Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Government's 1 penny sale

The Government's fantastic Budget-saving sale is back!

Come in store to take advantage of these offers this March. Here are some of best offers you'll find in the Government's 2011 sale:

Pay ... 4p extra on your pint

Get ... £205 saving on your income tax

Pay ... 50p more on your ciggies

Get ... Govt help to get on the housing ladder

Pay ... 4 % in inflation

Get ... £600 extra in your personal allowance

Pay ... 1 % more in National Insurance

Get ... 1p off your petrol (+ avoid 5p increase!)

Pay ... a lump sum to charity from your estate

Get ... 10 % off inheritance tax

Terms and conditions: Housing deposit scheme is subject to availability and is on a first come served basis. Personal allowance offer excludes pensioners. Petrol prices shown have increased this month after VAT. Customers may have to pay an extra 1 % service charge on all purchases. Fuel offers are only available at some outlets.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TTG's Alternative View on electoral reform

AV you had enough of all this?

It's a struggle just to get people motivated to even bother to turn out to their polling station. Now a full-blown fight of the polar wings is taking place over AV. In the red corner, we have the yes men. A growing group, counting Ed Milibland as a new recruit to the cause.

Their argument is that 'it's fairer, easier, ... and just one step away from PR, yippee!'

In the blue corner we have the Nos. The Nos reveal how obscure little countries like, Fuji and er, Australia only use the system. And bemoan a reported eye-watering £250mil cost ... (Pro-AVOs may claim the cost has been exaggerated but let's be honest, when do you ever see a project stay within budget? If the MoD can spend £22 on a lightbulb, then £250m can be spent telling people to count to five.)

At a time when voters cry out for a different referendum entirely, voters are being asked to get inspired and excited by trendy AV - the Alternative Vote.

The Electoral Reform Society has explained it pretty well on their website:

If a candidate receives a majority of first-preference votes (more people put them as number one than all the rest combined), then they are elected.
If no candidate gains a majority on first preferences, then the second-preference votes of the candidate who finished last on the first count are redistributed. This process is repeated until someone gets over 50 per cent.

However having seen how the electorate vote in their ballot papers as a candidate, TTG regrettably isn't sure the electorate are quite ready for this rank and file process. More voters than you'd think ticked, scribbled and numbered their ballot boxes despite a clear X appearing on pamphlets. Considering that number crunching is oh so important in an AV world, how is this helping to reform our system for the better? What, by increasing spoilt ballot papers so nasty parties like the BNP can't get in because their voters can't seem to vote properly?

What happens if a voter just ticks her five boxes, will that mean the ticks are measured in size with the biggest meaning her main preference and the smaller in order, her next choices? TTG jests obviously. But are there any provisions to allow people to make their preferences clear other than writing 1, 2, 3 ...? Can voters scrawl 'I really want Labour, but I wouldn't mind Lib Dems. UKIP are a last resort?' Is that clear voter intention?

If normal people already struggle to cross a box, what hope is there for citizens writing their 1-5 clearly and non-nonsensically? There is plenty of voter education out there for this system and yet even now people get it wrong. TTG knows of two people who looked for 'Tory' on their ballot papers and when not finding 'David Cameron' accidentally gave their vote to the BNP. These may be isolated cases, yes, but the point is if a simple cross is one voters struggle to bear what hope is their for first, second, third and whatever choices.

And what on earth is the ranking for? The least bearable? The candidate we would most like to see with his trousers down? When TTG goes shopping, she normally has a set pair of heels in her mind. She doesn't have a back-up dress in Topshop that she will get if she can't find those shoes. She is adamant that the shoes will be hers. It's all or nothing. AV forgets that people usually have just the one person or party in mind. Will we be penalised for only listing our absolute faves or must we really put those clogs on the list too? Will a UK AV allow choice to choose to rank as many as we wish or will we not get a choice to not choose more than one candidate?

Whatever talk there may be of tactical voting disappearing off the political landscape, there is an uneasy feeling in TTG's stomach giving her second preference to say a Lib Dem in a marginal. What if other Tories did the same and after a close encounter in the second round, head-to-head the Lib Dem picked up more 1st and 2nd choices overall - would TTG want this on her conscience? :-P

Maybe it's because TTG is so terribly Tory and hellbent on tradition but there is something quite right about the fastest sprinter winning the race. Clarity and simplicity are small pleasures in life. TTG wouldn't want the race to be replayed and the mean speed of each sprinter taken to see who ran the fastest on average in the track. Call TTG dumb, stubborn, whatever but she's a stickler for FPTP.

In TTG's perhaps warped way of looking at things, the person who gets the most votes should therefore be the winner. There's a reason they got their votes. They didn't just appear from thin air, well most of them didn't anyway. That candidate obviously was wanted by more people. Just because the smaller part of the community can't quite decide who they want, it doesn't mean that the winner's votes should be discounted.

If you want to make politics fairer, why not change the constituency boundaries, reduce the number of MPs, vote with your heart, make postal voting a last resort, have security checks at the polling station ... there's plenty that can be done to make the system better than changing our Xs.

Last time we had an AV, Boris got in. Are you sure, Labour fans, that this is what you want? :-D

Maybe it's just you and your supporters are so up-to-speed on AV, using it to pick your leaders.(well that worked well didn't it, erm Labour and Liberals?)

Can't teach an old dog new tricks, eh?

Monday, March 14, 2011

A year's a short time in politics .... for Barnsley's Right Dishonourable Eric Illsley

Crime pays, eh, Eric?

Ex Barn-sleazy MP Eric Illsley, who was jailed for a year after questionable claims on his second home in February, may soon return to a street near you. The member of prison is reportedly set to scarper from a year's hard sentence behind bars by opting for a tag, just three months into his sentence.

Apparently he is a low-risk crim ... but with curfew hours 7am t0 7pm, don't be surprised if there's a knock, ring, letter through your door in prime time campaign clock hours.

While he may wave goodbye to those long late luncheons, it beggars belief that the strong actions of a parliament scorned by expense scandals were to be in vain. For the one and only politician to feel her wrath is set to escape punishment. It is hardly a strong message to convey - do as we say, not as we do? Why should an MP get a lesser sentence than your everyday criminal?

He's hardly Kylie. Honour your sentence, Eric. Stick it out in the slammer. It's what the electorate wants.

At the same time, News of the World reports that IPSA fancy handing over expense cash and asking questions later in their bid to erm, ensure legitimate claims are kept in tact.

Expect more Mars Bars on the books. Who's going to question the constitutional need for a Mars Bar? 'Well, I needed it to keep up energy while out on the campaign trail ...'

Clarke's hell-bent on being an anti-hero for the Tories

Clarke is fast becoming a nuisance. When he's not closing prisons at the tip of a hat or getting petty apologies for petty thefts, he is busy embarking on another harebrained scheme destined to be a miss with the tabloid nation. Last week it was scrapping searches in prison cells.

Is he going soft in his old age? London Spin Online asked whether it is time he was put on the subs bench in place of an ex-MP who could dish out real justice - the kind the public are clamouring for in these dark and unpleasant times.

But with his recent good behaviour notably getting behind the No2AV campaign - even if in a slightly absurd vid about the madness to follow in the footsteps of obscure countries like Fiji, and er, Australia - and his recent talk of libel laws and scrapping squatters rights, Mr Clarke, could well be on the way to getting his fifteen minutes of public adulation. Watch this space for his next prisoners need Sky gaffe.

EU referendum is fairer than AV

Forget whether to AV or not to AV. EU membership is the question. The Daily Express headed to No 10 this week with 373,000 pleas from readers for their say on our position in the continent.
Whatever your stance, a key pledge to allow the public to go to the EU ballot has been unfairly ignored in favour of AV - a small concessionary waste of time to please a few Lib Dems and act as a distraction technique with referendum in the title. It may be a referendum but it's not what 373k voters (and counting) asked for last May. A fairer system would honour politician promises. AV may make some confused lefties happy come election day but a whole section of the electorate are being ignored under the weight of protocol. Laws have been reviewed, torn up and amended for centuries. You can't hide behind the ratification argument for ever.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

UKIP, UKIP, hooray! Why the Tories are the real losers in Barnsley

Heard of you snooze, you lose? Well you kip, you slip ... in the polls. Poor punnage, TTG knows, but the point is clear - the Conservatives are the real losers in Barnsley.

The Conservatives saw their support tumble as UKIP snatched second place. They weren't even close - UKIP stood at 12 per cent, the Tories at 8 per cent. Many may claim that the Tories' fall was down to DC's disappearing act and his failure to publicy endorse Hockney in the last leg of the by-election showdown, but this is sadly not the case.
The Tories, who just two years prior had been sailing on 17 per cent, fell on their sword this week. For voters, the ballot paper might as well list two boxes: Lib/Lab/Con and none of the above. There is no choice. Do you vote for more of the same (better the devil you know), or spoil your ballot paper? Centralisation teamed with media-happy, watch-what-you-say and soundbite rhetoric has left us with an army of walking, talking, smiling political humanoids whom have no concept of reality, real struggles or life.

The Conservatives lost in an election they really should be winning. Granted it may be a Labour hotbed and one of their so-called safe seats but they could have capitalised on the ills of the right unhonourable Eric Illsley, the disgraced MP now housed in prison for his work in his constituency. Voting share should have gone up but instead it dwindled to a party that has seen better days. What does that tell you? It's more than just bashing over cuts too close to the bone. It's a voter mutiny, crying out for us to stand up to Europe and their bent bananarama, human rights for animals laws. This is not just a by-election in Labour heartland, it is a a by-election that could cost the Conservatives (when they do it their way in the not so distant future) dearly at the next General.

The Lib Dems whether they opted to snuggle up to Labour or us would have always been the losers in the various tournaments in the political tug of war. It's far too easy to pin the tail on the Lib Dem donkeys for the ills of the Coalition. Namby pampy pot-planting Liberal types resent the Democrats' path to power and their to-ing and fro-ing of policy (i.e student fees), and angry ex Labour voters don't want to admit that they voted for this. Lib Dems are losers - sorry, but it's a fact. Just look at their by-election records. Nothing to write home about.

The lesson the Tories must take from this is that we will get stick as the Guvnors and we will feel this at polls to come. But the impact of these will be less if we get our house in order. We must stick to our pledges - no more 'we can't because of ECHR/EU/*insert applicable get-out-clause laws-here' excuses. A promise is a promise. You must keep your word. Labour failed in their promises -we must make sure that we don't do the same.

Cameron, the Barnsley people have spoken. It's time you listened.