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RFT Ep 247 – Crimean War 2014 Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 25, 2014

Download the episode here! 

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Don’s Harangue :

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Don’s harangue  restated the argument against the anti-vax rhetoric and makes a case for the criminalization of such speech.

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Crimean War 2014

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We take another look the growing tension in the Ukraine as well as point out the similarities between the revolution in Kiev to that in Crimea. As well as making parallels to Putin’s claims to the Crimea and Hitler’s to the Sudetenland.

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Web Wisdom

A Series of vids from CGP Grey explaining our electoral system and its limitations.

First, the ills of first past the post voting system we currently enjoy…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

Pros and cons of First Past The Post

The case for The arguments against
It’s simple to understand and thus doesn’t cost much to administer and doesn’t alienate people who can’t count. Representatives can get elected on tiny amounts of public support as it does not matter by how much they win, only that they get more votes than other candidates.
It doesn’t take very long to count all the votes and work out who’s won, meaning results can be declared a handful of hours after polls close. It encourages tactical voting, as voters vote not for the candidate they most prefer, but against the candidate they most dislike.
The voter can clearly express a view on which party they think should form the next government. FPTP in effect wastes huge numbers of votes, as votes cast in a constituency for losing candidates, or for the winning candidate above the level they need to win that seat, count for nothing.
It tends to produce a two-party system which in turn tends to produce single-party governments, which don’t have to rely on support from other parties to pass legislation. FPTP severely restricts voter choice. Parties are coalitions of many different viewpoints. If the preferred-party candidate in your constituency has views with which you don’t agree, you don’t have a means of saying so at the ballot box.
It encourages ‘broad-church’ centrist policies. Rather than allocating seats in line with actual support, FPTP rewards parties with ‘lumpy’ support, i.e. with just enough votes to win in each particular area. Thus, losing 4,000 votes in one area can be a good idea if it means you pick up 400 votes in another. With smaller parties, this works in favour of those with centralised support.
. With relatively small constituency sizes, the way boundaries are drawn can have important effects on the election result, which encourages attempts at gerrymandering.
  Small constituencies also lead to a proliferation of safe seats, where the same party is all but guaranteed re-election at each election. This not only in effect disenfranchises a region’s voters, but it leads to these areas being ignored when it comes to framing policy.
  If large areas of the country are electoral deserts for a particular party, not only is the area ignored by that party, but also ambitious politicians from the area have to move away from their homeland if they want to have influence within their party.
  Because FPTP restricts a constituency’s choice of candidates, representation of minorities and women suffers from ‘most broadly acceptable candidate syndrome’, where the ‘safest’ looking candidate is the most likely to be offered a chance to stand for election
  Encouraging two-party politics can be an advantage, but in a multi-party culture, third parties with significant support can be greatly disadvantaged.

Gerrymandering explained, or why we really really cannot rely on FPTP voting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mky11UJb9AY

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR2DfpjIuXo

Definition: the dividing of a state, county, etc., into electiondistricts so as to give one political party a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the otherparty into as few districts as possible.

Origin: 1812,  Americanism; after E. Gerry (governor of Massachusetts,whose party redistricted the
state in 1812) + 
(sala)mander,  from the fancied resemblance of the map of Essex County, Mass., to this
animal, after the redistricting.

And that leads nicely into The Alternative Vote…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y3jE3B8HsE

Pros and cons of the Alternative Vote

The case for AV The arguments against
All MPs would have the support of a majority of their voters. Following the 2010 General Election, two thirds of the MPs elected lacked majority support, the highest figure in British political history. AV is not proportional representation and in certain electoral conditions, such as landslides, can produce a more disproportional result than First Past the Post (FPTP)
It retains the same constituencies, meaning no need to redraw boundaries, and no overt erosion of the constituency-MP link. In close three-way races the “compromise” candidate could be defeated in the first round even though they may be more broadly acceptable to the electorate than the top two candidates.
It penalises extremist parties, who are unlikely to gain many second-preference votes. Lower preferences can potentially throw up a “lowest common denominator” winner without much positive support of their own.
It encourages candidates to chase second- and third-preferences, which lessens the need for negative campaigning (one doesn’t want to alienate the supporters of another candidate whose second preferences one wants) and rewards broad-church policies. A voting system that allows voters to rank candidates is prone to so-called ‘Donkey voting’, where voters vote for candidates in the order they appear on the ballot
It reduces the need for tactical voting. Electors can vote for their first-choice candidate without fear of wasting their vote.
It reduces the number of “safe seats” where the election result is a forgone conclusion

And of course perhaps the best alternative…Mixed-Member Proportional Representation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT0I-sdoSXU

Find out more:

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