Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Anti-AV Tories have little faith in democracy (or themselves)

Posted by Jason O on Aug 26, 2010 in British Politics

Listening to some of the arguments made against the Alternative Vote in the UK is just plain baffling to Irish (and I suspect, Australian) voters. The key argument being used by the Tories is that it will result in a permanent Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition. That argument assumes that a majority of the British electorate will always vote Labour and Lib Dem, regardless of how bad the government got. They start from the position that the Tories are in-built losers who can never convince anything close to a majority of their fellow Brits that they might be worth having a go. This is the party of Churchill and Thatcher? Bunch of blouses. They would have given the Isle of White to Galtieri.

The other main argument being used is that AV allows for small parties votes to “unfairly” have two votes, proof if anything that the Tories have by far the best suppliers of psychotropic mindbending drugs. What they are saying is that if you vote Tory in Scotland, and your candidate comes third, transferring that vote to that voter’s second preference is somehow giving them an unfair advantage? Even if it means that the elected MP has more actual support in the constutuency than his/her nearest rival?

The irony of all this is that if the Lib Dems can’t get their first preferences up in enough seats to take advantage of second preferences, they’ll be wiped out. AV could turn Britain back into a two big tent party state, with the Tories hoovering up UKIP second preferences, and Labour welcoming home BNP votes.


Guest Blog: Why should European democracy matter?

Posted by Jason O on Aug 26, 2010 in European Union

Activists of the Party of European Socialists (PES) are campaigning for the PES to hold pan-European primary elections to choose the party’s candidate for the Presidency of the European Commsison in 2014. Declining turnout in European elections, democratic deficit or disconnect and an abiding feeling that the EU is remote and over-complicated all strengthen the demand for more democracy in the European Union. Decisions are made for us, especially in the European Commission, by people with an unsatisfactory mandate from us. The Campaign for a PES Primary tackles this head-on.

The Irish government is utterly overwhelmed by and patently unfit to address the profound crises that Ireland is suffering, but what of the EU’s response? With its eurozone structures, capacity to co-ordinate and lead government action and substantial budgets for regional and structural funding the EU possesses significant resources to bring us through these difficult times. But the European Commission has demonstrated extraordinary lassitude in mobilising a continent-wide effort to create jobs, protect standards of living and promote strategies for economic recovery and growth. Led by José Manuel Barroso, the Commission has shown itself unequal to the task.

The Commission likes to portray itself as a college of independent, supra-national public servants, but in reality it is a highly political institution. Its membership reflects the political affiliations of national governments, and it is confirmed in office by a European Parliament, whose political configuration the governments are obliged to observe in their choice of Commission President. As the Conservatives, represented in Ireland by Fine Gael, “won” the European elections last June, it is their representative, José Manuel Barroso, who was returned to office as Commission President. It is the outcome of those elections that has given us a Commission that has shown such crippling complacency and disregard. Read more…

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