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Unread 19 Feb 2008, 19:04   #1
All Systems Go
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Lib Dems

I'm thinking of writing an essay about the Liberal Democrats. I'm not sure if it is compatible with the question, but if it is I would like to write about the difficulty of the third (or any other) party to break the hegemony of the big two.

I'm thinking I'll focus on bias in the media as well as the systematic bias of the voting system in the UK and whatever else I can think of. What I'm really after though (apart from a good debate) is if there are any books that discuss issues such as these in any kind of detail?

I've got the answer and the vague outline of some ideas, but now I need some substance.
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Unread 19 Feb 2008, 22:42   #2
Yahwe
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Re: Lib Dems

well you might want to consider the change from liberal/tory to tory/labour before you get too carried away arguing an impenetrable polarised system ...
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Unread 19 Feb 2008, 23:03   #3
All Systems Go
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Re: Lib Dems

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Originally Posted by Yahwe
well you might want to consider the change from liberal/tory to tory/labour before you get too carried away arguing an impenetrable polarised system ...
Ineed, but I doubt that in the forseeable future there will be two World Wars and the total collapse of the world economic system.

Hey, just call me an optimist.
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Unread 19 Feb 2008, 23:05   #4
Yahwe
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by All Systems Go
Ineed, but I doubt that in the forseeable future there will be two World Wars and the total collapse of the world economic system.

Hey, just call me an optimist.
i think you might want to be less simplistic
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Unread 19 Feb 2008, 23:12   #5
All Systems Go
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Re: Lib Dems

Clearly there are numerous other factors involed, but aside from some huge social upheval I can't see what is going to cause a rise in mass politics to such an extent that a more 'radical' (i.e. one that differs in any significant way from the other two) party would prosper.
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The 20th century has been characterised by three developments of great political importance. The growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
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Unread 19 Feb 2008, 23:18   #6
Yahwe
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by All Systems Go
Clearly there are numerous other factors involed, but aside from some huge social upheval I can't see what is going to cause a rise in mass politics to such an extent that a more 'radical' (i.e. one that differs in any significant way from the other two) party would prosper.
but when it happens you will simply define the causes of a change in the system as 'huge social upheval'. so what you are in fact saying is "without change there will be no change"

which is a bit dull, in my opinion
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Unread 19 Feb 2008, 23:30   #7
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Re: Lib Dems

Additional information is necessary for us foreigners to follow this discussion, should it take off.

Are the two leading parties Labour and Conservative?
Are Tories the same as Conservatives?
Liberal Democrats, are they a current party but not one of the two leading parties?
Were the Liberal Democrats a big two party at one time?

Teach me. I want to learn but am too lazy to look things up.
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Unread 19 Feb 2008, 23:32   #8
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
Additional information is necessary for us foreigners to follow this discussion, should it take off.

Are the two leading parties Labour and Conservative?
Are Tories the same as Conservatives?
Liberal Democrats, are they a current party but not one of the two leading parties?
Were the Liberal Democrats a big two party at one time?

Teach me. I want to learn but am too lazy to look things up.
teaching is different from telling.

besides you seem to be on the right track
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Unread 20 Feb 2008, 12:33   #9
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Exclamation Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
Are the two leading parties Labour and Conservative?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
Are Tories the same as Conservatives?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
Liberal Democrats, are they a current party but not one of the two leading parties?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
Were the Liberal Democrats a big two party at one time?
Yes.
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Unread 20 Feb 2008, 12:37   #10
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Exclamation Re: Lib Dems

Oh, and media bias is only a very tangenital factor here. Most of the media were highly favourable (either openly or otherwise) to the Alliance/David Owen in the 1980's and that didn't really do much good for the Liberals/SDP. In fact, the Alliance did a lot worse than the Lib Dems of today - who so often bitch about 'lack of exposure' - generally do.

The only real thing which holds the two party system together is the voting system. If it wasn't for the current voting system then Labour would undoubtedly have died as a party of government in the eighties and quite possibly the Tories as well. (at least in their current form.)
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Unread 20 Feb 2008, 13:15   #11
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Re: Lib Dems

I vote you take MM's advice. It's quite a worn track, though. You should try the Al-Fayed stratagem and blame an international conspiracy involving the top ten or so people in power. I'd read that.
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Unread 20 Feb 2008, 20:13   #12
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marilyn Manson
Oh, and media bias is only a very tangenital factor here. Most of the media were highly favourable (either openly or otherwise) to the Alliance/David Owen in the 1980's and that didn't really do much good for the Liberals/SDP. In fact, the Alliance did a lot worse than the Lib Dems of today - who so often bitch about 'lack of exposure' - generally do.

The only real thing which holds the two party system together is the voting system. If it wasn't for the current voting system then Labour would undoubtedly have died as a party of government in the eighties and quite possibly the Tories as well. (at least in their current form.)
you should consider the stats if scotland gets independance ...
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Unread 23 Feb 2008, 01:47   #13
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Re: Lib Dems

Is Scotland trying to leave or are you trying to push them out?
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Unread 23 Feb 2008, 13:24   #14
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
Is Scotland trying to leave or are you trying to push them out?
Probably.
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Unread 23 Feb 2008, 18:29   #15
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Re: Lib Dems

They're trying to leave.

They've got half-way out. The SNP (Scottish National Party) is trying to convince the Scottish people that they should go the rest of the way, mainly through economic arguments; although I'm not up-to-date on how far they've got with that.

One of the arguments revolves around whether or not Scotland depends economically on the rest of the UK. This was certainly true in previous years from the data I've seen, but not so now; some stats even claim they're richer. The most important question, from a politically realist perspective, would revolve around who would own the North Sea oil on independence.

Unless I'm mistaken (i.e. there's some statement in the devolution legislation that guarantees a referendum on independence at some point) the UK parliament would have to grant Scotland a referendum on independence. The Conservatives were previously extremely reluctant to grant Scotland a referendum on devolution - Labour promptly initiated it when they came to power in 1997. So if the Conservatives are in power when and if the SNP demand a referendum on independence it may be a little tricky. If Labour are in power it's far more likely that they'd allow it as they've always been pro-devolution and presumably pro-independence, or at least more so than the Conservatives.

With this you need to realise that it's highly unlikely that the Conservatives will ever receive many MPs in Scotland anymore and Labour are losing votes to the SNP and other parties (Labour were in power in the Scottish parliament at the start, but now the SNP along with the Greens, I think, are in power).

Last edited by Hebdomad; 23 Feb 2008 at 18:40. Reason: it's losing not l oo sing.
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Unread 23 Feb 2008, 21:00   #16
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Re: Lib Dems

Scotland keeps pretending they want to leave because they think it makes them look hard.
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Unread 24 Feb 2008, 19:16   #17
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
Who?
It's like Alocholics Anonymous, but without the anonymity.
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Unread 25 Feb 2008, 01:22   #18
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Re: Lib Dems

As an aside to scottish independence and north sea oil, are the liberal democrats somewhere between labour and conservative on the political spectrum*?

Giving all the whinging on these boards, i was under the impression that a major criticism of the two major parties was that they're too similar (a concern also raised in Australia with "me too"ism). Assuming that this is the case, how can a party that is between the two major parties differentiate themselves from the others if there is so little room to move?

Or is that why they never win any elections?


*i am aware that its not really a line
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Unread 25 Feb 2008, 10:26   #19
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Re: Lib Dems

So, because they've not been in government for the last 200 years, they can claim the moral high ground in any issue regarding competance as they've no past record that they feel obligated to defend?

So... Will they ever actually win an election?
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Unread 25 Feb 2008, 12:19   #20
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultimate Newbie
So, because they've not been in government for the last 200 years, they can claim the moral high ground in any issue regarding competance as they've no past record that they feel obligated to defend?

So... Will they ever actually win an election?
Not unless they follow the guidelines for being in government, as outlined in t&f's post.
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Unread 25 Feb 2008, 20:16   #21
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
All the 3 main parties are basically the same perhaps with varying degrees of incompetence and bigotry.

Any third party capitalises on the historic failures of the other 2 parties.

There are some people who can't with good conscience vote for Labour because of the wars, their scapegoating of immigrants, their single minded attack on civil liberties, the deliberate increase in social inequality and their failure to take meaningful action tackling various forms of injustice. There are people who can't vote for the Conservatives for exactly the same reasons.
I'd vote for you.
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Unread 25 Feb 2008, 20:46   #22
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Re: Lib Dems

"all the parties are the same" is an utterly fatuous remark. It is made by people too lazy to look for differences.

What exactly would you prefer in a democracy? "ooo I'm not going to vote for the XXX party because of that silly 'we will eat every baby we see lightly roasted with garlic and sesame' policy but at least they are different!"

Such idiocy invariably leads to supporting single issue parties or utter freaks.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 01:29   #23
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Re: Lib Dems

The Alliance got many more votes than the Lib Dems do today if I remember correctly, but they were royally screwed by the electoral system. It's hard to consider the UK a proper democracy when our current Prime Minister derives his mandate from the votes of 21% of the electorate (who of course voted for a party led by someone else entirely).
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 01:59   #24
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
I realise that it is perhaps too much to expect a man of good fortune and comfort to question his surroundings. One assumes that if one is comfortable, then things must be OK. After all do I not work for a living, am I not praised by my peers. Have I had any significant advantages? One might ask.

Surely in an society there must be some people for some jobs and some for others, that is clearly the natural order. Who would want to live in a world without bankers, lawyers, recruitment consultant, press officers and advertising executives? Imagine that nightmare. Its imperative that we reimburse such people handsomely to avoid that possibility that there could be one less spin-doctor in the world, one less estate agent.

Why only freaks and single issue parties could possibly question such a system. What a bunch of mad fools.

Perish the thought that the bewildered hurd might wish to influence the running of the country more than once every few years. Our system is centuries old, and as we all know things that are old must be good, like monarchy, organised religion and golf. Are these not the blessings of our ancestors?

There are those who might propose a system where ordinary working people have greater influence over the decisions that affect their lives. There might be those who suggest that the aim of society is not to maximise production. There might be those who question the rights of private landowners, or the right of the people who own the means of production to profit from the labour of others. there might be those who wonder aloud whether we should spend so much time and money arming undemocratic foreign governments. Fortunately you will find few of these irresponsible dreamers in the House of Commons.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 08:49   #25
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
I realise that it is perhaps too much to expect a man of good fortune and comfort to question his surroundings. One assumes that if one is comfortable, then things must be OK. After all do I not work for a living, am I not praised by my peers. Have I had any significant advantages? One might ask.

Surely in an society there must be some people for some jobs and some for others, that is clearly the natural order. Who would want to live in a world without bankers, lawyers, recruitment consultant, press officers and advertising executives? Imagine that nightmare. Its imperative that we reimburse such people handsomely to avoid that possibility that there could be one less spin-doctor in the world, one less estate agent.

Why only freaks and single issue parties could possibly question such a system. What a bunch of mad fools.

Perish the thought that the bewildered hurd might wish to influence the running of the country more than once every few years. Our system is centuries old, and as we all know things that are old must be good, like monarchy, organised religion and golf. Are these not the blessings of our ancestors?

There are those who might propose a system where ordinary working people have greater influence over the decisions that affect their lives. There might be those who suggest that the aim of society is not to maximise production. There might be those who question the rights of private landowners, or the right of the people who own the means of production to profit from the labour of others. there might be those who wonder aloud whether we should spend so much time and money arming undemocratic foreign governments. Fortunately you will find few of these irresponsible dreamers in the House of Commons.
I understand your desire for the world to be more exciting than it is.

I merely suggested it was silly.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 11:09   #26
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Re: Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats are a bit like a mule with a spinning wheel.



A really tired joke that got old before it had even started.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 11:19   #27
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nondescript Human
The Alliance got many more votes than the Lib Dems do today if I remember correctly, but they were royally screwed by the electoral system. It's hard to consider the UK a proper democracy when our current Prime Minister derives his mandate from the votes of 21% of the electorate (who of course voted for a party led by someone else entirely).
In fairness it's hardly like 22% voted for someone else and they just got screwed out of government by some moronic system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UN
So, because they've not been in government for the last 200 years, they can claim the moral high ground in any issue regarding competance as they've no past record that they feel obligated to defend?
They've only existed for about 20 years. However one of the two parties which merged to form the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal party, was in power for extended periods of time during the 19th and early 20th centuries.


PS I find it rather bizzare how the UK doesn't use PR. Christ knows if Ireland used FPP we'd have some sort of fascist Fianna Fail tyranny in place by now.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 13:41   #28
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
PS I find it rather bizzare how the UK doesn't use PR. Christ knows if Ireland used FPP we'd have some sort of fascist Fianna Fail tyranny in place by now.
Why would either of the main parties risk losing their entrenched position?
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 14:47   #29
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by All Systems Go
Why would either of the main parties risk losing their entrenched position?
Yeah I just find it strange that nobody has really tried (where by tried we assume vague levels of competence) to exploit this. If, as NDH said, 22% voted labour and I'd assume the main 3 parties got something like 50/60% of the vote (correct me if I'm wrong here) then there's a staggering percentage of the population that could legitimately view themselves as effectively disenfranchised and all of those people's primary concern would surely be gaining genuine representation for their views.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 14:51   #30
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
Yeah I just find it strange that nobody has really tried (where by tried we assume vague levels of competence) to exploit this. If, as NDH said, 22% voted labour and I'd assume the main 3 parties got something like 50/60% of the vote (correct me if I'm wrong here) then there's a staggering percentage of the population that could legitimately view themselves as effectively disenfranchised and all of those people's primary concern would surely be gaining genuine representation for their views.
As someone in my class said yesterday, "how is that going to help cut taxes?"
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 14:55   #31
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by All Systems Go
As someone in my class said yesterday, "how is that going to help cut taxes?"
Because if the population actually believes that cutting taxes is a good idea getting PR will give them a far better chance of having someone elected who accurately reflects their beliefs.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 16:12   #32
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Re: Lib Dems

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Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
Because if the population actually believes that cutting taxes is a good idea getting PR will give them a far better chance of having someone elected who accurately reflects their beliefs.
But if neither of the two main parties have it as a manifesto pledge and the only party to offer it also wants to raise taxes, then it's a bit of a bind.

Also, it's more democratic, which makes their opinion less significant.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 18:17   #33
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
PS I find it rather bizzare how the UK doesn't use PR. Christ knows if Ireland used FPP we'd have some sort of fascist Fianna Fail tyranny in place by now.
If the UK used PR then we'd have a permanent Labour/Lib Dem coalition in place since no party would ever get an absolute majority of the vote.

For those mooting a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition, I really don't see it happening. The Liberal tradition in the Lib Dems is, to my eyes, long dead - certainly as far as their policies go. It's just the SDP with a new name.


If we were to change to a proportional system then STV is probably the way to go - larger multi-member constituences seem pretty cool to me. I abhor List systems since they entrench political parties into the electoral system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
Yeah I just find it strange that nobody has really tried (where by tried we assume vague levels of competence) to exploit this. If, as NDH said, 22% voted labour and I'd assume the main 3 parties got something like 50/60% of the vote (correct me if I'm wrong here) then there's a staggering percentage of the population that could legitimately view themselves as effectively disenfranchised and all of those people's primary concern would surely be gaining genuine representation for their views.
That 22% figure is based on turnout as well. I'm not sure if you realised this - I assume you did but it makes your disenfrancisement comment seem a little strange. I don't disagree from the point of view that FPTP is grossly unfair in the sheer number of wasted votes, but 40% is equally damning.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 18:52   #34
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASG
But if neither of the two main parties have it as a manifesto pledge and the only party to offer it also wants to raise taxes, then it's a bit of a bind.

Also, it's more democratic, which makes their opinion less significant.
I'm aware you already have a third party but I'm talking about a new movement altogether! Apples and oranges instead of apples, apple pie and apple tart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by furball
If the UK used PR then we'd have a permanent Labour/Lib Dem coalition in place since no party would ever get an absolute majority of the vote.
I like your use of the word ever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by furball
That 22% figure is based on turnout as well. I'm not sure if you realised this - I assume you did but it makes your disenfrancisement comment seem a little strange. I don't disagree from the point of view that FPTP is grossly unfair in the sheer number of wasted votes, but 40% is equally damning.
Nah, I didn't actually consider that. Regardless there's going to be a large proportion of the population searching for an alternative which offers them more of a "voice". Actually I just looked at the election results for 2005 and it doesn't really look like there is.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 20:08   #35
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
I like your use of the word ever.
I'll rephrase: if we continue have more than two parties attracting more than 15-20% of the vote, as per our current situation, it strikes me as being rather unlikely that a single party will attain 50% of the vote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
Nah, I didn't actually consider that. Regardless there's going to be a large proportion of the population searching for an alternative which offers them more of a "voice". Actually I just looked at the election results for 2005 and it doesn't really look like there is.
Most of the electorate are so used to FPTP that they just don't know what the alternatives are. It's not a pressing issue since no party that's actually in power (with the advantages for the biggest party that FPTP brings) will move to a system where they won't have control.

The Lib Dems advocate PR but that's because it would double their number of MPs. Labour used to advocate PR during the Thatcher/Major years....look what happened when they got into power. The issue was quietly dropped by the time of the 2001 election.
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Unread 26 Feb 2008, 22:22   #36
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Re: Lib Dems

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Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
PS I find it rather bizzare how the UK doesn't use PR. Christ knows if Ireland used FPP we'd have some sort of fascist Fianna Fail tyranny in place by now.
we try to avoid democracy wherever possible.

they'd only bring back hanging after all.
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Unread 27 Feb 2008, 12:49   #37
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Re: Lib Dems

The UK has the perfect system because now we all believe we're going to get screwed in all possible holes no matter who's in government we're quite happy to get screwed in all possible holes no matter who's in government. I've given up arguing for pipe-dreams like PR. Instead, I'm going to sit around and wait until scotland gains full independence, unites with norway, and then attacks the united kingdom to usher in anarchic libertarianism. I guess it'll be a little like the open source movement but with hot norwegian babes.
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Unread 27 Feb 2008, 13:20   #38
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Re: Lib Dems

Question: if the GD became the bastion of revolution in the UK, which member would shoot which member first? I reckon nodrog would have dante shot pretty quickly.
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Unread 27 Feb 2008, 20:36   #39
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hebdomad
The UK has the perfect system because now we all believe we're going to get screwed in all possible holes no matter who's in government we're quite happy to get screwed in all possible holes no matter who's in government. I've given up arguing for pipe-dreams like PR. Instead, I'm going to sit around and wait until scotland gains full independence, unites with norway, and then attacks the united kingdom to usher in anarchic libertarianism. I guess it'll be a little like the open source movement but with hot norwegian babes.
actually I have always rather thought the British people rather more archaic libertines than any other race. We just hide it rather better - look at the dear americans, so charmingly honest we baffle them at every turn.
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Unread 27 Feb 2008, 22:58   #40
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
Its not just the electoral system which makes people's politics/ We have an education system which enforces all sorts of crazy things. Then there is the media, then there is the work place. These things work to bring about a sort of nihilistic despair.

Read some Foucault and some Bauman, they explain it really well.
Read books for pleasure not to join a cult.

We (Britain) do not have one system of education and labelling it so serves no purpose. We do not, thank any and every god, have one source of media. Our places of work differ greatly and those outside the public sector have so much free choice that it fuels an industry. The industry I work in.

Despair is a choice like any delusion.

You have the luxury to indulge in delusions. Be aware that some of us do not.
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 11:07   #41
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
Certainly someone who can explain media theory to a lowly upstart such as myself ... should have ... at least their own chat show.

Alas, Paul O'Grady got there first and cornered the market in camp.
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 11:21   #42
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
PS: Just to be clear, you are disagreeing with my point that Proportional Representation might not be the panacea young Hebdomad hopes it is and that there *might* be more complicated social forces at play.
PR clearly isnt going to fix everything and make Britain a utopia - mainly because Britain is shit, but also because the whole point of "the good place that is no place" is that it doesnt exist.

Further, denying any change on the grounds that "it wont make society perfect, ergo let not do it" is folly. Whilst your society might never actually reach a utopic ideal, a society that adopts progress and adapts new ideas to improve their current standing is almost certainly going to be a better place to live than a stagnant society that you, T&F, seem to prefer instead. At the end of the day, a society that is relatively better place to live is ultimately superior to those that arent, whether it is "absolutely perfect" or not.

I believe, with Hebdomad it seems, that FPTP is a very long way from an ideal electoral system due to its many flaws. If you had argued, T&F, that PR would be a bad idea because it would have led to vast political instability such as Italy (which can only seem to manage to have a government once a year), then I reckon that would have been a very valid argument. Although there are obviously ways to avoid the instability associated with PR, as Australia has managed for over 50 years.
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 12:45   #43
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
Its not just the electoral system which makes people's politics/ We have an education system which enforces all sorts of crazy things. Then there is the media, then there is the work place. These things work to bring about a sort of nihilistic despair.

Read some Foucault and some Bauman, they explain it really well.
Nice I'll keep a look out for both authors but your emphasis on social aspects instead of the voting system vindicates the current political system. I agree if you want change you must focus society instead of politics, but by focusing on society instead politics you blame society and accept the political system and all the crap it spews.
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 13:51   #44
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Re: Lib Dems

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Originally Posted by Hebdomad
Nice I'll keep a look out for both authors but your emphasis on social aspects instead of the voting system vindicates the current political system. I agree if you want change you must focus society instead of politics, but by focusing on society instead politics you blame society and accept the political system and all the crap it spews.
Isn't the point though, that PR (as demonstrated by countries with PR) won't stop the political system 'spewing crap'? Therefore, it is a waste of energy when there are more worthwhile causes.

Furthermore, to focus on reform of existing institutions is inadequate as you can tinker with the system all you like but it is not possible to remove the injustice and exploitation which is inherent in it.
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 14:30   #45
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Re: Lib Dems

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Originally Posted by All Systems Go
Isn't the point though, that PR (as demonstrated by countries with PR) won't stop the political system 'spewing crap'? Therefore, it is a waste of energy when there are more worthwhile causes.
The results vary based on location. Further, i think that some of the main benefits of PR are less tangible - sure, politicians will still be politicians, and the current media is pretty shit too, but that isnt the fault of the electoral system.

You wont know what benefits (and costs too, i suppose) you can have until you adopt PR.

In Australia, the lower house (House of Reps) uses what we call a Preferential system (i think its technically an Instant Runoff or something like that), such a system yields a strong two-party kind of result. However, in the Senate, proportional representation is used, the result being that minor parties such as the Greens, (formally) the Australian Democrats, and One Nation/Family First (examples of extreme left, centre and extreme right parties respectively) manage to get representation within the upper house.

The result is that the upper house is (usually) not a rubber stamp for prevailing government policy, rather one (or more) of the minor parties hold the "balance of power" in the senate. When the GST was introduced to Australia, the influence of the Democrats (for better or worse) was that basic food items were not taxed. When the Liberal Party (ie, Conservative) won a massive majority in the 2005 election and gained control of the senate, legislation such as WorkChoices (which essentially denied any rights of Workers to compensation for leave/sick/unfair dismissal/long service and others from a "small business" employer, which the ABS defines as 100 employees or less, heh). Thus, in Britain, you would have got the crap (Workchoices), without the potential benefit of third/other party scrutiny (GST), that the PR system helped facilitate indirectly in Australia.

So, the impact of PR might not be so clear cut.
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 15:40   #46
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Exclamation Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
some sort of fascist Fianna Fail tyranny
That's would be pretty interesting to see tbh.


A Turkey as the Irish entry in Eurovision? ffs. Come back Eoin O'Duffy, all is forgiven.
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 16:59   #47
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
When it comes to people bickering about electoral systems, I note that whilst our system might great some sort of bizarre oligopoly, its not like any country with a better system has gone on to become some great utopia of freedom and inequality.
While this is definitely true in Ireland, for example, and I imagine elsewhere, the dominant party (normally Fianna Fail) has found itself moderated by the requirements of the parties it has gone into power with. Realistically there are probably zero changes that could feasibly be brought in in the next twenty years which would substantially change the social fabric of the UK or any other western democracy. However something like PR at least sets us up better for when the attempt is made to actually bring those changes about. That said we all do seem to be arguing rather different points in this thread.
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 18:02   #48
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Re: Lib Dems

There's an enormous amount of institutional and cultural momentum built up in western governments to the point where even if the eventual goal is the abolition of the system in any form it would be recognisable you're not going to be able to accomplish this in a constructive fashion without first amending the system, and more importantly society at large, to be more accepting to large scale changes of the kind you envisage. Sure PR isn't a magical button that fixes the problems of liberal democracies the world over but nothing is really.

I wouldn't say we should be afraid of our leaders so much as we should be afraid of their complete lack of anything even vaguely resembling competence. The greedy idiot is a lot more common than the conniving megalomaniac. Admittedly this is all a bit trite but that's mostly what politics seems to consist of.


PS Taking the opportunity to quote a great character in that "people should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people".
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Unread 28 Feb 2008, 18:14   #49
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Re: Lib Dems

Whereas you'd be advocating what exactly?
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Unread 29 Feb 2008, 00:45   #50
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Re: Lib Dems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toccata & Fugue
Well this is the thing.However the assumptions this argument is based on are questionable. Ie that the Parliamentary, representative democracy, national government system is something that can be fixed.
However it can be improved.

Let's say there is a change in the social fabric of the UK. Even then we'll still have divergent opinions and ideas which will need a fair form of representation, one based on proportional representation.

From what I can tell we both support the PR system and both wish for social change, but it seems to me you would like to achieve social change in different manner. I would prefer change gradually through proportional representation. Perhaps you wish that the current system fail which would enable us to start again?
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