Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To AV Or To AV Not?

With just two weeks to go until we all rush to the polling centres to express our wishes regarding who should be making local decisions and whether we should change the voting system, I am still none the wiser.

For the local part, I don’t see a problem with the present ‘system’ as I have become used to casting my cross against the names of people who only want to listen when it’s time to be voted into office.

As to whether I should be voting in favour of the Alternative Vote I have not, as yet, been sufficiently seduced by the arguments of either side - added to which I just don’t understand the logic for change.

Just like Communism and Capitalism AV is a wonderful theory. But, like all theories, it is dependent on the vagaries of human nature.

The idea that whoever gets elected into office has to hold a majority of 50 percent of the votes is, on paper at least, a good thing. In reality though, it is flawed.

The present first past the post system means the winner is the person with the most votes. With AV we would list the candidates in order of our personal preference, and if no-one gets 50 percent, the one with the least votes gets knocked out of the competition and the others have the loser’s votes distributed between them. If no-one still has the required percentage, the same thing happens again.

Well, my initial problem is that I do not want to have to rate the candidates in order of preference; I don’t want to go into the polling booth with the possibility my vote is already being diluted into a second rate compromise. I want the one candidate who has convinced me of his/her credentials to represent me for the given term.

My second and main problem, is that even with AV working to the theory, the main criticism of the present system is still applicable. The overall winner will still not be representative of the total electorate as most who are eligible to vote are either too apathetic, too lazy or just plain disillusioned by the cupboard love shown by wannabe politicians at election time.

Until politics can be a) interesting b) trusted again, or c) we are legally obliged to make use of our vote (just as when completing the recent census) it is, for me at least, a case of ‘back to the drawing board’.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

MPs Just Clowning Around!

I was playing around with an idea of comparing the antics of parliament with a circus, when I came upon a website called

I just couldn’t resist the temptation to feed the following names into the clown name generator to see who their clown alter egos would be:
  • David Cameron = Baron Noogstein
  • Nick Clegg = Sir Blink
  • Ed Miliband = Miss Hoggins
  • Ed Balls = Doctor Tulipa
Suddenly, the images I carry in my head, of those normally dreary faces, have taken on a new dimension.

Everyone loves a clown.............

Try it for yourself!

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Pensioning Off Our Right To Retire...!

The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has unveiled details of his plan for reform to the welfare system.

While he is correct that the present system is ridiculously complicated and needs simplifying, he is wrong in his assumption that most people want to stay in work indefinitely.

He claims that most people want to work up until, or past, the age of seventy when what we all really want is the choice to work beyond the present retirement age and not to be forced into a longer working life.

Of course, it is convenient for members of the government to take this view, as the longer we all work, the longer we are paying taxes and the longer they can delay paying out the pension. Mismanagement of the pension pot, the increase in our expected lifespan and the larger numbers of those of us who are eligible to claim, means there is a huge black hole in said pot.

Employers, though, do not want to be forced to keep people employed at an age when they are often not as productive as they once were. Healthy business needs new blood, with new ideas and enthusiasm. Most employers will, therefore, work around any legislation by finding loopholes like misdemeanors as a method of dismissing the aged employees. This will cause understandable friction and lack of trust in what were once loyal workforces and happy companies.

If people stay working for longer, the young remain unemployed - and often on benefits - for longer. The assumption there are jobs for all is totally flawed.

So, at one end of the equation we have people paying taxes for longer, while at the other, the government are paying out benefits for longer.

With a reduction in benefits also becoming part of the reforms, it is less costly to pay young people the benefit than it is to pay retired people the state pension. It is nothing more than spreadsheet politics.

Labour MP Stephen Pound summed it up by saying:

‘Forcing people to work on indefinitely condemns young unemployed people to the dole and destroys the life chances of older people who have spent 30 or 40 years working for a productive retirement – it is pretty cruel.’


‘Perhaps if you are a hedge fund manager you do not have the same level of exhaustion as a panel beater, but most people have had enough after 40-odd years.’

Well, I am neither of the above but I definitely know when I have had enough!!

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