The TP mailbox this month reveals a dispute over first-past-the-post
Letter of the month wins Paul Moorcraft’s new book InsidetheDangerZones
Extreme voting Conservative MP Robin Walker is mistaken to think that voting systems other than firstpast-the-post all give a leg-up to extremist parties (electoral system debate, TP, Nov).
Walker is mistaken to think that
In fact, it is the lower threshold for winning under FPTP compared with many other systems that often lets extremists parties slip through and win at local election level in the UK. That is because an extremist can win under first past the post with a third or less of the vote. Under AV (or a clutch of other systems) that isn’t enough to win as you need to win enough transfers to get to over half the vote. Myself, I am very dubious about picking a voting system on the basis of which parties you do or don’t like to see winning. But if that is your criteria, Robin Walker’s argument is not one in favour of keeping first-past-thepost; it is one for getting rid of it. Mark Pack Co-editor, Liberal Democrat Voice
No FPTP for me I am not writing to complain that Robin Walker MP does not share my views on the UK voting system but to complain about his scaremongering and deliberate misinformation in his discussion of FPTP.
He attempts to make four points, but his first point presents a scary hypothesis as fact with no qualification. He claims extremist parties would be gifted a “leg-up” under any form PR, but doesn’t explain his flawed analysis.
his reasoning, that some people will get to vote twice. Grossly misleading. In STV and AV systems, candidates are eliminated and your vote moved.
Maybe his third point is his reasoning, that some people will get to vote twice. Grossly misleading. In STV and AV systems, candidates are eliminated and your vote moved. This is not voting twice. The person you originally voted for is no longer considered to be standing, and if you selected a second or third preference, your vote is re-cast.
Overall, Robin Walker MP has done an excellent job of detailing exactly why FPTP is an invalid voting system. It allows people like him to be elected to positions of power, only to abuse them by writing such scandalous articles for public consumption. Gareth Hay County Armagh
Changing members One aspect of the Liberal Democrats recently is how the membership has transformed. It is out with the old and in with the new. Some Lib Dem members became deserters. They lacked the stomach for power and responsibility and decided it was easier to do a runner.
Some Lib Dem members became defectors. These people were obviously never Liberal Democrats in the first place. Good luck and good riddance.
These weaklings and cowards have been more than replaced by new members, attracted by the fact that the Liberal Democrats are now a party which is serious about its politics and is prepared to form working relationships with other parties to work together to solve the various problems we face.
With this stronger membership and the chance of making
4 | Total Politics | December 2010
putting policies into practice, based on fairness, the future of the party looks good to face the challenges of the years ahead. Keith Nevols Lib Dem parliamentary candidate 2010, Sittingbourne and Sheppey
Teacher investment Having read ‘The Learning Journey’ (TP, Oct), I am tempted to say, “a plague on both your houses”.
Ed Balls argued for the retention and implementation of the policies
Total Politics is giving one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to see the play Birdsong at the
Comedy Theatre. Tickets are valid for Monday – Thursday performances only until 15/1/2011. Chosen dates are subject to availability. Tickets are
Comedy Theatre. Tickets are valid for Monday – Thursday performances only until 15/1/2011. Chosen dates are subject to availability. Tickets are non-exchangeable and nonresalable.
How to enter Simply email your caption to competition@totalpolitics. com with your name and address before 6/12/2010. Entries submitted after the closing date will not count.
Last month’s winner “What an absolutely fabulous cabinet you have Boris – just as wooden as Cameron’s” Emma Vaas
A pair of tickets for Onassis at the Novello Theatre are on their way to you. which he failed to get into law in the dying days of the Labour government. I can assure Balls that his policies on Licence to Practise and school report cards would have made as little contribution to raising standards of teaching and learning as Gove’s free schools and new academies are likely to do.
The politicians seem to be unable to move away from grand gestures which they think will impress the electorate rather than consider the fundamentals of what makes the kind of education system that the public wants – good local schools in every neighbourhood.
We now have a government little different to the last one. If you really believe that teachers should be trusted, Gove, then invest in us and don’t waste valuable resources on castles in the air. Philip Parkin General secretary, Voice: the union for education professionals
GP power In response to ‘Carry on Doctor (TP, Oct), the Nuffield Trust believes that the central proposal of the white paper to give clinicians greater responsibility over NHS budgets is a good one. However, there are important issues to address in taking these proposals forward. First, primary care trusts who currently commission care have struggled to control expenditure on hospital care.
The government needs to carefully consider how consortia can be supported to be effective commissioners, particularly in light of a 45 per cent reduction in expenditure on management by 2014. Second, the biggest challenge facing the NHS is caring for older people and people with long term conditions. GPs acting alone will not significantly affect care in this area. They will need to work closely with hospital specialists, patients and local authority services. Third, there’s a risk to cost control and quality with fast paced reforms. Vidhya Alakeson Senior fellow in health policy, The Nuffield Trust
Ben Duckworth on the much respected, if not admired, figure of Lord Mandelson
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The last TotalPoliticsof 2010 is an absolute cracker. Ok, I promise no more rubbish Christmas-themed jokes. As 2010 begins to draw to a close, we feature some of the key figures from the last 12 months. Step forward Peter Mandelson, the man who either helped the Labour government continue in power for long as possible, or spent considerable time on his memoirs when he should have been fighting the election. He denies the second point in our superb interview on p22 and reveals that he has “made up” with Ed Miliband after his criticisms in the leadership campaign. A man of his political skills – does he ever turn off? – is respected if not admired across politics. Mandelson also says he wants to become an uncle figure to the new generation of Labour politicians. Is he thinking of retirement? You must be joking.
The coalition talks were political drama of the highest quality. Now comes the definitive accounts of what happened. We feature articles from David Laws, the former chief secretary to the Treasury, who discusses his book 22Days inMayon why the Conservatives and Lib Dems were able to form a coalition. Rob Wilson, who has interviewed many of the leading players for his book, 5Daysto Power, also gives his perspective. Turn to p28 for those articles.
Election time was also a bonanza for the media. Were reputations made or enhanced in the manic, sleepdeprived days? Turn to p32 to find the TotalPoliticstop 100 journalists poll. We have the overall results, and the results broken down into votes by politicians, readers and journalists rating their own colleagues. There’s nothing like a popularity contest.
We also have Alex Stevenson examining whether the coalition government is really working on p17. We’ve heard plenty from the likes of Oliver Letwin about how marvellously all the various committees are working but are those process producing good government? If you need some policy ‘meat’ then Andrew Hawkins analyses whether Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms have the support of doctors on p8. Since they’ll take far more power in a new system, it seems he has work to do. Also, look out for the top-notch regular opinion, history, campaigns and light-hearted content too.
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December 2010 | Total Politics | 5