Knight of the 'Net

Frank Shute frank at
Mon Jan 5 01:54:52 GMT 2004

On Sat, Jan 03, 2004 at 04:33:40PM +0000, Paul Robinson wrote:
> Before I begin, this mail has got longer than expected. Apologies. If 
> somebody tells me to shut up, I will. :-)
> Peter McGarvey wrote:
> >IIRC, the list of them that refused honours was leaked.  And surely to
> >
> Well, whilst trying to find the original article from the Sunday Times, 
> I instead came across this:
> I also found an article about MI6 admitting to running Operation Mass 
> Appeal as well, which you might all be interested in, but that's for 
> another time.

Have you got a link to that? I'm a conspiracy nut :)

If you are too, you might want to dig up Richard Tomlinson's statement
to the Paris police vis a vis Diana's "accident".

> >Well, I'm too lazy to leave the country.  But I'm giving serious
> >consideration to writing to my MP demanding the right to be officialy
> >disenfranchised.
> >
> There was an article in this week's Spectator (don't beat me up - I read 
> all the political and news weeklys I get time to, I'm not an 
> anti-liberal nutcase, honest) one of the regular writers tells why he is 
> moving to France this month. It all comes down to a false sense of 
> nationalism, although he doesn't realise it. You were born here and so 
> are told that this is "your country" and that God Save the Queen is 
> "your anthem". Of course, this is all man-made nonsense created by the 
> state in the middle ages as a tool of control to convince people to go 
> to war to save the land of some nobles. But amazingly, people still 
> believe in it. See, I told you I was a liberal really. :-)

You're right, people do believe it and it always reminds me of Dr
Johnsons maxim: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"

Whilst I'm moving abroad, I know that I will remain, for good or bad,
an Englishman to my dying day. The culture, the people and their
values sort of seep into you and the longer you've been here the worse
it is. I almost moved to Australia when I was about 20 (20+ yrs ago)
but I was less "brainwashed" then & I think if I had I would now
consider myself an Australian. Now I know that if I move abroad I will
feel like an Englishman abroad even though I've got family in both
Finland & Australia & none to speak of in this country.

> >I'm of the opinion that the Lottery should be used for picking the
> >monarch, every five years or so.  I'd also make voting compulsory (fined
> >a day's wages if you don't), make polling day a public holiday, and add
> >a box at the bottom of the ballot paper saying "NO VOTE" for them that
> >don't wish to participate.
> >
> You've got me started now. I promise, when I started writing this e-mail 
> it was going to be a 10-line e-mail. But, seeing as this has come up, 
> here you go. If anybody tells us to shut up, we'll just have to move 
> off-list, but I think the people on this list are intelligent types with 
> an interest in this kind of thing.

This is why I suggested a seperate list. There are probably a goodly
number of people who are bored rigid by us spouting off our political
credo but also a number of people who quite like reading it. Mind you
I know I'm bored rigid when there's a topic about setting up a DHCP
server even though it's on-topic!

> People concentrate on the monarch as a problem, when in fact it is far 
> from being the problem - it a symptom. I'd recommend before looking at a 
> republican state that some other changes are required first:
> Compulsory voting forces politicians to move to the lowest common 
> denominator. In this country, that would involve a strong push to the 
> right and facism followed by a counter-move to the extreme left. In 
> short: disaster. Whether you believe in hard-left or hard-right politics 
> is irrelevant. Everybody agrees very strong swings like this lead to all 
> sorts of problems.
> In Australia, where voting is compulsory, they're starting to see an 
> emergent swing that will, in 20 years, probably get quite nasty. As it 
> is, they're a middle-of-the-road crowd and so it can still be avoided 
> with some moderation, but here in the UK where the Facist Party and the 
> Socialist Party stand side-by-side on issues like globalisation but are 
> happy to go at each other's necks on everything else, and both sides 
> have support...  well, I don't expect it would be pretty.

I think you're wrong in subscribing extreme swings right or left to
compulsory voting (for the life of me I can't see the link). In
Australia the electorate is largely polarised between left-wing liberals
and rightwingers, much more so than over here. The reason is race and
immigration - they're having the arguments we were having about it in
Enoch Powell's day. It's possible they too will have race riots but
it's less likely due to the higher standard of living over there.

> The problems around low turnout are nothing to do with apathy but rather 
> a breakdown in political polarisation. Historically you were either 
> left-wing or right-wing. You could look at what your parents voted, or 
> pick a package from a party and sidle up to them and vote for life. 
> Since the dawn of Thatcherite New Labour, such polarisation isn't 
> possible. People instead find themselves saying "Well, I like Labour's 
> Health policy, but I like the Tory ideal of small government and the Lib 
> Dems education package is good, and the Green Party are right about the 
> environment...." but you can only vote for one.

I agree, there is no longer the polarisation that you see in

> People then see politicians on the TV claiming that their party is right 
> about everything and everybody else is stupid, witness childlike 
> squabbling and decide that whoever they vote for, they're going to feel 
> disappointed afterwards because they are going to be lucky to get just 
> 25% of what they wanted. Result: they don't vote. Proporitonal 
> representation and e-voting are seen as the golden egg of turnout 
> issues, but instead they enforce polarisation and apathy respectively.
> So, what you actually want is for politicians to become less polarised 
> and affiliated with a party message, and instead be a true 
> representative of you and the rest of the local constituency. Acheivable 
> in two ways:
> 1. Get rid of political parties, everybody stands as an independent at 
> election. The local representatives discuss through the traditional 
> campaigning dialogue with the constituency what their own beliefs are, 
> and the constituents choose who they feel is best for the job.
> The week after the general election an internal vote is held by all 
> those elected to parliament for the person they feel the Queen should 
> invite to form a Government as Prime Minister (at the moment she just 
> invites the leader of the party with the most seats). In a republican 
> democracy, obviously, this is a point that would need some 
> consideration. With the Queen making an invite, the candidate still has 
> the right to refuse by law... the constitution is a mess in this regard.

I like this idea, it's the conclusion I came to. Political parties
should be banned but loose affiliations without any party apparatus
should be allowed. You just have to look at the nonsense that unelected
policy wonks in Millbank or central office have come up with to know
that these people should be criminalised.

> 2. Much less radical is to keep the political parties for people to 
> affiliate themselves with, but abondon use of the party whips. This 
> allows for voters to roughly understand where a candidate's politics 
> lie, but without that politician on election at risk of causing a 
> hulabaloo in the press every time they rebel at the division, or even 
> worse, a senior member of the party decides to become a rebel teller....

Not radical enough!

To be honest I don't see either happening, there are too many vested
interests :(

> Right, rant over, but I thought you might like an alternative idea to 
> mull over before the Manchester BSD UG on Tuesday.

Wish I could make it but it's too far to go and I don't like going
over to the heathen side of the Pennines ;)

> You'd never guess I really wanted to read Politics at Cambridge but 
> chose Software Engineering at UMIST for the money instead, would you? :-)

I think there's more money in politics, as long as you are prepared to
sell your soul :)



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Those WMD in perspective:

   "The 1995 nerve agent attack in Tokyo was carried out by a group of
   20 or 30 people, some with scientific training and access to a
   well-equipped lab. They killed 12 people.  

   Last week, a single lunatic with a bottle of gasoline (petrol)
   killed 133 on a Korean subway."

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