Saturday, May 08, 2010
The Conservatives said any mention of a deal had been rejected "straight away".I am very glad that offer was not accepted, partly because it would merely have been a "cast iron" written promise by somebody who is clearly pro-EU & partly because I believe UKIP has gone beyond being a single issue lobby & at the election produced by far the best manifesto which appeals to any libertarian or traditional liberal.
We offered that if we got a clear, written promise with an agreed wording for a referendum on whether we stayed in or left the European Union... then we would stand down for the general election, providing we had this absolutely clearly in writing.
"And then when we had the referendum - which we believed we would win - we would then be out of the European Union and then at that point UKIP, well it would have been up to UKIP, but it would probably have disbanded
David Cameron must be sick at the opportunity lost.
EU Referendum is compiling a list of (currently) 34 seats where the UKIP or occasionally UKIP & BNP vote exceeds the majority by which the Conservatives were beaten. In 16 of them the UKIP vote is more than twice the winner's majority so in these cases we can say with certainty the Conservatives lost because of refusing this offer. With those & few of the others they would certainly have had a majority.
On such hasty decisions the destinies of nations turn.
This is an interesting example of the "butterfly's wing" effect of Chaos Theory. No single act by any individual brought us here but it depends on a whole series of acts by all parties, some aiming for this but most not.
The Conservatives cannot now, having entered negotiations with the LDs, to allow them to fail in any way which will not be seen as the LD's fault. Moist specifically they cannot allow them to fail on the issue of whether the electors be allowed a referendum on PR. If they did a lot of their electors would desert them in the subsequent, fairly immediate, election. To do so would be to swing as large a proportion of their vote away as they lost to UKIP.
Equally the LDs have to ensure the negotiation doesn't fail on any other point. The electorate would then correctly conclude that the LDs, far from being moderates between the 2 parties, are simply an irreconcilable adjunct to Labour committed to protest but not power. They would lose half their votes to the Tories in the subsequent election & be wiped out.
This is a moment that is going to change our entire political culture. More than that even. If PR is seen to be an improvement here & I am confident that though not a miracle cure it will, it is likely that the other countries in the Anglosphere will take notice. In particular in the USA where the Tea Party movement is struggling under the same outdated system (though their primaries system alleviates some of the problem) an electoral system that doesn't entrench 2 sclerotic parties against the people's wishes will be seen as worthwhile.
Link to a blog some time ago which I wrote, primarily for the American audience, explaining PR
Friday, May 07, 2010
Current results excluding Northern Ireland
Party -------Seats Net -----Votes --% -+/-%
Conservative --302 +94 10,592,258 36.2 +3.8
Labour --------256 -88 -8,509,376 29.1 -6.3
Lib Dem --------56 /-5 -6,751,786 23.0 +1.0
Scottish NP -----6 --0 ---491,386 -1.7 +0.1
Plaid Cymru -----3 --+1 --165,394 -0.6 -0.1
Green -----------1 --+1 --279,279 -1.0 -0.1*
UKIP ------------0 ---0 --904,564 -3.1 +0.9*
BNP -------------0 ---0 --556,945 -1.9 +1.2*
Labour lost. Not quite as badly as they might have but definitely lost.
The Conservatives lost. With the economy reeling, Labour holding for a 4th consecutive result, the Tories having dropped all their principles for power they haven't done it, indeed they have had barely above 1/3rd of the votes. Also the Ulster Unionist party, allied to them, has been wiped out.
The LudDims lost, as I predicted. Indeed moreso since I had not expected Labour to open a 6% lead over them. In an election where they had according to some polls been about to become largest party; where for the first time ever they were getting media coverage to match the big parties; where the normal argument against voting LD, that it is a "wasted vote" which would let in the other party no longer applied (indeed where Labour ministers were saying vote LD not Labour because Labour is the wasted vote); where public contempt for the big parties has never been as great, the LDs have nonetheless lost seats & barely gained votes. The public, for the first time, got to see the Luddism, nanny statism, illiberality, eco-fascism, government parasitism, eurofanaticism, mass immigrationism, nihilism & all round lunacy of a conglomeration of single issue fanatic groups & they don't like it. The catastrophic nature of the result is being hidden by the fact that they do have the balance of power & that Labour are quickly & the Conservatives less quickly to supporting a democratic electoral system. The LDs have to go for PR or most of their membership would hang the leaders. But while FPTP disadvantages them against Labour & Tory it gives them a massive advantage against UKIP, the BNP & Greens.
Once again I was in the audience for Brian Taylor's Big Debate on BBC radio today. Guests were Murdo Fraser (Conservative(, Ross Finnie (LD), Shirley Anne Sommerville (SNP) & Patricia Ferguson (Lab).
I stand by the opinion that if the LDs had been traditional liberals willing to promote economic growth through free markets rather than deciding that anything but state control & eco-fascism was "illiberal & incompatible with party membership" they would now be thegovernment. And more importantly Scotland would be better off & the UK could expect to be.
My question was "Nick Clegg has always said that they would first negotiate with the largest party so in honour they must first talk to the Conservatives. However we can visibly see Labour politicians rolling over on proportional representation which I would consider a democratic requirement. I would particularly like to hear from Murdo Fraser on whether he thinks that would be something that would make the Conservatives walk away from power".
It took a while to get round to Murdo's chance to answer & technically he didn't answer it, as so often happens to difficult questions. What he did instead was to complain that the FPTP system had, most unfairly, given the Scottish Conservatives only 1 seat with nearly 400,000 votes. Ross Finnie cheerfully agreed with him how unfair FPTP is leaving Murdo to quietly point out that it worked well for them in England. The subtext must be that some reappraisal is taking place in Conservative ranks.
David Cameron has just made a public statement. Apart from a little silliness (low carbon economy) & some platitudes they are offering a "cross party Parliamentary enquiry" on PR. The devil is in the detail - such an enquiry could either mean getting rid of it for years followed by the Conservatives saying they don't like the result & will ignore it or it could mean a couple of weeks & the Conservatives using the PR supporting result as a way of climbing down from their present position. The devil will be in the detail & in how hard Clegg holds out but I think the fact that it is cross party, with Labour already committed to some reform, makes this a credible opening gambit.
Tory MP Douglas Carswell has also come out firmly for PR (he had made noises before) & Iain Dale says "I don't see electoral reform as an insuperable barrier... But a formal coalition is only worth the candle if it is for the long term - four or five years. The LibDems need to be bound in."
* This is the way the table is laid out by the BBC. Note that the Greens are listed ahead of UKIP & the BNP despite getting 1/3rd & 1/2 as many votes respectively. Typical. One result of PR will be that it becomes more difficult for the BBC to decide which small parties to propagandise for.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
TO BAD THEY CAN'T ALL LOSE
I think this is also the public's opinion of all 3 "official" parties in Britain.
I have just been showing the flag for UKIP at a Glasgow polling station. When I got there there was a gentleman from the SNP who left shortly. Later the local Councillor from the Greens turned up. There was nobody from any of the main parties. I am certain that my presence & my cheery "The big parties all made a manifesto promise on a referendum & when elected cynically broke it, though it cost them nothing. If they lied on that they will lie on anything. If you don't want to be lied to then voting UKIP is the only way to tell them" got a number of votes which would not have been available if I was not present & the others absent. Certainly the disgust with Labour was palpable.
This is in Glasgow, effectively a rotten borough for Labour where a couple of elections ago their members were so omnipresent that they could keep people at every polling station all the time. Now they can't even cover a significant one during the breakfast rush. This is how much the main parties have been hollowed out of members. Beyond that I have seen not a single street poster, though I have been told of sightings of some on the south of the city & a few in the road into Cumbernauld. By comparison we put up a couple of hundred for the 9% Growth Party at the last Scottish election. Even worse I have seen a total of 2 window posters (both in one tenement & for the LudDims). This is not voter apathy it is the disappearance of all the large parties as anything but media facades with nothing to offer.
It is also fallow ground for change by a genuine grassroots political movement.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
HOW THE "LIB DEMS" BLEW IT
The latest polls show the Conservatives ahead at 3% of the vote with Labour matching the LibDims at 28%. This is worse than it looks for the LDs since it shows a declining trend from only days ago when they were on a rising trend ahead of the Tories & follows the Guardian & Independent (& even Labour leaders Hain & Balls) swinging behind them.
Getting up to the same proportion as the other 2 parties was the big hurdle because up till thien the "wasted vote" line was credible. After passing that & indeed putting the vote wasting label on Labour it should have been easy. What went wrong? Well basically people looked at what they were offering & it wasn't very good. The argument against voting Lab/Con is that they aren't worth voting for & are indistinguishable. Well the LDs are only distinguishable by being slightly less distinguishable than the other 2. On wanting to destroy half the economy by cutting electricity supply; promoting criminal wars; supporting the EU superstate; promoting genocide, child sexual slavery & organlegging; nanny statism; windmillery; promoting immigration; breaking Manifesto promises (on the referendum); opposition to traditional liberal free marketism; having a bland leader with no life experience outside government; unwillingness to discuss the issues that matter to people; hollowing out their membership to become simply media images; promoting ever more state fascist parasitism the LibDems differ from the other 2 only in being marginally more fascist than the other 2.
The big issue on which they have a clear & unassailable lead is their promotion of a democratic voting system. This is unassailable because we know they see it in their interest & the other 2 don't (Labour in particular having broken manifesto commitments for PR in 3 of their last 3 elections). When they were on a roll that could have won it for them. Making the major issue a democratic system, with a promise to introduce democratic voting & then quickly have a new election would have attracted votes from the 56.4% of the electorate who, at the European election, voted for PR parties. The main argument against voting LD is that they have no chance & previous polls have shown 49% of people willing to vote for them if they did - well now they could & the LDs have fumbled the ball just when they were on the winning line.
The contempt of the electorate for politicians is manifest (& as Gordon Brown has shown more than reciprocated). That is the real reason for the "expenses scandal" - there is nothing new in such expense misuse & it has been known for decades. That is the reason why even now 40% of people are "undecided". That is the reason for low turnouts.
An LD campaign which had played to their sole strength would have won. I think a leader with the popular appeal & trust of Charles Kennedy rather than the cardboard cut-out Clegg would have won. I am certain that had they been a traditional liberal party offering real solution they would have won easily.
I believe that it would be in the interests of the party, as well as the country, to commit itself to traditional liberal policies & particularly to achieving economic success - time after time it is shown that the electorate want wealth, whereas Ludditism, bicycling, windmills & banning things are not popular Even if it is decided that such matters are "incompatible with membership of the party" this would only prove that liberalism & membership of the Lib Dems are incompatible. I must leave that decision in your hands & those of the Appeals Tribunal.Traditional free market liberalism is sweeping the world because it works. Cameron also failed to "seal the deal" with the public because of his illiberalism & almost everything I have said here applies, in a slightly less extreme form to them - if they win it will because they are slightly less extremely bad than that they are any good.
I have said that nuclear power is more cost effective & reliable than windmills, that strong economic growth is preferable to the UK's current comparative decline & Scotland's steep decline & that illegal war, ethnic cleansing, genocide & child sex slavery are wrong.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
"Taliban insurgents draw some US$125 million annually from drugs...
Taliban play a more minor role in the opium economy than UNODC would have us believe and drug money is probably a secondary source of funding for them. Indeed, the report estimates that only 10-15% of Taliban funding is drawn from drugs and 85% comes from "non-opium sources".
The total revenue generated by opiates within Afghanistan is about $3.4 billion per year. Of this figure, according to UNODC, the Taliban get only 4% of the sum. Farmers, meanwhile, get 21%.
And the remaining 75%? Al-Qaeda? No: The report specifies that it "does not appear to have a direct role in the Afghan opiates trade," although it may participate in "low-level drugs and/or arms smuggling" along the Pakistani border.
Instead, the remaining 75% is captured by government officials, the police, local and regional power brokers and traffickers - in short, many of the groups now supported (or tolerated) by the United States and NATO are important actors in the drug trade.
The New York Times recently revealed that Ahmed Wali Karzai, President Hamid Karzai's brother, has long been on the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA's) payroll, in addition to his probable shady dealings in drugs. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, as US and NATO forces have long supported warlords, commanders and illegal militias with a record of human-rights abuses and involvement in narcotics. A former CIA officer said, "Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade." According to a New York University report, General Nazri Mahmad, a warlord who "control[s] a significant portion of the province's lucrative opium industry," has the contract to provide security for the German Provincial Reconstruction Team...
But the roots of Afghanistan's upsurge in drug production since 2001 are directly related to US policies and the government that was installed in the wake of the invasion. The United States attacked Afghanistan in 2001, in alliance with anti-Taliban warlords and drug lords, showering them with millions of dollars and other forms of support. The empowerment and enrichment of the warlords with whom the US allied itself enabled them to tax and protect opium traffickers, leading to the quick resumption of opium production after the hiatus of the 2000 Taliban ban...
In fact, buried deep in the report, its authors admit that reducing drug production would have only "minimal impact on the insurgency's strategic threat". The Taliban receive "significant funding from private donors all over the world", a contribution which "dwarfs" drug money. Although the report will be publicized by many as a vindication of calls to target the opium economy in order to weaken the Taliban, the authors themselves are not convinced of the validity of this argument.
Of the $65 billion turnover of the global market for opiates, only 5-10% ($3-5 billion) is estimated to be laundered by informal banking systems. The rest is laundered through legal trade activities and the banking system.This is an important claim that points to the enormous amounts of drug money swallowed by the world financial system, including Western banks.
The report says that over the last seven years (2002-2008), the transnational trade in Afghan opiates resulted in worldwide sales of $400-$500 billion (retail value). Only 5-10% of this is estimated to be laundered by informal banking systems (such as hawala). The remainder is laundered through the legal economy, and importantly, through Western banks.
In fact, Antonio Maria Costa was quoted as saying that drug money may have recently rescued some failing banks: "Interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities", and there were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way". "At a time of major bank failures, money doesn't smell, bankers seem to believe," ...
UNODC associates drugs with the Taliban by pointing to the fact that most poppy cultivation takes places in regions where the Taliban are concentrated. Maps show "poppy-free" provinces in the north and a concentration of cultivation in the southern provinces, linking the Taliban with drugs.
It is true that cultivation is concentrated in the south, but such maps obscure the fact that there is plenty of drug money in the north, a region over which the Afghan government has more control. For instance, Balkh province may be poppy-free, but its center, Mazar-i Sharif, is awash in drug money. Nangarhar was also poppy-free in 2008, although it still remains a province where a large amount of opiates is trafficked.
Some Western officials are now implying that political elites in northern Afghanistan are engaging in successful counter-narcotics while the southern drug economy expands. But the fact is that although the commanders who control northern Afghanistan today may have eliminated cultivation, none have moved against trafficking. Most of them continue to profit from it, and some are believed to have become millionaires.
One definition of "news" is something that somebody doesn't want you to know. This is that sort of news. By comparison we would not see such stuff in our papers & never on the BBC. This is what good journalism is about & why people having a "democratic choice" is meaningless if the facts needed for a real choice are censored. Our media have largely given up real journalism for its much more congenial opposite - rewriting press releases from government departments, government funded fakecharities & the nomenklatura (known in Britain as the "great & good").
Even in this article the question of who is financing al Quaeda/Taliban is glossed over. If $125 million is 10-15% of their revenue the other 85% they are getting amounts to $700 - 1060 million. I assume this is coming from Saudi & the Gulf Emirates. I cannot believe it is impossible to trace any of this which leaves the only possible assumption that our troops are in Afghanistan simply because our leaders don't have the integrity to confront the real paymasters of terrorism. Mark Thatcher is not the only politically connected person to have made their fortune from "introduction fees" from rich arabs.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
There are no systems to deal realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated", that "Frauds of this magnitude require a considerable degree of organisation and manpower, not to mention supervision and co-ordination. It would be unthinkable for them to be the work of a few hothead activists", & of Prescott's reforms which made fraud possible on this scale that this was "positive assistance to fraud "...... "Short of writing 'Steal Me' on the envelopes, it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands".Well something has clearly been done - postal voting & one must presume, fraud is massively increased.
Figures collected from more than 20 of the most marginal areas following Tuesday's deadline to register to vote indicate across-the-board increases in the electorate, compared with the last general election, suggesting that turnout could soar on 6 May.This is confirmed by a Tweet from the Labour candidate in Bristol East reported by Guido.
In one area, the increase is as high as 17%, and there are also indications of a dramatic surge in people requesting postal votes.
The volume of postal vote requests doubled in some areas compared with 2005, putting electoral administration systems under pressure and raising new concerns about postal voting fraud
Guido just got off the phone with Electoral Services in Bristol East a couple of hours ago, after being disturbed and puzzled to see a tweet about the contents of postal votes published a short time ago by Kerry McCarthy, Labour’s Twitter Tsar and candidate in Bristol East.It would apparently be legally dodgy to give the exact figures, though Guido has a picture appearing to show them. However it would be wrong to deny that over 70% of them went to Labour. In 2005 Labour got 49.5% of the vote in a much less crowded 3 horse race. Reporting on the obvious amount of voter apathy in the election & even the poor viewing figures for the "debates" which have been the main focus European Referendum says
... Because announcing these results prematurely can affect the outcome of the whole election, however, they’re under strict confidentiality rules. Bristol Electoral Services are now looking into it as a matter of urgency…
there has been an "unprecedented" surge in the number of people registering to vote in next Thursday's election. From the south coast of England to central Scotland, local authorities are reporting increases of up to 17 percent, with a consistent trend across major cities, suburban constituencies and rural seats. The surge is apparently at its most pronounced in areas with crucial marginal seats.In another article European Referendum highlights a comment from an ordinary person on a newspaper online
The London Borough of Islington said 135,769 people had registered to vote on 6 May, compared with 116,176 at the time of the last election in 2005, a rise of 17 percent. In neighbouring Hackney, registrations have gone up 15 percent.
The number of voters on the electoral roll has increased by 8 percent in Leeds, equivalent to an extra 18,000 voters. It also went up by 6 percent in Newcastle and by 4 per cent in both Sheffield and Manchester. A call centre set up by Manchester City Council received more than 1,000 calls a day after the first leaders' debate on 15 April. The authority reported an "unprecedented" 7,000 people registering to vote during this month.
Returning officers, we are told, attribute the "remarkable" increase to the interest generated by the three televised leaders' debate and the three-horse nature of the contest. That may or may not be the case, but does not fit with the declining viewing figures.
For no reason my name was removed from the electoral register in a London labour area, to rectify this I visited the local council with all the necessary paperwork to re-register. The officer at the council showed me his computer screen to validate my details, what was then immediately noticeable that some moderate sized houses on my road had 40-50 registered voters registered to them which were at most able to accommodate 8 people.Four million plus 17% is 4.7 million easily enough to turn any election indeed it is more than half of the entire Labour 8.8 million in 2005.
I pointed this discrepancy out to the officer, and he shrugged his shoulders. Because of this and the various cases of voter fraud in the past few decades, I no longer have faith in the electoral system
I do not see that it is going to be possible to trust the result in any circumstance. After the Birmingham fraud trial I said that postal ballots results should be announced separately from conventional ones & that where the postal ballot results have been significantly different from the conventional ones they should be investigated by the police checking a random selection of them & that where the differential postal ballots have changed the results the returning officer should not certify the result until this has been done.
If this sort of practice were going on in Iran or Ukraine or Russia or any country our government wants us to dislike the media would certainly be reporting that western "N"GOs had called the election fraudulent. Indeed they did so despite their being no clear evidence of such blatant fraud as here. They even said it about the Afghan result which seems more in keeping with what can happen here.