Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Big Story: Labour Could Come Third

Having decided that it was a good idea to launch Elvis into their campaign, Labour is now intending to make Gordon Brown meet real voters, rather than small groups of commited Labour Party supporters.

A bit late, I would have thought, and probably rather counterproductive if he keeps reproducing those awful grins at inappropriate moments.

When is the media going to cotton on that Labour are in third place in virtually every poll, and now run a real risk of coming third in the popular vote. Isn't that a BIG STORY?

Let me repeat that. Isn't that a BIG STORY?

The even bigger story is that Labour comes third but Gordon Brown still clings to the Premiership. And I'm not talking football.

If that happened I can foresee marches on Downing Street. And I'll happily be at the front!


Prodicus said...

If you want to be at the front you will have to get up bl00dy early. You'll have a lot of competition.

The Randomaniac said...

What is all this nonsense about the PM not meeting real voters so far?

Gordon Brown was meetng real voters on Brighton seafront last week. Not staged. Just a warm welcome.

I blogged it, with a pic. The PM is in the middle of the throng pictured.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Indeed Iain, you are right. Tories have got too concerned about the Lib Dems and forgotten that the ruling party might drop to third place. I think the Lib Dem surge will disproportionately affect the labour vote in the long term too with the anti Tory first choice option not being seen as Labour.

James Burdett said...

Of course the apparent Lib Dem surge is masking how abysmally Labour are doing. The thing that people don't seem to be cottoning onto which is the lesson of 1997 is that when your support flees to the best party in a seat to get rid of you then your Parliamentary base can fall precipitously.

By continuously referencing UNS models to tell eveyone how badly Labour will do the commentators are building a false confidence into the result. I suspect that Labour could be torn to pieces in terms of representation every bit as badly if not worse than the Conservatives in 1997.

Jess The Dog said...

If Labour come third and Brown clings on, his government will have no democratic mandate.

If that happens, then it will be time for marching on Downing Street, walk-outs in government departments and the withholding of tax and a general cash payment strike (especially from nationalised banks).

The only credible scenario would be to call a further general election.

And Clegg would have no credibility if he propped up a third-place Brown. He needs to be held to account on this.

On May 7th, we need to be certain that Gordon has left the building. Otherwise the audience will go crazy.

James Maskell said...

If Gordon Brown clings on to the Premiership it will be because of an electoral system that needs reform. If you support the current system you can't complain about the results it produces.

The King of Wrong said...

It's looking like a strong possibility from the polls in the last couple of weeks. It'd hardly be a Black Swan if Labour did come third, though - they were, as I recall, 4th and even 5th in some places in last June's European elections.

What would be disastrous is if Brown were able to stay on as PM when 3/4 of the population voted against his party. Because that's what those 26% figures are saying...

Paul Halsall said...

So I presume this means you are coming out for Proportional Representation then, Iain?

Simon Gardner said...

The even bigger story is that Labour comes third but Gordon Brown still clings to the Premiership.

No. The big story which you and virtually every Tory has been ignoring for very many years is that the constitution and the electoral system is ****ed-up. Nothing has changed. The constitution and the electoral system is STILL ****ed-up. All Gordon will be doing is more of what the Tories have been doing.

If that happened I can foresee marches on Downing Street. And I'll happily be at the front!

So you are finally demanding an actual democratic voting system for the UK?

I thought not.

Time to get real Iain. We have been living under an undemocratic tyranny for very many decades and it’s entirely because of our bent electoral system. If you aren’t trying to change that you are part of the problem and not the solution.

dazmando said...

Iain see you at the match. I eman it if this did happen Thwn will will March to downingstreet

Cantstandcant said...

Oh but Iain this is all down to your wonderful first past the post voting system. It's what can happen, as it did in 1951 and 1974 Feb. Were Tories in 1951 marching on Downing Street to protest at the removal of Clem Attlee? Were they marching on Downing Street to protest at Heath's removal and 6m Lib votes producing 14 MPs in 1974? No. Funny that. Unless you favour some form of PR, sorry, you cannot have your cake and eat it.

The King of Wrong said...

Nice to see the Proportional Representation trolls out in force.

Hey, guys, care to explain how perpetual hung parliaments make it possible to remove an unpopular leader? 'Cuz you certainly can't vote them out - under STV they will be the first name on the list - and under a coalition their seats mean they will retain influence.

This would be why Nick Griffin will remain an MEP for as long as he chooses to be, no matter how much 80%+ of the UK hates him. The system makes it impossible for voters to remove him.

Jonny Wright said...

If Labour come third but still cling on, do you think the Tories will finally start to admit to themselves how perverse the FPTP electoral system is?

It seems to be my Tory friends who are the staunchest defenders of the status quo, even though you lot get screwed over by the system almost as much as my party does.

Cynic said...

Oh well, I see they have cemented the Catholic vote tonight.

Cemented it about Gordon's feet and chucked him in the Thames

What a pity that Parliament doesn't exist. It would have been delicious to see Banana Boy forced to resign

Sinbad the sailor said...

Ian . Could you please clarify for us whether you support the first past the post system please?

Paul said...

You can't have the cake and eat it - if you like FPTP then you have to accept that thing like thi can happen

golden_balls said...

iain supports civil unrest if Labour wins ?

If you don't like the system that would create a Labour Government when coming third then change the system. You won't though !

I'm starting to feel anything other than a Tory Victory will be an excuse for protests civil unrest by you and your ilk iain.

Don Quixote said...

You'll be at the front of the march under the banner of Proportional Representation I should hope?

That's the only way the ridiculous scenario of the third party in the popular vote having the most seats can be avoided.

Adrian said...

Well-hung thoughts...

Despite rumours to the contrary, I think that if Labour comes third in vote share, GB's instinct is to resign. And as far as I'm aware that will immediately make DC PM (unless DC turns it down).

If GB does stay on, he will give as his excuse that the result means the people want voting reform. Lab+LD(+others) could quickly get a bill through parliament, before calling a new election in September. (They'd need to tag on some emergency legislation to get the boundaries sorted out quickly, a process that could otherwise take a couple of years!)

Now, I don't think the LibDems want to go into a proper coalition with Labour, but they'd be happy to join up for the sake of this new legislation, and they'd agree not to rock the boat too much.

Cantstandcant said...

The King of Wrong would do well to find out something about PR before he starts pontificating about it.

STV means Single Transferable vote in multi-member constituencies (so with a constituency link) - the system used perfectly well in Ireland, and supported in two referendums. Under this system the 'unpopular leader' won't be first on the list because there won't be a list of the type you are thinking of. And voters would be able to dump an MP just as easily as now.

By the way, if coalitions lead to perpetual coalition Govt involving the same party or parties, why hasn't it happened that way in Germany or Ireland?

Anna said...

If constituencies were redrawn, to equalise them and remove the inbuilt Labour advantage, couldn't you then retain FPTP without this particular scenario arising?

I don't much like Cameron's idea of forcing a general election in the event of a change of party leader, it would only lead us further down the road towards Presidential style government and certainly isn't consistent with Parliamentary Democracy. I suppose that kind of thinking is an almost inevitable result of Blair's rejection of Cabinet government in favour of government by cabal, but there isn't any reason why we shouldn't restore how it's supposed to be.

akennard said...

I would like to think that this would be GB's Shah moment when in 1979 millions appeared on the streets of Tehran to denounce and confirm the removal of the Pahlavi regime.

You will need some very sharp elbows if you want to be any near the front.

wild said...

If a change in the voting system puts the same politicians permanently in power there will be no point in voting because you can never change the government.

The Left establishment will at last have achieved its final goal, in effect a one party State.

(Nearly) All the schools

(Nearly) All the universities

(Nearly) All the television and radio broadcasting

(Most) Arts Council funding

(Most) State funding for science

(Most) Personal Income

(Most) of any capital accumulated during your lifetime

will be taken and spent by what will in effect be a Social Democratic State, which seeks to direct and correct your every action, your every thought, so that you accord with the wishes of (an essentially corrupt - both morally and financially) Leftist establishment.

The free society (the achievement of generations of Englishmen) will in effect be dead.

Liberal? Democrats? Don't make me laugh.

Jimmy said...

"Gordon Brown still clings to the Premiership. And I'm not talking football."

In the premiership the reds are going for a record four in a row. The blues, despite being funded by a shady overseas businessman looked to have it in the bag but now appear to have stumbled.

How could anyone get this mixed up with the election?

Jake Ellett said...

Weird. I wrote a blog post about this only a few hours ago. Totally agree, how is it the press are neglecting a major story in this election? The government could actually come THIRD in a general election. Perhaps if they stopped salivating over good ole different, honest, not like the other two Clegg it might get a mention.

Andy JS said...

I think anyone who believes Gordon Brown won't attempt to cling to power if he possibly can, even if he comes third in the share of the vote with 25%, simply doesn't understand the nature of the man. He won't be moveable from Downing Street unless the number of Conservative seats reaches 326 according to at least a dozen distinct news and media outlets. If the Tories end up with 325 seats he'll hunker down inside No.10 and attempt to come up with a plan for staying there for another five years.

Gordon Brown has a history of denying the truth on election night, even to himself. In 1992, for example, he declared at his count that the Labour vote in his constiuency had risen and the Tory vote had fallen when in fact the reverse had happened in terms of both votes and percentages. (The footage is available on YouTube).

Rush-is-Right said...

Anna is quite right... there is nothing wrong with the FPTP system that a re-drawing of constituency boundaries would not cure.

It is a manifest absurdity that the Conservatives have to poll 5% more than Labour just to win the same number of seats. And the over-representation of Scotland has to be addressed. Organised voter fraud by the Labour Party has also to be tackled.

Cynic said...

Ah yes. The Elvis impersonator (if the Great Leader hasn't used his extraordinary powers to raise the real one) brought to mind all those great Elvis songs that seem so appropriate to the Labour Campaign.

Return to Sender

You're the Devil in disguise

You ain't nothin' but a hound dog

Heartbreak Hotel (on 6th May)

All shook up (Electoral system cut)

Suspicious minds

Jailhouse Rock (some Labour ex-MP's only)

Don't be cruel (Downing St Staff lament version)

Perhaps we could hear these at some of the remaining rallies?

Perhaps not.

Simon Gardner said...

Still waiting for some sort of response from Iain Dale about his overnight conversion to STV - NOT.

Paddy Briggs said...


I'll join you in the march! The seat allocation if we apply your "averaged" poll figures is as follows:

Con 279
Lab 249
Lib 90
Others 14

Over to you Mr Clegg!

Cynic said...

Any change at all needs careful thoughtand assessment of the real implications. A lot of Euroipean countries have STV and a party list system. Its a disaster voters don't elect MPs they choose parties and the parties decide who gets the job off the party list.

This totally removes democratic control. It encourages nepotism puts huge power in the hands of the party leader and breeds corruption. Its also very attractive for party leaders - indeed Labour have suggested a list system for local Government elections.

But to the main point, if Gordo comes third and seeks to maiantain power we need a revolution.

Adrian said...

Anna: no, FPTP is inherently unfair, no matter how "fairly" the boundaries are drawn. That's because the system is designed to represent people according to where they live, not according to which party they support.

The King of Wrong said...

@Cantstandcant said:
"The King of Wrong would do well to find out something about PR before he starts pontificating about it."

I know plenty about STV, Cantstandcant. I know that it is an entire family of voting systems each giving different results depending on the counting method. That results involving vote transfers are often counterintuitive. That it's not guaranteed to meet the Condorcet Criterion. That Schulze/Cloneproof Schwartz Sequential Dropping is probably the best method for counting, but utterly opaque to >99% of the population who lack the mathematical background to understand it.

STV is the favourite for student societies, of course, which explains why the LibDems think all of its orifices are solar-powered. It's also massively complex and leaves room for a thumb-on-the-balance for officials to get the 'right' result, so I can see why Big State folks are keen.

As Anna correctly notes, there's nothing wrong with FPTP that addressing the constituency boundaries won't fix - when the Isle of Wight has 400% more voters than the Western Isles, as is the case, then some votes are worth more than others. At the moment, this means an inherent Labour bias in the seat calculations.

The oft-cited notion of "fairness" with "wasted votes" is an inevitable result of having an election: if you vote for a candidate other than the winner, you don't get to control a seat in parliament. It's that simple. This isn't a school sports day, we don't have to give prizes to everyone; if a candidate loses an election, why should he get a second chance to have his name pulled from a hat?

I want a parliament of winners, not of not-quite-as-bad-as-the-rest losers.

CrazyDaisy said...

Broon still in No.10 after May 6th, I predict a riot, thousands of them!

Englishman said...

When is the seperate 'English' debate on TV with Cameron, Clegg and the English Democrats?.

Broon as a Scot, elected in Scotland, with absolutely no electoral mandate in England would need to be barred.

norman said...

These Libdems here,and Clegg and co have only one goal-get PR and get established as the permanent second party in a govt coalition. Alloing this to happen with banana man Miliband is a disgrace if Brown goes as Miliband never appeared with the other two leaders-vote for one and get another. Very doubtful, give n their loony policeis and deluded thinking Libdems will ever get to this position and hence they will try to get PR to boost their chances of them as the perpetual secons party for coalition. Only foolish British will opt for any PR. Think of BNP emerging after Libdems succeeded in messing up the immigration and getting double figure ratings.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

And Iain, re the march on Downing Street, if Brown attempts to stay at Number Ten after losing the popular vote, I shall be there marching with you.

DespairingLiberal said...

You might be marching, but you would be marching against the British parliamentary system as it currently exists, which is first-past-the-post and the ability to form a government from those MPs you have. The UK is not a representative democracy, it is a constituency-by-constituency parliamentary system.

I find it strange that someone like yourself, so well versed in the system and a Conservative/conservative should take such a revolutionary position. Can it be that the sometimes-thuggish spirit of Thatcherism, which was always a little short of genuine respect for our constitution and democracy, is still stalking the corridors of Osborne-Cameroonianism?

DespairingLiberal said...

I am no lover of STV and agree with Rush-is-right that the current system of fptp constituencies would be much more representative if better drawn. Equally daft results can be seen on the BBC election calculator when you put in 50% for the LibDems - and they get only 200 seats! The current system is really just drawn up to serve party vested interests. It's difficult to come up with the "perfect" system, but STV isn't it.

javelin said...

If they become the "third" party, then the libdems will get PR and Labour become the king makers at the next and every other election. Not bad eh?

The King of Wrong said...

@norman: or "power for power's sake" as it could be fairly described.

The LibDems have ~70 seats because they can't win seats outside of a handful of middle-class suburban areas. They don't appeal to working-class voters in the North, Wales and Scotland; they don't appeal to people in rural areas; they don't appeal in the inner cities; they don't appeal to the rich, or to the poor.

The LibDems are everybody's second choice - which is why only under their beloved electoral system would they come out on top.

Simon Gardner said...

@ Cynic said...
“Any change at all needs careful thought and assessment of the real implications.”

Which discussion has been going on for over 50 years.

“A lot of Euroipean countries have STV”

Err. You mean Ireland and Malta?

“Its a disaster voters don't elect MPs they choose parties...”

Which is precisely wrong. You haven’t a clue about STV, have you?

STV absolutely allows voters to pick individual local MPs and dump others from eg of the same or other parties. Whereas the current FPTP mess does precisely the opposite. If you want to vote a party under FPTP, you have no choice but to vote for the only person you are presented with.

So STV gives voters the choice that FPTP denies them.

Stop deliberately and erroneously conflating Jack Straw’s favoured closed party list system with STV. They are in no way similar.

Paddy Briggs said...

My previous post shows a more than likely seat outcome after May 6th -and the Tory commentariat needs to realise it. "The Spectator" has a cover which they may come to regret this week "Nick Clegg, you must be joking". No gentlemen the between 25% and 30% of voters who will vote LibDem a week on Thursday are not joking at all. We will all have slightly different reasons but we share the fact that we will have consciously decided not to vote Conservative. We all had the choice of doing this - and we decided not to. As is our right. "The Spectator" insults us as LibDem voters as much as it tries to abuse Mr Clegg with its anti-Nick diatribes. It won't make any differerence either - preaching to the converted...

Simon Gardner said...

The hypocrisy of you, Iain, and your equally hypocritical Tory chums is quite breathtaking.

Having on numerous recent occasions obtained years of absolute hegemony and power over a reluctant population when the clear majority [of those voting] voted clearly and explicitly to reject you, you now whinge about that same bent and corrupt system as if it’s some wondrous new calamity.

Give me strength.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Proportional representation leaves voters without constituency MPs and so any talk of recall is pointless. I have 8 MEPs who allegedly represent me.

STV has a problem in that in may tend to favour both tactical voting and also might produce not the best MP but the least disliked candidate.

As we well know the LibDems are ideologically close to Labour and far from the Conservatives so we might well see seats where the Tory polls 48%, Labour 24 and LibDems 26. After the second count that might end up with the Labour candidate - also picking up votes from "others" being elected.

Because of the affinity of the two left-wing parties we might easily see a party which polled 25% of the popular vote ending up with far more seats than which polled 37%.

So, any system is flawed. the fairest would be a new boundary definition which would equalise constituencies to within about 10% of a defined mean. There might be 5 or 6 seats which would not fall within those limits but we could accept that.

Simon Gardner said...

@ Victor, NW Kent said...
“Proportional representation leaves voters without constituency MPs...”

STV precisely gives you constituency MPs. Not only that but it gives you almost certainly at least one constituency MP you might conceivably want to talk to - which I certainly haven’t had in 40 years.

Compare and contrast the appalling UN-democracy that Iain has suddenly and very belatedly discovered with Ireland.

wild said...

"The hypocrisy of you, Iain, and your equally hypocritical Tory chums is quite breathtaking. Having on numerous recent occasions obtained years of absolute hegemony and power over a reluctant population."

I think you will find that "absolute hegemony" is precisely what advocates of a "free society" (a free market, a limited State, and a Big Society) are against you Servalan admiring cretin.

Thatsnews said...

Using an Elvis impersonator was a strange idea. Unless they hoped to plant in the minds of the party faithful the idea that Brown = Elvis?

the wv is housad (how sad) how apt is that?)

Cantstandcant said...

If there was a prize for posts based on ignorance, the King of Wrong would win - under any electoral system.

He's wrong on STV and PR- and obviously still thinks that regional lists are STV. Why all the talk about losers becoming winners? That may happen under the Welsh and Scottish elections, it wouldn't under STV. And I have to marvel at your cheek in defending a system which can propel people with 25-35pc of their local vote into Parliament. They're winners are they!?

And just on a point of accuracy, he clearly knows next to nothing about where Lib Dem seats are. No rural ones? Er, look at the political maps of Scotland and Wales, plus Devon and Cornwall, Norfolk, Westmoreland, Northumberland etc etc. And on the inner cities and working class voters, obviously Southwark, Brent, Manchester, Portsmouth, Leeds, Bristol, Yardley etc etc don't count.

neil craig said...

How could any loyal Conservative raise any protest against Brown being PM on an overall majority of seats on 3rd palce in popular votes, let alone "£march on Downing St."

This possibility is the inevitable result of the corrupt & anti-democrtic electoral system we have. A corrupt system which the Tories have enthusiastically supported for decades & continue to support because it sometimes gave you power.

Indeed Iain's remarkm in a subsequent thread about how wrong it would be of the LDs to demand equality in a coalition if they got equal or more votes clearly could not have been made by somebody opposed to the corrupt system.

You cannot say corruption is wrong when you lose out of it but fine when you make use of it. If Brown gets back in it will be the fault of decades of Conservatives being in league with Labour against democracy & you can have no complaint about succeeding.

ukipwebmaster said...

It is a big story and believe it or not UKIP are making this happen by mopping up ex-Labour votes.

Chris said...

Cameron's policy of reducing the size of the Commons by 10% would require the boundary commission to start from scratch. That would enable some of the current FPTP anomalies (e.g. over representation of Scotland) to be corrected. If, as seems entirely possible, Labour + LibDems have a majority on May 7th then, as Adrian suggests, I think there will be a move to change the voting system and then hold another election. There have been some noises about other aspects of constitutional reform - mostly an elected House of Lords. For me, a bigger issue is the lack of separation of powers between executive and legislature. Maybe multi-party government would help reduce the "elective dictatorship" effect but there's a danger it would lead to policy trading behind the scenes instead. The founding fathers took our system and replaced the monarch with an elected president carrying out the executive function. The USA system works as ours was designed to. Our system is now out of balance because of the collapse in the political power of the monarch. It's worth noting that the USA manages with 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate - in a much larger country of course. I don't think PR will solve all the problems we have. A more radical constitutional restoration is needed.

The King of Wrong said...

You can't have it both ways.

Either you have constituencies where a single MP is returned and the losers go home to cry about it, or you have a group of MPs "proportionally" elected from a group of constituencies. In the former case, votes are "wasted"; in the latter you have someone from 100 miles away unaccountably elected as "your" representative.

Stop fetishising STV because it isn't a magical "fair" panacea, it's just as broken as every other voting system - and, as you've conveniently ignored, it doesn't actually exist. Wikipedia lists 15 different counting methods for STV, all of which produce different results.

Talking about Lib Dem wards, I've lived in Bristol, and Cambridge, and Sheffield, and London. If you think Lib Dem MPs are returned from working-class areas in those cities, you should probably go back to reading the Jackanory version of the manifestos because you've no place discussing politics with adults.

Like I said before: "Nice to see the Proportional Representation trolls out in force."

Cantstandcant said...

The King of Wrong resorts to abuse when he is losing the argument on STV. Don't quite follow your 100 miles point - hardly applicable to large chunks of the country, nor the point. And how are the MPs from one end of a constituency unaccountable if they are democratically elected?

But pleeeease .... get off your no Lib Dem seats in working-class areas obsession. What about Southwark, Brent, Portsmouth S, Yardley, Rochdale, Dunfermline for example? (I didn't mention Sheffield and Cambridge - you did.)
Think you might find rather more on May 7.

I note also that you have quietly abandoned your 'no Lib Dem seats in rural areas' nonsense.

The King of Wrong said...

@Cantstandcant: you must have lost the argument before you even started, then, given that you've begun all three of your replies with abuse.

OK, you want to talk Southwark? Would that be winning it in a dirty by-election by uniting the anti-Tatchell vote after Michael Foot disowned him? Or the "working class" ABC1 young urban professionals for whom SE1 is the only place in Zone 1 they can afford straight out of uni? Obviously the blocks of flats in Borough, Shad Thames, Surrey Quays, the Metro Central complex - and the new Strata tower - are full of the lower classes. The Cathedral, London's City Hall, the More London offices and The Shard? Positively plebian, eh? Most of the sink estates around Elephant and Castle are in a different constituency.

So, just like most Lib Dems, you apparently haven't got the faintest clue who votes for the party.

Come on, then, let's see some evidence that people in areas that return Lib Dem MPs aren't wealthier and better-educated - because that's certainly the case in all of their seats I know well enough to comment on: Sheffield Hallam (includes Ecclesall), Bristol West (includes Clifton), Cambridge (there's a uni there or something) and Southwark (see above).