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July 28th, 2010


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11:33 am - The name is Mander, first name Jerry
In general the composition of most of Britain is pyramidal. That is, in any geographical area there are more people on low incomes than on high incomes (of course there are exceptions). This means that rich people tend to be a minority within any geographical area, and poor people a majority.

Similarly, rich people are (again, with exceptions) more likely to vote for parties that favour direction of resources to the rich, and poor people for parties that favour resources for the poor. However, since unversal suifferage, right wing parties have depended on a certain proportion of poor people voting against their economic interest - in England called 'working class Tories' - let's park that point for a second.

Now, let's take a third point. Voting for a losing party, in a constituency in which you are in a minority, may be described as 'wasting your vote'. It's an emotive term, but let's accept it.

Ergo, from these three points, rich right wing people are more likely to 'waste their vote' than poor left wing people, because they are more scattered geographically. And the converse of this is that votes for Labour from poor areas are less likely to be wasted - there is a better representation per vote ratio - because poor people tend to live in poor areas, with lots of other people like them.

There are two complicating factors - the working class Tory, as I mentioned above, and the fact that the poorest people are less likely to vote. These two factors are what allow right wing parties to survive in the western world. The effect of these two factors is more pronounced in the USA.

Anyway - this means that there are reasons why it takes more rich votes than poor votes to elect a representative, and it is not prima facie evidence of corruption or a problem which necessarily validates the abolition of 50 Parliamentary seats.

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Comments:


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From:the_magician
Date:July 28th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
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These two factors are what allow right wing parties to survive in the western world

You've missed one of the more obvious reasons for "poor Republican/working class Tory" voters in the US (and to a lesser extent in the UK).

There's a definite group of people who don't like to think they will be poor always, or that their children will ... so they live in a "fantasy" where they want lower taxes and support for business as they believe that they will climb the ladder out of poor and benefit from that ... or at least from "trickle down" so that if factory owners, company bosses etc. have money, they will need plumbers, builders, cleaners etc. and so giving tax breaks etc. to the rich mean more money and jobs for the poor ... I'm not saying it is *reality* but it is what working class Tories think ... also that there would be more money in their paypackets if less of it was being spent on immigrants and benefit cheats (Daily Mail conservatives).
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From:communicator
Date:July 28th, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC)
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Yes, it is what they think, but in the above I was just saying 'a certain proportion of poor people vote right wing' and leave the reasons to one side.
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From:the_magician
Date:July 28th, 2010 11:43 am (UTC)
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But your point about there being more poor than rich in pretty much all constituencies is well observed ...

... as someone who lives in a constituency that has a large Labour majority, personally I'd feel that voting Labour is also a wasted vote as they will win anyway ... and voting for anyone else is a wasted vote as they aren't going to win ... so my vote is wasted either way. I really only vote now due to peer pressure (gasp, I iz an pariah).
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From:andrewducker
Date:July 28th, 2010 11:45 am (UTC)
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Would you feel happier voting under AV, where you could vote for Green (say) and then have Labour as your second choice?
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From:the_magician
Date:July 28th, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
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Probably not. Amusingly, a Conservative/LibDem alliance candidate, if they had received all the votes of each of Conservative and LibDem, would have defeated Labour at the last election in Feltham & Heston.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/constituency/941/feltham-and-heston

So if everyone that had voted for LibDem had then had their votes applied to Conservative (which I think is very unlikely) then it could have made a difference.

In 2005, Labour would have just squeeked through on the same basis. 1997 and 2001 were both Labour wins with nearly 60% of the vote. From 1983 up until the 92 election it was a Conservative seat and Labour very narrowly won in 1992 so AV could have made a difference.
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From:communicator
Date:July 28th, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
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Yes, actually, 'wasted vote' is used in that way too. In a sense every vote is wasted. But some wasted votes upset people more. If Lib Dems (or BNP or Greens or whatever) were 10% of every constituency, it is hard to think of a system which would give them 10% of MPs.

(thinks) No, it is possible, but a system designed to give that party 10% of MPs, would probably hurt another minority party. So, I think it is literally impossible to please everyone.
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From:del_c
Date:July 28th, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
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This is an extreme Conservative version of the unfairness that middle class liberals are always complaining about: that they're a minority most places. Yes, because the middle class liberals, like the middle class conservatives, are in a minority known as the middle class. So they will be in a minority most places. It's really just a complaint that Labour was historically a party for the actual majority of the country.
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From:communicator
Date:July 28th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I think so. Though the whole working class Tory thing complicates it of course. Are working class Tories distributed or clustered? A bit of both I think. The West Midlands has more than the North East for example.
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From:del_c
Date:July 28th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
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It's complicated on the other side by the whole Labour party leadership now being middle class. Everything's getting getting mixed up until we're back to the nineteenth century when you had the choice of voting for your nasty social superiors or your nice social superiors.
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From:andrewducker
Date:July 28th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
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From:communicator
Date:July 28th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't define middle class so boradly as 'those with some discretionary income left over after necessities have been paid for'. Not in this country. I would probably define it as having skilled non-manual employment.

Edited at 2010-07-28 02:22 pm (UTC)
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From:del_c
Date:July 28th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
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That's the Economist, and their definition of "middle class" makes it impossible to compensate working class people for their work beyond subsistence. As soon as you do, they are by that definition not working class any more, even if all you did was raise their wage for doing the same thing and living in the same place with the same neighbours.

By the way the Economist is talking, if we're lucky there may one day soon be only two classes, making the concept of "middle" look a little strange.
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From:matgb
Date:July 28th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
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Problem with this argument.

The evidence is that in countries with single member districts, the opposite is true, it's the 'left' that has wasted votes far more often in the last 30 years.

Thatcher go in in 1983 and 1987 with massive majorities because of split votes, Harper is in in Canada because of split votes, votes for Nader in Florida gave victory to Bush in 2000 (Gore was a terrible candidate, but...).

Even if they weren't abolishing 50 seats, they'd still want to equalise, some of the size disparities (and I've done a lot on this last few months) are stupidly huge, even discounting the 10 smallest and 10 largest (largest and 2 smallest are historical geographical anomalies) there are some vast disparities that are very hard to justify.

PErsonally, I'd go back to the old Borough/County seat allotment system and have multiple members per seat with preferential voting, much more equitable, would give Labour seats in many southern counties where it's hard to gain a foothold, and mean that Tories in opposition still had some urban MPs from outside London, so they wouldn't have such blinkered policies in some areas.

Given the principle of turno, we need to accept the Tories are going to take office every so often, giving them some city based MPs, while giving Labour some non-urban Westcountry MPs, would definitely help (and yes, some of us are still annoyed about the F&M fuckup in 2001 caused by lack of rural understanding from a Govt with barely any SW MPs).

The gerrymandering charge is a red herring, it's not going to wash outside Labour heartlands (evidence of the above problem) as pointing out Seat X has 80,000 voters while seat Y has 40,000 voters will win the debate in pretty much all the swing seats (Which are in the middle size wise, for the most part, anyway).

Saying it's reversing a gerrymander has more power to it, but that's bollocks, and the analysis of the numbers says it's true as well.
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From:communicator
Date:July 28th, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
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I believe the Tories have said very explicitly that the purpose of the redrawing is to cut the number of Labour seats. When I say explicitly I don't mean publicly.

I agree, and I have always said, that there must be Tory governments from time to time. Absolutely must be. What they must not do is to try to manipulate the system so they can not be removed from office when their time is up.
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From:matgb
Date:July 28th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
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I believe the Tories have said very explicitly that the purpose of the redrawing is to cut the number of Labour seats. When I say explicitly I don't mean publicly.

Oh, some of them have said it explicitly, and publicly.

They're wrong though, it doesn't make that much difference, at least two studies I've read are pretty clear on that (one recent, the other at least a decade old I was at uni crunching numbers on this sort of thing).

Tories motivated to do something right, but for the wrong reasons. They scrapped ID cards bacause they wanted to save money, I wanted them scrapped because I'm a liberal, they're scrapped.

Seriously, if Labour keep on banging on about this as a gerrymander when it's palpably not, and keep on believing the same stupidity about the 'bias' that the Tories do, it devalues the debate. The Tories were always wrong about the bias in the system being caused by seat sizes, I agree with you on that.

Ergo, redistributing the seat sizes will make little difference, and next time, when we vote them out, they can't make excuses.

Of course, I'm hoping that they'll split down the obvious fracture lines at some point after we've got AV anyway, but that's a different issue.

Redistricting will remove a very slight bias in Labour's favour on seat numbers, most of the bias is due to concentration, that point was made, well, by some Labour MPs in the Queen's Speech debate, they now seem to have decided to ignore a factually correct argument in favour of a partisan point scoring argument.

I think their tactics are off. Confirming the Tories in their stupidity is always a bad idea, when they're wrong, you need to keep saying it, not confirm their thoughts.

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