Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

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Newsflash: The birthplace of democracy wants to hold a referendum

Greece’s prime minister, George Papandreou, threw an almighty spanner in the works of the Franco-German fix for the Euro crisis and announced last night he intends to put the deal to the Greek people.

The only slight problem with this is it goes against the European Union way of doing things. That great undemocratic institution doesn’t like the slight matter of the people getting in the way of the Project.

Markets have nosedived today as a result of the referendum announcement but the Franco-German sticky plaster fix only serves to kick the Euro crisis a few months down the track. It’s time Greece put itself out of its misery and left the Euro immediately and also seriously considered leaving the EU.

That way Greece can get back the Drachma (supposedly its Central Bank has already printed billions of Drachma in expectation), devalue its currency and then export (i.e. tourism) its way back to growth.

Pass the Ouzo.

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It’s time to get out

Watching Question Time last night, from Liverpool (that no-go city for Tories!), it struck me how Euroscepticism really isn’t just the preserve of the Right. Full on Socialists were baying for the EU’s blood: they were furious with the faceless Brussels bureaucrats and the fact that our politicians here in the UK just blindly gold-plate all EU directives into law (70% of British laws originate in Brussels) without a moment’s scrutiny or thought. Contrast this to other European countries, as Janet Street-Porter eloquently (not a word used often in the same sentence as JSP) put it, where, for example, they decide how much ‘elf and safety’ really is necessary. Having just got back from Ibiza I can attest that anti-slip paths and barriers to death are merely optional requirements of business and councils – of course, back in Blighty, our children aren’t even allowed to play conkers!!!

And then I read this morning that Brussels wants Iain Duncan Smith to water down his new welfare rules which will save billions in the long term and re-introduce the incentive to work rather than vegetate all day at home on the X Box whilst the next door neighbour heads out early each morning and arrives home late after another hard day at work. Guess what. The EU commission says we aren’t allow to stop paying people to do nothing and in fact we aren’t even allowed to stop paying immigrants, who have never paid a penny in tax in this country, generous benefits as well.  Enough is enough.

For many years I was sure most of the time we are better of out of the EU but never 100% convinced as I was always slightly concerned about the trade implications and freedom of movement across European borders being an EU member state brings us. This year’s Eurozone farce has made me fully convinced – if it’s good enough for Norway and Switzerland it’s more than good enough for us. With the Eurozone in crisis, a building with no exits as William Hague recently said, the Right has won the argument in monumental fashion that Britain is better out of the EU. Of course, the Germans and French knew the Euro was merely a stepping stone to full fiscal and political union. The Germans and French are not stupid – they knew Greece couldn’t cope with not being able to control its own interest rates or devalue its currency to tame its basket case of an economy. They knew all along it would end in tears – and it has. But, they hope, not enough tears that a few billion Euros won’t wipe away. And Britain will not escape bailing out Greece, Spain, Italy, and the rest, as we contribute hundreds of millions of Sterling to the IMF.

Now, I am sure the Euro fanatics were hoping Britain would carry on as before the Eurozone crisis Armageddon, and just let Brussels carry on as if nothing had happened, writing more busy-body (aka Socialist) directives, driving the EU project further forward to a United States of Europe. Fortunately, they are wrong. The tectonic plates have shifted and it is becoming acceptable even to moderates that being out of the EU might not be such a bad thing.

Now is time to hold a referendum on our membership of the European Union. If this happened tomorrow, I predict the result would be similar to the AV vote (that other loony left infatuation), with 80% + voting for our immediate withdrawal from an organisation that is thoroughly un-British. It’s time we got our independence back and felt proud to be citizens of Great Britain again.

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AV Referendum Success

A bit belated this post but just wanted to put on record what a great job the No2AV campaign did in ensuring the “miserable little compromise”* that is the Alternative Vote system was roundly defeated at last week’s referendum.

The final result put the Yes vote at 32.1% and the No vote at 67.9%.

This will, I hope, kick the whole question of voting reform into the long grass for a generation. 
First Past the Post is simple, fair and decisive and, of all the ways to vote, we are lucky to have it as the system we use to elect our MPs and Councillors in this country.

*Nick Clegg’s words.

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Why should we keep the first past the post electoral system?

On 5th May, we will be asked if we wish to use the Alternative Vote (AV) system to elect MPs to the House of Commons.  I believe we should keep the first past the post (FPTP) system and Vote No to AV.
First and foremost, FPTP is fair.  Under the current system, the number of votes for each candidate are added up and the one with the most votes wins.  One person, one vote.   No wonder over 60 countries use the system, whereas AV is only used in three: Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.  

With AV, you can vote multiple times and some votes count more than others.  This is because if you vote for a mainstream party candidate that is top of the ballot in the first round, your other preferences will never be counted.  But if you vote for a minor party who gets knocked out, your other preferences will be counted.   Also candidates who come second or third in the first round can end up winning once alternative preferences are taken into account.  That is patently undemocratic and electors will never be sure what government they will get.

AV will also unfairly strengthen minor parties, like the BNP.  With first past the post, the BNP have never won a seat in parliament.  Under AV, however, the far-right One Nation Party in Australia won 11 seats in the Queensland state legislature, whereas they would have only won 8 under FPTP.

One person who is strongly in favour of AV is Nick Clegg despite in the past calling it a “miserable little compromise”.  Under AV, the arithmetic based on current polling of the electorate would mean the Liberal Democrats are likely to be the kingmaker infinitum in General Elections.  Both the Conservatives and Labour would be unlikely to have enough seats to form a Government giving the Liberal Democrats a choice of which Party to form a Coalition with every time.  No wonder Nick Clegg now likes AV so much!

Another reason why first past the post is a better system is because it produces strong candidates and leaders who stand out from the pack.  With AV, it is a system that benefits the bland candidate who wants to please everyone all of the time, as electors can vote for every candidate.  The candidate who strives to be liked by everyone by not offering a view or opinion on anything will have a better chance of winning because of the AV weird counting system.    I want to vote for someone who will stand up for what he or she believes in, not someone who looks to the latest polling evidence to decide what to say or do.

With first past the post, our democracy is decisive and gets rid of Governments most people don’t want in power.  If AV had been used in last year’s General Election, there is a possibility that today Gordon Brown might still be Prime Minister of our country.
First past the post is a system which is clear, produces stable Governments and is used by 2.4 billion people worldwide, more than any other system.  Above all it is fair.

I hope you choose to Vote No to AV on 5th May.