Public oppose bishops in the Lords by more than three to one – new poll

A new survey has shown that the British public is against the House of Lords continuing to have places for Church of England bishops by more than three to one. The YouGov poll found that 53% of adults favour removing the bishops, with only 16% favouring keeping them. The result was consistent across supporters of […]

Source: Public oppose bishops in the Lords by more than three to one – new poll

The American Abyss

America will not survive the big lie just because a liar is separated from power. It will need a thoughtful repluralization of media and a commitment to facts as a public good. The racism structured into every aspect of the coup attempt is a call to heed our own history. Serious attention to the past helps us to see risks but also suggests future possibility. We cannot be a democratic republic if we tell lies about race, big or small. Democracy is not about minimizing the vote nor ignoring it, neither a matter of gaming nor of breaking a system, but of accepting the equality of others, heeding their voices and counting their votes.

Denial Is the Heartbeat of America

When have Americans been willing to admit who we are?

We must stop the heartbeat of denial and revive America to the thumping beat of truth. The carnage has no chance of stopping until the denial stops. This is not who we are must become, in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol: This is precisely who we are. And we are ashamed. And we are aggrieved at what we’ve done, at how we let this happen. But we will change. We will hold the perpetrators accountable. We will change policy and practices. We will radically root out this problem. It will be painful. But without pain there is no healing.

And in the end, what will make America true is the willingness of the American people to stare at their national face for the first time, to open the book of their history for the first time, and see themselves for themselves—all the political viciousness, all the political beauty—and finally right the wrongs, or spend the rest of the life of America trying.

This can be who we are.

Source: Denial Is the Heartbeat of America

Is Fox News full of BS?

With the departure of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show there’ll be one less voice calling out Fox News for its bullshit. Was Stewart really justified in his constant criticism? I came across How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics, a paper on the Social Science Research Network by Bruce Bartlett discussing the impact of Fox.

Bartlett starts by discussing the liberal domination of media in the sixties and into the nineties, and how the abolition in 1987 of the Fairness Doctrine by the FCC increased the scope for partisan broadcasting exemplified by Rush Limbaugh who was an early arrival:

There are many reasons why conservative talk radio worked so well. One is that conservatives finally had a news source that fed their philosophy. Another is Fumingthat conservatives viewed themselves as outsiders and were attracted not only to the philosophy of conservative talk radio, but its tone and articulation of outrage toward liberals that many listeners themselves had long felt.

Then Roger Ailes convinced Rupert Murdoch to let him build Fox News.

It should be noted that Murdoch has long been a conservative ideologue and Fox News fit into a larger conservative empire he built over the years that includes the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. Although the Journal has long had a conservative editorial page, prior to Murdoch gaining control in 2007, its news pages were free of bias. But soon after, a conservative tilt began creeping into the news coverage.

[Read more…]

About You, or Not

Nick Robinson has started work again after a tumour was removed from his lung. So first, I want to wish him good luck for his continuing recovery and treatment.

His post is about the upcoming UK election. He starts:

It’s all about you. Not them. You. …

About you because a general election is one of those rare times when your voice counts as much as anyone else’s.

I think that is total bullshit. I vote. I always vote. I registered for a postal vote because for the last several years of my career I worked outside the UK most of the time. For the last 8 years I have lived in Beckenham. In the 2010 General Election, Beckenham ranked 611 out of 650 for seats with the largest percentage majority—which translates to a majority of 17784 (for the Tories, in case you’re wondering). My vote, whichever way I cast it, is a piss in the ocean.

A 2010 article in The Guardian quotes the Electoral Reform Society:

The Electoral Reform Society contests that, under the current first-past-the-post voting system, over half of the 650 Westminster seats available at the election are considered “safe”. That is, a specific party is likely to be elected, regardless of policies, in 382 constituencies. link

This suggests 268 constituencies were up for grabs. The 268th ranked seat in 2010 was Hexham. The majority was 13.31% of the vote. So roughly 7% of actual voters would need to change their vote to the party coming second—bit if a long shot when you look at figures for seats changing hands. There were big seat swaps in 1997 (184) and 2010 (110), but in the 15 other elections back to 1950, no other election had more than 89 changes, and there were only another four over 50.

fivethirtyeight.com has this to say about marginal seats:

The battleground of a political election are the so-called marginal seats. These are the places where only a few percentage points stand between the front-runners and their competition, so the seat could easily “fall” or change hands. Voters in these seats are known as “floating” or “swing” voters. In 2010, there were 194 seats where the swing (i.e., the fraction of votes needed for the outcome to have been different) was 5 percentage points or less. Based on current polling, it looks like this election will also be a close fight in many parts of the U.K. (to be more precise, in 102 constituencies, there are 5 percentage points or less between the two leading parties).

So it looks likely that the election will be decided by voters in between 50 and 100 constituencies. Nick writes:

If you live in a seat where the outcome’s in doubt, you could make the difference between who wins and loses.

Yes, yes. Tell us something we didn’t know. It’s his next sentence that really pisses me off:

Even if you live somewhere where the same party always wins, your vote could send a signal about the national mood.

It might send a signal, but I’m pretty sure that no bugger will be listening.