Archive for Elections

What Nigel Farage did not say on beards

Posted in Beards, Politics with tags , , , on May 26, 2014 by telescoper

In the aftermath of yesterday’s European election results, the great political question of the day is where precisely does UKIP stand on facial hair?

Kmflett's Blog

What Nigel Farage did not say on beards

UKIP leader Nigel Farage who is perpetually clean shaven is very probably a pogonophobe although as the equally perpetually hirsute Michael Rosen has pointed out to me, UKIP has some supporters with beards.

Accuracy on matters UKIP is not easy to achieve. The party itself is an unreliable guide and the BBC guided by the follicly challenged Nick Robinson isn’t much better.

However at the end of the week which saw a supposed quote from Farage about Muslims and beards to the effect that either the beard went or the wearer did and that beards should be no more than two inches in length achieve wide currency, a small attempt at accuracy can surely do no harm.

There is no absolute proof that Farage did not make these remarks. He has not denied them despite opportunities to do so

It is however…

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Local Politics

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by telescoper

By way of reminding myself for future reference I thought I’d do a quick post about the results of Thursday’s local elections.

I live in the Riverside ward within the area administered by Cardiff City Council. When I moved here in 2008 there were three Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist) councillors. That was just after an election in which the Welsh Labour party had done badly, and also to some extent reflected the particular nature of the Pontcanna area which is within Riverside ward, in that it has a sizeable Welsh-speaking population many of whom work for the  media, especially the BBC.

Last year we had a by-election, won by Iona Gordon for Labour, so going into this year’s elections there were two Plaid councillors and one Labour. The result of the 2012 vote was very bad for Plaid, who lost their two remaining candidates to Labour. So in four years I’ve gone from living in a Plaid Cymru stronghold to a Labour stronghold.

The pattern in Riverside ward was repeated across Cardiff, so that Labour achieved a sizeable overall majority, with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru all losing seats:

Before the elections the Council was run by a LibDem/Plaid Coalition and such was the swing against these parties that Council Leader Rodney Berman lost his seat, although in apparent desperation to cling onto his salary he demanded two recounts before giving up. Afterwards he spoke to the press claiming that the result in Cardiff was down to Westminster politics rather than local issues.

I don’t think so.

I certainly voted on local issues and so did many of the people I talked to. The former administration of the Council was awful in many respects, including proven maladministration over the decision to build a waste incinerator. I’m not the only person to have remarked on the plethora of pointless roadworks going on in the city, including narrowing the busiest thoroughfares, and of course the ongoing over-development of Bute Park.

No, Mr Berman. You were voted out because you did a lousy job.

There’s no guarantee, of course, that Labour will do any better but I very much doubt they can do any worse. I hope I’m not proved wrong.


Posted in Biographical, Politics with tags , , , , on May 7, 2011 by telescoper

Well chaps and chapesses, I’m back to base after a very enjoyable break in foreign climes. I won’t bore you with interminable holiday snaps and the like, however. Suffice to say that, although it was good to get away from it all for a bit, it’s also nice to be back to Blighty. I’ve got quite a few things to catch up with on at home, at work, and on the blog, and I’ll try to return to fairly frequent postings now that I’m home.

I thought I’d start with one of the big events that happened while I was away. Not the Royal Wedding, which I successfully avoided completely although I only narrowly escaped seeing some of it on an outdoor  big screen (which I had assumed would be showing some form of sporting contest). Not the killing of Osama Bin Laden, either. Nor even the AV referendum, which went the way I expected. No, I think the first thing I should comment on is the result of the elections to the National  Assembly for Wales which I followed, as best I could, by Twitter and on the net via my Blackberry while I was away. I wasn’t helped by the fact that North Wales decided not even to start counting votes until the morning after Polling Day, thus holding up the final results by half a day. Perhaps that’s because the count was done in Llandudnno, where people generally go to bed about 10pm?

This was the first Senedd election I have had the opportunity to vote in, even though I had to do it postally. For the Welsh Assembly elections, each voter gets two votes. One is cast just as in a General Election, i.e. by picking one candidate for one’s own consituency – in my case Cardiff West. This is a safe Labour seat, previously held by former First Minister Rhodri Morgan, and it was no surprise to see the Labour candidate romp home with an increased majority. Of the 60 members of the Welsh Assembly, 40 are elected directly through constituency votes like this.

Incidentally, one of the other candidates in this constituency was Neil McEvoy, standing for Plaid Cymru. McEvoy is currently deputy leader of Cardiff City Council (which is run by a coalition of LibDems and Plaid Cymru councillors) and is an enthusiastic champion of the building of a major road into Bute Park for use by heavy lorries. It might have been better for the people of Cardiff – especially those who appreciate its wonderful green spaces – had Councillor McEvoy been elevated to the Senedd, because that would prevent him doing further damage on behalf of the Council. In the end, though, he trailed in third place in the Welsh Assembly poll so will presumably remain on the Council.

Meanwhile, back at the polls. Voters in the Welsh Assembly elections get another regional vote in addition to their constituency vote, which they can cast for a  closed party list. There are 5 regions in Wales, each of which elects 4 members to the Assembly taking its full complement to 60. The so-called Additional Member system uses the d’Hondt divisor formula to allocate regional AMs in accordance with the following algorithm:

  1. Party list votes are totalled from each of the constituencies making up the region.
  2. These totals are then divided by the number of constituency seats each party has won – plus one.
  3. The party with the highest resulting total elects one Additional Member.
  4. That party’s divisor is then increased by one (because of its victory)
  5.  Step 2 is repeated with the updated number of seats.; again, the highest resulting total wins a seat.
  6. The process is then repeated until all Additional Members are elected.

The aim of the system is to compensate parties which pile up lots votes in constituencies but fail to win many seats there. Under the d’Hondt system, they are much more likely to gain additional regional members. Conversely, parties which do well in constituency elections will do less well in the top-up seats. The idea is that the final outcome is much more proportional than it would be based on constituency votes alone. It’s not perfect, of course. Welsh Labour won precisely 50% of the seats in the Senedd, but with considerably less than 50% of the popular vote.

This system probably sounds quite complicated – especially considering the difficulty many people seem to have had understanding the Alternative Vote, which is much simpler! – but it is actually fairly straightforward to operate. It does, however produce a few unexpected consequences.

In the 2011 Welsh Assembly elections the constituency vote held up very well for the Conservative Party. This was probably helped by a relatively low turnout of just over 40%, because ensuring the core Tory voters turned out for the poll was probably all the campaign strategists needed to do. However, the unexpected success of the Conservatives in the constituency vote led to one notable casualty when the additional members were calculated. The Conservative leader in the Welsh Assembly, a regional member, Nick Bourne, found himself a victim of the party’s own success: he lost his seat, and the Tories now need a new leader.

In summary, Welsh Labour did pretty well, returning 30 out of the total of 60 Assembly Members, up 4 on the last election. The Conservatives, somewhat surprisingly, were up 2 on 14. It was a bad night for Plaid Cymru, who lost four members to end on 11. The Liberal Democrats did poorly in the constituency vote, losing all but one of their seats, but picked up 4 regional members courtesy of d’Hondt. No other parties won any seats.

What happens next? Labour could try to form a minority administration on their own, but it seems more likely that they will try to find a coalition partner. The previous administration involved a combination of Labour and Plaid Cymru, but the latter did so badly in these elections that they may decide that they don’t want to play anymore. That would make the LibDems favourites, although they might be considered a bit toxic after their poor showing elsewhere in the UK. We’ll just have to wait and see what emerges from the discussions (which have presumably already started). I’ll be following it all with particular interest because, amongst other things, there might be important implications for Higher Education in Wales if Labour go it alone or the LibDems replace Plaid in the governing coalition.

There were, of course, elections going on last week throughout the United Kingdom. I haven’t got time to comment on all the results, but fortunately I found this interesting and informative summary of the situation Nationwide


Day of Days

Posted in Biographical with tags , on June 4, 2009 by telescoper

Well, here we are then.

Another birthday.

Actually, this one has been great (so far) and I’m looking forward to the rest of the day. Although it coulded over yesterday evening leading me to think our sunny spell was over, today I awoke to bright sunshine again and it’s stayed the same all morning. The garden looks unkempt but is at least full of flowers and smells, and I had my breakfast outside again before toddling off down to the polling station in St Catharine’s Church Hall to cast my vote in the Elections for the European parliament.

We won’t get the results of that election until Sunday because different European countries are voting on different days and the results are only announced when all polls are closed. I’ll be in Copenhagen on Sunday so will have to catch up on the news from there. Other parts of the United Kingdom are also voting for their local Councils too, and those results will be out tomorrow.

I’m not an expert political analyst but it seems to me these elections could go one of two ways: either the major political parties get a complete drubbing or the population is so disgusted with the political establishment that they don’t turn out at all. When I went to my polling station it was completely deserted apart from the two ladies keeping track of the ballot papers. On the basis of that observation, it could be that apathy will carry the day.

Incidentally, I’m very old-fashioned about voting. I don’t agree at all with the trend of encouraging on-line or postal voting. I think it’s part of one’s civic duty to cast a vote and that means getting off your arse and putting a cross on a bit of paper. It gives a sense of participation to vote in person and most excuses for not doing so just amount to  laziness. There are polling stations all over the place, they open from the early morning until late at night, and it only takes a minute or so to vote.  So get out there and do your bit.

Now I have time to do mark a few more examinations before having a shower and getting ready to get on the train to London. As a birthday treat, organized by Joao Magueijo, a bunch of us are off to the posh seats at Covent Garden to see the opening night of the Royal Opera‘s new production of Alban Berg‘s Lulu, which I’ll review when I get back tomorrow.

ps. A package arrived in the post on Tuesday from my Mum with my usual birthday gift. It turned out to be a raincoat – usually a useful thing for someone living in Wales – but on a sweltering day it seemed a bit comical. No doubt I’ll get a chance to wear it before too long…