Monday Message Board (on Tuesday)

Another Monday Message Board, a day late. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

121 thoughts on “Monday Message Board (on Tuesday)

  1. @Fran Barlow

    If a Labour leader was asked ‘If no party has a majority in the House of Commons, are you prepared to make a deal with the SNP to form a government?’ and responded in your suggested words ‘We will work with anyone to fight Cameron’s austerity and the “power of the city”‘, the appearance created would be evasive and shifty, and that results in losing votes, not gaining them.

  2. If you mean the figures that show a trend that more people are voting Green, no not handy.

    Antony Green wrote a piece on his blog about the overall increase in non-duopoly votes and you can see the trend from the bar graph he includes. 2010 was a huge increase and 2013 was back closer to trend.

    I took it to be implied from your question that you don’t believe it to be true. Maybe it’s just the way you phrase things.

  3. @J-D

    A) how is it shifty or shady? It’s candid, surely?
    B) Surely it would gain votes from all those desirous of achieving the end of austerity/corporate power who could believe the party was willing to so act, but were discouraged from voting because of their want of faith it would happen.

  4. @Fran Barlow

    I agree that it might offend those who wanted to keep Cameron in power on one ground or another, but they will scarcely vote Labour or SNP or Green or Plaid Cymru so their antipathy is moot.

  5. @Ken Fabian
    Newman’s opinions were on record well before PM Tony Abbott was PM, and those opinions were aired in the national broadsheet, one of Abbott’s go-to papers. There is no basis to think PM Abbott didn’t know of Newman’s opinions. In fact, given the way PM Abbott has cloistered his office with a clot of like-minded minions, I’d say PM Abbott knew exactly what he was getting when he appointed Newman to his role. Trying to parachute in Dr Lomborg to UWA is simply more of the same from our government. Infiltrate and desecrate. That’s their plan. It’s what authoritarian governments do.

    I postulate that Newman et al are already a one-world-government of corporatists, clandestine of course, and they feel under threat of being usurped by a one-world-government of reality-based folk. In that light, the constant panic about a one-world-government, it all makes sense now 🙂

  6. @Megan

    I did not intend to create the impression that I doubted the truth of what you were saying. I was just interested in seeing the figures for myself. Can you suggest (for my future reference) a way I could have phrased my question that would have been less likely to create a misleading impression?

    Antony Green’s graphs show a long-term trend of increase in the fraction of votes cast for the aggregate of all minor parties and independents (from the mid-1970s until now). It’s less clear to my eye that there’s a long-term trend of increase in the fraction of votes cast for the Greens — I’m not an expert statistician, but it seems to me that what I could be looking at is oscillation around a plateau, then one big jump from 2001 to 2004, and then oscillation around the new plateau, which is not the same thing as a long-term upward trend.

  7. @Ikonoclast

    If mere words are ineffectual, then all the comments on this blog are equally ineffectual, and I don’t see how mine have any less value than anybody else’s.

    However, the suggestion that nothing political parties say or do can have any effect on how many people vote for them is an implausible one, and I’m plainly not the only commenter here who doubts it.

  8. @Troy Prideaux
    A bit harsh, but I don’t think it’s wrong. “Climate science is wrong” has been a too attractive choice to people who don’t want the burden – like anyone wants to be burdened on this scale. A kind of “market” decision has been made by commerce and industry that, en masse, is amoral, even if ethical values are not absent in the individuals choosing to support lobbyists like Newman. Not the whole story of course. A consensus majority of business leaders choosing to stand against climate action, because it’s an imposition of regulations and costs that reduce competitiveness and profitability comes out of a ‘legitimate’ and ‘rational’ assessment process, but it’s not science.

    What I don’t expect – and where I think we are being seriously let down – is leaders within governments suspending their own judgement and taking the advice of peak business associations and lobbies and lobbyists at face value. Especially given mountains of consistent contrary expert advice.

  9. @J-D

    I won’t advise you how to phrase your comments. You will do as you see fit, and rightly so.

    But, you might revisit the first page – specifically you at #41, Ikon at #46 and you at #60.

    On the topic of the history of Green votes, you could look particularly at your response to Ikon at #60, and follow your own advice.

  10. It turns out Wikipedia has a page on the Greens.

    Over 9 elections more people have voted Greens each time in all but 2. Representation in parliament has only ever increased.

  11. @Fran Barlow

    In response to the question

    ‘If no party has a majority in the House of Commons, are you prepared to make a deal with the SNP to form a government?’

    it would be shifty and evasive to say

    ‘We will work with anyone to fight Cameron’s austerity and the “power of the city”‘

    because the response contains neither the explicit affirmation

    ‘We would be prepared (given circumstances) to make a deal with the SNP to form government’

    nor the explicit denial

    ‘We would not be prepared (given circumstances) to make a deal with the SNP to form government’.

  12. @J-D

    Clearly, you didn’t understand my point. I outlined the situations where language (and the concepts, plans and models incorporated in language) is useful in politics and and when it is not useful or at least not useful enough to help generate genuine change.

    I explained why at this historical juncture people are not in the main hearing messages other than mainstream BAU messages and the lies they are based on. I explained why they will not hear the correct messages until reality becomes painful enough for the majority to realise something is seriously wrong.

    I mentioned how the people who are telling the unpopular truths about the biosphere and the economy need to stay on message and keep giving this message clearly until people are ready to hear it properly. Little by little, more and more people will be convinced and then at the end change will come in a rush because real facts and real events will no longer be ambiguous. The realities of what is wrong with our current system will become incontrovertible. People and thought systems which were substantially correct all along gain credibility. Those which were absurd all along lose all credibility.

    This is not the same as saying words are ineffectual. It is slightly more complex than that. It is saying there are phases in history as in all human life where the right and true words are ineffectual (but still need to be said) and phases where the right and true words finally become effective because people’s lived reality and mental insight finally catches up with the words of what is essentially scientific prediction (for real systems) and logical prediction (for formal systems).

  13. @J-D

    The question was loaded.

    “Will you make a deal?”

    Can be answered by:

    “We will work with anyone to get X result.”

    without necessarily being evasive. If you only get one question and one answer, it is arguably the most honest way to answer the chosen question. The issue was deliberately framed as a wedge and Labour chose to fall for it. I agree with Fran’s view on that point.

  14. In response to Fran @ 98:

    FPTP (First Pass The Post) has many contradictions in as far as fair representation goes, but PR (Proportional Representation) has equally significant problems when forming a majority government, the reasoning being that a major party with significant support can call on a very minor party to achieve a majority, therefore giving the minor party undue influence over the executive governance of the country. Given that most government decisions are made by the executive.

    If a move to PR is proposed, as would be evidenced from your numbers, then the rules on forming government should also be changed, so that the executive is formed from the parties with the most seats. This effectively does away with the idea of ‘oppositions’, but leaves in place the senate as a house of review.

    How would this work?

    A few simple rules. The secondary party has deputy PM, the members of the government cannot support a no confidence motion, and the government must pass a budget. All other legislation can go down to party lines, if that is what’s happening.

    Over time this would see the effectively centre right Liberal-Labor neo-liberal duopoly in Australia either strengthen their position, or lead to the genuine rise of third parties.

  15. > therefore giving the minor party undue influence over the executive governance of the country.

    What do you mean by “undue”, here?

  16. Jonathon Cook gets it:

    ….
    The faulty logic of the lesser-evil argument is apparent the moment we consider the Blair case. If there is no political cost for committing the ultimate war crime, because the other guys are worse, what real leverage can the electorate ever have on the political system. The “left” vote will always gravitate to the slightly less nasty party of capital. No change is really possible. In fact, over time the political centre of gravity is likely to shift – as has in fact happened – ever more to the right, as the corporations accrete ever greater power.

    Further, where does Brand’s logic take us now that Miliband has lost. If we were supposed to have faith that Miliband would have listened had he achieved power, then why not extend that faith to his successor? If we are satisfied by the lesser-evil argument, why not wait till the next election to see if we can get another slightly less nasty candidate into Downing Street? We can defer the choice to demand real change indefinitely.

  17. @Fran Barlow

    If, at our next Federal election, the presses that print Murdoch’s papers suddenly cease to function, you won’t be surprised. That sort of thing shouldn’t be illegal, it should be mandatory.

  18. @J-D

    I reject your reasoning as specious.

    The respondent need not repeat the framework of the question to give a candid and salient response. At the time the question would have been put the SNP would have been regarded as likely to capture the vast majority of the seats in Scotland in a hung parliament and had expressly and repeatedly declared its opposition to austerity, so the inference would have been compelled.

    The Labour respondent was entitled to supply a political basis for the agreement — without his or her rationale being rendered non-responsive. The question had been framed to make it seem that Labour was driven merely by lust for office and was willing to do a 21st century version of Gladstone with those favouring Irish Home Rule rather than a common desire to use the commons to advance a shared and legitimate policy end — the striking down of austerity and the restraint of corporate power.

    Supplying this context also would have allowed the Labour Party to build in conditionality since inability to find partners to secure this policy end implied disinclination to work with such parties or individuals, underlining the principled character of the proposal.

    I hope that clears this up for you.

  19. In response to @Collin Street @ #15.

    Firstly, I assume the idea behind proportional representation is to better reflect the collective intent of the electorate. To then limit that intent to the selection process, while ignoring the purpose of that intent, the governance of the country, seems a little futile.

    The reality in Australia is that the political intent of the majority of voters lies somewhere in a continuum covered by the two major parties, and from what I observe I would contend that that distribution is probably close to normal.

    For example, I respect the fact that someone like Clive Palmer can muster the wherewithal to get three senators elected, but were they to have taken up his suggestion and traded support for the government in return for ministerial appointments, something they could quite legitimately do, then I would consider that ‘undue’ influence in the sense that it does not represent the broader collective will of the people.

    On the other hand, the ongoing negotiation between the two major parties over the RET, while something I personally disagree with, is in my view a valid example of collective intent. And however those negotiations conclude, the outcome will be better than if the government had been able to achieve its original position through the support of independents.

  20. @James (

    In response to Fran @ 98:
    FPTP (First Pass The Post)

    First past the post …

    has many contradictions in as far as fair representation goes, but PR (Proportional Representation) has equally significant problems when forming a majority government, the reasoning being that a major party with significant support can call on a very minor party to achieve a majority, therefore giving the minor party undue influence over the executive governance of the country. Given that most government decisions are made by the executive.

    That’s not in practice a greater problem than minority rule. Minority rule is ipso facto lacking in legitimacy whereas negotiated majority involves some sort of practical compromise between the party holding a plurality and those that sought to deny it office.the latter, in theory at least, is less of an abuse of power.

    The question really turns on whether the plurality-holding party behaves in a way that respects the aspirations of the newly formed majority consensus (and whether that is even possible in practice) or whether this is merely an opportunistic alliance in which each of the parties trades principle for the perks of office. Which of these occurs reflects not the possibility of doing such deals but rather the integrity of the protagonists. If the plurality party values principle above office it will honour its principles notwithstanding the demands of other parties and accept loss of office or failure to gain it as the price of principle.

    We have seen that the Conservative Party in Britain has benefited in practice to the tune of 92 seats from the current system in this election. Therein lies its majority but were it obliged to seek further support outside its own ranks to rule, this would not be worse but better because it would reflect a less unbalanced distribution.

    It is worth noting that the mere fact that the Conservatives and Labour are parties committed to support their respective executives in the event they secure office does not mean that individual members cannot wield ‘undue influence’. The influence, undue or not, is simply hidden under a rubric that obstructs inquiry most of the time.

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