Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: #GE2015: Proper Mad

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  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And I don’t recall any alarm when it was harnessed to Eleanor Catton’s cause.

    I am not feeling your outrage at all, sorry.

    Dude you don't have to feel a damn thing I do, but I do recall some mild alarm about that. And when did hundreds of examples of stupid shit (IMHO and YMDV, of course) make it less dopey?

    Anyway, compared to the recurrence of mass constitutional illiteracy in the British media (a hung parliament resulting in a coalition or minority Government of whatever complexion is not the end of days) this is pretty small beer - but still faintly tacky. Again, in my very humble opinion everyone else is under precisely zero obligation to share.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Campbell,

    My less fortunate colleagues back in London have been doing a weekly analysis of the media coverage, using my data. Their roundups are published at electionunspun.net, if you’re interested

    Thanks! I will use some of that in my Media Take roundup this weekend. Fascinating.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Sam F,

    Although the Murdoch press, pragmatic as ever, is showing a very different face to readers of the Scottish Sun

    Pragmatic on more than just the readership level - a SNP which succeeds enough to weaken Labour's Scottish base, but not enough to make a Labour-SNP coalition government possible nationally, seems like a good thing for the Conservatives. I'm guessing Murdoch would not be displeased if that happened.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report

  • Dean Wallis,

    Can't wait for The Horold to lead with #JeSuisGate

    Point Chevalier • Since Jan 2013 • 45 posts Report

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    While it's probably no surprise that The Guardian has endorsed the Labour Party, it's worthwhile pointing out that it's a very guarded endorsement:

    In each area, Labour could go further and be bolder. But the contrast between them and the Conservatives is sharp. While Labour would repeal the bedroom tax, the Tories are set on those £12bn of cuts to social security, cuts that will have a concrete and painful impact on real lives. Even if they don’t affect you, they will affect your disabled neighbour, reliant on a vital service that suddenly gets slashed, or the woman down the street, already working an exhausting double shift and still not able to feed her children without the help of benefits that are about to be squeezed yet further. For those people, and for many others, a Labour government can make a very big difference.

    This newspaper has never been a cheerleader for the Labour party. We are not now. But our view is clear. Labour provides the best hope for starting to tackle the turbulent issues facing us. On 7 May, as this country makes a profound decision about its future, we hope Britain turns to Labour.

    I'll be following the online coverage of this. The result could turn out to be, as you say, proper mad. The real question is whether this will fan the flames for a proper referendum on PR, as opposed to the utterly botched AV shambles that the LibDems got from the Conservatives last time.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 449 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I couldn't understand the problem the UK media and parties have with a hung parliament, but I think it's roughly like this:

    In normal countries, when there is an election with an inconclusive result, there is a round of multi-party discussions to arrive at a grouping of parties that can come to an agreement and hold 50%+ of the seats. If this doesn't happen in a couple of months, there is another election.

    The UK has a couple of things impacting this process:

    Tripartite dislike

    = Labour are hostile to the SNP because they feel (wrongly) that an England & Wales state minus Scotland would be eternally Tory.
    = The SNP are hostile to Labour as their main opponent in Scotland and because of their anti-independence stance
    = The Tories are hostile to the SNP because of a visceral (well, since the early 20th century) attachment to a Greater UK
    = The SNP and Labour are hostile to the Tories, for obvious reasons

    Hence it is hard for any two of the (probable) largest parties to come to an agreement

    Lack of clarity and good faith
    The Tories believe they are born to rule and have form for throwing their toys out of the pram if denied (see the Asquith government).

    They may well try to block an opposition majority from taking office. The only way they can do this without a majority is to hang on and refuse to concede. Eventually (I suppose, though I'm not sure how long they can obfuscate for) a Parliament will have to sit and there will be a vote of confidence.

    The Tories aim would be to break any Labour-led coalition (e.g. by persuading MPs that a government not led by the largest party is illegitimate) and win this vote. If they then lose, they will try and prevent Labour and their allies from taking office by pushing for a fresh election, preferably delayed.

    I actually think that none of this will happen, Labour will be a few seats short of a majority, the Tories will be way short and will concede, and there will be a majority government with no formal agreement, as happened in early 1974*

    * when the Tories actually abstained on a confidence matter, presumably as the alternative would have been a fresh election, the resumption of the miners strike, or both.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    UKIP candidates continue to give the impression that the systematic obstacles to their party gaining a share of power commensurate with its share of the vote is in fact a very good thing. Another one has had to be jettisoned, this time for threatening to shoot his Tory opponent, a British Indian.

    Sometimes there's no need to fight the UKIP, when it's already doing a sterling job of firing the political Stinger missiles backwards.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I couldn’t understand the problem the UK media and parties have with a hung parliament, but I think it’s roughly like this:

    Thanks for the reasoning.

    A New Zealander I know in London says all the Kiwis and Europeans she knows are quite perplexed at the widespread view that taking a week or two to negotiate a coalition would usher in the End Times.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Is that Sun cover trying to remind people (pork, bacon, Milliband's face pulling) that Ed is a yid?

    I find all those people saying "Ed Miliband's not a real Jew!" rather amusing if it wasn't so serious. It's a Breitbart link, so I'll issue a trigger warning.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Margaret Hardiman,

    Go Russels both!

    Auckland NZ • Since May 2015 • 1 posts Report

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    As the token New Zealander, I’ve had plenty of left-leaning Brits ask me about proportional representation. I keep saying it’s a no brainer: your vote actually counts no matter what electorate you’re in and smaller parties actually have a shot at parliament. At this point, pretty much everyone starts Britsplaining to me that, “oh, that only works if you have nice parties, like in New Zealand. We can’t have MMP here because we have the BNP and the EDL and UKIP.” At that point, I start talking about the 5% threshold and the very slight influence such parties would have even if they crawled their way over 5% of the vote, but then their eyes start glazing over.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    While it’s probably no surprise that The Guardian has endorsed the Labour Party,

    It actually is a surprise, because it's essentially a Lib Dem paper.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    It’s a Breitbart link, so I’ll issue a trigger warning.

    The seizure-inducing pop-up for their latest Clinton-scandal book was pretty alarming.

    But this does lend some weight to the idea that The Sun had an additional motive for showing the bacon.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Zach Bagnall,

    In the 2012 referendum, 2/3 voted against electoral reform, but here we are. Trying to have a mmp election under fptp is a good take.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Alfie,

    Ditto Stella.

    And Alfie and Russell: ditto me. This election coverage is far nastier than the Thatcher triumphs of the will. I find it difficult to reconcile level of venom with the buttoned-up, more reticent British character.

    The Murdoch press has adopted their owner's head-kicking style with enthusiasm. Combine that with The Conservatives' pitbull strategist Lynton Crosby and you could say that Australian gutter politics has taken over.

    Whoever wins, the writhing and shrieking around having to negotiate and make compromises will clearly show that the art and intellect of British politics has been subsumed by a head-kicking brutality that has little connection with public service or representation of voters in a democracy, and everything to do greed for power and money.

    It will be interesting.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • AndrewW,

    I voted this morning, casting for Labour in a very blue seat. It all felt rather quaint, after only experiencing NZ MMP elections. Local church on the common as the polling station, booths that were akin to old school desks, a pencil to cross out my (single) choice. Voting in NZ seems light years ahead.

    The single vote is what I found particularly odd, since in reality my vote is only worth about .128 of a vote. It is actually more a symbolic exercise of democracy, rather than actually having a say in who runs the country.

    Talking to my English colleagues and friends, nearly everyone is more than a little confused about who to vote for. There is a general sense that Cameron and the Tories are more than a bit shit, but that Labour as a replacement may not be all that much better.

    United Kingdom • Since May 2015 • 2 posts Report

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    I had a similar experience. Voting this morning reminded me of my first ever vote, back in NZ's last FPP election, which I cast wearing cricket whites after coming off the field. Old school. My electorate's a prominent Lib Dem one that's predicted as a potential Labour pick up every election, but never ultimately goes that way. We'll see what happens today.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report

  • Zach Bagnall,

    My green vote was cast by post last week. Low effort seems appropriate for a wasted fptp vote.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report

  • Jen Ferguson,

    FPTP in this country does indeed make MMP look like god's own electoral system. There's been a movement to try to make the best of a flawed situation and encourage vote-swapping (VoteSwap.org), whereby Green and Labour voters can swap votes to either vote Labour to keep a Tory out or vote Green in a seat where it will make a difference.

    @radiowammo and I live in one of the safest Labour seats in the country (Camberwell & Peckham) and are just about to head off and vote - something I shamefully never bothered to do in all my years living here as a disengaged 20-something under Blair and something Glenn is still surprised he's able to do on his NZ passport - oh, the power of empire...

    And I guess I should have known better, but I'm still sickened at the outrageously partisan, gutter-scraping savagery of the press - the 1% must be absolutely terrified of a Tory defeat. But then apparently there's a lot we should be quaking in our boots over - Scotland/Sturgeon, Miliband, coalition... Pah. These fools shoulda been there for the Winnie Kingmaker days in '96. That'd toughen them up.

    Peckham Rye, London • Since Jan 2007 • 26 posts Report

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    Ah, ’96. I tried to explain NZ First to a Brit recently by doing a Google Image search of “Winston Peters” on my phone and endlessly scrolling down while repeating, “Look! It’s Winston Peters!” Suspect something may have got lost in translation. In other news, I miss my party vote so very much.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report

  • AndrewW, in reply to Jen Ferguson,

    One can only hope that this result at least triggers a deeper constitutional conversation - PR, an elected upper house, devolved/federalised system re: Scotland...

    United Kingdom • Since May 2015 • 2 posts Report

  • Stella Duffy,


    11am update -
    I don't know any Brits who wouldn't prefer PR to FPTP. It's been campaigned for here for years. (mind you, Netanyahu's PR govt is a clear indication that PR doesn't always = just and fair.)

    Polling station in my bit of South London had a queue for the first time since I've been voting here. This feels hopeful.

    Voting felt strangely moving,

    This, by Bob and Roberta Smith (artist standing against Michael Gove on a platform that is against Gove's brutal education policies, esp his anti-arts stuff) is brilliant.

    London • Since Aug 2011 • 6 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jen Ferguson,

    And I guess I should have known better, but I’m still sickened at the outrageously partisan, gutter-scraping savagery of the press – the 1% must be absolutely terrified of a Tory defeat.

    The Election Unspun infographics linked to above by Ben Campbell are pretty stark. The Telegraph has gone way beyond the traditional partisanship and The Sun is more rabid than it was when Kinnock was leading Labour.

    So no, you’re not imagining it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Just looking at The Guardian’s liveblog.

    Killer fact: the three election-eve polls have all basically converged to a Labour-Conservative dead heat. In each case the positive movement is with Labour. In the Ipsos poll, Labour are up five points. Interesting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Ben Austin, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    What bugs me especially about discussion of coalitions, PR or electoral reform in the UK is that parts of the UK have had a similar system (AMS) to NZ's since the 1990s too, in the devolved parliamentary elections. It really is only the English people living outside of London that don't experience this.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

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