Tag Archives: boundaries

Gerrymandering Tories are trying to rig constituency boundaries YET AGAIN

How gerrymandering works: constituency boundaries are drawn to give a particular party the best chance to win – even (especially!) if they don’t deserve to.

This is yet another perennial piece of corruption from the Conservative Party.

Recently we’ve seen them revive their plan for a “Royal Yacht” for them to sail in on trade junkets to foreign countries. It was a waste of money in 2012 when it would have cost £60 million. Today it’s supposed to cost £200 million that would be better spent alleviating poverty.

We’ve discovered they have revived their plan to give NHS England patients’ confidential medical records to private companies. The idea was for all patients’ data to be included unless the opt out – but there was no publicity, meaning nobody knew about it until organisations like This Site published stories about it.

They are pushing on with a plan to stop courts from ruling on whether government decisions or actions are unlawful – a serious blow against the rule of law and a huge step towards dictatorship in the UK.

And now we have been told they are reintroducing – for around the third time since they took office in 2010 – plans to rig national election results by changing constituency boundaries to give themselves the best possible chance of winning seats.

It’s a very old and well-known form of political corruption and it’s quite easy to tell when the change isn’t coming in to ensure all constituencies have roughly the same number of voters: instead of looking roughly square or circular, constituencies turn into very strange shapes indeed.

This is because whoever redrew the electoral boundary was trying to get as many voters for their party into each constituency as possible, while limiting the support for other parties.

I haven’t seen the proposed new constituency map so I can’t say for sure that this is what is happening.

But I can make an educated guess, on the basis of the BBC’s commentary on it here: “Overall the changes will benefit the Conservatives at the expense of Labour.”

If anyone – of any political persuasion – was serious about making constituency boundary changes fair, they would base their calculations on the last election result, so that – if the new map had been in operation then – the number of seats going to each party would have been the same.

But they’re not.

So I’m confident that this is another corrupt Tory stitch-up.

My advice is that you need to look at the proposed new boundaries of your constituency and, if it’s not currently held by a Tory, find out if it would be from now on.

If the new borders mean it would, then complain, campaign and get it changed.

Source: Parliament: Shake-up of England’s electoral map outlined – BBC News

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Is Brexit threatening the future of the House of Lords? No. It is offering YOUR money to Tories

161022-house-of-lords

The Conservative Party is really tying itself in knots over this.

Apparently the plan is to flood the House of Lords with new members if those already there oppose Theresa May’s plan for an unscrutinised exit from the European Union.

She doesn’t want anybody in the House of Commons to have a chance to veto any secret agreement her Brexiteer minister make, and she doesn’t want the Lords to block it either.

But this puts Mrs May in an extremely difficult position with regard to another policy of hers – the plan to gerrymander Commons constituency boundaries by cutting the number of seats to 600 and giving Conservatives an advantage in elections by doing so.

Her pretext for doing so is that the cost of democracy is too high and it will save millions of pounds.

But the House of Lords currently has 812 members, not counting those who are on leave for one reason or another.

Between February 2014 and January 2015 each of them took home an average of £25,826 of public money, tax-free. Net operating cost of the House of Lords in 2013-14 was £93.1 million, or around £118,000 per peer.

So, the Tories have 256 peers at the moment, who are outnumbered by 556 from other parties, the Church, or who are non-aligned.

They would need to create at least 301 new peers in order to ensure their plans are carried to fruition – at a cost of at least £118,000 per year, each.

That’s £35,518,000.

Any saving on boundary changes would be wiped out completely. So the argument that Theresa May will save money must fall.

But take note: The money would not be going to MPs, some of whom belong to other parties. It would be going to Conservatives.

So it seems likely that they will go through with it, no matter that their argument is wrong.

Think on that.

A leading cabinet minister has warned the House of Lords that its future is at risk if it tries to block Brexit.

The senior figure said the government may have to “do a Lloyd George” and flood the upper House with friendly peers if those already there undermine the drive to implement the EU referendum result.

Some Tories in the Lords, where Conservatives are in a minority, have demanded Theresa May let Parliament vote on her preferred Brexit deal before talks with the EU begin. If she refuses, they have threatened to stymie other pieces of legislation the government needs to pass through the Lords to make Brexit happen.

One Tory peer has told The Independent: “There are people who are worried that if the Lords pushes back on this, it could be the end of the Lords.

“But the Lords has to be reformed anyway, it has to happen. There are far too many of us. So some of us don’t see that as an impediment.”

Source: House of Lords future at risk if it tries to block Brexit, leading cabinet minister warns | The Independent

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RIP Hugo Chavez – when can the UK have a Prime Minister like you?

Which would you rather have - Chavez or Cameron?

Which would you rather have – Chavez or Cameron?

Isn’t it amazing, the amount of joy the right-wing press and its adherents can project over the death of a man who improved conditions in his country beyond all expectations?

That is what we are seeing after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But we should not be surprised – after all, these are the same newspapers (and their bosses) who support the nation-wrecking policies of David Cameron and the Coalition – an unelected dictator and a cadre of manipulators whose only linked interest is their own enrichment at the expense of anybody else.

Chavez was not perfect. There are some aspects of his personality that would give any reasonable person cause for second thoughts. His support for foreign dictators is one. Any man who can draw tributes from Ahmadinijad and Assad is questionable. The rise of violent crime in his country is another – and extremely worrying. Violent crime is linked with poverty, and yet…

And yet any criticism of his presidency on economic grounds is absurd. His nation’s wealth tripled during the first 12 years he was in office. Tripled!

As for his association with unelected dictators – this seems beyond strange as he was not one himself. In fact, his share of the popular vote at his last election was enough to turn every British Prime Minister since Winston Churchill pale with envy.

That last election was won under one of the fairest and most robust voting systems in the world – that was implemented by his own party. Former US President Jimmy Carter thinks its system is superior to that of the US. Turnout was more than 80 per cent, with 55.1 per cent of voters casting for Chavez. It’s notable that the 44.3 per cent of votes cast for rival Henrique Capriles would shame every single UK Prime Minister since Harold Wilson in 1966.

In other words, Venezuela’s former president was elected by one of the most democratically-sound systems in the world, and gained more support from his people than any British PM since Churchill.

Not a despot, then.

He has cut extreme poverty by two-thirds, and general poverty by almost half.

He has cut infant mortality and improved equality; and he has cut unemployment by almost half, to 8.2 per cent (strikingly close to the UK level).

He has improved his nations infrastructure and public services.

And he has proved that left-wing policies can improve prosperity and increase economic growth.

That’s why the right-wing press hate him. He shows there is a better alternative to the nightmare we are living through.

So let’s look at David Cameron, shall we?

Only 23.47 per cent of eligible voters supported David Cameron in the UK general election of 2010 (compared with 44.32 per cent for Chavez in January this year).

That election was marred by the fact that many voters were prevented from casting their vote at polling stations that closed at exactly 10pm. This was incorrect – all voters who had arrived and were queueing by 10pm should have been admitted to the building and allowed to cast their vote. So the UK election of 2010 was carried out in an improper way.

The result was a hung Parliament, with no single political party gaining power. The Con/Dem Coalition was formed in a backroom deal between Cameron and Nick Clegg, and had nothing to do with the will of the electorate. Therefore Cameron can be said to be unelected. Less than a quarter of the eligible voters wanted him and he did not win enough Parliamentary seats to justify taking office.

Then we come to dictatorship. How many unwanted policies have we had since this rabble slithered into government, determined to restrict our freedoms just as much as possible?

Policies like, for example, the cuts to Legal Aid?

Secret courts?

The Internet snooping Bill?

The plan to gerrymander the number of Parliamentary seats and the boundaries of constituencies, in order to deliver an unfair advantage to the Conservative Party in the next election (which, thankfully, failed)?

How many policies have been imposed on us with the intention of impoverishing the poorest in society?

The Welfare Reform Act?

The Localism Act, with its reintroduction of the hated Poll Tax (that’s the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, for those of you in England who have to deal with it)?

The Bedroom Tax?

AUSTERITY?

And then there’s the Health and Social Care Act, an attempt to ‘fix’ the National Health Service when it wasn’t broken, in order to let private operators get their hands on the huge cash opportunities it offers. Has anyone noticed that the nation’s health has worsened, according to many indicators, since the ConDems took over?

And there has been no mention yet of all the policies to put money in the pockets of the very rich, donors to the Conservative Party, bankers, people who park their money in offshore tax havens (thereby keeping it away from the taxman) and the many other corrupt ways this government’s members have been filling their own pockets with cash (and those of their friends and donors) when they should have been looking after the national interest.

Yet the right-wing press supports Mr Cameron and his cronies, despite the fact that they have been a worse disaster for the UK than the financial crisis that preceded their arrival.

Can we ever hope to have a champion like Chavez in this country?

Or is the British system now so badly corroded that it can only ever attract the worst that society has to offer?

The worm(tongue) turns – and not a moment too soon

I would like to apologise in advance to fans of JRR Tolkien’s epic fantasy Lord of the Rings for the content of this blog.

You see, it occurred to me today that – in Nick Clegg and David Cameron – we can see a real-life parallel with the relationship between Grima Wormtongue and Saruman, the evil wizard who plots to be a dark lord.

Can Clegg be compared to Wormtongue? I think he can. For much of LOTR, Grima spends his time telling the people of his country that the best policy is to put themselves at Saruman’s mercy and let him ride roughshod over them, their homes and their livelihoods – much as Clegg has advised us to let Cameron ruin the UK.

Can Cameron be compared to Saruman? I think he can. In LOTR, Saruman plots to be a Dark Lord, as powerful as Sauron (who, as everyone knows, is the principle villain of the piece, portrayed memorably in the film version by a flaming, computer-generated eyeball). However, it turns out that Saruman just doesn’t have the ability to be a successful Dark Lord. He’s bad – but he isn’t very good at it.

In reality, Cameron wanted to be the Prime Minister because he thought he’d be “good at it”. After two years, we can look at his back catalogue of failures and U-turns and see how wrong he was.

As the novel has it, Grima finally turns on Saruman and stabs him in the back, killing him – which brings me to this week’s events concerning House of Lords reform.

Clegg has long cherished the idea of delivering constitutional reforms to the British Parliamentary system. Deprived, by referendum, of the opportunity to change the voting system to the Alternative Vote (which would have improved his party’s chance of getting Parliamentary seats), he fell back on reform of the House of Lords – a scheme which, his party claimed, had nothing whatsoever to do with Cameron’s plans to change constituency boundaries, cutting the number of of seats in the Commons down to 600 (which would have improved HIS party’s chance of getting seats).

This week, that idea was dealt a fatal blow – more because Conservative backbenchers refused to support it in principle than because Labour took issue with the scheduling of the debate. Lords reform has been dropped.

In retaliation, Clegg has announced that he will be instructing his MPs not to support boundary changes when the vote takes place – stabbing Cameron in the back, just as Grima stabs Saruman.

And the parallel can be drawn closer still, because both incidents hinge on side-issues. In the book, Saruman is causing trouble in the heroes’ homeland, out of nothing but spite, when he is killed. In reality, the boundaries issue is about making it harder for Labour to win Parliamentary seats – a spiteful attempt, by the Conservatives, at punishment for being kept in Opposition for 13 years.

But will the wound prove fatal? Cameron was doing his best to play down its significance immediately after, claiming that both Coalition parties would continue to work together to rebuild the nation’s economy. That’ll be a hard slog, because it is under the Coalition that the economy has slipped back into a recession that has grown deeper with every month that passes – fuelled, as we saw demonstrated in the Workfare case (see the immediately preceding post), by Coalition policies.

Commentators have already suggested that one way out for Cameron would be if Scotland secedes from the Union. That would deliver a cut in the number of Parliamentary seats and an increased likelihood of Conservative victory, given the current state of voting intentions in the seats that remain. So it seems unlikely that the Conservatives will fight very hard to keep Scotland in the UK.

Even then, though, what will the voters do? We’ve had a little more than two years of the Coalition and already the vast majority of the population are feeling the pinch, while having to watch the Coalition’s leaders and their big-business friends getting their snouts in the trough.

Future developments could be stranger even than fantasy fiction.