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Showing posts from April, 2015

Don't go there, Europe

Another boat, carrying hundreds of people, sinks. The second in a week. Though none of them really want to welcome or deal with these migrants, politicians recognise they have to do something. Existing policies were supposed to deter people from trying to make this fatal crossing, but they've failed. So solemn statements are issued, emergency sessions scheduled, while people scramble to figure out what needs to be done.

It's April 2015, in Europe. But it could be the end of June 2012, in Australia, the month we cracked once and for all. Two boats sank off Christmas Island, and the spectre of more drownings forced action. We had detention centres. We had frozen asylum applications from war-torn, repressive countries. This was supposed to make a difference, but apparently it didn't, because - in the Coalition's vile phrase - there was still "sugar on the table". Back to 'offshore processing': taking these people, putting them somewhere else, to be locked…

Updated election tables

I have made a few updates: for one thing, just plugging in the most recent numbers, which I'll do every few days from now on. More importantly, I've added a column to say who the largest party would be in a parliamentary scenario - which matters, because it's fairly likely the leader of that party will get the first chance to try to form a government.

The spreadsheet is below the break, or you can get at it directly here.

Democracy in the UK #4: Calling it

Who's going to be Prime Minister?

It's tricky, because polling averages are showing Labour and the Conservatives both stuck at around the 33-34% mark. That hasn't changed for a long time, and if it's reproduced at the election there'll definitely be a hung parliament - so the question turns on predictions about how politicians will behave, which are always dicey, rather than just interpreting polls.

So, first things first, what are the possibilities? I've taken six election models and looked at their predictions about who'll win seats in the new parliament. Three (The Guardian, May2015, and Electoral Calculus) average national, regional and constituency polls to show what would happen if an election was held today; three more (Election Forecast, Elections Etc, and Polling Observatory) are genuine forecasts of what will happen on May 7th, which predict organic shifts over the remainder of the campaign based on history.

323 seats are needed to win a confidenc…

Democracy in the UK #3: the age of the hung Parliament

I'm about to sit down and watch an election debate which will feature seven people. The two men who are in the running to become British Prime Minister - the Conservatives' David Cameron, and Labour's Ed Miliband - will line up alongside the leaders of the Liberal Democrats (current partners in the coalition government), United Kingdom Independence Party (Eurosceptic populists), Greens (much the same as the Australian version, but less significant), Scottish National Party (surging and coalitionally important Scottish nationalists), and Plaid Cymru (not surging and not coalitionally important Welsh nationalists).

So it's as good a time as any to investigate why the overall majority seems to be dead, and hence why all these scattered parties are getting their time in the sun.

In 2010, for the first time since 1974, the general election didn't produce a majority for any single party. Eventually, the Conservatives - the largest single party - made a coalition agreemen…