AV it!

Watching from a distance, it’s possible to view the campaign for the AV referendum with a detached amusement. But it’s becoming increasingly hard to stomach the ‘No’ brigade.

It’s perhaps not surprising that ‘No to AV’ is turning into one of the most dishonest and tendentious political campaigns in British history. For a start, it’s being engineered by the seconded chief of the Taxdodgers’ Alliance. Secondly, and more to the point, the only logical argument in favour of FPTP is that you favour a system that allows a party which 64 per cent of the population actively went out and voted against to have powers that would make a dictator blush. Not surprising, it’s an argument no one is making.

So we’re left with the smear and the half truth, both familiar to long-time observers of the Taxdodgers Alliance. The front page of the No to AV media webpage gives the game away – six smears against the Yes campaign, one ‘positive’ story – some F-list Tory sportspeople backing the no campaign (including such glittering luminaries as, err, pram-faced Fleetwood boxer Jane Couch)

They have a go at the Electoral Reform Society for, err, campaigning. In fact, our idiot boy Chancellor, Gideon Osborne, comes out with this gem

“The Electoral Reform Society – which is running some of the referendum ballots – stands to benefit if AV comes in because it could be one of the people who provide these electronic voting machines”

Erm, yes. Except we won’t need the machines because, in my experience, the bank clerks and social workers who count our elections can … err … count. And so what if the Electoral Reform Society did benefit? If its subsiduary, Electoral Reform Services, makes more money from clients (such as The Conservative Party, which runs its elections on a system that is a kissing cousin of AV) what will it do? Well, given that it is a wholely-owned subsiduary of the Electoral Reform Society, we can probably speculate that it will spend the money on … campaigning for electoral reform.

And David Cameron is equally dishonest and duplicitous, declaring falsely that under FPTP, all votes are of equal value. Are we to assume, then, that the Conservative party spends the same in marginal Morecambe as it does in safe-Labour Preston or solidly Tory Wyre? Well, fortunately, we have the figures. Wyre’s 71,612 voters had £7,179.16 spent on them by their Tory candidate (10p a head). Preston’s 61,025 voters received a lavish £725.75 (a tad over a penny apiece). For marginal Morecambe? £31,135.24 for 69,254 voters (45p). So, to David Cameron, your vote is worth at least four times as much if you live in a marginal than in a safe Tory seat. If you live in safe Labour territory? One 45th as much. The true figures, taking in cash from Central Office are, needless to say, likely to be even more damning.

It seems to Cameron, all votes are equal – but some are more equal than others.

Anyway, that’s quite enough logic and reason. Time to take a leaf from the ‘No to AV’ playbook, here’s the best negative argument yet against FPTP;

Anything that unites John Prescott, Margaret Beckett, Nick Griffin, Baroness Warsi, John Redwood and Norman Tebbit simply has to be a very, very bad thing

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Left on the sidelines

There’s been a welcome return, in recent weeks, for the excellent Philtheone blog, perhaps Blackpool’s best (unless you know better).

He’s come up with some real scoops and, on a few occasions, sailed a little too close to the wind. The opinions are steadfastly right wing (albeit heavily against the current Tory leadership of Blackpool Borough Council. But occasionally Phil – and more to the point, some of his fellow contributors – come out with some real nonsense.

Where to start with this swivel-eyed, crypto-fascist nonsense?

What poster True Blackpudlian are saying is that ordinary working people do not deserve the human right to organise as they see fit. Our unions are already among the most restricted in the world. Union members have a right to vote on whether their union has a political fund or not. If the union has a political fund, members have a right to opt out of contributing to it. What more restrictions do you need? Why should the ordinary working people who make up the trades unions not have the right to have paid professionals at the top of the organisation? After all, if they don’t like them or don’t think they’re up to the job, they can always vote them out. Could it be that the reason (some) trades unions oppose the cuts is because it is not in the interests of their members for their members jobs to be slashed?

If any institution in this country needs to be democratised it is big business and pension funds. They’re supposedly run in the interests of their shareholders, yet can you get rid of or call to account the trustees of your pension fund? Are they made to hold regular conferences at which all members can have their say on policies? Are they hecker’s like. So billions upon billions of pounds ‘belonging’ to ordinary working people is ‘managed’ by a tiny cabal of very wealthy people in shady corners of the City of London, based on whatever ‘relationship’ is ‘bought’ by this powerful yet shadowy elite.

And while we’re at it, how about shedding a little more light on other organisations which play a role in our political process yet fail to follow even the most basic rules of transparency, never mind democracy. Who pays for the Taxdodgers’ Alliance? Who elected its leaders or set it policies? While foreign-based billionaires can buy their way into the political process, ordinary working people are in a vice-like grip. And you want to make it worse. Shame on you.