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50% off Democracy 2 + guide to UK politics

Democracy 2 is half price today. People who aren’t in the UK may not be sure why, but it’s the UK general election today and we are all pretty excited about it. Here is a very simple digest for anyone outside the UK.

Our current Prime Minister is Gordon Brown, leader of the left of center ‘Labour’ party. he was chancellor for years under that party (the current party has been in power 13 years) and then suceeded the last leader virtually unopposed. he was never won a general election as leader and was not elected to his current position. He recently got caught with his microphone on insulting  a voter.

Generally speaking, we have a two party system pitching Labour (left) vs Conservative (right). The specifics of our first-past-the-post electoral system have kept it a two horse race for decades. This is the first election in my lifetime where a third party is a major contender.

The third party (Liberal Democrats) have suddenly rushed to high popularity due to two factors. Firstly, there was a major scandal about MP’s expenses which affected the two main parties worse than any other. Secondly, the relatively weak PM was forced into accepting live TV debates for the first time in UK history, and the leader of the libdems (nick clegg) got equal billing in those debates.

Because the way our elections work, the liberal democrats have always been under-represented in parliament, relative to their popularity, as have all the other smaller parties. For a long time, the Liberal party and later the merged lib-dems would insist on electoral reform being the ‘price’ of their support in any electoral coalition.

For the first time in aggggessssss it looks like no party will win an overall majority, so a coalition may be needed. The Labour and Conservative parties will likely *not* work together, making the libdem leader ‘kingmaker’. It’s likely he will extract electoral reform as the price of co-operation.

Finally, this happens against a backdrop of severe economic problems in the UK. If an election had not been looming, our credit rating may already have fallen, and pretty rapid action will be needed. Simply put, we spend more than we earn, and big tax rises or public spending cuts are needed. Regardless of makeup, the next government may be unpopular.

Nevertheless, this is all historic. We have no idea which party will form a government tomorrow, or even next week. And this may be the last time in our history that we have a screwed up electoral system. I’m 40 years old and my vote has never counted, as I’ve only ever lived in safe seats. It would be great to see that change.

Finally, if only the current government (and previous ones) had taken me up on my offer for free copies of Democracy 2 (50% off today!), they would have seen that a public spending deficit has to be fixed in the medium term to avoid long term disaster. Why oh why won’t our politicians learn the lessons of games?

For american readers, two facts that may make you grind your teeth:

1) We don’t use voting machines. Its all done on paper, the old fashioned (and harder to cheat or hack) way.

2) There are never any queues at UK polling stations. It takes under a minute to vote.


8 thoughts on 50% off Democracy 2 + guide to UK politics

  1. i had a feeling you’d be doing this today.
    I am currently giddy with excitement for the election, but wasn’t able to take tomorrow off work, so i’ll likely be missing most of the fun

  2. It’s interesting reading about a system so very similar to the Canadian one, leading to a situation like we have in Canada, and with similar results expected. Canada of course inherited the British first-past-the-post system (and also still uses paper), hence the similarities.

    What we have in Canada now is the conservatives in minority government, the opposing liberals acting like incompetent fools, the NDP (our third federal party) in a position similar to the one you described, and a fourth, Quebec separatist party making a mess of everything. I hope things go far better for you – I expect they will, as you have no fourth party ensuring never-ending minority governments.

    The problem with minority governments under our election systems is that they are always in campaign mode, looking to get a majority in the near future. They make short-sighted decisions and cause all kinds of unneeded trouble. I hope England doesn’t suffer through as many years of the politicians being jackasses as Canada has – all we get are jerks “scoring points” over nothing while the real problems just get worse and worse.

    Anyways, as you lack that bloody fourth party, I suspect things will go well for you. Enjoy the ride!

  3. i randomly heard that at some polling stations, not only were there queues – but some people were unable to vote due to them. totally 3rd-hand though – i spent the evening kicking at people (in a sporty way :) rather than goggleboxing.

  4. “I’m 40 years old and my vote has never counted, as I’ve only ever lived in safe seats. It would be great to see that change.”

    Let me humbly put forth that this line of reasoning is wrong.

    One single vote almost never causes a difference in outcomes for a seat like this, regardless of how close the race is. Even in proportional representation one single vote almost never makes a difference in how many seats a party gets in something like a federal election.

    The reason for one person voting in these sorts of elections is not (rationally, anyway) to make a difference in who is elected.

  5. Cliffski, just letting you know that the Swarm ad on the bottom of the GSB home page actually links to the Order page.

  6. “For american readers, two facts that may make you grind your teeth:
    1) We don’t use voting machines. Its all done on paper, the old fashioned (and harder to cheat or hack) way.
    2) There are never any queues at UK polling stations. It takes under a minute to vote.”

    Oh dear

    “Call for reform of system after queues chaos”; http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hmqBI4QWE4ILJ1KJtJsEk2O2r-Ug

    “The disruption came amid a high turnout with some polling stations running out of ballot papers as voters headed to the polls on mass. EC chief Jenny Watson said the system was at breaking point and promised a thorough review into problems around the country, including London, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.”

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