This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
Never have the statistics or the meanings of numbers been so perverted as during the UK general election.
The election is an imperfect system but once was the best of a bad lot.
Now they believe that by adding 306 and 57 they get a number that because it is a majority of seats represents a majority of the population.
They think this gives them legitimacy for there new five year Reich.
It was a hung parliament with no more legitimacy no matter how composed beyond the few months it takes for one of them to get the message.
There are all sorts of lies spread during an election. Among the simplest that those who voted for Tories wanted Tories when by their own campaigning those were not votes of affirmation for Cameron but votes of negation for Brown.
The claim that the liberals are more popular than their seat count is nonsense.
many of the votes they receive are votes of negation for other parties.
The key to any democratic election is that whoever has the better and more popular policies with the electorate gets more votes and with sufficiently more votes, the votes morph into more seats.
This election was the three party equivalent to a one party state. All the parties offer the same policy on the environment and several other key policies and all offer policy which the electorate disagree with.
That is essential one party state politics because it doesn't matter who you vote for you get the same policy.
So the absurd use of numbers makes this election topic a suitable contender for the source of our number of the month.
'Tis pity there isn't a Word Watch web site (so far as I know). As a confirmed pedant I object strongly to the perversion of words' meanings, especially that of "Democracy". This was coined in Athens, meaning Peoples' Rule, and meant that all the eligible population, i.e. free Athenian men - about 20% of the population, gathered on the Pnyx just below the acropolis every morning to decide what needed doing for the polis (city-state). This was proposed by someone who tried to persuade the people to vote for the motion and people then argued the pros and cons before voting on the motion. Once an action was decided upon, names of all suitable officers to carry it out were put into a pot and lots were drawn.
The crucial difference from all later systems claiming to be "democratic" was that nobody voted for people, so no grandstanding or beauty contests and the posts were only held once and for a limited time (usually).
Think what it would mean today. A body of delegates (call it Parliament or Congress or whatever you like) meets and decides on actions to be taken and then an appropriately qualified person is drawn by lot to carry them out. It would put a stop to most if not all of the rampant corruption and shady practices that disfigure all current "democratic" systems.
Surprising that in a "democracy" we have so many Tsars.
The problem with Athenian democracy is that it took 20% of the population out of circulation. Granted, they were the idle rich in an otherwise feudal system who coud afford to pontificate on how to run other peoples lives, but today it wouldn't be possible without trashing what remains of the economy. Unless we likewise institute rule by the "new idle rich", the 20% of the populaton who are lifelong dedicated scroungers who live off the labour of the productive class in the same way the Athenian rulers of old did. The only difference being that while the Athenians had rule by the upper class, we would have rule by the underclass.
No democratic system is perfect - the British system is blatantly biased against smaller parties with less concentrated support, proportional systems are fairer overall but biased against independents and in some cases use list systems, making it impossible for the electorate to deselect a Neil Hamilton type. Whatever the liberals do, they are finished next time round. They only have their current level of support because of tactical voting from both left and right, and only get the current number of seats (comare to 1983 with 25% of the vote and ~25 seats) because of targeted campaigning. The end of this coalition will likely see a lot of their MPs (particularly those in liberal marginals) defect, some to labour and others to the tories.
They will likely get some form of watered-down PR or AV from Cameron and then disappear as a political force for another 100 years. A real shame as they have just begun to shake off the baggage of the SDP reverse-takeover and rediscover their free trade roots. Britain desperately needs a party committed to personal and economic liberty after 13 years of stalinist dictatorship, but I suspect it will just get even more of what it always votes for.
"This election was the three party equivalent to a one party state. All the parties offer the same policy on the environment and several other key policies and all offer policy which the electorate disagree with. That is essential one party state politics because it doesn't matter who you vote for you get the same policy."
It is a one party state on major environmental issues like belief in AGW, transition to a low carbon economy and the general idea that Britain needs to be greener. But there were a limited number of specific environmental issues where the voter was given some sort of choice between the three main parties - the third runway at Heathrow, fox-hunting and building new nuclear power stations. The reason for this choice I would think is because of the existence of clearly identifiable SIF (single issue fanatic) voting blocks who can potentially affect election results in marginal seats.
So the lesson that might be drawn from this for AGW sceptics and general opponents of increasing Greenery is that if they could make themselves identifiable as a SIF voting block, politicians might take a lot more notice. The general attitude of Numberwatch and also this forum is that SIFs are highly undesirable people who are responsible for the generation of a lot of wrong and misleading numbers, but it may be that it is the only way to operate in modern British politics and in these irrational times.
There were some limited attempts to organise some sort of SIF type voting by AGW sceptic bloggers in the run-up to the general election as I recall. Gerald Warner wrote a blog post suggesting opponents of greenery should take a zero tolerance attitude towards it, which would mean in effect voting for UKIP or BNP. I vaguely remember that James Delingpole advised AGW sceptics to vote against David Cameron in his Witney constituency to produce a situation where the Conservatives would be forced to elect a new party leader if they formed the next government.
There is possibly something on the horizon for AGW sceptics in taking on the one party state. Nick Clegg announced some reform package about a week ago that he hyped up into being the biggest change since the 1832 Reform Act. As part of this package people might be allowed to nominate laws for repeal. The obvious one for AGW sceptics would be to nominate the Climate Change Act to be repealed which if it received a lot of nominations would certainly unsettle the political class.
But how best to organise this? I'm ready to help.
"But how best to organise this? I'm ready to help."
If there was an opportunity to nominate the Climate Change Act for repeal in the future, I'm pretty confident that the British AGW sceptic blogosphere would be sufficiently on the ball to notice it and publicise it. They have had a reasonably good track record in publicising various AGW-related petitions in the last couple of years.
I remember in the early 00s, Radio 4's Today programme listeners were aked to vote for which current private members bill they most wanted to become law, and to the embarrasment of Radio 4 the favourite bill was one allowing householders greater rights in defending themselves against burglars, inspired by the Tony Martin case from about ten years ago. So I would imagine Clegg is fully aware that some polically correct law could be nominated for repeal, and might carefully go about setting whatever the rules are to avoid this situation.
When it comes to encouraging tactical voting against the main parties or against specific Green-leaning MPs in the main parties, I'm less confident that the British AGW sceptic blogosphere would deliver on that. There aren't enough James Delingpole-type AGW sceptic bloggers about. The problem with a lot of AGW sceptics is they think they can defeat AGW by debunking the science and not really get involved in the politics. The Spiked website once described this as being like a 'Scooby Doo' approach. The idea is that all you need to do is prove that AGW is a hoax, or maybe a much milder version of a hoax like a quality assurance problem (the two major AGW sceptic blogs, WUWT and Climate Audit, try to treat it as a QA problem), and it will all go away. The problem is that it could take years to debunk it to the point where even politicians wanted to abandon it. Even if AGW disappeared the Green lobby would still promote a big transition to renewable energy by reviving the 'peak oil' issue.
The fact is that despite the heavy drubbing AGW has taken and especially since the Climategate emails, we have the absurd situation that the EU is proposing dramatic increases in the levels of CO to be removed from the atmosphere.
It will take some concerted, focused action to get sense into our politicians and the only way to that is through the ballot box.
Sadly the current UK prime minister has set about, as his number one priority, making **** sure it will take a military coup to dislodge him.
So if we want to see an end to climate change legislation we need to find some suitably disgruntled military types, fed up with seeing their lads blown up and shot because they don't have adequate equipment and who are prepared to do a "Four Colonels" number on our "elected" government.
I thought I'd update this thread to point out that the arrangements for how the public can nominate laws for repeal has now been set up. It is, as might be expected, done through a website.
The Register has an amusing article about early activity at the website, describing it as a 'lunatic magnet'.
The Register also speculates that the site is replacing the government e-petitions website. It doesn't surprise me at all that the Lib Dems would want to get rid of the e-petitions website, the British hoi polloi just weren't 'progressive' enough in which petitions they decided to lend their support to.