Bonkers? or Brilliant? "Theresa May announces snap general election on June 8 to 'make a success of Brexit' "

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Bonkers? or Brilliant? "Theresa May announces snap general election on June 8 to 'make a success of Brexit' "

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Editado: Abr 18, 2017, 8:21am

If this had been announced on April 1st, I'd have put it down to an April Fool's gag:

"Theresa May announces snap general election on June 8 to 'make a success of Brexit' "

an election won't change anything about 'Brexit'--the outcome of which, in my opinion, was by far for the best.

(from The Daily Telegraph (London))

Theresa May has called an early general election for June 8 in an announcement that has stunned Westminster.

The Prime Minister had repeatedly denied that she would call an election before the next scheduled poll in 2020. But following a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street she said she would go to the country this year.

Speaking outside Number 10, the Prime Minister said the Cabinet had agreed to call an early election.

The move takes place against the backdrop of the country's decision to leave the European Union in last year's referendum.

Theresa May making her statement outside Number 10

Credit: PAUL GROVER for The Telegraph

Justifying the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not."

She said the "division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed Mrs May's calls for an early election saying it will "give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first."

I'd like to see Corbyn run and win in a general election. So many "very (self)-important people" have claimed with utter smugness that Corbyn's "problem" is that "he's unelectable." I say that's bullshit and I say the assertion ought to stand the test of what's known as "reality." I think Corbyn could pass the test and the claim---shall not.


The following, from Peter Walker at The Guardian--which shall cross its corporatist journalistic fingers and hope that P.M. May wins the election--writes, in part,

Peter Walker
"Theresa May’s spokesman told journalists at the Number 10 lobby briefing that the prime minister talked to the Queen by phone on Monday before she made the announcement." ...

"Asked why May had changed her mind over the idea of an early election, her spokesman said he could add nothing more to the prime minister’s statement in Downing Street, where she said she had “recently and reluctantly” decided that an election was the only way to guarantee stability."

So, (LOL!) the all-important, "sovereign" Parliament of Britain--that body which, according to Prime Minister May, unlike the country, "isn't coming together" ( so I guess it's coming apart, then, right? ) needs the national electorate to provide what it cannot: "stability".

You couldn't make this stuff up! The supposedly sovereign Parliament must actually vote--yes, take a positive action, by which it demonstrates its patent ineffectiveness and, in a manner of speaking, goes to the electorate and begs it to provide the nation with that which its Parliament cannot provide: direction, resolution, stability.

So, unless you're simply hopelessly thick, you're being presented with a solid gold example of how those who assert that it's Parliament which disposes are right and truly full of it!.

Physicians-in-Parliament heal thyselves! and, after the election, when the voters have spoken, get the hell on with the business of Brexit, which was, from the start, the right decision.


For The Guardian's Simon Jenkins, the cloud's silver lining is that May--as he obviously hopes--shall win and Corbyn shall be defeated and forced out of his leadership post at the Labour Party:

"Were an election unlikely to improve May’s slim majority, going to the country might seem reckless. With a poll lead which, at the weekend, was hovering round 20%, an election is more than appealing. It would seem reckless to reject it. While the public response to a third national vote in two years will be a groan, at least the campaign will be short.

For Labour the news is nothing but good. An election under Jeremy Corbyn is certain to be painful. But by autumn its sad flirtation with the archaic left should be over. A new era under a new leader can dawn."

When shall this disgusting newspaper shrivel up and die the death it so deserves?!?

Fuck off!, Guardian! You die and in so doing bless the country with the end of your sad flirtation with the morally-bankrupt, brain-dead pseudo-left.

Abr 18, 2017, 11:53am

Neither bonkers nor brilliant, in my view. I think turnout won't be encouraging, as a lot of people are just fed up with having elections every year.

The campaign will inevitably be turned into another debate on Brexit, which is not what we need right now. I very much doubt we'll see any kind of useful discussion about the health service, social care, education, energy, foreign relations outside Europe, or any of the other topics that used be covered in general election campaigns.

Despite the PM's insistence yesterday that the country is coming together, I disagree. This election campaign is going to be as divisive as the EU referendum campaign was, and we'll be no more unified afterwards than we are now.

Abr 18, 2017, 1:34pm

>1 proximity1: Daily Telegraph: Justifying the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not."

I don't know about Theresa May's vicarage upbringing, but in my bog-standard RC upbringing that lie would have been worth at least three Our Fathers and seven Hail Maries. No-one can possibly think that the country is "coming together".

>2 pokarekareana: I would love the election to be "side-tracked" into debates about the NHS, social care, Trident, (in England) grammar schools, (in Scotland) independence, and above all, the 1% v. the 99% and austerity.

Abr 18, 2017, 1:35pm

>2 pokarekareana:
Certainly scheduling the election for the time when many students are taking A-levels or university exams is unlikely to boost youth participation.

Abr 21, 2017, 7:17am

>3 Cynfelyn:: Agreed on the point about the Hail Marys and the Our Fathers. I was dragged up in the RC tradition too. I doubt she's the type to go to Confession, though. "Faith not works", my foot.

>4 andyl:: Also agreed. The current government has no interest in getting the youth vote out, though, as evidenced by the total lack of interest in extending the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds. Barely surprising, though, given that the youth vote is likely to work in favour of us lefty snowflakes.

A cynic might wonder if the election was deliberately timed to fall during exam season for exactly that reason.

I work in a university and our exam period ends on Friday 9th June. Most exams will have already taken place by election day, but I doubt many students will have the headspace to follow the campaign closely (as I didn't, when doing my MA coursework during the 2010 GE campaign, though it was a welcome procrastination method).

Abr 22, 2017, 4:28pm

I'm having lack of enthusiasm issues about this. I'm not terribly political, I don't vote along party lines and tend to think that party politics has not been in any way shape or form good for the country. However, I always vote. Even if I've shut my eyes and picked one (yup, done that a time or two), I have voted. Have never yet spoiled a ballot paper. Might be about to break that duck this time.

Abr 22, 2017, 6:54pm

>6 Helenliz: - Same! I feel a duty to go to the polls, but I'm asking myself if there would have come a point when even the suffragettes would have agreed that we have an absolute shower of candidates to choose from, and would have opted for a spoiled ballot.

Party politics is partly a catastrophe because our voting system is so absurd that it is a very long way from "one person, one vote". It is hardly surprising that turnout is so poor when most constituencies only have two or three parties that might conceivably win, with any other vote being seen as 'wasted'. Perhaps we can follow other countries in having a larger number of parties and get used to the idea that coalitions can be effective governments.

Abr 23, 2017, 9:42am

Living in Inverness I have been nursing a feeling of total anti-"the ginger dwarf from the north" as one columnist calls Nicola Sturgeon. At Holyrood I believe the executive under her leadership has passed only one or two acts of legislation in the last year, one being the recent budget. Health and education are just two areas crying out for action north of the border. So I was pleased to see a report in today's Sunday Times that Ruth Davidson is doing well and might get (just) into double figures of seats won from SNP. So I will be voting. In the local elections due early next month I will likely vote for the LIbDem candidate as they were not far behind the SNP last time around. And in June definitely Tories on the list vote.

Abr 23, 2017, 5:33pm

Not thinking straight in that last sentence. As it's a Westminster election there isn't a list vote.

Abr 25, 2017, 4:31am

>7 pokarekareana: most constituencies only have two or three parties that might conceivably win

Case in point - last time the results in my constituency were Conservative 52.5%, UKIP 20.1%, Labour 17.9%, LD 5.7%, Green 3.5%

I will vote as I usually do. But my vote is very unlikely to make a difference. In fact my vote has never made a difference in the three constituencies I have voted in.

Abr 25, 2017, 8:52am

>10 andyl: et al.

What's your threshold for "making a difference"? A majority of 1 (the recounts would last forever)? 10? 100? 1000? 10000?

My constituency had a majority of 26000 for the incumbent last time around. ~12th safest seat in the country. But if everyone decided there was no point voting, no-one would be elected (might still be a good thing) or a protest result would occur brexit/trump/farage which isn't ideal either.

Abr 25, 2017, 11:03am

>11 reading_fox:

Well it would be nice to vote for a winner just once. But just reducing the margin of victory to a level such that the winner does not have the comfort of knowledge that party affiliation will always see them through would be enough for me.

I was at a pub the other night and I was shocked that someone, admittedly self-described himself as someone who hated all politicans, had never voted. I suggested he went to the polls and wrote "You are all fucking shit" on his ballot. He did not know he could do that, nor that the candidates (or their agents) would be shown the spoilt ballots, nor presumably that the number of spoils is reported. However he was unmoved and said that he would still probably stay at home.

Abr 25, 2017, 2:28pm

>12 andyl:: Well I don't hate all politician but I certainly think many (not all) are thinking in their own narrow interest and trying to line their own pocket. I always vote and I've never spoiled a ballot paper. I've always assumed the spoiled ballots went straight into the bin and before your post didn't realise that somebody actually got to read them, not that I expect they take much notice. As I intimated in post 8 above I'm sometimes more interested in excluding a person/party from power so in the May local elections I will be voting for a LibDem who has a chance of ousting an SNP candidate. Not yet sure about June. But sometimes it's a pity we can't vote "anybody except .....". What about negative votes where the person you choose has a vote subtracted?

Abr 25, 2017, 2:46pm

>13 PossMan:
Well they don't spend too much time reading them, but everyone needs to be satisfied that it is a spoiled ballot. For example sometimes the ballot still counts even though it is decidedly non-standard -

Abr 25, 2017, 5:44pm

>14 andyl:: liked that link. Made me laugh. Thanks.

Abr 27, 2017, 2:25pm

Odd but on the Guido Fawkes blog (a UK political 'insider' blog for those not in UK) I came across this:-

" Diane's Dance Partner Roanoake • 10 hours ago
Daft I think. I may have to draw a huge cock on my ballot paper (that being the universally accepted method of spoiling a ballot)."

It was on a bit about Tim Fallon a LibDem who I believe is an evangelical Christian but is being challenged to say he believes homosexuality is a sin.
Without having read andyl's post I wouldn't have understood.

Abr 28, 2017, 3:48pm

I'm thinking of developing a General Election 2017 drinking game. If I had a shot of vodka for every time I've heard "strong, stable government", I'd be paralytic by breakfast time. Roll on, 9th June...

Abr 30, 2017, 10:52am

>17 pokarekareana:

I've had an increasingly jaundiced eye on politics for well over fifty years and the mantra of 'strong, stable government' has become, in my mind, irretrievably linked to dictatorships and wannabe dictators. A politician who uses it shouldn't be trusted any further than you can kick them.

Editado: Mayo 1, 2017, 8:43am

"A politician who uses (the mantra of 'strong, stable government') shouldn't be trusted any further than you can kick them him or her."

"In for a penny, in for a personal pronoun's agreement with the Antecedant."

Jun 4, 2017, 9:57am

My first ever postal vote is in its envelope.
I think I will miss heckling the pollsters at the polling station though. I like having fun with them and their questions. They never quite get the answers they expect from me.

Editado: Jun 4, 2017, 12:27pm

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Jun 5, 2017, 7:55am

Jun 9, 2017, 2:02am

Well, that was fun. Something for everyone.

Jun 9, 2017, 2:15am

>24 Cynfelyn: Innit? We live in interesting times.

Jun 9, 2017, 3:23am

..."statement in Downing Street, where she said she had “recently and reluctantly” decided that an election was the only way to guarantee stability."

Ha ha! May "assures stability" : Parliament hung.

Fuck off!, Guardian! You die and, in doing so, bless the country with the end of your sad flirtation with the morally-bankrupt, brain-dead pseudo-left.

Jun 9, 2017, 3:44am

>26 proximity1:: It's a bit early in the morning for language.

Jun 9, 2017, 3:52am

>27 Cynfelyn:

I don't direct your reading time, you direct it. By turning to this thread and viewing its latest posts, you chose to read-- and reading involves "language." Besides, we live on a globe and this place is known as part of what's called the "world-wide web". It's always "the middle of the night" somewhere.

Jun 9, 2017, 5:07am

>10 andyl: and my >11 reading_fox: - if you lived in the right constituency in Scotland the final result was decided by 2, yes really TWO votes. But that's pretty unusual. (my constituency has a majority of 31700 out of 42000 odd votes cast. which is ridiculous in the other direction)

Jun 9, 2017, 8:46am

My constituency returned a majority of over 37,000. As I voted for the winner, I'm quite pleased with that.

Overall, thought, the election has been a shambles, and the campaigning very uninspiring. At least now if the new government doesn't last long, those of us on the left can have hope that the Conservatives have moved a little nearer to the exit door of Downing Street.

Jun 9, 2017, 5:51pm

Ugh... What on earth is wrong with the people of this country? First vote us out of the EU and then destroy our ability to negotiate our exit. The only hope now is some kind of cross party consensus which will not happen because neither Labour or the Conservatives would even entertain the idea.

And why on earth would anyone vote for Labour with that manifesto? It's economic suicide.

Jun 9, 2017, 7:15pm

>31 leigonj: I think that £27000 worth of tuition fees would turn most heads. And as long a I don't have to pay, what does it matter if the country can't afford it ;-(

Jun 10, 2017, 1:08am

>32 abbottthomas:

Although at least 45% of student debt (and that is more than just tuition fees) is probably going to be written off anyway.

But quite frankly one of the aims of the policy - a marketisation of university just hasn't worked. Virtually every university charges £9k a year regardless of whether it is a great degree in a subject with huge demand at a great university or the opposite.

Editado: Jun 10, 2017, 2:08am

leigonj wrote: "And why on earth would anyone vote for Labour with that manifesto? It's economic suicide".

In your opinion..

What evidence do you base your opinion on?

Jun 10, 2017, 6:30am

I voted Labour because the thought of rigorous taxation is a more sustainable method of funding public services than more Conservative austerity.

We have to set aside this obsession with reducing the deficit - the nation isn't a household, and we can't run public finances like you'd run your home. The nation won't lose its job, or fall ill, or retire, or have to draw a pension. We can afford some debt if it means that hospitals and schools aren't cash-strapped to the point of failure.

The thought of DUP in government (even in an informal arrangement) is horrifying.

The people (fools though many of them may be) have spoken, and they have not come up with a clear consensus. For the second time in a decade, we have a weak Conservative-led government. It seems pretty obvious that our political system isn't working, because so many people feel compelled to vote tactically. My friend's Facebook post this morning summed it up quite neatly:

Tories win 42% of the vote, get 49% of the seats
Labour win 40% of the vote, get 40% of the seats
Lib Dems win 7% of the vote, get 2% of the seats
SNP wins 3% of the votes gets 5% of the seats
Greens win 2% of the vote, get 0.2% of the seats.
UKIP wins 2% of the vote, gets 0% of the seats
DUP win 1% of the vote, get 2% of the seats and possible Coalition partnership
Isn't it long overdue that we talk about a system that is continually failing to represent the people?

That's the result of a lot of people voting to keep the Tories out. What would those numbers look like if those on the left felt they could vote for who they believe in?

Editado: Jun 10, 2017, 9:03am

Just to add to my message above:

The Labour Manifesto proposals were costed and approved by independent experts. In contrast, the Tory manifesto was not costed and approved.

Additionally, after the Labour Manifesto was published, many top economists signed a letter saying that "Labour’s manifesto proposals are much better designed to strengthen and develop the economy and ensure that its benefits are more fairly shared and sustainable, as well as being fiscally responsible and based on sound estimations".

In what way is this "economic suicide"?

This is my evidence. What evidence could anyone provide to open me to another view? I really am open to persuasion if there is significant evidence.

Jun 10, 2017, 2:20pm

>35 pokarekareana:

To be fair the correct calculation for the SNP would be the percentages for just Scotland. They took 37% of the vote, but 59% of the seats in Scotland. Proportional representation can quite easily be done on a regional level to allow for parties such as SNP and Plaid who do not want to stand in England.

Editado: Jun 11, 2017, 11:49am

>34 antimuzak: >36 antimuzak:

'In what way is this "economic suicide"?

This is my evidence. What evidence could anyone provide to open me to another view? I really am open to persuasion if there is significant evidence.'

The short answer is that Labour would overcommit the country on spending and borrowing before a probable - almost certain - economic downturn.

The long answer (and this will be a LONG answer) goes like this:

Here you can find the main pledges of the Labour manifesto:

To begin, I want to highlight one pledge, related to Brexit, which is this: 'Freedom of movement will end when Britain leaves the European Union'. Despite another, vague pledge - to 'scrap the Brexit white paper and replace it with a fresh set of negotiating priorities with an "emphasis on the single market and customs union"' - this means that Britain, under a Labour government would leave the EU single market as freedom of movement is a non-negotiable element of membership.

Next I want to highlight the UK national debt, which currently stands at some £1.7trn (about 85% of GDP) and the deficit in public spending which currently stands at about £43bn for this year (about 2.2% of GDP).
You can see them here:
And I'd appreciate if you looked at that one, especially the graph relating to the deficit, because it demonstrates an important point, which is this: despite all the cuts, despite austerity, we STILL overspend; the Conservatives have not been able, because of economic realities, to close the deficit, and have held back from doing so, from cutting 'too hard' - this is why they keep pushing back the forecast for generating a surplus (it was originally to be this year, if I recall correctly).

So, with this in our mind, let's turn to Labour's spending plans. You can see them here alongside how they will be paid for:
These are Labour's year-on-year budget commitments - £48bn worth of them. Let's stick with them for the moment.

You will see from that article that the a rise in corporation tax is to pay for £19.4bn of those commitments. Corporation tax is a tax on company profits that has been dramatically lowered under the Conservatives from 28% in 2010 to 19% now. Labour want to raise it back to 26%. Great! Higher rate equals more money, right?
Not always. In 2010 corporation tax raised £43bn for the government coffers, while, at the lower rate, in 2016 it raised £49bn. There are essentially two reasons for this, both important. The first is the economy was healthier in 2016 than in 2010, meaning companies were making larger profits. The second is that at a lower rate of tax our economy becomes more attractive to private investment: companies invest more here, and therefore make more profit here, so they pay more tax. See here:
Now, the key thing to remember here is Brexit. Remember that Labour are committed by their manifesto to leaving the single market, which will result in a slowdown in the British economy, primarily as costs of trading with Europe rise, and, ahead of that, so does uncertainty for business. In such a slowdown - and a recession cannot be discounted as a possibility - business profits will contract, taking the tax windfall with them. Pfff, you've now increased the deficit. Add to this the effect of the Labour government itself to business, as a result of new regulations, and you can see the effect compounded:

From the Institute of Fiscal Studies ( 'The manifesto suggests new ways in which the state would intervene in the economy. A higher minimum wage is proposed, one high enough to set the pay for more than a quarter of private sector workers and half of young workers. This is one of a list of 20 changes to employment legislation that would greatly change the labour market. It includes banning zero hours contracts, doubling paid paternity leave and “rolling out sectoral collective bargaining”.

None of that would count in a traditional manifesto “costing”, but put all this together and you get a fundamentally different economy. Yes tax, spending and the deficit would all be higher. But the transformation in the role of the state, in regulation, and in the working of the labour market would likely have an even bigger impact. This manifesto cannot be summed up in mere numbers.'

Here, in an article where they also criticise the Conservatives, they say: 'Labour's calculations that £49bn a year could be raised from the wealthiest individuals and companies were flawed and would raise £40bn at most in the short term, and less in the long term.'

But let's move on. In the manifesto there is a pledge to 'Nationalise a number of utilities including rail, post, water and the National Grid'.
Now, this was going to be the bombshell I was going to end on, but it doesn't quite work the way I thought it did. I had thought that the government would have to buy out shareholders, leading to a single total cost running, potentially, to the hundreds of billions of pounds. But, actually, in the case of water, rail and post, it can be done by the issuing of bonds (which is still debt) which are neutralised by the value of each company. As all these companies are profitable the cost of servicing the bonds can be paid for by the companies themselves; if the cost of servicing the bonds are lower than the profit margin the government can share the rest with the consumer through lower bills. Labour itself estimates household bills could fall by £220 a year. In the case of the railways, these are all run by franchises with time-limited contracts. All you need do is wait for them to expire, most in the early 2020s, and then take them under national control. See here:
So what's the problem? There are a few. The first is the question of who can run a service better, private business or the government? Where you fall on the political spectrum tends to determine your answer for this, but I'm a centrist, and, honestly, I don't know enough. Benefits for the railways include simplifying the system which is currently over complex, run by multiple entities. However, taking these industries under public ownership, firstly, makes pay disputes a raw political issue, and secondly, brings potentially significant costs in terms of investment. The boss of the National Grid has argued the latter case, saying the timing is poor as the Grid is currently investing heavily to manage the transition to a greener economy: a switch to national ownership would only disrupt the process:
What I would most like to highlight though is the fact that nationalisation further increases the commitments of the public purse at a time acute of economic uncertainty. Quite simply, the timing is wrong.

Next, the pledge for a National Investment Bank (which was in their manifesto, here - - but, weirdly, seems to have been neglected by the BBC above). The idea of such a bank sounds good: it would mobilise £250bn to fill gaps left by the commercial sector, lending to small business, and funding R&D, infrastructure and the like. Some economists approve, I believe. BUT (there's always a but) where's the money coming from? You will have noticed it wasn't included in the year-on-year spending above, and Labour don't seem to know either. Here's the economist asking the question:
That article's from 2015, but they still don't seem to know where the money's coming from (I'll give you a clue: it would be borrowed).
Add to this the sketchy history of investment banks in this country. We had one in the 1970s and it invested heavily in the British car industry, which then collapsed. Unfortunately, politicians don't tend to make brilliant commercial decisions. They will too often use the money to prop up large existing industries/ companies - the ones who provide jobs to their voters - rather than try to spot the rising stars. We actually have one right now it Wales, apparently, and its doing exactly that, albeit on a very small scale:
The claim that such a bank could create over a million new jobs is suspect when you consider the fact they current unemployment is only 5%, which is actually very low already.

Infrastructure spending. Labour plans to borrow to spend on infrastructure to the tune of £250bn over the next ten years. The case for this is fairly strong: the UK has comparatively low levels of investment, such investment brings an economic pay-off and right now borrowing costs are low. The caveat is this: the national debt is already high, the deficit is already high, and borrowing costs are low because of i) the health of the national economy ii) because the Conservatives are committed to financial restraint. The first is not guaranteed - especially because of Brexit and especially with a Labour government in charge, for all the reasons listed above - and the second, therefore, would not necessarily remain for a Labour government which begins to significantly increase the spending, and the deficit, before a Brexit related downturn.

Finally, I'd like, yet again, to stress the looming impact of Brexit. The economy has been in relatively good health over the past few years or so, adding jobs quickly and growing faster than other major economies, but the signs of fracture are already there: inflation is rising, the pound is weak and house prices are beginning to stagnate. Investment by businesses will slow, if it hasn't already fallen. Beyond that are global forces outside our control. The last major recession, as we all know, was ten years ago, but, be certain, the next one is already on its way - it could come from a Chinese debt crisis, it could come from the euro crisis or from the collapse of the Italian banking sector. (See here: We don't know - and we won't until it's too late - but we have to assume it's coming.

In 2007/8 we suffered because, when the economy shrank and tax receipts fell, we were exposed by existing spending commitments and had to intervene in the financial sector, and right now we have very little - far less - room for manoeuver: interest rates are already rock bottom and we already run too high a deficit. We haven't recovered from the last recession yet, the economy is still fragile, but for once - possibly the only time ever - we KNOW a downturn is coming.

Labour would increase the debt burden, increase the deficit, increase the spending we are committed to, AND make the UK less business friendly.

Voting for them now is like deciding to build your house on the beach, at low tide, when the storm is gathering at sea. It's suicide.

Jun 11, 2017, 10:50am

>38 leigonj: The first is the question of who can run a service better, private business or the government?

Well with the railways we have recent evidence. East Coast Mainline was run as a government company and did extremely well and returned a profit (to the government coffers) after two private businesses walked away leaving things in a mess. Four of the train operators are in effect government owned - just not our government. Abellio is Dutch state owned, Arriva is part of Deutsche-Bahn and you have Trenitalia. In most other comparable European countries the state runs many (if not most) of the train operating companies. London doesn't have a problem with TfL running things. The key is getting the structure right.

Do people complain about the Ordnance Survey being badly run? Or NATS (the air traffic control)?

Jun 11, 2017, 11:04am

>39 andyl: I believe that most European governments where the state owns and runs the railways end up subsidising operations hugely. The taxpayer is then paying a lot towards the cost of rail fares. Not saying that this is necessarily bad, particularly if you are commuting into London every day, but it is different.

My feelings may be coloured by being old enough to remember British Rail which I thought was pretty cr*p.

Jun 11, 2017, 11:24am

>39 andyl: No, but the railways need significant investment and, unfortunately, we have specific problems here that other countries do not - namely, there physically isn't room on the tracks for the larger trains they use on the continent and in North America, so we can't expand capacity that way. However, they are now introducing digital signalling which can, though they've been slow in doing this: other countries, like France, have had it for years.

I think there is an argument for nationalisation, particularly because the government puts huge amounts towards rail upgrades already, and the operators take profit from the investment, and the railways benefit the entire country in a similar way roads do. However, it's just not the time to shift the entire burden to government. It's a conversation to have in ten years time.

Jun 11, 2017, 11:28am

>35 pokarekareana: We had that conversation in 2011 when we had a referendum on switching to an alternative vote system and it was rejected 68%-32%.

Jun 11, 2017, 12:27pm

>41 leigonj:

If it is renationalised by not renewing the franchises (apart from Southern where the franchise should just be ended for obvious reasons) then the entire burden doesn't get switched to government now. Also as the franchises don't all expire at the same time the changeover should be easier to handle.

>42 leigonj:

So does that mean that fair votes is settled for once and all? Nothing else works that way. The AV referendum failed. But that doesn't mean a different fairer system would also be rejected.

Personally I think that government by referendum is a poor solution anyway.

Jun 12, 2017, 8:45am

>42 leigonj: - We had a referendum on switching to AV, which is barely better than FPTP. A lot of electoral reform campaigners voted against reform in that instance because it was such a rubbish suggestion by a Tory-led government who realised that most people wouldn't care enough to engage with the referendum, and that turnout would be low (it was) and that they'd win (they did). Arguments such as yours could then be used to kick the debate in the long grass for a couple of decades, during which time we continue to try to apply a two-party voting system to a parliament which currently has members from nine different parties* with increasingly unpredictable and bizarre results.

Who wins in this scenario?

(* - counting independents as a party, for the sake of argument)

Jun 12, 2017, 11:07am

>43 andyl: >44 pokarekareana:

That wasn't an argument, it was a straight factual statement. We had a referendum, recently, in 2011, on whether or not to adopt AV. The proposal was decisively rejected.

I'm not saying we should never ask the question again.

One of the interesting points about this election though is, with the decline of the Lib Dems, UKIP and the SNP, we've swung back to a two party system. The two main parties got some 90% of the vote between them.

Jun 12, 2017, 12:08pm

>45 leigonj:

Your percentages are off - the total for the two main parties was around 82.4%. I would also note that the Tories were over-represented proportionally as pokarekareana mentions in post 35. This time Labour were pretty much spot on although that is just happy coincidence.

Jun 12, 2017, 2:03pm

>46 andyl:

You're right, I should have checked the percentage before I posted. However, Labour increased their vote share by 9.5%, and Conservatives by 5.5%. The only other parties to do that were, as it happens, the DUP and Sinn Fein, who rose by 0.3% and 0.2% respectively. Every other party either lost support or the change was negligible.

Jun 21, 2017, 6:52am

>45 leigonj: - My point was that the referendum was too limited in its scope. It gave a single option to introduce a system that many people feel doesn't go far enough to address the problem with our elections, so there was no clear choice for those of us who would like to see proportional representation introduced for Westminster elections (as is already used in other types of elections in the UK).

>47 leigonj: - The fact that some parties lost support, or saw negligible change, isn't an argument against electoral reform. The number of votes doesn't directly translate into the number of seats. The Tories shouldn't have 49% of the seats; they should have 42% of them. UKIP should have 13 MPs, to reflect their share of the vote (and I say this as someone who cannot bear UKIP).

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