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The Furrowed Brow

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Eddie Mair | 07:51 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2007

The place to think deep thoughts, and perhaps even express them.

If you want to talk about the content of PM, please use The Glass Box.

If you're feeling like fun and relaxation - congratulations - saunter to the Beach.

If you're just really really bored, try reading a book.

Comments

  1. At 09:13 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Member of the Public wrote:

    I understand that the Home Office is on the verge of being split into two, but as Ministers rearrange the Government furniture there is (according to press reports) fresh evidence that this rushed move is merely a distraction from the real issues. According to the department's own analysis, the system of policing and criminal justice presided over by Labour for the last 10 years is not only failing to have the desired effect on crime levels in key areas, such as robbery, but is actually producing perverse outcomes.

    While important differences exist between the main political parties on law and order issues, some common principles are shared by all sides, in particular that violent offenders should be more likely to go to prison and should be there for longer than those guilty of most other offences. Tony Blair himself has frequently stressed the importance of violent criminals being removed from society.

    How disturbing, therefore, to find that statistics analysed by the Home Office suggest that violent offenders are actually less likely to be jailed than other criminals. I don't think any Government would ever sanction that approach so the fact that such a situation exists points to a significant failure in Labour's management of the criminal justice system.

    Similarly, there is a shared understanding that drugs and addiction are at the root of a large proportion of crime in Britain and that effective drug treatment must be part of the penal system. However, it now emerges the Home Office's own research shows drug treatment orders are having little effect and yet there has been no rush from Ministers to change their approach. The document does offer some hope to Ministers in their efforts to cut crime. It points to an "association" between longer custodial sentences and lower re-offending rates. How unfortunate then that poor Government planning means the country's prisons are at bursting point, prompting predictions that a wave of early releases will be sanctioned shortly to relieve the pressure.

  2. At 09:19 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    Two and a half hours an dno deep thoughts yet. Is that a deep thought in itself.

    What's the etiquette re talking politics on the blog prior to elections this week? Are we banned from any political thoughts on Thursday?

    We all go on about election apathy but I note for the local elections we have had two flyers through the door. Current councillor and BNP. No door knocking. So I believe its also party apathy.

    The only obvious election banner is on the back of the BNP's Discovery and that get my back up everey time I see it.

  3. At 09:47 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Eddie, is there a reason you've started another Furrowed Brow just three days after the last one? Were we not being serious enough for you on that thread?

  4. At 10:25 AM on 30 Apr 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re; Fearless (3) - I think it's referred to as a 'Senior moment' :-)

  5. At 10:36 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Some pertinent questions well put, MOP(1) .

    Eddie, You might provide links in such a future intro to the Brow? ;-)

    The Today 'discussion' boards regularly ban Party comments in the immediate run-up. They don't seem to be banned here, but neither are purely 'party political' comments made. Perhaps they are digitally filtered as "Spam", as I'm informed some of my comments apparently are.

    Isn't Monday rather early in the week to begin a congregation in the bar, or is it a shrewd way to allow political discussion - just like at my local?

    Slainte
    ed

  6. At 10:40 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    MotP, you make reference to press releases and reports in your posting (currently 1). Could you put some links up so that we can look at the data as well? I'd like to have that in my mind before joining into a deeper discussion. Thanks!

    FFred

  7. At 11:02 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Ffred (6),

    If you look in the refuge, you'll see that Marc reckons that my use of links sets off the spam detectors. This is unfortunate for the very reasons behind your request, particularly in the context of a serious bar-room discussion.

    I don't know whether open visible links, e.g.

    http://www.btselem.org/english/statistics/Casualties_Data.asp?Category=13
    http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/tao.html

    are more irritation to the robo spam czar than embedded links, but apparently the blog gets 'a lot of spam'.

    Clearly the software isn't fully up to the job we're asking it to do.

    xx
    ed

  8. At 11:19 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    In the 'brow last week,
    At 05:30 PM on 26 Apr 2007, Charles Hatton wrote:

    Ed (14) - Please forgive my stereotypical townie (but genuine) questions. I'm interested to know what you think the way forward for the UK is? Surely we can't all live like you do? Some of us will have to live in towns, work in offices, shop in supermarkets etc.

    And I posted a reply five times into the blog's 'spam' folder, from which it has yet to appear.

    Will it get through today?

    Charles (16),
    "Surely we can't all live like you do? Some of us will have to live in towns, work in offices, shop in supermarkets etc."

    Indeed, but the more farmers' markets and allotments the better. Population (and density thereof) continues to grow, and that ain't good. We should all consider reducing our excessive mobility by seeking to work as near to home as possible. Commuting ain't cheap, even for the commuter, but it's tremendously expensive for the environment as well. And we should all be aware of the diesel embodied in everything we consume.

    It's time to consider the urban landscape with a view to reduced mobility and better public transport for what can't be avoided. For the first time in history more folk are urban than rural, worldwide. London had around a million folk in 1800.

    Check Worldwatch

    As for jet travel, don't even ask.

    xx
    ed
    Thursday April 26, 2007 at 19:11:57 GMT

  9. At 11:25 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Ffred (6),

    I've sent you an illustrated answer, but it'll get detected as 'spam', so this is likely to get through. Check the refuge for some detail, but it seems thatb if MOP includes links, his posts are likely (like mine) to be treated (digitally filtered) as spam annd consigned to the 'junk' folder. This leaves Marc with the odious task of recovering it if an irate frogger shouts loudly enough. He has more important tasks to do. The frog is not all (sadly)
    xx
    ed

  10. At 11:40 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    I seem to recall sometime last week when Eddie changed the day for refreshing the Beach, he also mentioned that he'd like to start the Brow with the start of the working week as he felt people preferred to lounge over the weekend and be more serious during the week.

  11. At 11:53 AM on 30 Apr 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Stewart (2) It's even more apathetic here. Our local Borough and Parish Council election is uncontested and the sole candidate declared elected even before the election was due.

  12. At 12:44 PM on 30 Apr 2007, The New Blog Prince aka Marc wrote:

    Ed @ 7: your comment only appears here because I went into the "Junk" folder and published it. If I can just remind all froggers here: the inclusion of website addresses, links or email addresses in a post is likely to be picked up as SPAM and put in the Junk bin as a result. We get *hundreds* of spam comments a day, so trawling through the Junk folder to find genuine ones is time-consuming. If you want to avoid your post going astray, write in "long form" eg http colon forward slash forward slash en dot wikipedia dot org forward slash wiki forward slash Eddie underscore Mair ;-)

  13. At 12:51 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Stewart (2) It depends what you mean by "party apathy" -- people have to be interested enough to join a party and agree to be nominated in the first place. Parties are made up of people after all. Where I live there are three council seats up for election on Thursday. There are three Tories in them alreasdy and they are all standing again along with one Lib Dem candidate. I've had one leaflet from either party. I happen to know that both the Lib Dems and the Labour party would have liked to contest all three seats, but, despite trying very hard over a few months, neither could find anyone willing to stand for election in the ward. And there are no independents standing. (I would stand myself but I am moving out of the ward next month.) I think that is general apathy in spite of the efforts of the parties here, rather than 'party apathy'.

  14. At 12:54 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Marc (12),

    Again, thanks for all your efforts on our behalf.

    A test:
    Does the following get through to frogpond or get diverted to septic tank?

    aitchttp://www.ironictimes.com
    xx
    ed

  15. At 12:55 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    A test (2):
    Does the following get through to frogpond or get diverted to septic tank?

    http://www.ironictimes.com
    xx
    ed

  16. At 12:58 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Thanks for that Sparky Marc (12)! I was not previously aware!! :-)

  17. At 12:59 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    A test(3):
    Does the following get through to frogpond or get diverted to septic tank?

    aitchttp
    xx
    ed

  18. At 01:00 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Three quick posts without a malicious warning! Shows how slow a typist I am!
    xx
    ed

  19. At 01:04 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Appy,

    You're right. It has been suggested that I might stand for this or that by party folk of several colours, but I could only morally stand as an independent (and that colour folk have also suggested it), but I don't fancy the work (especially the travel) and would rather snipe from the sidelines (or work informally on community matters).

    Besides, I'm a foreigner and not entitled to stand or vote until Scotland attains statehood, when I will proudly accept Scottish citizenship. I still won't stand.

    xx
    ed
    aitchttp://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/loose.html

  20. At 01:07 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Hey Appy. When are you moving? Big house-warming in your new gaff?

    Si.

  21. At 01:21 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    I have a small problem with this blog, small being the operative word. My set-up is old and small (Netscape 3.01 running on a Mac Quadra 650) and when I try to access any part of the blog over a certain size, it simply cannot do it. I can see most threads when they start, but if they are interesting and many people contribute to them, I am unable to collect any of the later parts, nor indeed any of that thread once it grows over a certain size. The machine simply gives up and Netscape dies with a sad Please Save Any Work On Open Applications And Restart Your Machine. That can get very frustrating if I answer a point, and then can never see any arguments that might refute mine or inform me of things I got wrong.

    O Frog Prince Marc, is there any way in which the system used by some websites, whereby the first section of any given bit of the website is displayed and one can then click to see more, could be used here? We have things broken up into threads (the Furrowed Brow and the Beach and so on); would it be possible to break them up a little further? I may not be the only person using old tech for reasons of poverty or preference...

    I have never been able to visit the Beach, because every time I try it is already too large for this poor little machine to encompass! Waaah!

    One other thing: would it be possible to include in the front page some address for getting in touch with Marc, so that people like me did not have to send this sort of message to the whole world? I know that the email for contacting the Blog Supremo has been mentioned in threads, but I can never get at those threads to find out what it is!

    I am going to assume that Marc can get my email address from this post and reply to me alone if he prefers not to talk with the whole list about this. :-) I know, you are already doing a splendid job for us and all we do is whinge and complain and criticise; I was trying to make a constructive suggestion, but I have no idea how much of a bore it may be getting a request like this one. :-(

  22. At 01:42 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Mr Fish,

    There is a link on the right (just below the second blue bar) and it goes to
    aitchttp://www.pmblog.co.uk/froggers%20refuge.html

    I have sometimes seen the NBP sharpie haning out there.

    xx
    ed

  23. At 01:52 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Ah Mr Fish (21)! I did wonder why we'd never seen you on the beach -- although of of course you would need to keep nipping back into the water so that you could breathe -- my commiserations. Assuming you can read thus far, of course.

    Ed (19) But isn't that a bit like expecting someone else to do what you "don't fancy the work" to do? (Please forgive the grammar). If one feels strongly enough about something, surely one ought to get in there and do something about it, rather than hoping/expecting someone else to?

    Si (20) Probably before the end of May but it could be June -- date's not yet finalised. Housewarming? You mean you're going to come round and set me on fire? ;-)

  24. At 01:53 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    IT seems that all three test comments got through, but the first one (14) v irtually flew, and I suspect Marc retrieved the other two (15 & 17) from the cesspit. (18) got through like lightning!

    SO, an "aitc" prefix seems sufficient to 'mask' a URL (link) from the robo-spam cop.
    xx
    ed

  25. At 02:40 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Mr Fish (21),
    Go to the frogger's Refuge, linked near top left under the second blue band.

    xx
    ed
    Premature exclamation warning! (3)
    Monday April 30, 2007 at 14:39:06 BST

  26. At 03:04 PM on 30 Apr 2007, The New Blog Prince aka Marc wrote:

    Chris @ 21

    I'm sorry you're having technical difficulties, and I will ask questions along the lines of your solution. However, while not wanting to minimise the problems you're having, my instinct is that your proposal would work for you - while causing inconvenience for many others people. The reason we began separate threads (Beach, Brow etc) was precisely to avoid them getting too long, as happened with the infamous Day One thread. Now, each thread is by and large manageable. Splitting them even further would mean the flow of a thread being broken up.

    If you - or indeed any other frogger - wants to contact me directly, I have now set up an email address for you to send any specific issues you'd like me to look into, without going too public with it. Please don't use it simply to ask "why's that comment not been published yet?" or "can I have a signed photo of Eddie". Seriously though, I will endeavour to answer all reasonable queries or points made, but please bear in mind that I have a day job to be getting on with. The email address is pmblogprince at hotmail dot com. (I'm hoping that doing the address like that will prevent me being offered the chance to obtain 25% of the sum of 24,500,000USD found "unexpectedly" after an audit of the Bank of Burkina Faso...)

  27. At 03:05 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Appy;
    I have that effect on the beautiful Ladies. They get all hot under the collar when they meet me.

    Then I wake up.

    Besides, who can match up to the only chap in your life? No-one else stands a chance. No names, no Eddie's.

    Si.

  28. At 03:19 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Ed, thanks for trying! I'm sure the Frogger's Refuge is a wonderful place, but all it has on it for me is a pretty picture of a beach in purples and mauves, and a link to the Beach for various dates, and if I click on those Beaches it says Oops Too Big. Or words to that effect. Then I restart the machine and try the next one, and then I can repeat for any of the others. If I were able to go to the Beach I could lounge in the shallows and view it all through a periscope, maybe toss the occasional tasty seaweed to the camels, stuff like that, but I can't.

    I am never going to find out what happened to the rest of the recent discussion on The Weather, either, unless I go and use a different machine belonging to someone else.

    Just tell me, before this Furrowed Brow grows too large, did anyone provide a reason, as opposed to a pretext, for patio heaters? I wasn’t being rhetorical, I really wanted to know because those really do have me baffled as a lifestyle choice.

  29. At 03:22 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Humph wrote:

    You are thinking of having a house warming in June, Appy (23)? What, do you mean that the windows do not open? Hang on, I forgot that you lived "Op Narth".

    H.

  30. At 05:27 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Si "Besides, who can match up to the only chap in your life? No-one else stands a chance. No names, no Eddie's."

    "No" in the same sentence as "Eddie"? You have me confused!

    I will keep you posted on the house-warming front. Today I have a horrible headache and so it doesn't bear thinking about. :-(

  31. At 07:37 PM on 30 Apr 2007, John H. wrote:

    Chris, I work with computers - tho' not very well, admittedly - and so appreciate and respect people's endeavours to make "choices" and not just use a wintel machine from PC World (other high street suppliers are available along with specialist suppliers and direct sellers), but surely the question that has to be asked is "Why?"! I've got a machine - somewhere - running Win95 and some Red Hat distribution, and that has IE v1 or v2 on it (I forget), but I wouldn't actually use it for frogging. Are you a character from a future series of Life on Mars?

    You've got me thinking now. I wonder if you could frog using snail mail? You know, have a print out sent at regular intervals and write in your responses to various threads - expecting somebody to enter them on your behalf. That would be so pointless, it's almost funny. And completely off on a tangent, does anybody Twitter? I'd never heard of it until I saw something on the BBC Technology page. Bizarre.

    Oh eck, that's not exactly Furrowed Brow, is it. Humph, what the hell is "Op Narth"? And there is a fairly good history of the social commentator standing on the sidelines taking pot shots at the establishment. Noam Chomsky is a notable figure in both of my fields and he's pretty much dedicated his later life to, I think he calls is, being a "gadfly". So, Ed, you're in good company. Just for the record, we've got the standing and A. N. Other. I'm going for the other.

  32. At 08:45 AM on 01 May 2007, John H. wrote:

    I think I got zapped on here last night - must be the first time in months.

  33. At 01:06 PM on 01 May 2007, Belinda wrote:

    John H (32): Did you enjoy it?


  34. At 06:02 PM on 01 May 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    OK, a serious pre-Thursday post...

    Scottish MPs voting on English matters is a problem, but the best way to sort it is to set up an English parliament to deal with solely English matters.

    That would also stop the moaning from certain quarters about the funding that Scotland gets. With an English parliament would inevitably come an English "block grant" - a set amount of money that England could spend every year, just like Scotland has - rather than having uncapped spending from UK funds as now.

    The infamous Barnett Formula - which tops up Scotland's block grant in proportion to England's overspending (relative to expected spending I believe) - could then be scrapped much to everyone's relief I'm sure.

    That way, everyone gets the benefits of independence without actually having to break up the Union. Then again, full independence might be easier to implement than that.

  35. At 09:07 AM on 02 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Marc-le-Nouveau-FrogPrince(12):

    the infamous Day One thread??

    That almost amounts to blasphemy! ;o)

  36. At 10:35 PM on 02 May 2007, John Pearson Allen wrote:

    Hello Citizens.
    This is my first time here. I have a deep distrust of giving power to anyone, so I usually resort to sarcasm. Many a true word said in jest, though. It probably comes from my deep 'pitman' roots while walking in the deeply bourgeois territory of Radio4.

    We talk of power.
    We elect people by 'Party' at a particular time called an 'election' and we hand over power. Then we're stuck with them until the next time we can go through the same process, and put the new or old faces back in to the same institutions to run the same system. They have to swear an oath, unswerving and unchanging. No matter upon which mandate they where elected by the electors, the oath is to preserve the system and and to Her Majesty.

    We fool ourselves that on that particular election day, 'we the people' have power. But what about the day after? The months and years to come? What if (when!) the person whom we have elected strays from the mandate upon which we have put trust and our vote with them? And it's nearly a full five years to hold them to account. They are now the masters of society.

    This goes beyond 'the party' and beyond a General Election. It's the individual being within a system that gives power- it makes 'masters' when, in fact, we need servants.

    Yes, there is "public consultation", but only upon the ideas of the masters. They decide the course, the details and the agenda; the only consultation is upon how their ideas should be implemented. And only after they have been elected. The Poll Tax is an example that screams to us from history. Yes, there are white-papers, but will they ever produce one for an oil war? For the forth coming battles for the world's resources? Do we have white papers for 'British interests' abroad or for the actions of Trans-National Corporations? Is there a vote given to the power of capital over the lives of every living thing on earth?

    Once power is handed over, how are we to protect ourselves from our own representatives? How can we make sure they remain the servants of our wishes and not become like the masters of society that we have just replaced them with?

    Firstly, we could give the INDIVIDUAL we elect a binding mandate. If the individual breaks the mandate, we should remove him/her at any moment and not just at an election. There will be no careerism or place hunting.
    That individual should know he can be recalled at any moment. There will be no careerism or place hunting.
    They should be paid workmen's wages. We could then have four or five more representatives which could then be then only good for a more true representation of the wishes of society as a whole. There will be no place hunting or careerism.
    Parliament should be a working body, not just an executive one. The individuals together will be the working body, not a particular party. There will be no careerism or place hunting.

    Let's take the power back. At any moment.
    Let us be the masters of ourselves.
    "Public Consultation"? There is no contradiction in the phrase "Elector's Dictatorship".

    Just a thought. XX

  37. At 11:23 AM on 03 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    John Pearson Allen wrote:

    Hello Citizens.
    This is my first time here. I have a deep distrust of giving power to anyone, so I usually resort to sarcasm.

    Welcome Brother, and Well Met!

    I couldn't agree more:
    http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/loose.html

    Scotland's system, combining PR and FPTP is a vast improvement, giving me representatives from four parties or more, SNP, Tory, Green and Labour, and perhaps a socialist this time. (What? No LibDem?)

    Don't forget to vote, you who have the franchise, and thanks John! Did you get zapped for lodging me with Chomsky? Flattering indeed. My hatband's begun to bind a bit.
    xx
    ed

  38. At 11:27 AM on 03 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    My round. Here's to the pitmen AND the bourgoisie (or at least some of us)
    xx
    ed

    (I reckon an early drink is OK on Erection Day)

  39. At 05:08 PM on 03 May 2007, John H. wrote:

    Golly John Pearson Allen (36ish), are you a character from V for Vendetta or something similar? Your phrase "elector's dictatorship" reminds me of a comment supposedly made by an American president about the system that we actually have - can't remember the pithy wording but the gist was that the PM is effectively a dictator for the term of the parliament.

    I'm not sure that I believe so wholly that there is no accountability in the system we have, other than at election time. Look what happened to Charles Kennedy when his party decided that he was becoming a liability - it happened to Maggie before that, and Major and in a way it's happening to TB now. Admittedly, this is not the accountability that an individual MP has to her/his constituents that I think you are talking about. But even then, with the "party system" enough unrest can make its mark.

    I'm not an expert in politics and so I will leave more "informed" comment to the like of Si, Drinks, Ed and others but I think there is value in the kind of "representational democracy" that we have. Without it, yes, you could argue that individuals could have more influence, but which individuals? Would everybody have the time - and interest - to consider all the issues or would it just be the "special interest" groups - in my experience, vocal, self-selecting groups rarely represent the voice of the majority.

    That said, I'd love to see an innovative MP - an independent, obviously - implement some sort of "local referendum" for issues on which s/he had to vote on a regular or even habitual basis. Prolly impossible, but in this world of communication saturation, you'd think that somebody could work it out!

  40. At 05:59 PM on 03 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    John Pearson Allen:

    Your ideas have merit, though I think we'd need to look at other systems operating in a similar way to that you describe in order to see how effectively they can work in practice.

    If anyone knows of a source (preferably a book) in which the various systems of government employed across the world, past and present, are compared, I'd be most interested to read such an account. Nations which are coming to mind are Switzerland, Ancient Greece, various Native American tribes .....

    However, on the negative side, I'm also thinking Italy, the US, and other nations where democratic institutions don't work as thoroughly as ours (imho), the former because their voting system tends to lead to coalitions which fold through dissent, the latter because of the corrupting interests of big business.

  41. At 09:46 AM on 04 May 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    SSCat;
    The Barnett formula is used to give Scotland more money, per capita, than is spent on services in England. You have it the wrong way around. Every public service in England costs less per capita than every public service in the other three home nations. If Scotland could reduce the cost of it's health services, social security, policing, local Government grants, etc to English levels then there would be no need for a Barnett-block-grant at all.

    And, of course, the wages are the same, within narrow limits, as they are in England. The extra cost goes in the administration costs. They are simply far less efficient than those in England and there is consequentially far more waste.

    JP Allen;
    It's not fooling yourself, on that one single day you genuinely do have as much power as anyone with a ballot paper. But you are right to say that the following day you have none at all.

    Four or five times as many elected politicians as we have now? God forbid! We already have too many. The entire USA runs with around 450 (?) Representatives and only 100 Senators. Why does a nation with a fraction of the population need 50% more in its lower house and multiples in the Upper House?

    You can't have a system where every elected representative lives from day to day at the whim of the local people. He'd be buffeted from position to position every time their wishes altered. He (or she) would have to adopt one policy today and another tomorrow if his mailbag made him change position.

    But hand-in hand with that thought, individuals change their minds when new facts force a reappraisal of their thinking. They have to be free to make that change and not be ossified into a stagnant formula for years on end. I would not wish to be the same man that I was when I was 20, or 30, for example.

    That hardly equates with your wish to formulate a position and then stick rigidly to it without variation for the next five years, does it? The world changes from day to day and week to week. I can't be certain what job I'll be in at the end of this year. How can I formulate a plan for the next five years and be expected to stick to it?

    Political parties have formed because a collection of individuals with a generally common outlook have come together to present a theme to the populace. There is room within that generalism for local variations. We don't yet have a 'Stepford Wives' idea of politicians and I hope that we never do, rigidly bound into one single way of thinking.

    EdI;
    You said "Scotland's system, combining PR and FPTP is a vast improvement".

    "serious technical difficulties". Seven counts suspended because of counting problems. Computers that won't talk to each other. Spoilt ballots at record levels.

    This system, which people are now slating for complexity and which has bewildered the voting public, precisely BECAUSE it used a mix of FPTP and PR, has meant over 100 000 spoilt ballots in Scotland. The single biggest story of the night from your neck of the woods was the absolute shambles of the Scottish voting system. If that's an improvement I'd hate to know what a mess it was in before!

    And it looks as if the Socialists have been wiped out, thanks to a split in their ranks. The Greens have made no mark on the constituency section, although they will surely come out better in the regional lists. Democracy may actually have become less representative in Scotland as result.

    One last thought. Having the vote does not mean that people have to exercise it. There is thankfully no compulsion to vote (as you suggest that they must do), otherwise you'd be seeing a far higher level of spoilt papers than you currently are.

    Si.

  42. At 10:48 AM on 04 May 2007, JPAllen wrote:

    Hello Simon W,

    I did try to clarify things yesterday, but they got lost in cyber-space.

    A binding mandate would bind between both elector and elected. We're not all fickle. And as for the number of reps, I was thinking more of bottom-up;

    Place of work Committee elects to-
    Local committee elects to-
    District committee elects-
    Regional Committee elects to-
    National Committee find themselves as an administratorship on worker's wages.

    I dare not recommend any reading because cyber space doesn't like it. Sorry John H/Big Sis/Ed, but this is not the right place, it seems. I did try, though. XX

  43. At 11:34 AM on 04 May 2007, JPAllen wrote:

    John H-

    I've been censored, so can't be as clear as I wish.

    Everyone who put an 'X' in a box yesterday is a 'V' character.

    I'm 43, look 36 and behave like 12.

    There is "to elect a dictatorship" and..
    "an elector's dictatorship". If you look at a globe you may find a more classic phrase.

    TB/the Rusty Lady/and Single Malt were all removed by colleagues worried about their own career and not by the electors. And they end up in the Lord's.

    Ed,

    I love teepees and visit the Highlands often. We may bump into each other.

    Big Sis,

    Highgate Cemetery will lead you to a Memorial Library in EC1.

    Byeee XX

  44. At 12:30 PM on 04 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    JPA: I'd rather thought this to be the case. For what it's worth, it's an area with which I've been familiar in my journey through life ..... and I've been lucky enough to have close contact with several respected thinkers who've explored the same lanes.

    I'd try posting again. It would surprise me greatly if the moderators were blocking anything along those lines - they mainly focus on length, words like to offend, and the like. Also, you can try posting links.

    You may just have hit a teabreak - sometimes posts just take longer to get through.

  45. At 12:51 PM on 04 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    sIS (40),

    "OUR" system is less free than the US's of the corrupting influence of big business???

    Aye, That'll be right!

    Si (41),

    If wages are more or less the same, why are average earnings in the SE so much higher than in Scotland?

    The voting system (i.e. the Ballots and the counting) was indeed a disaster, of which the (Labour-led) Executive had been warned by all the returning officers.

    JPAllen (42),

    You tried and succeeded, so far as I'm concerned, but as Someone noted, nobody ever went broke under-estimating the mental capacity of "the public"

    The effective censorship generated by the inadequate-to-the-task software is indeed frustrating, but the frog remains a wonderful thing all the same, and our friends in the Team are doing their best.

    I believe a sorted life is indicated by next winter's firewood cut by Spring and stacked on the porch by September. I have never even nearly managed that.
    xx
    ed

  46. At 01:46 PM on 04 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    EdI: Sorry? Reading your comment I don't understand you. Imho, the UK political system is far MORE free of the corrupting interests of Big Business than that of the US - and I'm not politically naive, believe me! I do realise, though, that lobbying takes place here too, but with less success in general. You and I both know that the oil lobby in the US is one of the most forceful drivers of US policy worldwide.

  47. At 03:39 PM on 04 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I don't want to contradict you twice, Sis, but from where I sit, there's plenty of undue influence here from the well-feathered. And for sale. And, besides , doesn't the UK have considerable Oil interests? BP Amoco is No2; second only to Exxon.

    And we did singlehandedly re-define the posture formerly known as shoulder-to-shoulder as well as the appropriate posture for a poodle approaching a shrub.
    xx
    ed

  48. At 06:23 PM on 04 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    EdI:

    I'm not defending the Blaring Shrub position, which continues to defeat and bemuse me (unless it's the Christian ethic which unites them - even odder, imho!). However - I'm afraid I maintain my position on this one. I agree with you that there's been plenty of 'cash for honours' type activity around in the UK (and I certainly don't defend that, believe me!) and also I'm quite sure there are business interests out there which have influence in our political scene, but I'm afraid this simply doesn't equate to the pressures that exist within the US scene from specific business lobbies and which so firmly determine its political direction.

    And, while we're at it, UK international politics aren't driven by one group of influence. Given your view of the Arab/Israeli issue, I'm extremely surprised that you appear to be lumping the UK together with the US in this way.

    I'm not stupid, Ed, and I understand the political scene in my country very well. I also have very strong links with the US and have pretty good insights into the position in your home country.

    Neither are perfect. Nor are they identical.

  49. At 06:40 PM on 04 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Si,
    "You said "Scotland's system, combining PR and FPTP is a vast improvement"."

    And I still believe it to be so, but even on that they changed the ballot's form. In committee, no doubt.

    AND I said I was far from sure about PR at Local Government level, because it encouraged Party politics at too low a level. It seems that the battle between SNP and NuLabour has also had the effect of squeezing out a number of smaller parties at the Scottish Parliament level, but at lease there remain four major parties and at least one Green. I'll miss the Trotskyites and true socialists, and bemoan their disfranchisement. We lost six Greens in the wreckage, and they were all good'uns.

    Still, the SNP've got a chance to show their mettle.
    xx
    ed

  50. At 06:49 PM on 04 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Sis,

    "And, while we're at it, UK international politics aren't driven by one group of influence. Given your view of the Arab/Israeli issue, I'm extremely surprised that you appear to be lumping the UK together with the US in this way."

    Britain created the mess in Palestine in the first place, and there was economic influence in that decision as well as geo-political. And if there is a cigarette paper between them, why did Blair help frustrate the UN in order to give Israel a chance to flatten Lebanon?

    Have you heard of Bilderberg? The Carlyle Group (ask J. Major), or the son of Grass roofer?, Tiny Rowland and some of the reasons we're so loath to move on Rhodesia (sorry - Zimbabwe), the list goes on and on in the holy name of GLOMART. And then there's the small matter of our 'national security' and bribing Saudis....

    xx
    ed

  51. At 07:37 PM on 04 May 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (45);
    Why are wages...
    You'll have noted that I was concerned solely with public sector jobs, where there is a high degree of central wage settlements (think Armed Forces, NHS, Civil Service etc.). The only disparities in those sectors are concerned with London weightings, which add between 10 - 20% to base salary.

    On the larger point; because that is where the driver of the U.K. economy is based, namely the City. The incomes and bonuses and tax paid from the City makes London what it is. That drives the wider SE region, which drives England. The block grants from which prop up the economies of the other three countries in the Union. Wealth in Britain is generated ni the City and ripples out from there.

    Sorry BigSis, but I unusually find myself agreeing with Ed again. There has been some quiet concern this week, following the departure of Lord Browne about the way he cosied up to New Labour. Apparently BP was known in certain circles as Blair Petroleum, due to the support it gave to to the Government. Mandelson had had a number of private dinners with Browne, with and without their respective partners. Blair let BP use No.10 to sign a big deal with the Russians.

    This all has an unsavoury odour of corruption and bought influence in the highest places. Whether fair criticism or not, it doesn't seem right. And when you consider that the Govt. is under a cloud over cash for honours it adds another layer. Cash for business influence anyone?

    A work colleague (Labour supporter) commented today that this Govt. was clean. But went quiet and sullen when someone pointed out that whilst Hamilton and Aitken sold their souls for a few tens of thousands, this lot, even early on, raised the bar in the Ecclestone affair to a level million. And jobs for the boys on an unprecedented scale. And the politicisation of the Government Press Office. And a whole lot more besides.

    Acton's dictum written large; Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This does not exonerate the sleaze of the later Tory years, but to believe that New Labour really are squeaky clean is delusional.

    And the argument which we are going to have later this year over 'How much did Blair know and when did he know it', sounds like the corruption of Nixon and the way that people like David Irving can believe that Hitler was in no way responsible for the Holocaust and never knew that it was happening. Different degrees, same principles (or lack of them).

    Si.

  52. At 10:57 PM on 04 May 2007, Gillian wrote:

    I'm sorry to come between you guys, and excuse me for butting in, but I have a question, and can't find anywhere else to ask it!
    How low does a British election turn- out have to be, before the result is declared invalid?
    Has a figure ever been put on it?

  53. At 11:58 PM on 04 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    It's okay, Si, I'm not saying this government is 'clean' - nor that any UK government in the past however long could be so described. I wouldn't be so naive, and anyway I know better than that. Nor, EdI, am I ignorant of the history of the Palestine, and I'm quite aware of the other matters you raise. But I repeat that the political situations in the US and the UK are not identical, and I'd add that they don't work in the same way - by which I'm not merely referring to the obvious structural differences.

    Yes, both are open to corruption. Yes, both are open to influence. Yes, the UK got Palestine wrong. I am not arguing against any of those points. But if you really believe that the UK and US scenes are mirror images of each other - which is what you, EdI, appear to be implying - I'm afraid I simply cannot agree with you. And that's not from 'patriotism' or 'loyalty', but from a close knowledge of the situations in both countries.

    I know only too well that we could keep arguing this one out forever, but that's not a route I'm prepared to go down, so I'm afraid my last comment on the matter is to say that we'll have to agree to disagree.

  54. At 10:13 AM on 05 May 2007, Leo Bronstein wrote:

    Sis, Ed & Si,
    We can agree the systems have more in common than that in which they differ. And both lead to illegal and immoral war. Both are the executive of one interest against another in their own land and globally. All governments are the organized oppression of one interest over another. And therefore, never the ending arguments here, and never ending struggles there. We all, in fact have exactly the same interests. When all have evolved sufficiently, when all can share our earth equally, this nonsense will end. If war does not end us all first.

  55. At 10:23 AM on 05 May 2007, Leo Bronstein wrote:

    Sis, Ed & Si,
    We can agree the systems have more in common than that in which they differ. And both lead to illegal and immoral war. Both are the executive of one interest against another in their own land and globally. All governments are the organized oppression of one interest over another. And therefore, never ending arguments here, and never ending struggles there. We all, in fact have exactly the same interests. When all have evolved sufficiently, when all can share our earth equally, this nonsense will end. If war does not end us all first.
    If this is a malicious or abusive, then someone has hacked into this machine.

  56. At 10:49 AM on 05 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Leo (54),
    "When all have evolved sufficiently, when all can share our earth equally, this nonsense will end. If war does not end us all first."

    Starvation is likely to be more effective than war, but war is likely to set the stage. All wars are 'resource' wars in the final analysis.

    "Don't speak to me of shortage. My world is vast
    And has more than enough -- for no more than enough.
    There is a shortage of nothing, save will and wisdom;
    But there is a longage of people.

    "Hubris -- that was the Greeks' word for what ails you.
    .... -- Garrett Hardin
    http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/capacity.html

    xx
    ed

  57. At 10:54 AM on 05 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Leo,

    I forgot to re-affirm your penultimate sentence.
    Hear! Hear! We all breathe the same air and eat the Earth, which in turn, eats us all.

    To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want. -- Wendell Berry
    Salaam, Shalom/Shanthi/Dorood/Peace ed
  58. At 03:00 PM on 05 May 2007, Leo Bronstein wrote:


    Dear Ed,
    Starvation, like in Darfur, or Eritrea in '84/5 or Biafra e.ct e,ct were all weapons of war. There is more to struggle than AK's and mines. You take care, brother.

    ps, I keep getting warned about a media plug-in than can allow others into this machine. I've incinerated the player, but still keep getting the warnings. Does any1 know what else I can do?
    Thanks.

  59. At 03:22 PM on 05 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Leo, (58)

    I don't like to recommend Mr Softie's product, but if you're using Windows, they supply a malignant software detector. They also do something called Defender, but I would readily yield to some of our more technically experienced felloe froggers, say Humph, Ffred, Deep John, and others.

    Good luck, take care, and Fare Well.
    ed

  60. At 03:43 PM on 05 May 2007, Leo Bronstein wrote:

    Thank you Ed.
    Be Happy.

  61. At 01:32 PM on 06 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I can't think where to post this except the 'brow. It seems very appropriate to the present "Global" situation:

    "...the word `planetary' also refers to an abstract anxiety or an abstract passion that is desperate and useless exactly to the extent that it is abstract. How, after all, can anybody—any particular body— do anything to heal a planet? The suggestion that anybody could do so is preposterous. The heroes of abstraction keep gallopping in on their white horses to save the planet—and they keep falling off in front of the grandstand.

    "What we need, obviously, is a more intelligent—which is to say, a more accurate—description of the problem. The description of a problem as planetary arouses a motivation for which, of necessity, there is no employment. The adjective `planetary' describes a problem in such a way that it cannot be solved. In fact, though we now have serious problems nearly everywhere on the planet, we have no problem that can accurately be described as planetary. And, short of the total annihilation of the human race, there is no planetary solution.

    "There are also no national, state, or county problems, and no national, state, or county solutions. That will-o'-the-wisp, the large-scale solution to the large-scale problem, which is so dear to governments, universities, and corporations, serves mostly to distract people from the small, private problems that they may, in fact, have the power to solve.

    "The problems, if we describe them accurately, are all private and small. Or they are so initially.

    "The problems are our lives. In the `developed' countries, at least, the large problems occur because all of us are living either partly wrongly or almost entirely wrong. It was not just the greed of corporate shareholders and the hubris of corporate executives that put the fate of Prince William Sound into one ship; it was also our demand that energy by cheap and plentiful.

    "The economies of our communities and households are wrong. The answers to the human problems of ecology are to be found in economy.
    And the answers to the problems of economy are to be found in culture and in character. To fail to see this is to go on dividing the world falsely between guilty producers and innocent consumers.

    "The planetary versions—the heroic versions—of our problems have attracted great intelligence. But these problems, as they are caused and suffered in our lives, our households, and our communities, have attracted very little intelligence."

    --Wendell Berry (from What Are People For?)

    I assume he would say the same about 'global'. My apologies for the long quotation, but it just hit me as I read it.
    xx
    ed

  62. At 05:35 PM on 06 May 2007, Joe Steele wrote:

    This is interesting, Ed.

    I'm letting it sink in. I may have something to say about the innocent consumer, later. It implies ignorance, and I may prefer to imply apathy or callous disregard. Please God, you don't meet certain members of my neighbourhood. If you have enough, then you 'pay' for the "right" to pollute and dispose.

    How did you get away with the length of that?

  63. At 05:56 PM on 06 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Joe (62),

    Let it sink in. I would have put 'innocent', but that ain't in the style of Mr Berry:
    http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/berry.txt

    As to length, the frog has mysterious priorities, either too many links or too long or both are likely to fail. I used the length because it would have been incomplete shortened.
    xx
    ed

  64. At 07:33 PM on 06 May 2007, Joe Steele wrote:

    Ed (63)

    Interesting link, thank you. Enough to get the likes of myself writing! I really wont truly "get on the case" of this one until tomorrow. But(!);-

    If people will quote on communism, then they really ought to find out what it is. As there are no governments in Communist Society, you cannot work for one. You work for yourself within the Commune. He means Socialist really. The Communist Manifesto is only a 30 page pamphlet, and very easily read.

    til the morn!

    Joe

  65. At 09:50 AM on 07 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Way, way back (either Friday or Saturday) I posted up my agreement to Leo's original post. It hasn't appeared and I know it wasn't abusive. Just the Blog playing up, as it occasionally does. So, for the record, I agree with the fundamental points behind your posting.

  66. At 11:17 AM on 07 May 2007, Joe Steele wrote:

    SIS,
    Leo told me that it's more fun being cryptic anyway.
    He just can't devote much time to it until even-tide.
    And he gets more response than he deserves. He'd have shut up by now otherwise.
    JOE XX

  67. At 11:59 AM on 07 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    All,

    Continue the discussion here?
    xx
    ed

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