Tag Archives: system

The English legal system? It is “Britain’s Got Talent” for liars and spin-masters

(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)

The figure of Justice - blindfolded to avoid seeing any truths

English Justice – blindfolded and blind

Tomorrow, I start jury service for an unknown length of time.

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows my opinion of the English judicial system in which the defendant is assumed to be guilty unless he or she can afford to buy a good enough lawyer to get themselves found innocent – with a lot of luck.

The police investigate. The courts then prosecute the person whom the police have found to be guilty and whom the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office has agreed is guilty. The defendant is assumed in advance to be guilty.

The judge and jury do not investigate the facts. That has already been done by the police. The jury are there to decide whether the prosecutor or defence lawyer presents a better case. The truth is neither here nor there. The jury is voting in a competitive talent show between two highly-trained and highly-paid liars… erm, lawyers… who are trying to advance their own careers.

The State pays the prosecutor to get a guilty verdict and to hide any evidence which may imply or prove the defendant is innocent. The defending lawyer is paid to get his client found innocent and to hide any evidence which may imply or prove he is guilty.

The result is that a jury does not decide on the actual facts; they are voting on the presentation skill of the spin. It is Britain’s Got Talent for rhetoricians. The most professional and admired lawyers are the ones who win cases they do not believe in.

And you take pot luck on the jury members.

Back in July 2011, I blogged about a friend of mine who had recently done jury service.

After all the evidence was given and after the jury had been deliberating for a while, one of the jury members asked:

“Which one is the accused?”

When she was told which person was actually on trial, she asked:

“Wasn’t the other bloke accused?”

“No,” she was told by my friend, “he was the chief prosecution witness.”

“Oh,” the other jury member replied, “I thought they were both on trial.”

Last week, I talked to someone else who had been on a jury.

He told me the person on trial was clearly guilty but one member of the jury voted Not Guilty. My friend and everyone else on the jury had voted Guilty. But my friend’s eyes met this other juror’s eyes and, as he explained to me last week, there was an unspoken understanding between them.

My friend changed his verdict to Not Guilty.

He and the other person set out to change the other jurors’ decisions. It was a game for them. And they succeeded. Eventually, the jury came to a unanimous Not Guilty verdict.

I am not, of course, allowed to blog about what happens if and when I am part of a jury.

So, instead, before this jury thing starts tomorrow, I asked someone else I know – an  ex-criminal – about jury-nobbling.

He gave me two examples.

In one case, a member of a jury was trying a case involving a very high-profile chap who, unsurprisingly, did not want to go to prison.

When one of the jury members got home after a day listening to evidence, shortly before the trial ended, there was a knock on his door in the middle of the evening. When he opened the door, a man was standing there.

The man said: “I’ve been told you’re on the jury and I’ve been asked to give you this envelope,” and left.

Inside the envelope was a photograph, taken that morning, of the jury member’s young daughter in the playground of her school.

There was no physical threat of any kind, but that jury member was perhaps more inclined to find the defendant innocent.

My acquaintance also told me of another occasion he knew about in which a trial was nobbled, this time by the police.

“The police thought he was going to get off,” I was told about another career criminal. “A copper talked loudly about some of the guy’s previous convictions so that a couple of jury members overheard him and the trial had to be abandoned. The guy was found guilty at the re-trial.”

As I mentioned in a blog in February 2011, my own inclination on a jury would be to vote Not Guilty in any case which relies solely on a policeman’s evidence.

A partner in a major London law firm told me he would never put a Metropolitan Police officer in the witness stand without corroborating evidence because you could never be certain a Met officer was telling the truth.

Likewise, the owner of a prominent detective agency who employs ex-SAS troopers etc, told me he never employs ex-policemen because you can never trust them.

The story of the framing by West Yorkshire Police of Stefan Kiszko, his trial and his wrongful imprisonment for 16 years should be taught to every schoolkid in the UK.

It is an illustration of the inherent corruption of the police and of the English court system.

Frankly, you might as well settle court cases by bringing back Trial By Combat.

It would provide equal injustice and be more entertaining.

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Filed under Crime, Legal system, UK

Lies, damned lies, lawyers & politicians. Vague thoughts from my buggy sickbed.

(A version of this was also published by India’s We Speak News)

Parliamentary Man speaks with forked tongue

After I wrote my blog yesterday, I turned over and went back to sleep. I woke up at lunchtime, around 12.30.

I was in bed for most of the rest of the day with what I think was a bug, so I missed most of David Cameron’s reshuffle of his Cabinet. But it made no difference.

Having a Cabinet reshuffle is like randomly offering round a collection of magnifying glasses in the Land of the Blind. If you stumble on a one-eyed man, it is a matter of pure luck.

That is not a Party political point. It is the same with all British governments of all persuasions. Here-today-gone-tomorrow politicians in governments elected every four years or less do not run the country. The on-going staff civil servants do. Which is much better.

If someone is appointed Minister of Transport then, within hours, they may be expressing ‘considered thoughts and fact-based opinions’ on motorways, airports, rural bus services and the dangerous placing of a zebra crossing by some local council in Devon. But that’s all bollocks. They are given their thoughts by the experienced, ongoing civil servants in their department.

Politicians give vague political directions but, in detail, leave it to their civil servants. Which is fine with me. I studied British Constitution at school and love the ramshackle, mostly effective system that has randomly shuffled itself into existence.

That is why I am so against an elected House of Lords.

We already have an elected House of Commons full of people who have had to bullshit their way in there, voted-for by people who have no real idea who they are voting for. We don’t need another Parliamentary chamber filled with politicians exactly the same as the ones in the Commons.

The beauty of the House of Lords is that it is a shambolic combination of the experienced, the good, the worthy and past-their-sell-by-date politicians: a chamber which should, ideally, be conservative with a small ‘c’ because it is there to consider the House of Commons’ laws and delay or dilute their excesses, worse stupidities and incompetences.

Like the monarch, it has no ultimate power. It cannot ultimately stop a law being passed, only delay it.

It is, just like the monarchy, an accidentally cobbled-together edifice which is a thing of beauty.

The Queen has all theoretical power, no actual power but is vital as a failsafe for the election of a totally barking government.

In theory, she can dismiss a government. In practice, if she did this to a government with popular support, it would be the end of the monarchy. But, if she did this to a barking government with no popular support, she could call on what are theoretically her Armed Forces to enforce her will and it would not be a military coup, it would be an entirely legal constitutional action.

It would have been interesting to see what might have happened if the rumoured military coup planned in Britain in 1975 (without the Queen’s knowledge) had gone ahead.

I have few gripes about the British Constitution, but only about politicians themselves: a necessary if even more amoral type of double glazing salesmen.

I went to a grammar school – the Ilford County High School.

It was a good school but perhaps it had ideas a little above its station. It had a cadet force. (This was a long time ago.) You got to parade around in military uniforms and fire guns, much like in the movie If… though without the same outcome.

And it had a debating society called The Acorns.

I was in neither, which may be partially explained by my dislike of regimentation and my lack of any discernible vocal fluency. I can write OK; but I can’t talk fluently.

I do not remember who was in the school’s cadet force. Very neat boys, I imagine. But I do remember that quite a few of the seemingly intelligent people in the Acorns debating society wanted to study Law at university; they wanted to become solicitors or lawyers.

I remember not being in any way impressed when they told me that the absolute zenith of being a good debater was when you were able to successfully argue on behalf of a proposition you did not believe in – or successfully oppose and get the vote to go against a proposition you actually believed in.

This was seen by them as the height of an admirable skill.

I saw it as making successful dishonesty a goal.

And I have never changed my mind.

I imagine several of my schoolmates who aspired to become lawyers did actually study at university for several years in lying techniques and went on to become lawyers.

The highest triumph of being a good lawyer is if you can get a guilty man or woman found innocent and – of course – equally, if you are a Prosecutor, that you can skilfully get an innocent man or woman found guilty of a crime they did not commit.

The object of the English adversarial legal system is not to reveal the truth but to win the argument and to hide or discredit any opposing evidence. It is a talent contest for liars. The jury decides which of the two advocates has been the better liar. English courts are not set up to provide justice; they are set up to judge the efficiency of the lawyers and to boost or diminish their career prospects.

No wonder that such a high proportion of politicians are ex-lawyers in Britain and in countries where their legal system is based on the English system – Tony Blair, Bill Clinton et al – are trained lawyers/liars.

The English legal system is based on lying and hiding the truth. Politics is the art of pragmatism at the expense of morality.

British governments have always taken the entirely reasonable stance that they recognise and negotiate with the de facto governments of other countries whether or not they approve of their policies; we have diplomatic relations with states not with regimes.

To be a politician, you have to lie efficiently and put any moral scruples you may have once had into the shredder.

Not a new viewpoint.

But a true one.

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Filed under Legal system, Philosophy, Politics, Royal Family

The vulnerability of anarchic comedians Malcolm Hardee and Martin Soan

The young-ish Malcolm Hardee (left) and Martin Soan (right) (Photograph courtesy of Steve Taylor from up north)

Last night, a preview of the Greatest Show on LegsEdinburgh Fringe show at London’s Comedy Cafe was cancelled due to a gas leak.

So, instead, leading Leg Martin Soan talked to me about the oft-called ‘godfather of British alternative comedy’ Malcolm Hardee, about whom I have oft blogged here.

Martin and Malcolm met, in their late teens, shortly after Martin had started The Greatest Show On Legs as an adult Punch & Judy show. The Legs were perhaps most famous for their Naked Balloon Dance on Chris Tarrant’s OTT TV show.

“There was other stuff in Malcolm,” Martin said, “but, because he was a bit lazy and always took the easy options… We did talk about some fairly sophisticated stuff for the Greatest Show On Legs to do and, if only we’d pursued that and had had a university-educated ethic about work, we would have come up with some lovely scenarios, me and Malcolm, as a working partnership, except they would have been upper class rather than middle class or working class.

“With a university education, we’d have known all about writing and we’d have motivated people to do it and we would have been ahead of our fucking time.

“What you don’t write about about Malcolm, what you don’t write about about me is that we were vulnerable. We didn’t possess – I don’t possess – natural self-confidence. Malcolm didn’t. He really didn’t. That was our affinity with each other. We bullshitted; we both tried to get away with it; we were out for a good time. But, basically, we were both vulnerable. And that was very true about Malcolm.

“Though,” I said, “Malcolm exuded confidence to other people.”

“Yeah, he did,” agreed Martin.

“But…?” I asked.

“But…” Martin said and then stopped, lost in thought.

“He was shy, wasn’t he?” I said.

“He was shy, yes,” said Martin. “Not able to express his emotions.”

“Yet everyone who didn’t know him thinks he was this outrageous, extrovert character,” I said.

“As a human being, he had his faults and that’s why we loved him,” said Martin. “He was like, in some sort of way, a Mr Punch character. All the things that were wrong about a person were all the things you loved about them at the same time. That was Malcolm.

“There was an affinity between me and him because we met when we were young and we felt we weren’t worthy. We had this hang-up but, at the same time, it was Wey-heh! Yeah! Go for it!

“And you told me the vulnerability was about education,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Martin. “There was this Wey-heh! Yeah! Go for it! But you couldn’t take that vulnerability out of me and Malcolm. There was a tragic inability for these young, sometimes charismatic working class lads to… we couldn’t quite fucking crack it.

“In a sense, we all did really well, but still there’s that feeling in the back of the mind: We’re no good.”

“But Malcolm wasn’t really working class,” I said. “And I don’t think he had a thing about education, did he? He went to Colfe’s School and he could have done better but,” I laughed, “the way he told it his father buggered-up his chances in the interview. I don’t think Malcolm had a thing about lack of education, did he?”

“He did,” Martin corrected me, “Malcolm did. On the very few times – in the early days, not so much in later days – we levelled with each other, I’d say Don’t bullshit me, Malcolm! He was a huge bullshitter. But he did talk to me about the cynical resentment he had – exactly the same as me. He did resent the Oxbridge comedy ‘passport’ to success though, at the same time, he wanted to get in with them. He wasn’t too good on those inroads, though.

“The first time we went up to the Edinburgh Fringe, Emma Thompson was doing a sell-out show. We did go along and see her and she was in the same venue as us – The Hole In The Ground.

“But he developed other relationships at that Edinburgh Fringe – with Arthur Smith and others – and he moved on. I was slower. I was a lot more introverted than Malcolm in terms of the whole social thing. I probably suffered more than he did from the whole insecurity thing, thinking I’m shit! and the whole thing.”

“Are you OK saying this in a blog?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said Martin, surprised.

“The only semi-bad review Malcolm’s autobiography got,” I said, “was one by Stewart Lee in the Sunday Times which said it wasn’t analytical enough of Malcolm’s character – though Stewart did add that Malcolm wasn’t naturally someone who analysed himself. And he didn’t. When we were writing his autobiography, I occasionally tried to get Malcolm to analyse things he’d done and he wasn’t interested. And I figured it was an autobiography not a biography, so that was part of the nature of the person. He wasn’t analytical in that way and he did find it difficult to express his…”

“Me and Malcolm,” Martin interrupted, “were ‘family’ for a time. We grew up together. We started with that Hole In The Ground show at the Edinburgh Fringe, pushed it on and ended up going all over the world together and.. it was a big adventure.”

“Like brothers,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Martin. “I used to try and talk to Malcolm. Forget all that education stuff, I’d say. Here we are now. Let’s just enjoy ourselves. But I had to bludgeon him into it. Just sit and relax and savour all the memories. That dog when we were doing the naked balloon dance! Do you remember this? Do you remember that? That’s what ‘family’ is all about. It’s about memories and what you do together and fuck what anybody else thinks about it. It’s about what we did together and it was amazing!”

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Filed under Comedy, Psychology

In Sohemia: God bless the onion-like layers of the English class system

(A version of this piece was also published by the Huffington Post)

I once interviewed Nigel Kneale, author of the still extraordinarily excellent BBC TV series Quatermass and The Pit.

He was born in the Isle of Man and told me he thought being a Manxman had helped him as a writer because his upbringing was British but he also simultaneously felt an outsider.

I do not have that advantage – though, born in Scotland but having lived my life almost entirely in England, I feel Scots but distanced; British but not at all English.

There is a layer of English society – or perhaps several overlapping onion-like layers – which floats.

I exaggerate, of course.

But there is a level of intelligent, sophisticated and moneyed English people who glide through life. They may not feel they have money; they may even struggle financially; but they know they have the security blanket that they are never going to fail utterly and end up in the gutter with no friends, desolate, unable to keep body and soul together.

This last week, I went to the Sohemian Society for the first time and I think that layer was visible. The Society is ostensibly a celebration of the culture and history of Soho, which has always had a Bohemian element to it. But Soho overlaps into Fitzrovia and both those areas attract interesting people. Perhaps half or more of the audience, though, had never heard of the Sohemian Society; they had come along specifically to see the speaker that night.

Before the talk started, a couple of women behind me were chatting about the actress Dulcie Gray, whom they had known; the very amiable man who sat next to me turned out to be the editor of a very exclusive reference book; the speaker that night, Andrew Barrow, had written a biography of Naked Civil Servant Quentin Crisp whom he and others in the audience had known.

Of course, grim reality enters into everyone’s life. Dulcie Gray died earlier this month aged 95 and, alas, was mostly forgotten by Middle England. The very exclusive reference book edited by the man next to me – like all reference works – is under an economic sword of Damocles held by Wikipedia and the internet in general. And Quentin Crisp died twelve years and one day before the Sohemian Society meeting, now just a footnote in English social history, perhaps even seen as a fictional character in some long-ago gay film – Didn’t he appear in that chest-buster scene in Alien?

And then there are the melancholic memories of what might have been but never was. The would-be Icarus characters who might have flown through English artistic life and might even have missed the sun but who never even took off.

Author Andrew Barrow was talking to the Sohemian Society (which is open to all – anyone can wander along) about his book Animal Magic: A Brother’s Story

It is about his brother Jonathan Barrow, who was killed with his fiancée in a car crash just a few days before their wedding in 1970. Jonathan was aged 22 and, a few days after his death, Andrew found the manuscript of a very bizarre novel Jonathan had recently finished writing.

In The QueueJonathan included several mentions of head-on car crashes and, in a another scene, there was another dark premonition of what actually did happen after his death. The church booked for his wedding ceremony did become the venue for his and his fiancee’s funeral.

Their funeral was just a few days before the day on which they had been going to be married.

Judging by the extracts read by Andrew, The Queue is wildly surreal, featuring a cast of humans, animals and hybrids.

When Andrew showed the manuscript to Quentin Crisp shortly after Jonathan’s death, Quentin said: “Your brother looked healthy, happy, natural. He could have played head prefect at Eton. But everything else about him is extremely odd. Not faintly odd. Extremely odd.”

The Observer has said the book treads the thin line between “brilliance and total barminess”.

The Independent on Sunday says it is “a wild picaresque fantasy, erotically polymorphous … with a cast of bizarre humans and talking animals”.

That would be the hens and stoats and toads and suicidal owls, a central dachshund called Mary who is an alcoholic drug addict and extremely promiscuous, a spineless hedgehog, a human sheep old enough to remember Disraeli and a fish specially-trained by the police for “complex underwater retrievals” which gets lost down the drain in a dirty bookshop in Soho.

Not your normal novel, then.

Though very English.

Someone in the audience asked Andrew if he thought it would have been published if Jonathan had lived. The answer was yes, almost certainly, because Jonathan (who had a job in advertising) knew lots of publishers.

Jonathan Barrow, it seems to me, was one of those people who would have glided through life; he seems in retrospect to have had a wonderfully artistic and creatively fulfilling future ahead of him, gliding through English society.

But, in a handful of seconds, his timeline stopped.

It can happen to anyone.

Ars longa. Vita brevis.

The sword of Damocles hangs over everyone’s head, held by a thin thread.

Andrew Barrow has now had Jonathan’s book published.

And his own book Animal Magic – about Jonathan and about The Queue – has also been published and been described as “a funny, dark memoir. Think Tommy Cooper describing a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.”

Which may be a good description because, in his youth, Andrew tried to be a stand-up comic – mostly, he says, by nicking Tommy Cooper’s gags.

He admits he was awful.

But he himself is almost as interesting as The Queue.

He is intelligent, sophisticated, witty and a good writer.

He introduced the legendary Daily Telegraph obituaries editor Hugh Massingberd to Ken Dodd at the London Palladium.

He has lived.

Country Life magazine described Animal Magic as “Deft, witty and poignant”.

The Lady wrote: “This book ultimately belongs to Jonathan, and it is testament to his sibling’s skill that he appears here so vividly, his supreme peculiarity preserved”.

To the Sohemian Society, Andrew Barrow said: “If just one reader writes to thank you and say they enjoyed a book you have written, it makes it worthwhile. You hope to make them laugh. If they laugh and cry, that’s even better.”

Amen.

God bless Englishness.

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Filed under Books, Creativity, England, Psychology, Writing

The Judge found both police witnesses to be more bent than a cork screw

After reading my blog yesterday, mad inventor John Ward told me this story about the occasion when he, too, did jury service…

‘The accused’ was quite a sad case really and even the Judge found the CID to be more bent than a cork screw.

Two policemen gave evidence and, halfway through the second officer’s ‘statement’ being given in the witness box, the judge stopped the trial – he looked across at the policeman with a look to kill – and told the two CID persons to wait within the grounds of the Court and not to leave while somebody was sent to get their desk diaries from their base twenty odd miles away.

We had a break for a cuppa.

Once these diaries were fetched and read out by the officers themselves – after the judge had read them through first – it told a different story to the one they had agreed upon for us mere mortals to hear in court.

The lawyer for the accused did comment during his cross-examination of the CID blokes that it was “difficult to work out who should be in the dock” and the judge said that this should be deleted from the record.

The case was about building materials going walkabout. It went on for four wonderful days of high comedy with claim and counter-claim and counter-counter-claim, one of the best being:

“I could not have had that generator away, as I was nicking a load of sewer pipes and fittings at the time, me lord.”

The ‘accused’ was let off the main, fabricated, charges and we found him guilty on the ‘real’ minor charges that he did admit to. The chap had put his hand up to taking some of the items quoted – he had built an entire house with half the materials he had ‘found’ – but, reading between the lines, the CID folk had had an interest in quite a bit of stuff that had been nicked and which – surprise surprise – had never been recovered during the investigations.

The chap involved was ‘previously known’ to the boys in blue and it was obviously a ‘grudge’ thing – this was supposed to be payback time – a point a dear old lady on the jury picked up on before I did!

The wonderful bit for us mortals was to hear that the policemen were streets ahead of Doctor Who because, according to a combination of their stories and diaries, the two ‘boys in blue’ were able to be in THREE places at the same time!

Rupert Murdoch would have been proud of them – assuming they were not already working for him…

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Filed under Crime, Legal system

The English jury system at work

A friend of mine was doing jury service recently.

After all the evidence was given and after the jury had been deliberating for a while, one of the jury members asked:

“Which one is the accused?”

When she was told which person was actually on trial, she asked:

“Wasn’t the other bloke accused?”

“No,” she was told by my friend, “he was the chief prosecution witness.”

“Oh,” the other jury member replied, “I thought they were both on trial.”

The accused man was found guilty. He probably was.

Who knows?

True story.

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Democracy is an unworkable system and Proportional Representation is the Tony Blair of political theories

Democracy is a terrible idea and it is totally unworkable in practice.

Pure democracy, that is.

True democracy in which everyone decides on everything would mean everyone would have to vote on every national, regional and local decision. Even if people only voted on life-or-death decisions, everyone would have to vote nationally on the siting of a zebra crossing on a main road in Orpington because anyone in the UK could drive along that road; anyone could be killed as a result of the decision. So everyone would have to decide. The country would seize up.

In the UK, we have Representative Democracy not pure democracy and we elect representatives for areas – local councils, national governments.

Or, rather, we do not.

We do not elect national governments in the UK.

We never have.

I’ve heard the most ridiculous knee-jerk pseudo-democratic bollocks talked about Proportional Representation and a lot of it is how it will “reflect voters’ views better”.

Bollocks.

People say, “Ah, well, most of Britain’s Post War governments were elected by a minority of the voters – less than 51% of the population and/or the people who voted actually voted for those governing parties.”

Utter bollocks.

NO government in the 19th or 20th or 21st centuries was EVER voted-in by ANY voter in the UK – because the UK system is to vote for local MPs, not for national governments.

If the ‘winning’ party were to win a majority of Westminster seats by narrow majorities in local elections and the losing parties were to win all their local seats by massive majorities, then obviously the national government would be elected by a very low percentage of the over-all UK population.

But that is not relevant. It would not alter the fact they had won the majority of seats in the country.

We do not vote for national governments. In General Elections, we vote locally and the party with most seats nationally forms a government. We vote for local MPs in local seats to (allegedly) represent their constituents’ views. Throw that tapwater out and you throw a whole family of babies out too.

In each of the local constituencies, the winner wins by a first-past-the-post system where the person with more votes than any other individual candidate wins. If a candidate gains 40% of the votes and the other four candidates have 30%, 20% and 10%, then he or she wins. This seems reasonable to me. Other people knee-jerk on the fact that the winning candidate has only 40% of the votes whereas the others combined have 60% of the vote.

Tough shit.

So we should perhaps give the election to the guy who came third and who was the first choice of even fewer people???

Silly idea?

That is what Proportional Representation does.

Proportional Representation spreads votes according to second and third and maybe – god help us – fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh choices to allegedly get a ‘fairer’ view of voters’ intentions.

Bollocks. Utter bollocks.

The outcome of Proportional Representation is to elect not the candidate whose policies and personality are most admired by most people, but to elect the candidate whose policies and personality are less disliked by more people. You may end up with everyone’s third or fourth bottom-of-the-barrel choice and not the individual candidate most favoured by the highest number of people.

Under Proportional Representation, elections are intended to include more smaller parties. In other words, to lessen the strength of the big parties and to result in more coalition governments. That is what has happened in countries which have tried it.

So what if no party nationally wins enough seats to form a government?

Whichever parties can join together to create a majority of seats will form the government. Inevitably, the parties which come first and second in the election are unlikely to form coalitions. At the last UK General Election, there was no chance of the Conservative and Labour parties joining together in a coalition. Both unsurprisingly tried to form a coalition with the third party, the Lib-Dems.

Proportional Representation never results in simple situations but, in a simple situation in which one party gets 45% of the seats nationally and other parties get 30%, 15% and 10%, it would make sense for the strongest party to form a coalition with the party which got 10%, thus combining together with 55% of the seats. The fourth party probably poses no long-term threat to the strongest party; the other parties are likely to be a greater long-term threat. Always form a coalition with the weakest possible partner. It’s how devious people play the final round in The Weakest Link on TV – they vote off their strongest opponent and play with their weakest opponent. It’s probably in The Art of War somewhere.

What this means in political practice (as in the present UK coalition between the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems) is that the weaker party will insist that some of its policies are adopted by the coalition government as part of the coalition deal.

So, in the four-party example above, the party with only 10% of the seats will see some of its policies adopted – but the party with 30% of the seats will not get any of its policies adopted.

The result is that a party which (in terms of seats won) the majority of people did not want to primarily see in power gains power.

The other alternative, if you have a party seat split of 40%, 35%, 16% and 9% of the seats, is that the second and third parties form a coalition – thus having 51% of the seats – and form the government. That is an entirely possible scenario and, in this case, the party which has more seats than any other party – 40% – does NOT form the government. The party which only got 16% of seats gains power.

That is not democracy, it is a bollocksed-up system which reflects voters intentions not more but less. It’s a system designed to give a better reflection of voters’ intentions which simultaneously creates weak government and is anti-democratic by giving power to less-well-supported parties.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I cite Tony Blair, a man who, I believe, initially had good intentions but who fucked-up the country, fucked-up the constitution, was profoundly anti-democratic and ended up doing evil with what he believed to be good intentions.

Proportional Representation is the Tony Blair of political theories.

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Filed under History, Politics