Episode 68 – 21st January 2010

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Alternative Vote (1:44) by Alex Foster
Tevatron Obituary (8:36) by Sean Ellis
Wikipedia at 10 (14:46) by Tom Morris
ECHR Libel Reform (21:26) by Gareth Winchester
Theology in Academia (29:13) by Drew Rae
Libraries (35:26) by Reggie

This week presented by Liz Lutgendorff as James has had some exciting emergency surgery.

Follow-up links:

16 thoughts on “Episode 68 – 21st January 2010

  1. Another job well done folks!

    I’m a tad unconvinced by Mr. Foster’s AV slot, however. He admits AV doesn’t solve the criticisms people have of FPTP – in fact it may intensify them. There’s some quite weird results Down Under from time to time.

    I don’t agree that adopting AV must inevitably lead to further reform. Knowing the way the UK works, it will stop right there and go no further – especially as AV is about as far as the Tories and Labour are willing to contemplate.

    I am agnostic on electoral reform overall and recognise that for all its faults FPTP has its fans and they have some reasonable points, overall. I’ve found few defendants of AV. I’d rather we switched from FPTP to a form of PR instead of this halfway house, so right now my instinct on the matter is to seriously consider voting No come the referendum – better the devil you know, after all.

    I remain open to persuasion, however…

  2. I don’t agree that adopting AV must inevitably lead to further reform.

    I don’t think that’s quite my point – it’s more the other way round: that rejecting AV will inevitably lead to no further reform, and the status quo is awful!

  3. The problem is that AV is what is being offered, not PR. Due to the fact that the smaller parties are generally the ones who support PR as a system rather than the larger parties who benefit from FPTP, if we vote Yes to AV we will be more likely to end up with PR eventually. If we adopt AV, the smaller parties are more likely to get seats in parliament, meaning that they would be able to propose and vote for adopting PR.

    It’s certainly not a fail-safe idea but it’s much less likely to fail than staying with FPTP.

  4. I’m not convinced AV will invite more smaller parties – my (admittedly limited) knowledge of Australian elections indicates it’s less effective in getting multiple parties – the only successful third party in the House of Representatives is the Greens.

    I can see this backfiring for pro-PR people, as it may actually allow the Conservatives and Labour in the long run to regain dominance.

    Alex: I guess I’m saying I’m no particular admirer of any system, but AV seems to score less than FPTP in my opinions.

  5. In Australia AV definitely does not help minority parties win seats. What it does do is allow three-cornered contests without the 3rd party being blamed as a “spoiler” – the Ross Peroit effect. Involvement in these contests is good for the party profile and building experience for the individuals. Upper-house-only parties have less credibility than the parties that run candidates in every seat.

    AV is going to be very important for the Liberal Democrats as they try to detach themselves from the Conservatives next election. It will allow them to tell their supporters to vote Labor 2nd and Conservative 3rd (typically called “giving their preferences to Labor”), a powerful message that they aren’t a Conservative lap-dog. It also means that they can oppose Conservative and Labor candidates in all marginal seats without burning bridges with either party.

  6. Thanks for a good round-up of solid reasons for voting YES in the referendum.

    The challenges of the campaign are more related to making people think about it in the first place than winning any argument because the NO campaign hasn’t produced any yet and they have been trying!

    The second challenge is to keep on-board those who have decided it’s STV-or-bust. I hope few would vote NO on the basis that AV isn’t proper PR simply because a NO vote would kill PR’s chances for decades and a YES keeps the reform movement alive.

  7. By the way… the current anti-LibDem fashion is temporary and a result of the euphoria of a LibDem electoral success turning into disappointment at how impotent they are under the current system. Compounded that with the Tories using the LibDems as a scapegoat for unpopular government policies (whenever they can) and Labour attacking the LibDems as the “weaker” member of the coalition and you have a facile and superficial press field-day. Thinking people should see through the silly hype and be duly grateful for the LibDem dedication to achieving the possible reforms. I am confident it’ll happen within a few years.

    I’m a dedicated floating voter and, for now, the LibDems are still miles ahead.

  8. I totally disagree with Drew’s item about theology, as would anybody who regularly listens to the excellent work of Robert M. Price. He’s a former fundamentalist, new-testament scholar and also a fellow of the center for inquiry. He’s also one of the most brilliant scholars I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.

    I think Drew’s item confuses the dirty business of apologetics with the forms of higher criticism. Price is a master of redaction analysis – basically he’s made an extensive study of all the different versions of the bible and the subtle way in which they differ from each other. Having extracted these differences it’s possible to produce a sort-of evolutionary taxonomy of the bible showing how one version evolved from another. At each stage he can show the various influences and political agendas the various authors and scribes brought to their work.

    I used to think like Drew – that theology was little more than fan-fiction. The best examples of the subject really have moved on. They shine a brilliant light onto the mythology that has guided (or misguided) humanity for millennia – and as such is definitely a subject fit for inquiry.



  9. I am not sure AV is really going to make much of a difference. The level of deceit and mass propaganda surrounding our elections makes a mockery of the notion that a vote, however it is registered, allows a UK subject to make their political will felt.

  10. I find it fascinating that you are talking about AV in GB while we are talking about Rank Choice Voting in Minnesota. Rank choice voting would give me the option to fot for a candidate that professed to do what I want even if he didn’t have a chance to win. I could then put in the name of my second choice and have my vote count for someone who was the lesser of two evils. I hope you get it so I can use your example of an enlightened democracy to push the cause here.

  11. @Malden Capell: I remain open to persuasion, however…

    From your dialogue it seems that you aren’t open to persuasion at all so perhaps your remarks are actually disingenuous?

    You know very well why we’re not being offered real choice in the forthcoming referendum – that is down to naked electoral expediency on the part of the major coalition partner, ie. The Conservatives

    AV has one overriding advantage going for it, which trumps all other considerations; AV isn’t First Past the Post

    That undeniable fact alone should be sufficient to motivate all rational individuals to vote YES to AV this May

  12. Any chance of sending us a copy of the Libraries song, I’m part of the ‘Carnival of Resistance’ to library closures in Oxford and would love to play the song. I’m also Djing at anti-cut gig and would love to give it a spin.


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