Yes, but, Seumas

Opposition to all this has barely begun. But there’s no democratic reason for people to accept it. The Tories were elected by fewer than 37% of voters. Only 24% of those eligible backed the Conservatives – and that’s not counting the unregistered.

The Conservatives have never won a parliamentary majority on a lower share of the vote in their history. Most of the public oppose the extreme austerity the Tories are preparing to mete out, just as they reject the privatisations.

I think I’m right in saying that Blair got less than that of the vote in 2005. Does that make everything done between 05 and 10 illegitimate?

75 thoughts on “Yes, but, Seumas”

  1. Tim, you will get nowhere trying to argue by facts and analogy and logic with people like Milne. All he cares about is that his team didn’t win. He’s mentally a child.

  2. Well personally I consider pretty much everything the Blair regime did illegitimate. Our “democracy” is a sick joke.

  3. Just over 22% of the vote for Blair in 2005 rings a bell. And if most of the public oppose the “extreme” austerity which is rapidly becoming Lefty folk-lore, even though Milliband would have budgeted in a similar fashion, the caning Labour got in the GE would appear to debunk the myth. Dr. Milne is indulging in the Left-wing dogma that defeat in the polls is never their own fault.

  4. But 2005 was different because shut up, he explained.

    It’s different when “progressives” win.

    Just like how suddenly it’s bad that there’s Tory entryism going on to elect Corbyn labour leader. They don’t like it when they’re the target. And they don’t like democracy when it doesn’t serve their aims, hence 2005 good, 2015 bad. And again with the U-turn on letting “the people” have a say in the Labour leadership until it is clear that “the people” includes a lot of Tories who want the loon elected, and that the Labour hierarchy do not see “the people” choosing Corbyn to be in their interest 🙂

    Anyway, buy shares in bulk popcorn. And pretzels. Labour will need a lot of them for their logic in the next weeks.

  5. Didn’t someone like to point out after 2005 that there were more smokers than Labour voters?

    Was it the late John Blundell at the IEA? Sounds like his sort of thing.

  6. Most of the public oppose the extreme austerity the Tories are preparing to mete out, just as they reject the privatisations.

    Why, if only there was some method of balloting these people!

  7. I have to admit, I oppose them too. They could cut Foreign Aid. They could take a scythe to the quangocracy. They could leave the EU. They could abandon the fucking stupid HS2.

    Instead, more defence cuts and benefit sanctioning. This is neither sane nor decent.

  8. For those of us who remember the miners’ strike – the one without pre-pubescent ballet dancers – we do tend to see how unions ballot their members ring very much a matter for the government. Because:

    1. It isn’t just a matter for the Union. They damage businesses and peoples’ livelihoods. 2. They could and have in living memory called strikes with the very intention of bringing down elected governs.
    3. They could AND DO intimidate colleagues to join the union and join the strike.

    No it isn’t just the unions’ business; we should all be concerned.

  9. Ironman presents the standard “why the government should be involved in everything, without limitations” argument there.

    The specific problem with those unions anyway was the nationalised industry. And let’s be fair to King Arthur; he said the government intended to shut down the whole industry, and that was basically true.

    But anyway, if you want to say, “person A should be legally inhibited from withdrawing his labour because it will inconvenience person B”, well, so much for liberty. And the right to not bake gay cakes, as well, come to that.

  10. Oh and by the way, Ironman, I do remember the Miners’ Strike; I was 18 and at college at the time and upset a Students Union organised meeting where a miner had come to speak to us when I stood up and argued with him about the right for anyone to go to work who wanted to without intimidation from pickets etc.

    So up yours, Mr Rusty.

  11. The opinions of an evil toad like Milne should be– and are- of less importance than a buzzing midden-fly but for the worrying fact that there are so many like him in positions of “influence” working to destroy freedom at every level.

    Removing state patronage of the left and removing the leftist infestation of the state would be a fine start to restoring the fortune and sanity of this country.( An excellent halfway house to reducing the state to about 1% of its present size/power. A few years of that and most people might well see the way to being rid of it altogether).

    Such a campaign doesn’t even need to be overtly political. Not “sack the leftists” but “reduce the states power and money” should be the watchword–as this would automatically boot the largest gatherings of leftists into touch. It would also massively reduce the state’s power and control, which is why Blueballs and his gang will never do it.

    The chance of BluLabour launching such a campaign is zero. They probably think this vote-for-Corbyn caper is clever rather than the puny plan that it is. Whereas , by cutting the money and sacking the civil service boss class, closing all non-science Uni places, downing the BBC etc the left’s wagon could be driven off a cliff and finished beyond any hope of revival.

    The Tories don’t want that of course because without the threat of ZaNu the spotlight will fall fully on their antics and fiddles . Followed rapidly by the very pertinent question “Do we need these useless, venal bastards?” .

  12. Those parroting the ‘our democracy is shit’ lone could perhaps try a little exercise( they won’t of course, but they could try) :

    “I will design an alternative method for choosing our governments; perhaps jusy jusy an alternative way to count the votes, like PR. However ( big however), I will design one that doesn’t mean that ‘Yhe person I voted for’ miraculously seems to end up in power.

  13. “Jusy jusy”?

    Do you type with your nose or something? Or is it because you’re bouncing around on that little tricycle?

  14. Ironman: “Those parroting the ‘our democracy is shit’ lone could perhaps try a little exercise( they won’t of course, but they could try) :”

    Who and what specifically are you referring to? The original statements by Milne or remarks by commenters here?

  15. We can all play this little game:

    Conservatives got 37% of the vote so were rejected by 63% of voters

    Labour got 30% of the vote so were rejected by 70% of voters

    UKIP got 13% of the vote so were rejected by 87% of voters

    Etc etc

    Any voting system will allow arguments like this. Deal with it Seamus.

  16. That 24% is completely dishonest because it assumes that everybody who didn’t vote was planning to vote for someone else. It’s most properly expressed as a range.

    The turnout was 30,691,680 or 66.1%, so the total eligible electorate is 46,432,193. That means 15,740,513 didn’t vote. The Tories got 11,300,303.

    If none of the non-voters supported the Conservatives, they got 24.3% support. If all of them did, the Tories would have got 58.2% of the vote.

    Both extremes are equally ludicrous but in my opinion if you quote one you should quote the other.

  17. s/If all of them did, the Tories would have got 58.2% of the vote./If all of them did, the Tories were supported by 58.2% of the voters./

    The percentage of the vote they got is not in question.

  18. Bloke in North Dorset

    Only 24% of those eligible backed the Conservatives – and that’s not counting the unregistered.

    Those who don’t vote or even bother to register to vote have shown by their actions that they accept the decisions of those who did make the effort to register and vote. Its not an onerous task so Seamus and the rest of his ilk can fuck off.

    Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t [agree that strikes need > 50% of the workforce to vote in favour]

  19. Ian B, your argument that how a union ballots its members is solely its business stands up so long as the law does not interfere with the employer’s response. So long as employers are banned from simply firing anyone on strike, it is not unreasonable for the union to be banned from striking without a proper mandate.

  20. And another 14% of voters favoured either UKIP or the DUP, neither of which I imagine really float Seumas’ boat.

    In 2005 there was at least a tenuous argument that the LibDem vote could be considered part of a “progressive alliance”.

  21. Over 1,000,000 MORE people voted Tory in 2010 than voted Labour in 2005.

    Blair got a workable majority, Cameron ended up in a coalition.

    The left’s whining about how unfair the current election system is rings hollow.

    Best is to say “yeah, your right, it’s soooooooooooooo unfair. Never mind, in 2020 you’ll have another chance to vote. Meantime, shut the fuck up, loser”.

  22. @Ian B, yes but unions are special. If employers had the right to sack workers who don’t fulfil their contract of employment I’d agree that the private clubs they join can run themselves as they wish.

    If you want to see the effects of the right to strike based on a 3%, you are referred to Lufthansa, Deutsche Post, Deutsche Bahn, DHL, etc. etc. So yes – if you want special protections granted by the government you do it on their terms. Your choice.

  23. @AndyC, have you noticed that the ‘kippers are suddenly keener on PR than they used to be? I think we should be told.

  24. “As he sips a pint of real ale (“like a good Burgundy, you never know how it will taste”) and smokes Benson & Hedges cigarettes outside the pub, Farage receives messages from his family about the garden benefiting from the early summer rain. He is a fishing enthusiast and reads widely in military history and politics. When I ask whether he favours proportional representation he says that, having read Roy Jenkins’s report into “AV plus,” that is the system he prefers.”

    Prospect Magazine, from 2012

  25. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    The real scandal is the decline in turnout. This year was 66 %, 2010 was 65-ish but 2001 and 2005 were only 61 %. Even Bliar’s landslide of 1997 was based on a much declined turnout of 71%,

    If you want to see true representation and slightly dodgy results: look at the elections of 1950 and 51: 83% turnout and FPTP trumping the popular vote.

    I think that any laws passed between 2001 and 2010 be declared null and void and the ministers who drew them up be executed and hanged upside down outside petrol stations.

  26. Seumas (were “James” or even “Seamus” too common for posh-boy Communist’s parents?) always gives good whinge.

    Some folks prefer Polly for their lachrymose lefty sob stories. The estimable David Thompson of David Thompson’s Blog is a fan of Laurie Penny’s brand of witless millenial faux-radical narcissism.

    But for my money, Seumas is still the Hegemon of Hamasophilic Hoxhaist Handjobbery.

    It would hardly be surprising if the large majority of British people who didn’t vote for the Conservatives were daunted at the prospect of what’s now in store for us.

    Eh? I didn’t vote Conservative in the May election and I’m not daunted. Neither is Seumas. Unless he’s secretly living off benefits, he’ll be fine.

    But indefinite austerity, which transfers wealth from public to private and poor to rich, is Osborne’s aim.

    What? Osborne’s going to scrap “progressive” taxation, the NHS, free education, unemployment and disability benefits, state pensions and all the other measures that reallocate wealth to the less well off?

    Who knew?

    RBS alone is to be sold at a £13bn loss, throwing away the chance of a publicly owned bank that could help rebuild the economy.

    Thank God. The last thing we need is a “publicly owned bank that could help rebuild the economy”. Imagine the havoc a Prime Minister Miliband could’ve wreaked with that.

    The same determination to enrich their friends while disabling opponents is evidently what also drives Cameron’s plans to make most strikes illegal. And he’s planning to slash Labour party funding by forcing trade unionists to jump an extra legal hurdle to assign their political levy.

    Nice to see Cameron giving them a bit of stick. Up with this sort of thing.

    But there’s no democratic reason for people to accept it. The Tories were elected by fewer than 37% of voters.

    Ed Miliband had a strategy of getting into office on the back of 35% of the vote.

    Had he been successful, would Seumas now be complaining that Labour has no mandate?





    he Tories are far from having the wind in their sails. Regardless of the election result, they’re still widely regarded as the creatures of a discredited elite

    They’re a metropolitan elite. Unlike poor-but-honest Ed Miliband, who went to the university of life and came up through the pits.

    Or indeed, Old Wykehamists like Seumas Milne. I hear he was in the same class as Roland, Gonch, and poor little Zammo.

  27. Ian B,

    And interfering in union business is not only morally wrong, but counterproductive. Strikes might solve things in the short term for unions, but in the long term, they damage themselves.

    A friend of mine works for TfL and told me that the tube strikes have allowed driverless tube trains to happen. People will discard their fears of the robot, if the robot turns up to work 100% of the time.

  28. A prosperous economy with lots of jobs is the best way to discourage Union membership. If you can get another job easily enough the antics of arsehole employers (and at the lower levels the British state is amongst the most arseholic) don’t matter so much and there is no need to join a bigger battalion for help.

    As for ballots–None of the Above on all ballot papers with totals being counted and publicised would prob give a clearer picture of how much lower turnout is a sign of disgust and how much a function of stupidity/apathy. A chance to express their disgust and have it recognised would, in my opinion, bring more voters out.

  29. Reading Guido’s take on the Corbyn saga, it was interesting to see Harman say the public would have the right to join the Labour Party to vote, only to be shown to be a liar by a Party spokesman.

    Presumably, what Paddydoc wants is a similar system employed at the voting booths. Not voting Labour? Piss off home then.

  30. In case anyone reading here is too young to know it, the NUM constitution insisted that there be a ballot of members before a strike. Scargill simply refused to hold such a ballot.

  31. People don’t vote much and who can blame them? Why not adapt to this reality and make the (central) govt much less important. If Cameron et al controlled only 10% of GDP and were constrained from interfering in people’s private business the indifference of the people to elections wld be commensurate with their unimportance.

  32. I don’t understand it when the lefties say the Tories are going to make strikes illegal. Has anyone said people will be carted of to jail because they didn’t go to work oneday??

  33. I did invite anyone suggesting our democracy was a terrible waste of time,or a “sick joke”,or whatever other phrase they wished to use, to propose alternatives.

    Quite a number of people seem to agree with me but the “we don’t have a democracy” brigade have sunk into their usual pit of shouting personal abuse.

    So, still no alternative offered; we’re still waiting.

  34. “A friend of mine works for TfL and told me that the tube strikes have allowed driverless tube trains to happen. People will discard their fears of the robot, if the robot turns up to work 100% of the time.”

    Friend of mine works at a bike shop in London. They see a spike in business every time there is a tube strike, and these new customers keep coming back for accessories, servicing etc.

    The shop owner was sad when Bob Crow died.

  35. Ironman: Your 12:12 post above does not appear to have any connection with reality. No one has said what you say they have said. The nearest would be my posting in which I expressed the wish to :

    1-See the power of the left broken
    2-That 1 above would serve as a halfway house to reducing the power of the British state to 1% of its present level
    3-That after a few years of enjoying the circumstances of 2 above the people might decide we could be rid of the state altogether.

    As so often you are speaking to what seem to be your own personal demons rather than addressing points made by others.

  36. Iron-maybe it’s more fruitful to ask why do we have a democracy?
    2 reasons : 1. to make change of rulers peaceful (the primary purpose imo) 2. to control the rulers.when in office
    1. has been a success in the UK for many generations and a great blessing.
    2. is a failure for various reasons-my preferred solution is to take power from the rulers and give same back to the people. A ruler who controls 10% of the GDP needs less watching than a ruler who controls 50%.
    Alternatively better control cld be introduced: eg MP recall, revolving door regulation, liability for election promises, maybe a tribune of the people etc.

  37. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Ironman, I think my suggestion from 10:28, with a few tweaks could be made to work.

  38. OK Irony, I’ll bite. We start by adopting adopt the Swiss referendum system. See Wiki. People can cancel any law made by central govt (I’d include statutory instruments and treaties). They require a trigger petition signed by 50,000 opponents – scaling that to the UK is 400,000.
    This would quickly downsize the bastards.

  39. I was fairly confident that given the ratio of UKIP votes to seats, no supporters of any other party would dare to bellyache about FPTP.

    Apparently I was wrong.

  40. Flatcap Army


    I seem to remember it being a big ‘problem’ in the mid ’90s. And now it’s a problem again. And yet this ‘problem’ didn’t seem to be a problem between 1997 and 2015. Strange that.

  41. We have had only one legitimate government in my lifetime, the just-gone coalition, which was voted for by 59% of the voters.

    The only other ones in all of British history were the two National Governments (1931-35, 67% and 1935-39, 53%) and the wartime coalition (1939-45, 99%). There’s a case for describing the 1929-31 and 1976-8 Labour governments as being supported by the Liberals, which would make them 60% and 57% respectively.

  42. @Flatcap Army

    We’ve only had a uniform set of rules for eligibility to vote since 1885, so the popular vote is meaningless before that. If you count pre-election pacts as one party (like the Liberal-SDP Alliance of the eighties, or Conservative-Liberal Unionist of the other eighties) then 1886 (Con-LU, 51.1%), 1900 (Con-LU, 50.3%), 1931 (Con-Nat, 67.2%), 1935 (Con-Nat, 53.3%) all saw majorities. If you only count votes cast for a single party, then only 1931 (Con, 55% – in spite of only standing in 518 of the 615 constituencies).

    As for over 40%: Blair did it twice, in 1997 and 2001. Failing to get 40% of the vote has been rare, only the two 1974 elections and the last three since the war have seen no party get 40% of the vote. It happened three times between the wars too: 1922, 1923 and 1929.

  43. “I will design an alternative method for choosing our governments; perhaps just an alternative way to count the votes, like PR. However (big however), I will design one that doesn’t mean that the person I voted for miraculously seems to end up in power.” (I’ve corrected your typos because my spell-checker was sulking at me, and I need it working to correct my own)

    Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies, each electing between four and nine MPs, with an allowance for very isolated areas to have fewer members and large cities to have more. Electing a total of 600 MPs this way. Constituencies will comprise whole local councils or combinations of multiple councils, and will never cross county boundaries in England (Welsh and Scottish counties are different institutions). This means that there will be constituencies like “Glasgow” and “Birmingham”.

    A top-up list of 50 MPs conducted entirely nationally, by d’Hondt, to compensate for any minor imbalances caused by boundary issues (because we’re using whole councils as units). Only parties that get at least one constituency seat are entitled to get any from the list, so you don’t get someone that got 2% everywhere becoming an MP.

    And the government we would have: Conservative-UKIP coalition. Because that’s what people actually voted for.

  44. I did invite anyone suggesting our democracy was a terrible waste of time,or a “sick joke”,or whatever other phrase they wished to use, to propose alternatives.

    I propose the model the Belgians adopted between June 2010 and September 2011.

  45. I admit I wasn’t in favour of the FPTP system but it’s given me such a lot of laughs recently at the expense of whiny left-wingers complaining that “It isn’t fair” that the system is growing on me.

  46. Even if we take the figure of 24% as legitimate, it is still 23.9% greater* than the number of people who voted for all of the regimes the Posh Stalinist adores.

    * yes, I know, don’t be pedantic

  47. Look, if I ask a random question I damned well expect you idiots to answer it!

    Look at me!

    Over here!

    This is my blog, isn’t it?

    So answer me.

    Answer ME!!

  48. Richard Gadsden

    Is it fair to ask you if your suggestion does in fact put the party you voted for into power?

    Is it also perhaps fair to point out that you have no evidence to support the claim that anybody at all voted for a Conservative -Ukip coalition? Speaking as a Tory, I did not vote for Ukip. And the Ukippers on this blog before the election made it very clear that they regarded everyone from LibLabCon as the same.

  49. @ Richard Hadsden
    You must be a lot younger than me.
    SuperMac got 49.6% of the votes in 1959, so if you exclude the handful of votes for independent predecessors of the Monster Raving Loony Party he got an overall majority of serious votes, Anthony Eden apparently did worse with 49.4% but that was because 4 Ulster Unionist MPs got elected unopposed – including the majorities (40k+) votes that each presumably have received he would have been even further ahead of all other parties combined than SuperMac.After six years of the Attlee government which has been beatified by lefties and four years of Churchill/Eden the country wanted the Conservatives to continue in power.

  50. So Much for Subtlety

    Charlie Suet – “Presumably Seamas is just pining for the glory days of Stanley Baldwin.”

    Given Seumas’ politics it is more likely he is pining for the glory days of 99% turn out which voted 99% for the Glorious Leader. Like the good Stalinist he is.

    Anyone who makes an argument that the Soviet voting system is superior to the British one, even by implication, is someone to be avoided. And no support, even implicit, should be given to his argument. So the correct response is that he is asking the wrong question. Turn out does not matter at all.

  51. @ Flatcap Army
    Read my last post.
    Wikipedia has changed the 1955 %ages from those shown in Whitaker’s 50 years ago – presumably by including the handful of “Independent Conservatives” in the Conservative total, pushing it up to 49.7%, so adding the UU majorities in uncontested seats would put Eden well clear of all other parties. OTOH Wiki excludes the Independent Conservative, who was unopposed by the official party in 1959 from SuperMac’s total.
    Since 2 out of 6 Liberal MPs in 1955 and 1959 (those in Bolton and Huddersfield) were elected with Conservative support – in each town a Conservative stood in one constituency and a Liberal in the other – it is difficult for any *honest* analyst to dispute that a majority of voters preferred Eden and MacMillan respectively.

  52. @ Steve
    Well said!
    Twenty-ish years ago I spent some time in Eastern Europe: I lost a client when I pointed out that it was impossible to set up a bank-funded deposit protection scheme in a certain country because the state-owned banks had deficits (assets minus deposits excluding nominal capital) greater than the total net assets of all the private banks combined.
    Another country recognised that all its state-owned banks were insolvent – *after* a previous reorganisation scheme that had set up a “bad bank” to take on the obviously bad loans of the worst of those (the initials of the English translation of its name were appropriately BAD), the “good” bank reorganisation didn’t actually look at facts, just at the blurb produced by a bureaucrat appointed by the communist regime.
    More state-run banks? Saints preserve us!

  53. @ianb – How Whether unions ballot their members should be no business of the government.

    You made a typo, I corrected it.

  54. The left should be delighted that FPTP was still in place this time. While the result will inevitably mean 5 years of plague, pestilence and the undeserving being thrown off the top of privatised NHS buildings, a Conservative / UKIP coalition would have meant all of this plus Nigel Farage.

    That the left is still whining and crying foul can mean only one thing: they still haven’t added up the totals.

    On the morning after the election, it took me some while to explain to The Great Murphy that the right had 50%+. The assumption He made, as did his groupies, was that the Progressives had won, as always.

    2015 was truly a shocking result. Add in the Lib Dem vote, on the assumption that their remaining voters were okay with the Coalition, and the left got a very serious thumping.

  55. Johnny Bonk:

    @ianb – How Whether unions ballot their members should be no business of the government.
    You made a typo, I corrected it.

    I rather think you’re right, union members should be allowed to give their leaders the right to call strikes, should they so wish.

    Of course, Scargill broke his own union’s rules in not calling a ballot, and TUC members had already had enough of being treated with contempt by their leaders.

    So risky.

  56. Ironman:

    There have been many discussion on the topic here at TW and all over the internet about the problems with our democracy. Only a fool would consider it some pinnacle of representation of the will of the people. I have myself suggested some tweaks, but everyone has particular arguments for particular things.

    For instance. We could directly elect an executive like the USA does, rather than the mess of having the PM and ministers coming from the Commons based on a majority, which forces us to “vote Cameron” by voting for the local Tory MP. We could abolish the Lords and have a second chamber appointed by sortition. We could remove the Executive’s power to initiate legislation. We could look at the absence of checks and balances in general.

    And so on.

  57. Ironman,

    > And the Ukippers on this blog before the election made it very clear that they regarded everyone from LibLabCon as the same.

    No I didn’t.

    And there seem to be a few Kippers here very pleased with the election result. Me included.

  58. I’d keep FPTP but add a back-up PR system. Any party that got over, say, 10% of the vote (feel free to pick a different threshold) but had less than 10% of the seats under FPTP would be given enough seats to make up that shortfall, compiled from a party list that would include only constituency candidates who were not already MPs. This would keep the simplicity and comprehensibility of the FPTP voting system; it would ensure that all MPs were constituency MPs; it would ensure that all incumbent MPs were oustable; it would give no advantage whatsoever to major parties. It would also yield a variable number of seats, which I don’t think is a problem.

  59. Squander-

    I still think personally that the biggest problem is not how we elect MPs, but the vote double-jobbing as an indirect vote for the Executive. The Americans dispensed with this over 200 years ago (although have other problems with their system of course).

    The problem comes from the Constitutional history that ministers were the representatives of the Crown in the House, which is no longer true. We need to look at the checks and balances issue. Currently there are none.

  60. If that’s the biggest problem then our democracy doesn’t exactly.sound like a “sick joke”.

  61. That’s one of those things that is extremely problematic in theory but somehow seems to work OK in practice. Much like the monarchy.

    One of the big problems the US has is that senators make bloody useless leaders and decision-makers — forget Reps vs Dems: the best criterion in a US presidential election is to vote for governors, not senators. We don’t have that problem, because our talking shop is also our leadership training ground.

  62. sackcloth and ashes

    Seumas Milne remains a Stalinist, ideologically committed to a system of belief where there can be no free or fair elections.

    So fuck him and his opinions.

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