2010 Election Watch: The UK

From the desk of the Scriptorium

Election series 2010:  The UK

I realize that most of the people in the US could care less about the elections in the UK…..I think they are mistaken…….

I have been asked why I subject myself to the agony of politics…..the answer is easy….my education made me a political addict….it is the most fascinating of subjects…..I meet a lot of good friends and a bunch of crazies….both are interesting in their own way….and the exchange of views is almost a good exercise…..I have also been asked why I would be interested in the politics of another country….that is easy also…they have a different type of government and it plays differently than the Federal system we have here……I also depend on my friend Quin from Quintessential Havoc (blogroll will get you there) to help me understand better and to fill in the gaps that I will no doubt have in my posts concerning the UK and the EU…….

The election for PM of Britain is under way…..they have Brown from Labor, Cameron from the Tories and Clegg from the Liberal Democrats….as best I can tell it is pretty much a draw right now, but the LibDem Clegg is making lots of noise and could be a spoiler for one of the dudes….

The voting system is a bit unique , at least I think it is……..Rather than marking an ‘X’ against their preferred candidate, each voter ranks candidates in order of preference. If a candidate receives a majority of first place votes, he or she is elected. However if no single candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the second choices for the candidate at the bottom are redistributed. The process is repeated until one candidate gets an absolute majority.  (Quin maybe able to expand this a bit)

The UK currently operates a simple plurality, first-past-the-post system. In this voting system the single winner is the person with the most votes; there is no requirement that the winner gain an absolute majority of votes.

Uses multi-seat constituencies and transfers votes that would otherwise be wasted to other eligible candidates. STV initially allocates an elector’s vote to his or her most preferred candidate and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, transfers surplus or unused votes according to the voters’ stated preferences.  (Thanx to Reuters reporters for some of the facts in this post)

With that said…there is a push for electoral reforms in the UK….the issue is popular as it is in the US?

Labor

– Referendum early in the next parliament on whether to move to the Alternative Vote* system for elections to the House of Commons

– Free vote in parliament on reducing voting age to 16

– Legislation to ensure parliaments sit for a fixed-term

– Commission to chart a course to a written constitution

– Statutory register of lobbyists

– Completion of reform of the House of Lords

– Full implementation of a new system of independent regulation of MPs pay, pensions and allowances.

CONSERVATIVES

– Oppose change to ‘first-past-the-post’ system**

– Reduce the number of MPs by 10 percent to 585 from 650 (The US only has 435 Reps)

– Work to ensure consensus for substantially elected House of Lords

– Give House of Commons more control over own timetable

– Reduce discrepancy between constituency electorate sizes

– Right to kick out MPs found guilty of wrongdoing

– Ensure that legislation on devolved issues that only affects England, or England and Wales, can only be passed with the consent of MPs from England, and where applicable Wales

– Introduce new rules on lobbying

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

– Prefer Single Transferable Vote system***, which would allow them to cut MPs by 150

– Right to vote from age 16

– Fixed-term parliaments

– Replace House of Lords with fully elected second chamber with fewer members

– Introduce written constitution(Wait!  There is NO written constitution?)

– Right to sack MPs who have broken the rules

– Curb influence of lobbyists

Alternative vote

This will make the Brit system of electing a PM as clear as mud for most, but I think that what effects one country may ultimately show up in others and that includes the US……once again I apologize of my UK readers if I screwed up any of this…..I look forward to hearing from them….

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Now Here Is An Idea!

Inkwell Institute

European Desk

Every now and then I read something from across the pond and think that it would be a good way to conduct politics in this country….maybe not exactly the same but some of the ideas are worth considering……

The main party leaders have hit the campaign trail following Gordon Brown’s announcement that he has asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament, triggering a general election on May 6.

Parliament will not be formally dissolved until Monday, with MPs spending the next three days rushing legislation through the Commons during what is known as the “wash up”.

Two polls today gave the Tories a 10-point lead, enough to form a narrow majority, while a third suggested that Labour would emerge as the largest party in a hung Parliament.

Now there is an idea I can back with all my support (as little as that may be)…….dissolve Congress and send them all home to try again…..about a month or so of campaigning….that could eliminate all the crap we get for a year or more before an election…..to be honest I have not paid a great deal of attention to the politics in Europe….that is my failing…but I am trying to rectify my lack of knowledge….

I remember back in the days of the “evil empire”, the USSR, whenever there were elections for the Duma, Russian style Congress, and 85% of the members were re-elected…the news would be about what a sham the election were in the Communists country…..but yet in the “democracy” in the US the percentage of those re-elected is somewhere close to 90….does that mean that it is also a sham?

The point I am trying desperately trying to make is that it is a good idea to dissolve Congress if they are getting NOTHING done but petty bickering…….and a month of campaigning would be money well spent and eliminate some, not all, of the campaign bullsh*t.

While I am not sure if the whole Parliament has to campaign or not (hopefully Quin of Quintessential Havoc will weigh in)….but all in all sounds like a Helluva idea….this could make the ass wads in Washington more responsible for their actions or in the case of today….inaction….

Plight Of American Labor–Part 1

The Enslavement Of Labor

In the later part of 2008 Wall Street began its tumble, when actually the tumble started back in 2007, but became more visible in 2008.  It cost the American taxpayer almost a trillion dollars to help these firms out.  Then by the last of 2008 the auto companies asked for help or they would bust.  But unlike Wall Street, the auto makers took heat from Congress and the American people.  Labor took the most heat.  The auto workers and their union were blamed for all the ills of the companies.  Even the people in the middle class, mostly the workers, jumped on that bandwagon, blaming everything wrong with the car companies on the policies and practices of the union and its members.  NOTHING was further from the truth!

The problem was not that of labor, but rather the economic policies that have run this country for too long.

In the 19th century, American economist Henry George made some profound observations on his way to the formulation of the Land Value Tax (LVT)

When people are compelled to live on — and from — land treated as the exclusive property of others, the ultimate result is the enslavement of workers.  As population increases and productivity improves, we move toward the same absolute mastery of landlords and the same abject helplessness of labor. Rent will advance; wages will fall. Landowners continually increase their share of the total production, while labor’s share constantly declines.

To the extent that moving to cheaper land becomes difficult or impossible, workers will be reduced to a bare living — no matter what they produce. Where land is monopolized, they will live as virtual slaves. Despite enormous increase in productive power, wages in the lower and wider layers of industry tend — everywhere — to the wages of slavery (i.e., just enough to maintain them in working condition).

There is nothing strange in this fact. Owning the land on which — and from which — people must live is virtually the same as owning the people themselves. In accepting the right of some individuals to the exclusive use and enjoyment of the earth, we condemn others to slavery. We do this as fully and as completely as though we had formally made them chattel slaves.

Ownership of land is the basis of aristocracy. It was not nobility that gave land, but the possession of land that gave nobility. All the enormous privileges of the nobility of medieval Europe flowed from their position as the owners of the soil. This simple principle of ownership produced the lord on one side, and the vassal on the other. One having all the rights, the other none.

The essence of slavery is that everything workers produce is taken from them, except enough to support a bare existence. Under existing conditions, the lowest wages of free labor invariably tend toward this same state. No matter how much productivity increases, rent steadily swallows up the whole gain (or even more). Thus, the condition of the masses in every civilized country is tending toward virtual slavery — under the forms of freedom.

Of all kinds of slavery, this is probably the most cruel and relentless. Laborers are robbed of their production and forced to toil for mere subsistence. But their taskmasters assume the form of inescapable demands. It does not seem to be one human being who drives another, but “the inevitable laws of supply and demand.” And for this, no one in particular is responsible. Even the selfish interest that prompted the master to look after the well-being of his slaves is lost.

Labor has become a commodity, and the worker a machine. There are no masters and slaves, no owners and owned — only buyers and sellers.

The working class is being driven into this helpless, hopeless poverty by a force like a resistless and unpitying machine. It drives people to acts barbarians would refuse. The Boston collar manufacturer who pays his workers two cents an hour may sympathize with their condition. But, like them, he is governed by the law of competition. His business cannot survive if he pays more. And so it goes, through all the intermediate gradations. It seems to be the inexorable laws of supply and demand that forces the lower classes into the slavery of poverty. And an individual can no more dispute this power than the winds and tides.

The previous was from Henry George’s book “Progress and Poverty”.

There is a way out of this problem, but it will take the ‘nads to change it.  If not, then just sit back and this will continue to happen time after time.  The solution has a simple title–Land Value Taxation.

SAG UpDate #4

The Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers said today that the Screen Actors Guild has requested a Wednesday meeting.

While, according to the alliance, SAG didn’t divulge its express purpose for tomorrow’s powwow, we’re going to go out on a limb and assume it concerns the ongoing battle over the new three-year contract the union’s leaders have yet to sign off on.

The AMPTP, which has already indicated it’s not willing to stray from the supposedly generous terms currently on the table, said that it’s prepared to listen to whatever SAG’s leaders have to say “out of respect for the SAG membership.”

The two sides are scheduled to come together at 1 p.m. at AMPTP headquarters, their first sit-down since Thursday, when a five-hour meeting resulted in…nothing much.

“It is important to note that SAG has declined to specify the purpose of the meeting, and that AMPTP continues to call on SAG’s Hollywood leaders to accept AMPTP’s final offer,” which matches the terms arrived at with the Writers Guild and Directors Guild of America and the American Federation of Radio & TV Artists, the alliance stated Tuesday.

SAG’s West Coast reps have so far dismissed the major studios’ request to let the union’s 120,000 members review the new terms.

But if SAG’s national board, which is expected to meet by July 26, OKs the prospect, the actors could have a contract in place by Aug. 15—the deadline the AMPTP has given the thesps if they want to to cash in retroactively on the new deal’s proferred wage increases.

The Anti Civil Rights Movement

.Over the last few months one of the most important electoral struggles of 2008 played out in Missouri. The deceptively-named Missouri Civil Rights Initiative (MoCRI), which would have outlawed affirmative action programs here was blocked May 4 because petitions to get the measure on the ballot were not submitted.

Ward Connerly, an African American multi-millionaire lobbyist for the construction industry, who also financed successful anti-affirmative-action initiatives in California, Washington and Michigan, was the main backer of the measure here.

For Connerly’s anti-civil-rights movement, this year was supposed to be a watershed moment eventually leading to a majority of states banning affirmative action policies, and eventually a federal law.

Also, the prospect of an African American or woman Democratic presidential nominee meant that the extreme right wing in the GOP needed to mobilize voters using racism and sexism, with the belief that they would vote for the Republican candidate in November.

After Connerly made his intentions known, Missouri labor, community, civil rights and faith groups came together to form Working to Empower Community Action Now (WeCAN) and decided the best way to stop the initiative was to do direct action voter education.

By tirelessly searching out anti-civil-rights petitioners and then giving Missouri voters information about the true intent of the petition, we informed thousands of Missourians, most of whom said to the petitioners, “No, thank you.”

Why did we do this? Because the petitioners if seldom ever said that the initiative would ban affirmative action. Most said it would end workplace discrimination. It was necessary to speak with voters at the point of contact, so that they would be aware of the true meaning of the petition.

Missouri became the poster child for the national right-wing campaign. Outside money and resources began pouring into MoCRI’s coffers. They not only increased the amount they paid per signature (some petitioners were being paid as much as $10 per signature) started to pay for flights and lodging for signature gatherers to come to Missouri.

Missouri is known as the Show Me State, where you have to try hard to win trust and back up your promises with action. Right-wing forces believed that they would easily triumph here. But, in the end, it was the voters of Missouri who showed them.

Ever Hear Of American Axel?

Last year you may recall the labor negotiations with the auto makers, Chysler, Ford GM, where the auto companies successfully got the unions to accept all kinds of labor busted measures.  The most important of which was the portion that set up a class system within the industry, where new hires and old hands would be at each others throats in the years to come.

Few reports come out about some of the labor problems and such about the fringe companies and unions of the auto industry, like American Axel.  The bitter strike at auto parts-maker American Axle & Manufacturing enters its tenth week, the irreconcilable nature of the conflict between the demands of the company and the needs of the workers emerges ever more starkly.

American Axle boss Richard Dauch refuses to budge from his demand that workers accept a near-50 percent pay cut. He threatens to bring in strike-breakers and permanently close his unionized plants. The police in Detroit—the site of the company’s headquarters and largest plant—grow increasingly menacing and provocative.

For their part, the workers remain determined to beat back the company’s sweeping concessions demands, knowing they cannot support their families on the near-poverty wage the company is offering. They doggedly maintain their picket lines, despite being forced to subsist on paltry strike benefits of $200 a week.

The issue in this strike poses a universal question facing workers not only in the US, but around the world. Are they to go back to conditions of poverty and sweatshop labor, as demanded by the corporations in the name of competitiveness and profitability, or are they to assert their own independent interests?

Each of the Dem candidates have stated that they support fair labor laws, but neither has issued a statement on the conditions and the strike itself.  Why?  Could it be that they owe way too much to the companies to get involved in thsi strike?  Blue collar workers need to wake and take a good look at these candidates, not one of them is truly a candidate of the people.

Peace!  Out!

It Is The Working Class

Holy crap!  I keep hearing Bill & Hill tell the people of Pennsylvania and others that she will work hard for the workers in the election.  May I see a show of hands from those who buy this stuff?

Ok one of the reasons that so many workers lost jobs in the Rust Belt, to include Penn. was NAFTA–the brain child of Bill and she supported it heavily, until she decided to run for office.  Now she and Obama want to reform NAFTA.  That will do little for the worker.  Reform is an easy way out, the results will be minimal, and they can easily be overturned at a later date.  reform is not the answer the workers need.

She as well as Bill are past leaders of the DLC, the pro-business cancer in the Dem. Party.  Most of her delegate support is coming from the DLC.

You vote for whoever you like, but your plight will not be effected as much as they are promising.  Remember, they feel your pain, if that is true I am an illegal alien.  No one making $10 million dollars on a book deal has any idea of the pain and suffering that a worker making $35,000.  Please keep that in mind.  Workers are being pandered to and they are buying it.  Just another indicator of how stale this process really is.