The 2 Kulturs

and elektoral lawlesnes in Britain by the turn of the twenty-first sentury.

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( Kapital-i, in 'I, myself', now spels Il as in isle or aisle.
Leter y spels sym for seem or seam and partys for parties.
Leter w spels swn for soon. )

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By 2000, the British main-land had haf a dozen undemokratik voting methods wer uon demokratik method wud do.

Kurently fIv diferent kinds of elektoral system ar in yus or lejislated for, in the United Kingdom: first past the post, the alternativ vot, the singl transferabl vot, the aditional member system, and a party list system.

That is not al. First past the post at jeneral elektions may difer from lokal elektions with mor than uon member per konstituensy. Also, the Skotish asembly is set to hav a hIer proportion of aditional members than the Welsh asembly.
That's seven diferent voting methods in Britain. Eit, if ther ar elektions to the Hous of Lords on yet an other variant system.

The Jenkins report gos uon beter than this, by rekomending 'Alternativ Vot Top-up' for jeneral elektions, a system that has never byn yus'd any-wer on the planet. Not to forget that this and the other aditional member systems are themselvs varying kombinations of tw systems, usualy requiring tw vots. Thys atempt ( vainly ) to korekt ych others faults.
Mor-over, the Komision's proposal wud kount the alternativ vot diferently than for a Mayor of London.

Britain's rulers ar prepar'd to yus mor voting methods than ther ar elekted institutions to yus them for. Swop al thys methods round the varius asemblys, parliments, kounsils and wat-nots, and the saim voting intentions wud elekt mor or les diferent sets of politicians every tIm.

Dos the publik not no its own mind? Dos the publik hav a mind? Is demokrasy a figment of the imajination? Or is it just what the politicians, making the ruls, say it is? Ar elektions dwm'd to be a delusion, in a danjerus world, that the govern'd hav given ther konsent to the government? Der no partys fais wat the pepl onestly think of them?

Wat has kaus'd this krisis for demokrasy? ( I think it fair to kal it that. )

The traditional voting method of first past the post has disatisfy'd partys not geting enuf syts for the vots to ther kandidats.
Thys ar politicians hw kud get themselvs herd in the media but not get into ofis. Hens, the power strugl in the Establishment over the last quarter of the twentieth sentury.

This has byn pitch'd to the publik as a kaus for 'fairnes' in the voting system. And pepl may be left to juj for themselvs how much the ruling klas ryly intend fairnes to the publik in Britain's anarky of voting methods.

Most in Britain's tw main partys wanted to kontinu to tak turns with victorys in majoritys of syts. The reformers wanted rul by majoritys of vots. This usualy requir'd the proportional representation of smaler partys, as partners in majority ko-alitions. But most politicians only wanted partys, not individuals, to benefit from any proportional kount. Ther's the sting. This was how mor bekaim les demokrasy.

Thus, the Jenkins report is a trws betwyn a proportional party system, on Mondays, Wensdays and Fridays, and a syt-majority party system on Sundays, Tusdays, Thursdays and Saturdays -- if yu konsider suksesiv jeneral elektions as days of the week. Sins neither the singl-member nor the party-proportional systems are satisfaktory, as a kompromis, the British elektorat ar to be impal'd partly on both horns of the dilema. This is a fair spesimen of Establishment lojik on elektions.

A referendum on first past the post against an aditional member system, such as that of the Jenkins komision, is only an Establishment request to favor uon or other faktion of party monopolists: singl member majoritys or singl member majoritys mor or les proportionaly of-set by list members. Such a referendum dos not ofer a konstitutional setlment. Elektions perhaps desId wat faktion taks power. But the purpos of a referendum is not to sanktion, in the konstitution, party monopoly systems at al, wether of old or nw bias. Bais ruls musnt be bias'd.

Aktions spyk louder than words. The singl member system was abandon'd by the 1997 Labor government for a party list system of Euro-elektions that givs voters only a chois betwyn partys, the so-kal'd 'klos'd lists'. It is evident that the ryl valu of singl members to MPs was not so much individual MPs 'konstituensy links' but the monopoly of representation they giv MPs. For, thos MEPs hIest on the klos'd lists, mayd by party boses, lIkwIs monopolis ther partys' representation.

FIv tIms in 1998, the Lords thrw out klos'd lists, 'to resku demokrasy', as uon of the pyrs put it. But 'open lists' ar similar to the Rejonal List propos'd by a previus Labor government in 1978. Bekaus it is stil bais'd on party-proportional kounting, a myr X-vot for an individual kandidat on a list may kount toward the elektion of a party kolyg yu did not chws, or indyd a kandidat hw resyv'd no individual vots. If this is the only resku option for demokrasy, then God help us.

Tho he had wish'd singl members retain'd in a reform of jeneral elektions, Tory, Richard Wood MP ( leiter Lord Holderness ) said that not alowing the voters to giv ther order'd chois ( 1,2,3,..etc for kandidats, for the multi-member system of PR by transferabl voting, in the Euro-elektions ) was 'an insult to the intelijens of the British pepl.'

Peter Hain MP rowt a bwk on 'Proportional Misrepresentation' to persuad the Left to kyp the singl member system for singl party majoritys ( of syts ). But he admited this mayd no kais against the singl transferabl vot ( STV ) for Euro-elektions.

This is a sad koment on Labor prIm minister Tony Blair, blaming 'an afront to demokrasy' on the pyrs for suporting 'open lists' ( inefektiv individual chois ) against klos'd lists ( no individual chois ) of kandidats. LIkwIs, the PM's alI, Liberal Demokrat lyder Paddy Ashdown mis-represented 'the pyrs against the pepl', wen party list systems are bos elektions that set the partys against the pepl.

In a leter to 'The Independent' ( in November 1998 ) Andy Spring expres'd konfidens that the Gryn Party wud win MEPs. They naturaly lwk to Germany's party-proportional systems. 7% of party votes had just mayd them a ko-alition partner with the Social Demokrats. In the 1989 Euro-elektion, British Gryns set a rekord vot for ther movment.

But that was befor ther kaukus got rid of ther best lyders, lIk Jonathon Porritt. To prevent the partys puting ther own chois abov the pepl's, STV proportionaly elekts the most prefer'd individual kandidats, say, Porritt as an independent Gryn. With STV, he wdnt have to be on the oficial Gryn list of kandidats, to benefit from a proportional kount: Bekaus, with STV, vots are transferabl by the pepl's preferenses. With party lists, vots ar transferabl by uon preferens voter, the party bos, hw has order'd his chois of wich list kandidats shal go into parliment.
Ther is the diferens betwyn elektiv demokrasy and 'elektiv diktatorship'.

The singl transferabl vot kan be yus'd at al levels of government and is, in Ireland. Ther is no nyd for mor than uon, much les fIv, seven or eit diferent systems in Britain. ( STV kud even elekt, in a tw-member konstituensy, a mayor and deputy mayor of London, as is usual in lokal government. That is to say STV kan serv as a primary elektion for singl -- as wel as multipl -- vakansys. )

Wat maks the Establishment prefer fIv or seven, posibly eit, or as many diferent elektoral aranjments as it taks, rather than let the British pepl yus STV ( som-tIm kal'd the super-vot ) as many alredy do, for non-politikal elektions?

WI do the rulers prefer elektoral anarky to elektoral prinsipl? WI wont they sufer efektiv popular mediation for the pysful progres of the pepl?

Demokratik elektoral reform sId-lIn'd by 'the tw kulturs'

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The divid betwyn the sienses and humanitys

Prwf of C P Snow's 'the tw kulturs' koms from the traji-fars of British mudling-thru elektoral reform. 4 yers after the orijinal lektur, he sumaris'd its klaim:

It is something like this. In our society ( that is, advanced western society ) we have lost even the pretence of a common culture. Persons educated with the greatest intensity we know can no longer communicate with each other on the plane of their major intellectual concern. This is serious for our creative, intellectual and, above all, our moral life. It is leading us to interpret the past wrongly, to misjudge the present and to deny our hopes of the future. It is making it difficult or impossible for us to take good action.

I gave the most pointed example of this lack of communication in the shape of two groups of people, representing what I have christened 'the two cultures.' One of these contained the scientists, whose weight, achievement and influence did not need stressing. The other contained the literary intellectuals. I did not mean that literary intellectuals act as the main decision-makers of the western world. I meant that literary intellectuals represent, vocalise and to some extent shape and predict the mood of the non-scientific culture: they do not make the decisions, but their words seep into the minds of those who do. Between these two groups -- the scientists and the literary intellectuals -- there is little communication and, instead of fellow-feeling, something like hostility.

( C P Snow, 'The Two Cultures And A Second Look.' Mentor, The New American Library, 1964.)

Ther is nyrly no representation of siens, or teknolojy, in the Hous of Komons ( as tabls show in Robert Blackburn's 'The Electoral System In Britain' ). Nor wil ther be, if party lyders apoint the Lords. Administration is rekruted after Chinese sivilization's kompetitiv examinations in the klasiks.

Akademiks hav yus'd the distinktion betwyn nolej and valus, to suplI information without jujment. ( Of wich yu'l find som exampls in volum II of the Jenkins report, publish'd by The Stationary Office. ) Charles Snow also kritisis'd this doktrin of valu-nutral siens, at the end of his bwk, 'The Physicists.'

Of kors, sientists hav a perfekt rIt to kyp out of politiks, if they wish ( and so far as the konsequenses of ther diskoverys alow ). The objektion is to tryting akademik frydom as a privilej'd dyl with the stait -- yu lyv us alon and we'l lyv yu alon -- insted of aknolejing that jeneral nolej depends on a jeneraly fry sosiety.

Akademik frydom without a fry sosiety is as narow as 'party demokrasy' without representativ demokrasy.

C P Snow never forgav the Royal Sosiety for snubing the ajed H G Wells' wish to be a Felow. Wells no dout did mor than that obskur felowship, put together, to promot siens. But he was 'a literary man'. And, as Snow said, British edukation has byn the most kompartmented, in the world, betwyn 'arts' and 'sienses'.

As for 'social siens', the Royal Sosiety didn't belyv ther was such a thing. But then they didn't admit enjinyrs -- the pepl hw got ther hands dirty -- without hwm ther wud be precius litl modern siens, in al its yuses and abuses.

Sir Charles Snow ( in his 1968 lektur, 'The State Of Siege' ) was especialy konsern'd about gathering the strenth of siens and teknolojy in the rich nations to help the world's pwr. The Brandt report on world development wanted mor humain aid. But governments that rejekted that plan kan not be said to hav mayd any les desperat the krisis of tu many helples pepl.

How-ever, som sientists hav chanj'd ther direktion of syking jeneralis'd understanding. For instans, systems analysis study'd wat specialtys hav in komon. This may be adapted to solving human problems. For such-lIk rysons, Murray Gell-Mann ( as explain'd in 'The Quark And The Jaguar' ) help'd set-up a kros-disiplins institut, uon of the nw 'brod churches' of siens.
Man is, after al, a part of natur and som natural sientists ar begining to syk a unify'd understanding of this fakt.

John Maynard Smith uons kal'd The Royal Sosiety 'a klub for jentlmen,' wich is wat the historian, Ensor said the Hous of Komons was chanjing from. Wether the humanitys or the sienses hav don les to brij the tw kulturs, elektoral reform has shown British government as a siens-fry zoun.

British Mudling-thru elektoral reform

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Jeneral elektion results wer grosly out of proportion to the third party's suport in 1974. Most in the big tw partys didn't want to no. Most of the rest only wanted patch-up ansers. The Hansard Sosiety's Blake report of 1976 and the Plant report of 1993 ar both dub'd 'admirabl' in the Jenkins report of 1998.
They ar thry atempts that 'things must chanj so that things kan stay the saim.'

LIk the Plant report, the Jenkins report avoids jeneral konsiderations that mIt render invalid ther partikular and ad hok aproch:

Our proposition for this country stems essentially from the British constituency tradition and proceeds by limited modification to render it less haphazard, less unfair to minority parties, and less nationally divisive in the sense of avoiding large areas of electoral desert for each of the two major parties.

( The kais for and the funktioning of a mix'd system, p.V, last para. in 'The Guardian.' Sy web paj 'Against the Jenkins report.' )

LIk Blake and Plant, Jenkins is konsern'd to kyp the ( singl member ) konstituensy system, wich most restrikts lokality and therfor prevents the extension of chois. Stiking with the most lokal system, they veto'd a mor elektoral system. It is not ryly elektions but lokations that the plas-holders want.

The Jenkins proposition restrikted the terms ( regardles of ther terms of referens ) on wich reform mIt be alow'd. So, no jenuin reform twk plas. As a rul, uon trIs to find the truth on its terms, not on ours. Uon has to hav an open mind.

Such mak-shift reformers saw the problem as giving the third party syts mor in proportion to ther vots, by ad hok aditional members from party lists ( implisit or explisit ). Monopolistik singl members must be rong, if they nyd so 'korekting'. The sientifik aproch wud be to replas them with a theory of elektions bais'd konsistently on shering. Insted, the rong of monopoly is not admited by the ad hok reformers, hw only kompound it, by giving partys a monopoly of the proportional kount, thru list systems.

The ad hok reformers extend equality, mor or les, to the smaler partys but konfirm an elektoral monopoly of equality on the partys, in a uon-dimensional partisan sosiety.

An analojy may ilustrat wI this is rong in sientifik, as wel as demokratik, terms. The jeo-sentrik theory of the planets' motions is rong, despIt the 'korektion' by epi-sIkls to deskrib aparent reverses, in traversings of planets, from an Erth-senter'd point of viw.

The Jenkins komision's lIkwIs unwyldy system is akin to an ingrain'd 'jeo-sentrik' theory of singl member elektions, modify'd by 'epi-sIkls' of list kandidats. ( Som-tIms the houl list is 'rotated' or given a turn in parliment. ) To thos mor or les against chanj, a 'helio-sentrik' theory, with Erth as just uon in a multi-member solar system of planets, is much tu 'remot' and 'breks the link' betwyn God and His Erthly konstituents, as mediated by the holy church of party.

A theory of elektions bais'd on inkonsistent prinsipls of monopolising and shering wil be mutualy defyting in praktis. The ad hok reformers' anser is to extend the monopoly mor or les to third partys. In this, they konfirm G K Chesterton's adaj: Ther is ryly only uon party. Ther tasit ajenda of the partisan monopolising of representation for a partisan stait is not al that far remov'd from a uon-party stait.

This is the lojik of the direktion the ad hok reformers ar going in. For, even the limited pluralism they ofer with ad hok aditional members is inkonsistent with the monopoly of uon party rul per singl member konstituensy. Being so at ods with itself as a system, AMS wont work for al kinds of elektions at every level of government.

Monopoly is inkonsistent with representation, hws jeneral prinsipl must be uon of shering. That is proportional representation as distinkt from proportional partisanship. But swner than aksept jenuin PR's fryly sher'd chois, wich explains wI it is the sientifik theory that aplIs to al elektions, the ad hok reformers shun'd an al-purpos system.

The reduktion to the absurd of denIing a system for elektions in jeneral is to denI jeneral elektions.

But, in the Stationary Ofis's sekond volum of the Jenkins report, Ky Evidens, the Labor party submision held that the Labor government aksepted the Plant report's prinsipl ( that is, lak of prinsipl ) of diferent voting systems for diferent elekted institutions.

John Preston ( of Surrey, in a Nov. 1998 leter to 'The Independent' ) wonder'd if any-uon rylIs'd wat a mudl of voting systems Britain was in. He sujested this was bekaus of neglekt to ask: Wat is the ryl aim and purpos of it al?

Erly reseption of the Jenkins Report.

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My kritisism of the Jenkins report and nout of elektoral reform as a prIm kasualty of 'the tw kulturs' was riten shortly after the report's launch.
Just out of interest, I mak som referens hyr to imediat re-aktions ( in erly Desember bak to end of Oktober 1998 ). Tho, I no this nws rapidly dayts.

The government sensibly alow'd tIm for publik debait. At the tIm of rIting, ther is no way of noing wether 'Alternativ Vot Top-up' wil be the voting system the government ofers the pepl a referendum to chanj to.

The Konservativs, at party konferens, said the independent voting komision was 'rig'd' befor its konklusion was publish'd. But the members represented a gud spred of opinion. The government's terms of referens wer, I thot, fair and wel chosen -- wich has not always byn the kais for oficial bodys set up in resent yers.

Never the les, I belyv ther was a basik eror of aproch that jeneral elektions kud be lwk'd at, without regard to a jeneral elektoral system. This neglekt of sientifik out-lwk is wI I bring in C P Snow's jujment that 'the tw kulturs' is responsibl for bad government.

The hom sekretary, Jack Straw's naim was put to the Komision's terms of referens. His respons on television to 'Alternativ Vot Top-up' sym'd a litl breth-beryv'd. He didn't no the system wud be as komplikated ( or som taktful word for that ) or tak so long to implement. And the komision itself had rych'd no desision, to kloser than a krucial 5%, of just how many top-up MPs ther shud be. How kan uon vot on an unmesur'd mesur?

The Konservativ party lyder, William Hague also admited he didn't no the reform was going to be 'so extra-ordinarily komplikated.' His definitly untaktful suming of AV top-up was 'a dog's brek-fast', others hav repyted sins. He also pointed out that top-up lists giv power to the partys, rather than the pepl. This prediktabl enuf respons from the Torys was, unfortunatly, also tru.

Simon Jenkins, in 'The Times,' denouns'd party lists, 'open' or 'klos'd' as kronyism. But the most komited nws-paper oposition kaim, as expekted, from 'The Daily Telegraph' editorial, kaptioning the Jenkins report as 'rokoko and rong,' and in rebelius mwd against such an imposition. That is rIt but ther oposition to al chanj limits ther influens.

Perhaps the most signifikant erly warning to the Labor government kaim from over 100 of its MPs forming the Labor first past the post campain, led by Stuart Bell. He predikted AV top-up wud sink without trais. Such a swift and strong rejektion must giv the government paus for thot.

I was impres'd by the intelijent atention of the audiens in Jonathan Dimbleby's tv panel debait. Mr Bell rekon'd tw-thirds of the Kabinet wer against the Voting Komision's proposal.

The Liberal Demokrats wud sertainly suport a system that gos som way to proportionaly representing them. Roy Jenkins, ther former 'PrIm Minister designat' was politly spoken of. Tho, tw Lib Dem kounsilors anouns'd ther oposition to his reform.

The Gryn party sys it as a step in the rIt direktion ( to them, a German-tIp aditional member system ) tho they'v no imediat houp of benefiting from it. The Liberal party ( hw brok away wen renaim'd Liberal Demokrats ) konsider'd a historik oportunity had byn squander'd. They wud work for the singl transferabl vot.

I'v syn a foto oportunity for a panel of brIt yung things, in the parlimentary Labor party, suporting AV top-up, but as yet nothing to match ther kolyg, the formidabl Mr Bell.

The editor of 'Red Pepper' in a Guardian artikl, apyring with the eit-paj Guardian edition of the Jenkins report, admited strait-off it was a 'fix' and a 'fuj'. This wasn't admiting much of a fairly obvius fryk, even to the uninitiated. But it was about as far as any-uon rIting in The Guardian was prepar'd to disent. She stil urj'd 'the Left' to suport it.

The politikal komentator in The Independent was also favorabl. But an artikl by John Curtice show'd wat an up-hil strugl awaited reformers prepar'd to suport AV top-up. On the houl, the media, ful of C P Snow's 'literary intelektuals', wern't going to de-rail the report.

Ther wer sIns the report had byn lyk'd. Robin Cook and Paddy Ashdown had hinted the reform mIt not be hIly proportional.
A Guardian editorial, several days befor ther paper's masiv endorsment, surmis'd that the report wud be a hotch-potch that wud plys no-uon.
This may turn out to be the final verdikt.

Richard Lung.

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