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Gordon Brown has made much of his government of “all the talents”. This includes Digby Jones, the former boss of the Confederation of British Industry. However, he has not place for any members of the Trade Union movement.

Jones refuses to join the Labour Party (he is a long-term member of the Conservative Party). However, he is probably too right-wing for the Cameron led Tories. Since the Labour Party was elected in 1997 Jones campaigned against the minimum wage (according to Jones it was going to destroy the British economy). Then he wanted to freeze it after it was introduced. He also promoted privatisation, but opposed the EU’s working time directive, environmental laws, and extension of maternity leave.

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Guest David Guyatt

Always nice to see such a right-winger in the Labour mob. Makes you feel warm doesn't it, when one considers the possible longer-term implications... living in a de facto one party state.

David

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An English friend of mine who used to be a loyal Labour party voter told be he frequently votes for the Liberal Democrats now because they often take positions to the left of Labour. From what John is saying it sounds like the Tories might end up to the left of them as well. According to Wikipedia Jones will he the Labour whip in the House of Lords (without joining the party).

On a similar note a few years ago I was discussing with an American friend of mine about how Clinton was to Nixon’s right on some issues. Though better than any of the Republicans none of the Democrats with even a remote chance of winning is a true progressive.

Here in Brazil Lula’s PT (Worker’s Party) is in a coalition of center, left and right parties, the opposition is composed of center, left and right parties as well. The reactionary PP (ex PPB/PDS/Arena) one of the parties in Lula’s coalition backed the military’s candidate in the 1984 election even though most members of the pro-military party (then called PDS) broke off to back the democratic opposition.

We certainly are living in “interesting times”. According to legend “may you live in interesting times” is and ancient Chinese curse (thought this is probablly apocriful).

Edited by Len Colby
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An English friend of mine who used to be a loyal Labour party voter told be he frequently votes for the Liberal Democrats now because they often take positions to the left of Labour. From what John is saying it sounds like the Tories might end up to the left of them as well. According to Wikipedia Jones will he the Labour whip in the House of Lords (without joining the party).

I do the same. The Liberal Democrats are more left-wing than the Labour Party. However, they have moved to the right since Menzies Campbell became leader. The first thing he did was to remove the threat to increase taxes on those earning over £100,000. That cost the party a lot of support and he will hopefully be replaced in the next few months.

The problem is that all elections in the UK are decided by a few hundred thousand voters in swing seats. For example, my area has returned a Tory every time since 1906. Which way I vote has no impact at all. That is true of most people. Therefore, the three main parties try and hold the middle ground in order to persuade the swing voters in the marginal seats to vote for them. Until we bring in some sort of PR system we will not be able to say we live in a democracy.

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The problem is that all elections in the UK are decided by a few hundred thousand voters in swing seats. For example, my area has returned a Tory every time since 1906. Which way I vote has no impact at all. That is true of most people. Therefore, the three main parties try and hold the middle ground in order to persuade the swing voters in the marginal seats to vote for them.

The same problem exists in the US a small number of swing voters in swing districts or states decide most elections.

Until we bring in some sort of PR system we will not be able to say we live in a democracy.

Be careful what you wish for John - you might get it.

They have a proportional representation system here in Brazil and it’s a mess. There are a myriad of small parties that mayors, governors and presidents have to make deals with often the most important criteria when choosing a person for an important position is what party they belong to, this isn’t very problematic when there are only 2 or 3 parties in a country but is when you have 5 or 6 in your coalition. Perhaps a solution would be demanding that a party would need to get 10% of the vote (or so) before electing anyone.

Another problem with PR (here atleast) is that you don’t have parliamentarians responsible for specific districts and that you get many people who live in middle/upper class neighborhoods in city councils and many people who live big-midsize cities in the state and federal legislatures but relatively few from poor and rural areas.

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