Category Archives: Complete Blog

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most-least pt 2

One good thing about Twitter is getting some feedback on things you propose. OK we know most of Twitter is like a swamp, but I’ve had the benefit of some excellent, constructive comments, in the light of my discussion of most-least voting.

The discussion has revolved largely around “how to present, or “sell” it to the public”.

This is a valid question. In the UK we are used to a system that very transparently rewards a single winner in a constituency – the person getting the most votes. For all the flaws in FPTP it is at least clear and transparent what’s going on.

Changing the system runs into various issues that have been raised:

  1. Many proportional systems used across the EU use “multi-member constituencies”. You no longer have a single MP to bring concerns to.
  2. The system used to count is very opaque to the average member of the population. Even someone like me can get bamboozled.
  3. Ranking systems SOUND attractive. In practice they are both theoretically and practically awful.

Multi-member constituencies

Having several members is attractive in one sense – there’s likely to be an MP “close to” your views. However, constituencies are large and GETTING to your preferred MP’s office might be a much bigger journey.

Opaque system

We might know how to physically rank candidates, but the system of how votes get translated into seats necessarily involves equations. Most people’s eyes glaze over.

Ranking is bad m’kayyyyy

Ranking candidates from (1) (top) downwards sounds intuitive. In practice it is riddled with problems.

First, mathematically, for a ranking to properly represent Mr Smith’s preferences, he MUST be equally “certain” of his “top candidate”, his “2nd best”, his “third best”….down to his “bottom” candidate. We rarely get the data to test this. But when we have done, we almost inevitably find it fails. Mr Smith is pretty sure of his top (most preferred) candidate. He is also pretty sure of his bottom (least preferred) candidate. But middle candidates? Nope. Quite frequently he fills them in almost randomly.

Yet in counting, if Mr Smith’s top choice gets eliminated (due to too few votes overall), then his 2nd and lower preferences then become absolutely KEY. They are redistributed. Which is how nonsense candidates like the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate might get through.

Theoretically two things have gone wrong:

First, rankings in the middle are very unstable but mathematically are treated as if the person was “just as certain” as they were with their top and bottom ranks. This is bogus.

Second, redistributing the votes from people whose preferred candidate has been eliminated in effect gives them two or multiple “bites of the cherry”. This is undemocratic. Whether you get “one bite” or “several” depends on whether you happened to choose the eventual “winner” as top rank. Challengers get a shedload of attacks on the front-runner, even if they’re a demonstrable loonie.

Most-Least – what is ITS problem?

ALL democratic systems fail at least one key criterion of fairness (Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem). Most-least’s is not entirely clear. But as a Twitter colleague said, it may be a hard sell, because if (say) Labour and the Conservatives “knock each other out” then a candidate with few “most” votes (but few least votes) may win. This “looks bad”.

I agree, from the perspective we hold at the moment, it does indeed look odd.

However, I’d argue we need to change the narrative. We have to start thinking about “which candidate is the most unifying in terms of being least polarising?” Now, the Monster Raving Looney candidate won’t win. It’ll be a more well-known party candidate. But maybe we should also be taking a leaf out of the book of countries like the USA – with the possibility of recall elections. If a nonsense candidate does get through, it won’t be hard to get a recall election to get rid of him of her in favour of a serious person.

But the bottom line is I believe we must stop thinking that “the winner” gets to ignore the (often 50+% of)  electors who didn’t vote for him or her – and indeed might ALL have agreed he/she was the WORST person on the ballot.

It is all about the terms of the debate and how we define “winning”.

 

 

Most-Least Voting redux

Just a quick repeat of the logistics and mathematics of Most-Least Voting. This is a type of voting that:

(1) Satisfies an apparent desire by British people to “change the voting system by the minimum amount”;

(2) Is NOT perfectly proportional, BUT tends to produce outcomes that are far closer to the proportionality in the proportional systems endorsed by a lot of parties on the European mainland than existing First-Past-The-Post (FPTP).

Thus, it is a practical compromise that I believe would be acceptable to people whilst giving smaller parties greater enfranchisement. Crucially, the often 60+% of people in many constituencies who didn’t vote for the “winner” and feel disenfranchised, become RE-ENFRANCHISED by getting to veto candidates that are widely regarded as unacceptable.

STEP 1:

This works EXACTLY as at present. It is First-Past-The-Post, with a voter indicating that candidate they like MOST. Most totals are tallied, like now. But that is no longer the end of the story. A second step is conducted.

STEP 2:

Voters must, for their ballot to be valid (and the mathematics to work) cast a second ballot. This can be considered the “reverse” to Step 1: they just indicate the candidate they like LEAST. Think of it as “which candidate do I consider totally unacceptable?”. Least totals are tallied.

COUNTING AND THE WINNER:

“Least” totals are subtracted from “most” totals. Thus if the Conservative candidate under FPTP would “win” with 45% (and the remaining 55% of people spread too thinly across Labour, LibDems and Greens) then things might change. If all supporters of those three “anti-Tory parties” put “Conservative” as “LEAST” then that is 55%. The Net Approval Rating of the Conservative candidate is 44-55=-10%.

Suppose Labour got 40% of “most” votes (coming 2nd under FPTP). Suppose all Conservative voters put Labour as “Least”. That’s only 45%. 40-45=-5%. There are no more “least votes” left – they’ve all been used to veto the Tory.

Labour gets -5% so beats the Conservatives. What about the minor parties? Well these must add up to 15% (100-45-40). The Conservatives and Labour shot each other down. So, one of the minor parties (let’s say the LibDems) got all those remaining 15% most. There are no least votes to knock them down.

RESULT = Lib Dem win.

TACTICAL VOTING:

Of course the public ALWAYS learn how to “game” any voting system. It’s likely some strongly BREXIT tories would put LibDem as “least”. It is not necessarily the case that the Lib Dems will “always come through the middle as the party nobody hates”.

Indeed down south the Conservatives and LibDems will likely try to knock each other out, potentially letting in Labour. Further north the Conservatives and Labour might attack each other, allowing Lib Dem wins (as illustrated above).

You can ALWAYS construct – under ANY voting system – a set of figures that gives a “weird” result – this is inevitable given Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem (no voting system is fair).

But I personally believe that the tendency of M-L voting to stop extremists is a good property at this place and at this time. It’s worthy of consideration. The Baltic states have used or in one case do use it.

Mathematically, M-L is the system that is least likely to give an incorrect “ranking” of all the candidates in a constituency, after taking on board “degree of like and dislike” of EVERYONE.

 

M-L voting has been/is used in some of the Baltic States so is not “just a mathematical curiosity”. There are some peer-reviewed articles (which alas I no longer have access to, not being in academia anymore and with which I had no connection) which have illustrated that M-L voting tends to penalise extremists who adopt negative campaigns and conversely benefit centrists who are penalised under systems like First-Past-The-Post.

 

M-L voting is thus something for which I have no “dog in the fight”, although I approve of it, with it being a SPECIAL CASE OF BEST-WORST SCALING, for which I am co-author of the definitive textbook.

UK GE 2019 part 2

Part 1 was merely a short piece to clarify to some non-UK people how we calculate the overall majority of a political party in the British Parliament. Today I’m going to bite the bullet to explore my thoughts about the Conservative election victory on 12th December 2019 and what I think the left-wing should do next to regain power.

The substantial Conservative victory on Thursday was a surprise to many. Indeed my final prediction expressed to a friend on election day was a moderate (20-30) overall majority for them. They achieved a nominal overall majority of 78 seats over all other parties combined. Sinn Fein (in Northern Ireland) refuses to take up its (7) seats at Westminster and the Speaker only votes in the event of a tie, so their “actual” overall majority is 88. Thus the Tories got almost three times the maximum overall majority I predicted. Incidentally, the model that came closest to predicting the correct result last time (YouGov’s “alternative model”) also predicted an overall majority of around 30, thus getting it equally wrong. As I have said before, although I admire YouGov’s attempt to incorporate broader and more stable predictors of behaviour (like attitudes), I always said their methods to do so were known to fail spectacularly in certain applications. It seems they came a cropper sooner rather than later. I hope they don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater: they should measure attitudes using choice models (like I did in 2017, being an “unofficial” person that predicted the 2017 election correctly using a “proper survey” and then making money at the bookmakers). If they’d done so, I’ll bet they would have done better this time.

What’s the Top Level Story?

Looking at the raw data concerning number of seats won, it looks like around 60 of the total 650 seats in Parliament went straight from Labour to Conservative in England, explaining most of the Conservative victory. (The Conservatives lost 10 seats in Scotland but this just makes the Conservative English-Welsh victory all the more spectacular.) Whilst this is true, it also conceals a lot of what went on at the level of the individual voter, an area close to my heart and part of what I spent close to 20 years working on!

Essentially what happened was that the “red wall” running from South Wales, through the Midlands (with my city – Nottingham – right at its centre) and up to North-East England, collapsed. Even in Labour’s mammoth 1983 defeat, that wall held, making this Labour’s worst performance since the 1930s when it was still building as a political force.

Labour held its ground very well in London. Although suffering some moderate swings against it in the centres of major regional cities that have experienced gentrification and investment, it generally held its seats there too. It is hard not to draw parallels with the USA. President Trump “broke the Democrats” in a bunch of their “traditional base” towns (but not “posh” places on the coasts) and cities that never benefited from economic growth in the last several decades. Indeed, my central hypothesis here is that the Labour Party has made EXACTLY the same mistakes as the Democrat Party at the national level of the USA, with exactly the same results.

A Tale of Two Labour Parties

To understand why the Labour result differed so markedly in “big metropolitan areas” compared to “the red wall” it is necessary to rewind the clock to 1979 – the year Margaret Thatcher came to power. A little known factoid is that in countries like the USA and UK, real household incomes (i.e. incomes after stripping out inflation – telling you what your money REALLY buys) today are barely higher on average than they were around 1980. The exact date depends on country and the composition of your “household” can change things of course, but the broad statement is correct according to various international independent statistical agencies. Interestingly, although I have quite well-known reservations about traditional measures of self-reported well-being or happiness, another general finding is that on average, population levels of well-being peaked in the late 1970s and have stagnated or downright fallen since.

Labour’s defeat in 1979 was by no means certain. At the time, various people speculated that had Prime Minister Callaghan “gone to the country” in 1978, rather than stagger on, enduring the “winter of discontent”, and ultimately losing a vote of confidence in Parliament (an extremely humiliating way for a government to be forced into an election) in 1979, then Labour may have won, or at least denied Thatcher an overall majority. Margaret Thatcher was NOT a popular politician. First, she was female. Britain was uneasy about a female PM. Second, she already had the nickname “Thatcher, Thatcher, the milk snatcher” for abolishing free milk to school-children when Education Secretary in the 1970-74 government. Third, she only became Conservative leader by MISTAKE! She was the “stalking horse” meant merely to unseat the profoundly unpopular (and unsuccessful) leader Ted Heath, so a “proper old school male” could take over. She built up too much momentum and got the leadership! Senior Tories were always furious at her. So Labour COULD have won.

Whoever won in 78/79 was destined to reap some one-time benefits, most notably the big benefits accruing from North Sea Oil, but these were not immediate. Indeed whilst many say Thatcher’s landslide re-election in 1983 was due to the Falklands War win, others have pointed out this is at best partly true. If the UK had LOST then yes, her government would probably have lost, due to deliberately forcing unemployment up to 3 million in an attempt to conquer inflation and despite a very left-wing election manifesto put forward by the new Labour leader, Michael Foot. However, Thatcher didn’t REQUIRE the Falklands War victory to win. If there’d been no war at all she’d have won anyway, albeit with a smaller majority.

In truth, the seeds of Labour’s demise were sown, ironically, by the man often on lists of the “best Prime Ministers we never had” – the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Chief) Dennis Healey in the late 1970s. He “bought into” the bankrupt idea of monetarism, controlling the money supply, and thinking we had to “borrow” from the IMF (when we didn’t), thus implicitly “playing on Conservative turf” straightaway. Labour should NEVER have accepted the Tory “model of how finance works” in the late 1970s.

Why did this matter? Well, if you let the Tories set the terms of the debate then why should voters think YOU will be better at achieving these terms than they are? Labour played the Tory game and thus doomed themselves to 18 years in opposition. It was only when the Tories demonstrably failed at their own game through incompetence, sexual scandals and pure hubris that Labour regained power. However, in doing so they had by 1997 sold their soul to Tony Blair and New Labour, a party that “played on Tory turf” and essentially just said “we’ll give you FRIES with your turd-sandwich!” and “we’ll be nice to minorities unlike those nasty Tories”. New Labour was NOT interested in serving its “old masters”, us shmucks in places like Nottingham. It was all about people who liked to sneer at the “left behind” but “seem nice” by “virtue signalling” – signing petitions (increasingly online) etc to show they are “fine with gays and blacks! You know I have a gay black friend!!!!!!” I got taken in by Blair, I admit it. Millions of us were. But he was the death of Labour.

Blair used “funny money” via Public/Private partnerships to generate artificial booms for the public sector and construct “Cool Britannia”. Meanwhile I began to notice on my return visits to Nottingham (from Bristol, where I was doing PhD/post-doc work and living in a very rich posh area) that the area where my parents had moved to, which had been the “posh” area we shopped in as kids, seemed increasingly run down. Things were not right outside a 1 square kilometre of central Nottingham…..

The bottom line was that Labour had lost its roots. New Labour didn’t care about that “donut” of constituencies surrounding metropolitan Nottingham (including the one my parents lived in). These formed part of the “red wall” and had “nowhere else to go” electorally – the joke was “you can put up an animal of your choice with a red rosette on in an election and it’ll win”. That strategy worked. Until suddenly on Friday 13th 2019 it became clear that it didn’t. “Metro Labour” was alive and well in London, with offshoots in Manchester, Birmingham and other such cities. “Real Labour” – the traditional part – the part left behind to represent people like round here who’ve been left behind for almost my entire life, was dead and people said “enough is enough”.

They got sick of being ignored and taken for granted. Under the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) voting system used in the UK and USA they had little power. But the EU referendum suddenly meant “no vote is wasted”. They took the opportunity to kick the establishment in the teeth. We voted LEAVE – almost the ENTIRE red wall outside metro areas voted LEAVE. It wasn’t so much “we hate Europe” as “this is the ONLY way, ELECTORALLY, we get to say sod you to the establishment”. Metropolitan Labour tried to ignore us (2017) or “play to both sides” (2019). In 2019 we got wise to this. Lots of traditional Labour people, knowing that things would be awful under the Tories, decided that Labour are really honestly no better. So they abandoned ship. And Labour suffered their worst defeat since 1935.

How many Individual “Leave Supporting Labour” Voters Really Switch to the Tories?

The short answer is “not as many as you might think, and the voting system was the real Labour-killer”. Conservative voters largely turned out in the same numbers as in 2017. They gained about 300,000 voters. However 2.6 million Labour voters abandoned ship since 2017. Where did they go? Well, it seems about 1m went to the Liberal Democrats (presumably REMAIN supporting New Labour types in seats where a Labour vote was wasted but a Lib Dem vote might help unseat a Tory).

Another 300,000 seemingly went to the Green Party (again, REMAIN supporting types). The Scottish National Party picked up another 300,000.

That leaves 1m people gone with no equivalent “increase” elsewhere. Most of them STAYED HOME. They said “sod you”. Maybe 300,000 were the “extra Tory voters”. We can’t be sure. The BREXIT party vote, although nationally small – they won zero seats – was often crucial in terms of denying a sitting Labour MP their seat. Clearly “tribal loyalty” stopped some Labour voters from voting Tory. These were Labour people who Clinton in the USA would have called the “deplorables” – people economically left behind who might have been a bit socially conservative but who, had they been respected and given jobs, would have been no different to any “metro Labour person”. Thus they voted for a party widely seen as racist – the BREXIT Party. Yet I know from my research two years ago getting at “intrinsic attitudes” using cunning methods that the keystone of the “red wall” – the East Midlands where I live – is LESS RACIST ON AVERAGE than other regions of the UK. These people are not the “thick, bigots” they are made out to be. They have simply been left behind and are bloody furious. Maybe they voted BREXIT Party (allowing the Tory candidate to win) or maybe they explicitly voted Tory – the result was the same. The Tories smashed the red wall. But DON’T keep attacking these LEAVE supporting people. They, indeed *I* are not stupid. I have quizzed some REMAIN supporting friends on various basic economic and political topics – they themselves know F*CK ALL. THEY are the stupid ones. And they anger me IMMENSELY.

What Does Labour do Next?

Labour’s reaction to this huge defeat partly depends upon whether the UK experiences fundamental changes, like break-up or change in the voting system. If Scotland remains part of the UK then Labour have 48 Scottish National Party MPs who are left-wing potential allies. If Scotland leaves – as is looking increasingly likely given this huge Conservative win and our now assured exit from the EU – then Labour will never win an overall majority in the rest of the UK again. They will HAVE to make pacts with the LibDems and Greens to unify against the Tories to form a government. A government whose sole purpose is to change the electoral system so we don’t have an elected dictatorship of one party for all time.

Second, Labour must abandon various “New Labour” policies including the emphasis on “identity politics” over “basic bread and butter economic politics”. A former friend has a public posting which made me really really angry. He is very much a New Labour type. He regards anyone who voted LEAVE the EU as “stupid”. Yet he doesn’t understand all sorts of basic aspects of government. His public post was to the effect that at least his city now has some BAME (black and minority ethnic) women as MPs and not old white men. THAT was the only thing worthy of mention. Not that they were “incredibly gifted/talented/effective politicians” who happened to be BAME. Just that they were BAME, as if being there to “fulfil a quota”. If I were elected as an MP and I was considered a “good thing” because I’m gay then personally I’d be incredibly insulted. I’d want to be valued because I was GOOD AT MY F*CKING JOB! People could say as a secondary issue that it’s good that someone gay got elected, showing the electorate was not homophobic. But labelling a person as good JUST because of an identity politics theme? Pathetic. Insulting. Shows WHY the people in the red wall despise you and “the establishment”.

Finally, Labour needs to change the terms of the debate. Get off Tory turf. Use new media to explain to people HOW a government spends. I won’t waste time here on this topic. It gets rather esoteric. But if you’re interested, look up “modern monetary theory” and, in particular, a short (70 page) readable book “SEVEN DEADLY INNOCENT FRAUDS OF ECONOMIC POLICY” by Warren Mosler. It’s free on his website. One of the most important books you can possibly read. In short, it explains how money is REALLY created. Crucially, it allows you to be a “big government” or “small government” type – i.e. it is atheoretical. But it shows how many governments (primarily so-called right wing ones but also New Labour and the New Democrats) have lied over why they “can’t” afford to help us in the “deplorable”/”red wall” areas. Trump gets this. Sanders gets this. Corbyn sadly didn’t. He lost.

My Preferred Broad Policy Agenda

I advocate a series of fundamental policy reforms that together aim to better reflect the distribution of broad political views across the UK. I will explain them in detail but they are:

  1. A minor change in the voting system to “Most-Least Voting”, which would avoid the British people’s demonstrated aversion to major changes in voting procedures but lead to much less ability of radical parties that command a minority to foist their agendas onto a majority that strongly hates them.
  2. An investment in social media that “changes the terms of the debate” concerning public finances and which finally teaches people how money is ACTUALLY IN PRACTICE created for public works.
  3. If the first two aims are achieved, an explicit break-up of the Labour Party into its already two irreconcilable factions (“Metropolitan Labour” and “Traditional Labour”). Voting reform would stop such a separation from hurting both parties (as would happen under the current FPTP system).
  4. Reform of citizenship laws for senior persons of influence. Make it like Australia that all MPs must have citizenship of this country and this country ONLY. BUT go further in that nobody with a 5+% stake or any senior position in a media company with British sales can have citizenship of any other country other than the UK. I’ll be honest, this is to stop foreign media dynasties from continuing to propagate lies in the dreadful UK press.

 

Part 1 would work as follows. At present we vote for one candidate. So in Gedling (my parliamentary constituency/seat) I voted for Vernon Coaker, the sitting Labour candidate. He lost. By only 600 or so votes out of around 70,000 eligible voters or less than 1% of everyone eligible to vote – grrrrr. But the winner, the Conservative candidate, only got 45.5% of those who turned out to vote (Coaker got 44.1%). So the Conservative got a PLURALITY but not a MAJORITY. MORE THAN 50% of people didn’t want him. The UK/USA system ignores that fact. Most mainland European systems use a form of proportional representation that ensures that >50% have “a voice” too. I “get” that the UK (and probably the USA) don’t like such systems. But there is a remarkably simple compromise – Most-Least Voting. Here, just as at present, you mark the candidate you like most. YOU ONLY DO ONE EXTRA THING – YOU MARK THE CANDIDATE YOU LIKE LEAST. In the count, each candidate starts off with their “most” totals (as now under First-Past-The-Post or FPTP). HOWEVER, there is just one additional step that is different. A candidate’s “least liked” total is SUBTRACTED from their MOST LIKED total to give a “net approval score”. Incidentally this would have knocked out the Nazis in Weimar Germany. 40% of people supported them (as the “biggest” party)….but all of the other 60% HATED them. Under most-least voting their “net score” would be 40-60=-20%. One of the other parties within the 60% would have exceeded this – try the maths for yourself or trust me. So they’d never have come to power. Interesting eh?

Part 2 is basically the book I mentioned by Mosler.

Part 3 recognises that under most-least voting it is no longer electoral suicide to be a “third party candidate”.

Part 4 is simply a recognition that non-Brits should not make laws. Non-Brits like the Murdoch family should not be influencing people via the media.

So that’s my list of key points to summarise “where Labour should go next”. I don’t expect them to follow any of these. I think we will need a profound re-alignment of parties, on the right and left, to move forward. It’ll be hard and painful. But at least I’ve said my bit. One final comment though, particularly to New Labour type friends of mine (and there have been many). I  AM UTTERLY FED UP OF THE ASSUMPTION THAT LEAVE-SUPPORTING PEOPLE IN THE “RED WALL” ARE STUPID AND/OR RACIST. I have personally quizzed some of these New Labour types. Their knowledge of basic issues of government, politics and economics – not to mention the identity relationship in mathematics, the mathematical equivalent of being able to “speak and spell CAT”, is so pathetic that in fact if anyone deserves to be “denied” a vote on account of gross mental deficiency it is them.

UK GE 2019 part 1

Just a few thoughts on the General Election result here in the UK.

One concerns an issue that seemingly differentiates the UK from lots of other nationalities in how we present the result. It concerns the winning party’s “majority”. Consider the UK House of Commons, with 650 seats (and lets totally ignore the influence of the speaker and Sinn Fein whose MPs refuse to take their seats for simplicity). In theory 326 seats gets you a majority of one. But in the UK we would say:

“The overall majority is two”.

Why? Because in a typical vote in Parliament, when MPs follow the whips in their party, we’d observe an overall majority of two (326 vs 324). I’m aware that in the USA and elsewhere the logic is as follows:

Only one MP needs to “defy the whips” to lose the majority. So the majority is ONE. The source of confusion comes from the expression (which I EXPLICITLY saw used in a major website) “defy the whips”. I worked in mathematical psychology for most of my career in the academic and commercial sector. I am VERY specific about the definitions of words and phrases, especially when they have mathematical and/or psychological/practical choice implications.

An MP in the UK can “defy the whip” either by abstaining or voting against their party. The implications can be VERY different. Which is why you MUST qualify your meaning. Historically, before BREXIT came along, “defying the whip” in the UK House of Commons was much more commonly done by abstaining. If a reader has official Hansard based statistics disproving this I will happily defer but two MPs have told me this personally. If you’re interested why, take a look at a typical UK parliament in the post-war period. The governing party has a surprisingly large number of its MPs being “in the government”, if not as ministers, then as PPSs to a minister (and thus subject to ministerial obligations if he/she wants to keep their job and go up the greasy pole). The fraction of the parliamentary party that are thus “in govt” can be as high as TWO THIRDS! So if you want to defy the whips you tended to abstain – a far less egregious (and career-ending) move than “vote with the opposing party”.

Thus, whilst the UK and non-UK ways of quoting the majority are both right, which is appropriate depends on convention in a given country. In the UK, abstention is the common way to defy the whips, so using the “overall majority of two” is the more realistic measure of how likely the government is to lose a given vote: typically TWO abstentions are required to lose a majority. So the UK rule of “doubling how far the winning party went over the line” is actually, IN PRACTICE, pretty logical, since IN PRACTICE, MPs defying the whip will abstain. You can afford up to that number (double the number “over the line”) abstaining before you lose. Conversely, 99% of the time the difference between the votes (when all MPs follow their whips) will be TWO (the “double figure”). Why would the UK use the “single figure” of ONE when that happens only 1% of the time?

In the BREXIT world things have begun to change. MPs now “defy the whip” more often by outright “voting with the opposing party/parties”. Which makes the other way of thinking more logical. So a majority of one. If just one MP actively votes with the opposing side you lose your majority. But historically, overall, it remains the case that abstention is the “way to defy the whip” rather than “cross the floor”.

So please, if you’re going to discuss the UK “majority” observe how we generally define it. Or if not, be VERY CLEAR YOU ARE DEFINING IT DIFFERENTLY!

brilliant youtuber

I recently discovered a brilliant YouTuber who goes by the name The Critical Drinker. He’s a no-nonsense hilarious Scottish guy who (mainly) reviews genre films under a persona that’s best described as “the stereotypical drunken Scot”. (He is clearly articulate and obviously no alcoholic).

If you are familiar with RedLetterMedia (Mr Plinkett) on YouTube and like reviews that are not only incredibly incisive, but with a funny “theme/schtick” then check him out. I don’t agree with him 100% of the time but most of the time he has me in stitches laughing.

His review of Star Trek Into Darkness is, in my view, one of the best take-downs of everything wrong with modern genre films from Hollywood. It largely comes down to the critique that Hollywood people can’t write, plot, or do anything that requires originality and critical faculties.

The only issue on which I might perhaps diverge a little concerns the issue of non-straight-white-male representation. Now, in case you think I’m one of those people who thinks men are being uniformly and unfairly criticised, blah blah blah, then please read my earlier posts. I’m not. I thought Captain Marvel was OK, good in places and I dislike the polarisation occurring regarding the representation of minority groups in Hollywood. I am part of a minority group – if a visual or written representation of it sucks I’ll be the first to say and I’ve seen a worrying erosion of free speech in academia when I was a professor.

I just feel that “Brie-Larson-bashing” is going after the wrong target. Someday soon I’ll write more when I get more thoughts in order….but the more general points about story-telling and the economics of film-making resonate with me.

In the meantime I’m going to tune in to The Critical Drinker’s YT session in a bit to see what transpires.

 

changes

Just a quick note about some possible changes afoot. As many know, I’m closing my business at the end of this week and leaving the field I have worked in since 2001.

I’m not at liberty to say much about what comes next, nor discuss other family stuff that have complicated things. I may, indeed, change much of my social media identities, depending upon what I do next – a fresh start might be best. Those who have kept in contact on email, or have engaged constructively with me on here publicly or via DM and other platforms will be given any new contact details.

It’ll be exciting to do something different. Ciao for now!

truce

Well things have gone better in last 24 hours. This is not to say “all the shites have apologised” – indeed my criticism was largely against a bunch of shites who I knew never read this and the persons who did would engage constructively with me (which they did).

However, I still must make clear some thoughts, for the record. These are largely for people who don’t engage with me (ironically) so the typical reader of this should not think “oh he’s getting at me”. I’m in all probability not.

First:

Don’t try to bamboozle me and shut me up with post-modernistic crap. Intersectionalism gets nowhere with me, Why? Because YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA HOW TO FINANCE, SPREAD AND IMPLEMENT IT. Plus it’s a bag of shite.

Second:

Don’t give me “ah, OK, that’s interesting” line to a MMT argument. Then go on to spread EXACTLY the same shite next time about “not being able to afford stuff”. All it shows is that either:

(1) You didn’t read my stuff (in which case you’re a rude shite), or

(2) You didn’t understand my stuff (in which case you can’t add 2+2 in which case you are retarded). There. I said it. But it is literally true.

 

For those who think I’m rude, I didn’t start it. The “intersectionalists” on FB started it. The supporters of the LibDems on here continued it (supporting a bank manager who clearly doesn’t understand the basics of a balance sheet – and you wanted HIM to be PRIME MINISTER?!)

 

So no, I won’t listen to the Lib Dems. They are still “orange book” people from the 19th century. Change UK are obviously a joke. The Tories are (We hope) dying). Labour are, at least, allowing a MMT guy to talk to them. YES they’ve made a tonne of mistakes and I’m not going to stand up and proclaim they’re great. But they’re better than the other morons. And that is probably the best we can hope for in these sad times.

 

But we can improve things. Read Warren Mosler. Go make EVERYONE in your local constituency party read him. Then we might move forward. But if you tweet insulting crap that shows you can’t add 2+2 I reserve the right to delete you. In the same way that I don’t really want a gerbil as a follower.

not being harangued anymore

I find it funny that a “pro-EU” “friend” just said:

“nobody likes being harangued – they just switch off”

This was an argument made in all SERIOUSNESS by remainer who retweeted insulting pics from the big REMAIN march and who regularly retweeted insulting tweets about anybody who was a LEAVEr. You couldn’t make this shit up!

Well, first of all, I’m agnostic about the EU. I know a lot about the trading rules, about how they promote anti-environmental trade-routes across the planet. I also know that the local rules on things like air-travel etc are essential. But most of all I understand how #MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) has implications for “where we go next”.

But the idea that “nobody likes being harangued” from a person who REGULARLY HARANGUED PEOPLE ON TWITTER REALLY TOOK THE BISCUIT. I actually TALK to poor people in the centre of “BREXIT Central” aka Nottingham. They are fed up of people talking down to them. They hate the stupid memes. They automatically assume that if it is a joke on a major talk show against LEAVE it MUST be fake news and they must THEREFORE IGNORE IT. Can’t say I blame them. Nottm City has gone down the toilet in the 40 years since I was a kid.

Those who I went to school with and who presume to speak for these people are…well….liars. Try living here. Your “funny” facepics for the next march won’t help. If there is a 2nd referendum you’ll still lose.

Because you NEVER FUCKING UNDERSTOOD OR TRIED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT REALLY MATTERED TO PEOPLE. And no, I never thought the referendum was the right tool for the job…..but we are where we are.

Most-Least Voting Would have Killed Brexit

I’m looking at the results for England and Wales from the 2019 European Parliament election. Scotland and Northern Ireland are yet to declare (though we pretty much know the Scottish result already). The percentage votes are really rather remarkable if you are interested in Best-Worst Scaling, or the branch of it known as Most-Least Voting. I couldn’t have made up more interesting figures if I’d tried. Here are the percentages from the Guardian as at 09:55 BST on Monday 27/05/2019.

 

Brexit: 33.3%

Lib Dem: 20.9%

Labour: 14.6%

Green: 12.5%

Conservative: 8.8%

Change UK: 3.6%

Ukip: 3.5%

Plaid: 1.0%

 

Now, let’s do a little thought experiment. It is pretty subjective since we have no data on what party any individual liked *least*. But given the nature of this election, we can make some pretty informed guesses. And if we’d had Most-Least Voting, particularly if coupled with the most common constituency format across the EU (national), rather than regional, the pattern of MEPs elected would have been RADICALLY different.

 

Here are some interesting titbits to inform my counterfactual:

Extreme “Leave” support = 33.3%+3.5% = 36.8%

Extreme “Remain” support = 20.9%+12.5%+3.6% = 37.0%

Pretty similar, huh?

Under Most-Least Voting you get two votes: the party you like most (just as at present) but you must also declare the party you like least (for your ballot to be valid – else the mathematics doesn’t work). At the counting stage the total number of “least” votes is subtracted from the total “most” votes to give a “net approval rating”. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what would have happened in England and Wales, given these figures.

ASSUMING the Brexit + Ukip supporters had perfect foresight (snigger, bear with me), then they could have knocked out the three strong Remain parties. But those three parties would have knocked out Brexit + Ukip. IF the Brexit (being the big group) people didn’t concentrate their fire so perfectly they could have more easily knocked out one or two of the three Remain parties. BUT then the third would have got through easily.

So, what would we have likely ended up with? Most MEPs being ones who “didn’t articulate an EU policy very well” (if you want to be polite) or “who didn’t know the f*ck what they thought about the EU” (if you want to be less polite). In other words, most MEPs would have been Labour or Conservative (with Labour beating the Conservatives). They would have “come through the middle” of the debate.

Would this have been a “good” thing or a “bad” thing? I can’t answer that. Indeed if Arrow (“Nobel” prize-winner) couldn’t show the existence of a “fair” form of democracy then I bloody well can’t.

I will venture a thought, however. It is that such a hypothetical outcome would have shown what many of us who have done survey work already know: most people cannot possibly provide a properly informed view on EU membership – whether being instinctively “Remain” or “Leave”. The referendum had little to do with the EU (except for some racists and some greedy gits who used freedom of movement and capital to exploit people). Plots of the Index of Multiple Deprivation against Leave/Remain votes in Nottingham are almost a perfect straight line. If you felt left behind by 40 years of Westminster crappiness from both Tory and Labour governments then you tended to vote Leave. It’s really pretty simple.

Most-Least Voting would at least have nullified the issue that isn’t the real issue. The two main parties might – just might – have then been forced to start addressing the real issues going on across this country. Food for thought.

(NB I left out Plaid merely because their effect would have been marginal. If you want to include them in your own calculations feel free – it bumps up Remain vote a little).

superhero movies

Been reading lists of “top tens” and suchlike. The ranking of the Superman films made me think and really, I mean really, realise why although I think Superman – The Movie is so spectacular (and on some days of the week would be placed at number one by me), the reason I have to place Superman II ahead of it (for all its flaws – largely related to the production fiascos about which you can google) is that despite the “super-kiss”, it doesn’t use a TOTAL DEUS EX MACHINA.

Superman I does with time travel. And I hate it when writers use that as a plot device to “undo a problem they got themselves into”. Of course the time travel thing was MEANT to be used in Superman II by Donner (which merely would have ruined S2 instead) – thus, although I retain huge respect for the man, and acknowledge he was treated badly when Warner Bros got cold feet about the “double movie deal” and made him use what he’d filmed (which was material from BOTH films) to make a coherent stand-alone first movie, I think the “Donner campaign” is misguided. Yes, the “Donner version of S2” has some sublime elements – it’s a crying shame that money meant that Superman regaining his powers was not done using the original filmed scene with Marlon Brando, and which is on google – it’s a tear-jerker) – but otherwise? I have to say that had the original plan been followed, Superman I would have been a great movie, but Superman II would have been ruined and “undone” everything from these first two movies, ready for a blank slate for future rehashes of plots/baddies etc. Which I really hate.