Tagged: vote

New websites ‘offer hope’ to people who fear their votes are wasted

People who fear their votes are wasted are being given a “massive ray of hope” by new swapping sites, according to one developer.

Under the system, two people agree to vote for each other’s preferred party in their constituency.

The belief is this will increase the chances of their preferred party securing a seat elsewhere in the country and stop their vote being squandered on a minority candidate in their own constituency who has little chance of success.

Tom de Grunwald, who has helped to develop http://www.swapmyvote.uk, said the idea of putting “people whose votes are wasted in touch with other people whose votes are wasted” – in an attempt to give individuals more influence – emerged at the 2010 general election.

He said: “We built the website and we are getting some really good interest – hundreds to thousands of users and quite a number of swaps established with more and more people taking part.”

The London-based digital producer went on: “There are so many wins. If thousands of people use it we may see results change as a result – that would be amazing.

“Short of that, the existence of an alternative gives a massive ray of hope to anyone who has considered their vote to be wasted.

 

“Third, a big positive for me is connecting people with each other and people who might not have ever spoken before and discussed politics.

“In this system, by nature, they will will have different viewpoints and we will hopefully get some more political debate and up the ante with discussion in this country.”

Of the current first-past-the-post system, Mr de Grunwald said: “I am always disappointed with parties that gain from first-past-the-post not actually looking for a fairer system that works for the electorate.

“First-past-the-post parties do seem to defend the system which keeps them in power and this is fantastically interesting year – everything seems possible at the moment and I was not anticipating it would be like this.”

Elsewhere, voteswap.org has more of a focus on vote swaps in England between Labour and Green supporters in an attempt to limit the number of Conservative MPs.

 The site explains:
“It lets you pledge to swap your vote. If you’re a Green in a Labour target seat, you can pledge to vote Labour to keep a Tory out.

“In return a Labour supporter in a seat that Labour is unlikely to win or lose pledges to vote Green, ‘lending’ their vote to a seat where it will make a difference.

“The national vote share does not change, but the number of Tory MPs goes down.

“In most seats being targeted by both Labour and Greens we make no recommendation. We are only advising on vote swaps in England, because other parties running in Scotland and Wales make swapping more complicated.”

“We cannot guarantee that people will honour the swaps they make on this site.

“But we know if they do it gives both Labour and Green supporters a greater chance of kicking the Conservatives out of government in May 2015, and boosting their respective parties at the same time.”

Source –  Northern Echo, 20 Apr 2015

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Six million people fall off electoral register due to ‘lackadaisical’ councils

Vox Political

vote

Local councils have been failing to check voter lists by making door-to-door visits – leading to a loss of no less than six million people from the electoral register, the BBC has reported.

This is before a new system comes into operation that will require people to put themselves on the register individually, rather than being registered as part of a household. This has been designed by the Coalition government and it is widely believed that it will discourage people who are not Tories or Lib Dems from registering – effectively rigging elections in favour of the ruling parties.

In addition, it is widely believed that the public in general is losing faith in democracy after being forced to put up with one government after another who have sidled into office with a minority of the vote – most people have voted against them. These governments have then imposed…

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Look Out Hartlepool ! UKIP Want You

> Evidently not having lost heart at their candidates piss-poor showing in the Yarm election last week, UKIP now have their sights on Hartlepool (insert monkey joke of your choice here).

General Election planners at UKIP have decided Hartlepool is their best chance in the region, with a relatively strong local branch helping pave the way for an election push.

Labour’s Iain Wright holds the seat with a majority of 5,509, down from the days of Peter Mandelson and a 14,000 strong majority. Back in 2010 UKIP took just 7% of the vote.

But, Nigel Farage said, after recent success in the South Shields by-election, where the party came second despite never standing there before, there would be a General Election rethink after this May’s Euro polls.

It was revealed last month how new academic research suggests Labour’s working class vote is at risk of moving away from an increasingly middle class Labour party, with UKIP making clear they now want to take left-wing voters across the North.

Mr Farage, who was in Gateshead last week, claimed that even an area with as many safe seats as the North was not beyond their reach.

“It’s a Labour heartland, but you know what, we’re having a go,” he said. “Let’s be honest. We are at a later stage in our development in the North East, compared to, say, the East of England.

“That’s because we didn’t quite get over the line in 2009, 15.4% in those elections. Let’s see where we are after these elections.

“We’re fighting more than 100 local election seats, and if, if, we start to win in those we suddenly have a base to build on.

“In South Shields we came second, and it showed how much Labour hate us in the North East. They hate us here, they are scared, they know they represent a different set of interests to the old Labour party.

“We will not win where Labour has a massive majority, but we can find marginals or other seats where we can make a difference.

“Hartlepool is very, very interesting. Watch Hartlepool. It is an interesting seat for us in 2015.

“We have a base there, it is our longest established branch in the North East.

“The North East is our fastest growing membership area, and if I had to pick I’d say Hartlepool was an area where we can make a substantial impact.

“We will have to look hard after the elections at what our targets will be in 2015, but Hartlepool is very interesting to us.”

Last night leading Teesside MP Tom Blenkinsop ( Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) said UKIP would struggle to convince voters in the North to back Mr Farage’s right-wing policies.

> Sadly, I’m not so sure. Many life-long Labour supporters I’ve met espouse personal views that would place them well to the right of UKIP. They only vote Labour because they always have, and their fathers before them, etc – there’s very little innovative thinking or grasp of political theory. It’s a classic case of double-think. And OAPs are often the worst – they’ve got theirs, now they want to pull the ladder up behind them.

The Labour MP said: “Nigel Farage says he’s ‘the only politician keeping the flame of Thatcherism alive’.

“He should tell that to the steel workers of Hartlepool and the rest of Teesside that numbered 25,000 in 1987, and only numbered 5,000 by 1992.

“Or maybe the mining communities of County Durham and Northumberland.

“If you want to know about UKIP, look at how Farage has employed Neil Hamilton in a senior party role, a man who took brown paper envelopes full of cash to ask questions in parliament.

“Farage supports privatising the NHS. He wants to cut maternity rights for women, and he wants to privatise chunks of our education system.

“He sounds like a Thatcherite Tory, he looks like a Thatcherite Tory and of course he tried six times previously to be a Thatcherite Tory MP.

“I’m very sure that firms like TATA, Nissan and Hitachi would be more than a little bit concerned at a follower of Farage’s getting into any position of representation in the North East.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle  27 April 2014

Bid to boost Euro-election turnout takes new twist as DOG is sent polling card

Boosting turnout at elections has taken a new twist after a family’s eight-year-old dog was invited to vote.

Canines in the constituency don’t usually figure highly during the battle for votes on election day, but Zeus, an ageing Rottweiler cross, has got his paws on a polling card in the run-up to one political dogfight.

He has received an invitation to vote in the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament on May 22.

The card, addressed to “Zeus Hoyle”, dropped through the letterbox of his owner Russell Hoyle’s home in Cheshire Road, Norton, Teesside.

Russell is planning to take his four-legged friend for walkies to the polling station on election day.

He said: “Me and my wife are going to vote and Zeus is coming with us. He has got his voting card.”

Zeus appears distinctly underwhelmed by it all.

His political persuasion is unclear, although his owner hopes he is not a Tory.

Asked how he planned to vote, Zeus let out what appeared to be a big yawn.

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette  14 April 2014

North politicians must form strong voice in wake of Scottish Independence vote

Regional economic policy must be revamped if the North East is to get a fair deal in the wake of the Scottish independence vote, a national research director has said.

Dr Angus Armstrong, director of macroeconomic research at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said the Treasury does not prioritise the North East and politicians must form a strong and unified voice to correct the imbalance.

At a debate on how September’s vote will impact on the region, regional leaders also heard of a “growing realisation” Scotland may not lower corporation tax, allaying fears the country would suck business from its neighbours.

It comes as all seven North East councils, from Durham to Northumberland, agree a Combined Authority which will allow it to bid for more Government funding.

Dr Armstrong said regional policy is not a priority for the Treasury when it calculates how to spend Government cash and the North should look to reconsider a regional assembly to be heard above its southern counterparts and in Europe.

He said: “I used to work for the Treasury during the crisis and regional policy does not register. I hate that that is the case, but I really don’t think it is part of Treasury policy. I think the whole concept of regional policy needs to be re-thought.”

He added: “People in the South East underestimate the extent to which power is centralised, so, although they have a feeling there is something of an imbalance, that imbalance is greater than that feeling would suggest.

“The reason I say that is because of the financial crisis. The only reason they could support the City of London is because of the taxpayers of the rest of England.

“When it goes wrong we pay, it is quite remarkable and I find it amazing that places outside of the South East don’t have more to say about that. I do think the degree of imbalance is extremely significant.”

Pat Ritchie, chief executive of Newcastle City Council, said the region’s airports and universities could lose out due to a possible relaxation in border controls which might see students flock to Scottish universities.

She added there were fears changes to the Air Passenger Duty tax could see carriers opt to begin routes from Scottish airports.

Ms Ritchie, however, said there was an opportunity for the region to export goods to the country and, with Edinburgh closer to the region than London, collaborate with Scottish national leaders.

She said: “We should and can be confident in our strengths. This is a region which exports more than any other region and it is already used to working with different markets.

“Whilst not wanting to marginalise what is an important debate, we should not get too hung up on what Scotland might or might not do.

“We need to really develop the strongest possible economic offer that we can for the North East and collaborate as local authorities and businesses and be confident.”

Professor David Bell, professor of economics at the University of Stirling, also spoke at the debate, organised by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), and said Scots are keenly aware of the need to collaborate with the North.

“I don’t think that the North East is particularly disadvantaged because for Scotland to get anywhere with these negotiations there would have to be a cluster of compromises, and it would make no sense to have poor relations with its near neighbours.”

He added the North East faced being drowned out by the South East but there was a “growing realisation” that Scotland could not drive down corporation tax as it risked becoming a tax haven for businesses.

He said: “I go to talk about independence on a regional basis and the elephant in the room is the lack of political impetus, particularly in the North East.

“It is just not there and it isn’t part of the issue.

“If Scotland votes yes or if it votes no and gets more powers, you will have a heavily asymmetrical system in England which cannot continue to be stable.”

Source – Newcastle Journal,  28 March 2014

Delights – and disgraces – of the Atos day of protest

Vox Political

Taking sides: Some of the demonstrators at Newtown, Powys. [Image: Mike Sivier] Taking sides: Some of the demonstrators at Newtown, Powys. [Image: Mike Sivier] Were you one of the many, many people – both able-bodied and with disabilities – who gathered outside Atos assessment centres yesterday to demand an end to the system that continues to cause the deaths of thousands of innocent people every day?

I was.

I attended one of the 144 locations used by Atos to carry out the discredited work capability assessments – in Newtown, Powys – where I was just another face in the crowd that had gathered to remind the public of the atrocity being carried out with their tax money.

The Newtown campaign was undoubtedly small in comparison to others around the country, with a maximum of 15 protesters at its height, but the public response was excellent. The assessment centre is next to a major traffic junction, meaning there were plenty of opportunities to…

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Coalition drags out the pain with promise of many more cuts

Vox Political

140205cuts

The BBC has reported findings by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, showing that the Coalition government will be less than halfway through its planned spending cuts by the end of the current financial year (March 31).

The organisation said 60 per cent of the cuts were still to come.

This raises a few urgent questions. Firstly: This government was formed on the promise that it would balance the books by 2015, which presupposes that its entire plan for doing so would be in place long before then. We know that this ambitious claim was dismissed after years of failure, but part of the reason for this failure was that George Osborne stopped a recovery that was already taking place, and which would have led to economic growth of 20 per cent by now, if it had been allowed to continue (according to Michael Meacher MP). My question, therefore…

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