In Praise of Fen Beagle

The Fen Beagle Blog - a recommendation to all you fellow grubby little Englanders.

I don't often do posts recommending other blogs but this one is truly entertaining, with class and an acidic humour. I don't know what drugs this guy is on but his/her graphics are amazing. The poetry ain't bad either!

But I don't expect Chris Huhne will like it.  Consequently Fenbeagle has gone in my blogroll.

Windfarm Wars and a Reluctant English Hero

The third instalment concerning a bitterly contested bid to build an industrial wind turbine complex in the middle of rural Devon was on BBC2 tonight.

If you missed it WATCH IT HERE. It will only be there for the next 14 days.

Believe me, it is important. It is inspirational.

Even the bloody BBC (who would have given Hitler a good press) have difficulties showing the "good" side of the corporate windfarm carpet baggers.

( Note to BBC: - Maybe that is because the "good" side doesn't exist? )

This episode is a chance to see a true English Hero called Mike Hulme, with a group of ordinary people defend their country and homes from a ruthless corporate windfarm developer. The developer is all smiles (and crocodile tears) for the camera, but their spin and propaganda cannot hide their planned ugly profiteering at expense of the locals.

Reluctantly the locals, led by Mike Hulme mount an expensive legal challenge in the High court.  They almost won.

Mike Hulme and his wife. True English heros
They at least, made the bastards squirm.

I don't know what the final episode will bring. In this the third episode, the developers,  in  true Gaddaffi (No Mercy) style, seek to extract their pound of flesh. They slaver over the prospect of getting full legal costs and ruining Mike on the imaginary pretext that someone must be backing him.

Their ruthless quest to trample over anyone who gets in their way bodes ill for the next episode, but fits exactly with what people have found elsewhere.

At least this time the judge gave the bastards a hammering. Mike got away without having to pay their fees. Which was Oh So Sweet.

I just loved the confrontation in the coffee house after the judgement. Mike, I admire your restraint.

We all now know these corporate windfarm carpet baggers have to release their data, which they have refused to do until now.

That is thanks to Mike Hulme and the Den Brook Defence committee. We all owe them a great debt for leading the way.

Well done Mike, and your friends in Den Brook. You have my admiration and respect.

The Cost Of Generating Electricity

If you want to read a dry document look no further than the "The Cost of Generating Electricity" from the Royal Academy of Engineering. But to describe this document as dry is very far from an insult. It does exactly what it says on the tin (or header page). It makes no blatent partisan statements. It is a terse brutally scientific appraisal of the costs of generating electricity by different methods of generation.

It includes as optional extras the bits that some wish to miss out.

take this graph:

There are also two caveats attached to the graph. These are:


1 With the exception of nuclear, the analysis assumes that decommissioning is cost neutral. The capital cost estimate for nuclear plant includes an allowance for the costs of decommissioning.
2 For the purpose of this study, wave and marine technologies are deemed to be predictable and therefore have not been burdened with the additional cost of standby generation.

So Nuclear including decommisioning costs less per MW than any other generation method other than CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) and is less than one third of the cost of offshore wind generation and well under half the cost of on shore wind generation. Even if you exclude the extra spinning reserve needed by wind, nuclear is still massively cheaper.

But pure cost is not the only issue. One item constantly raised by pro-windies is energy security, so lets have a look at a graph concerning a price variation of +/- 20% on each energy fuel.

So because nuclear uses so little fuel, the cost of the fuel is not far off immaterial. Also all nuclear fuel can either be created from existing stocks (85 years worth) and at worst purchased from the massive ore supplies in secure countries like Australia. With nuclear there is no risk to fuel supply.

The final argument bleated out by proponents of wind concerns CO2 emissions. Look at this:

Clearly the cheapest and least polluting technology is Nuclear. In fact just about everything , even with carbon mitigation is more cost effective than wind.

So why are we continuing to ruin our countryside with these monstrous, ineffective and massively expensive wind turbines?

All answers please to Billothewisp, written on a clean £50.00 note.Please mark all bank notes "ROC subsidy"

Sixteen Honest Women

I thought it was time for a quick update on how things are going with my micro finance experiments with KIVA. Kiva is an organisation that negotiates small loans to individuals in the third world. (More on KIVA Here)

This post concerns a loan I made ($25.00) to a Paraguayan business being run by sixteen women. It has just come to term.

The Paraguayan New Horizons group. Loan repaid in full

About 120 of us built the loan so the total loan amount was $2750.00.  The loan was for this group to purchase stock so they could be self supporting, running their own catering business.  While the interest on the loan is consumed by the micro-finance bank as their fee for the arrangement, I still got back the money I lent out. On time and to the penny.

If I want, I can now withdraw the money, or I can re-lend it out. Probably the latter - for now

Needless to say, standard greedy banking practice would not have entertained such a paltry loan. Especially to a group of women in a third world country. They would much rather lend a few million quid to some corrupt elite so they can buy a few nice new Limo's or rocket launchers, and then default.

So, in the Third World, honest but poor people repay their loans. Unlike many of their ruling elites.

Sound familiar?

Meanwhile here, every major charity consumes all of you money. Your money disappears into a black hole.

Has it done any good? - the guilt ridden propaganda says so.

Or has it just lined the pockets of the Great and the Good?

You tell me.

At least with Kiva you have the opportunity of getting your money back - and seeing who it is lent out to. OK you take a small risk that the loan may go bad. But Hey! That's life.

Say you committed to "give" £15.00 a month to some standard charity to do some anonymous "good" work. Over 20 years that is £3600. Gone

If you lend it out through Kiva after 20 years that money will still be there. Owned by you. It can still be re-lent out or if you or your family need it, then it can be withdrawn. In the mean time it has been helping poor but honest folk in need of a break.

Remember charity should always begin at home. You and your kids come first. So being able to get the money back if needed is a real boon. But this is a really good way of doing a lot of good for common ordinary folk without much risk to your own personal assets.

It is also really satisfying to see you money being used for tangible social gain by real people. That is the beauty of Kiva.

The alternative is the guilty "donation". The medieval style indulgence to compensate for the crime of being born in a developed country.

Maybe your  donation will do some good. Or maybe it will disappear into the coffers of a Mercedes dealership or some Swiss bank account.

At least with Kiva you get a chance of seeing where your money goes.

From now on, when it comes to charity, I'm giving loans, not casting money to the wind like some Victorian Oligarque.

No more guilt trips. No more palm greasing. And certainly no more 500 Series Mercedes for the Great and Good.

From now on, It is Kiva for me.

Billothewisp Predicts Armageddon

Poor old Harold Camping. There he was, probably in desperate need of some psychiatric care when a whole load of other death wishers descended on him and gave him the attention he so desperately sought. Then  they all got carried along with their collective delusion. They walked down  the long pathway to humiliation and international derision together.

Harold's illusion, concerning the proposed end of the world on 21st May was so deeply ingrained in his psyche I have no doubt he truly believed it. Maybe, even now, he is probably "rationalising" some excuse. Some defect in the calculation that would account for the lack of hell fire and brimstone.

In fact Harold has predicted Armageddon twice before: in 1988 and 1994. Obviously slight errors in the calculations must have occurred then as well.

I gather the next populist opportunity for Armageddon is 21st December 2012 when the Mayan Long calender ends. The Mayans, a clever Stone Age people devised a number of different calenders. The one with the greatest duration is known as the Long Calender. It has a fixed start date and it runs out (a bit like 1999 -2000 AD) on 21st December 2012.

If the Mayan civilisation had survived beyond the 16th century to witness this wrap over I expect they would be throwing a big party rather than  waiting for the fiery end.

Today there are many "new agers" eagerly waiting for the 2012 Armageddon. But come January 2013 they will have to endure their version of poor old Harold Camping's humiliation. One consolation for them is that it all fails to kick off in 2012 then there are also end dates prophesied for 2016 and 2034. So there is still plenty of room for paranoia amongst the deluded.

It is easy to view these death wishers as simple nut cases. But it is really rather sad that people, mainly vulnerable individuals, get dragged into these bizarre fairy-tales. There must be something missing in their lives. Some lack of control that forces them to wish for the end rather than a prosperous and progressive world.

Personally, I also believe the world will come to a fiery and cataclysmic  end. But not soon.

I reckon in several billion years the sun will swell into a red giant. and swallow the Earth whole.  The earth will be vaporised along with every life form on it.

But human kind need not worry. They, as a species will have died out aeons before.

So in my Armageddon, there won't even be any Harold Campings around to watch the fiery end, let alone gloat over it.

All Dandelions are Bastards

OK. Let us get this straight. Dandelions are complete bastards. Dandelions are the enemy. Dandelions deserve to be exterminated. If there is one weed, one piece of utterly worthless vermin vegetation it is the bloody Dandelion.

They they were, one morning about two weeks ago. An eye watering mess of little orange head bobbing about in the breeze in MY lawn. But it is not the flower I detest so much as the spawn of the vermin.

Leave the flowers and all they do is the vegetable equivalent of shag each other senseless every moment of every day. Then they cast their spawn to the wind to pollute the veggie patch or other sacred ground.

They had to go.

At my local Garden Centre I explained I wished to commit Dandelion genocide and needed to buy the most virulent and destructive Dandelion toxin available. I was told that the "Smart" option was to buy a "Weed and Feed".

Now, I could have bought straightforward weed killer. But No.  I decided to be "Smart".  - Fatal mistake.

I bought the Weed and Feed. It says on the side that it will give you a "Rich and Verdant Lawn", while consigning the dandelion scum to an ugly and untimely death.

Oh, if only I knew then what I know now.

Pleased with my 20 Kgs of Dandelion Armageddon, I set it to one side ready for later use.

Then I went down the boozer. - Second Fatal mistake.

While at the boozer, and because it was such a beautiful day, I got talked into having a glass or two of "Old Rosie" ( The Cider of champions ) - Third Fatal mistake.

I staggered home eager to give the bastard Dandelions a taste of my displeasure.

Never ever, ever try and dispense "measured" amounts of "Weed and Feed" when you have had a few. Let alone a skin full.

Especially don't try and imitate a twirling Dervish. It is a crap dispensing method and just ensures the stuff lands in concentric circles.

Particularly don't take a phone call half way through. You won't remember (or care) where you got to.

But positively the worst thing to do it to get close up and personal with individual Dandelions and ensure they (and by default, the surrounding grass) get a significantly higher dose than the rest of the lawn.

Two weeks later and truly, some of the lawn is "Rich and Verdant".

In fact some of it is like the Amazonian rain forest. While other patches remain  forlornly yellow.

I had a hell of a job explaining the concentric circles to the wife. I fobbed her off that it was caused by a  particularly rare fungus that form huge fairy rings. But I don't think she was convinced.

As to the Dandelions, they are still there like nothing happened. Scum!

Don't even know when to die when they should.

WindFarm Wars

The BBC on are showing a 4 part serial on BBC2 (7.00 Fri) called "WindFarm Wars". It is about a bitterly opposed planning application for a an industrial wind turbine complex in the heart of unspoilt rural Devon. Initially the BBC appeared to be favouring the company (RES), having nice little chats with the developer and backing it all up with images of collapsing icebergs and industrial chimneys.

But after watching episode two I feel even the luvvies at the Beeb have begun to tire of the high handed arrogance of the developer.  Even on camera, the developer refused to release the wind data. This is a general ploy with all these carpet baggers. You get various weasel words trying to justify this secrecy. None of which stand any scutiny. In the series their only excuse is that people "wouldn't understand it" (condescending bastards).

Personally I suspect that if the data was readily available for any of these get rich quick schemes they would soon be shown for what they are: A method of making huge sums of money from a naive and ill informed government.

One thing I hope the series continues to show is the ruthless and arrogant methodology of corporate wind turbine developers. If a decision does not go their way, they appeal it. Their only goal is to see the ROC's (subsidy) piling up in their bank account. Democracy can go to hell along with the locals.

The law is used as a weapon to overwhelm common people who are treated and regarded as little more than peasants who can be ignored and trampled over. These companies have so much money (your money) sloshing about they can buy their way through the law and the planning process.

The first two episodes have been on the TV but are available on BBC iplayer for the next 21 days
Episode 1 Here
Episode 2 Here

Well worth a watch.

Energy Policy and the Scottish Letter

The letter below appeared in The Scotsman (Here) on the 27th April. To say it ruffled a few feathers would be an understatement.  It is perhaps the most succinct yet powerful indictment of the energy supply policy being pursued in these islands yet published. You will notice it is signed by a star chamber of power generation experts.

On the Scotsman link there is also the "alternative" view. It is signed by those who gain most from this catastrophe of an energy policy. It is the usual spin and obfuscation hiding the emptyness of their position. Have a look. See what you think.
Then read the comments on these two letters. From these comments it sounds to me like the Scots have had enough.

Here is the letter.

NO developed economy can function without a reliable and economic supply of electricity but with present UK policies we have been warned that within a few years there will be a risk of power failures while increases in prices to consumers will rise by more than 50 per cent by 2025.
On a standalone basis the situation in Scotland would be even more disastrous. The huge investment required to remedy the neglect and wishful thinking of recent years will require two decades or more to take effect and in the run up to the May elections we urge all political parties in Scotland to put the future of our electricity supplies at the top of their agendas.

The pretence that our electricity can in future be supplied from renewables, mainly wind and marine, has gone on too long. These matters are not a question of opinion; they are answerable to the laws of physics and are readily analysed using normal engineering methods. All of these energy sources are of very low concentrations and intermittent; they are and will remain inherently expensive and no amount of development will have more than a marginal effect on this conclusion.

Nor can wind and marine energy sources be relied on to provide electricity when it is needed; a recent analysis has shown that for over 30 per cent of the time the output from wind farms has dropped to below 10 per cent of their nominal output and during extremely cold weather has fallen to virtually zero. Furthermore it is unfortunately not correct that marine energy constitutes a vast untapped energy resource on our doorstep; studies (now apparently accepted by government) have shown that at best it could provide only a few percent of our electricity supplies and at costs which, including the necessary back up generation, would be entirely unacceptable to consumers.

Fossil fuelled generation (coal or gas) with carbon dioxide capture and underground storage may yet prove a useful technique but it is important to realise that it is an unproven technology on the scale required; that it may never be acceptable to dispose of such huge quantities of gas in underground storage and at present its costs are too uncertain to gamble on its playing a significant part in our forward energy policy.

So by all means let us have some wind power, development programmes for other renewables, home insulation programmes, heat pumps etc but let us not pretend that all these taken together will substitute for proven generation sources such as coal, gas and nuclear.

And if low carbon is to be the principal driver of energy policy, we can build on Scotland's half century of experience with nuclear, generating some 50 per cent of our electricity requirements, reliably and at low cost.

Scotland needs a balanced electricity system which can deliver economic and reliable supplies; we are at the 11th hour and there is now no more time to lose in getting to grips with this task. There can be nothing more urgent on the political agenda.

Colin Gibson C Eng FIEECCMI Network director National Grid 1993-97)

Prof Ken W D Ledingham FInstP

Prof Colin R McInnes FREng FRSE

Sir Donald Miller C EngFREng FRSE, Chairman ScottishPower 1982-92

Prof Anthony Trewavas FRS FRSE

Prof Jack Ponton FREng FIChemE 

The April Wind Farm Robbery

On the 6th-7th April, over a period of a few hours we were all collectively held to ransom and robbed of nearly £1 million.

I expect that nobody told you of this crime. Believe me, there are a lot of people who want it to be kept quiet.

I know I tend to drone on about how hopeless wind turbines are, but this is not simply about the "normal" over-payment.

This is about legalised extortion.

Over a few hours on the night 5-6th April you paid approximately £1 million to a group of windfarms simply to get them to stop generating.

Under normal circumstances, wind farms get paid a stupendously generous £55 per MW/hr when they actually manage to produce power. Normal generators get about half that.

But on 5-6th April they were asked to stop generating, though they would get paid for the lost production. One wind generator demanded (and was paid) £800 per MW/hr simply to put the breaks on and stop generating.

This extortion was, of course, legal. An ordered theft. As is always the case when the common folk get screwed over by rich exploitative bastards who can manipulate the system.

Here is the list of shame.

All of these wind farms demanded payment many times what they would normally get paid simply to shut down generation. They demanded it in full knowledge that the Grid had no option except to pay because they could not close down any more traditional generation.

Why couldn't they shut down other generation?. Because it needed to stay on line in case the wind stopped blowing. They had to keep reliable generation on line. It would have been dangerous to do otherwise.

So how and what exactly happened?

On the 6th of April the wind began to blow unexpectantly. It began to blow in the night. As it was in the night, nobody wanted the electricity. But legally, the grid has to absorb the energy from wind turbines whenever they produce power. So on April 6th the National Grid had to absorb the power whether it was needed or not.

Normally any other form of power generation has to book slots where it guarantees to produce a certain amount of power. If it fails to produce that power, then an auction takes place where others step in the make up the short fall - at a price. The defaulting generator has to pay.

On the other hand, if more power is being generated than is needed, a generator can be paid to shut down or reduce output. This is also decided at an auction where the lowest bid wins. Most generators actually bid less than their typical charge per MW/hr as they save on fuel and wear and tear on the plant.

But wind power is different. Due to their intermittency, they simply could not compete in a true market so they do not have to book slots. They are allowed to sell power whenever they are in a position to produce. If the wind fails to turn up, they get out penalty free. But if the wind turns up when nobody needs the power, then somebody else has to shut down.

Because wind power is so unreliable, the grid has to be able to provide backup (or spinning reserve) at a moments notice, just in case the wind stops blowing. On the 6-7th April, the grid was suddenly inundated with wind generated energy. At that time they were also coping with a sudden increase of power from hydroelectricity due to a sudden heavy rain fall. The Scottish grid had wound down the traditional power plants to an a safe minimum. They could not safely reduce traditional power generation any more, because they always have to be able to guarantee supply.

But somebody had to shut down or the grid frequency would dangerously rise. Some of the wind farms, which had caused the crisis, were asked to reduce power. Consequently they were asked for bids in a power reduction  auction. They knew that nobody else could shut down. Greedily, their bids ranged from 180 -1000 per MW/hr.

Remember, the bids in the above table are the winning bids. They were the lowest. Others were even higher.

Essentially these bastards, having caused the problem then set about extracting as much money as they possibly could from the people trying to rectify the situation.

Because of the wind turbine carpet baggers privileged position, you can guarantee this will happen again and again and again. Each time the grid will be held to ransom. At the end of the day it is you who will pay. The more wind generation that gets put on the grid, the more this will happen.

Get used to being screwed.

The carpet baggers will be back for more.

The full story is HERE on the Renewable Energy Foundation.
How the ROC subsidy works is explained HERE

Five more embassies

William Hague has announced a significant increase in the British Diplomatic Service. This diplomatic push includes five more embassies and  many more diplomats. These will be deployed mainly in China and India and other "fast growing" economies. There will some reduction in European representation to help pay for this. But it is very far from self financing. ( See Here )

Whatever the potential merits of this diplomatic push ( and personally  I think there few - if any) it is a bizarre extravagance in a time of  financial stricture. Has anyone told William Hague that we are currently in a state of financial penury?

The propaganda that pours out from the Foreign Office is that we need extra representation in these countries to gain economic advantage. But this simply does not hold water. After all, most of our exports go to Europe and USA.

Germany (whose economy  is doing very nicely thank you) does not need this huge diplomatic service. So why do we?

It is about time that the government started practising what they preach. At this point in time we cannot afford to throw more money at a  grandiose "World Role".

 Just about every sector of the economy is currently undergoing a severe belt tightening. So why is the Diplomatic Service being given more money? Is it simply so our Great and Good can do more global grandstanding?

Even in the unlikely event that this diplomatic expansion was worthwhile, this is really not the time for it. It should be put on the back burner. If not scrapped altogether.

Fukishima: Time To Go Home

Getting information about the Fukishima nuclear emergency gets harder and harder by the day. Not through some fanciful dark conspiracy. But because there is nothing much to report these days. The drama days are long gone.

Currently the IEIA site has some fancy slideshows of assorted radiation data on Japan and Fukishima. (See Here).

A typical example:

It looks like almost all readings are barely above background - if that. Little if any risk remains, that is if there was any appreciable risk to the general population at a range of 20Km in the first place.

But nobody has the balls to say that.

The problem we have here now is that many tens of thousands of people have been "evacuated" from a danger zone where there is actually little appreciable danger. In fact most of the danger in the  current 20Km exclusion zone comes from the debris and general nastiness left over from the now forgotten earthquake and tsunami.

We end up with people living in a state of limbo because nobody has the guts to make a decision. Those in charge are frightened of what the anti-nuclear lobby will say. Nobody has the guts to endure their wrath and say it like it really is.

Nobody is prepared to stop the arse covering or question  the preposterous comparison of Fukishima to Chernobyl.

Life is full of risks. For the good people from the Fukishima Prefecture there will be many risks as their rebuild their towns and villages. But any risk from radiation falls so far below the risks they must endure from the wreckage it pails into insignificance.

It is time to stop using the the people of Fukishima as pawns in a propaganda game play.It is time to stop pretending that this is all about their safety. It is not. It is about "looking good". It is about appeasment.

It is about time that someone in Japan took responsibility for ending the torment of the people of Fukishima. It is time they judged the situation on the real current status of the Fukishima Nuclear plant. They need to show leadership. If in the highly unlikely event something changed, well, then re-evacuate. But seriously leadership should do just that - lead. Not cower behind politically correct stupidity that leaves many thousands in misery.

The people of Fukishima need to restart their businesses. They need to rebuild  their lives.

It is time they were allowed to go home.

The Striking Out of England (again)

So, my shabby little Englander mates, the voting is over. But for the moment let us forget about the FPTP/AV referendum and the local elections. We need to remember that, for some of us, there were some other far more important elections.

These were parliamentary elections in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

I know I may be just an ugly, narrow, sour faced little Englishman but I get an uncomforable feeling that in all these elections there is something missing.

So, I would like to ask my fellow non too bright little Englanders a question.

We know there was an election for a parliament in Northern Ireland
We know there was an election for a parliament in Scotland
We know there was an election for an assembly in Wales.

The question to you, my grubby little Englanders is this:

Can you spot the deliberate ommission?

Which country is missing? Which country didn't get to elect its own parliament? In fact which country doesn't even have a parliament, or an Assembly. Or even a small tin shed for that matter.

Take a look at the bastions of democracy at the BBC Here. Notice how there is a heavy duty section on the politics and political make up of  each of the three countries that have had elections. But the non country of England merely gets an "Around England" section.  All you get here is  local election results and a set of regional blogs.

Regionalism was John Prescotts attempt to dismember the non country of England and so confirm its non existence. Unfortunately for portly John, some time back, the good people of the North East told him where to get off. But obviously nobody told the oligarchs at the BBC.

Of course Billothewisp must do his part and support our noble leaders by helping to erase the non country of England. Previous posts on this Here and then Here have explained the only thing Billothewisp can do is strike out every reference to England and the English. That is until this injustice is addressed and we grubby, sour faced little Englanders get own own parliament, just like everyone else in these islands.

You know it makes sense.

Thumbs Down for AV

It looks like AV has been rejected by a very large majority.


But that is the way it goes with democracy.
Some you win.
Some you lose.

I have got to admit though that the Yes campaign was dismal. Especially bad (embarrassingly awful in fact) was the condescending and trite publicity. The support from self serving politico's like Clegg really did not help either.

I hope that in this case the "Wisdom of Crowds" is correct and I was wrong in supporting AV.

Although I have an uneasy suspicion that this rejection of AV is simply going to secure the position of the ugly wide boys who currently rule or have ruled (and ruined)  the country.

The Camerons, Reids and Blunkett's of this world, are laughing tonight.

Hi Ho Hum.

Vote Drink Moan (Again)

Many Moons ago, on the last election day, I suggested that voting should ideally partaken of during the evening, just prior to pub opening time.

After voting, the voter should congratulate themselves on their exceptionally good electoral choice and sink a significantly dangerous quantity of alcoholic beverage.

This election is no exception.

You can be a namby-pamby - "Oh I always vote first thing in the morning" type. Or you can be a real man (or woman) and get them lined up down the boozer ready for the post voting binge.

As for the liquor of choice, I would personally recommend Old Rosie - the Cider of Champions. Old Rosie is served in a pint glass. It is cloudy. Whether this is because cloudiness is its natural cidery state, or because it is dissolving the glass has yet to be determined.

One for you doubting bastards who
thought Old Rosie was a figment of my imagination 

Of course, this time we have the AV/FPTP referendum to vote for as well as the local elections. In my locality we also have Parish Council elections to congratulate ourselves over. It promises to be a hell of a night.

While down the boozer and before the result is in, maybe we can view the future optimistically. After all we all know we are likely to be disappointed. But just because the game is rigged, does not mean you should not play.

I suppose even the early morning voters, though denied their liver challenging late night alcoholic consumption can still indulge in a bit of optimism.

Personally I recommend you support AV. A vote for AV will seriously restrict the room for maneuvre for the dirty men and women of politics.

The Eton boys, the dirty old guard of the Labour party, the dinosaurs, all want AV voted down - because it suites their ugly purpose.

True there are some real unadulterated tossers supporting AV - like Clegg and Co. But just because we have to endure these fellow travellers does not mean we should do the bidding of the ugly status-quo self servers either.

But whatever you vote, get out there and vote.

Don't forget - no vote no moan. If you can't be bothered to vote, don't expect anyone to listen to you moaning about politicians.

When you are down the pub next, how the hell will you be able to legitimately complain about the politico's if you didn't even vote?

I suggest you vote for AV.

But whatever you do:



First Past The Post, AV and Honest Men

Wonderfully, every now and then, the sterility of the First Past The Post voting system fails to stop the electorate having their way.

Two fine examples were Martin Bell who stood as an "anti-sleaze" campaigner in 1997 and  Dr Richard Taylor who stood as "Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern Party" candidate in 2001. Both were Independants. Bell was actually the first elected Independant MP since 1951.

These results are really interesting because the both show how First Past The Post could easily have failed the electorate under "normal" circumstances (and eventually did in Kidderminster) and how AV would have returned  the result.

First Martin Bell. Tatton 1997

The case of the man in a White Suite versus the Arch Sleazeball.

The bad guy? Neil Hamilton, MP in the ultra safe seat of Tatton.  The "Cash for Questions" King. All he really needed was a black hat and the whole thing would have been perfect. Bell, a highly respected journalist and reporter, stood against him.

Here is the previous electorial result.

Even under AV this was a safe seat with Hamilton having more than 50% of the vote.

Then in the 1997 election a benign subversion of FPTP took place. Both the Labour and the Lib-Dem candidates stood down. They essentially transferred their vote to Bell, as would have happened under AV. The Conservative vote collapsed. But it did not collapse completely. Here is the result (I've left off minor parties - they only got 700 votes between them)

So the excellent Mr Bell won and the whole country rejoiced. One in the Eye for crooked politicians. Hurrah!

But look again at the results. Bell won because dissolusioned Conservatives stayed at home and the Labour and Lib-Dem votes "transferred" to him. But both supporters of Labour and the Lib-Dems were denied their true aspirational vote. With FPTP, if either the Labour or Lib-Dem candidates had stood (as was their right) not only could Bell have been defeated, but Hamilton may well have still won.

That would have been on in the eye for Democracy courtesy FPTP.

With AV, even if all candidates had stood, the preferences would have ensured that Hamilton still lost. Nobody would have been denied their right to vote for the party of their first choice either.

Bell only stood for one term, which was a shame for British Politics. But at least he did us all a favour by turfing out liar and a cheat.

Second: The case of the Good Doctor versus the Evil Government.

Dr. Taylor campaigned largely on a single issue - the restoration the A&E dept of Kidderminster Hospital, which had been closed in 2000 due to cuts in the NHS (That is Labour cuts by the way). The sitting MP was a Junior Labour minister David Lock.

Lock was not quite the evil bad guy aka Neil Hamilton, but still clearly the enemy.

Lock, like Hamilton had a large majority. But during the election, the Liberal Democrats pulled their candidate. Many Tory voters switched tactically to Taylor. Both in crude ways enforced AV onto the election.

Here is the result of 2001.

Notice there is no Lib-Dem Candidate and also the reduced support for Conservatives. If either the conservative vote had held up, or the Lib-Dems had fielded a candidate, Taylor would have probably lost. But due to people personally "fixing" the broken system of FPTP by transferring their vote or completely sacrificing their party's vote share, the good guy won - with an absolute majority

In 2005 the Lib-Dems pulled their candidate again, although a petulant local party stood a "Liberal" candidate. Taylor still won.

This time he did not gain an absolute majority, but he would certainly have also won the seat under AV.

Again one in the eye for the evil governemnt - twice in a row.

In the 2010 election, the Lib-Dems fielded a candidate (as is their right and duty) but then this happened.

If this had been AV I would put my money on Taylor still being the MP.

So the wishes of the majority of the electorate were denied because their votes were corralled into a false race to a non existent finishing poll. The guy who won simply had a slightly bigger pile than any of the other piles. If any owner of one of the other piles had stood down (or had their vote transferred under AV) the result would have been different - and fairer.

I expect as far as the government were concerned Taylor was a real pain in the ass and they probably all put out the flags when he lost. But really we need MORE people like Taylor and Bell not less. We need people who will not just tow the party line.

With AV we are more likely to get them and keep them. First Past The Post simply entrenches the sterile old guard and denies us a dynamic and adaptive democractic representation.

Vote for AV on Thursday.

Ugh! In Praise of Ed MilliBand

I'll have to say this quickly - or I will be sick.

Billothewisp wishes to praise Ed Milliband. Ughggghhh! There. I've said it.

Readers of this blog will know that Billothewisp is hardly a fan of New Labour. Or Old Labour. Or even New Virgin Labour.

You may recall Billothewisp particularly dislikes corrupt and amoral politicians, as represented by most of the last Labour cabinet.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ed Milliband is supporting AV. Even though most of the shysters from the previous Labour administration are opposing it.

Milliband is supporting AV in the the teeth of party opposition from the old guard.  Most of this opposition comes from the old Dinosaurs and expense claim fiddlers who so lamentably failed us when in office. These days they make up the bulk of the corruption ridden corpse that is the Labour Party elite.

It looks like this will turn into a grand battle in the Labour ranks. Is it going to be the new boy king who prevails? The one who wants to reform his blood soaked party and maybe once again win the votes of the likes of Billothewisp?

Or is it the corrupt Dinosaurs who wrecked the economy, gerrymandered elections via mass immigration and sent our boys off to fight other men's wars?

I may not like Millibands politics. I may disagree with many things he has to say. But the fact that he is making a principled stand for AV means I will at least listen to him. Especially as this stand is coming in the teeth of political opposition froom the ugly branch of his party.

So, in future, I will listen to Ed Milliband.

As for the likes of John Reid, Gordon Brown, John Prescott, Margaret Reid and David Blunkett?

They can go to hell.

How First Past The Post Harms the Tories

Due to the unfairness of the First Past the Post voting system, the biggest losers in Scotland have been the Conservatives.

During the 2010 election, the Conservatives polled 18% of vote in Scotland but gained less than 2% of the seats. Without a fairer distribution of the votes in Scotland, the Conservatives will never be able to gain their fair Scottish representation.

Here is some Scottish Election data from the last two general Elections, 2005, 2010. Spot the (several sets of) unfairness:

Below, is the result table from 2010 General Election for Scotland. Again, spot the unfairness.

Notice the massive unfair seat allocation.  Particularly see the benefit to Labour and the grossly unfair penalisation of the Conservatives. In 2010, Lib-Dems actually got roughly the correct vote/seat ratio. If you divvied up the seats according to vote share Labour should have got 24 -25 seats, each of the other parties should then have got about 11 seats each

In Scotland, using the First Past the Post voting system, the Conservatives (and the SNP) are punished in exactly the same way that other minority parties are punished across the the UK. The people of Scotland end up with an unrepresentative grouping at Westminster, which strongly leans away from what a sizeable voting minority wish for, leaving these minorities with reduced  representation, or as with the Conservatives, with trivial representation.

Scotland may not  be a Tory heartland under any voting system, but under First Past the Post the Conservatives are guaranteed an insignificant representation.

There used to be a phrase used to define those Conservative who rejected the old class base system. A phrase used to define Conservatives who sought to promote the best interests of the whole of the UK. They used to be called One Nation Tories.

So how can these "One Nation Tories" today still support First Past The Post, especially when it harms their cause so badly as shown above?

By supporting FPTP the Conservative simply entrench themselves in their English heartland and so fail to be a One Nation party. Conservative party supporters need to look to the long term, not just the petty gains to be made in the short term by staying with an outdated and unfair voting system.

Vote for AV on Thursday.