Opinions I Am Sick Of: A Short List

“I don’t like $votingsystem, because it makes $party more likely to win.”
Every voting system has plus and minus points, but they should be evaluated on how democratic they are, not on which party, if any, they favour. If you’re going to do the latter, you might as well just advocate a dictatorship, since that’s what you really want.

“The left-wing ex-SDP part of the Lib Dems should split away from the right-wing ex-Liberal Party part”
Anyone who says this doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about, in many, many, different ways.

“There are no security problems with electronic voting. I know this because I have thought for a whole ten seconds about it”

“If you think Brian Wilson’s new album has autotune on it, it’s because you have a secret agenda to do down Brian and you’re working for Mike Love”

“I don’t like AV because I don’t like party list systems”

Most of these can basically be summed up as “I’m going to loudly and confidently express an opinion despite having never investigated the facts and having no interest in doing so.”

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16 Responses to Opinions I Am Sick Of: A Short List

  1. TAD says:

    I don’t think something like proportional voting could ever work here in the US. We’re too big of a country with a lot of different regional interests. A Democrat in New Jersey is generally much more liberal than a Democrat in Montana, for example. If a Democrat in Montana talked like a New Jersey Democrat, he’d never get elected. If a Democrat in Kentucky toed the national party line and voted against the interests of the Kentucky coal industry, he’d probably be killed. Moreso than in the UK, in the US all politics is local (as Tip O’Neill used to say).

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      STV (the proportional system I prefer) allows for much greater independence from central parties than first-past-the-post does.

  2. Mike Taylor says:

    “The left-wing ex-SDP part of the Lib Dems should split away from the right-wing ex-Liberal Party part”
    Anyone who says this doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about, in many, many, different ways.

    I would find it helpful if you were to explain why this is a silly suggestion.

    • Nick says:

      Not too speak for Andrew, but I can give two main reasons. First, the merger happened over 25 years ago, and I suspect the majority of party members have only ever been Liberal Democrats, not SDP or Liberals.

      Second, the idea that SDP=left and Liberal=right isn’t born out by the history of either party. The SDP was explicitly moderate and centrist, while the idea that the Liberals were right wing economic liberals is a myth spread by a lot of the more entryist libertarian types who wanted to pretend they were reclaiming a heritage that didn’t exist. The Liberals tended to represent as many different views as there were members but with a common link of radicalism and nonconformism rather than any economic policy.

      There is a spread of opinion in the party, but it’s across a wider spectrum than just left-right. It’s more about a distinction between centralise and radicalism than anothing to do with the old parties.

      • Andrew Hickey says:

        Or I could have just said what Nick said rather than spewing out all the extra words I did.
        (In general instead of reading my political posts you can read Nick’s and get the same opinions with far more concision and focus…)

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      For a start, because the SDP weren’t especially left-wing, and the Liberal Party weren’t *at all* right-wing. The Liberals were radicals, who wanted to completely overthrow the entire system and replace it with something different — disestablish the church, replace capitalism with mutuals, change the voting system, and so on. It was the Liberals in the 60s who pushed for the abolition of the death penalty, the legalisation of homosexuality, and so on. It was the Liberals in the 40s who pushed for the creation of the NHS. The Liberals from about 1940 to the Alliance acted as much as anything else as a think-tank whose most moderate, least radical, ideas were taken up by Labour.
      The SDP, on the other hand, were managerialist centrists, and are where we get that strain of the Lib Dems from. They were essentially New Labour before there was a New Labour, and in 1987 while David Steel preferred to go into coalition with the Labour party, Owen preferred Thatcher. They didn’t have a radical vision as such, they were the “avoid the extremes of left and right” types.

      Except it’s not as simple as that, either, because the Liberals had right-wing populists like Cyril Smith, who disagreeed with pretty much every aspect of Liberal policy and Liberalism but built up a powerful, semi-independent, machine. And the SDP had people like Roy Jenkins, a true radical Liberal if ever there was one. And once the alliance started, a few months after the SDP formed, people joined whichever party was more active in their area, and did so on the basis of the joint programme that both parties agreed on, so there wasn’t anything like a clear distinction after a very short time (hence the merger). Charles Kennedy, for example, is ex-SDP, as is Vince Cable, while Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron are both ex-Liberal, but I couldn’t find a clear left-right dividing line between those four, and certainly not one that would cut across the party line.

      Finally, the people that those people complain about and think are the “right-wing old Liberal party” are people like David Laws, Nick Clegg, or Danny Alexander, who all joined the party *after* the merger.

      So basically, the difference they’re talking about between the two parties doesn’t exist, if it did they’d be the other way round from the way they’re talking about, and the people they think should go back to their old party were never in either old party (and if they were, they’d have been in the opposite one from the one they’re being told to go back to, because Clegg and Alexander, at least, are centrist to the core).

      It’s something that’s said by people who know literally nothing about the subject they’re talking about, but who want to sound knowledgeable, so they build a vast pyramid of wrong assumptions (that because some of the SDP were ex-Labour, and because of their name, they must have been “the goodies”) on it.

      • Mike Taylor says:

        Thank you both — very helpful.

        I am the “people who know literally nothing about the subject” you’re talking about; but I’m trying to learn something, instead of trying to sound knowledgeable. You guys are helping.

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          And that’s a *massive* difference. No-one knows everything — I didn’t know this stuff until quite a while after I joined the Lib Dems, and I’d been hugely interested in politics since I was tiny (I remember when I was eight, during the 1987 election, trying to conduct my own poll by going round knocking on the doors of people in our street asking how they were voting. It predicted 75% of seats would go to Labour and 25% to the SDP…). Even most paid professional journalists have some deep misunderstandings about how the Lib Dems and their predecessor parties actually function, and what they believe(d).

          The problem comes when people authoritatively spout off about this stuff without having the first clue. I’ve never seen you do that. But this stuff sets me off much the same way it would set you off if someone said “no, brachiosaurus and diplodocus are actually both the same thing. They thought they were two different dinosaurs, but then they realised they were both the same, and they called them brontosaurus instead…”

  3. Nick says:

    On electronic voting, I’m more sick of explaining the problems then having the ‘I see the problem, but I think they’ll be able to fix it so it’s not really a problem’ response.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I am, generally. These are all specific annoying opinions I’ve come across today, rather than a longer, more general, list.

      • Nick says:

        Damn, that’s a pretty bad day.

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          Yeah. Two different Facebook threads on the election, a link Dave Page shared on FB about dodgy voting machines, and an ongoing flamewar on a Beach Boys fan board that people have been trying to drag me into.

        • Holly says:

          I tried to get him to stop looking at the internet after the first couple of things, but to no avail! Alas.

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