Saturday, 8 May 2010

While we wait

Mucho debate and soul-searching will doubtless be going on among all the parties. All of them are tired, all - for various reasons - disappointed, and all must be torn between wanting to go home and catch up on some sleep and getting stuck in again to see what might be salvaged, what might be compromised, what is and isn't negotiable.

None of them will want to go back to the country too soon; no money, no energy, not much prospect of a radically different result.

I've been looking into different voting systems, since it seems likely that that's an issue that won't go away, much as the Conservatives would doubtless like to shove it into a dusty committee-room somewhere and bury it. If the LibDems have any sense - and the cojones - they'll keep that one active in return for their compromise elsewhere. Voting and electoral systems come in dozens of different variants, and there will have to be a thorough discussion about it. At the moment, I doubt if you could find one in fifty voters who could concisely and accurately explain the differences between pure proportional representation and, say, single-transferable vote (STV). I know I couldn't - a few minutes nosing round Wikipedia has shown me I haven't enough knowledge to make an informed choice on this if I were to be offered a choice in a referendum.

I do remember that back in my college days we used STV in our elections for the student representative council - a body I myself adorned for a year - and it can throw up some odd results, such as the time that the first round of voting for one council post returned Rosso (the vice-principal's dog) and RON (i.e. Re-Open Nominations) in first and second place. Sadly one of the more nerdy constitutional experts got Rosso struck out since he wasn't in statu pupillari. We did try to get that sorted, but it turned out he couldn't be in statu pupillari unless and until he could 'matriculate' and that required a certain minimum number of O-levels. Rosso was mad as a package of sprouts, and we got distracted by other things like sex and beer, so our cunning campaign for a new style of student politics ended up like all the others - dominated by nerdy constitutional experts who weren't getting enough sex and beer.

Obviously I exclude myself from that - I was in charge of Ents, a wonderful job involving crappy local bands with aggressive roadcrews, illicitly bypassing the noise limiter in the main hall and running discos when too drunk to stand up for more than half a minute at a time. Enough said.

But I digress. The differences between some of the available voting systems used elsewhere in the world are huge, with big consequences on, for example, the level of local representation that emerges. So we'll need to get up to speed on all this pretty soon, I think.

That will, however, be for another day. I'm going to rejoin the real world and head off for a friend's 40th birthday celebrations. If I don't make it to the other side, it's been nice knowing you.

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