Print Story You Finally Made a Monkey Out of Me
By TheophileEscargot (Mon May 04, 2015 at 08:46:14 AM EST) Reading, Politics, Me (all tags)
Reading: "The Rhesus Chart". Politics. Links.

What I'm Reading
The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross. Fifth entry in the Laundry series, about a secret government department battling extradimensional demons and other paranormal threats. This one features vampires and is set at home rather than on location. Decent enough with some clever ideas about how vampires fit into this world. Not particularly brilliant, not particularly bad. Was slightly disappointing the way it seems to be inching a slow plot arc forward but not doing much till the next book.

The election's on Thursday, the polls are effectively tied, and the two main parties have more significant differences in their manifestos than has been the case in ages. You'd think that excitement would be at fever pitch, but most people seem bored with it. I think that's partly because the Fixed Term Parliaments act has meant an unprecedentedly long election campaign which has bored everyone senseless. (Previously in the UK, governments would call an election at short notice with the aim of catching the opposition by surprise, so we had nice short campaigns at least.) Other causes: people don't believe the manifestos anyway; and the polls point to a hung parliament where no party would be able to enact its complete manifesto even if it wanted to.

Still voting Green since I'm in what should be a pretty safe Lib Dem seat with the Tories second. If I was in a marginal I'd vote Labour. In theory I could be "letting the Tories in", but I'd rather have a Tory majority than another Tory/Lib Dem coalition. At least that way the government has to be vaguely responsible for keeping its promises rather than just saying "oops the coalition agreement means we have to cancel all our pledges that are difficult or would annoy our big donors".

Election Links
How polls got it wrong in Israel, British Columbia. Tories concerned about the SNP should vote Lib Dem. Why proportional representation is now right for the Commons by Dan Hannan. Chris Dillow: Why a government can be formed without a majority Why I'm voting Green, followup. The buy-to-let racket (£5.2 bn cost to the state). 8 Media Myths about the election:

Myth 2: The age of two party politics is dead...
The decline is nothing new – as long ago as 1983, with the surging SDP-Liberal Alliance, Labour and the Tories polled no higher than 70% between them.

The traditional pattern – apparent at all elections since the emergence of the Alliance in 1983 – of the two main parties polling 30-40% each with a third, challenger party at about 15-20% looks set to be repeated.

Socioeconomics. The Austerity Delusion. Economics for politicians. Low productivity: don’t blame the workforce: " productivity has fallen in spite of the quality of the labour force not because of it."

Articles. How a small British news agency fills up nonsense. Older round-robin fiction Don't judge Charlie Hebdo as racist if you don't speak French.

Tech. What to love and hate about Microsoft’s new cross-platform Visual Studio Code editor.

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You Finally Made a Monkey Out of Me | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden)
hung parliament by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon May 04, 2015 at 09:41:02 AM EST
What kind of trees do you Brits prefer to hang your politicians from?

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Sadly by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon May 04, 2015 at 10:28:20 AM EST
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
This describes me, too. by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon May 04, 2015 at 12:59:38 PM EST
Still voting Green since I'm in what should be a pretty safe Lib Dem seat with the Tories second. If I was in a marginal I'd vote Labour. In theory I could be "letting the Tories in", but I'd rather have a Tory majority than another Tory/Lib Dem coalition

That said, I'm not so sure a coalition's worse than a Tory government, and I like the local Lib Dem candidate a lot.

In a safe Tory seat... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon May 04, 2015 at 01:54:41 PM EST
I'll be voting Green as part of a theoretical vote-swap with someone in marginal who will vote Labour.

I'm pretty sure a Tory government is the worst possible outcome, as they have descended into incoherence and so if they win outright will proceed to "Govern By Lashing Out" for a few years...

[ Parent ]
I voted Green in the council elections by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #26 Fri May 08, 2015 at 08:29:42 PM EST
And the Green got in. That was pretty cool.

[ Parent ]
Lib-Dem/Tory Seat by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon May 04, 2015 at 05:03:54 PM EST
Voting LIb-Dem as a Lib/Dem coalition is better than the Tories alone or Labour/SNP. Prefer Lib_Dem/Labour but looks unlikely that Labour will win enough seats without the SNP being involved.

I like Ed Davey and he is good constituency MP.

[ Parent ]
The buy-to-let article was interesting by riceowlguy (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon May 04, 2015 at 03:26:13 PM EST
I loved this:
"‘House buyers are delusional, the housing market is broken and a housing boom is the economic equivalent of a tapeworm infection.’ The tapeworm needs to be fed, so politicians won’t advocate a policy which will make the market fall, even if that is what the country needs."

We have the same problem in the US.  We did everything we could in 2007-9 to keep the housing market from correcting.

Without getting into immigration by riceowlguy (4.00 / 0) #9 Mon May 04, 2015 at 05:58:46 PM EST
I guess what occurred to me, reading that article, is that at no point does anybody ask "why isn't the private sector building enough houses?"  Is there no land?  No available workforce?  Insurmountable regulatory hassles?

[ Parent ]
Planning restrictions by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #10 Mon May 04, 2015 at 06:11:49 PM EST
"Greenbelts" around London and other major conurbations preventing housebuilding, gold plated new housing building regulations making it expensive to build  and preference for low density development.

[ Parent ]
wait, don't immigrants in the UK by the mariner (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon May 04, 2015 at 07:39:21 PM EST
live in workhouses and dorms adjoined to textile mills, at which they're served gruel in massive mess halls? seems like dense accommodations like these should put little pressure on the housing market.

the housing situation, of course, seems untenable. for example, i recently read a story of an estate held in chancery court for decades before a decision finally came down, at which point the value of the property had already been spent in legal fees! with such an absurd legal and regulatory environment, it's hard to believe anything works at all.

[ Parent ]
Not totally true by Herring (4.00 / 1) #16 Tue May 05, 2015 at 03:21:25 PM EST
There are companies sitting on huge land-banks with planning permission, not building yet because the price is still rising. Many of these companies are not construction companies but hedge funds and the like.

So planning restrictions are only part of the problem. People using the property market as an asset class is more of a problem.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Fullfact by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue May 05, 2015 at 12:05:25 AM EST
Seems to think immigration has little impact on house prices and social housing.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
BC election by marvin (4.00 / 1) #13 Mon May 04, 2015 at 09:06:49 PM EST
Yeah, polls were spectacularly wrong. So we're stuck with Christy until someone knifes her in the back (metaphorically) the same way she did Gordon Campbell in a few years ago.

Alberta has an election on May 5, and it is shaping up to be another problem for the pollsters. Traditionally a one-party state, Alberta has been solidright wing Tory for four decades (eighty years if you include the SoCreds).

The Alberta polls show an NDP government as a possibility. That would be akin to the Socialist Party taking power in Texas, so minds will be blown if that comes to pass.

It would be nice to see the near-inevitability of polls crushed as I am tired of seeing projections reported as a fait accompli. I think the final analysis for BC was that the general preferences discovered via polling did not matter - only the preferences of the 30% who actually bothered to show up to vote mattered.

I'm somewhat flabergasted by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue May 05, 2015 at 05:55:32 PM EST
that Nate Silver and the 538 crew can regularly interpret polling data into extremely precise predictions. It isn't so much that you wouldn't suspect there is enough data, there is. The thing is that somehow cold calling (and often only cold calling landlines) people (with the pre-screening effect that allows people to ignore polsters) somehow produces effective data for US elections (surveys tend to produce garbage data for anything other than "will you choose this on election day" anyway).

I wonder if anybody outside of the US wants to be a local Nate Silver, or if the data just isn't good enough. You would pretty much either need an independent website or be affiliated with (it didn't mesh well with the NYTimes, largely because what the data was saying didn't fit the official media narratives of the elections).


[ Parent ]
There is one clone up here by marvin (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue May 05, 2015 at 09:11:09 PM EST
538 was his inspiration:

I have no idea how much difference there is in their methodology or ability. They are calling for an NDP majority in Alberta, so we should find out in a few hours.

[ Parent ]
Nate Silver by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #22 Wed May 06, 2015 at 12:21:57 AM EST
Didn't do particularly well with the 2010 UK election.

But I'm not sure he's that reliable in the US. Polls are usually right. He just states very confidently how certain he is, whereas other pollsters mutter about how "a poll is a snapshot not a prediction". So far he's been lucky in the US.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
According to that link by lm (2.00 / 0) #24 Wed May 06, 2015 at 08:56:25 AM EST
... Silver was trying a few different models to forecast the UK election and was stymied at least in part because of poor data. The poor data bit answers wumpus' question about why the UK doesn't have anything comparable to 538.

I don't think luck alone can explain 538's success at predicting US elections. His methodology and its underpinnings seems decent enough to me. As a point of fact, he does only treat individual polls as snapshots. Where he's different from pollsters is that he thinks that the changes in results between polls over time can be used to predict the election, a bit like the new information in the Monty Hall problem can be used to make a more accurate prediction about which door to open compared to flipping a coin.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
538 has been looking at the UK for a while by lm (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed May 06, 2015 at 09:01:09 AM EST
See how they're going to decide how well their model this time around:

But it looks like the UK does not have anything close to the sort of polling that the US does so forecasting an election is far more difficult.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Interesting by Herring (4.00 / 1) #17 Tue May 05, 2015 at 03:24:02 PM EST
that Cameron is going on about the dangers of Labour propped up by the SNP when, for a while, John Major's government had to be propped up by the DUP.

(No, I haven't read the articles yet).

Some people I've spoken to - e.g. teachers - love the idea of a government that is unable to pass any legislation or do anything. Idiot political changes and targets - by all/both parties have made a mess.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

Just saw by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #18 Tue May 05, 2015 at 03:34:29 PM EST
This piece which made some good points.

"It is a strange logic that uses militant hostility to the Tories in one part of the country to bolster their entitlement to power. It is stranger still to assert that a Miliband administration supported by the SNP would hasten the end of the union, when it is Cameron who seems to think Scottish MPs don’t count at Westminster."

I'm not sure a government without a majority would be usefully handicapped. They'd still have executive control over the ministries and the Civil Service, enough to do damage. If they can't pass a budget without brinkmanship you might see, for example, teacher salaries not being paid for a month or two.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Well by Herring (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue May 05, 2015 at 06:41:35 PM EST
Caution - drunk

The whole political system in the UK is quite fucked. When the Labour party represented the unions and the unions represented the majority of workers then that could've sort of implied some sort of consent (barring corruption and other stuff).

Now we have a situation where all the major parties represent only the people who fund the major parties. This is clearly shit. And also it is clearly not something that's about to be legislated against.

Referring to Wikipedia (yeah, I know) here are some membership figures:
Labour party: 194,269
Conservative party: 149,800
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: 1,000,000+

People in the UK don't really care about the political parties and the parties don't care either because that's not where their funding, connections, power etc. comes from.

Also, there are so many issues like housing, the aging population, employment insecurity that the major political parties just don't want to address - because they lead to uncomfortable conclusions.

Bring on the revolution. I'm free June 3rd onwards.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
You Finally Made a Monkey Out of Me | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden)