"Detrimental to the public order"

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This afternoon I was giving a talk at a local event; speaking before me was Mr. Sō Mōri of the South Kyoto Legal Center. He was explaining the LDP’s proposed changes to the Japanese Constitution and their effects. I’ve only seen a little bit in English on this and I hadn’t seen the extent of the changes until today. (Should Christians, missionaries, foreigners be engaging in Japanese politics? Read more about "Detrimental to the public order"

Interesting times

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It’s now clear that we live in the proverbial interesting times.

Long-established dictatorships in the Middle East crumbled within a matter of months in the face of mass non-violent assembly - although nobody is yet sure quite what happens next. That doesn’t happen all the time. Entire European economies are failing in slow motion. Tens of thousands of people are currently right now in protest at… well, basically at the whole way Western society works. Sure, that happened to some degree with the student protests in the 1960s, but this is global. The relationships and even the rules of international diplomacy are being rewritten as a result of a small bunch of volunteers who believe that information wants to be free, and they’re not alone in that belief.

Each of those is a once-in-a-generation thing, and they’re all happening at once. I think all this means that we’re sitting on an inflection point, the kind of thing that keeps the history books interesting. Read more about Interesting times

More on AV and proportionality

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Over on Facebook, Jason made a very perceptive comment about my last post. He suggested that my section about FPTP being horrible disproportional was unfair, because the disproportionality between votes and seats is a function of having single-member constituencies, rather than the voting system.

But is it, really? Of course, we can test this. Read more about More on AV and proportionality

Why I'll Be Voting "Yes" on May 5th

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On May 5th the UK will have a referendum on a change of voting system. I will be voting for a change, because I think the order-of-preference voting (technically, the Alternative Vote or AV system) makes more sense than the existing winner-takes-all system. (technically, First Past The Post or FPTP) Here’s why.

AV Doesn’t Throw Away Information


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Shock, horror:

A plan to allow popular online petitions to be debated in Parliament within a year has been given the go ahead by the government. Ministers will seek agreement with the authorities, including the House of Commons Procedure Committee, to give the petitions parliamentary time…

But Labour said the plans would mean “crazy ideas” being discussed by MPs… Labour MP Paul Flynn, a member of the Commons public administration committee, criticised the government’s proposal, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This seems to be an attractive idea to those who haven’t seen how useless this has been in other parts of the world when it’s tried.”

BBC News political correspondent Ross Hawkins said that allowing petitions to be drafted as parliamentary bills would be more difficult and would take longer to put in place.

- Online petition plan for Parliament to go ahead

Truly revolutionary. Letting the public write their own parliamentary bills - there would surely be madness and mayhem! But wait… Read more about Petitions

Gloucester hustings

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Last night a few of us from church went down to the MP hustings organised by Brunswick Baptist Church. Hustings are an interesting English tradition, whereby the candidates for office all attend a meeting and answer questions from the public. They’ve had something of a revival for this election in part because of the churches re-engagement with politics, but while that article says that those at church-sponsored hustings are “likely to ask political hopefuls for their opinion on marriage, abortion, assisted suicide and faith schools”, none of the five questions asked last night fell into those categories. These were about public and local policy issues common to the whole electorate.

The hustings actually changed my mind about who I plan to vote for, and I’ll try to explain why. These are my personal thoughts. You should form your own categories on which to place your vote. Read more about Gloucester hustings

The New Media Election?

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Here in Gloucester, you’d hardly know there was an election on. Nobody’s come to the door, not even to push stuff through it, and I haven’t seen any adverts (nor would I believe them if I saw them) so we’re reliant on the Internet for information about the candidates and what they’re about. Now despite being promised the most new-media election yet, locally, it’s a total shower. Read more about The New Media Election?

What goes around comes around

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I've been reading recently about the history of the South Sea Bubble, a financial crisis that happened in the UK during the 18th century, when a big non-financial company started playing money games on its own account, became too big to fail, and damned near brought the country with it when it did. It has many parallels to the problems in the financial sector today.