Brexit.

Porsupah Ree

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A few tidbits from today:

Guardian Live: Most voters do not believe a customs-union Brexit would honour referendum result, poll suggests

Almost three quarters of voters (74%) think a Brexit deal involving the UK staying in a customs union with the EU would not honour the referendum result, the poll suggests.
A plurality of voters support a confirmatory referendum, the poll suggests. Some 49% of people are in favour, and 30% are against. Labour supporters strongly back the idea (by 67% to 10%). But even Conservative supporters are very narrowly in favour (by 43% to 41%), the poll suggests.
Meanwhile, Corbyn's been reiterating his ambivalent stance:

Guardian Live: Corbyn seeks to make Euro elections about social justice, not Brexit, as he launches Labour campaign

Labour’s alternative plan for Brexit, which protects jobs, living standards and communities, would end the chaos caused by the Conservatives and let us focus on the other big issues facing our country. But we can never accept the government’s bad deal or a disastrous no deal. So if we can’t get a sensible deal, along the lines of our alternative plan, or a general election, Labour backs the option of a public vote.
As we've seen, without any bounding conditions on just when a deal is determined not to have been reached, and a GE not having been obtained, this is meaningless. As we entered 2019, with the original deadline looming, I anticipated the leadership accepting that the first two options hadn't been achieved, and that a PV would be embraced as the only remaining option. It seemed obvious that with the original deadline looming, then they'd concede. And yet, here we are, with neither a deal nor a GE conceded.

But he did, somewhat intriguingly, go on to add, in a brief Q&A session with reporters:

Guardian Live: What Corbyn said about how a second referendum could be 'a healing process'

The view we put forward, the party conference put this forward, the national executive agreed this, [was] that we should include the option of having a ballot on a public vote on the outcome of the talks and negotiations on what we’re putting forward. I would want that to be seen as a healing process, and bringing this whole process to a conclusion.
Hardly unequivocal support, but somewhat more direct than he's been inclined until now. I can't read much into this, but I'll be filing this away as a mental note that he might be telegraphing a shift toward actual, unqualified PV support at some point, as this does suggest support for a PV even on the basis of a Corbyn/May deal, which would be a major step forward.

Personally, I'd say he's off the mark in even looking at reconciliation at this point - there's been absolutely no reconsideration of the referendum result, despite the admitted illegalities involved, let alone the manifold, outright lies. We'll definitely need to look into cooling things down, but with the Mail and friends merrily tossing fuel onto the fire daily, stoking the calls for "DELIVER BREXIT!!1!" (ignoring all the details involved) and May's departure (and then what?), we're still at the point of the fire raging through the building, not tamping down the embers.

I'll continue to support the Greens in the EU election, though I can see some merit in going with the LDs, and even Labour - the tepid PV support aside, I'm much more interested by Labour's policies under Corbyn than since NuLabour came about. In a GE, it's largely irrelevant - this is a constituency that's as safely Con as they come. (Yay FPTP)
 
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Porsupah Ree

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As a parenthetical aside, this story - quite long - is well worth reading at this point, on the rise of European nationalism, despite the ties that weave throughout the continent (the UK most certainly included).


In Spain, a far-right party called Vox, promoting the kind of reactionary nationalist ideas against which Spain’s post-Franco democracy was supposedly immunised, has won the favour of one in 10 voters in a national election. Nationalist populists rule Italy, where a great-grandson of Benito Mussolini is running for the European parliament on the list of the so-called Brothers of Italy. A rightwing populist party called The Finns, formerly the True Finns (to distinguish them from “false” Finns of different colour or religion), garnered almost as many votes as Finland’s Social Democrats in last month’s general election.
Meanwhile, to mark the 30th anniversary of the velvet revolutions of 1989, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has denounced a charter of LGBT+ rights as an attack on children. In Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland successfully deploys a völkisch rhetoric we thought vanquished for good, although now it scapegoats Muslims instead of Jews. Remember Bertolt Brecht’s warning: “The womb is fertile still/ from which that crawled.”
 

Porsupah Ree

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A very digestible look at exactly how the d'Hondt system of PR works in the EU elections in England, Scotland, and Wales, and the way in which it tends to slightly favor larger parties, bringing with it an element of smaller parties losing out to vote splitting, versus the Single Transferable Vote system used in Northern Ireland:

 

Kara Spengler

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If anyone is interested in what counts as spoiled or not, the document used as a guide is here:


The major test is "Was the voter's intention clear"
I've been following a number of (possibly tall) tales about what has and has not been counted as a valid vote. For example one vote went to Lib Dems because the voter had written "Cunt" next to all of the other names but not next to the LD candidate.
Interesting. The way I understand the law over here is you could even write down a candidate's slogan on the ballot but if you did not actually mark for that candidate the ballot would not be counted.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Interesting. The way I understand the law over here is you could even write down a candidate's slogan on the ballot but if you did not actually mark for that candidate the ballot would not be counted.
Based on my experience as a volunteer observer (and sometimes scrutineer) for the Labour Party, a great deal depends on context.

Anything the tellers think looks questionable, they put one one side and don't count. These questionable ballots are then kept back until the end of the count.

What happens next depends on the outcome of the first count. If there's a very clear outcome (and this may include the outcome for any of the parties in the election, not just the front-runners) then all the scrutineers may agree with the Returning Officer that there's no point in counting them.

However, if one of the candidates asks, the whole vote is recounted (in case votes were tallied incorrectly) and, meanwhile, the Returning Officer and the candidates' election agents will jointly examine the questionable ballots and try to agree on which should be counted and which shouldn't.

How strongly the agents will press for particular ballots to be counted depends very much on how close the result is. If it doesn't really make a difference, then they'll tend to say, "Sure, you can have that one if you'll agree we can have this one". But if it's a very close race you can guarantee that it will be argued very strongly indeed.

So I can imagine Tigger's possibly apocryphal story being true, but only if the ultimate outcome of the count was clear.
 
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Chin Rey

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Interesting. The way I understand the law over here is you could even write down a candidate's slogan on the ballot but if you did not actually mark for that candidate the ballot would not be counted.
I'm tempted to ask, if somebody is too stupid or too emotional or not serious enough to write an x in the apprpriate place on the ballot, are they really qualified to have an oopinion?
 

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I'm tempted to ask, if somebody is too stupid or too emotional or not serious enough to write an x in the apprpriate place on the ballot, are they really qualified to have an oopinion?
As long as they don't discriminate between a or a or even 1, I don't think it matters. We have local body elections soon, with a mix of STV, FPTP and possibly preferential voting according to the positions being elected, so I could imagine someone ranking the mayoral candidates.
 

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As long as they don't discriminate between a or a or even 1, I don't think it matters. We have local body elections soon, with a mix of STV, FPTP and possibly preferential voting according to the positions being elected, so I could imagine someone ranking the mayoral candidates.
The examples in the documentation include a ballot paper with numbered choices, where the #1 choice is selected as the voters clear intention.
 

Chin Rey

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As long as they don't discriminate between a or a or even 1, I don't think it matters.
Yes, I know that's how it has to be but no, I do think it matters and it's something we should refelct on.

In a true democracy voting is not only a right, it is also a duty and a responsibiity and it's not something that should be taken lightly or for granted.

If people aren't confident that although their opponent is of course asnd idiot and totally wrong in everything (and also probably pinches a bit more than his fair share of the cake), he's still fundamentally well-meaning and tries his best, we have a serious problem at hand. Because that is what distinguishes democracy from demoncracy.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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In a true democracy voting is not only a right, it is also a duty and a responsibiity and it's not something that should be taken lightly or for granted.
The thing is that most western democracies nowadays are not working bottom up any more, like every healthy democracy should, but top down in reality - meaning giving the people only limited choice and influence. This means that a few, select people in the hierarchy of a party decide in reality, if you've got a chance to get a position or not. If you don't agree with their politics, then you won't get their support, meaning good luck trying.

This is also why Trump is such an anomaly - he's an outsider of the established, political elite, who managed though to get the highest position America has to offer despite the initial support of his party, because he got enough ressources on his own to fund a campaign and get a well broadcast media presence.

Not voting though is a form of protest; if all people who are pissed of their democracy would do it, we would see the real proportions about how many people are fed up with this type of managed democracy in their own country, which in most countries is catastrophic.
 
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Sid

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Not voting is a right, just as well as voting.
I for instance have never voted for the European parliament, because the power in Europe lies elsewhere. It is IMHO a democratic farce.
So out of protest about that, I couldn't be bothered to go.
This year however I will go and vote for the party of Frans Timmermans, because I want him to be an European Commissioner again.
That guy is doing a good job.
 

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Not voting is a right, just as well as voting.
I don't have any real problem with people who choose not to vote out of conscience or conviction. It's the ones who don't vote because they're lazy, but most especially the ones who then blame others for the "way things are," that bug me.
 

Chin Rey

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The thing is that most western democracies nowadays are not working bottom up any more...
Be careful with sweeping statements. ;-)

I'm not sure where you come from in the world but since we're discussing Britain and USA in the various trheads in this forum, keep in mind that they always have been extreme cases with far less social mobility and far stronger class segregation than any other western nation - possibly any other nation in the world. Ummm... that is "always" as in ever since the French got the sense to kick out their useless king" that is. ;-)

I'm not saying everything is all rosy everywhere else but the British and US situations are unique for those two nations and there's a good reason to ask how much of what we see there now is new and how much is old filth that's finally surfaced.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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I'm not at all sure democracies do, or are supposed to, work "bottom up," or that they ever have done. i mean, the theory that ancient Athenian democracy worked from the bottom up would have come as a surprise to Athenian women and slaves, just as would the idea that British parliamentary democracy gave her any sort of say would have been news during her youth to my grandmother, who was married with two children before she -- or any woman -- got the vote in the UK (before they did in the USA and France, as I recall, at least nationally).

Nor am I at all convinced that it would be a good idea if democracies did work "bottom up".

Most societies regarded as democratic have mixed economies and they all operate, whatever the electorate or politicians think about it, in a capitalist world economy. That means, of course, that many important economic decisions are taken not by governments -- whether democratic or not -- but by decision makers in boardrooms and banks round the globe, making decisions in what they see as the best interests of their companies and shareholders.

Furthermore, since all these people are taking separate decisions based on their assessment of the best interests of their stakeholders, their decisions will affect, and will be affected by, decisions taken independently by other parties, with their own interests to pursue. Overall, therefore, there are just so many variables at play -- so many different people taking different decisions for their own reasons that impact (often unexpectedly) on other that I don't think anyone really knows what the long-term effects will be of any particular decision they take.

Consequently, governments are very constrained in what they can do. Very rarely do I think governments deserve much credit for desirable economic or social results, since the outcome of many of their decisions isn't wholly under their control. Similarly, undesirable results and trends are often the result of things completely outside government control. The best that most governments can legitimately hope to do, to my mind, is hope not to do anything that causes too much foreseeable damage. Anything more is a bonus, to my mind.

What we're seeing at the moment is populists taking advantage the idea that democracies are, indeed, supposed to work "bottom up," so the fact that so many people are dissatisfied with the the conditions of their daily lives must mean that democracies aren't working as they're supposed to and that the blame for this must be attributed to sinister forces who are frustrating the "will of the people," with the villains being the metropolitan and political elite, or the 1% or the oligarchs or "the few" (rather than "the many") or whoever, rather than the fact that most of the economic and social forces that drive events are outside the control of any individual government, no matter how democratic.

Government, to my mind, has only limited power to achieve any goal, no matter how desirable, and that's before we worry about unforeseen (and often unforeseeable) consequences. The best it can hope to do, to my mind, is mitigate particular ills and abuses to the best of its ability, and try not to make things any worse than they are already. Democratic control is very much a method of ensuring peaceful transitions of power and obtaining the broad general consent of the public to the particular government.

It's not about making a better or fairer world -- that's a delusion picked up by C18th enlightenment philosophers who inherited from Christianity the idea that history is progressing towards any sort of goal rather than being simply a series of random events and their consequences, to which governments, like anyone else, must simply respond as best it can.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Interesting and (to my mind, encouraging) piece in The Times today:

Yesterday Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, obliquely helped Mrs May’s cause by suggesting that the odds that Brexit would be reversed in a second referendum were shortening with every month that passed.

He believes that the tide is turning as the difficulty of implementing Brexit becomes apparent to the public.

“After the British referendum in 2016, I thought that if we recognise that the case is closed, it will be the end,” he told Gazeta Wyborcza, a Polish newspaper. “Today the chance that Brexit will not happen is, in my opinion, 20-30 per cent That’s a lot.

“From month to month, it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK’s exit from the EU will look completely different than the Brexit that was promoted. I see no reason to capitulate.”

Mr Tusk believes that the popular vote to leave the European Union was no longer regarded as “irreversible” by growing numbers of MPs and British voters. His comments present a major shift in the EU’s analysis of British politics after Mrs May agreed to delay Brexit until October 31.

He said that he resisted calls “almost every day” for Britain to be timed out of the EU this autumn if the House of Commons failed to ratify the withdrawal treaty.

“The deadline expires in October, but I will persuade them — if necessary — not to close the calendar. There is no place for rush to Brexit. Churchill used to say that a problem postponed is partially solved.”
 
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Be careful with sweeping statements. ;-)

I'm not sure where you come from int he world but since we're discussing Britain and USa in the various trheads in this forum, keep in mind that they always have been extreme cases with far less social mobility and far stronger class segregation than any other western nation - possibly any other nation in the world. Ummm... that is "always" as in ever since the French got the sense to kick out their useless king" that is. ;-)

I'm not saying everything is all rosy everywhere else but the British and US situations are unique for those two nations and there's a good reason to ask how much of what we see there now is new and how much is old filth that's finally surfaced.
In the US it’s a Neo-Confederate faction made up of fossil fuel interests and conservative religions greedy for the power to reshape society and control the government.

The new part is that they want this social order to apply to the whole US and not just the Bible Belt South where democracy has always been something of an illusion.

So it’s old, in the sense that we’re repeating the social issues part of our nineteenth century Civil War. It’s new, in the sense that the fossil fuels industry is unwilling to reinvest in the new technologies which are renewable. The fossil people know it’s inevitable but seem to believe there’s more money in putting change off, which is turning out to be a fool’s bet against climate change.

This is why the Russians and Saudis are entangled with it.

The base is culturally and racially defined and their ideas are old, but are being mutated by the TV into fascism. They don’t read, TV forms them.
 

Innula Zenovka

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This is by the leader of the Labour group amongst the MEPs for Yorkshire and Humber, so he obviously has a particular axe to grind, but his argument that votes for smaller parties under the D'Honte system, don't necessarily count for anything seems quite convincing with the figures he uses:


I can see that it might be very different with a different split of the votes, though.
 

Porsupah Ree

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Aha! Finally, I've found some more useful Brexit polling info. ^_^


Data's gathered from a variety of outfits, including ComRes, Survation, YouGov, BMG, TNS, and more.



Latest data point is 54.3% remain, 45.7% leave; however, this is with undecideds removed. The last two polls had, for example, 4% and 10% undecided. Nonetheless, the trend would seem valid.
 

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I'm tempted to ask, if somebody is too stupid or too emotional or not serious enough to write an x in the apprpriate place on the ballot, are they really qualified to have an oopinion?
Actually, it is not always stupidity. It can also be done as a form of protest.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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I'm not at all sure democracies do, or are supposed to, work "bottom up," or that they ever have done.
What was the common type of governance before democracies became wildly a thing? Normally a kingdom. A kingdom clearly works top down, some more, some others, but one person is making most of the decisions.

When democracies became a thing their main promise was to put the power into the hands of the people, that a) everybody can vote and b) everybody could get elected. In the beginning you were voting for somebody, who's views and opinions were mostly in line with yours, and if he got elected, he maybe joined a party and did his job in the parliament. So this clearly works bottom up: the political opinions get collected on the bottom and by election go over to the top. And if your voters did think you did a bad job, you were not reelected. This is what democracy is about.

Today most democracies have this kind of vertical mobility any longer: you can only reach certain positions beyond a certain level with the support of an established party; otherwise you can forget it. And if you dare to maybe vote against what your party considers to be right, they just might drop their support for the next election and you're out.

Which means that

a) bottom up is no longer, because outsiders of the political establishment are only rarely on the ballot list,
b) it gives the few select people of the inner leading circle of a party big power about normal party members and members of parliament. Either you behave, or you're out,
c) parties, which in most democracies are being viewed as vital part of participance in democracy and its constitutions have in fact become gatekeepers to protect the status quo and power of a party, therefore mitigating actively great lenghts the impact of the political will of the people and watering it down.

Which summed up results in the perverseness of democracy, which is in fact the annulment, because you cannot vote for a broad variety of people any longer, and the political discourse normally is being driven by the party, but not the people any more.

Which is exactly the case why the extremists on the right wing are on the rise again; because they do promise to put the power back to the people, or at least to amend their situation.

Nor am I at all convinced that it would be a good idea if democracies did work "bottom up".
If it is not bottom up, then it is not a democracy, but monarchy, autocraty or dictatorship. Period.
 
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