Still no sign of the Lembit for President campaign. However, I do feel that I have been a little unfair. Lembit has, in fact, been preparing this campaign by raising his profile in the mass media. A winning formula, since far more members watch the telly than read boring old political blogs. Even better, he appeared this year on Comic Relief’s Celebrity Apprentice. Here is Lembit demonstrating the sort of negotiation and management skills that he will need as Federal President of the Lib Dems:
It has to be said that not only is Ros Scott’s website quite impressive in its own right, it is streets ahead of anything any of the leadership candidates have come up with in the last two elections (admittedly, given the time she’s had to prepare compared to them, that isn’t exactly surprising). It’s uncluttered and simple. My only comment is that the menu bar could do with looking a bit more like a menu bar.
Where is Lembit? Will he bottle it like last time (when I would have enthusiastically campaigned for him against the incumbant)?
That’s Iain Dale’s rather improbable analysis, over a series of increasingly aerated posts this weekend, based on the fact that, erm, a lot of people on the left are talking about her surprise nomination in its immediate aftermath. Who’dathunkit? The most surprising political event in months has happened and people are actually talking about it? They must be pooing themselves!
More hilarious is Iain’s transformation into a feminist, citing Peter Hitchens as a fellow traveller. According to Iain and Peter, the left hates women because the left like anti-women policies such as abortion. Genius analysis there. Suddenly, the brains behind “it’s DD for me!” has become super-concerned about how sexist the coverage of Sarah Palin is in the sunday papers. Funny that I don’t recall him having similar concerns about the media’s portrayal of Harriet Harman, Jacqui Smith and Hillary Clinton.
As for the claim that “[the left] cannot stand it when a black person becomes famous as a Conservative – remember Ray Lewis?” – it wasn’t the left that took down Ray Lewis but the Church of England. And despite having defended him here in the past, what I’ve heard since suggests that they were right to do so. Can’t Iain think of a better example of the left’s alleged racism? And you simply can’t imply that Ray Lewis must be innocent on the basis of his skin colour (and political views), and expect to be taken seriously, whilst simultaneously writing this.
Speaking personally, I think appointing Sarah Palin was a mistake which smacks of panic. I think Iain thinks that too, given that a week ago he was citing Mitt Romney as a dead cert. Iain’s subsequent attempts to tar Obama with the Palin inexperience brush simply doesn’t wash: she has been governor of one of the US’s smallest (population-wise – Alaska has roughly the same population as Glasgow) and certainly most isolated states for two years.
Her appointment comes across as too calculated – to be blunt, she ticks far too many boxes. It is too ‘cute’. And many of these boxes are mutually exclusive – how many disaffected Hillary supporters are likely to be wooed by a shootin’, fishin’ and anti-abortion candidate? How many sanctity of marriage obsessives are likely to be convinced that a woman with five children is fit for the job? They certainly have the anti-corruption line in common, but if I were running McCain’s campaign I’d be worried that she reminds voters about what McCain is not, and not in a good way. Do the democrats really need to do more than show the screen of a heartbeat monitor superimposed with her face to get their point across?
I didn’t read any of the allegedly sexist stuff out there about Sarah Palin this weekend, but I did read a perceptive piece by Michael Crowley in the Observer. However much they might try to keep open the rapidly healing Clinton-Obama wound, it is the Republicans who are divided in this election, not the Democrats. Sarah Palin’s appointment on Friday very briefly looked like a masterstroke, but the shock of the new is already diminishing and she has just been dropped in at the deep end. Things like the Daily Kos’ allegations over the maternity of her fifth child may be unfair (the picture of her daughter Bristol does look incriminating but I’m not so sure that the pictures of Palin herself are that convincing – Alaskans tend not to walk around in bikinis in spring), but surely in this post-Rove era no McCain supporter can really convincingly put on the ingenue act? After eight years of humiliation, the Democrats are in to win this thing and at the moment Palin looks like a pretty big target. They might cross the line occassionally, but going for the kill is not a sign of desperation, but rather indicate that the gloves have come off at last. And based on Iain’s rather hysterical reaction, the right just won’t be able to take it.
If you turned up to give a speech, and 80,000 people started waving placards at you with the word “CHANGE” on them – wouldn’t you think about possibly putting on a different shirt?
I’ve been looking at the final results of the London elections on the London Elects website and I’m confused. Under Turnout and Technical Information, it state the following:
Papers counted / turnout: 2,456,990
1st choice: 2,415,958
2nd choice: 2,004,078
Rejected votes *
1st choice: 41,032
2nd choice: 412,054
Blank **(no votes cast): 13,034
No 2nd preference ***: 407,840
* “Rejected votes” refers to ballot papers where the vote has not been counted because the ballot paper has not been filled out correctly. This may be because the voter has marked more than one preference in one column, because the voter identified themselves on the ballot paper, if the voterâ€™s intention is unclear or if the voter has spoiled his or her paper in any way.
** “Blank votes” refers to ballot papers where no 1st choice and no 2nd choice have been marked, and no vote has been counted. (This data is only available for 2008.)
*** “No 2nd preference” refers to ballot papers where voters have only made 1st choice vote and no 2nd choice vote. The first choice vote has been counted. (This data is only available for 2008.)
If 412,000 second preference votes were rejected in addition to 407,000 in which individuals didn’t express a second preference, this is a pretty sorry indictment of the electoral system and given the closeness of the final result is a very serious matter indeed. But none of these numbers add up. If there were 2,456,990 votes cast in total, of which 2,004,078 had “good” second preference votes, then there is a difference of 452,912 “bad” second preferences to account for. The rejected votes, blank ballot papers, and no second preference categories are defined as sui generis from one another. Add them all up and you have 380,016 too many votes. Add any two of those three categories together (i.e. assume that the no second preference category is a subset of the rejected votes category) and it still doesn’t add up.
Either I’m missing something pretty fundamental here, or something is seriously awry. Any ideas?
Regarding the Assembly results, much better news all round. The numbers do add up (assuming the blank ballot papers are not included under total votes cast) and there are significantly fewer of them than there were in 2004.
My piece on Comment is Free this morning is rather less “sunshine and buttercups” than my effort yesterday:
Has the light at the end of the tunnel I was detecting yesterday turned out to be a freight train moving at speed in the wrong direction? Maybe not, but there is no disguising the fact that the London elections have been awful for the Liberal Democrats.
For the record, and not that I’m complaining about being censored, my original draft was considerably more sweary. Read the full article here.
Come on London! Don’t let this happen!
One of the most remarkable things about the Labour Party is why it persists with an internal electoral system that has served it so badly. We can all remember the scandalous 2000 selection for a Mayoral candidate when Ken Livingstone won overwhelmingly amongst the membership but was blocked by a combination of the MPs and union block vote. The deputy leadership contest was nearly a repeat of this, albeit less so.
The figures, which someone has now helpfully posted on Wikipedia, tell the full story. In the final round Harman won more than 56% of the membership vote and around 52% of the combined membership and affiliated organisations’ vote. Yet, even assuming all 371 cast their votes, if just 5 MPs or MEPs had given her a lower preference over Johnson, she would have lost. Indeed, Johnson was consistently and comfortably beaten by Benn in the membership college right up to the point until the latter was excluded. We’ll never know, but it is entirely possible that Benn was robbed.
Cruddas’ vote is also interesting. He didn’t do terribly well in the membership college, yet did brilliantly amongst the affiliated organisations (I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the comment from a Cruddasista on LabourHome that their candidate had lost due to the “Soviet” electoral system – if the system was less Soviet, Cruddas would have got less far than he did!). Unlike the Livingstone debacle in 2000, all the unions and other affiliates now ballot their members, yet it is clear that the steer from the union leadership still has a significant influence in a way that CLP support does not. It would be interesting to see what the turnout for this college was: I suspect that it was quite low, indicating that a large number of union members are technically affiliating to Labour (and giving the party cash) while not identifying with the party in any way.
What we’re left with is a system that I simply fail to see is justifiable in 2007. The fact that the MPs and MEPs get a whole third of the vote to themselves is appalling, especially when you consider that they already get to pick the shortlist and get to vote in both the other colleges as well. The affiliates’ college is easier to justify, but even then it leads to a situation whereby the number of times an individual gets to vote is only limited by the size of his bank balance. Instead of this current system of one-member-one-third-of-a-vote (or alternatively one-member-however-many-votes-one-can-afford), why not simply aggregate the memberships of all the affiliate organisations and members together? If the trade union-Labour link is so vital, this should be a no-brainer. But then, the voice of the individual trade union member has always been a low priority for both the Labour Party and the trade union leadership themseles. Why else are they currently embarking on this mad rush for mergers and acquisitions?