Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Who to vote for? Some of the above

As Bristol's premier data science organisation —and one of the few press outlets people trust— people ask us: who should we vote for?

Our answer: anyone you like —but.

Which is where our game theory work comes into play.

First though, consider all the members of Clifton Tank Command who kept on saying "but the nurses!" and "but the schoolteachers!", when arguing against the RPZ.

  1. It's probably the hospital porters who have the worst job. Ask them how little they get paid for a 10-12 hour shift? It's just that "but the hospital porters!" doesn't conjure up those Florence Nightingale scenes of the selfless nurse —so doesn't get used when seeking sympathy.
  2. Ask the nurses, hospital porters or other staff what is the worse thing to happen to them in the last five years. The Clifton RPZ or Jeremy Hunt's "reforms"? Because it won't be parking (probably).
  3. Similarly, ask the school teachers: "what is worse, the Clifton RPZ or Michael Gove's 4+ years in charge of education"? Because it won't be parking (probably).
All those people who were citing teachers and nurses in opposition to the RPZ now have a choice: do they vote for the parties that made things worse at a national level, or do they not. Because if they do vote Tory or LibDem, they abdicate the right to pretend to care about the wellbeing of all public sector employees.

What about the rest of us? This is where it gets interesting, especially in Bristol West.

  1. In 2010, the fact that the Conservative Party could gain an outright majority by working with the LibDems meant that they needed them, either in a coalition or on a vote-by-vote basis. 
  2. The LD team went for coalition. This gave them a seat at the table —but in exchange, they gave the Cameron government the majority they desired. 
  3. In exchange for that majority, the LDs got support for two referendums: electoral reform and house of lords reform. They got promised them, but then had the Tory party actively opposing them, and plans fell through. If electoral reform had gone through, all the smaller parties would be happy this election, and the LD would stand a chance of counting MPs in double digits next week. As it is: they lost. And in doing so, lost all that they could have gained from the coalition.  They've made their play —and lost.
  4. Theymade the mistake of promising support for five years. Once they'd done that: all negotiating power was lost.
  5. This week, they are arguing that they can be good for either a Labour or Tory government -but to negotiate hard with either party, they need to be absolutely prepared to work with the other party. Which means if you vote for them, you, the voter, don't get any say in who is the government. Only, possibly, the identity of some of the members of that government, and one or two of their actions.
If the LD are to have power next time round, they need to play differently. First: don't trust Cameron to deliver on any promise. You want agreements -get a lawyer to spell out all the T&Cs, not some handshake over tea. Better yet: supply votes on a case-by-case basis, and demand concessions on every single vote. That way lies power.

They're slowly exiting the Blair era, but following the press too much -making promises about "never forming a government with the SNP" which actually hampers their negotiating options. It would have been better to be vague. 

Just move to North Somerset now. We don't need your folk in the city.  

It was only the early 1990s when Bristol West was conservative, but nowadays that's viewed as utterly unrealistic —which is why they can stand up candidates that are quite happy to denounce the Cycling City work as a waste of money, whilst not denouncing the Managed M4 as equally useless for the majority of Bristol W commuters. She's also stopped updating her web site some time in February, showing her commitment to getting elected or an understanding of computers on a par with UKIP candidates.

One thing that is notable is that their agenda has moved from anything forward looking, even from anything about preserving their accomplishments (where is that Michael Gove person? Or Jeremy Hunt?). Instead they've actually focused on being anti-scottish. And while they say "no, anti-SNP": that's not how it comes across. It comes across as saying Scotland isn't welcome in shaping what kind of nation Britain will be in the 21st century. Which a fair Scots find somewhat offensive. A majority of the country did vote to stay in the UK, so why push them away?

They've moved on from banners saying "Bannockburn, 1314 -we remember". Glasgow has embraced them —and in doing so, they've embraced Glasgow; Scotland's city of the workers, with the history of Red Clydeside and the closest Britain has ever come to a communist uprising. They promise to give Labour the heritage they've forgotten.

Here's some fun.  The Green party appear to be in second place in Bristol West, not that far off from Labour. And they do seem to have some more posters up than the others —though given the general lack of posters, that's fairly meaningless.

Bristol W. is the Green's targeted second seat? Does that mean they will win it? They presumably hope that by repeating it often enough people will believe them and they'll get that majority. At the same time, there's that risk that the anti-coalition vote will be split, Stephen Williams will get in, so giving the LDs more negotiating power, and so the likelihood that Cameron stays in his office.

Independents for Bristol

They exist, apparently. Maybe as local councillors they'll have a role.

Plaid Cymru

They never come over to Bristol to campaign. And there's us with a River Avon. Someone should stand on their behalf. Over in Wales, it'll be interesting to see what happens, and if they can gain that same momentum that the SNP have got.

Emigrate to Spain and spend the rest of your miserable life whining about immigration. For reference, the people in Edinburgh didn't attack Farage out of racist hate of the English: they did it because he's a pillock.

Friday AM will have Labour and Tory short of a majority, 2+ smaller parties trying to have power and influence over them by promising support. The LD experience of 2010 has shown the danger of a coalition with the conservative; Scotland learned about the worthlessness of Cameron's promises the day after the referendum, so won't be sitting down with him.

Tory will be able to talk to: DUP, LD and perhaps UKIP. Hopefully UKIP will be irrelevant. DUP aren't too different from the conservative party, and won't make things better or worse. The LDs? Will they have learned their lessons from last time and negotiate better, or again, give up their ideals for an office with a phone?

Labour is going to have to talk to the SNP, which is why Milliband's absolute refusals to work with them are shortsighted.

Meanwhile, the majority of the press will be saying a government with the SNP in it —or supported by the SNP— is not legit. Well, here's some bad news, since the mid 1980s Scotland has been almost entirely unrepresented by any conservative government (thank the "campaign for a tory-free Scotland" there). That's led to a pretty abusive relationship coming up from the south, the Poll Tax (seen above) being the key example. Having a government with the SNP involved would actually be fairer than those conservative governments from 1988 to 1997: Thatcher and Major.

Anyway, your call. Just bear in mind that if you are voting LD in the general election, there is a high chance you are actually voting for a conservative government. Voting Green you may be making Bristol West stand out as a green city, or losing your choice to have a say in the country. 

Us? A joint SNP+Labour government with a couple of green MPs would be an interesting government to have.

PS: what about their actual manifestos? Meaningless. Why analyse things made up for press releases. Interesting that only the SNP think Trident is an utter waste of money; only the LibDems have raised the fact that our government's monitoring of everyone's emails may be something to question. That topic didn't even make the press. But then neither has the environment. Arguing about whether Scottish MPs could form part of a government take priority over policy, apparently.


Quercus said...



EVERYTHING that can be said about the suffrage may be summed up in a sentence.

To vote is to give up your own power.

To elect a master or many, for a long or short time, is to resign one's liberty.

Call it an absolute monarch, a constitutional king, or a simple M.P., the candidate that you raise to the throne, to the seat, or to the easy chair, he will always be your master. They are persons that you put "above" the law, since they have the power of making the laws, and because it is their mission to see that they are obeyed.

To vote is befitting of idiots.

It is as foolish as believing that men, of the same make as ourselves, will acquire in a moment, at the ringing of a bell, the knowledge and the understanding of everything. Of course it is so. Your elected person shall have to legislate on every subject under the moon; how a box of matches should or should not be made, or how to make war; how to improve the agriculture, or how best to kill a tribe of Arabs or a few Negroes. Probably you believe that their intelligence will grow in proportion to the variety of subjects they have to give their minds to; but history and experience teaches otherwise.

The possession of power has a maddening influence; parliaments have always wrought unhappiness.

In ruling assemblies, in a fatal manner, the will prevails of those below the average, both morally and intellectually.

To vote is to prepare shameful treachery and traitors.

Electors do certainly believe in the honesty of the candidates, and this is to a certain extent existing while the fervor and the heat of the contest remains.

But every day has its to-morrow. As soon as the conditions alter, likewise do men change. To-day your candidate bows humbly before your presence; to-morrow he will say "pish" to you. From a cadger of votes he has turned to be a master of yours.

How can a worker, enrolled by you amongst the ruling class, be the same as before, since now he can speak in terms of equality with the other oppressors? Look at the servility of any one of them, written all over his face, after paying a call to a "captain of industry," or when the King invites him to the ante-chamber of his court !

The atmosphere of the "House" is not for deep breathing; it is corrupt. If you send one of yourselves in a foul place, you must not be surprised afterwards if he comes back in a rotten condition.

Therefore, do not part with your freedom.

Don't vote!

Instead of entrusting the defence of your interests to Others, see to the matter by yourselves. Instead of trying to choose advisers that will guide you in future actions, do the thing yourselves, and do it now! Men of good will shall not have to look long in vain for the opportunity.

To put on others' shoulders the responsibility of one's actions is cowardice.

Don't vote!

between-the-lines said...

So you reckon that "DUP aren't too different from the conservative party, and won't make things better or worse"?

Ha ha, yeah, DUP look no worse if you're lucky enough to be a straight, white, Protestant Christian male who likes to see women, gays and Catholics kept in their traditional place. Or so long as your own life isn't affected by DUP extreme prejudices that make Cameron's Tories egalitarian by comparison, then, yeah, you can afford to be complacent about the dire effects that DUP influence would have.



Bristol Traffic said...

stevel says: Actually my dad was born in "the gavarghy road", Portadown Co. Armagh to a Catholic family; his mother -my grandmother- even grew up in a cottage that had an earth floor they were that poor. So I was aware of the details. I just didn't want to go into them.

To summarise: arguing about whether sesame street characters can hold hands on cakes is in fact a form of progress where 15 years earlier people were being shot because they believed in a slight variation on a fictional deity. Yes, the DUP are reactionary and bigoted: but so are a lot of the Conservative and Unionist Party -which is why I didn't feel it would make that much of a difference. Note also that it's been the Catholic church most strongly opposed to gay marriage in the mainland: the homophobia of the six counties spans the communities, and the

If you did want something looking at Ulster politics it would have to cover how it does now need to think about moving beyond nationalist/unionist splits to addressing other issues, though there's something ironic in how the mainland is almost going the same way. Maybe now Sinn Fein could copy the SNP and actually turn up at Westminster and the Catholic church stop opposing the DUP proposals to end segregated schools

Past coverage of NI, all with pics of my ancestral home town.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed your analysis, particularly of Lib Dem strategy over the last 5 years. With hindsight, your crystal ball could do with a bit of polishing ref "no majority for either party". Depressingly, it seems that the anti-SNP conservative tactic worked perfectly for them - for the time being at least.