoints, that's not entirely practical. Of course, the NI/ROI border is not really a border that's subject to mass illegal immigration, since the bigger hurdle is crossing to the island of Ireland in the first place.

    (Here endeth the aside.)

    339:

    If you were to travel on the #10 tram in Basel (Switzerland), out to the western end of the line, you would cross an international border twice: it has one stop at Leymen in Alsace.

    Chances are against even seeing a ticket inspector, let alone any form of border control.

    On the other side of Basel, the #8 tram now runs as far as Weil am Rhein in Germany1. In that case, the tram runs past the border post without stopping. Again, I'm not aware of any border control on the tram, even though cars are queuing to cross that same border.

    We have before now gone wandering off from our hotel, crossed a border 8 times during the day (two between the hotel and the railway station platform), and got back to note that one of us forgot to bring any ID with her. Schengen borders are very porous these days, much like US state borders.

    1 Yes, the Basel tram system now has stops in 3 countries (see http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/Basel_-_Straßenbahn_-_Netzplan_2009.png ). In principle they could run a single tram from Germany through Switzerland and into France: they'd only have to extend the #17 a few stops at each end, as it runs along most of the combined #8/#10 route.

    340:

    In the early years of this century, when I used to commute from Belfast to Dublin on a weekly basis, they were more regular than random.

    Because I happen to be slightly on the darker side (at least by comparison to the peculiarly pale complexions of the Irish) I would regularly be challenged by the police, who would grill me with searching questions like "what country are you from".

    One night we had to disembark the train at Newry because there was a bomb on the line. They put us on a bus to Dundalk, where we reboarded the Iron Horse that would take us to our destination. When we got on, someone said over the PA system: "Irish Rail would like to apologise for the delay to this service. This delay was caused by narrow-minded people with big ideas".

    Good times, good times.

    341:

    Just been reading on twitter about your PM saying things like:
    "For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone."

    And all I can think is "Goddammit Orwell! You were off by thirty(one) years."
    Really need to reread that book one of these days.
    Meanwhile, I'm not sure if I should look forward to, or dread, our upcoming Presidential election. Leaning toward the latter.

    342:

    And now I'm thinking about the Bradbury short story "The Pedestrian".

    343:

    I'm going to blog something appropriate about this tomorrow; I'm just too tired/depressed to do so today.

    In the meantime, here are fourteen defining signs of fascism.

    Your attention is drawn to items 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 -- all of which the current UK government exhibits to some degree.

    Other items ... 5 (sexism) is present in toned-down form (the post-2010 government cuts have fallen disproportionately on services for women), 6 (controlled media) is unnecessary (90% of the UK's newspapers are owned by 9 rich white men who support the Conservatives), 8 ls relatively low-key (but this is a very secular nation these days), and 14 is a matter of opinion (but note the fact that 22% of the UK electorate put in office a government with an unopposed sweeping mandate to legislate and regulate).

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that the British state is fascist, but it displays a worrying number of symptoms of the disease to greater or lesser degrees.

    (Scotland, thankfully, seems to be going its own way and some of the touchstones of fascism are visible only as photographic negatives, heightening the contrast with England.)

    344:

    Wonder if it's possible to fill out a couple of Bob Altemeyer's checklists (e.g. like this one) by proxy for a government?

    345:

    I wish interesting times ahead for Michael Gove - which he already has, being placed under Teresa May.

    I hadn't thought of that - the two have history of course, the press was full of speculation that Gove was moved from Education to Chief Whip (a demotion) after clashing with May too often and coming off 2nd best. Now he's clearly second-string to her...

    I also half-heard an interesting piece about the proposed change the human rights act. Lots of voices you would expect saying it's a bad idea. But official spokespeople for the security services also going on the record to the BBC saying it's unworkable and a bad idea. I wasn't listening properly (It was the start of the 1pm news and I was meant to be working) so I didn't catch more detail than that. But if it's being hit from both sides like that it's going to really struggle.

    346:

    Interesting list. Seems like the US ticks all the boxes, at least slightly. Expect sexism(5) to increase once Clinton is confirmed as the Democratic candidate. Religion and Politics intertwined (8), not much needed to say there (for a long time I've thought the Republicans think GOP stands for God's Own Party). And there's definitely been some smear campaigns(14) against candidates.

    347:

    Oh yeah, also in 14: "use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media"

    348:

    Yes, that's whats so depressing about it - it's pure bollocks.
    Short of a nuke, no normal bomb is going to damage the tunnel - wouldn't do a train any good, but the tunnel would be virtually undamaged - see the two (three?) serious fires on lorry-shuttles as evidence.

    349:

    I agree.
    There IS a problem with the EHCR in Britain - but it is NOT the fault of the legislation - it is the fault (maybe) of the interpretation put on it by (some) courts ...
    This should be sortable without throwing baby out with bathwater.
    But that's not "sexy" is it?

    350:

    First trime I arrived at Amiens St station in Dblin, the only thing the garda/irish customs people were interested in was ... "Did I have any condoms on me?"
    Or anything to do with birth-control IIRC.
    RC church strikes again, but this WAS 1965.

    351:

    As for the Alpine tunnels, I don't think you could bring down the roof. For going through mountains, the traditional method is to drill holes into the rockface, pack those holes with explosive which you detonate, clear the debris, and repeat.

    The point there being that the explosive is in intimate contact with the rock you want to fracture. It cracks the rock because there is no other way out for the expanding gases except a relatively small aperture at one end. Even so, it's a slow process.

    A bomb on a vehicle is not the same at all. It's going to mangle the road/tracks. It's going to make a real mess of any inner surface and you'll probably have to refurbish/refinish that section. But the major impact will be on the people in the tunnel at the time, not on the gross physical structure.

    352:

    Fails on 3 & 5, but 2 & 7 tick the boxes as does 10 & 12, however 14 is a complete fail.
    Interesting divergence?

    353:

    As for the Alpine tunnels, I don't think you could bring down the roof. For going through mountains, the traditional method is to drill holes into the rockface, pack those holes with explosive which you detonate, clear the debris, and repeat.

    However, once it's built it needs to be lined with cement and then infrastructure fitted -- power lines, lights, traffic signalling/monitoring kit, emergency breakdown phones, and (importantly) forced ventilation fans.

    Which brings up the Gotthard Road Tunnel fire in 2001. Two trucks collided and caught fire -- one of them a diesel tanker. 20 dead, tunnel closed to two months, major cause of death: carbon monoxide poisoning.

    If you really want to cause havoc, you'd block a tunnel with a bunch of people inside it, kill the power to the fans, then set fire to something that emits CO: in other words, you try to re-create the Salang Tunnel fire, possibly the world's deadliest ever road traffic accident: at least 180 dead (official Soviet report, circa 1982), unofficial reports put the death toll as high as 2,700.

    354:

    That link (14 signs of fascism) was intresting, though I'd caution against just using that list "as is". It is quite possible that some of those entries in that list aren't needed any more to form a fascist state and/or some new ones need to be added. It's one thing to compare the fascist regimes in the past of germany, italy, spain, etc. but there's also the intervening time peroid to consider as well - it's not the 1940s or 1950s any more. But yes the UK certianly ticks a lot of those boxes in that list.

    Having said that after looking at that list it seems that the UK is roughly at a guess 75% along the way. Though a lot of the mainstream political parties in the UK have been moving right for several decades now - it almost seems the unwritten rule is, "We have to be right wing - and if that dosen't work we need to be even more right wing".

    Democracy in the UK isn't dead, but it's lying on the ground being kicked and punched repeatedly and close to thinking that its life will soon come to an end.

    355:

    " ... - but it is NOT the fault of the legislation - it is the fault (maybe) of the interpretation put on it by (some) courts ... "

    The UKs Courts interpretation of legislation at Fault? Surely Not? !! Oh the SHOCK of it! Perish the thought and so forth? But, Wait ..


    " UK Jessops have made me a criminal!
    Apr 17, 2010 ...

    Jessops gave me a free / complimentary penknife when I purchased my last lens prior to them closing their store in Barrow in Furness.

    Until today I kept it in my car's glove compartment.

    Little did I know they were setting me up for gaining a criminal record.

    Truly the lunatics are in charge of the asylum, read below from yesterday's newspapers:

    "A disabled caravanner who kept a penknife in his glove compartment to use on picnics has blasted the authorities after being dragged through court for possessing an offensive weapon.

    Rodney Knowles, 61, walks with the aid of a stick and had used the Swiss Army knife to cut up fruit on picnics with his wife.

    Knowles yesterday admitted possessing an offensive weapon at Torquay Magistrates Court. He was given a conditional discharge. "

    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/2788615

    356:

    Just in case you missed this?

    Hereafter a link to a news item about the - somewhat less than accurate - political Poles in our late U.K. Election? Also Known as ' Band on the Run’


    " Naked bloggers on the run: Dan Hodges and Stephen Tall

    5 hours ago

    The polls suggested the UK was headed for a hung parliament, prompting a range of inaccurate predictions from commentators.

    Daily Telegraph writer Dan Hodges and Lib Dem blogger Stephen Tall both pledged to run naked through Westminster if their forecasts were wide of the mark.

    Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil reminded them of these rash promises, and asked if they would be true to their word. ... "


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32724424


    357:

    The headline writer should be shot. It wasn't Jessops, it was the policemen who decided that the immediate defence wasn't good enough and proceeding, and the CPS for thinking there was any sort of case. As long as the knife has a blade lenght of less than 3 inches, there is a defence in law against conviction based on reasonable excuse or, IIRC it simply not being an offensive weapon. Obviously any jury would not convict but there seems to have been judges involved insntead. Moreover, the way the law is written you have committed the offence by having hte knife, you can only hope after being stopped that they accept your excuse.

    358:

    In fact, reading more, it seems he pled guilty. Someone wasn't advising him very well...

    359:

    If you really want to cause havoc, you'd block a tunnel with a bunch of people inside it, kill the power to the fans, then set fire to something that emits CO

    Which doesn't need to be petrol. For those of you for whom a tunnel fire just isn't entertaining enough without a little something to go with it, about about setting fire to a really big lump of cheese?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21141244

    360:

    That whole thing is insane.
    Large numbers of people have Swiss Army knives ( I carry on, looped to my belt at almost all times, my wife has one in her hand-bag... )
    Something has gorn seriously worng here, as "SA" knives are usually known as NOT "Offensive weapons" for the reasons given in # 357.

    It's also clear that the "Chairman of the Bench" one Mr Robert Horne is a complete fuckwit & unfit to be allowed out, never mind sit on a Magistrates' Court bench.

    Guthrie - perfectly correct, pleading guilty was a serious mistake.

    361:

    A blade length (technically 'cutting edge', for the nitpickers) of less than than three inches long, and non-locking, per the relevant acts and case law but yes, most Swiss Army knives and the like are legal to carry in public.

    362:

    Relevant to 6, 7 and 12

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-is-too-tolerant-and-should-interfere-more-in-peoples-lives-says-david-cameron-10246517.html

    According to Cameron following the law is not enough. If you're innocent but seem like an extremist you should have to send all your social media posts to the police for prior approval.

    363:

    Ah, the way Jean Calvin decided what the people of Geneva should think & say, you mean?

    364:

    Also Charlie #353

    Yeah, for anything other than over-pressure and possible O2 depletion effects, a rucksack bomb isn't going to cut it. I was thinking more in terms of a literal truck bomb. As earlier, some of the Alpine tunnels (Simplon springs to mind) are through "challenging geology" in terms of gravel inclusions and aquifer layers, mountain streams and the like (Source being a book on tunnelling that I read something like 44 years ago, so I really don't remember title and author) so you really could put it out of service for a year or more by rupturing the lining.

    365:

    What's the betting that some of the first people to be targetted
    are members of Greenpeace and the CND, followed by Liberty and
    Amnesty?

    366:

    What's the betting that some of the first people to be targetted are members of Greenpeace and the CND, followed by Liberty and Amnesty?

    Very low. They may be unpopular with the Tories but they're suitably "British" still. They'll target the metaphorical children of Abu Hansa and those pressing for Sharia Law and other "un-British extremist" things that truly shock people like my mum. Once we've got used to the idea, the next pass of the law will tighten it up. Animal Rights activists, 4Chan, Anonymous and the like will be the targets. Then we'll see Greenpeace and the like.

    Greenpeace might not have support for some of its aims but has a fair amount of support in Toryshire because it's carefully non-violent and its last big news-splash was sticking it to Putin. Liberty and Amnesty are both pro-individual anti-government organisations, so likewise, regarded as good things in Toryshire, even when they're sticking it to the Tory government.

    It's possible Camer-goon et al will let having a majority rush to their heads and charge things through without thinking but they've got enough awkward bastards among their own MPs plus the other MPs that will vote against on principle they might have problems.

    367:

    We've been here before in 2005, with Blunket (or was it Straw's) law against "Glorifying Terrorism". Which got walked back circa 2010 when repealing it was no longer going to embarrass a minister involved in the idiocy.

    I was going to blog about my (peripheral) engagement in it today, but I see Ramez has beaten me to the podium so I'll do it when he's finished (next week).

    368:

    Yes. I was also thinking of the way that the terrorism laws have
    been abused, including to gag that pensioner who spoke up against
    Blair at a Labour party conference. And the way that the 'anti-
    rave' law has also been used to prevent guests from reaching even
    non-musical parties in rented accomodation.

    369:

    I hope that anthology becomes available in the US someday, at least as an ebook.

    370:

    You can't stop the police abusing their powers of course, but about 18 months to 2 years ago the radio show Unreliable Evidence (I'm fairly sure that was the show, it seems the best fit) interviewed one of the civil servants who was responsible for drafting the anti-rave law. It was quite interesting listening to him going through the process of what made the policy rhetoric into a workable law.

    And while IANAL and so on, and it's based on my really fallible memory of an interview some time ago, formally rented accommodation and no amplified music would both mean the law fails to apply. You'd also have to rent somewhere pretty big, I don't remember the cut-off point but I think it was 20+ people. It also has to be at night and sufficient to constitute anti-social behaviour - it has to bother someone else in theory.

    If they try hard enough to push this load of bunkum through, it will be interesting to see what the successors to those poor folks come up with as the definitions of "anti-British behaviour" without contravening such freedoms as we currently have under the Human Rights Act and so on.

    371:

    The law was set up precisely to allow unconstrained abuse by the
    police. One of the main reasons that UK (sic) law is such a mess
    is that almost every attempt to resolve an issue has been to
    introduce a one-sided counteraction. As any competent engineer or
    mathematician knows, using reflecting boundaries is NOT going to
    introduce stability!

    And, with regard to that, I didn't see the interview but I have
    read the Act, and have heard from several people who have been
    treated that way. The owner/renter cannot be excluded but his
    guests can, and the criterion is that a senior policeman believes
    that a rave is likely to take place. Nothing more.

    And why on earth do you think that they would even bother to
    avoid contravening our remaining freedoms? They didn't with the
    terrorism laws.

    372:

    And the UK - it's currently selling for 147 quid!

    373:

    Nope: it's out of print for good and staying that way, thanks to the VATMOSS fiascio.

    374:

    No it's not: rather, a scalper is asking £147 for a copy. (They almost certainly don't have one to sell, but using SEO they've gotten their line item to the top of the web search ranking. So if you're stupid enough to pay £147 for a copy they'll go out and find a much cheaper one and ship it to you, pocketing the difference as pure profit.)

    375:

    Thanks for that. I was being too naive in assuming that Amazon
    required some minimal level of honesty from its suppliers :-(
    I shall try more devious approaches.

    A small-business-friendly government would almost certainly do
    something about the VATMOSS fiasco, but I doubt that anyone
    following this blog would hold their breath for that.

    376:

    Aren't those fourteen signs just symptoms of a corrupt regime? Aren't they what happens when a dictator or a small cabal try to hang onto power? (i.e. they flow from 13+14, maybe excepting 9.)

    377:

    Bummer. Hope that doesn't mean the authors aren't able to republish their stories.

    378:

    Your attention is drawn to items 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 -- all of which the current UK government exhibits to some degree.

    ...that degree being "virtually zero" in the case of 1 and 4. It doesn't do any favours for your argument, as it's so easily dismissed.

    I mean, really - comparing Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and (insert South American dictator here) to UK support for its military?

    The "defining features" are referring to militaries that were all conscript-based, mass armies. In half the cases were an instrument of internal repression. In most cases, the Generals were either the power behind the throne, or key trusted individuals within the immediate power structure of the dictator. How does the whole "significant cuts to the regular Armed Forces" part of the last Government fit into your reasoning?

    So: a British Army that has not the slightest hint of political involvement, that is outnumbered significantly by the police, whose domestic impact is limited to "filling sandbags during floods" and "look smart around the palaces to impress the tourists"... is to be compared with the Naval Mechanics School in Buenos Aires, or those Germans who got their natty black uniforms designed by Hugo Boss?

    As for "1", I must have missed the stirring strains of Rule Britannia every time there's a Government announcement, or shots of a Union Flag fluttering in the background every time the Prime Minister appears on TV. I don't hear cries that the National Anthem be sung in schools, played on TV at the end of the day, or echoed on the radio every morning. I don't hear any demands that children recite a Pledge of Allegiance every morning. No torchlight ceremonies, no Blood Oaths. No criminal statutes for "insulting Britishness" (see: Turkey).

    It's interesting that you suggest that Scotland was "going its own way" - regarding point 1, there was more "patriotic paraphernalia" waved, stuck, and posted by Scottish Nationalists during the referendum period than ever there was by Unionists - there were Saltires all over Facebook, in many windows, and plastered in the background of every Salmond appearance. Meanwhile, I saw the more... "excitable" SNP supporters referring to "Quislings" and "traitors" during the referendum campaign; I didn't see the same thing going in the other direction...

    379:

    Now that does depend. My old buck knife was a touch under blade length to be legaly carried in the UK before the law was changed and then reinterpreted, but, before that time I had changed to a swiss army pocket folding multi tool ..which also became less than legal because it had a safety lock on its main blade and also its main screwdriver leaf ..you would not want a knife blade to fold back on your fingers if you had any sense at all now would you?

    Safety? Irelevent ..because the UK law relating to knives was changed after there was a spate of knife crime asaults in some of our inner cities and fixed blade knives became ileagal to carry ..with exceptions for, say, Chefs carrying their favourite tools to work and similar such people.

    This was all very well but British Law is reinterpreted as specific cases appear and a Case appeared in which a Judge interpreted the law to mean that 'lock' lockable blade knives with blades of whatever length were 'Fixed Blade ' knives and thus ileagal under the Law. Good, Eh?

    Don't just take my word for this ..

    https://www.gov.uk/buying-carrying-knives

    Here a good simple site for matters of a Police U.K. nature ..

    https://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q337.htm

    Now, British Law can be interpreted in all sorts of ways dependent upon The Offence and the Offender.

    SO ..ooo ..lets say you are a Political Protester who is foolish enough to carry a Swiss Army Knife/MultiTool of the Leatherman variety with a lockable blade? Of course the Law would be interperted in your favour now wouldn't it? Note that even a minor recorded offence might reward you with a criminal record. Your sparkly new criminal record would mean that you were recorded in the Criminal Data bases ..OF COURSE your D.N.A. would be taken. Why Not?

    Now consider that many - if not every - likly interpretation of British Criminal ..who are these Scotish Persons of whom you speak ? ..Law would be likly to follow the Swiss Army Knife rule Rule for Offensive Weapons in the Security Theatre of the New Tory World playground post the " Sweetest Victory " by the Tories in the General Election.

    Oh, did I mention the British Laws about " Bladed Articles "

    http://criminaldefence.info/possession_bladed-article/


    What was that you said? " Hard cases make bad law " ?


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_cases_make_bad_law

    Depends on what you mean by " BAD " and also "LAW " now doesn't it?

    380:

    "Your attention is drawn to items 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12,
    and 13 -- all of which the current UK government exhibits to some
    degree. ...that degree being "virtually zero" in the case of 1
    and 4. It doesn't do any favours for your argument, as it's so
    easily dismissed."

    Really? If you haven't seen the extent to which the press,
    politicians and talking heads have been whipping up xenophobia
    against asylum seekers, immigrants, the EU and muslims, you must
    have been asleep. Especially the last. Sorry, 1 is solid.

    I accept that 4 is, at least on the face of it, absent. But you
    have missed the level to which the Metropolitan police, followed
    by other police forces, have been militarised and given immunity
    for their actions (kettling of passers by, anyone?) I can't
    remember which law now, but at least one of them gives the Home
    Secretary the power to give private 'security' companies like
    G4S the powers and immunities of the police and/or armed forces.

    381:

    That does however require managing to rupture it. That lining currently has pressing in on it all that water/gravel/rock. It's strong enough to take that inward load, with a probable minimum 100% margin. The force of the explosion now has not only to exceed that load in the opposite direction, but to do so by enough to break that lining.

    The one thing making it more likely is that the lining is basically a cylinder, with the compression strength being much higher than the tension strength.

    On the other hand, the hypothetical truck bomb is not in contact with it, there's going to be an air gap, and air gaps really weaken the disruption of an explosion. The only case I can think of where an air gap is actually useful is with shaped charges, such as the one used for foxhole digging (its purpose is to punch a vertical hole into hard ground, down which you drop a second charge which makes the main hole).

    If you can make your truck bomb a massive shaped charge, yes, then I guess you could do it. You'd need a lot of C4 equivalent, and some pretty good machining. I doubt anyone's actually done it, since normally if you can get into the tunnel, you can attach your explosive onto the liner itself.

    No, if I was to want to try to take down one of the Alpine tunnels, I'd try to find out how the Swiss Army has prepared it, and use their existing facilities.

    (Swiss military doctrine is, as I understand it, to blow the bridges and tunnels and to retreat behind their mountains. Oh, and to regretfully abandon Basel, which hasn't got any mountains. Hah, what idiot builds a city on the Rhine?)

    382:

    Really? If you haven't seen the extent to which the press, politicians and talking heads have been whipping up xenophobia against asylum seekers, immigrants, the EU and muslims, you must have been asleep. Especially the last. Sorry, 1 is solid.

    I don't disagree; except the examples you gave come under characteristic 3, not 1...

    Having said that, are we really worse off measured against 3 than we were in the mid-1970s? I'd rather not see any backsliding, but it does seem to me that we forget how far we've come in many ways. You've mentioned being old enough to remember them, what's your perspective on progression in the last four decades?

    383:

    "I don't disagree; except the examples you gave come under
    characteristic 3, not 1..."

    Partly, but not entirely. Flags, yes. Slogans, yes ("a Christian
    Country", "British Principles" etc.) And so on.

    "... what's your perspective on progression in the last four
    decades?"

    A lot better in some respects, much worse in others. The worst
    problem is the combination of dumbing down of the population, the
    dominance of the 'story' by monetarists, xenophobes, fearmongers,
    near-fascists and warmongers (media is only part of that) and the
    absence of any real, let alone intelligent, opposition.

    To take one example of the effects: none of the removals of
    liberty were deemed necessary to deal with the IRA, which was
    a highly-organised, well-funded and effective terrorist
    organisation. But they are against a bunch of loons who are
    none of those.

    384:

    "To take one example of the effects: none of the removals of
    liberty were deemed necessary to deal with the IRA,..."

    Except in NI, where we had detention without trial, torture, extra-judicial executions and the abolition of the jury system.

    385:

    its purpose is to punch a vertical hole into hard ground, down which you drop a second charge which makes the main hole

    Not quite - that's explosive excavation, so you can create large craters that are effective obstacles. The shaped charges are typically used to deal with concrete and tarmac (see: Eben Emael, if you're historically minded)

    If you want to do explosive digging for fighting positions, you're only looking to loosen the soil to make it easier to remove; it makes a smaller, steeper-sided hole.

    http://tonyrogers.com/weapons/fpe.htm

    ...I may have unpleasant memories of spending a few days digging into Salisbury Plain; flint-bearing chalk is such fun :(

    386:

    Except in NI, where we had detention without trial, torture, extra-judicial executions and the abolition of the jury system.

    Detention without trial - briefly in place, demanded by the domestic government, abandoned in the 1970s as "not necessary".

    Torture - briefly in place for "softening up" (the five techniques are below waterboarding on the torture scale), largely regarded as counterproductive by professional interrogators, banned in the 1970s.

    Extra-Judicial Executions - not really. Even supporting Mark Urban's excellent study of the subject in "Big Boys' Rules", the worst that could be said was "if you're caught with a bomb or a gun in your hands, no-one's going to ask you to surrender". Was Loughgall an "extra-judicial execution"?

    Abolition of Jury - and replacement by Diplock Courts, after multiple instances of jury imntimidation. Note that juries are not vital to the conduct of justice in several European Countries; see ECHR, and the US Supreme Court.

    You missed out reliance on eyewitness testimony and paid informants - see "supergrass" trials, abandoned in the 1980s.

    You missed out state surveillance and record keeping on a large scale - and the willing disbandment and dismantling of that infrastructure as part of the peace process (because it was really expensive). See Golf and Romeo Towers, Permanent VCPs.

    387:

    Very true, but remember also that the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (which applied to the whole UK and not just NI) were put to a vote in parliament every year, on the grounds that those provisions were in contradiction with accepted notions of where the limits of the state's power should lie.

    In 2000 - before 9/11, you'll notice - Blair's government made the PTA permanent. Make of that what you will.

    As for the wider debate about the fourteen signs of fascism, I'd recommend people read this little wiki list:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_fascism

    What distinguishes the present UK government from the wearers of the coloured shirts includes, the absence of a leader's personality cult, the absence of a progamme of violent militarisation of society for the purpose of aggressive unprovoked war (not the same as the gunboat diplomacy we see in the ME by the way), the presence of a coherent economic philosophy, which as obnoxious as I may find it is something very different from the Fascist policy of making it up as you go along. Amongst other things.

    Are the latest pronouncements about civil liberties disturbing? Definitely. But our other Uncle Charlie would remind us that this is just the bourgeoisie's normal default position.

    388:

    "Extra-Judicial Executions - not really. Even supporting Mark Urban's excellent study of the subject in "Big Boys' Rules", the worst that could be said was "if you're caught with a bomb or a gun in your hands, no-one's going to ask you to surrender". Was Loughgall an "extra-judicial execution"?"

    The scale and nature of collusion between the British state and loyalist paramilitaries in NI remains a matter of debate, but I don't think there's any doubt these days that some very, very dodgy things happened, and that they weren't just the result of a few spooks going "off the reservation".

    Was the murder of Pat Finucane an "extra-judicial execution"? Having read Johnston Brown's memoir of his police career in NI, Into the Dark, I would say yes. Brown claims - credibly in my view - that he obtained the name of one of Finucane's killers from an informant and that when he took this name to his superiors they told him that they already knew who had killed the Catholic human rights lawyer, because they had given the order. . .

    389:

    Ah, your item uses an auger. How delightfully quaint.

    The shaped charge is something like Charge Demolition Mk.2: basically a small beehive, designed so the explosive squashes a metal cone into a supersonic slug that penetrates into the ground. You use it instead of the auger.

    (Hey, what can I say? Our bunch liked explosives.)

    (Note on explosives training - if you mess up setting a charge and it doesn't go off, it isn't the instructor that dismantles it for you.)

    390:

    Yes, on Northern Ireland. While it was a lot bloodier, with more
    state abuses, they were much less than the terrorists' and regarded
    as unpleasant necessities (even shameful). And people now forget
    that the carnage on the mainland was worse than the occasional
    (usually incompetent) event today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents_in_Great_Britain#1970s

    But, if you think that the current economic policy isn't being made
    up as they go along, I have this bridge for sale ....

    391:

    Everything you say is correct as far as it goes. You might want to check on the effects of Tallboy and Grand Slam on railway tunnels (photos in the hard cover of Paul Brickhill's "The Dam Busters" for one reference), and consider that I'm talking in terms of using at least 3x the quantity of explosive (assumes Grand Slam casing was only 2 tonnes from the 10). I'm still not saying that this is an easy demolition; contrarywise, but I'm also saying that rucksack charges are the wrong end of civilian possible bombs to search for.

    392:

    1. The Provies, also, regarded their atrocities as unpleasant necessities. What's your point, caller?

    2. What I mean is that the Cameronites have a clear, specific, conception of what economic policy should be, what it should do, what its outcomes should be etc. The fascists of the 20s and 30s by and large had no such coherent economic philosophy, as submission to the will of the Leader was supposed to guarantee national salvation, rendering a coherent economic philosophy and policy unnecessary.

    393:

    Yeah, agreed that a backpack bomb would have little effect. And that several tonnes of high quality explosive, inside a proper casing that has penetrated into the ground and is in intimate contact with it, can take out a tunnel.

    A truck bomb may be possible, if you can get it right, but for now I'm sceptical. (And your typical fertiliser effort? Probably not.)

    Parenthetically, if you ever get to visit Trondheim in Norway, one of the features of the city is the Nazi U-Boat pens — they're still there all these decades later. The locals really would be very happy for them to be gone because they're on prime real estate, but the cost of getting rid of them is prohibitive. They have thought about explosive demolition, but this is concrete that shrugged off Wallis's best efforts. The amount of explosive that's required would probably cause severe damage to the neighbourhood.

    394:

    ... the Cameronites have a clear, specific, conception of what economic policy should be, what it should do, what its outcomes should be etc. The fascists of the 20s and 30s by and large had no such coherent economic philosophy, as submission to the will of the Leader was supposed to guarantee national salvation, ....

    Are you arguing that they're better than the Fascists because they actually have a coherent evil plan, instead of just pretending to?

    395:

    Do you have a reference for the Trondheim pens being attacked with tallboys etc? I can't seem to find such a thing online.

    396:

    Local guide, and verbal, as our coach circumnavigated it.

    On checking, yep, it looks like the Tallboy raids were on the pens at Brest, and there was only an assumption that any similar raids on Trondheim would not cause any more damage than happened down south.

    (Note to self: carry a 'citation required' sign when on holiday. Also medical insurance for when assaulted by exasperated guides.)

    397:

    That's out of order, and I expect a retraction.

    And no that's not what I'm arguing. I think the Tories are what Nye Bevan called them, but I think it's fundamentally misconceived to consider them in any way fascist.

    398:

    Hey, I don't expect you to needle guides on holiday (Although I did irritate one in Dunfermline abbey when I pointed out that the sword held by the engraving of Bruce on the brass place on his grave/ memorial wasn't right. The guide refused to accept anything I said about it. It turned out later to be a late 19th century fancy thing.)
    I wouldn't expect every last raid to be in Brickhill's book, but given that I've found an online list of every other raid on other submarine pens and other mentions of the Trondheim pens don't mention bombing raids, I'm inclined not to believe your guide. Especially since the tallboys and grand slams did for all the other pens they were dropped on.

    399:

    References to...

    ““Extra-Judicial Executions - not really. Even supporting Mark Urban's excellent study of the subject in "Big Boys' Rules", the worst that could be said was "if you're caught with a bomb or a gun in your hands, no-one's going to ask you to surrender". Was Loughgall an "extra-judicial execution"?" "


    Usually refer, ever so obliquely, to such things as Operation Flavius...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Flavius


    The thing is...What if you DROP the GUN/bomb or whatever and Offer to surrender to the properly authorised Agents of Authority?

    The POLICE firearms teams in the U.K. are compelled to follow “Peelian Principles " and are trained rigorously to identify an armed threat to the public - and yourself and colleagues - and neutralise the same using minimum force necessary to the challenge.


    Special Forces of the S.A.S. kind? Nope ...their rule of enguagement is to KILL the Enemy until it can’t get up and threaten to kill you. Simples really.

    400:


    This just goes on giving!

    In today’s news in the U.K. and just in advance of...


    “David Cameron offers to beef up Scotland bill after Sturgeon meeting

    Prime minister confirms he will consider additional proposals to strengthen tax and welfare powers after talks with first minister"


    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/15/cameron-consider-beefing-up-bill-scotland-welfare-tax-powers-sturgeon


    We get this announcement...


    “Anger as poll tax proponent Andrew Dunlop made a minister for Scotland

    SNP and independence supporters furious at appointment of adviser in Margaret Thatcher government who helped introduce community charge”


    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/may/14/anger-poll-tax-andrew-dunlop-minister-scotland


    Not in the least bit determined to be a slap in the face for the Scots eh wot?

    Along the lines of... Your Move Bitch!


    401:

    "The Provies, also, regarded their atrocities as unpleasant
    necessities. What's your point, caller?"

    I could address the (de)merits of the two sides, but that wasn't
    the context or my point. I was referring to the difference
    between then and now, when imprisonment without trial, house
    arrest and so on are treated as being a reasonable exercise of
    executive authority.

    "What I mean is that the Cameronites have a clear, specific,
    conception of what economic policy should be, what it should do,
    what its outcomes should be etc."

    I think that you will find that most economists disagree with
    you; certainly, the ones I know have have read articles by do.
    Even I can point out glaring holes in the consistency of their
    policies, whatever you believe their objectives are.

    402:

    That's out of order, and I expect a retraction.

    You want me to retract my question?

    I was kind of bemused that you claimed a big difference between Cameron's government and the Fascists was that his side had a competent economic plan while the Fascists were incompetent. I wouldn't have thought of that as a point in his favor....

    "If it isn't worth doing at all, then it isn't worth doing right."

    Anyway, it sounds like your central idea is that having a laundry list of bad things that Fascists did and various other governments also do, doesn't make the other governments fascist. That sounds reasonable to me.

    For myself, fascist is a sort of curse-word people apply to governments they don't like that they can't reasonably call socialist or communist. It doesn't mean much beyond "I don't like them".

    403:

    To me fascism is: Do you really, really like, like fraternity, bro?

    Sure, who doesn't like fraternity, brosephus, my man?

    And if you could get, like, really, really pure fraternity, like max fraternity, would you care that much if it came with a lot of liberty and equality and extra shit?

    Nah. I mean I like liberty sometimes. You know when it's like all they have; it ain't bad. But not like fraternity, that's essential, bro. And equality, what kind of loser wants equality? That ain't even a real thing, bro. That can't even exist. It's like nature and shit. You see any equality in nature, man? No. You do not.

    You are talking my language, brother player.

    404:

    Was the murder of Pat Finucane an "extra-judicial execution"?

    I'd say no...

    One of the problems with successfully managing to suborn a large number of terrorists, is that they still have to be plausible terrorists. This is the first-order source of some dramatic plots...

    A bigger problem is that you might have coerced or bought that terrorist - you don't fully own them, they aren't a full-time employee. They still have agency. Just because a source has supplied the Security Forces with information, doesn't mean that the Security Forces are fully responsible for cunningly planning every action taken by that source, from then on. It may even be easier to get occasional information out of unionist terrorists, because they think they're "loyal". Doesn't mean that they only take their orders from the State.

    Killing one lawyer fails the plausibility test at this point. It's a nice dog whistle for the more excitable loyalists, but it's not exactly a win for the peace process, and it's hardly going to defeat the terrorists.

    If the State was really into executions, why are Gerry Adams, Slab Murphy, and Martin McGuiness still alive? Why was it an Army patrol that saved Bernadette McAliskey after UFF gunmen shot her?

    There may have been dodgy stuff done in the 1970s by the Army; granted. There may have been dodgy stuff done by the RUC in the 1980s. However, it doesn't appear to have extended to sanctioned execution - although this seems to be an article of faith among Republicans.

    405:

    The thing is...What if you DROP the GUN/bomb or whatever and Offer to surrender to the properly authorised Agents of Authority?

    If it's a well-triggered ambush, they won't get a chance to surrender, they'll have holes in them before they realise what's going on.

    Remember - these are terrorists, armed and on a mission to kill someone. They made their choice when they picked up that gun, and went out to kill someone. That might be some Australian tourists in Holland, as a mistaken identity; it might be a housewife on her own doorstep, as happened to the wife of a soldier in Germany. It might be that they planned to set off a bomb at a crowded tourist event in Gibraltar; in Harrods; or plant a bomb outside a McDonalds on a Saturday afternoon (Warrington). Read up on the Omagh bombing.

    I'd like to think that they got the chance to surrender and a fair trial, but it's more than they ever gave a soldier that they caught; and it's more than they ever planned to give the victims they were only too willing to kill.

    406:

    It's the same in Bordeaux, they have a massive Base Sous-Marine which they would *love* to get rid of - the French known for being particularly fond of that time.

    Unfortunately it is simply too difficult to demolish (and they really have tried) - the roof alone is made of steel reinforced concrete more than 9 meters thick!

    Apparently it used more than 600,000m3 of concrete. It's a heck of a space, the flooded pens are over 20m deep so the u-boats could leave underwater.

    407:

    Actually, the best argument against is that what evidence there
    is, is that he was killed on the orders of some senior RUC people
    but NOT with any official (top-level) approval. That's not
    execution, but plain murder and abude of office. Note that I am
    not taking a position on whether he was a brave civil-rights
    lawyer or an IRA agent - that's irrelevant to my point.

    As far as I recall, and with the benefit of information that has
    emerged since, the then government(s) never authorised the death
    of anyone that they did not have good evidence was actively trying
    to kill or assisting with the killing of innocents. While the
    Gibraltar killings were murder, they were the murder of people
    who were actively trying to murder innocents.

    Some of the more recent special forces killings have been very
    disturbing, because they have looked awfully cold-blooded, that
    excuse has not applied, and there is evidence that they were
    ordered by very senior people with the approval of the actual
    government. That might be false, but ....

    It is things like that, plus the ones I mentioned, plus the
    concept of a 'trial' where the government appoints the judge,
    prosecution and defence, and the defendant is not allowed to
    dispute the evidence, which makes me say that some things have
    got much worse since the 1970s. Of course, OTHER things have
    got vastly better - LGBT rights, for example.

    408:

    f the State was really into executions, why are Gerry Adams, Slab Murphy, and Martin McGuiness still alive?

    Nit-pick: from a stats viewpoint, that's the wrong question to ask. Those guys' continued existence isn't positive evidence that there was no state execution policy, it's just evidence that if there was such a policy, they weren't targeted. However, their continuing presence as living, breathing leaders of the Republican movement today may be indirectly correlated with the assassination of other plausible future leaders at some point in the past. In other words, absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

    I also submit that, as ex-Army, you have a perfectly reasonable emotional investment in seeing yourself as one of the good guys: this predisposes you to discount allegations against people you may have served with. Similarly, folks on the other side of the table have exactly the same cognitive bias against the Army. I will note that the British Army has, on occasion, committed documented atrocities against civilians; there's even a wikipedia page for British Army war crimes (I will note in fairness that it's shorter than the equivalent pages for some other European powers).

    Here's a thing: when cognitive dissonance over your own group's actions begins to grow, one of the first stages in diffusing it is to project the cause of the unease on the other side: "but they're doing it, so we've got to do it too". And it's always easier to do this in an insurgency/civil war situation, where stuff is happening in the shadows. This also explains the utility of IS/Da'esh beheading/scare stories in the west, incidentally: it makes it much easier to see them as a faceless existential threat that needs destroying (a justification for war crimes if I've ever heard one), while turning a blind eye to, e.g., the high rate of executions by beheading in loyal ally Saudi Arabia.

    I'd like to note that the five techniques were condemned as torture by the ECHR, and the subsequent court determinations that they aren't tantamount to torture is basically hair-splitting bullshit: if it causes permanent psychological trauma and, in some cases, death, it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. Similarly, there were plenty of occasions during the conflict where lethal force was used without giving the targets an opportunity to surrender.

    But this boot fits on both feet, too, and I'm not going to cut the Republican groups any slack for using Black and Decker drills on kneecaps or "disappearing" and murdering housewives or blowing up civilians by the double-handful in pubs and shops.

    409:

    My personal measure of the nastiness of a state is the ratio of
    deaths of people who were unarmed at the time by the security
    services or their affiliates, to that of deaths of the security
    services and those close to or working with them caused by the
    'insurrection'. That includes deaths in custody, collateral
    damage and so on. Even allowing for a fair number of the killings
    by the 'protestant' extremists, the UK did not do too badly.

    I haven't investigated the data on the Metropolitan or other UK
    police forces in depth, largely because the data are kept fairly
    well obscured, but it's not wonderful, especially as it isn't
    facing organised and armed criminals or terrorists. The cause
    of concern is more the attitude of the government to such
    killings, combined with the replacement of the rule of law by
    executive authority, that makes me sure it is going to get worse
    when the current policies make enough people desperate enough to
    riot. Thatcher actually laid some groundwork to use retired
    troops in case that happened, though it wasn't described like
    that.

    I hope that I am wrong :-(

    410:

    Unfortunately it is simply too difficult to demolish (and they really have tried) - the roof alone is made of steel reinforced concrete more than 9 meters thick!

    Too difficult covers it fairly effectively. I managed to convince one of the security guards at the Dora Bunker to give me a tour when I visited a couple of years ago, and one of the things she told me is that there were fairly serious plans in the 1970s to carry out a demolition.

    What stopped it in the end was not the difficulty of breaking up all the concrete per se (what's the saying? "there is no problem that cannot be solved by sufficient application of high explosive"), but the consequences for the rest of the city - such as shattering just about every window within several miles. Evacuating folks for a few blocks around is standard in large demolitions. Evacuating an entire city... that's a touch harder to get away with.

    411:

    Back to the Future...err... the Past - ure ..

    "
    Aftermath
    By Charlie Stross

    Okay, discuss.

    Two notes:

    1. Here's the historic 1945-2010 election turnout chart broken down by UK country. Here are some notes on historic turnout by the Independent, going a little off-message (their Russian owner insisted they back the Conservative party). Turn-out is currently estimated around 62-63% of the electorate, but hit 82% in parts of Scotland, and seems to have averaged around 75%.

    2. Ed Miliband (Labour leader) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat leader) both look likely to resign. Meanwhile the count isn't final yet, but the Conservatives are on course to form a narrow majority (22 seats to declare, 13 needed, LD on 8, so if they get 5 more seats they can form a Con/LD coalition, and 13 to rule outright). "

    I've just been reading, " The New Statesman ... Labour's defeat was the inevitable consequence of the politics of delusion

    The 2015 election was shocking, but it shouldn't have been surprising. “and, sadly, I really can't find much that isn't fairly obvious both now but also then before the election."


    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/labours-defeat-was-inevitable-consequence-politics-delusion

    The FAIL began long ago before the election when The Left wing of Labour chose to believe that...THE PROLES just MUST belive...err, BELIVE that OUR ED was a GOOD Man who means/meant well... even though he appeared to be a Strange Academic Creature from The Blue Lagoon of London.

    Not Tony Bliar At All? That’s the point! “Ordinary People were prepared to believe in The Bliar three times running until HE gave up The Throne to ...Gordon Brown, who had all the charisma of a ..Ghods!! Oh the Horror! My imagination has reached the Event Horizon of Imagination and is frozen therein.

    Falling ForEver?


    “So Labour now finds its electoral position akin to that of the 1980s. Its sorry state then the result of a hard left mentality encapsulated in the mantra: “no compromise with the electorate.” Since 2010, the rallying cry of the adherents of the politics of delusion – “no compromise with reality” – has been no less destructive. "

    This is all horribly reminiscent of the Neil Kinnock FAIL


    “1992 general election....

    In the three years leading up to the 1992 election, Labour had consistently topped the opinion polls, with 1991 seeing the Tories (rejuvenated by the arrival of a new leader in John Major the previous November) snatch the lead off Labour more than once before Labour regained it.[32] Since Major's election as Conservative leader (and becoming Prime Minister), Kinnock had spent the end of 1990[33] and most of 1991 putting pressure on Major to hold the election that year, but Major had held out and insisted that there would be no general election in 1991. In the run-up to the election, held on 9 April 1992, most opinion polls had suggested that the election would end in a hung parliament or a narrow Labour majority. [34]

    In the 1992 election, Labour made considerable progress – reducing the Conservative majority to just 21 seats. It came as a shock to many when the Conservatives won a majority, but the "triumphalism" perceived by some observers of a Labour party rally in Sheffield (together with Kinnock's performance on the podium) may have helped put floating voters off.[35] Although internal polls[35] suggested no impact, while public polls suggested a decline in support had already occurred,[36] most of those directly involved in the campaign believe that the rally really came to widespread attention only after the electoral defeat itself,[37] with Kinnock himself changing his mind to a rejection of its negative impact over time.[38] "

    We did have fair Warning... " He was an enthusiastic supporter of Ed Miliband's campaign to lead the Labour Party in 2010, and was reported as telling activists, when Ed Miliband won, "We've got our party back".[45] "

    That from Wikipedia.

    412:

    FWIW, I feel similarly. As best I can see, fascism is when a society embraces totalitarianism or authoritarianism. "Please, daddy Supreme Leader, save us."

    413:

    I meant to add ..


    " Election Night Results Have Made Neil Kinnock Very Upset: 'People Who Vote Conservative Are Self-Deluded' "

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/05/07/neil-kinnock_people-vote-conservative-self-deluded_n_7237916.html

    414:

    ““Please, daddy Supreme Leader, save us."

    I can Only do that, Oh Best Beloved, when you and the Other Children throw The Un-Believers into this Pool, which lies before You, that is the home of the - Ever So Friendly - Great White Sharks that your Brethren have provided against Your Need and according to MY Command.

    Never FEAR!! Only Believe and ALL Will Be WELL!
    Oh, and also just make a tiny Cut in the Skins of The Un-Belivers before you Throw them into The Pool ..how can that possibly do them any serious Harm?

    415:

    That made me laugh so much.

    But compare the Tories with UKIP. If UKIP had a coherent plan, they didn't communicate it to me. Now imagine Nigel, and his spies, in charge: "The Queen has refused to accept my resignation. And due to the overwhelming support for me in the country, there will be no need to waste millions on an election that I would inevitably win."

    416:

    Working hypothesis: we're all living in the fallout of the French Revolution, ideologically-speaking.

    The three slogans of the revolution are a good thing, when combined and not taken to an extreme: "liberte, egalite, fraternite".

    But ...

    Take "liberte" to an extreme and you get the insane devil-take-the-hindmost greed of the objectivists (and right-libertarian fellow-travellers).

    Take "egalite" to an extreme and you end up with forced collectivization and the excesses of Stalinism or Maoism.

    Take "fraternite" to an extreme and you end up with fascism.

    Do away with all three and you're back to the ancien regime -- rule by a monarch (essentially a heavenly-ordained dictator) or theocracy.

    This leaves us jiggling the sliders uneasily somewhere in the middle, trying to find an inhabitable patch of unthreatening moral high ground.

    Because, let's face it, idealist ideologies unrestrained by pragmatism are bloody dangerous things (as is their absence).

    417:

    Step 1: make human rights a qualified right that applies only to the right kind of people (the responsible, hard-working, non-foreign ones). By definition, if human rights don't apply to you, you are subhuman.

    418:

    The future seems to be the current Chinese political system.

    419:

    "Someone to claim us, someone to follow.
    Someone to shame us, some brave Apollo.
    Someone to fool us, someone like you:
    We want you Big Brother"

    Big Brother - David Bowie

    Hmm, I think this is the 4th or 5th "1984" reference I've made here in the past few months. Probably a bad sign.

    420:

    At least that phrase "It's like 1984" died on 1 Jan 1985. A bit like all the 2012 Mayan calender crap infesting New Age bookshops mostly disappeared 1 Jan 2013

    421:


    But what do you mean when you say " current " or " Chinese " let alone "political" or "system "?


    http://www.forbes.com/sites/dougguthrie/2012/03/16/understanding-chinese-politics-today/

    " 3/16/2012 @ 11:55AM 10,431 views
    Understanding Chinese Politics Today
    ....

    In last week’s column, I wrote about the importance of having a deep understanding of history, politics and culture to appreciate the internal events in countries we do business with around the world. Reading the tealeaves of a given event in a faraway country is never easy, and this week has been an especially interesting one for China. The most important news to come out has been the ouster of Chongqing strongman Bo Xilai, the man who was sent to this provincial-level city to clean up corruption.

    Many in the West have interpreted this as a positive sign; a sign that the “reformers” have somehow gained an upper hand. For example, The Washington Post trumpeted Bo’s ouster as a “victory for Chinese reformers”; USA Today reported that Bo’s dismissal “aims a very substantial blow to so-called leftists.” And the current era’s economic guru, Nouriel Roubini, tweeted, “China experiences ides of March as neo-Maoist leader Bo Xilai is axed. A positive sign that reformist forces are gaining an upper hand.” All of these interpretations are extremely superficial, and, unfortunately, the reality of these events are obviously more complex than our major mediaoutlets understand them to be."

    422:

    I'll buy that, although I only have a glib knowledge of these topics.

    One of the things I had in mind was Herodotus' account of Darius, Megabyzos, and Otanes debating how the Persians should be ruled (Book III.80) They rejected democracy and willingly embraced tyranny. But obviously Herodotus had a hardon for the Athenian system.

    My other observation is that it's really hard to defend moderation and the compromises that comprise pragmatism against extremists and zealots. I always end up feeling guilty and thinking "well, maybe I should be more X". I find myself pushed towards the extreme. And Nick Clegg is perceived as having made the wrong compromises and look how that's worked out for him and his party.

    423:

    What I mean by "the current Chinese political system" is an authoritarian government with serious powers of censorship over what the population sees, coupled with a wide "freedom of speech", but any hint of collective action is stamped out instantly. Additionally, the only opinions that matter are those of party members comprising the "great and good" on an invitation basis and including the corporate powers as part of govt. All news is "managed" and govt is run by a self perpetuating technocratic elite.

    424:
    If the State was really into executions, why are Gerry Adams, Slab Murphy, and Martin McGuiness still alive?
    Coincidence. Adams was lucky to survive a 1984 attack he alleges the RUC (at least) had prior knowledge of.
    425:

    Please don't think I was denying that the "five techniques" were torture - they are. And you're correct about the emotional desire to believe you're on the correct side...

    Having said that, I just don't go for the execution thing. Fails the plausibility case; remember that soldiers are human too, and have IMHO similar rather than higher rates of sociopathy to the general population (sociopaths don't make great team players). It's easy to claim "X was executed, obvious innit", but who would do it? Why do it? I mean, in what cases would the pattern of UFF murders fit a wider plan? The UFF and LVF killings were done because they were easy, not because they were effective. Look up Johnny Adair; we aren't talking intelligent, nor brave. They would just pick some random but easy to reach, Catholic and murder them. Taxi driver, whatever.

    As for "Special Forces execute people", again nope. I would point the finger at those who briefed the surveillance teams in Gibraltar. If you say "the bomb may be in place" and combine it with "they may have a remote trigger" there is only one possible reaction if the surveillance team believes that it has been spotted, and it's to use lethal force immediately. Unless, of course, someone can suggest a plausible alternative action for that scenario...

    426:

    Similarly, there were plenty of occasions during the conflict where lethal force was used without giving the targets an opportunity to surrender.

    The rules of engagement for such things insist that a challenge be issued, unless the issuing of a challenge would increase the risk to the life. If you know that the other person is armed, that would fit the bill. As the joke goes, if it's a fair fight, you're doing it wrong.

    PS regarding atrocities, don't forget Sgt Blackman in Afghanistan - a murderer, now serving his sentence. Worse than that is the case of Baha Mousa - whose death required over a score of people to be complicit, either actively or passively; officers, senior NCOs and soldiers all. The Queen's Lancashire Regiment was disbanded in the cuts afterwards; the Medical Officer struck off; the CO resigned once it became clear he was going nowhere (I.e. he may have been innocent, but he should have known what was going on). The Chaplain came under direct criticism, as did the Company Commander. The Platoon Commander was directly involved. Only one or two individuals came out of it with any credit at all.

    The interesting thing was the reaction on the Army Rumour Service forum when it started to come out - shame and disgust. No effort to justify it, nor defend those involved. The really depressing thing is the failure to secure convictions and sufficient sentenced against the murderers.

    427:

    I've just been reading, " The New Statesman ... Labour's defeat was the inevitable consequence of the politics of delusion

    The 2015 election was shocking, but it shouldn't have been surprising. “and, sadly, I really can't find much that isn't fairly obvious both now but also then before the election."

    Too bad they didn't explain all that before the election.

    This stuff is so much more obvious in hindsight....

    I figure the politicians are pretty much all deluded. The ones who lose have it pointed out to them, and the ones who win are assumed to be clever or something....

    And it's easy to tell which is which -- after the election.

    428:

    Thanks Charlie, you unpacked it pretty much perfectly and more eloquently than I could have. I made the common mistake of thinking people automatically know things which are second nature to oneself. "Everyone" knows the French Revolution; I can just write my little fable without any context.

    Having been forced to survey fascist movements in general, I can tell you that there are "Green" fascists who just want their own private Idaho without outside interference, but with little interest in taking what they consider other people's stuff. However, I don't think any of these movements have ever captured a nation state; so maybe an effective fascist movement has to be more like the checklist. You could argue, however, that Spanish fascism came close to being externally non-agressive.

    Charlie's metaphor also got me to thinking about fraternity. Is fraternity a positive? A necessity? If "fraternity" is just a gloss for nationalism, then it might be more of an artifact of political accident than a necessity. However, if fraternity is what makes people feel responsible for caring about and supporting others within their group, then we just need to make sure that empathy does not have overly restrictive boundaries. Balancing the sliding scales again, we need at least some empathy for people far away from our locus, but for practical reasons, most of our efforts are going to be focused closer to home than not.

    429:

    ''The three slogans of the revolution are a good thing, when
    combined and not taken to an extreme: "liberte, egalite,
    fraternite".''

    And more particularly when used entirely as slogans, to justify
    dogmas/policies/etc. that are gross distortions of those ideals.
    All of your examples show that well, because all applied those
    principles selectively.

    430:

    Is maybe "solidarity" a better English word than "fraternity"?

    Under which analysis the Tories are anti-fascist because they're trying to atomise society and destroy any form of solidarity that might oppose them. But UKIP are trying to build solidarity based on a cultural notion of "common sense".

    Either way, I think it's the opposite of empathy. It's about putting my "brother" before anybody else, even if I empathise with the other. (And, as Charlie notes, it's also the opposite of liberty because my duty to my "brother" outweighs my freedom to do as I please.)

    431:

    How about "chauvinism"? It's all in-group bias; the differences are where the group border is drawn. Pity about the lack of -ity word ending, though.

    432:

    The future seems to be the current Chinese political system.

    I don't know about that. They seem to be running out of ways to keep people happy as they move "off the farm". Giving millions a city job after growing up with a future that appeared to be living in a mud hut worked for 20 years or so. Now they seem to be running out of jobs (or at least not having near enough) to hand out to current mud hutters and the children of the first wave. That doesn't bode well for them. The next 10 years could be "interesting" over there.

    433:

    Because solidarity can be a positive force. It's how the weak bind together to stand up to the powerful. In fact anything human beings do as group happens because we pledge support towards that goal.

    And because chauvinism isn't the only way solidarity can go wrong. For example, when an institution covers up a crime committed by one if its members, that's not really chauvinism. Or putting a whole team at significant risk to rescue one operative.

    434:

    Because solidarity can be a positive force. It's how the weak bind together to stand up to the powerful. In fact anything human beings do as group happens because we pledge support towards that goal.

    Oh dear.
    O dearie, dearie me.

    And, err ... what is the EMBLEM of Fascism?
    The "Fasces" - a bundle of sticks.
    Because a bundle of sticks, tied together is stronger than a single log.
    Used a a symbol of power by the Roman Republic & then re-used in C20th by we-all-know-whom.

    435:

    Both are right. Solidarity can be a positive force; it can also be
    a negative one. That is nothing unusual - even love (all forms)
    can be negative if in excess or if it excludes too much else.

    On this matter, several people have confused fascism with there
    being a single dictator - as the symbol indicates, fascism is
    historically and commonly a feature of self-selected oligarchies.
    There really isn't much difference between the two, except single
    dictators are more likely to go insane and oligarchies are harder
    to overthrow.

    436:

    The "Fasces" - a bundle of sticks.

    Er, no. That's a bit like saying that a rifle cartridge is a lump of brass filled with various inflammable chemicals and capped at one end with a lump of lead.

    The fasces are a bundle of birch canes, used for corporal punishment, bound around a headsman's axe, used for amputations/executions. It's a symbol of the magistrate's authority and jurisdiction.

    Yes, there's a lot of symbolism here, and solidarity is part of it -- but it was also originally a symbol of judicial authority and power.

    A simple bundle of sticks it ain't!

    437:

    I was thinking of the original (as perpetrated/perpetuated in Roman/classical history/myth) not what they became a a symbol of Republican & then Imperial power.

    IIRC, an early Roman temporary Dictator showed the populace the difficulty of breaking a bundle of sticks, as opposed to easily breaking one ... this also appears in one of Aesop's fables, too.

    438:

    One of the great debates within German history is did the Nazis run a modern, truly fascist state or did they operate like an unchecked monarchy. My guess is that while Hitler probably did play the court favorites game at the top, there was too much German machinery below to prevent it from being a modern, if extremely overheated and unstable, state apparatus.

    439:

    I think solidarity is a way better word. But we are sort of stuck with the flowery French prose as a starting point. The Revolution is a condensed history of modernism, where almost every viable idea got its chance to kill people. And the metric system is still out there, people, waiting its chance.

    440:

    Are you serious?
    Or are you taking the piss?

    Sorry, but I was introduced to what was then called the "mks" system of units [ Now the International Syatem of Units ] in 1960-61.
    Ther are still people, some under 40 years old who "can't cope with these foreign things"
    Pathetic.
    And stupid.
    And ignorant.

    [ P.S. I still prefer beer in 568-ml units, though! ]

    441:

    "That doesn't bode well for them. The next 10 years could be "interesting" over there."

    People have been saying that for decades, at least since Tienanmen Square. The real strength of the Chinese system is the dumping of the "glorious leader" and putting in place an efficient technocracy at the top end. I don't have any doubts that they will "go with the evidence" and do what is necessary. And the other strength of the system is that "do what is necessary" knows few limits.

    442:

    I find good lager in 500ml units in measure glasses to be quite acceptable.

    443:

    *laughs* I think we all read the same Wikipedia pages yesterday! But how does that justify your argument? Aesop's recommending unity as a virtue not proposing it will lead to a totalitarian state.

    (And, in case people missed it, I see Title IV of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is entitled "Solidarity", although us plucky Brits and the nation liberated by Solidarity have opted out of it.)

    444:

    "I think solidarity is a way better word."

    :)

    My excavations into the Englightement are only just beginning. A little bit of Spinoza, Locke and Leibniz. I was rubbing up against Hume yesterday.

    And I do think I get what you were aiming at with empathy; it's viewing fraternity as unconditional love that's been restricted to the in group. But if you're capable of extending unconditional love to Greg (he's 3 inches tall, has a glossy, David-Dickinson tan and 5 inch long purple hair so it's not hard) could you extend it to Hitler, Mussolini or Nick Clegg? #EquivalenceClass

    445:

    //(joke) I was completely serious. (joke)\\

    In the future we will be mandated to include these descriptors in the meta-data, not just online, but in everyday speech. (Assuming we are not mandated to only communicate through state-issued brain implanted phones, which will do the formatting and correct any "mistakes" for us. On the bright side, it would save a lot of awkwardness at family gatherings and make it a lot harder to screw up an interview.)

    Specials

    Merchandise

    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on May 8, 2015 9:26 AM.

    The Scottish Political Singularity, Act Two was the previous entry in this blog.

    A message from our sponsors: now with added gaming content! is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

    Search this blog

    Propaganda