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If you sup with the Devil use a long spoon - The Ex-Communicator

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July 3rd, 2010


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08:40 am - If you sup with the Devil use a long spoon
I think Jack Straw would be well advised to butt out of Conservative attempts to undermine the Lib Dem referendum. If Labour keep out of the way, then there can be no ambiguity about what is happening.

Background: the Lib Dems agreed to support the right wing agenda with their votes, in return for getting a national referendum on electoral reform. The referendum will (probably) take place on 5th May 2011 (the day of the Scottish and Welsh elections). The proposal is to replace First Past the Post with Alternative Vote (aka Instant Runoff or Preferential Ballot).

The problem for the Tories, as was obvious from the start, is that if the Lib Dems win the referendum they then have a strong motive to precipitate an election, in the hope of getting more MPs. The Tories have put in place various checks to prevent this happening, including setting the vote for precipitating an election too high for Lib Dems to reach. They are now also saying that even if the Lib Dems win the referendum the new voting method would not be introduced immediately. And now the Tory backbenchers are saying a change such as this requires a 'yes' vote from at least 40% of the electorate - a level of turnout which would be hard to achieve I think, particularly on a difficult technical issue like this (obviously the total turnout required would be way over 40%: up to 80% of the electorate would need to get out to vote).

There is also some talk of decoupling the date from the Scottish and Welsh elections (presumably to further reduce turnout) and this is where Straw has been unwise enough to offer an opinion. Just leave it alone, Jack.

(I'll post another time about how I think the referendum itself will play out - I think that depends on the result of the current framing).

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:July 3rd, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)
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if the Lib Dems win the referendum they then have a strong motive to precipitate an election, in the hope of getting more MPs

Except that anyone who believes that was seriously viable is deluding themselves.

Two reasons, 1) The LDs want to show they're a serious party and this isn't all about them/reform

2) voters tend to punish parties they believe precipitate early elections unneccessarily.

Extra reason: strongest arguments against further reform from the Tory side are things like "locked out of power for generations" and "perpetual alliance of the 'Left'", as proposed initially by Blair/Ashdown.

Proving that the LDs can work, as their predecessor parties did, with either of the other two big parties is pretty much essential for long term arguments for real electoral reform.

But yes, the Labour tactics over the coalition, and a lot of individual issues, especially this one, are utterly beffudling. If the objective is to break the coalition, the way to do that is to persuade the Lib Dems there's a better option.

Making it look like there's no other option and making an early election damaging for the LDs is completely the wrong way to tempt them away.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:July 3rd, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
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I don't think you should call an unguarded - and I think unwise - statement by Jack Straw 'Labour Tactics'. It's a break from tactics, which is why I am calling it out here as a mistake.
[User Picture]
From:coalescent
Date:July 5th, 2010 07:23 am (UTC)
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It's a break from tactics

Er, not sure about that.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:July 5th, 2010 09:06 am (UTC)
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It is true that there isn't a unified Labour position, certainly not at present, and probably not ever. But that seems to be a very limited lesson to draw from the current circumstances.

But I've just been sitting in an early meeting at work turning over in my mind a wider philosophical issue that has come into my mind from reading your and matgb's comments. I am thinking of the work of Paul Feyerabend for example, who asserted (contra Popper) that evidence can not in itself overturn a theory, because evidence is differently interpreted within various theoretical frameworks. Of course, theories do change, and I think that happens when the effort of reconciling theory and evidence becomes too extreme.

BTW I am not arguing that I am outside a theoretical framework - the point is that nobody is.
[User Picture]
From:coalescent
Date:July 5th, 2010 11:32 am (UTC)
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It is true that there isn't a unified Labour position, certainly not at present, and probably not ever. But that seems to be a very limited lesson to draw from the current circumstances.

It's also not the argument made in that post, which is arguing that there is a consistent approach evident in Labour criticism, even if at the moment it's unguided.

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