This is a bad thing?

Our shameful electoral system denies the right to vote for a clear leftwing party with any hope of holding power.

Given that the vast majority of the country don’t want a clear leftwing party in power, why is this a bad thing Polly?

78 thoughts on “This is a bad thing?”

  1. Because the proles are blinded by Tory Blairite lies and don’t know whats good for them, Tim. Eny ful no that.

  2. In a proportional system to “hold power” for a “clearly left-wing party” would need over 50% of the vote. In the current UK system that would give them a colossal majority.

    The problem, as this mendacious old hag clearly knows, is that such parties are intensely unpopular in England. In General Elections they typically get fewer votes than fundamentalist Christian candidates.

  3. “While Corbyn’s aggressive tendency spits out tweets calling people like me Red Tories, …”

    Oh I agree Polly, real, genuine ad hominem attack (not the plastic kind from the Tories that has always so upset you) is really unpleasant isn’t it. What’s that Polly? It didn’t seem so bad when it was being levelled at the real Tories? You ciuldn’t understand what all the fuss was about when the Cybernats were running riot in Scotland? Well you fucking can now, can’t you!

  4. Flows both ways, Polls:

    “Our shameful electoral system denies the right to vote for a clear rightwing party with any hope of holding power.”

    Does that look so good to you now, eh?

  5. Never mind Pol, even Hitler was elected eventually, so it is possible to get into power as a nutcase socialist.

    Perhaps Jez should up the ante on the Jewish problem…

  6. ‘Corbyn’s aggressive tendency’?

    Ha ha ha. When they’re smashing up Tory HQ they’re top people though?

  7. No, I dare not, nor the four preceding. But if anyone comes across a transcript I’ll proof read that…

  8. the public had a chance to vote for clearly left wing parties in most constituencies – the Workers’ Party, the Socialist Labour Party, the NHA Party, Class War, the TUSC all put up candidates. They failed miserably to attract votes (those ones got maybe 44,000 votes between them). Only the Green got anything like a reasonable number of votes at 1.1m, or 3.8% of votes cast.

    This is like Polly’s attitude to the unpopularity of the left-wing press; it’s freely available but very few people want it, so it must be a conspiracy, or Murdoch, or Thatcher, or aliens or something

  9. @Flatcap Army

    Too true. TUSC put up 135 candidates at the general election in presumably seats they thought their best chances. They lost every single deposit and averaged 270 votes per candidate.

    They were standing on the sort of left wing anti-austerity up the workers bash the bankers platform that the country is apparently crying out for.

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Toynbee kitchen when Товарищ Корбин wins and consigns the Labour Party to ruin. Her sad old face will look even more like a cake left out in the rain than hitherto. It will take quite a few trips to Tuscany to cure that attack of the grumps, I fear.

  11. I think the majority would benefit from socialist policies but don’t realise. So they’re basically voting against their own interests. The electorate has a predisposition to vote only for parties they think can actually gain power, due to the power of big two/media influence. So it’s either Labour or Tory. It will be interesting to see how many votes Labour get in 2020 with the avuncular left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as leader. My guess is it will be far more than all those other left-wing parties combined, he could even become PM if things fall right.

  12. “KJ

    I think the majority would benefit from socialist policies but don’t realise. So they’re basically voting against their own interests”

    That’s the constant source of frustration among Labour’s middle class intelligentsia leaders.

    “Why don’t those stupid working class people vote for us when all our policies are for their own good”

  13. KJ

    Two things-

    1. Define “benefit”. Genuine question- interested to see your take on the inevitable tradeoff between the pluses of socialism and the inevitable reduction freedom that follows.

    2. What makes you think the electorate don’t simply judge socialism based on it’s appalling track record* everywhere it’s been tried** and vote for something else

    * human rights abuses (proper death squad abuses, that is), economic disasters (including but not limited to: Hyper-inflation, national bankruptcy, IMF hand outs), etc.
    ** including but not limited to Russia, China, Venezuela, Germany, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Argentina….

  14. KJ

    The avuncular left winger and his avuncular mates beheading prisoners of war, stripping their wen naked and selling them in slaves markets before raping them, throwing gays off buildings, sending children to blow themselves up and taking ‘ the jews’ with them.

    Tell me, what are you left wingers like when you’re not being avuncular?

  15. “I think the majority would benefit from socialist policies but don’t realise.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA.

    No, really I want to spend all day in a queue to buy insufficiently-varied food, and not have any money or choice.

    Definitely a Corbynite troll.

  16. You know what, KJ, I think the majority would benefit from Libertarian policies but don’t realise. So they’re basically voting against their own interests. The electorate has a predisposition to vote only for parties they think can actually gain power, due to the power of big two/media influence. So it’s either Labour or Tory.

  17. As usual, the right wing trolls are out to misrepresent what socialism actually is. Of course, we’ve never had any murderous conservative dictators now have we.

  18. You have the right to vote. You have no right to who the candidates are. Fortunately, you have the right not to vote.

    She is saying democracy is bad unless it elects a clear leftwing party. In other words, democracy is bad; we should be ruled by a clear leftwing party. Another marketplace failure.

  19. @KJ

    Socialist “Socialism is best”

    Me “what about [insert any number of countries where it’s been tried]? That was a disaster”

    S – “That wasn’t PROPER socialism”

    M – “well, where has proper socialism been tried?”

    S “It hasn’t yet”

    M – “so how do you know it’s best? How do you know it could ever work?”

    S- “Socialism is best”

  20. Popular right wing parties should have some of their votes redistributed to fringe loony left ones because equality.

  21. This is rich coming from Polly. A decade or so ago, when the likes of Mr Eugenides and DK were tearing Polly to pieces on a daily basis, she was on record as saying we should move to a PR system “to keep the right out forever”. No democrat, our Pol.

  22. Of course, we’ve never had any murderous conservative dictators now have we.

    Conservative? No, actually.

  23. “Of course, we’ve never had any murderous conservative dictators now have we.”

    Conservative? No, actually.

  24. KJ

    Actually no. The sort of ideas we free market liberals espouse rely on individuals being free to exercise conscience, make free choices etc. By contrast you desire to ‘redistribute’ meaning confiscate, you believe (and thank you saying so explicitly here today) that those individuals make the wrong choices when left alone to decide and don’t know what’s good for them. So you, having reached a higher state of consciousness or just bring cleverer than them, need to make their decisions for them. And if an individual disagrees and wishes for something else, well then, he’s an enemy of the people whose interests your brilliance is serving.

  25. @KJ, “As usual, the right wing trolls are out to misrepresent what socialism actually is. Of course, we’ve never had any murderous conservative dictators now have we.”

    Funny thing is, if you put 10 self-identifying socialists in a room and ask them what socialism actually is, you’ll get 13 different responses.

    Ask them again a week later, you’ll get 4 more.

    Even so-called “actually existing socialism” either is or isn’t “socialism” depending on who you ask and when you ask them.

    I think that you lot should make your minds up first about what it “actually” is before anyone of misrepresentation, since you can’t seem to keep it straight yourselves.

  26. @ KJ
    “conservative dictator” is an oxymoron (with the possible exception of Richard Cromwell who didn’t act like a dictator and quickly resigned).
    Dictators wants the state (him/herself) to hold lots and lots of power. A conservative does not.

  27. The path to dictatorship via markets, deregulation, freedom of speech, freedom of association and private property rights is a very, very long one indeed. So long, in fact, that no-one has ever completed it.

    “Libertarian Socialism”. What the fuck is that?

  28. @John77

    But by defining anyone to the right of Stalin as a “conservative” suddenly you’ve got a whole bunch of them….

  29. Polly thinks that the electoral system is shameful because it prevents a left-wing party gaining power. That is called DEMOCRACY.
    Right-of-centre parties/candidates got a majority of votes at most elections, Centre and Right-of-centre got a majority of votes at every election in my lifetime, but we’ve had a lot of Labour governments because the system gets tilted in their favour.

  30. @KJ

    In any case, a lot of self-identified “socialists” spent a whole lot of time and energy justifying and defending as “socialist” all manner of régimes and philosophies that were then later re-defined as “not socialism”, and had thus always been “not socialism”.

    That makes them either massive liars, or* the biggest dumbasses on the planet for having promoted something that wasn’t in fact not what they were promoting it as.

    * that’s not an exclusive or, by the way…..

  31. John Miller,

    > even Hitler was elected eventually

    No he bloody wasn’t. I wish people would stop repeating that. It gives democracy a quite undeserved bad name.

  32. KJ,

    > The electorate has a predisposition to vote only for parties they think can actually gain power, due to the power of big two/media influence.

    During the Thatcher years, about half The Sun’s readership voted Labour. Media influence on voting is much exaggerated. And going on about it is enormously condescending to people who, it turns out, can make decisions for themselves.

  33. There are so many contradictions in the things that socialists say.

    People like KJ need to decide whether people who vote Tory are all just selfish bastards because they vote in their own interests, or idiots because they vote *against* their own interests.

    Then, having persuaded the idiots who were (supposedly) voting Tory against their own interests to vote Corbyn (supposedly) *in* their own interests, they need to explain why voting in your own interests does not make you a selfish bastard.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us look at the history of the human race and marvel at what reasonably free market capitalism has done for the standard of living of billions of people around the world, and wonder what planet socialists are actually on.

  34. @Interested

    If voting Tory to keep more of your own hard-earned is supposedly selfish, how is voting Labour to be given someone else’s hard-earned altruistic?

    I can understand how rich lefties can consider it somehow “altruistic” if it hits them in their own pocket, for those for whom it would be neutral I think it’s rather too easy to be “altruistic” with someone else’s cash, but for those who stand to benefit personally from a Labour govt’s largess?????

  35. KJ,

    > As usual, the right wing trolls …

    Look, firstly, stop misusing this word. A troll is someone who argues a position they do not really believe in, just in order to spark a reaction. It isn’t anyone who disagrees with you.

    > … are out to misrepresent what socialism actually is.

    Well, we trolls can only go by what Socialists tell us Socialism is. Western Socialists were telling us as late as 1987 that the USSR showed how Socialism could really work and was a valid alternative to the evils of American Capitalism. Mainstream Socialists in The Guardian and Le Monde were defending Chavez from the moment he got in (friend of mine’s a Venezuelan refugee — she really hates Guardian-readers). Western Socilaists defend Cuba all the time.

    Now, you would of course be right to point out that there are degrees of Socialism and that, say, Tony Blair wasn’t as bad as Castro. And I would agree. I don’t even object to having a bit of Socialism in the country: I certainly want a welfare state, although I would argue with the likes of Corbyn about how big it should be. But the thing about Socialism is that history shows it has a ratchet effect: no matter how big the state gets, no matter how much private wealth is appropriated, no matter how much freedom is abridged, every left-wing party always argues for more — including the centre parties such as (for the next couple of weeks) Labour. And so some of us feel it is important to push back in the other direction.

    > Of course, we’ve never had any murderous conservative dictators now have we.

    Well, firstly, very few people here are Conservatives. We are mostly right-wing, but from the Libertarian tendency. Of course, there’s no such thing as a Libertarian tyrant, by definition, and the modern Right is a coalition of Conservatives and Libertarians. The modern Left, as far as I can see, has no significant Libertarian element or tradition to hold the Socialists in check. That’s important.

    That aside, we don’t live in a perfect world. We don’t get to pick the best ever option. We get to make choices between degrees of shittiness. So how about you write a list of Conservative tyrants and their estimated death-tolls, and we can compare it to Socialism’s record? The point isn’t that Socialists are always dictators and Conservatives never are; it is that unchecked Socialism leads to mass suffering and death squads every single time.

  36. It’s hard to have common ownership of everything and state planning without a dictatorship. It is an absolute necessity.

  37. Right-of-centre parties/candidates got a majority of votes at most elections, Centre and Right-of-centre got a majority of votes at every election in my lifetime, but we’ve had a lot of Labour governments because the system gets tilted in their favour.

    Which is why, btw, we should have introduced AV. If more than half the country wants a right leaning government, they should get one. (And, let’s be fair, similarly if a majority wants a left leaning government they should get that too).

    FPTP squeezes out opinions held by the non-plurality. It’s biased against Corbyn (which nobody here cares about as they think he’s wrong anyway), but equally it’s biased against UKIP (which a number here DO care about).

    But the country shot it down because it was having a knee jerk backlash against its original knee jerk liking for Nick Clegg.

  38. Manhattan Brit: “FPTP squeezes out opinions held by the non-plurality. It’s biased against Corbyn … but equally it’s biased against UKIP”.

    Yes, but I don’t think AV was the answer to that. Surely that’s even more biased towards “plurality opinions” since second preferences will tend towards the middle.

    I’d have voted for a decent form of PR, for just the reasons you give, but I voted against AV.

  39. “Our shameful electoral system denies the right to vote for a clear leftwing party with any hope of holding power.”

    And our shameful economic system denies me the right to buy a flying car.

    When a thing is possible, it is possible. When it is not, it is not. (One might have thought even Poll could manage this level of analysis.) It has never been possible for a hard-left party to have a sniff of power (outside Merseyside), because the British public, in what can only be described as a sequence of fits of uncharacteristically good sense, has never thought it wise to offer any of the nutters the chance. La Toynbee perhaps should wish to dissolve the people and elect another.

  40. @ Manhattan Brit
    AV as proposed by Nick Clegg does *not* amount to a fair system – it gives far too much weight tosecond choices.
    By definition the voter prefers his/her first choice to his/her second choice – so they should not be given equal weight. If they should given equal weight then so should every other choice and the winner of the election should be selected by drawing lots.
    If you want you at a fair AV then you look at all the choices for all the voters and (the choice of weights is arguable but the simplest is ) allocate 1 to first choice, half to second quarter the third. and so on – if someone tries to game the system by not putting lowerr choices, you allocate the remaining fractions of a vote between the other candidates equally.
    What Clegg asked for was a system designed to benefit the LibDems so it got thrown out because it looked too much like an attempt to cheat..

  41. Bloke not in Cymru

    I think that when you get to the point of dictatorship the underlying politics or the party that the dictator used to achieve power cease to matter. What you have is a dictator and as the old adage goes power corrupts.

  42. @ S2
    Hitler *was* elected to the Reichstag – he was *appointed* Chancellor. In the July 1932 election the Nazis got a similar but slightly larger %age of the votes to New Labour in 2005 or Syriza in 2015.

  43. @ Rob
    I have to doubt that left-wing parties get even less votes than fundamentalist Christians because most of the latter don’t believe in democracy so don’t stand for election.
    Much though I should like to see TUSC getting -1 vote, I don’t see how that could happen 🙂

  44. What is striking is they got almost twice the vote of Plaid and almost as much as the SNP. Obviously the nationalist parties were restricted geographically but notwithstanding, how many Christian People’s Alliance spokesmen/women can you remember seeing on TV?

  45. Euro elections are a kick in the balls for Polly’s argument: they are perfect as vehicles for protest votes, yet ‘genuine’ (ie hard left) parties get fuck all votes, even in Scotland.

    About 100,000 people in Britain want a hard left government. Unfortunately about half of these people seem to work in the media, politics or government.

  46. @ Rob
    CPA isn’t/wasn’t fundamentalist – it advocates “christian democracy” whereas the fundamentalists believe in theocracy.

  47. Lovely, as I expected… not one of you have the faintest idea what socialism is… I might explain it to you, one day….

  48. @KJ

    Gosh. how funny you are.

    I bet all your socialist chums will laugh and think you’re a clever fellow when you tell them about this.

  49. “Gosh. how funny you are.

    I bet all your socialist chums will laugh and think you’re a clever fellow when you tell them about this.”

    No, not really….

  50. @KJ

    But, but, you’ve brilliantly outwitted us all with your clever refusal to tell us what socialism is.

    Surely your chums will be letting you wear the red beret of Socialist Triumph at your next meeting?

    Won’t quite make up for the socialist cause having been trounced at the election but I’m sure your little victory will take some of the sting out of it.

  51. @ Andrew

    Okay, first of all let’s pretend that anyone gives a shit what you think.. Now, I admit I’m not a proctologist… But even I reckon I know a fucking asshole when I see one…..

  52. Bloke in Costa Rica

    “You wouldn’t understand, Dad. One day you’re going to realise I have ideas of my own. Good ideas, Dad. God, you’re so uncool. Socialism does work. No, I’m not going to explain what socialism is. If you don’t know by now it’s too late. Fine. I’m going out. No, I don’t know what time I’ll be back. God, Dad, I’m an adult. Stop treating me like a child.”

  53. “You wouldn’t understand, Dad. One day you’re going to realise I have ideas of my own. Good ideas, Dad. God, you’re so uncool. Capitalism does work. No, I’m not going to explain what capitalism is. If you don’t know by now it’s too late. Fine. I’m going out. No, I don’t know what time I’ll be back. God, Dad, I’m an adult. Stop treating me like a child.”

  54. Gamecock: “You have the right to vote. You have no right to who the candidates are. ”

    Actually, you do. You have the right to become a candidate yourself. If Toynbee doesn’t, that’s her own problem.

  55. @KJ, problem is that your “what socialism really is” will differ from what everyone else’s “what socialism really is”.

    All we can conclude from the last 100+ years is that Socialism isn’t any of the things that other socialists have claimed it is, since that’s the only common theme running through them all.

  56. I’d quite like being a libertarian dictator. I’d get the spiffy uniforms and half an hour’s work in the morning should cover all my duties.

  57. “I’d quite like being a libertarian dictator. I’d get the spiffy uniforms and half an hour’s work in the morning should cover all my duties.”

    Your dictats would consist mostly of “You, leave him in peace. You, stop being a dick.”

  58. Back at the original quotation:

    “Our shameful electoral system denies the right to vote for a clear leftwing party with any hope of holding power.”

    Is that not putting the cart before the horse? That a clear leftwing party with a hope of power would actually have to exist before it could be voted for in any electoral system?

    And since it doesn’t, and never will, isn’t the whole article pointless?

  59. ” La Toynbee perhaps should wish to dissolve the people and elect another.”

    What do you think mass uncontrolled immigration is then?

  60. “What Clegg asked for was a system designed to benefit the LibDems so it got thrown out because it looked too much like an attempt to cheat..”

    This is why I loathe the shitty LibDems.

    They got their first access to the levers of power, and the only two things they fought for were AV and Lords reform, both from the point of view of establishing in perpetuity their role as King Makers.

    Selfish cunts the lot of em (yes I acknowledge the redundancy about saying that about politicians.)

  61. “About 100,000 people in Britain want a hard left government. Unfortunately about half of these people seem to work in the media, politics or government.”

    Its Pournelle’s law:

    Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

    First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

    The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

    The second group of people are motivated by the desire to transform the world. The rest of us are just trying to live in it…

  62. @ Johnnydub
    I don’t hate the LibDems, I pity them. Most of the time they are trying to help people, without – because they are basically nice people – fully understanding quite how nasty some other people are, and consequently not achieving as much good as the cynical Tories. Sadly when Nick Clegg got his electoral reform “quid pro quo” from Cameron the party’s equivalent of Peter Mandelson told him he had to go for the version of AV where second preferences are worth as much as first because “that would put us in government forever”.

  63. @ JohnnyDub
    Pournelle’s law only works for organisations with guaranteed funding.
    The firm [which specialises in research on under-researched small companies] I used to work for, and for which I now act as a consultant, raised a lot (relatively) of money a decade ago and hired a new CEO from a “bulge bracket” investment bank, who hired a new Head of Research (much less experienced than our existing Head of Research, but he came from a “bulge bracket” investment bank) and a marketing guy from an old UK Merchant Bank and rented a much larger and more expensive office. The new Head of Research demanded that we all produce quarterly forecasts for companies that only reported half-yearly and umpteen statistics, most of which required non-existent data.
    After the firm ran out of money, the two big-heads left, the guy from the UK Merchant Bank doubled up as CEO and marketing director, and the old Head of Research came back and sorted things out

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