Thursday, 31 March 2011

Alternative Votes And the Three-Legged Race

As a child I was energetic enough, wiry and fit, but team and competitive sports didn't, and still don't particularly interest me. Sitting on the side-lines watching a cricket match in the comfortingly warm sun of a late summer's afternoon was activity enough for me, even though I didn't understand cricket. Alternatively, perhaps a sauntering walk to a favourite spot beneath the shade of an old oak where I could sit with a book and sense the evening creeping up on the world to envelope us all in night-time’s comforting blanket.

Come sports day, of course, every effort would be made to ensure no one felt left out, it never occurring to anyone that a person might simply dream of being left out. Consequently, we timid touchline layabouts were drafted into some games considered so easy that anyone could play. Quoits, the sack race, different versions of the egg-and-spoon race, throwing bean bags about and, of course, the three-legged race.

Two children would be tethered together at the ankle and, incredible as it may seem, were expected to run towards a finish line such that they would prove the acme of triumph in co-operation. Of course, the true intent of those into whose charge our innocent parents had entrusted us soon became apparent as a series of stumbles, falls and tearful cross words met with peals of uncontrollable laughter from the side of the track where, if there was any justice, I would have been sitting during this three-legged farce.

You never saw the much celebrated top athletes of the school taking part in this absurd buffoonery and for good reason. Athletes are fiercely competitive and the last thing one needs is to be hobbled by some spotty Herbert with a flare for sonnets and coming in last. The school athletes would compete on their own terms and just as well or who would play the games at whose side-lines I might sit and dream?

On May 5th UK citizens are being asked to vote on electoral reform, on whether to replace the first past the post system currently used in general elections with the alternative voting system. Make no mistake, this is important because it will determine the method and outcomes of all future elections; You can find out more from the Electoral Reform Society.

Who gains from this reform? We are led to believe that the voter will benefit because his or her vote will have a greater chance to count but I have serious doubts. Do we really want a three-legged government, with two (or, heaven forfend, maybe more) parties tethered together in a forced marriage hobbling down the track, stumbling, falling and uttering increasingly louder complaints about how unfair it all is that this or that party's agenda is being subsumed by the other?

What would that look like? Well, you only have to look at the growing resentments at the grass roots of the current coalition government. There is a sense that the Tory party is being hobbled by its farcical partnership with the bookish Liberal milksops while the liberals hear this government routinely referred to as Tory because no one believes the Liberal party is in any way setting the agenda for change and governance.

There is no illusion about which party in this three-legged race is the athlete and which dragged from the touchline to run a race in which they never expected to be entered. The liberals have not been in government for almost 100 years and I can't help think this is because not that many people want a Liberal government and perhaps we should consider the possibility that the current system works very well in that it has recognised that fact. Maybe the alternative voting system is going to give us what we have consistently rejected for almost a century, a Liberal government.

Back on my schools sports fields if anyone had suggested reforming sport so that someone who came in behind the winner, the first past the post, might still take the trophy would have been laughed to derision. If anyone had suggested the athlete coming in first, having trained long and hard all year, should share the glory with another who has been consistently rejected for the team would have been considered mad. The also rans and the three-legged hobbledehoys were expected to be good losers and if it didn't suit them to lose urged to make a greater effort next year.

In the race of life there are winners and losers and coming in last is a mighty clue to the fact that you didn't try hard enough. Maybe the Liberal school report should read, “Must try harder next time.”

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Michael Nazir-Ali - John 3:16

The Not Ashamed campaign provides an opportunity for Christians across the UK to stand together and speak up for the Christian foundation of our nation, motivated by the conviction that Jesus Christ is good news not just for individuals or for the church but for society as a whole. Indeed, He is the only true hope for our nation.

I am not ashamed of Jesus Christ and want everyone to know that this short message on John 3:16 by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is what I believe about God's purpose.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

BBC News - All-white Midsomer Murders defended by creator True-May

This has to be the biggest load of nonsense the PC brigade has come up with in a very long time.  Midsomer Murders is the product of the writer’s and producer’s imaginations. Insisting on ethnic minorities being “represented” in the show is rather like insisting landscape artists put more people in their paintings, that historical novelists tackle more contemporary issues, or that rap artists sing more ballads.

Midsomer Murders represents archetypal English village life as conceived by the writer. That world doesn’t actually exist, or at least we all hope so since this sleepy village has witnessed 251 deaths since 1997. There are no ethnics in the Vicar of Dibley, Last of the Summer Wine ran for almost forty years with an all-white cast.

Asking why there are no ethnic minorities in Midsomer Murders is rather like asking why the majority of people in The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency are black. The great majority of people in Africa are not white just as the great majority of people in the UK are white. There are almost 3 million Welsh people in the UK so should the Welsh insist they are better represented in Eastenders, or maybe the Geordies should complain that they are under-represented in the Welsh language drama Pobol Y Cwm (People of the valley).

Some people seem to spend their lives skulking around our world looking for things to complain about. They want to be offended in almost a Munchausen Syndrome like attention-seeking mania. Maybe that is the answer. Well, some people are put in this world as a warning to the rest and it seems to me that this is a classic example.

BBC News - All-white Midsomer Murders defended by creator True-May

Friday, 4 March 2011

BBC News - Clegg defiant despite Lib Dems' slump in Barnsley poll

Nick CleggYour going to fall out of bed in a minute Nick Clegg.Sleepy smile
Nick Clegg has said people should not "write off" the Lib Dems despite the party slumping to sixth place in the Barnsley Central by-election.
The party finished behind UKIP, the BNP and an independent as its share of the vote dropped to just over 4%.
Labour, which won the poll on a 36% turnout, said voters had sent a "very clear message" to Mr Clegg about their dislike of his role in the coalition.
Think about it for a moment. This by-election was triggered because the Labour incumbent was convicted of expenses fraud.Devil Yet the Liberals couldn’t do better than the Nazis (BNP) and someone who was practically a passer-by (an independent candidate did better).Disappointed smile Meanwhile, the Labour Party, despite being under a cloud over the corruption charges, increased their majority.Winking smile
People have already written you off Nick. I am no expert but maybe its the lies and broken promises. Or maybe it was that puppy dog look on your face as you followed David Cameron into Downing Street on a promise.Secret telling smile  Wake up Nick! They’ve stamped “MUG on your forehead while you weren’t looking; and you made it so easy for them.Mug
BBC News - Clegg defiant despite Lib Dems' slump in Barnsley poll

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

BBC News - Insurance and pension costs hit by ECJ gender ruling

Insurance companies don’t discriminate on the basis of gender but on that of risk. This latest development is absolute madness. Who are these people that they can’t understand the basic principles of insurance?

An insurance policy is fundamentally a gamble, a bet. You bet the insurance company so much a month that you will have an accident and claim on the policy and they bet you a lump sum that you won’t. No matter how sophisticated it becomes that is what it is.

Taking the betting analogy to its natural home, if you bet on a horse the odds you get depend on the likelihood of that horse winning.  The greater the chance of a win the shorter the odds based on the degree of risk to the bookmaker. The bookie doesn’t “discriminate” on the basis that the favourite is a mare but on the basis that it is a horse with a better chance of winning on current form.

Going back to insurance, actuaries working for insurance companies are basically bookies who calculate the odds on who will be more likely to win the bet and have the accident. Women are less likely to have accidents than men and more mature women much less likely to have accidents than young men under 25 years. IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

Who will gain from this latest wacky European dictat? Not men drivers whose risk to insurers is already established and won’t change and whose premiums will therefore not go down. Not women drivers who are reckoned to constitute less of a gamble to the insurance companies but whose premiums are bound to go up to achieve this unnatural parity with men. Who always gains when insurance premiums go up?

‘Nuff said!

BBC News - Insurance and pension costs hit by ECJ gender ruling