Tuesday 22 March 2011

The Portsmouth South Conundrum

I've long been a supporter of using Single Transferable Vote for UK elections but I'm going to vote No to AV. When I was thinking of writing this blogpost there were lots of little reasons why, but one seemed more important than anything else. I call it the Portsmouth South Conundrum.

Let's look at Portsmouth South in May 2010

Liberal Democrats 45.9%
Conservatives 33.3%
Labour 13.7%
Others 7.2%

Now let's fast forward to an AV election in 2015. Imagine that the Tories are moderately popular, they got they are up to 35% support. Meanwhile a third of Lib Dem support has deserted to Labour, bringing Lib Dems down to 30% and Labour up to 29%. That might be typical of a string of southern seats.

Now imagine that you're a Tory voter who wants to elect a Tory MP. It might increase the chance of a Tory getting elected if that Tory votes Labour. How's that? We'd assume that Labour 2nd preferences would tend to flow to the Lib Dems, the remaining Lib Dems 2nd preferences would flow towards the Tories (because a lot of the Lib Dems who preferred Labour would now vote Labour). So if the Lib Dems get eliminated then the Tory is likely to win, a Labour elimination would lead to a Lib Dem victory.

How can any AV supporter think that AV will end tactical voting? It'll just get rid of one kind of understandable tactics (if you don't think your 1st choice will win, you can vote for someone you wouldn't mind winning) with this kind of cerebral gymnastics.

Monday 14 March 2011

Union Street on Hutton

They say that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Well, I've not been mugged and I'm not going to be donning a Tory-blue rosette this side of hell freezing over, but there has been a nasty blast of realism from the Hutton Report hitting my rose-coloured view of the world.

Once upon a time there was barely any such thing as a public sector employer. But even then employers such as Titus Salt and later the Liberal William Lever made sure that their employees were well-housed, well-paid and looked after if they became too ill to work. At one time every large employer in the country provided generous sick leave and a final salary pension scheme. That's at the heart of this whole issue, employees make employers money during their productive years, if they didn't then the employers would soon get rid of them. In turn employers made sure that their employees were saved from an impoverished old age.

Why don't private sector employers provide final salary schemes anymore? It's not because of life expectancy because you could fix that by increasing the retirement age as the public sector has already done. It's because the government provides a safety net equivalent to someone working full time in a minimum wage job. The Government are in effect subsidising private sector employers to increase profits by reducing pensions to their workers. And because public sector workers are properly looked after we become a political football.

Well, no longer, at least not for me. I've already wasted 14 years paying 6-6.5% of my salary to the government on the promise that they'll look after me. I trusted Major, Blair and Brown, but Cameron took only a couple of months to show that he couldn't be trusted. Even if the coming changes aren't that bad, my money will be at risk of any government in the next 30 years. I'm just young enough to chalk off the money I've wasted to experience and start again trying to provide for my own comfortable retirement. So for now I'm in my own boat same as most private sector workers. It's going to be harder doing the sailing on my own, but at least I've got hold of the rudder.