AV: Utter Nonsense and a Unique Conundrum

April 12, 2011

Nothing stirs up the Brits more than what is, and what is not, fair. AV is neither fair nor logical. And poses a very interesting conundrum for which there doesn’t appear to be an answer. 

First, forget fairness. Once AV comes into play (assuming nobody gains over 50% of the vote first time round) then a few voters – or maybe quite a few – have the luxury of a second vote. Blatantly unfair. Blatantly undemocratic.

Interestingly, the UK often sends observers to foreign parts to ensure elections far and wide aren’t corrupt i.e. that people don’t vote more than once !

Second, AV is totally illogical as far as common sense if concerned.. Apart from the above, it is clearly a nonsense to award an honourary second vote to someone whose original preference was for the Stop The Traffic in My Cul de Sac Coalition or Free Meals for Snails Campaign.

What message does that send?  Er, if I can’t have a one dressed as a banana holding an half-peeled orange deciding on future taxation; education policy or whether to invade Libya, then I suppose, damn it,  I’ll have to go for….um….the Con/Lab/ Lib Dem/UKIP or Green candidate !
But I still prefer the fruitcake.

Which brings us to a unique conundrum.

Let’s assume in a particular constituency that a very large number of second preference votes go to a Green Party candidate who actually finished last out of 5 in the first round (perfectly possible). 

As the AV counting unravels, low and behold the Green Party candidate – eliminated in Round 1 remember – now has more votes than anyone else ! Do they magically ‘re-appear’ on the list and take the seat in a blaze of controversial glory ? If not, why not?

What a damned mess. 

The nation decides in May – where a simple majority will decide it, apparently.

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Where Now For Keys and Co?

January 26, 2011

Sky sport presenter Richard Keys surely knew the inevitable consequence of his lapses of judgement as long ago as last Sunday lunchtime.

It was merely a question of time. And whether the print media, sensing a broadcasting scalp or two ripe for the taking, would pounce or withdraw fangs. They opted for drawing blood.

After a few moments reviewing the evidence, a straight red card was produced for Andy Gray. And Richard Keys, already tottering on a yellow, opted for an early bath after video replays come to light of a similar incident in a previous match.

Funny how that turned up when it did.

Yes, there’s a huge dollop of hypocrisy in this sorry tale. Probably a great deal of jealousy too. But the essential ingredients were of their own making. A clear penalty.

Two highly-paid pals overstepping the mark one time too many and someone, somewhere (or more than one) with a few scores to settle.

Its not unknown in TV land for on screen talent to outgrow their own boots. Increasing ratings; trophies; awards; fame; recognition; glowing praise and a sycophantic management can breed mini-monsters.

If in doubt, ask Jonathan Ross all about it.

The crux of the matter in this latest case however, is the sense that we, the gullible paying public have been duped all along.

On the evidence, neither Gray nor Keys believe women should play any part in a man’s game either on the pitch or in the boardroom. Neither would ever admit that live on air. More than their job’s worth.

Preferable to snigger, slander and sledge in private while continuing to collect the loot. Only a fool bites the hand that feeds them.

Let the record show they were both damned good at their jobs. Well, not bad, as far as men go.

Both may be facing football-free futures – and a dramatic fall in their football-driven social lives. Oh, and they’ll now have to pay to watch Sky Sport.  

Where next? Well, a betting man (or woman) may wish to wager a fiver or two on them heading for somewhere warm with sand under their feet.

If that fails then surely Ant & Dec’s jungle beckons when the dust has settled.    

But, with Monday nights now free, no midweek matches, and Saturday afternoons at home with wife, girlfriend(s) or children, possibly time to put pen to paper.

Ever wondered what celebrity footballers and managers mutter to each other when the studio microphones were switched off ?

Was Richard making notes…..or even a few secret recordings? More on that, as they say, after the break.


AV: Monster Raving Loony Party Swings It

January 14, 2011

Interesting to ponder what the AV (Alternative Vote) system might have produced in the recent Oldham East & Saddleworth by election.

Whoever won it under AV would be thanking voters from almost every other party for their victory !  (And in some future elections it could be the Monster Raving Loony Party faithful that swing it !)

AV at Oldham?  Well, either a Labour win (courtesy of BNP & UKIP) or a Lib Dem win with the victorious Lib Dem candidate starting their acceptance speech with the words:
“ I wish to thank all the Conservative supporters for voting twice…..”

How come? Because AV kicks in until one candidate reaches 50.1% of votes and the second preference votes of some (not all) being counted from the bottom up.

Here’s Oldham’s actual vote :

Labour 14,718 (42.1%)
Lib Dem 11,160 (31.9%)
Con 4,481 (12.8%)
UKIP 2,029 (5.8%)
BNP 1,560 (4.5%)
Green 530 (1.5%)
Monster Raving Looney 145 (0.4%)
English Democrats 144 (0.4%)
Pirate Party 96 (0.2%)
Bus Pass Elvis Party 67 (0.1%)

Nobody with the magical 50.1% majority that AV requires.
So let’s add now add AV to the mix.

Let’s assume that EVERYONE who voted for the Green Party; the
Monster Raving Looney Party, the English Democrats Party, the
Pirate Party and the Bus Pass Elvis Party ALL ticked Labour
as second choice. Unlikely, but let’s say so for now.

An extra 2.6% of the vote puts Labour on 44.7%  Not enough for an AV victory.

Where will the 4.5% BNP vote go?  L et’s assume Labour pick up an extra 1.5% (about a third of the BNP voters). Labour now on 46.2%. Not there yet.

Where will the second preference votes of UKIP now go?  Here again, we can assume a split – but certainly Tory biased. Let’s give Labour another third of the UKIP voters (approx 2%).

At this, Labour still has only 48.2% . Still not good enough.

So now, finally, we move up the list and count the second preference votes of the Conservative supporters – who pledge their allegiances towards,er, the Lib Dems, obviously(?).

Ergo, a narrow Lib Dem win thanks to almost four and a half thousand Conservative voters getting two goes at it.

Or, if there were slightly more Labour second preference votes than outlined above, we would have a successful Labour candidate only in place because UKIP and the BNP put them there.

And they would know it. In fact, we all would.

Personally speaking, this is nonsense.  How is it democratic to give some folk two votes?  Even worse than football introducing the ridiculous ‘way goals count double’ rule.

In a close run thing between say, Labour and Conservative, would you want the local MP elected thanks to votes of those whose 1st preference was the Monster Raving Loony Party or keen to give Elvis a bus pass?

And here’s a conundrum: let’s assume everyone’s second preference vote was BNP.  Does this mean a candidate eliminated earlier now ‘re-appears’ on the list because they’ve now got more votes than the original second-placed candidate?

What a damned mess.  Raving Loony time.

 The nation decides in May.


Losers Make Winners

January 6, 2011

How did we get into this farcical situation that anyone not winning is a permanently condemned loser?

Logic: Every ‘win’ by one must create a ‘loss’ for all others.
Specialist subject the ‘bleedin’ obvious’. 

Australia lose the Ashes. Ergo Ricky Ponting must step down as Captain and half the team be replaced.

Chelsea lose to Wolves. Therefore question marks over the future of manager Carlo Ancelotti . And then there’s West Ham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and…… any other team you care to mention unlikely to walk away with a glittering prize.

There can be, in any sport, only one winner. So why are the rest automatically condemned to public oblivion?  

Presumably, 19 Premiership football managers MUST be sacked come May 2011. Let’s face it, they’re all losers.

Then there’s the failed World Cup 2018 bidders from Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal & Spain. They all lost (as did England). So the whole damned bunch of them, obviously, must fall from grace and/or on their swords.

The irony of this 21st Century phenomenon is that it comes after a couple of decades of ‘progressive thinkers’ in the late 20th Century convincing us that nobody should be labeled a loser – a prize for all; everyone can have a degree (in any subject, it appears); incompetence is not a valid a reason for losing your job (you were badly trained by your boss, surely).

Yet those clutching hollow trophies for finishing 15th or worse from when they were young are probably among those so quick to condemn others, now, for finishing only…..second.

It’s not only in sport where the pendulum has swung to ‘win it all or lose it all’ .

Watching Sir Alan Sugar point the finger of fate at failed apprentices may make riveting viewing but surely breaks almost every employment law ever passed.

All ‘losers’ are left to skulk away, as darkness falls, forever condemned as fired failures.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that  ‘winners’ owe everything to losers. Without them, they wouldn’t have won anything.


Bad Taste Press Releases

December 4, 2010

Our campaign to improve Press Release standards continues with this headline/story shocker sent out in the last few days:

Headline:   Jingle bowels, jingle bowels, jingle all the way!

Story:  New research reveals more than a third suffer from bowel complaints during the festive season …..

Can anyone better this for a totally inappropriate Christmas PR headline?
Please advise .


To Russia, With Love

December 2, 2010

Wozzit the media that lost it?  Or have we just lost the plot?
Amidst all the sick parrots that are not over the moon today, time to reflect on the unimpressive way England paraded itself before football’s world masters in Zurich.

Basically the English message was this:
First, can you ignore the fact that we are accusing many of you foreigners of being bent.

OK?  Can we  please have our ball back because we really, really want it.  And we’ve even brought along a Royal figure you’ve all heard of  to say a few words. Over to you Mr Beckham.

FIFA’s two-fingered salute (just one vote out of 21 plus our own) says it all.  Plus, very clever verbal dribble by Sepp Blatter during his preamble to announcing the winner, by claiming that the beautiful game actually originated in China long before reaching Accrington Stanley. Ouch.

And what message then emerges from only one of the steam-filled dressing rooms of the defeated?  A hoard of ex-English soccer greats gulping on the dreadful realisation that the World Cup Finals may not return to these shores in their lifetime.

No thought for others like the poor Russians, who’ve never ever had a World Cup in their country to be nostaligic about.

Who cares if they haven’t built the stadiums yet. They’ll probably manage it. They were the first to put a man into space. And they own Chelsea FC.

We all know the real reason for wanting the World Cup in our own back yard – an automatic bye into the 2018 final stages.

Host nation status means no embarrassing qualifying slip ups against Poland. No history-making eight second goal humiliation by the mighty San Marino.  And playing all matches on Wembley’s hallowed turf with a Turkish linesman to rely on for goalmouth technology.

Sportsmanship, unflappability and under-stated confidence are among our national traits. We stray from them at our peril. The more we appear to beg and plead (very un-British), the greater the satisfaction for those putting the boot in.

Should there be a next time we must play our trump card. Belatedly, half-heartedly entering the fray as the unconcerned underdog. It may just work.

Until then, let the world see we can be  jolly good sports when we lose. It’s only a game, afterall. One that we gave to the world, whatever Herr Blatter says. We just need to remember from time to time that they now own it.  We don’t.

So be a true Englishman. Appear neither shaken nor stirred. Give in, gracefully, to Russia – with love.


Two Lords-a-Leaping

November 25, 2010

First we’re all told how well off we are: Cue Tory Resignation.

Now another party colleague is eating humble pie for suggesting our sexual appetites –  more or less –  depend on the level of state handouts we receive. 

Lords, MPs (and the clergy)  right left and centre politically speaking. are apologising for….what?  Political gaffes. PR cock-ups. None of them, please notice, actually says they were wrong. 

No, just sorry they said it out loud.  Or, in another famous case, wished to God they’d removed the microphone still attached to their lapel.

PR isn’t just about finding good days to bury bad news its finding enough sticking plaster to gag  friends, allies and colleagues  from opening their mouths too often. If at all.

Well done Howard. You won’t be the last to take flight at the first whiff of critical grapeshot.

Strange, but I actually developed quite a liking for the mansion-owning old duffer who, when confronted by a detailed analysis of his extreme Parliamentary expenses, answered his critics by claiming they were merely jealous he had more money than them.  

Well done to you, sir!


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