Thursday, 24 February 2011

Quote of the Day

Julian Cook, from Donnelly McPartlin, said: "Harriet Harman once remarked that the financial crisis would not have happened if Lehman Brothers had been called Lehman Sisters. But Harriet Harman is an utter fucking moron."
- The Daily Mash

Monday, 14 February 2011

Choices and Consequences

Oh, dear.

It appears that, having pointed out something quite reasonable, some people on Twitter have taken it upon themselves to decry me as a baby-eating bastard.

I won't be losing much sleep over it.

But I thought I would lay it out for my own amusement.

It was asserted that the cost of childcare is a pay gap, and therefore implied that the State should fund that shortfall.

So let me lay out my argument in full.

We have the choice whether to have children or not. We are not driven to it by instinct, because as intelligent human beings, we can (I would like to hope) rationalise our emotions and make reasonable decisions. Therefore, if you choose to have children, it is part of a lifestyle you want to lead, i.e. a lifestyle choice.

Any arguments regarding survival of the species or the sustaining of society are irrelevant - the global population is over 6 billion and rising. We are not an endangered species.

Therefore, as having children is a lifestyle choice, and childcare is a cost incurred as a result of that choice, why should the State meet childcare costs?

The answer is: quite simply, it shouldn't.

I have two kids. I am a single father. I do claim some benefits, but these are outweighed considerably by the amount of tax I pay. I do not receive any support from the State for my children, and I don't want to. They are my kids, I took part in the decision to bring them into the world, and I fully accept the responsibility to care for them.

Having kids is a lifestyle choice. It is not one incurred solely by women, it does not stop single mothers from going out and getting a job. It does not mean that women should be slaves to romantic relationships. All it means is that, if you have kids, you - and you alone - are responsible for them. If your circumstances change - tough shit. The State is not the insurer of last resort. Deal with it. Go without so that your kids don't have to, and don't bleat when the State says, 'fuck off, you're not having any more money.'

Thursday, 10 February 2011

E-mail to my MP on Votes for Prisoners

Dear Jessica Lee,

I'm not sure if you will remember me - I play Principal Cornet for the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band. You attended one of our concerts in St. Laurence Church last year. I hope this helps you put a face to the name!

I am writing to you on the subject of prisoners' voting rights, which I understand will be put to the vote in the House of Commons today. I hope this e-mail reaches you in time before the vote.

I urge you to vote against granting prisoners the vote. I find the concept of convicted criminals, who have broken the laws of this land, to have a say in making it, completely abhorrent, as do many of my friends and family. The argument that suffrage is a human right I find fundamentally flawed - if it were an inalienable human right, surely it would be granted to children?

The right to life is a human right. The right to vote is a civil and political one, enjoyed by law-abiding members of our society, and so it should remain.

Of course, this vote goes beyond the issue of prisoners' rights, and moves into constitutional territory. I find the fact that the Government feels that it must bow to the diktat of a European Court nauseating. Surely, if the UK is truly a sovereign nation, we should be free to govern ourselves in whichever way we see fit?

I therefore urge you to vote against prisoners being granted the vote, firstly because the measure itself is immoral, and secondly, because a Parliamentary rejection of the ECHR's ruling will set us on a path to constitutional reform, whereby the mother of all Parliaments may finally re-assert some of the sovereignty it has given away.

Yours sincerely,

Mr James Dennis BSc(Hons)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Referendum on AV

I have been watching the argument between the #Yes2AV and #No2AV camps with a kind of detached interest - I can understand arguments on both sides. I was, originally, favouring a change to AV, before having a brief flirtation with not actually giving a shit - they call this #Meh2AV - and now I'm back in the #Yes2AV camp.

The #No2AV argument seems to revolve around the following criticisms of AV:

  • It's complicated - voters will have to choose more than one candidate and order them in preference, rather than just picking one;
  • The same weighting is given to all preference votes, so a 2nd preference vote is valued the same as 1st preference vote;
  • It could lead to more hung Parliaments, which tend to concentrate a large amount of political power into the smaller parties, particularly the Lib Dems.

Firstly, AV is not really complicated. Many people vote tactically, and as such, order their candidates in terms of preference anyway. They then simply vote for the one on their shortlist who is most likely to win. AV actually simplifies that - you won't have to second-guess how other people are going to vote.

Secondly, the argument that all preference votes are given the same weighting is fundamentally flawed. Imagine an ice cream van situation.

YOU: I'd like an ice cream, please.
MAN: What flavour, sir?
YOU: Strawberry, please.
MAN: We're right out of strawberry. Here's a banana flavour one instead.
YOU: I don't want a banana flavour one! Can I have vanilla instead?
MAN: Sorry, you've already got your ice cream. (shuts window and drives off)

That is how FPTP works. Fucking annoying, yes?

Try the AV situation.

YOU: I'd like an ice cream, please.
MAN: What flavour, sir?
YOU: Strawberry, please.
MAN: We're right out of strawberry. Any other flavour you'd like?
YOU: What about vanilla?
MAN: Gosh, we're right out of vanilla too! Anything else?
YOU: Chocolate?
MAN: You betcha. One chocolate ice cream.
YOU: Cheers, mate! (walks off with ice cream)

Om nom nom.

You didn't get your first choice. But at least you got given other choices. You might even have wound up with banana if they didn't have any chocolate, but at least you were presented with the possibility of other choices. This is how AV works.

And the last charge, that it is more likely to lead to hung Parliaments. Possibly, in that it would likely increase the representation of the Lib Dems. But it should be noted (and I am no lover of the Lib Dems) that they are significantly under-represented. In the last election, 6.8million out of the total 29.7million people voted Lib Dem, and they only won 57 out of 650 seats in the House of Commons. Nearly 1 in 4 votes cast was for the Lib Dems, and they didn't even get 1 seat out of every 10. It doesn't matter how you look at it, that level of disparity is unfair.

For my part, I don't think that AV is a wonderful voting system. It has its problems and pitfalls. However, it is fairer than FPTP. For example, under FPTP, it is statistically possible for just over 33% of the population to vote for one party, and that party to win every seat in the House of Commons. How is that fair? It makes a mockery of democracy.

So I will be voting 'Yes' in May.

But, Dave and Nick, I also want a referendum on Europe. So that one's next, yeah?