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1  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 on: March 21, 2015, 04:45:19 am
Helsinkian, there is still time to nominate another candidate. In the UK you only need the signatures of ten electors to nominate a parliamentary candidate (a proposer, a seconder and eight assentors) apart from paying a £500 deposit and filling in a few forms. You can deliver a nomination paper to the local constituency returning officer between the publication of notice of election and the close of nominations.

I am taking dates and times from the Combined Timetable for elections on 7 May 2015, which the Slough returning officer has issued, based on the Electoral Commission guidance.

Parliament is to be dissolved on Monday 30 March. A writ (a royal command to elect a member to the new Parliament) will be sent to each returning officer.  The writ is received on Tuesday 31 March. The returning officer then has to publish a notice of election, which must be by 4 pm on Thursday 2 April but may be earlier. The close of nominations, which is a very rigid deadline, is 4 pm on Thursday 9 April. If a prospective candidate has not delivered valid forms by that time, they will not be a candidate in the election.
2  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: The UK General Election Prediction Thread on: March 11, 2015, 05:09:45 pm
A Labour minority government seems to be the most likely outcome of the general election. I think there is quite a good chance, under current law, that such a minority government could continue in office until the next fixed term election due in 2020; without necessarily needing a formal confidence and supply agreement from the SNP.

The traditional Westminster model treated the ability of a ministry to obtain supply from the House of Commons as being essential to demonstrate that it retained the confidence of the House.  Thus if a government was defeated on any vote it declared a matter of confidence (which by convention would include any major financial vote) it was required to either resign or advise the monarch to dissolve Parliament and order a general election.

A past Labour government got away with relaxing the traditional conventions. On 10 March 1976, the government were defeated 284-256 on a motion approving public expenditure. A subsequent vote of confidence was won 297-280 and the ministry continued in office. Other votes were lost on quite major legislation, but the government did not treat them as matters of confidence. The ministry eventually fell on a formal Conservative motion of no confidence which passed 311-310 on 28 March 1979.

Historically, from the adoption of Home Rule for Ireland as Liberal policy in 1886 until the First World War, whenever there was no Liberal majority and the Unionists (Conservatives and Liberal Unionists) were in a minority in the House of Commons the result was a Liberal minority government. This was not due to formal agreements between the Liberals and the Irish Nationalists, but to a general understanding that only a Liberal government would pursue home rule. In 1892-95 and 1910-15 Liberal governments were in a minority, but they did not fall because they lost nationalist support.

The old conventions about when a government has lost the confidence of the House now seem to have been replaced by the statutory provisions about no confidence votes in the fixed term Parliament legislation. If that is right a government could now be defeated on its budget but still win a statutory vote of confidence, thus being able to remain in office if not precisely in power (unless the Prime Minister decided to resign because his position was too humiliating to go on).

Perhaps a Parliament where the government is unable to pass just about any law it wants, but has to seek support from outside its own parliamentary party, will serve the country better than the usual Parliamentary dictatorship of a majority government.

3  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 on: March 03, 2015, 08:45:56 pm
Helsinkian, the parliamentary representation of the Isle of Wight has long been a problem. The electorate for the Isle is an awkward number, too big for one average size constituency and too small for two. In view of the strong preference of the islanders not to have part of the island attached to a bit of southern Hampshire across the Solent, the Boundary Commission was left with an awkward decision in each boundary review.

Under former laws, about Parliamentary boundary changes, the decision has been to have one oversized constituency. Under the present legislation, when the boundaries are next redrawn, the Isle of Wight will be divided into two undersized seats (as it is treated as a special case and is not subject to the normal rules).
4  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 on: February 27, 2015, 11:40:23 pm
Ed Milliband's principal rival was his older brother David. David's reputation has risen because he was not elected, but I always thought that Ed was better at simulating normal human behaviour than David was. No doubt if David had been elected, the general opinion now would be that Ed would have been the better option.

The other candidates for the Labour leadership were Ed Balls (now Shadow Chancellor), Andy Burnham (former Health Secretary now shadowing the job) and Diane Abbott (a black London MP who appears on television a lot).

A truly dreadful field. I would not have voted for any of them, even if I had been a Labour supporter. However, if absolutely forced to choose, I would concede that Ed was the least worst of them.

Mind you the recent Conservative and Liberal Democrat leadership candidates have not been much better. I think all UK parties had better quality leaders in the past. At least they usually tended to have been prominent political figures for a lengthy period, during which they had done things and stood for something more important than winning the next election.

5  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 on: February 12, 2015, 11:48:54 am
AV was lost because it was too complicated a system and it looked desperately self serving on the part of the LibDems.

AV is much simpler than any system of PR. The pro AV campaign probably failed to explain it adequately. It also failed to provide an emotional case for why people should support it (ie the Tory fat cats do not like it, so it must be good).

If the AV system was perceived as self serving for Lib Dems, then the anti-AV campaign did succeed in making an emotional case against the change.

In fact many Lib Dems were distinctly lukewarm about AV because it was an inadequate move towards change/fair votes, which would have provided minimal benefit at best and might have been less favourable to the party than FPTP in other circumstances. Certainly AV would have been less favourable to the Lib Dems than any form of PR.

However in an environment where there are multiple medium sized parties, an argument based on antipathy to any one of them is less likely to be persuasive than if there was only one which seemed likely to benefit. If we continue to have a series of inconclusive elections then electoral reform may eventually come back on the agenda.
6  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 on: February 12, 2015, 09:07:49 am
Presumably if Lib Dem pressure in 2010 had got a PR referendum, it would have faced exactly the same Tory misrepresentation as the AV referendum did. At least there is still the remote chance that at some future date PR will re-emerge on to the agenda, which would have been prevented if a PR referendum had been lost.
7  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 on: February 09, 2015, 07:14:35 am
When the Liberal Party were a major party, they supported first past the post. After 1922 the prominent Liberal, David Lloyd George, was reported to say that if he had known the future he would have strongly supported PR in 1918 and as the Prime Minister he could have made sure that it passed.

Conversely when Labour was a third party it had supported PR, but once it had reached major party status party opinion rapidly changed.
8  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: If the president elect dies before being sworn in... on: January 22, 2015, 11:03:41 am
As I understand it, the significance of taking the oath or affirmation prescribed in the constitution is not that it confers the office of President but that it is a requirement before the person who is  President can exercise the powers and carry out the duties of the office of President.

If you imagine a situation, similar to what happened to Ariel Sharon, where the President-elect was totally incapacitated by a stroke (so they could neither resign nor take up the duties of the Presidency) but was still alive; the President elect would become President at noon on 20th January.

Presumably in that situation the Vice President elect would have to be sworn in as Vice President and there would then have to be a short pause in the inauguration so the principal officers of the executive department (the outgoing President's cabinet) held a brief meeting to declare the President incapacitated, so as to allow the Vice President to become Acting President under the terms of the appropriate constitutional amendment.

A really difficult situation would be if the person who had won the Presidential election was to die on the day when the electors were due to meet and vote for a President and vice President elect. Particularly if the circumstances were such that some of the electors knew about the death when they voted.

There is precedent (Horace Greeley in 1872) that electoral votes cast for a person known to be dead are invalid.

9  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election 2015 on: December 22, 2014, 09:57:22 am
I am in the Slough constituency. Nothing to see here - safe Labour win.
10  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canadian federal election - 2015 on: December 10, 2014, 03:03:48 pm
For what it may be worth, Canada ranks 20th in the International Cricket Council rankings (and it was higher in recent years when the country had limited over international status, teams 11-16 in the list have limited over international status).

ICC GLOBAL RANKINGS (as at 29 June 2014)
Reliance ODI Championship Table:
11 Afghanistan Asia No.1 Associate/Affiliate Member 34
12 Ireland Europe No.1 Associate/Affiliate Member 33
Then, Associates & Affiliates from most recent WCL event (excluding Ireland/Afghanistan mentioned above);
13 Scotland Europe 2
14 UAE Asia 2
15 Hong Kong Asia 3
16 PNG East Asia - Pacific No.1 Associate/Affiliate Member
17 Kenya Africa No. 1 Associate/Affiliate Member
18 Namibia Africa 2
19 Netherlands Europe 3
20 Canada Americas No.1 Associate/Affiliate Member
11  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK parliamentary by-elections 2014 on: November 21, 2014, 09:45:37 am
Extract from the Wikipedia article on White van man.

"White van man" is a stereotype found in the United Kingdom of the driving of smaller-sized commercial vans,[1] perceived as selfish, inconsiderate, mostly working class and aggressive.[2] According to this stereotype, the "white van man" is an independent tradesperson, such as a plumber or locksmith, self-employed, or running a small enterprise,[2] for whom driving a commercial vehicle is not the main line of business, as it is for a professional freight-driver.
12  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election 2015 on: October 15, 2014, 05:54:08 pm
Shouldn't it be the Lib Dems who are the oldest political party anyway, since (no matter what date you put it at) the Tories/Conservatives split from the Whigs?

The history is quite complicated. I will try and summarise it, but you will appreciate that many books have been written about aspects of the history. I am just attempting my own summary of what I have read without citing particular sources in this post.

1. Tory and Whig parties came into existence during the Exclusion bill debates in the 1680s. The Whigs wished to exclude the catholic Duke of York (later King James II of England) from the succession to the Crown.

2. King James II was eventually overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688/89. Members of both parties accepted the new situation, apart from the Jacobite wing of the Tories.

3. From the Glorious Revolution until the Hanoverian succession in 1714, comparative cohesive parties competed for royal favour and in the frequent general elections of the period.

4. King George I distrusted the Tories. From 1714 until 1760 just about any politician who aspired to executive office had to associate himself with a Whig faction. There were still Tories in Parliament, but the old disputes gradually became irrelevant.

5. When King George III came to the throne in 1760 politics was organised around faction supporting prominent political leaders. Some, like Lord North, might be from families with a Tory tradition. Others like the Duke of Newcastle might regard themselves as Whigs but it no longer mattered. People from both traditions belonged to each faction.

6. Politics began to again re-crystallise into parties, more significant than mere factions, in the late 18th and early 19th century. During the Revolutionary War, most politicians supported William Pitt the Younger. Pitt's followers, at the time, were known as the Pittites but in retrospect were the core of what became known as the Tory Party. Ironically some prominent Pittites, like Pitt himself and the Duke of Portland, called themselves Whigs.

7. The small number of opponents of Pitt, led by Charles James Fox, became the core of the 19th century Whig Party.

8. There continued to be factions created, in the early 19th century, but they increasingly tended to be distinctly Tory or Whig. By about 1820 the two parties were fairly cohesive. There were some factions swinging between the two parties until the late 1850s. In the 1830s and 40s the Tories came to be called the Conservative Party and the Whigs (and associated groups) were informally described as the Liberal Party. The Whigs, joined with Peelite Liberal Conservatives, Radicals and some Irish Opposition politicians to create a formal Liberal Party in 1859. The Protectionist wing of the Conservative Party then became the only organisation claiming to be the heirs of the Tory tradition.

9. The Whig aristocratic families mostly broke from the Liberal Party over Irish Home Rule in 1886. The Liberal Unionists, including the few remaining Whig Unionists, formally merged with the Conservative Party in 1912. The 1859 Liberal Party eventually merged, in 1988, with the SDP to create what is now the Liberal Democrats.

10. The continuity between the 17th century Tory Party and the modern Conservative Party and the 17th century Whigs and the Liberal Democrats, are both dubious. However if the Conservatives can claim succession from the Tories, I do not see why the Liberal Democrats are not the political heirs of the Whigs.
13  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election 2015 on: October 03, 2014, 08:22:53 am
Phony Moderate.

What happens if we see a result along these lines?

Lab - 290 seats
Con - 290 seats
SNP - 35 seats
Lib Dems - 20 seats

There also some other members in a House of 650 (minus Sinn Feiners not taking their seats), who might provide some additional chances of negotiation.

There is some sort of constitutional convention that politicians have a duty to provide the Crown with an administration, so as to avoid troubling the electorate with too frequent new elections. Given the numbers suggested, no stable majority coalition seems likely. 

However the Labour Party seems better placed than the Tories to form a minority government, which might either through formal confidence and supply agreements or informal understandings and case by case negotiations, keep things together for at least six months or possibly longer. 

As the Conservatives would be busy disposing of Cameron and the Liberal Democrats would not be keen on the expense and risk of a quick second election, it is probably only the SNP who would vote against the government in the short term. Labour could then arranges a dissolution at the time of its choosing (not as easy now as before fixed term Parliaments, but not impossible - would the opposition really vote against a dissolution when they could not put together an alternative administration with a majority).
14  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election 2015 on: September 22, 2014, 05:09:54 pm
The Labour and Conservative Parties are both seeking to redesign the British constitution with minimal regard to principle and maximum attention to partisan advantage. It may be that some half baked plan will be adopted before the general election or during the next Parliament. Most likely the whole exercise will prove to be as futile as House of Lords reform and everybody will give up the idea of major reform for English government, for another generation.

Neither party wants to create a proper English Parliament, elected on its own by some form of proportional representation, similar to what exists in Scotland.

The Conservatives want English votes for English issues, with the representatives of English constituencies only voting on the English legislation. Possibly they may create something called an English Parliament, but really it would just be part of the UK Parliament. Official Conservative policy (as so far invented by D. Cameron) does not seem to envisage splitting the UK and English executive governments.

Party advantage - more often than not the Conservatives could hope to have concurrent UK and English majorities. If Labour have a small UK majority, the Conservatives may hope to gridlock the system by exploiting a Conservative English majority. That would leave the UK government having to accept and administer its opponents legislation, unless it advised the monarch to exercise the Royal veto over bills for the first time since the early 18th century. Parliament has no power to override a Royal veto, so this situation might lead to a bit of a constitutional crisis.

Labour (official policy) is to call for a constitutional convention (which looks like it would be wholly dominated by the Westminster politicians with little or no input by the general public). This will put off constitutional change at Westminster for years. It may be that the hope is that the issue will be less pressing by the time any report is agreed (if one ever is), so that the next government can ignore it. Labour is prepared to agree to what sounds like an English grand committee to debate English legislation, but is not willing to agree that MPs from the rest of the UK should not participate in the final decision on a bill.

Party advantage - Labour keeps some control in the UK Labour, English Tory majority situation. The government, in that situation, might not be able to pass legislation it wanted but could block legislation it did not like (without breaking the very strong convention against use of the Royal veto). So another form of deadlock.
15  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Scottish Independence Referendum - 18 September 2014 on: September 12, 2014, 11:28:41 am
The royal representative in Scotland before the union of parliaments had a title like Lord Commissioner.

I imagine Princess Anne would be well placed to represent the Queen, as she and her son have been building up support for a while. Princess Anne often attends rugby union internationals in Edinburgh and her son was involved in playing the game within the Scottish system.

The Queen is, of course, half Scottish herself and spends part of her year in Scotland (Christmas and New Year), so no doubt some arrangement could be made foe who does what within the royal family.  
16  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election 2015 on: September 11, 2014, 06:12:57 am
The problem of England continues to be intractable. Creating an English Parliament leads to the risk that the First Minister of England would do to the Prime Minister of the UK what Boris Yeltsin did to Mikhail Gorbachev.  Federal type states do not work very well when one member of the Federation is stronger than all the others combined.

The attempt to square the circle by dividing England into regions did not work. The Labour government (as represented by John Prescott) promoted a devolution revolution for North East England. The people of that region rejected the idea. If an area like the North East did not approve a Regional Assembly, no part of England would.

However, if Scotland remains in the UK and gets the promised devo max, perhaps the UK constitution will have to be changed in quite a major way. The politicians may have to bite the bullet and risk an English Parliament. The UK Parliament could be left as a federal or quasi federal legislature with quite restricted powers compared to the national parliaments and assemblies.
17  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election 2015 on: September 10, 2014, 05:05:40 pm
I have identified one Speaker defeated at the polls since the Union. Sir Richard Onslow (a Whig politician who had represented Surrey since 1689) was defeated in the 1710 general election. He was Speaker from 1708-1710. Speaker's, in that period, were partisan figures who were by no means certain of retaining the chair in a new Parliament but it was still an unusual event for one to lose an election.

Local opinion believed that he had been taught a lesson that ‘’tis dangerous for a man to act in opposition to the greater part of the gentlemen’, and the post-mortem into the causes of his political demise continued into the new year. After a run of nine county victories, the magnitude of Onslow’s defeat was heralded by many Tories as the greatest of their electoral triumphs. By all reports Onslow was shattered by his electoral reverse, and although one of the Whig ‘cities of refuge’ was secured for him nine days later at St. Mawes, the Surrey defeat had a profound influence upon him.

As the election had been a Tory triumph, Onslow had no hope of being re-elected Speaker.
18  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Scottish Independence Referendum - 18 September 2014 on: September 08, 2014, 07:05:23 pm
I found some material on page 352 of the Scottish government's document about ''Scotland's Future''. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0043/00439021.pdf

We propose that Scotland’s independence day should be on
24 March 2016. The first election in an independent Scotland
will then take place on 5 May 2016
■ Between the referendum and independence, we will put in place
the initial constitutional platform for independence and
the arrangements for the transfer of powers to Scotland
■ The legislation on independence will place a duty on the
Scottish Parliament elected in 2016 to establish a constitutional
convention to prepare the permanent written constitution of

The SNP definitely want the constitution to be wholly made in Scotland. The 'initial constitutional platform' would presumably be drawn up by the existing Scottish Parliament dominated by the SNP. Nothing is said about the electoral system to be used in 2016.
19  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Scottish Independence Referendum - 18 September 2014 on: September 08, 2014, 06:40:50 pm
Has there been any talk of the electoral system post-independence? Would it essentially be the same as the current Scottish Parliament's elections or something completely different?

I have not noticed anything, although I am in southern England so I might not have seen it.

Presumably a yes vote, would be followed by some negotiations over the terms of disunion. The independence constitution might be negotiated during that process, but I would suspect that Scotland would prefer as little interference as possible from the rest of the UK.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have suggested a constitutional convention, with representatives of all the parties and civil society groups in Scotland. This was modelled on the body which came up with the current devolution arrangements (which notably was boycotted by the SNP). The existing convention proposal is related to changes within the union, but there is no reason why it could not be used to draft an independence constitution if there has been a yes vote on independence.

Such a body would not be likely to make major changes to the existing Scottish Parliament electoral system.
20  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Westminster Parliamentary By-Election : Clacton (date to be announced) on: August 28, 2014, 10:57:08 am
In the days when rotten boroughs abounded, the House of Commons sometimes noticed particularly outrageous examples and punished them by not issuing a writ for a by-election. This left a seat vacant for the rest of a Parliament. The disappointed electors were thus cheated of the opportunity to freely vote for the highest bidder, one more time. Nineteenth century spoilsports were sometimes so outraged that they disenfranchised the borough (see the sad history of Grampound in Cornwall, whose two seats were transferred to Yorkshire). It should be noted that the borough would still be represented as part of a county constituency, when its individual representation disappeared, but there would be fewer opportunities to make a corrupt profit.

However punishing a corrupt constituency is not really something to be done in a modern democracy. Nowadays it would just be a squalid party game to leave innocent electors without an MP.
21  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: Why do Presidents swear in on the bible? on: August 21, 2014, 04:49:50 pm
Custom and personal choice. It is not a legal requirement and as has been pointed out not all Presidents have followed the custom.

Rather than the First Amendment, I would have thought the more relevant constitutional provision was the prohibition of a religious test for office. There is also in the text of the original constitution, the choice of an affirmation as an alternative to an oath of office (which I believe Zachary Taylor used, as his particular religious sect did not believe in swearing oaths).
22  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election 2015 on: August 03, 2014, 11:57:13 am
There is no Liberal Democrat front or back bencher who would be a credible new leader before the general election. 

For better or for ill, Nick Clegg will lead the Liberal Democrats into the election. Until we know the outcome of the election, we will not know if the Lib Dems will need a new leader and if so who is available to be chosen.
23  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK parliamentary by-elections 2014 on: June 19, 2014, 10:28:47 am
Chris Rand has a website called Queen Edith's Online, which has something about the origin of the name.

Here’s a wonderful piece of research by local resident Jeremy Lander, produced in 2009, linking the area to Edith Swan-Neck, or ‘Eddeva the Fair’ as she was often called, landowner in and around Cambridge in 1066 and common-law wife of Harold II. It’s a wonderful tale, as Jeremy explains in the foreword:

My interest in the subject began when I moved to Nightingale Avenue in the Queen Edith area, a south-eastern suburb of Cambridge. At the time I had no idea of the connection between the area where we lived, the ‘Queen Edith’ school in Godwin Way (where my children went), and Harold II king of England in 1066; let alone an obscure Saxon noblewoman named Edith, or how our house came to be built on land that belonged to St Thomas’ Hospital in London. But I wondered about the naming of the area and why it was called Queen Edith’s. Left unsatisfied by the explanation that it was named after Queen Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor (especially when I found that there was no connection between her and the area) I dug a little deeper.

I owe my ‘eureka’ moment to novelist Julian Rathbone and his book ‘The Last English King’. In his fictionalised account of the life of Harold II he describes the love affair between Harold and the beautiful Saxon princess Edith Swan-Neck and it was while I read the paperback on holiday that the scales fell from my eyes. Could this have been the Edith that lived in 11th century Cambridgeshire, and the naming of the area be just a case of mistaken identity? A quick delve into the Victoria County History and all was revealed: the name Edith Swan-Neck, or ‘Eddeva the Fair’ as she was often called, landowner in and around Cambridge in 1066 and common-law wife of Harold II, was everywhere.

24  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election Results The UK Public Probably Regretted on: June 19, 2014, 10:19:19 am
Ted Heath failed, from the point of view of right wing Conservatives, because he was not prepared to persist in right wing economic policies because he saw the social damage and was not prepared to double down on the policies. In other words, he was not as ruthless as Margaret Thatcher.
25  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election 2015 on: May 29, 2014, 09:30:34 am
There is no point in dropping Nick Clegg now. Whoever inherited the poisoned chalice would still be yoked to the Conservatives in the coalition. There is no sign that a new leader would significantly improve the situation.

It is better that Clegg suffer the defeat in 2015. He will then either lose his seat (so as to no longer be eligible to remain leader under the party constitution) or more or less willingly resign. Either option would cause less damage to the long term party interest than a pre-election civil war.

The question of who the next leader will be can be postponed to the next Parliament. It will largely depend on who retains their seat. My personal tip, assuming Scotland does not become independent, is former Chief Whip and current Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael  (Orkney and Shetland). He is the most likely Scottish MP and coalition cabinet member, to survive into the next Parliament.

However I have always supported a losing candidate in Liberal/Lib Dem leadership elections, so I may not be the best person to predict what will happen.
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