Sharpe's Opinion

5 Predictions For Tonight’s #LeadersDebate

Last week I wrote an account of the Leader’s Debate, in which I described the affair as ‘fairly predictable’. Even as I hit ‘publish’, it occurred to me that describing things as predictable after they’ve happened is really a wimp’s way out – and now with further hindsight I can say I don’t think anyone predicted the eventual scale of the fallout from the programme.

In light of this, I thought I ought to stick my neck out and take the chance of being proven very wrong, very quickly. Here’s a few thoughts on what I think tonight’s debate might hold – along with possible reasons I could turn out wrong (yeah, OK, I’m still a wimp really).

1. Nick Clegg Will Disappoint

He won’t do badly – in fact I expect him to do fairly well. But in the week that followed the last debate, it seems our collective memory of his performance has shifted. Descriptions of Clegg’s performance straight after the debate could be summed up as ‘he was marginally better than the other two, which was surprising’. In the context of the following 7-day Lib Dem Surge, far more importance has been ascribed to his debate performance, and as such it has taken a near-mythical status in the collective memory of political commentators, as if he’d stormed the debate, not just appeared the least worst candidate.

Even if Nick Clegg matches last week’s debate performance, many people will be disappointed, because they’ve largely forgotten the reality of last week’s performance.

Why I might be wrong: This is a foreign policy debate, and whilst the electorate may not be entirely sold on Clegg’s policies over Trident and the EU, his party’s position over the Iraq war will complement his ‘not like these two’ narrative, and he could take the advantage here.

2. There Will Be Fewer Anecdotes

Personal anecdotes have been a mainstay of speeches since time immemorial. They personalise the message, and give the impression that the speech maker is listening to the people at ground level, and using their opinions to influence policy direction. Anecdotes make statistics and policies more believable, even if logically speaking they are entirely irrelevant.

Last week, however, all three leaders discovered that a debate is not a speech, and all three severely over-used the anecdotal method (Cameron may have taken most of the post-debate flak for this, but watch again and you’ll see Clegg is just as bad, and Brown just kept going on about his Presbyterian parents). If there had been a Leaders Debate anecdote drinking game, most of us wouldn’t have made it to the end of the debate. It turns out that a ‘battle of the anecdotes’ makes for really boring viewing, and hopefully the leaders’ coaches will each have advised toning down the personal stories.

Why I might be wrong: Anecdotes have been part of political speech making for a very long time. It could prove a hard habit to break, particularly when the leaders can talk about conversations with front-line troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

3. Nobody Will Agree With Nick

But nobody will mention this morning’s headlines either. Brown agreed with Nick a lot last week. At the time, he probably didn’t realise what this would end up sounding like – in fact he probably didn’t even realise he was doing it. This week the Leaders will not be so agreeable. They’re now in a complicated three-way battle, with no one knowing which way to face.

Why I might be wrong: Brown’s talk of an ‘anti-Tory alliance’1 suggests he still might try and flirt with Clegg (in a purely political sense, of course). This would be a transparent mistake, but that doesn’t mean he won’t make it.

4. Cameron Will Exceed Expectations

Last week was not a train wreck for Cameron, but he didn’t win. This week he knows the stakes have been raised, and he’s usually at his best when he’s being backed into a corner. Expectations have been lowered for him by last week, this week he has a chance to prove himself some more. He’ll also have been preparing for his big Paxman interview, which I think is tomorrow. I don’t think anyone’s expecting him to win the election outright in two nights, but if he gets it wrong, this could become the weekend Cameron loses his chance to lead a majority government. With that on the line, he’ll outperform.

What’s more, as much as his critics seem for some reason to truly despise him, I see Cameron as a genuinely principled and decent person, who is often let down by a party who count people like Chris Grayling among their ranks. If he manages to come off as himself (unlike last time), he’ll quite possibly come out on top.

Why I might be wrong: At the last debate Cameron seemed somewhat nervous, and failed to make clear the Tories’ ‘Big Society’ idea. If he really was that rattled, and he hasn’t managed to get over it yet, anything could happen.

5. There Will Be No Treadmills, Nor Travellators

Regardless of my (literally) one-man campaign to see televised political debate participants forced to run on treadmills while answering questions (just think how much better Question Time would be if a question could literally ‘trip up’ a panellist), this debate will not involve any form of fitness machine.

What’s more, none of the leaders will be told by the host, at any point, that they may speak ‘on my first whistle’, or that another may interrupt ‘on my second whistle’. At no point will any of the leaders be asked if they would prefer a Physical, Mental, Skill or Mystery challenge. There will be no ‘Picture Spin Quiz’ nor ‘Missing Headlines’ round. Simon Cowell will not be asked to judge any of the leaders’ answers. In fact – and this is certainly against the wishes of the viewing public, not to mention the wishes of journalists searching for metaphors – none of the rounds in tonight’s debate will be borrowed from other challenge-based TV shows.

Why I might be wrong: It is on Sky. Anything might happen, really.

  1. Yes Tom, I put it in quotes. ;) []

Coalitions: Just Say No

Feel free to think I’m being premature (I am) but I’m beginning to think that if Nick Clegg is smart – and he is – and he plays his cards right – which he might – the Liberal Democrats could be forming the Government, without need for a coalition, surprisingly soon.

Of course, ‘surprisingly soon’ has needed a little redefinition over the last week. Had I written the previous sentence a fortnight ago, ‘surprisingly soon’ would have probably meant ‘before swine sprout wings’, or ‘before the universe succumbs to its inevitable entropic heat death’. Even now, ‘surprisingly soon’ probably suggests a decade to many people, or 5 years at the least. I don’t think the Lib Dems are particularly likely to win an outright majority on May 6th 2010 – the most likely result is shaping up to be a hung parliament; an eventuality which is likely to be far less terrifying that many would have you believe, but nowhere near as exciting as other might try and suggest. But if Clegg played his cards right we could have a Liberal government within 12 months, and that would seem surprisingly soon to most people.

Whilst recording the latest House of Comments podcast (go listen to it, it’s another good one), I made what I felt was a reasonably good point which, unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to expand upon because the conversation moved on fairly swiftly. The point was this:

Both Labour and the Tories could be falling into a fairly neat trap at the moment. Both of them are warning about the dire consequences of a vote for the Yellows – David Cameron saying voting Lib Dems could let Gordon Brown return as Prime Minister in a coalition government; Gordon Brown, when he’s not coming on to Clegg like a drunken prom date, suggesting that a vote for Nick Clegg is a vote which lets the Tories in.

All it would take to make both these strategies fall apart is a casual word from Nick Clegg that he won’t form any coalition at all.

At this point on the podcast, both Conor and Chris disagreed, with Conor saying that Nick Clegg would be mad to rule out any coalition, and that it would be ‘egotistical’ for him to throw away a chance to enact some of his favoured reforms because he wanted a shot at the big prize for himself. Chris pointed out that without a coalition there would be a second election very shortly afterwards, which wouldn’t benefit anyone.

But, consider these facts:

  • Ruling out a coalition pre-election would bring votes in for the Lib Dems that may not vote for a party which could prop up the other two.
  • Conversely, going into a coalition would taint the party’s anti-establishment image, and it would alienate a huge number of party members, many of whom would see a coalition with either party as a betrayal of the fundamental principles for which the party stands.
  • Thanks largely to our First Past The Post electoral system, aftr this election there will almost definitely be many more marginal seats, and in particular many more Lib Dem target seats. Critised our electoral system may be, but it can generate far more chaotic and disruptive election results than most other systems, which could work to the yellows’ advantage.
  • Therefore, at the election after this, the Liberal Democrats will be in the running for a majority.
  • 49% of people polled said they would vote Lib Dem if they believed that the party could win – which, at the next election, they could.
  • The Labour Party are running out of money going into this election, and are unlikely to be able to mount a large and distributed campaign if another election is within the next two years. The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, have received over £120,000 in new donations just over the past week.

By ruling out a coalition, Clegg would get the best of both worlds – a deciding vote on any issue that goes through the Commons during the next Parliament, and a real chance to fight for the big prize when the next election comes.

The only cost? Labour and the Tories would accuse him of ‘playing politics’ or toying with the electorate – as if that’s anything less than they would do in the circumstances. They would hate him for it. But then, they already do.

Swings and Roundabouts

Last night all of Twitter was abuzz with talk about an opinion poll. Well, OK, ‘all of Twitter’ maybe exaggerating a little. But there were one or two people talking about it. The reason for the interest in this particular poll was that it showed both Labour and the Conservatives falling, and the Lib Dems at second place with only 3 points between them and the Tories.

What really got people talking, though, was what happens when you put the polling figures into a seats calculator, which purports to give a prediction for the results at the next election. In short, whilst the popular vote comes out at 33%-30%-28% for Tories, Lib Dems and Labour respectively, the swing calculators still give Labour the most seats. Cure simultaneous ill-advised gloating from the official Labour Twitter account, concerned warnings from ConservativeHome, and outraged claims that our ‘broken’ electoral system means a party can ‘come third’ and still win the election from (you guessed it) the Lib Dems. You’d think they’d be happy about a prediction which had them nearly doubling the size of their parliamentary party. My fellow podcaster Mark Thompson asks if this is ‘the most eloquent argument for electoral reform you’ll see‘.

I hope for his sake that it isn’t, since it leaves much to be desired.

First of all, note the lovely non-sequitur – a party can come third and still win. That is, of course, what one calls a logical fallacy, since it alters the meaning of ‘win’ halfway through the sentence – in actual fact the party that ‘wins’ the election (more accurately, the one asked to form the government) is the one that wins the most seats. What’s really meant by ‘coming third and still winning’ is that by one measure the parties came out in a certain order; by a different measure they came out in a different order. It’s a bit like pointing out that an X Factor finalist can come last on votes, but still have the nicest hair. It’s perfectly true, but not exactly meaningful.

Now, one can make the argument that national vote share is more important than share of seats, and I’m sure most of the people arguing for reform would do exactly that, but to portray the two measures as functionally equivalent is intellectual dishonesty, from people who ought to know better.

But that’s not really the major problem with the argument. The major problem is that the seat predictions given by UK Polling Report are, as Mark well knows, based on a uniform national swing. That is to say, they take (notional) results from 2005, superimpose the percentage changes suggested by this opinion poll, and then present a national result based on which seats would supposedly fall, assuming the national vote swing was reflected perfectly across each constituency in the country. In other words, it takes those two different way of measuring votes described above, superimposes them, and gives out an answer.

Which is fine for making pretty maps and having fun with predictions, but when trying to make a serious argument for a fundamental change to an electoral system is seems… Well, a tad… You know…

Wrong?

As the ever-reasonable Mat Bowles points out, uniform swings don’t exactly work, and leave out a vast number of factors which could potentially have a massive impact on an election as volatile as this one is shaping up to be.

Here’s the thing. I live in a tight Labour/Tory marginal. On paper. When we decided on our campaign strategy, it was fairly easy. I went through the numbers, pointed out that Labour were dead in the water with a non-existent activist base, no local Govt presence and that we ought to be fighting to win. My PPC and agent were persuaded that this was at least a viable strategy; we’re fighting the Tories for first place, “Labour have Lost it in Calder Valley” (that was my slogan, quite proud of it actually). [...]

Uniform swing calculators cannot, and will not, take into account the effect of a strong local campaign, or even the third party squeeze effect in reverse. Once Labour voters in an area are convinced their candidate can’t win, some of them will switch to us to stop the Tory candidate. I don’t want to live under a Tory MP, they sure as hell don’t. This sort of effect is exactly what happened in Canada when their Tory Govt got eviscerated.

Now, I’m not denying it’s absolutely possible that the UK Polling Report seat prediction could be played out exactly throughout election night. Just like it’s possible that the Liberal Democrats could find themselves riding the crest of an immense online campaign and winning every seat they contest. And it’s possible that David Cameron could put in such a barnstorming performance in the third TV debate that the Tories win the strongest majority since Blair. But possible is far from the same thing as inevitable.

If the popular vote did diverge so significantly from the proportion of seats won by each party that the party with the most seats was the one with the third largest share of the vote, it could trigger a crisis of confidence in the our system of parliamentary democracy, and possibly a widespread public call for voting reform. But that would depend on whether or not the public do actually value votes for national parties above votes for local candidates. I genuinely don’t know what would happen or what the answer would be. It would, in fact, be really fascinating to watch.

As I’ve pointed out before, though, personally I’m apathetic on reforming voting systems1. To me, it’s one of those perfect little meta-issues that people can get ideologically wound up about, but under any system we’re still electing politicians, and what matters will always be who we elect, not how we elect them.

In fact, I’d happily put it to a referendum and go with whatever the public decide. And then I’d abstain.

What I can’t help but get wound up about, though, is sensible people happily promoting bogus arguments2 as if the end of electoral reform justifies the means of presenting a dishonest case. So if that’s the ‘most eloquent’ argument I’ll ever see, I’m afraid I’ll not be banging the drum for electoral reform just yet.

PS: sometimes a lot can happen very rapidly – I lefft this post to marinate for a few hours and now a new poll has the Lib Dems in first place. For the sake of consistency I should point out that I don’t take much stock in political polling, as I’ve said before. The only poll that matters will take place on May 6th. In the meantime, though, ever since the TV debate the phrase ‘interesting times’ has been rolling around my head.]

  1. Do note, this is not necessarily the same as apathy about political reform – I’m very interested in things like recall elections, or banning party whipping. []
  2. So sue me. ;) []

Nick Clegg: The Tim Henman of British Politics?

agreeable nick

image by Charlotte

I thought I ought blog one or two thoughts about last night’s ‘Leaders Debate’, having spammed my Twitter followers with opinion on the matter last night. Don’t worry, though. I’ll try and keep it fairly light – and we’ll almost definitely be talking about it on House of Comments when we record next Tuesday with Conor Pope and Chris Mounsey, so I’ll save an opinion or two for that (this week’s podcast is online now, incidentally, and includes a plug for my new iPhone app, which I’ll write more about when it’s approved by Apple).

Anyway, without further ado, on to the leaders debate. It’s hard to think of things to say which haven’t already been covered well enough elsewhere, but I’ll make a valiant attempt to provide something interesting.

- – -

First of all, the overall outcome of the debate, which most people agree Nick ‘I Agree With Nick’ Clegg come out on top of, was fairly predictable – Nick Clegg had the most to gain in terms of exposure, for most people he’s a new face and somewhat refreshing, and he successfully played the ‘a plague on both your houses’ card throughout the debate to fairly good effect (though I thought his ‘these two’ schtick grew tiresome towards the end and his closing remarks sounded a little petulant afterwards, in light of this).

Cameron, by contrast, had by far the most to lose, and by far the least to gain. His opponents have spent 3 years or so creating a Straw Cameron who’s incredibly media-friendly and polished, and entirely in command of any situation. Going on TV live and being attacked from (quite literally) both sides for 90 minutes, he was unlikely to live up to this weight of expectation, and so it came to pass that we discovered he’s actually a fairly normal politician, not a demi-God of Obama proportions. In the end he didn’t come off badly, and he managed not to trip over his own shoelaces. He probably hasn’t gained any new Conservative voters from this, but he might easily have reinforced the ‘soft Tory’ vote; those Conservatives who maybe were wavering about who to support. As Mark said in his post, it’s quite commendable that Cameron even agreed to doing the debate in the first place. Tony Blair refused to take part in a debate like this against John Major, and it isn’t hard to see why.

I’m not sure I can give an unbiased account of Gordon Brown, however, because when he speaks he often makes me feel queasy. Particularly when he talked about the military. He suffers greatly from incumbency, and I found myself often wondering why, if education, House of Lords reform and military spending were such high priorities for him, he’s allowed the last 13 years to go by without making the huge sweeping changes to these things that he’s now promising. Also, his confrontational attitude towards Cameron, and his line about ‘now is the time for answers, David’ could quite easily have played well with the home crowd, but I thought it made him sound petty and argumentative – and David Cameron’s attempts to rise above this were reasonably successful and somewhat commendable, even though it probably made him seem a little weak to hardened political commentators1.

Clearly Clegg came out on top, as everyone seems to agree. To me, Cameron was a strong second and Brown a weak third, the significant difference between the two in my mind that Cameron came off as principled and gentlemanly, Brown as partisan and aggressive.

Overall, the debate was surprisingly interesting, and though I found my attention slipping many times, it wasn’t as painful an experience as I was expecting.

- – -

It’s worth speaking to the ‘presidential’ nature of these debates, but Tracy Cheetham wrote so well of this last night on her House of Twits blog that it’s pointless my finding another way of saying the same thing:

This whole General Election campaign has taken on a new style of operation. It is not about reaching the politically disengaged, it is about Leaders. We are increasingly seeing a presidential campaign and this is not going to benefit any of the other 647 PPCs who are wanting to be elected. Essentially, what we saw tonight was a Party Election Broadcast for the constituencies of Sheffield Hallam, Witney and Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath, for it is only voters in these areas that will be able to vote for Clegg, Cameron and Brown. The rest of us, we vote for a local MP, whose job is to represent our views.

- – -

Anyway, an analysis of this debate wouldn’t be complete without the words ‘I agree with Nick’ appearing somewhere. Gordon Brown said this at least four or five times, and whilst Cameron didn’t express this sentiment so clearly, it was evident that both the major party leaders were being extra civil to Mr Clegg. A cynic might wonder about the possibility of a hung parliament, and wonder if they were courting the Liberal leader for a possible coalition. Nick Clegg, for his part, seemed utterly furious about this sudden outbreak of consensualism, at one point railing against both of the other leaders for voting against Lib Dem bills they now claimed to be in full agreement with. It was pretty good TV.

This could have played out in a few ways. Clegg could have been tainted by Brown’s apparent agreement with all of his policies, for instance, with the implication that the Lib Dems aren’t all that different from Labour. What appears to have happened is quite the opposite, with ‘I Agree With Nick’ trending on Twitter briefly last night and the Lib Dems seemingly instantly adopting the phrase as a new campaigning slogan. If Brown agrees with Nick so much, one wonders, why vote for Brown, when you could have Nick instead?

All of this adds up to a new burning fire within the Lib Dems. The Facebook group, apparently set up independently, named We got Rage Against the Machine to #1, we can get the Lib Dems into office! now has over 40,000 members and shows a degree of popular support for the yellows (or would that be the turquioses). It’s a popular and much repeated fact that the British love an underdog, especially a plucky one. The Lib Dems won’t win a majority at the next election, and probably can’t overtake either party to make it to third place, but if Nick can continue to portray himself as David against Goliath (as it were) his party could get the best electoral result they’ve seen in generations.

Of course, I’ve just implicitly suggested that Nick Clegg is, in fact, the Tim Henman of British politics. Lib Dems, make of that what you will.

- – -

Update (3:45PM): Channel 4 have made a 60-second version of last night’s debate which actually makes quite an impressive quick summary. It also shows, in microcosm, pretty much everything I have described above about the various leaders’ styles. QI.

  1. UPDATE: And another thing… I forgot to ask, but thankfully patently has reminded me, what the hell was Brown going on about with his ‘taking £6bn out of the economy’ schtick? I think on this point, Cameron out to have risen to him and challenged him to explain what he meant by this, and why he thinks ‘the economy’ is confined to state spending. []

Someone Is Wrong On The Internet

Duty Calls by xkcdWith the election coming, many websites have sprung up offering simple ways to get the most out of democracy. Most purport to be doing a public service, and are probably created with the best of intentions. The problem is, a lot of them are, to use the technical term, utter bollocks1.

VoteMatch

VoteMatch is a non-partisan (or should that be multi-partisan) website which asks you for your position on a variety of issues, and then presents you with a list of parties you might consider voting for. Unfortunately, it’s flawed in ways beyond measure. The system works by presenting you with a list of just over 30 statements and asking you to agree or disagree (there’s also an ‘Open Minded’ choice if you don’t wish to answer). In other words, the program’s creators feel that a person’s political outlook can be determined by their ‘yes or no’ response to 32 soundbites. Some of the statements are worded very strangely, too, so as to require a nuanced answer – take, for instance, the statement “the Government should be compelled by law to halve the budget deficit within 4 years.” Personally, I largely agree with the concept reducing the deficit drastically in a short timeframe – but I don’t understand how a Government can be ‘compelled by law’ to do anything. Do I answer ‘yes’ to deficit reduction part of the statement, or ‘no’ to the law section of the statement? Beyond that, if I wasn’t nerdy about politics, would I even catch the nuance in the question, or respond in a predictable way2?

The VoteMatch problems don’t end there, however. As Iain Dale discovered, the algorithm seems unnaturally weighted towards minor parties such as Green, UKIP and BNP. Despite being largely centrist in outlook, my results came up UKIP first, Green second and BNP third, with Tory, Lib Dem and Labour a distant 4th 5th and 6th respectively. Being fair, I could get a fairly sensible and believable answer out of VoteMatch (Tories just edging over Lib Dems, with Labour distant third) by choosing to ignore the minor parties – but fundamentally that’s not how the system is supposed to work.

This minor party bias is, presumably, partly because of the ‘soundbite’ nature of the questions and responses – though one commenter on Iain Dale’s site suggested another possible problem:

I had a play around with this last night, by answering only one question and skipping the rest.

It looks like they start by assuming 100% correlation and then removing marks for any disagreements between your views and the manifestos… but since UKIP and the BNP have, basically, just one policy each, unless you vehemently disagree with it (“support unlimited immigration”, “the UK should be run by Brussels”) you end up with them as the top matches.

Now, I don’t know if that is what’s happening, but it sounds reasonably plausible to me. In other words, VoteMatch is not only dumbing down political expression by design, it’s giving unfair weighting to minor parties and those which do not have a well-defined manifesto.

By contrast, I’ve discovered a rather wonderful (and nowhere near as well-publicised) site called Vote For Policies. This site is subtly different to VoteMatch in that instead of asking for yes or no answers, it presents a number of statements from different parties about an issue, without telling you which party matches which statement. You’re then asked to choose between the statements, and matched to a party on the basis of your choices. Personally, I found this site gave a result which much more closely correlated with what I know about the various parties and my own political outlook – though, I suppose your mileage may vary.

VoterPower

Despite the fact that I may have gone on about VoteMatch for a little while just there, VoterPower is the site which really moved me to blog this morning. This site is essentially a dumbed-down advert for proportional representation in our electoral system, and it attempts to convince us that proportional representation is the One True Way™ by describing the ‘power’ of your vote as a proportion of ’1 vote’. For instance, VoterPower claims that in Derby South (where I live) ‘one person does not really have one vote, they have the equivalent of 0.048 votes.’

Well, I’ll be honest, that doesn’t sound good. Even worse, according to the site ‘the average UK voter has 5.26x more voting power than voters in Derby South.’

That would be the ‘average voter’ who, apparently, has 0.251 of a vote.

Wait… What??

Rewind a little, let’s talk maths. Correct me in the comments, if you like, but if there’s 45 million votes shared between 45 million voters, each voter has an average of, well, 1 vote. No? Alright, I see, they’re probably not using the mean, so let’s be charitable and assume it just depends on what your definition of ‘average’ is. They’re probably using the median, or something. Of an undefined set of numbers. Where somehow the average has ended up as only one quarter.

Anyway, we’ll leave the average-is-a-quarter thing aside, since there’s something even fishier about these numbers. See, if Derby South is a ‘safe’ seat and thus I have less than one vote, presumably voters in a close marginal constituency like, say, Watford (one of only a handful of ‘three-way marginals’) must have more than 1 vote – to compensate for my political impotence.

Apparently not. Voters in Watford have ’0.700 votes’.

OK, OK. What about a target seat? One that will almost definitely change hands at the next election. One with a majority of under 50. How about Finchley and Golders Green, top of the Conservative’s target list3? Well, they have 0.950 votes.

So if they don’t have a whole vote, who does?! Surely, somebody has to have more than 1 vote, or else how does an election take place?

From what I can tell, not according to VoterPower. By their logic, nobody in the country actually has a vote. No wonder the average is only just over a quarter.

The whole site is designed to make you feel bad about our current voting system. It’s pretty effective, too. Emotive language, half-truths4 and extremely dodgy statistics combine to present an utterly fallacious argument, dressed up as an informational website. It’s like reading a Lib Dem leaflet. Or an infographic.

- – -

Anyway, if you’ve seen any other good examples of websites playing fast and loose with information (like, say, POWER2010′s Most Wanted List, or Lib Dem Voice’s Rank, which I discussed with Mark Pack and Alex Foster from Lib Dem Voice on the House of Comments Podcast a few weeks ago) do let me know in the comments. Perhaps we should keep a running list.

This is not to denigrate the efforts of excellent resources like TheyWorkForYou.com and YourNextMP.com or even UK Polling Report which provide excellent informational services online. But if we’re now in new age of connected voters and ‘internet elections’, we ought to expect much, much better than this.

  1. You’ll have to excuse the length of this post, incidentally, since I’m pretty busy working on my own internet-based democracy application at the moment, and don’t have time to edit []
  2. Analysing this question a little deeper, the ’4 years’ thing is a (stereotypically) New Labour policy – but the policy of deficit reduction is shared by all parties, with the Tories most forthright on it. If I agree with the statement on the basis that I want the deficit reduced it’s presumably taken as a pro-Labour decision by VoteMatch. []
  3. Actually, since everyone’s predicting a large swing to the Tories at the next election, the real marginals are closer to 75-150 on the Tories target list. []
  4. “If the UK had a proportional voting system we would no longer have safe seats O RLY? []

Wednesday, 7th Apr, 2010