Tag Archives: UK

Elspeth on Elections – numbers are not equal

I am dismayed to wake up to a blue world, again. By that I mean to more austerity, inequality in Tory Britain, as voted yesterday, 7th May 2015.

When I say voted… let me unravel a large asterisk:

There are circa 60,000,000 people in the United Kingdom.

46,000,000 of these are entitled to vote – note that 14,000,000 can’t – including prisoners, 16-17 year olds, some immigrants, and of course the children which make such an emotive part of campaigns but who have to trust others to ensure they have a positive future.

There was a 66% turnout – so that’s about 30,000,000 (we’re doing round figures here).

I’m always interested in why the 16,000,000 felt it wasn’t worth turning out at the booths. Didn’t they feel anyone would really make a change, or that their votes wouldn’t count?

I am about to show they are sadly right, at least about the latter.

So already, half of the population voted on the outcome for another 30,000,000.

So when the Conservatives obtained a 36% majority –

64% of voters didn’t choose them

which means 36,000,000 of those who could vote didn’t choose them

and 19,000,000 of those who did vote didn’t choose them

Their 11m votes is only a 10th of the population, and a third of those who voted

These 11m votes translated to 331 seats in government of 650 seats (ie over half, as well as the right to form a government).

The Scottish National Party (SNP) obtained 56 seats with 1.4 million votes, turning the whole of the Caledonia country a pale yellow.

The Green party obtained 1.1 million votes – up fourfold, almost half what the former alliance and third party got – but it got only 1 MP; and no regional swathe.

Rightly, the Greens are starting a campaign for a better voting system.

The unfairness is also seen if you go to the BBC official elections page and toggle “most votes” and then “most seats won” and see how the voting numbers and seats do not match.

I note that Liberal Democrats got 8 seats but with 1.2m less votes than UKIP, who happily only got 1. At well under half UKIP’s votes,  the SNP has 56 times as many seats.

It is also noteworthy that if Scotland had voted for its usual colours – red and a little yellow – we would have another hung parliament; and even more so if the Northern Ireland and Welsh national parties had not featured strongly in the results. I’m not suggesting the Celtic parts of the UK shouldn’t vote for their national parties, but illustrating the hard choice between influencing Westminster’s overall government and what seems a cry for independence. I will suggest that the strong nationalist contingent and alternative parties suited the Tories, who often do badly in the areas where Celtic parties do well.

The Conservatives actually only got 6 more seats than the minimum needed to win the election.

There were 26 parties in the election, many of which have never run in my area; but that wide choice points out that this is a multiple horse race – not the two to five horses often presented. At the end of the BBC’s results is an integrated, undigested lump called Other – 0.5% of the vote, bigger than most of the mini parties, and almost the size of Plaid Cymru and Sein Fein, who won several seats. 164,000 people chose someones that the Beeb – the establishment’s voice, whether they pretend to be or not – chose to not even name.  One of these obtained the only seat out of the mini parties – but I’m struggling to find out who or where it is. I suspect these are independents, which are on the rise – Good – except that they can’t form a cabinet and become Prime Minster, which is why many are dissuaded from voting for them.

I trust this shows how unfair our system is.

See my cloud tag for previous election thoughts

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George Galloway – I’m Not The Only One

I first found the Respect party when I did a search for alternatives to the main ones. I was  intrigued by a social justice, anti war eco driven new political group and wanted to know more about George, their best known MP. I thought I might support and learn from him.

I have come to see him as the caustic Caledonian  – Labour’s Lucifer.

I’m Not The Only One is a hard book to read – not because I can’t understand it, though he does have a wide vocabulary, and his own word “obfuscate” best describes his writing style with sentences constructed like this – but because of his tirade. After the introduction, I wondered if I could manage the rest of the book as I felt I’d been battered with an energy like Michael Moore’s, but more erudite and snide. Happily, the tone lets up a little, but it is still an intense diatribe, though profanity free. George is often very personal and insulting about other politicians. He rarely explains a situation so you only get the George rant, which feels off kilter and his long multi clause sentences seem to hide answers to or ignore the many questions a reader will have.

George spends much time aggrandising or in apologetics. He speaks of his love for Iraq, which at first was very interesting to hear a passionate description of this country  – one he claims he knows better than anyone else in Britain. But the other thread of this book is the love that jilted him, the Labour party whose exclusion after over 30 years of marriage was still very raw in this 2005 book. He defends various things said about him regarding Saddam Hussein, Mariam the Iraqi child he brought to Britain for leukaemia treatment; the War on Want funds; a transcript of his trial in Washington – but not exactly why the Labour Party claimed to need to put him on trial. He often depicts himself as a hero – and a victim.

He had not yet parted ways with Respect leader Salma Yaqoob; and this book is before his Big Brother/Jungle appearances, and that awful rape comment, which he refused to rescind. It is pre the infamous Jeremy Paxman interview when he’d just won the London seat, and though he happily put down Britain’s rudest current affairs presenter, George repeated what seemed a deeply racist and thoughtless statement for someone who claims to understand the Middle East so well. From his website, it seems his style and sentiment hasn’t changed, treating his recent Ed Miliband meeting in the same way.

Reading this book was like a rickety high speed train where you’re glad to get to the end of the journey – or disembark early.

I am surprised but glad that Penguin has published this – it shows freedom of speech being endorsed by a major publisher. For there are some shocking accusations is this book about the truth of US/UK governments and their behaviours, particularly in the Middle East. And sadly, I think they are true. And for bringing those horrors to our attention and daring to say such against grain going risky statements, I applaud George.

I do think that George genuinely wants a better world and has taken brave steps towards that. I’m just not sure about all his methods of getting there.

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