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

The hypocrisy of some Tories over AV.

Posted by Jason O on Dec 10, 2010 in British Politics

Below are the results of  every Tory leadership election from 1997. If they had been held under First Past the Post (FPTP), the result in every case would have been different. So why are they not held under FPTP? Is it because Tory MPs insist upon having a leader that speaks for at least half of them?  That’s fair enough, yet those same people are, for the most part, campaigning against British voters having the right to vote in the same manner. Why? 

First Ballot: 4 May 1997
Candidate Votes %
  Kenneth Clarke 49 29.9
  William Hague 41 25.0
  John Redwood 27 16.5
  Peter Lilley 24 14.6
  Michael Howard 23 14.0
Turnout 164 100

First Ballot: 8 June 2001
Candidate Votes %
  Michael Portillo 49 29.5
  Iain Duncan Smith 39 23.5
  Kenneth Clarke 36 21.6
  Michael Ancram 21 12.7
  David Davis 21 12.7
Turnout 166 100%
First Ballot: 18 October 2005
Candidate Votes %
  David Davis 62 31.3
  David Cameron 56 28.3
  Liam Fox 42 21.2
  Kenneth Clarke 38 19.2
Turnout 198 100


Tony Blair: The New Nixon (And I mean that in a nice way!)

Posted by Jason O on Dec 10, 2010 in British Politics

Nixon: Like Blair, had an ability to know where the voters were.
Nixon: Like Blair, had an ability to know where the voters were.

Discussing Tony Blair’s legacy with someone recently ( I know, I know!)made me consider the parallels with the late President Nixon. In our media age, so often it is the caricature of a person that seems to get remembered, and Nixon was always ripe for that. Socially awkward, a proto-McCarthyite and then with Watergate and Laos/Cambodia/Allende thrown in, there’s a lot of dislike about Nixon, to the point where the question is asked as to how someone like him ever became president. Tony Blair is going through the same thing at the moment, where it is now unfashionable to say anything good about him or his time in office, or indeed to admit that he won the votes of millions of people in three consecutive elections.

Yet Nixon came from nowhere in 1946 to be his party’s nominee in 1960, got defeated by a fraction, and then, in a feat that would be impossible now, came back eight years later to win his nomination and election. Four years after that he was re-elected in a crushing landslide. This odd, awkward, bigoted and possibly psychologically damaged man was overwhelmingly the choice of the American people because he spoke for them, warts and all.

Blair was like that, being able to judge where the centre of gravity of the British people was, that is, right wing on taxes, left wing on spending, right wing on law and order and willing to tolerate the liberal reform stuff. Like Nixon, he managed to piss off both the far right and the far left (Nixon quietly continued LBJ’s policies on desegregation whilst Blair remained pragmatic about the EU and liberal on gay rights) whilst keeping, for the vast majority of his time in office, the great silent majority on board.

There’s a great line in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” when the president, played by Anthony Hopkins, is standing looking at a portrait of JFK. “They look at you and see what they want to be” Hopkins says. “They look at me and see what they are”

Both could have been said about Tony Blair. 

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