The Dim-Post

August 20, 2015

Variations on the same old theme

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:03 pm

Rob Salmond has a post up about the UK Labour leadership election and the political centre, and how Jeremy Corbyn’s abandonment of same which will doom the Labour Party to in-electability. Which, maybe it will, I don’t know. I’ve given up trying to forecast political outcomes. But this piece about the leadership race in the New Statesmen jumped out at me. It describes the Corbyn campaigns phenomenal registration drive then expands:

Yet Corbyn’s success owes less to entryism than thought. There are Labour voters who departed under Blair and now feel liberated to return; left-wing members who joined under Ed Miliband (and regard Corbyn as his successor); and young voters who are losing their political virginity. On the party’s right, there is self-reproach at their failure to sign up moderate supporters to counter the radicals. “We were hideously complacent,” one MP said.

Others attribute Corbyn’s rise to the ­unattractiveness of his opponents. “Andy, Yvette and Liz have a lot to answer for,” a senior MP told me. “If you can’t beat Jeremy Corbyn, how you can beat George Osborne, Boris Johnson or Theresa May?” Some of the other three’s own backers are stunned by how few new ideas they have offered.

This pattern of left-wing centrists adopting ‘strategic values’ because ‘that’s what voters want’, and then getting annihilated because of total political ineptitude is becoming a depressingly familiar trend. There’s a cargo-cult mentality to it, I think. ‘Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were centrists’, the reasoning goes, ‘They moved left-wing parties to the right and they won. So to win you simply need to move to the right.’ So they move to the right and just sit and wait for the voters to fly in. But they never come.

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were very astute politicians and they figured out at the beginning of their careers, all those decades ago now, that at that moment in history the best way to win was to move their parties to the right. But what if that moment in history has passed on now, and the best way to win is . . . something else? If they were starting their careers would they repeat the same strategy even though it isn’t working? Or would they look for something new?

I think they’d look for something new. And I don’t think it would be movement along the values spectrum. It would look, probably, like the data-driven grass-roots campaigning of Obama. But the closest we have to that in New Zealand is the National Party.

Update, also, too: it strikes me that if Corbyn really is an existential threat to his party, the sensible thing for the centrists to do is unite behind a single candidate instead of diluting their votes three ways. It’s almost as if they’re losing because they’re terrible at politics.

39 Comments »

  1. The trouble for Labour is that National are hugging the center and won’t move. Labour can’t take ground that’s already occupied unless National are seen to be corrupt or incompetent. And at this stage the voters just don’t see National that way. It’ll be at least 2020 before Labour get a look in.

    Comment by artcroft — August 20, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

  2. The obvious point is that the battle between the candidates for the Labour leadership is taking place on completely different terrain to the campaign against the Tories. Most voters aren’t members of the Labour Party, and the party membership is not remotely representative of the electorate as a whole. So the fact that the party members support Corbyn doesn’t mean that the electorate will. That’s a complete non-sequitur.

    My favorite stats about Corbyn are that (allegedly) he has voted against his own own party on something like 500 occasions and that less than 20% of his parliamentary colleagues support him. How could that go wrong?

    Comment by Nick R — August 20, 2015 @ 6:05 pm

  3. The manic political left wing dream boy sometimes gets into power and gets run over by reality.

    I’m thinking of Tsipras but into all of this one can add the success of Clark in the Blair/Clinton camp and the lack of sucess of Hollande who falls somewhere in between them and Obama.

    The thing the sticks out for me about Corbyn is how he takes Putin’s line on the Ukraine.

    Comment by NeilM — August 20, 2015 @ 6:18 pm

  4. NeilM, you do realise NZ has taken Turkeys line on Cyprus, acceptance of an invasion and occupation of part of a neighbouring smaller country. Now for a really hard question which side do you take in the Saudi action in Yemen civil war? The US is actively supporting the Saudis as well. Or are you thinking , Ive wrapped myself up in a holier than thou shawl, which is cutting of my blood supply so I cant think straight.
    Western nations dont get involved in other countries like Libya, Syria do they. They are above the crude power grab and all that arent they. Spare me the hand wringing over Corbyn.

    Comment by dukeofurl — August 20, 2015 @ 6:29 pm

  5. “…This pattern of left-wing centrists adopting ‘strategic values’ because ‘that’s what voters want’, and then getting annihilated because of total political ineptitude is becoming a depressingly familiar trend….”

    That’s because it violates a basic law of common sense, viz:

    “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.

    It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.” – Louis Sullivan.

    “Centrists” like Rob have no idea of what form Labour should take, because they have no real idea of Labour’s function.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 20, 2015 @ 6:43 pm

  6. It’s probably true Corbyn’s defence of Putin is bared on his perception of other conflicts.

    Comment by NeilM — August 20, 2015 @ 6:51 pm

  7. >I’ve given up trying to forecast political outcomes

    I’m sorry to hear that. Sure, you got some stuff wrong, but who hasn’t? That’s the price of actually making a prediction, something most people are not game to do, and even less game to admit any failure in. At least you were trying in a lot of cases to base the forecasting on statistical evidence, and in doing so driving some quality debate. Better models, more evidence could make the difference…it’s all pretty interesting stuff. Of course your own spin on top is your editorial right – and why not? It’s your one piece of cashing in on what is an almost unmoderated blog, and in being so, something of high value in NZ’s political blogosphere. I think you earn it, and it’s always worth reading.

    >I think they’d look for something new.

    Well, I think they’d look for a new spin anyway. Were any of those people really new in what they actually stood for? Is John Key new? It’s seemed to me like he’s a crusty old slipper the nation just feels comfortable wearing and looking daggy in.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 20, 2015 @ 6:53 pm

  8. Not a bad point, should Team Red reinvent itself or carry on pushing it’s outdated union or tory light barrow?

    Comment by Richard Williams — August 20, 2015 @ 7:02 pm

  9. How about that remarkable man for the Democrats who is razing the field with what could be like a Corbyn. With no money from the rich or the Jewish lobby.

    Comment by ianmac — August 20, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

  10. We don’t have to imagine what Tony Blair would do in this situation, since he’s done us the dubious failure of told us exactly what he thinks – and, spoiler alert, it wasn’t to move left.

    I think the truth is somewhere in between Danyl’s and Blair’s lines. I think Tony was predisposed to move left by his own instincts rather than purely by a pragmatic view of the political landscape, but at the same time that was what was needed at the time.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 20, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

  11. *the dubious favour of telling us… damn autocorrect

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 20, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

  12. >I think the truth is somewhere in between Danyl’s and Blair’s lines.

    As in, moving to the right and grass-roots campaigning? But that’s even more “The National Party” than just grass-roots campaigning alone. I think the future of the “Left” quite possibly lies in an entirely different direction. Economic inequality is still the biggest source of class difference, and genuinely new solutions to it could sweep aside competition if they ever manage to actually get tried.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 20, 2015 @ 8:26 pm

  13. @Ben: I just mean the truth about what caused Labour to move right under Blair. I’m not making any claims about the best way forward (well, not here)

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 20, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

  14. It will be nice to see Corbyn win the leadership and then campaign in a general election. Then we can count the votes and see if real red socialism still has a beating heart in England [we know it already does in Scotland as the SNP]. Do we really have to wait 5 more years for the opportunity??

    If you off the Left, genuinely, shouldn’t you represent yourself as such – not dress in centrist clothing to trick people into voting for you……. a bit of honest in politics might even work….

    Comment by dave1924 — August 20, 2015 @ 9:19 pm

  15. Then we can count the votes and see if real red socialism still has a beating heart in England [we know it already does in Scotland as the SNP].

    The SNP sounds as good as Syriza did to the Greeks: vote us in and stick it to the foreigners – while in private meetings with said foreigners there’s a whole lot of foot stamping about how they need to continue paying, followed by complete capitulation.

    Except that in the case of Scotland, rather than demanding capitulation, English Tory voters are all for the SNP getting what they want: complete power over Scotland, including the purse strings, because they’re gleefully look forward to socialists spending their own money. Even the side benefit of destroying the British Labour Party is not as worthwhile a goal as that.

    Economic inequality is still the biggest source of class difference, and genuinely new solutions to it could sweep aside competition if they ever manage to actually get tried.

    Perhaps that will happen with the SNP?

    Comment by tom hunter — August 20, 2015 @ 9:59 pm

  16. A good start is to know what you believe. The positioning (within the party and then to the public) comes later. Self first, tactics second. It’s a pretty basic requirement.

    Blair was a Believer. He was doing God’s Work. (Unfortunately this later led to war crimes for God, but never mind). The point is: he didn’t just move to the centre (or right) because the polls told him to. As Kalvarnsen says, those were his own instincts.

    On a NZ political compass test, Goff would be to Clark’s right. But his 2011 platform was to the left of Clark’s government. The problem was less the policies, but the source of them – it didn’t seem to come from within. Labour continue to struggle with this, because too many moves (leadership changes, policy dumping and proposing) seem unconvincing. I honestly couldn’t tell you if Little is to the left of Robertson, or Cunliffe 2011 was to the left of Goff 2014. I don’t really know what they do or don’t believe (I know all too much about who they do/don’t like).

    Saying “here’s what I believe, here’s why I believe it” is a good start. Either 1) be sincere, or 2) be good at faking it. Key and Clinton can do 2), but if you can’t – and it’s a rare skill – then stick with 1). Moving tactically to a centre/left/right you really don’t want to be … doesn’t work.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — August 20, 2015 @ 10:15 pm

  17. “Centrists” like Rob have no idea of what form Labour should take, because they have no real idea of Labour’s function.

    maybe it doesn’t have one anymore?

    Comment by Sacha — August 20, 2015 @ 10:23 pm

  18. it strikes me that if Corbyn really is an existential threat to his party, the sensible thing for the centrists to do is unite behind a single candidate instead of diluting their votes three ways. It’s almost as if they’re losing because they’re terrible at politics.

    It’s a preferential vote, so, in theory, that shouldn’t matter. From a publicity perspective, it probably does, but it shouldn’t when it comes to the actual vote (if indeed UK Labour has ABCs as well, they’ll all rank him last).

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — August 20, 2015 @ 11:10 pm

  19. Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were very astute politicians and they figured out at the beginning of their careers, all those decades ago now, that at that moment in history the best way to win was to move their parties to the right.

    Hmm, and John Key appears to be winning because he shifted his party to the left. It’s almost like appealling to a greater proportion of the electorate is a smart move.

    Comment by nightform — August 21, 2015 @ 4:34 am

  20. I’m not sure Tony Blair is an astute politician. He has dissed Corbyn publicly and said it would be a disaster if he is elected Labour leader. I imagine that’s had a positive effect on Corbyn’s support.

    Comment by Ross — August 21, 2015 @ 7:45 am

  21. Blair happily let it be known that he voted for Ken Livingstone’s Tory opponent back in the day.

    Comment by Joe W — August 21, 2015 @ 8:33 am

  22. Graeme: actually, it can make a difference. For example, suppose that Burnham’s second preferences flow to Corbyn at a higher rate than Cooper’s or Kendall’s, such that Burnham wins head-to-head against Corbyn, but the others would lose. Then it makes sense for an ABC to rank Burnham first, even if that’s not their true preference, because if he’s eliminated, that’ll give Corbyn more votes than if one of the others is eliminated.

    Comment by Finn — August 21, 2015 @ 10:07 am

  23. Re: the update – there has in fact been substantial talk of Cooper and Kendall throwing their support behind Burnham as the Stop Corbyn candidate.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 21, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

  24. 22. Finn @ 10:07 am.

    Finn, your response to Graeme is somewhat confused. The only way Burnham’s second preferences can flow to Corbyn is if he is eliminated from the count, which means he wouldn’t / couldn’t win “head-to-head against Corbyn.”

    If the “electorate” comprises pro-Corbyn and anti-Corbyn (ABC) voters only, then what the ABC voters must do (as Graeme suggests) is cohesively rank Burnham, Cooper and Kendall, 1, 2, 3, in their own individual order of preference, and then hope that Corbyn does not receive an absolute majority of first preferences. If he doesn’t, then the first-preference votes given for each of the ABC candidates will successively accumulate upon the most-preferred of them, and that candidate will consequently come through and attain the required absolute majority of votes (remaining in the count).

    In other words, at the conclusion of the count, whether or not, collectively, they constitute a majority of the voters participating, the ABC voters will have done what Danyl suggests, unite behind a single candidate.

    Comment by Steve Todd — August 21, 2015 @ 5:20 pm

  25. 23. kalvarnsen @ 12:08 pm.

    It’s rather sad that so many UK Labour politicians do not understand the system they are using. There is absolutely no need for either Kendall or Cooper to withdraw from the election, because, with preferential voting, no candidate can split the vote.

    If what you say is [still] true (now that voting is well under way), the pressure on Kendall to withdraw – I would be very surprised if Cooper agreed to pull out – might be driven by a desire to reduce the incidence of “leakage”, whereby, upon Kendall’s elimination, some of her votes, rather than transfer to Cooper 2 Burnham 3, or to Burnham 2 Cooper 3, may not indicate a subsequent preference (or preferences) at all, and so will drop out of the count. Should that happen to a sufficient extent, Corbyn might still win the election despite not having an absolute majority of first-preference votes (at the first count).

    On the other hand, in an election where more than 600,000 people are eligible to vote, there is no way that every anti-Corbyn voter is going to cohesively rank-order the other three candidates, 1, 2, 3. This means if Corbyn falls short of an absolute majority at the first count, he will receive additional votes during the second (and perhaps third) round of counting as (presumably) Kendall, then (presumably) Cooper, are eliminated and their votes transferred. Whether or not those additional votes would be enough to enable him to attain an absolute majority of votes at the end of the count remains to be seen.

    The simple fact of the matter is, if a majority of voters rank Corbyn higher than the other three candidates (taken collectively), he will win, regardless of whether or not Kendall and / or Cooper pull out of the contest.

    Comment by Steve Todd — August 21, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

  26. Finn @ 10:07 am.

    Finn, your response to Graeme is somewhat confused. The only way Burnham’s second preferences can flow to Corbyn is if he is eliminated from the count, which means he wouldn’t / couldn’t win “head-to-head against Corbyn.”

    If the “electorate” comprises pro-Corbyn and anti-Corbyn (ABC) voters only, then what the ABC voters must do (as Graeme suggests) is cohesively rank Burnham, Cooper and Kendall, 1, 2, 3, in their own individual order of preference, and then hope that Corbyn does not receive an absolute majority of first preferences. If he doesn’t, then the first-preference votes given for each of the ABC candidates will successively accumulate upon the most-preferred of them, and that candidate will consequently come through and attain the required absolute majority of votes (remaining in the count).

    In other words, at the conclusion of the count, whether or not, collectively, they constitute a majority of the voters participating, the ABC voters will have done what Danyl suggests, unite behind a single candidate.

    Comment by Steve Todd — August 21, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

  27. Finn @ 10:07 am.

    Finn, your response to Graeme is somewhat confused. The only way Burnham’s second preferences can flow to Corbyn is if he is eliminated from the count, which means he wouldn’t / couldn’t win “head-to-head against Corbyn.”

    If the “electorate” comprises pro-Corbyn and anti-Corbyn (ABC) voters only, then what the ABC voters must do (as Graeme suggests) is cohesively rank Burnham, Cooper and Kendall, 1, 2, 3, in their own individual order of preference, and then hope that Corbyn does not receive an absolute majority of first preferences. If he doesn’t, then the first-preference votes given for each of the ABC candidates will successively accumulate upon the most-preferred of them, and that candidate will consequently come through and attain the required absolute majority of votes (remaining in the count).

    In other words, at the conclusion of the count, whether or not, collectively, they constitute a majority of the voters participating, the ABC voters will have done what Danyl suggests, unite behind a single candidate.

    Comment by Steve Todd — August 22, 2015 @ 8:07 am

  28. kalvarnsen @ 12:08 pm.

    It’s rather sad that so many UK Labour politicians do not understand the system they are using. There is absolutely no need for either Kendall or Cooper to withdraw from the election, because, with preferential voting, no candidate can split the vote.

    If what you say is [still] true (now that voting is well under way), the pressure on Kendall to withdraw – I would be very surprised if Cooper agreed to pull out – might be driven by a desire to reduce the incidence of “leakage”, whereby, upon Kendall’s elimination, some of her votes, rather than transfer to Cooper 2 Burnham 3, or to Burnham 2 Cooper 3, may not indicate a subsequent preference (or preferences) at all, and so will drop out of the count. Should that happen to a sufficient extent, Corbyn might still win the election despite not having an absolute majority of first-preference votes at the first count.

    On the other hand, in an election where more than 600,000 people are eligible to vote, there is no way that every anti-Corbyn voter is going to cohesively rank-order the other three candidates, 1, 2, 3. This means if Corbyn falls short of an absolute majority at the first count, he will receive additional votes during the second (and perhaps third) round of counting (perhaps sufficient to give him an eventual absolute majority) as (presumably) Kendall, then (presumably) Cooper, are eliminated and their votes transferred. Whether or not those additional votes would be enough to enable him to attain an eventual absolute majority of votes, should the count unfold in this manner, remains to be seen.

    The simple fact of the matter is, if a majority of voters rank Corbyn higher than the other three candidates (taken collectively), he will win, regardless of whether or not Kendall and / or Cooper “[throw] their support behind Burnham”.

    Comment by Steve Todd — August 22, 2015 @ 8:21 am

  29. Blair, Clark, Clinton, Hollande, Obama, Tsipras, Corbyn – there’s a pattern there somewhere.

    Looking at the Colemar-Brunton polls from the demise of Shearer til now it looks that National has been on an upward trend, NZF also upward, the Greens steady and Labour down.

    With a simplistic view that voters have drifted from Labour to National and NZF.

    Which would explain why National remains seemingly unreasonably confident despite their troubles and tribulations and Labour’s odd mini-me attitude to Winston.

    Corbyn has now decided that it’s a politically advantageous time in the leadership competion to say he’d apologise for Iraq.

    Is it too much to expect he might apologise for being part of the international community’s failure to take action against Assad.

    Comment by NeilM — August 22, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

  30. I presume he won’t tough as taking any degree of responsibility for the tragedy in Syria won’t get him any votes.

    Comment by NeilM — August 22, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

  31. @Steve: This “back Andy” quasi-campaign was in the news a couple of weeks ago, before voting started. The idea was that Cooper or Kendall would withdraw and endorse Burnham.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 23, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  32. kalvarnsen @ 11.00 am

    Fair enough. I thought / assumed you were alluding to much more recent information, i.e. within the last two or three days or so.

    Comment by Steve Todd — August 23, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

  33. Steve Todd: The election is almost certainly not composed of pro-Corbyn and ABCs only.

    Suppose 40% rank Corbyn first, 40% are ABCs who rank him last, and 20% rank Burnham first and Corbyn second. Then if Burnham survives to the final round, he wins. If Burnham is eliminated before then, his preferences flow to Corbyn and Corbyn wins. So, in this case, an ABC would want Burnham to make it to the final round, and therefore ought to vote strategically by ranking Burnham first, even if he is not genuinely her first preference.

    That example is somewhat simplified, but the general principle is the same in real life: if there is a risk of your least-desired candidate X winning and you are motivated by “Anyone But X”, the best way to vote is to (1) determine the candidate Y who will have the highest proportion of second preferences flowing to X; and (2) rank Y first.

    Comment by Finn — August 24, 2015 @ 11:52 am

  34. “I think they’d look for something new. And I don’t think it would be movement along the values spectrum.”

    When a leftist/rightist addresses the centre it is almost always in terms of decrying a move towards the opposing side. But that is not true, all that is happening is the policies are being adapted to appeal to people who are not core supporters of either. The left and the right in NZ equate to 25-30% only and thankfully aren’t growing. Each side competes to make this appeal.

    Whilst Clinton and Blair indeed moved their parties to the right, Helen Clark moved our Labour Party to the left (away from Mike Moore and the shadow of the 4th Labour government). Helen Clark was centrist and crushed the unrefined rightist neo-liberal Nats of Bill English.

    There is no required movement on the spectrum. The Labour Party just needs to make its policies appealing to the centre.

    Comment by unaha-closp — August 24, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

  35. Finn @ 11:52 am.

    I agree “[t]he election is not composed of pro-Corbyn and ABCs only”; see my response to kalvarnsen, 3rd paragraph.

    No, with preferential voting, the ABC voters do not have to try and second-guess how other voters will vote, then vote strategically to help get the outcome they want. Your theorem is basically the same strategy many voters must adopt when voting in FPP elections: abandon your most-preferred candidate in order to vote for the candidate with the best chance of defeating your least-preferred candidate.

    Using your example, in amongst the 40% ABC voters there will be many voters who rank Cooper 1 Kendall 2 (let’s say 15%), and Kendall 1 Cooper 2 (let’s say 9%). (Of course, Burnham would be ranked 2 on many of those votes, too, but let’s keep it simple.) That means 16% of the ABC voters have voted Burnham 1 […]. Therefore, at the first count, Corbyn leads Burnham by 40 to 36.

    Kendall is eliminated at count 2. The position is now Corbyn 40, Burnham 36, Cooper 24. Cooper is eliminated at count 3 and her 24% go to Burnham, who wins 60 to 40. This is what I was describing in the 2nd paragraph of my response to you – the votes accumulate upon the most-preferred of the three anti-Corbyn candidates. All done without anyone having to guess (not determine) who has the highest number (not the highest proportion) of second preferences for Corbyn on their votes. (As it turned out, those preferences were not even looked at.)

    This demonstrates that, with preferential voting, there is no incentive for voters to vote anything other than their true preferences. Tactical / strategic voting is completely unnecessary. Indeed, in a close contest, it could well backfire. For example, who’s to say that, with the ABC voters having taken your advice, it is nevertheless Cooper who comes through to lose to Corbyn by, say, 55 to 45. If many of those who originally intended to vote for Cooper had stuck to their guns, she could have won the leadership by a similar margin.

    By saying the ABC voters should put Burnham first, you’re suggesting they try to engineer a situation whereby Burnham (hopefully) wins at count 1 by anywhere from 51-49, to 60-40 (using your example). You are, in effect, saying the voters should decide at the outset who the two leading candidates are – but what if they’re wrong? – and give their first preferences only for them, basically converting the election into a two-horse FPP contest. But it’s not an FPP contest, and nor should it be.

    In addition, the above scenario could indeed play out with someone other than Burnham coming through to contest Corbyn at the final count. What will matter at the end of day is whether or not a majority of voters prefer the most-preferred anti-Corbyn candidate, to Corbyn. If they do, that candidate wins; if not, Corbyn wins.

    Comment by Steve Todd — August 24, 2015 @ 5:57 pm

  36. Steve Todd: You describe one scenario, but fail to consider the alternative I explicitly described.

    Instead of the ABCs being split up 15% Cooper, 9% Kendall, 16% Burnham, imagine if they are split up 30% Cooper, 5% Kendall, 5% Burnham. So at first count, Corbyn leads Cooper 40 to 30.

    Kendall is eliminated. The position is now Corbyn 40, Cooper 35, Burnham 25. Burnham is eliminated, and 20% from him flows to Corbyn, and 5% goes to Cooper. Corbyn wins 60-40 against Cooper, in spite of the fact that Burnham is preferred to Corbyn 60-40.

    If half of those Cooper voters had voted for Burnham, then he wouldn’t have been eliminated, and would have won 60-40, which the Cooper voters would have preferred. So they had an incentive not to vote their true preference.

    “Tactical / strategic voting… could well backfire…. You are, in effect, saying the voters should decide at the outset who the two leading candidates are – but what if they’re wrong?”

    This is the pitfall of all strategic voting, even under FPP. In 2011 in Canada (which uses FPP), there was a website set up to aid anti-Conservative voters in choosing whether to vote Liberal or NDP or Bloc, depending on who had the greatest chance of defeating the Conservative candidate. It was massively wrong, because it failed to predict the surge of support for the NDP. So a number of people who voted strategically for the Liberals ended up helping their least-preferred candidate win (compared to the alternative scenario where they vote NDP).

    Comment by Finn — August 25, 2015 @ 10:34 am

  37. Finn, I didn’t consider the “alternative [you] explicitly described”, because you’ve only explicitly described it now. I expanded your general scenario one way, you’ve expanded it another.

    In your explicit scenario Corbyn beats Cooper 60-40, “despite Burnham being preferred to Corbyn 60-40.” This is unfortunate, but would be the inevitable outcome of—

    (a) secret voting; and

    (b) the candidate-exclusion process, whereby the candidate who currently has fewest votes is excluded; and

    (c) the promise to voters that their later preferences can neither help (1) nor hinder (2) their earlier preferences.

    If (1) were violated, then voters would be encouraged to express later preferences that they did not feel, in order to increase the chance of their first-preference candidate being elected.

    If (2) were violated (and this became known), then voters would be discouraged from expressing later preferences, because this would reduce the chance of their first-preference candidate being elected. (And we would be back to FPP.)

    In practice, no-one can know, when voting, what the final overall voting pattern will be. Your scenario can only be demonstrated with highly artificial sets of voting figures, and only after the fact. So there is no “If half of those Cooper voters had voted for Burnham” about it.

    In addition, your scenario is unrealistic. Within the ABCs (if there is such a grouping), Burnham would not be equal last, on 5%, especially given that there is a solid 20% Burnham 1 Corbyn 2 group.

    Right now, the Cooper voters have no reason, and especially no incentive (based on “informed” guess-work?; fore-knowledge of the outcome?), to switch their support to Burnham, to ensure he wins.

    So, I repeat, in real elections, with preferential voting, there is no incentive for anyone not to vote their true preferences. If everyone votes their true preferences, the winner will genuinely be supported by a majority of those voting, and surely that’s what everyone wants.

    I’m going to leave it at that, Finn. I’ve had my say; I’ve made my points, and I don’t want Danyl stepping in and saying “Okay guys, enough!! You’re boring; I’m pulling the plug on you.”

    Comment by Steve Todd — August 25, 2015 @ 7:19 pm

  38. I don’t want Danyl stepping in and saying “Okay guys, enough!! You’re boring; I’m pulling the plug on you.”

    Eh??? Then how do you explain that ongoing droning bedtime story NeilM?

    Comment by Joe W — August 25, 2015 @ 7:26 pm

  39. Danyl only wields the banhammer for Pete George levels of boring

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 25, 2015 @ 9:52 pm


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