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'Paddy Ashdown with whiskers'

Nick Robinson | 08:09 UK time, Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I confess that I am a tad sceptical about the hyperbolic and choreographed displays of anger within the coalition about the alternative vote (AV). Usually in my job the language and the sentiment you hear in private from politicians is much more colourful than that uttered in public. Indeed, this difference is one of the reasons I have a job at all. At the moment, though, I am struck by the fact that at the top of the government it is the other way round.

William Ewart Gladstone

It is in that context that I pass on a little sign of Prime Ministerial frustration gathered when I interviewed David Cameron for my Radio 4 programme on Gladstone - part of my series on The Prime Ministers, broadcast today at 0930 and available online afterwards.

Having praised the Grand Old Man as "obviously a brilliant man who did some extraordinary things for his country", the prime minister went on something of a contemporary riff telling me:

"The only problem with Gladstone" was that "there is something a bit sanctimonious, you know - I was going to say Paddy Ashdown with whiskers", before adding hurriedly "that's a bit unfair on Paddy Ashdown".

The interview was recorded not long after Paddy's all guns blazing amphibious assault on David Cameron for allowing the No campaign to target Nick Clegg personally. Ashdown, you may recall, was once the boss of David Cameron's Chief of Staff Ed Llewelyn - the two worked together in Bosnia - and still calls from time to time to pass on his views. Now that is one private conversation which, I suspect, did live up to the public rhetoric.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Both Clegg and Cameron know that the result of the referendum will cause trouble for one of them. This is why they are swinging their handbags like a granny at a jumble sale. The difference is that the granny means it, they don't. They are just trying to get into the position when they can tell their respective parties that they did their best. Their big project is The Coalition' and a little tough talk will keep their supporters onside - especially the LibDems.

  • Comment number 2.

    Bill @ 1
    You're right. To lose is unfortunate, to capitulate, unforgivable. Both leaders are already unpopular with their rank and file - Cameron for not winning a general election against the weakest opponent he is ever likely to face, and Clegg for selling out. The feigned rancour between the coalition partners will disappear as soon as the referendum is over and the public reconciliation will be more of an emetic even than the royal wedding.

  • Comment number 3.

    "I am a tad sceptical about the hyperbolic and choreographed displays of anger within the coalition about the alternative vote (AV)" [NR]

    Well I suppose the penny had to drop sooner or later. The difference between FPTP (current) and AV (FPTP fantasy version) is so insignificant that to have an argument about it at all would require massive amounts hyperbole and huge dollops of synthetic anger. Clegg was right. There is so little that they disagree on that they have to manufacture differences to keep their troops on board.
    Prizes for all. No matter which way the referendum vote turns out, everyone on the current political gravy train (Tory, LibDem or Labour) wins.

  • Comment number 4.

    You mentioned the Soho connection. Both William and Catherine Gladstone were closely involved in what was founded as the House of Charity in Soho in 1846; they laid the foundation stone of the Chapel of St Barnabas on Thursday 28 June 1862 ... the House of St Barnabas in Soho as it is now called is still working to provide homeless and vulnerable individuals with lifeskills and support in renewing their lives (http://hosb.org.uk%29. When the current generation of trustees asked them selves how best to evaluate their effectiveness, I told them how Gladstone himself used to interview individuals at the House (they found him rather intimidating I gather). Incidentally, before the charity acquired No.1 Greek Street, the House was where Joseph Bazalgette was elected as the engineer who designed London's sewers and by single transferable vote as reported in The Standard (London, England), Saturday, January 26, 1856; Issue 9815.

  • Comment number 5.

    The idea of Huhne and Cable developing principles and resigning over the AV campaign is laughable to say the least. Neither man has anything in their character or indeed in their capabilities to actually be holding down cabinet posts in the first place, and the idea that they would actually throw this lucrative pocket liner away is frankly ridiculous. If Cameron had an iota of courage he would insist on these useless people resigning or in fact sack them. The whole sorry affair demonstrates the reasons why power would be misplaced if it ever resides in the hands of the Lib / Dems.

  • Comment number 6.

    One day we hear calls for the liberals to argue a bit more with their tory masters, next day we have bogus arguments in the news.

    Obviously we take all brands of politician with a pinch of salt, but this lot seem to be reaching new depths of dishonesty.



    By the way, I love the way lord snooty is now only seen at carefully stage managed photo-ops, at secret locations, where the hand picked audience is under some sort of threat to sit in silence. Frightened workers sat tight lipped, clapping on cue from the chief exec - I wonder if the threat of job loss if they heckle or ask awkward questions is implied or explicit ?

  • Comment number 7.

    pdavies...

    I'd suggest you about as qualified to express an opinion on the tory rank and file as I am qualified to express an opinion on how to fly to the moon.

    Let's concentrate on the facts.

  • Comment number 8.

    Sounds like my sort of programme Nick and I'll be sure to watch. Wonder where David Cameron will end up ranking as a PM - will he, say, be seen as one of the greats? Or will he perhaps fall a little short of that? Evidence of the first year would seem to point towards the latter, but it's early days* and it could be that he's just been messing around and is yet to hit his straps. I've just finished Keith Richards' autobiography - a good read - and in there Keith describes how in the dressing room preamble to a major gig, an observer watching him shambolically 'tune up' would probably get the impression he was utterly clueless; but then half an hour later (on stage and into the second number) he's rocking the joint. Just slaying it. I thought of Cameron when I read that.

    * unless, of course, he loses on AV and gets turfed out before Christmas by a Conservative Party who decide they've had it up to here with his nonsense.

  • Comment number 9.

    It is a wonderful sight to see a government behaving as if it is in the death throes of its term as indeed it may well be if the referendum and local elections go the way polls predict. We should not forget that we have an unelected government pursuing right wing policies more extreme than that implemented by Mrs T. When the end comes - good riddance.

  • Comment number 10.

    #8 what did KR say about the 97% tax rate and why they left the country.

    Saga have you learnt anything from that then ?

  • Comment number 11.

    Gladstone was also responsible for a split in the Conservative party, maybe this is what Cameron is alluding to when he calls him "obviously a brilliant man"

  • Comment number 12.

    7 @ 7

    Robin, I have a near-telepathic precision when it comes to interpreting the Tory rank and file. This is a useful, if at times alarming, ability that I have possessed ever since I was bitten by a radioactive bullfrog with a warty underbelly.

    And since nearly all of your comments are about Labour rather than your own party, you win today's Andrew Marr prize for rank hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 13.

    #8 Sagamix what are your thougths about Lord Glasmans ascertion that New Labour
    used immigrantio to hold down wages given that they has implemented the minimum wages etc and also in his words lied about the true scale of the issue ?

  • Comment number 14.

    I thought the pantomime season was over but Clegg and Cameron could be viewed as either end of the pantomime horse. Look behind you takes on a different meaning - hard to take all this posturing seriously.

  • Comment number 15.

    padavies...


    and what do you think the 'tory rank and file' think about immigration? Education? Welfare reform? Deficit reduction? The NHS?

    And the Libdems? They've served their prupose in forcing Gordon Brown out of Downing Street. A break up of the coalition won't trigger a general election. That's not due for another four years.

    It's a shame that the labour party are the only ones who had to change their name and pretend to be the tories to get themselves elected but unless they can pull that trick off again they won't be back for some time.

    Growth is back, unemployment is falling, inflation is down, the deficit is down, one sixth of schools have signed up to be academies and Ed Miliband now thinks he needs a nose job to better get his message across. That says it all.

    I find your reference to Andrew Marr distasteful and inappropriate. Let's instead focus on the seventies tribute act Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper - said to boogie around to 'Save you kisses for me'.


    Clearing up labour's mess...

  • Comment number 16.

    IR35 @ 10

    An interesting and moot question. He says top rate tax of 90 odd per cent was tantamount to being expelled from the country (which it was when you think about it); makes the further point that anything much above 65% - on incomes over £250k per annum - would probably be too high in that it would cause high earners to up sticks in significant numbers. Surprisingly astute on UK fiscal policy, for a guitarist.

  • Comment number 17.

    There is no doubt, in my opinion, that Gladstone was a sanctimonious and, hypocritical sort of person, especially in his dealings with the brilliant Disraeli. However, what that has to do with todays politics I have no idea. Even so, Ashdowns name should not even to be said in the same breath as either of these two. I doubt the public have any interest in anything Ashdown has to say.

    Why should Cameron protect Clegg, they are not in the same party. If Clegg is such a weak leader, that he cannot fight his own corner, he should not be in politics in the first place. The Lib/Dems have no where to go, especially if they lose the AV vote, other than to stay in the Coalition, so this is all talk from them as usual. What is more interesting, is what the Conservatives will do should they win the referendum, will they merely settle back into the Coalition, I wonder.

    Mandelson must be worried about a no result from the referendum for Labour, judging by his outburst today. It is just lucky that everytime he opens his mouth he does more harm than good to the Labour cause. However, Mandelson is probably right to worry, Labour have definitely declined under the leadership of the inept Miliband. No one could seriously see Miliband as a leader, with or without a nose job.

  • Comment number 18.

    Yeah and more astute than labour for the last 40 years too,

  • Comment number 19.

    whats all this about Milband and a nose job, he for see Lord prescott of the Fists for that , still what to do about the void in labour policy and between his ears ?

  • Comment number 20.

    The yes side are saying that if we vote for AV it will mean a progressive centre left government and the tories will not dominate parliament with less than a majority of the vote. So what happened last year? The Lib Dems claimed they talked to the Tories to form a government because they were the single largest party. Will that not matter in future? If we did not know before we know now the Lib Dems will say anything to get a fingertip on government. They are a joke and should be treated with the contempt with which they treat the voters.

  • Comment number 21.

    for 10+ years Brown was instrumental in avoiding putting pen to paper on the Aircraft Carriers (ps as well as cutting the Helicopter budget too).

    Then just before the election they get signed of with water tight contracts which gurrantttee jobs in his back yard.

    Shoudl that raise some questions somewhere ?

  • Comment number 22.

    "I confess that I am a tad sceptical about the hyperbolic and choreographed displays of anger within the coalition about the alternative vote (AV)."

    Completely agree Nicholas. Most unedifying the way things have been conducted recently. Doesnt reflect well on anybody.

    "Usually in my job the language and the sentiment you hear in private from politicians is much more colourful than that uttered in public."

    Depends on your definition of colourful, I guess. If colourful translates as industrial as against flowery, then, yes, I can accept that!

    "Indeed, this difference is one of the reasons I have a job at all."

    What, as a political Rosetta Stone? Surely not!!

  • Comment number 23.

    Isn't it just a breath of fresh air to get government that doesn't moan and brief against each other, that gets on and does what it set out to do? If this were the NL times we would have had any number of 'policy documents' that promised everything and went nowhere. I really don't care whether the two parties in the coalition squabble as long as they get on and sort out the country, and I feel so much more relaxed that we don't have that political insurrection of the 2000s.

  • Comment number 24.

    To whistling Neil and Ginger F from previous blog

    I took the time to check on the facts of the 2007 election in Scotland, as previously I only had my memory to rely on.

    In the 2007 Scottish Election, the SNP became the largest party in Scotland, this was a big defeat for Labour. Under FPTP, with 33 per cent of the vote, the SNP might well have won a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament in a four party system. As it turned out under the present Scottish sytem, Labour got 46 seats and the SNP 47. This was indeed a very poor result for Labour, who had hoped by adopting STV would keep the SNP in check.

    Therefore you were both wrong.

    Ginger posting at a late hour, in order to ensure you posts cannot be challenged, will not make what you say anymore true.

  • Comment number 25.

    21 IR35

    I think exasperation at the previous government means that we just expect that sort of thing - rather like Alistair Darling committing us to billions of pounds of bailout whilst in purdah, knowing that he wouldn't have to worry about it.
    It'll be trotted out before the next election hopefully, though I dare say the left will have taken over the Labour party then so they'll be out of the running for a decade or more anyway.

  • Comment number 26.

    16. At 11:36am 26th Apr 2011, sagamix wrote:

    ...Surprisingly astute on UK fiscal policy, for a guitarist.


    Let's not forget another famous guitarist who rocked 'em in the aisles and made it all the way to the top - Tony Blair!
  • Comment number 27.

    5#

    Agreed.

    Saga#

    "I've just finished Keith Richards' autobiography - a good read - and in there Keith describes how in the dressing room preamble to a major gig, an observer watching him shambolically 'tune up' would probably get the impression he was utterly clueless; but then half an hour later (on stage and into the second number) he's rocking the joint. Just slaying it. I thought of Cameron when I read that."

    Whereas if you had a clue, you'd know that Keef uses what is known as a drop tuning, as against a standard concert tuning. So, the uneducated eye would think it was wrong. But, as you've proved, when trying to give an impression of knowing what you're on about, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed.

    I thought of Sagamix when I read that....

    :o)

  • Comment number 28.

    Robin @ 15 wrote:
    I find your reference to Andrew Marr distasteful and inappropriate.


    >>

    Seems unlikely. Are you sure it wasn't the bit about you that you didn't like?

  • Comment number 29.

    IR35 @ treize

    Well a greater supply of labour may, other things being equal, act to depress wages so you can make the case that it did so. Fortunately the MW puts a legal limit on the extent to which employers can exploit the lower paid - although doubtless some of them ignore it and there's an argument it's too low in any event. As regards conspiracy theories on immigration, that Labour were driven by a determination to 'ethnicise' the country (or now this one, to drive down wages) - no, not for me. Symptom of labourphobia, all that stuff, plus paranoia about incomers, and I'm not a sufferer.

  • Comment number 30.

    Fubar @ 27 wrote:

    "Whereas if you had a clue, you'd know that Keef uses what is known as a drop tuning, as against a standard concert tuning."


    >>

    What is "a drop tuning", Fubar? Do you mean "drop D tuning", when the bottom E string is tuned two semitones lower?

    Personally, I think he uses open tunings more often - open D and open G.

  • Comment number 31.

    29#

    "Symptom of labourphobia, all that stuff, plus paranoia about incomers, and I'm not a sufferer."

    In other words, a denier. You could no more admit any modicum of truth in at least the possibility of it than you could countenance the non existence of the tooth fairy.

  • Comment number 32.

    I think Mandelson joining in and saying that Labourites should vote Yes purely to punish the Tories shows exactly why we dislike New Labour - short-term spin with no principles. As someone with no party affiliation, I dislike this hating of each side and wanting to change the rules to keep them out.

  • Comment number 33.

    The Yes campaign says an advantage of AV is that a majority vote for the winner.
    Mmm. Actually under AV there can be another candidate (whose 1st preference votes have been redistributed in an earlier voting round) who holds a majority over that 'winner', indeed over all other candidates too. (Take the case where no one wins outright and the candidate who comes bottom of the poll gets second place in the ranking of every voter who doesn't place him/her first.)

  • Comment number 34.


    The Yes campaign is saying, as is the Electoral Reform Society, that there is no need to vote strategically under STV.
    Mmm. As the above example in my 33 shows, there is. If all but those supporting the otherwise winning candidate vote to put the bottom of the poll candidate top of their lists, a majority prefer the outcome.

    The Yes campaign says it is tired of candidates winning without a majority.
    Mmm. As the same example shows, under AV, the genuine winner, the majority winner against each of the other candidates, need not get elected. Instead a couple of defeated candidates have a run-off and the better of the two losers 'wins'.

  • Comment number 35.



    The Yes politicians, Clegg and Huhne, talk of lies, yes, but not those used in the Yes campaign. Actually strategic voting itself successfully fills the gap between both FPtP and AV and the best possible system by bringing about the election of the true democratic winner, in single member constituencies.
    The only system which prevents strategic voting is dictatorship as the Gibbard theorem shows.
    Better that we, the people, do the strategy stuff (via the ballot box) rather than remote politicians in their gothic palace telling us what government they've cooked up and claim we voted for.
    In any case we have the oligarchic and dictatorial possibilities facing us - as Margaret Becket implied today- of the Lib Dems and Clegg in every government for the next 30 years
    We should hear Paddy on these bad Yes arguments, in my 33 and 34, and on the way the Lib Dems could well be in office always, from now on.

  • Comment number 36.

    #9 Watriler wrote:
    "We should not forget that we have an unelected government pursuing right wing policies more extreme than that implemented by Mrs T".

    Which policies are those? The ones that are following on from New Labour's intentions of reforming the NHS, free schools and welfare reform? Or maybe increasing the tax codes to take people out of paying tax rather than creating a complex political system to give people tax credits, like GB did? How quickly you forget that Mrs T kept Labour out of power for 18 years.

    I for one think that we have an excellent government at the moment and, as one with no party affiliation, I would be pleased to see Labour out of government for a long time for what they put the country through.

  • Comment number 37.

    fubar @ 27

    Yes, cheating isn't it, that 'open tuning' business. You don't get Hank Marvin (or the likes) doing it. Any case, so what? - is Keith Richards' autobiography even slightly relevant to the ever more readily apparent shortcomings of David Cameron? Well yes I suppose it is. Not only what I say @ 8 but also the concept of being chained to another bloke, reliant on him for your place in the spotlight, pretty much stuck with him whether you like it or not. Okay so for Cameron it's Nick Clegg rather than Mick Jagger, but the parallels are almost close. Scary thing is that the 'Glimmer Twins' (if they truly are the role model for the Coalition) have been going for nigh on 50 years.

  • Comment number 38.

    outrage @ 26

    Let's not forget another famous guitarist who rocked 'em in the aisles and made it all the way to the top - Tony Blair!


    Nothing but an ugly rumour, surely.

    Where does TB stand on Alternative Vote, anybody know? I'm thinking 'yes' (and especially now given Lord Mandelson's intervention) but I haven't heard him actually say so.
  • Comment number 39.

    sagamix 29

    Old music, old politics, says it all really. dinosaurs live.

  • Comment number 40.

    12. pdavies65:
    "Robin, etc."

    Nice one pd, looks like you hit the mark there.
    Robin standing up for Marr... now that's hypocrisy.

    #30.
    'What is "a drop tuning", Fubar? Do you mean "drop D tuning", when the bottom E string is tuned two semitones lower?'
    'Personally, I think he uses open tunings more often - open D and open G.'

    Many dropped tunings pd, same principle as dropped D but potentially across all strings. Don't know much about KR's tuning techniques but his blues background is probably responsible for him frequently using open tuning. Maybe easier on those gnarled old fingers?


  • Comment number 41.

    "admit any modicum of truth in at least the possibility of it" - fubar @ 31

    Very inviting wording, I must say. And I think I'll take you up on it - yes, I can acknowledge the merest slither of a chance that the possibility of it being not a million zillion miles away from at least a distant approximation of something not particularly close to the truth isn't necessarily and absolutely and for sure so vanishingly small as to be completely non-existent.

    I know it's tosh, in other words.

  • Comment number 42.

    Susie and the Banshees @39

    Bit harsh Susan.
    What cutting edge stuff are you listening to??


  • Comment number 43.

    #39 I thought the Yes campaign where the Dinosaurs

  • Comment number 44.

    I imagine much of the AV arguments between the Coalition darlings is indeed overblown, by the media aswell as the politicians. Its been a pitiful campaign on both sides, especially the No campaign, on an immensely important issue (voting reform). Its another example of how this coalition has provided the UK with a completely unsatisfactory outcome, bearing little resemblence to the aims of either of the parties. We could have had (almost) the best of both worlds, instead we're getting (almost) the worst. The Tories and LibDems really should have taken a leaf out of the highly successful Scottish coalitions between Labour and LibDems and agreed far better compromises, or the Tories could have shown the same guts as the SNP and gone for minority government.

  • Comment number 45.

    30#

    I didnt really want to confuse him any more than is necessary PD. The fact that it isnt a standard tuning should have been sufficient.

  • Comment number 46.

    41#

    No you dont.

    Not absolutely, categorically, beyond any reasonable, doubt you dont. You cant. You cant because you only see one perspective.

    No other perspective is allowed.

  • Comment number 47.

    #29
    IR35 @ treize

    Well a greater supply of labour may, other things being equal, act to depress wages so you can make the case that it did so. Fortunately the MW puts a legal limit on the extent to which employers can exploit the lower paid - although doubtless some of them ignore it and there's an argument it's too low in any event. As regards conspiracy theories on immigration, that Labour were driven by a determination to 'ethnicise' the country (or now this one, to drive down wages) - no, not for me. Symptom of labourphobia, all that stuff, plus paranoia about incomers, and I'm not a sufferer.

    The MW was a sop to the unions and the back benchers. Which is why 7 million were left idle , as it would have cost lots to train and they would have been paid MW minimum so they let lots of immigrants in. Nothing against them as people But they were allowed to be treated as slave by the employers whilst NL stood by in silence.

  • Comment number 48.

    #44 tend to agree with you there, think the tories should have held out and force the Libs into gordons hands.

    it might have casued a "PIIGS" situation for the UK but there would have been another election prob with David Davies at the Helm and landslide victory too

  • Comment number 49.

    Nick said “The interview was recorded not long after Paddy's all guns blazing amphibious assault on David Cameron for allowing the No campaign to target Nick Clegg personally”.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Clegg has allowed himself to become the target of ridicule all by himself; please don’t try to blame Cameron for this one.
    Clegg will get what’s coming to him because he turned his back the moment he got what he wanted from us & couldn’t even keep a promise of a vote on PR.

    What goes around comes around Mr Clegg & some of us have very long memories – this AV vote is personal.

  • Comment number 50.

    44. TheGingerF:

    The way the polls are going the SNP & the Greens could form a majority coalition.
    Gray looks a total liability.

  • Comment number 51.

    SusanC 24
    I'm glad you got some facts on the Scottish election from 2007. You missed the one on the constituency (FPTP) vote, Labour 37 seats out of 73 based on 32% of the vote, hence (very slender) majority if election had been FPTP. Ironically it was the Tories who ended up the big loser under FPTP in that particular election. On the election as a whole you are spot on - it was a bad result for Labour as it kicked them out of government.

    Not sure what to make of your last sentence in 24 above. My blogging times tend to be dictated by work, family, leisure etc, as I'm sure yours are too. I can also confirm I do not have an omnipotent ability to predict the end of a particular blog. You managed to respond in any case. All in all a rather unnecessary postscript to your post, but luckily aimed at a happy go lucky fella as myself, so I wish you all the very best for the rest of this blog.

  • Comment number 52.

    Peter White 36

    I for one think that we have an excellent government at the moment ...

    Do you mean using Mr.Clegg as the human cannonball?


  • Comment number 53.

    Perhaps any cause is debased by hyperbole, any passion made suspect by choreography. But in the run-up to the AV referendum, it might still be worth keeping some focus on the offered extension of political expression. A tad of scepticism might be appropriate towards political stances on the No ambush and the Yes outrage, but a tad more encouragement might be in order for hard-pressed voters, able to arrive at preferences, able to express them 1,2,3, but less able to see through the fog of war.

    AV is alleged to have 'costs', perhaps tens of millions of pounds a year if unnecessary machine-counting is used. At less than 1% of 1% of annual government spending, any extra cost would be tiny in comparison to the potential changes in spending direction and real policy impact, from even slightly more representative parliaments.

    Arguably, a referendum on voting change should be called only if the suggestion is of lesser representation. Today, at best 'traditionalist' fear of a more representative system, has made AV choice the subject of arcane 'what if' and 'cost-horror' stories. Because only a few seats might 'change-hands', the AV vote is being called 'a waste of time'.

    Though true that only small numbers of seats might 'change hands', AV - rarities aside - would bring fairness to those seats, and, through change in parliamentary balance and clarity of voter expression, might bring fairer representation in government.

    In races that remain 'two-horse', AV will make no difference. In close three-horse races, AV will prevent some 'minority victories'. In a few seats, those with 'large fields and no clear favourite', AV will prevent both 'the worst' and 'the best' of minority victories. Newcomers will at least be able to build on expressed 'first preferences'. Compared to the address of systemic corruption amongst 'those who rule over us', AV is important as 'just one small step onwards'. Of course no 'electoral system' can by itself be expected to heal nation-wide and planet-wide sicknesses.

    We will not have truly 'representative' government until 'our rulers are as ourselves' (in terms of share in economic outcome), all being free to be 'ruled' by conscience (securely equal 'risk-takers' and 'share-holders'), all of us 'belonging' in a vibrant democratic commonwealth.

    In the meantime, let us not be tricked out of a 'Yes for AV' - it offers a more detailed expression of opinion, even if often without electoral consequence.

  • Comment number 54.

    Unfair and also not accurate Susan (39). Re me and my modernity quotient anyway. If you could see my ipod - and perhaps one day you will - you'd be impressed. Some stuff on there which isn't even out till next year. No, you're the one being a stick in the mud with your stick-in-the-mud support for the status quo on our stick-in-the-mud voting system. Just going back to Keith Richards' autobiography for a second - and this could be the last time I refer to it, let's hope and pray - what got him in the end wasn't the wild after-gig partying and all that malarky, it was falling out of a coconut tree on a sedate family vacation. And could this - the AV referendum - be rather like that, I'm wondering? Could it be David Cameron's coconut tree?

  • Comment number 55.

    sagamix 29

    ' and I'm not a sufferer.'

    So you claim. In fact I'd suggest you claim too much. A rational analysis of immigration under Labour would conclude that it was damaging to the country as a whole, not least the working classes that Labour is meant to support. When even the likes of Polly Toynbee question Labour's record on immigration you have to wonder what sort of person would seek to claim the policy was of net benefit. The very dishonesty of the position would certainly make me question their true motives.

  • Comment number 56.

    TheBlameGame 50

    'The way the polls are going the SNP & the Greens could form a majority coalition.
    Gray looks a total liability.'

    A shame that. For Tory supporters at least. A Labour government in Scotland recking the Scottish economy the way they recked the UK economy, and are still doing so in Wales, would pretty much ensure the Tories gained a substantial majority in England.

  • Comment number 57.

    38. At 13:11pm 26th Apr 2011, sagamix wrote:

    ...Where does TB stand on Alternative Vote, anybody know? I'm thinking 'yes' (and especially now given Lord Mandelson's intervention) but I haven't heard him actually say so.


    That's interesting. He was certainly progressive - but was he that progressive? Margaret Beckett's a 'No', so therefore I'm guessing he's a 'Yes'.

    Not that he probably cares.

  • Comment number 58.

    50 TheBlameGame

    Agree this is a tantalising possibility. Suspect even more negative campaigning in the last week or so, which tends to favour Labour in Scotland (Labour or Tory in UK elections), will unfortunately take it just out of the equation.

    Gray aspires to be a liability, which from someone who has on occasions in the past supported Labour, is sad to say. Not fit to have been asked to tie Donald Dewar's shoelaces.

  • Comment number 59.

    IR35_SURVIVOR 43

    Of course dinosaurs vote yes to AV, they have been told to. They don't think for themselves.They cling onto the old tribal ways, and will vote for anything as long as it is against the Conservatives. Good or bad policy does not come into it. Mandleson knows this, that is why he has told Labour voters to vote yes just to vex Cameron.

  • Comment number 60.

    forgottenukcitizen

    'What goes around comes around Mr Clegg & some of us have very long memories – this AV vote is personal.'

    But I wonder what would happen if the electorate vote yes to AV? It's perfectly possible that Nick Clegg's position could be transformed. Don't forget the way in which Gordon Brown went from Stalin to Mr Bean and then back to the man who saved the world before breakfast each day. I wonder if Nick Clegg could yet been seen as the man who sacrificied his credibility short term to elevate the Lib Dems electoral chances long term. Could be a game changer for him.

  • Comment number 61.

    The fact that it isn't a standard tuning should have been sufficient.


    fubar @ 45

    Don't know why you're assuming I don't have a full and frank knowledge of the guitar and all which flows from it. I do. If you'd ever been at a party round here and seen people, once the juices are flowing, calling out for me to tool up and give them some 'Michael Row The Boat Ashore', you'd realise this.

    Re your 46 - the immigration nonsense - suggest you drop it. Nothing to be gained by peddling myths which pander both to BNP sentiment and to the actual BNP. Against 'AV' by the way, the BNP, so I understand. Odd, since how people that way inclined play it on the ballot - the position they put the Beeps, which parties they combine them with etc, would yield some quality marketing information.
  • Comment number 62.

    "Growth is back, unemployment is falling, inflation is down, the deficit is down, one sixth of schools have signed up to be academies and Ed Miliband now thinks he needs a nose job to better get his message across. That says it all."

    Nothing wrong with Gladstonian optimism.Like progress it`s secularism`s most convincing answer to redemption.

    It should however be based on more than fantasy.GDP is still 4.6% below its previous peak 2007-08.If the OBR forecast of 1.7% growth this year is achieved,GDP will still be depressed by 3.0%

    Inflation at 4% is double the BOE target figure.

    The deficit came in lower than expected in Labour`s last quarter 2010 as growth resumed.This should continue as tax receipts improve unless there are unexpected setbacks.

    I will convey your best wishes to Mr.Milliband`s septum when I see him next.



  • Comment number 63.

    TheGingerF 51

    I am very aware of the the trick Ginger, of posting nasty inaccurate posts late, in the hope that the blog closes. In fact Sagamix uses it quite regularly.

    You know about as much about Scottish politics as I do about what you had for breakfast this morning. I should hand you over to the Scottish blog for examination and see how long you last.

  • Comment number 64.

    a pig has just flown past my office with a labour policy document on it

  • Comment number 65.

    Sagamix 61

    The only reason the BNP are voting against AV is, as they have said, they want full PR. Puts them more in tune with the Lib/Dems and Miliband, don't you think, who also prefer PR.

  • Comment number 66.

    #61 its not a myth , around the road is a house with 12 poles in they share all the bills and work for minimum wages or less.

    My newphew a a goodish job above MV want to buy a house but cannot as he has t opay all the bills by himself.

    if the 12 poles where not here there would be 12 jobs for UK citezens and another house on the market which would help drive the price of houses down to where he could afford it. Also 12 people would be of the dole saving much tax ?

    whats your problem with that ?

  • Comment number 67.

    60.jobsagoodin wrote:
    forgottenukcitizen

    'What goes around comes around Mr Clegg & some of us have very long memories – this AV vote is personal.'
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "But I wonder what would happen if the electorate vote yes to AV? It's perfectly possible that Nick Clegg's position could be transformed".
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Jobs, I fear that Clegg has dug a hole so deep for himself that even a Chilean mine rescue team wouldn’t be able to dig him out.

    People need to remember that AV is not PR & it was PR that the LiDems promised us a vote on.

    If Clegg had actually grown a pair, he would have laid the PR vote down as a non negotiable policy during the pre Coalition agreement discussions, but he bottled it yet again to get his claim to lame (sic).

  • Comment number 68.

    jobs @ 55

    My motives are impeccable, I assure you. There was some sloppiness on the ground (isn't there always? ... you should check out 'Luigi's' after the lunchtime frenzy) but the policy on immigration was a sound one. I have zero time for these crazy ideas that it was all some machiavellian construct to beef up the Labour vote. If we build it they will come, was the idea. And they did come, but not in the droves of the fevered tabloid immagination. Labour inherited 59 million and they handed over 63 million. People, every single one of them. There's a lot of noise on this now - much of it of a best-ignored nature - but that modest expansion and diversification of our population will, in time, be seen to have been a very good thing. Bet you any money.

  • Comment number 69.

    66 IR35.

    So if they have it so good, would you be happy to trade places with one of those Poles?

  • Comment number 70.

    The No campaign is being dishonest. for example: suggesting that Fiji wants to get rid of AV because they thinks unfair when the military dictatorship of fiji actually thinks the idea of voting is unfair. Australia doesn't really want to get rid of AV either. The Cost of AV that NO2AV quotes includes the cost of the referendum which itself is part of the cost of local and Regional assembly elections. The Nick Clegg attack trying to get some of the more gullible students on board is also a bit low. It was the Conservatives who raised student fees. The Lib dems couldn't have stopped them.

  • Comment number 71.

    Don't see why the Tories are so worried about AV anyway. The second and 3rd choices of BNP, UKIP and "Monster Raving Loony" voters will ensure that they get their "leg up" past 50% way before the Lib-Dem voters' second choice even gets counted.

  • Comment number 72.

    61#

    Nothing to do with the BNP and you know it. Interestingly, at the point at which the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit was cooking up the scenarios that I have referred you to many many many times before, the BNP was not even a sub-5% sized political force, let alone an organisation with MEP's and councillors - I've found out today that in North Leicestershire and Yorkshire they've just gained six more councillors, completely unopposed.

    Didnt happen before your lot came into power, mate. They barely existed.


    Why was that, do you think? Why has this party emerged only since the days of New Labour? Because New Labour abandoned their previous core vote, having found a new school of fishy votes to trawl?

    You can keep on flannelling and denying as much as you like. Makes no odds. Theres no smoke without fire.

  • Comment number 73.

    64#

    REd's probably chasing after it as you speak, hoping to swap it for his blank piece of paper.

  • Comment number 74.

    "If you'd ever been at a party round here and seen people, once the juices are flowing, calling out for me to tool up and give them some 'Michael Row The Boat Ashore', you'd realise this."

    Mate, if I was at one of your parties, I would seriously be considering being a shaheedi. And that would be well before you picked up that battered old acoustic. I'd be doing the nation a great service.

  • Comment number 75.

    IR35 @ 66

    No, you misunderstand me. The 'myth' - the fruit & nutcase stuff - is that Labour's immigration policy was enacted so as to gain votes. This is clear and arrant nonsense. Once that's dropped, one can debate the topic sensibly. Your point, for example, about 12 Poles squashed in a house and working for peanuts. That's a problem, I totally agree. In fact forget Poles, just go with another word starting with 'P' - 12 people crammed in a house working for poor wages, this smells of exploitation by employer and landlord alike. I can see, obviously, that by stopping immigration one may reduce the opportunities for such exploitation, but for me this is doing the old 'treat the symptom, leave the disease' type thing.

  • Comment number 76.

    Huhne threatening legal action over apparently being deliberately misrepresented over this whole AV debate is quite typical of the left: when we don't get our own way, throw a tantrum in the courts. Clegg has called this anti-AV campaign "the last rasp of the right-wing" - oh god forbid there should be any other bloody opinions on offer to the people. God forbid that ANYONE should be right-wing. No, that's worse than being a Nazi, obviously. Incidentally, where exactly IS the right-wing in today's British politics? It's been exterminated, ostracised, exiled to UKIP, the BNP - that's where. The Left have bred extremism by virtue of their own damned intolerance.

    Clegg and Co have now been labelled "whingers" and "yapping dogs" by some Tories. Oh, quite apt. Quite, quite apt.

    Vote no to AV.

  • Comment number 77.

    There's no such thing as 'having the last word' on here, Susan (63), it's an endless (and many, though not I, might say pointless) conversation. Sort of like a Beckett play; a hazy 'one step forward, two back' dialogue/monologue without an end and - many would say, although not I - without a point. Just take Fubar and his patently crazy conspiracy theories on immigration, for example ... he gets knocked down (by me) but he gets up again etc etc, and so it goes on. And on.

  • Comment number 78.

    77#

    Just like chumbawumba, Saga... you're never gonna keep me down...

  • Comment number 79.

    pdavies... the blamegame

    You sound very much to me like two people tying themselves in knots trying to find an argument here.

    The facts are the medicine is working and the tories couldn't give a monkey's what happens to the libdems. All coalitions fall apart, it's just a matter of time and it won't trigger an election.

    AV will fail because its supporters have yet to trouble the scorer with a single argument about how this system would help 'our politics'.

    There comes a time in all societies when the arguments swing against you and the only person who so far seems to have understood this with any clarity on the left is David Miliband. Social Democracy has been tried and failed across Europe and is getting its just deserts. It fails to make the connection with the general public (shall we call them the 'squeezed middle'?) because the Social Democrats have fostered an open bordered, welfare burdened, debt riddled public sector.

    Having a discussion about AV might be a welcome diversion for the labour party and the libdems but when the vote is lost and this nonsense is all over the burning questions about the deficit, the public sector, immigration and welfare will come blasting back to send a chill wind through both the labour and libdem camps.

    A mess is a mess and this mess is newlbaour's...

    Throwing around the name of an unfaithful leftwing journalist and his spurned left wing journalist wife is just another leftist exercise in righteous indignation; you both do it so well.

  • Comment number 80.

    Oh incidentally Saga, you'll be heartened to know that I'm coming back to the UK in a couple of weeks to start a real job, so I'll be posting an awful lot less. Its safer to return now that Brown has been banished and Labour are washed up.

    You've still got another week or so to endure yet!

  • Comment number 81.

    What's Cameron then? Disreali without scruples?

  • Comment number 82.

    Sagamix 77

    'Sort of like a Beckett play'

    Talking of waiting for Godot, myself and Andy are still waiting on that list Saga. You know the one.

  • Comment number 83.

    Paddy Ashdown has had a ......well,a paddy! Huhne (surely the most boring man in
    politics) has succumbed to a hissy fit and Mandy has got withdrawal symptoms as he is not on TV being interviewed ad nauseum as much as his ego would like.

    All rather underwhelming and tedious.

  • Comment number 84.

    Oh incidentally Saga, you'll be heartened to know that I'm coming back to the UK in a couple of weeks to start a real job


    fubar @ 80

    Has the UK got any say in that? Guess not. Still, I'm no flip-flopper; I've said I welcome incomers of all types and I stand by it.
  • Comment number 85.

    I'm not a great one for lists Jobs (82), used to be when I was younger - top 10 this, top 10 that - but I'm a lot more mature these days. Guess that's pretty apparent from my various comments on these boards.

  • Comment number 86.

    Sagamix 77

    I don't think I would describe Beckett plays in quite that way, but I get your meaning.

    Well you can keep trying to get one over on Fubar, but to be honest, you have never succeeded yet and I cannot see it happening in the future either. Your outclassed both by Fubars wit and ability to see the truth.

  • Comment number 87.

    oh dear. Moderated. Guess I must have hit a nail on the head...

    Shame...

  • Comment number 88.

    #69 that the whole point no I would not nor would expect my nephew too either
    nor expect the poles to except it either or this country for that fact.

    this is where the NL policy is wrong.

    You need to open your eyes

  • Comment number 89.

    "You're outclassed both by Fubar's wit and ability to see the truth." - Susan @ 86

    :-)

    Didn't think you did comedy sarcasm. Nice surprise! I wonder what other talents you've been hiding from me?

  • Comment number 90.

    So the choice is Hitler, Stalin, Einstein, Madonna, Evita Peron and Paul McCartney.
    Given the choice I'll vote 1 for Einstein but - well he's not exactly as well known as the others is he. Without an Alternative Vote I am in effect resigning myself to whichever populist is the most popular with all the polls pointing to Hitler being just ahead of Stalin. With my Alternative Vote I'd vote 2 for Paul McCartney. Well meaning, probably not predisposed to war mongering and got enough money to be above corruption. Damn populism. It seems Hitler, Stalin, Peron and Madonna are still better known although Hitler has fallen a little way behind Stalin on the distribution of Einsteins preferences. Of what's left Madonna is likely to be the least damaging so 3 goes to her. For once someone else comes last and its Peron's preferences that get distributed. It seems Peron was popular amongst the female vote who have a strong preference for Madonna who just manages to get ahead of Hitler. So its down to Stalin versus Madonna with Hitler's second preferences calling the shots.

    Now Hitler's supporters knew their competition was Stalin so they give their preferences to everybody else but Stalin. These find their way via the progressive allocation of prefrences to Madonna who then gets the required 50% + of the vote and the world is saved from Tyranny, Mayhem and Murder. The only downside is that we get to have to put up with the Material Girl until the next election. Which is the point I guess since under Madonna there will actually be a next election whereas under Hitler, Stalin or Peron probably not.

    Just as night follows day any electoral system that requires the winner to be preferred by more than 50% of the electorate has to be superior to one that does not.

    For those that don't agree just show me how First Past The Post saves the world in this situation.

  • Comment number 91.

    63 Susan-Croft wrote:

    "I am very aware of the the trick Ginger, of posting nasty inaccurate posts late, in the hope that the blog closes. In fact Sagamix uses it quite regularly."
    =========================================

    Bit of coincidence, eh ????

    "You know about as much about Scottish politics as I do about what you had for breakfast this morning."
    ======================================
    Are you suggesting there's a cereal poster on here ????

  • Comment number 92.

    Guess I must have hit a nail on the head. (robin @ 87)

    Anything's possible Robin, I suppose, but your track record indicates that some other explanation is far more likely.
  • Comment number 93.

    IR35 @ 88 But these jobs were there before - The UK citizens just didn't want them. Maybe they needed to be associated with a decent living wage?

    I don't buy your conspiracy theory either - I think the influx was simply down to the previous government's gross negligence and incompetence. I think you give them too much credit.

  • Comment number 94.

    Honesto 90

    If you are a wise man, you will vote for none of them and leave the Country quickly. Under AV, which seems to be your preferred choice of voting, they will all end up, most probably, in Coalition with each other. Eventually, therefore, you will see Stalin and Hitler killing off the others leaving just the two of them. The end game will then be which of them can kill the other.

    I don't think any voting system would improve the situation with the candidates you suggest.

  • Comment number 95.

    honesto @ 90

    Yes, an excellent example which well illustrates the strengths of AV over FPTP. Just on a point of detail (and not to detract in any way, shape or form from what we're trying to show), I'd say it's unlikely that any Einstein supporters would go Stalin as second preference. I think they'd all do Macca or Madonna.

  • Comment number 96.

    Strictly 91

    Brilliant.

  • Comment number 97.

    Susan@63

    You may well be aware of blogging tricks Susan, but as I said, and you might have the good grace to accept, I dont partake in them. You are letting your annoyance at one of my posts get the better of you it would appear. If its such a big deal go and press the complain button.

    Interesting that you feel you can pass me over to other blogs. Too late - I regularly post on many of the other ones, including Blether with Brian.

    This blog however has more assertion based and often factless posts to challenge so is often better fun.

  • Comment number 98.

    GingerF 97

    This blog however has more assertion based and often factless posts to challenge so is often better fun.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    You should know, you write them.


  • Comment number 99.

    97. TheGingerF wrote:

    "Susan@63

    "You are letting your annoyance at one of my posts get the better of you ...... Interesting that you feel you can pass me over to other blogs. "
    ==========================================

    Is this what the mean by "First Pass the Post" ?

    I'm more of a "One Man One Post" person myself ......

  • Comment number 100.

    Susan, you're getting rather scattergun if you don't mind me saying. Fubar thinks so too. What's happened to the lazer-like focus of old?

 

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