Welcome to Life in 361˚. This blog is an 'open journal' - a space where I keep notes on bits & pieces I come across day-to-day - including books and articles I've read that I feel are worth sharing, interesting pictures and photos (I'm a visual learner, you see), random musings - and anything else that happens to catch my eye or ear. It also acts as a kind of 'open experiment' in terms of developing my views and writing skills - and networking with other people of a like-mind.

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24/05/2011

Counter-Cultural Christianity

Today, with the media still dominated by Ryan Giggs' alleged affair with a reality TV show contestant censorship campaign, I cannot help feel a little bit more pessimistic about the state of our nation.

We have so much to be concerned about in our society; we are involved in wars in foreign countries that leave our young men terribly maimed or but a distant yet ever-present memory to their loved ones left behind, we have a generation of adolescents (known as NEETs) growing up in a society that has effectively said 'university or nothing' (at the cost of skilled trade apprenticeships) before pricing out university for the working and lower middle classes, we have young men and women drinking themselves to an early grave each weekend, we have a small but significant minority of youth who in seeing the ills of mainstream society decide to ally themselves with extremism ("Tear it all down, and get rid of them...") and/or nihilistic gangs ("Live by the sword, thrive by the sword...").

We have so much to be concerned about in our politics; we have a half-democracy with an unelected head of state that props up a privileged elite (and renders us as subjects not citizens) and an unelected second Parliamentary chamber deciding on laws that govern the people, we have a political class mired in corruption that has caused widespread apathy for democracy and political discourse, we are submitting ourselves to an undemocratic continental superstate.

We have so much to be concerned about in our economy; we have a huge public spending deficit which now results in cuts to education, health, social services and urban renewal projects, we have giant financial corporations that continue to remain unaccountable for actions that have increased the financial burden on the ordinary taxpayer and triggered a recession, we have a growing underclass of unskilled, welfare-dependent people with no means of self-determination.

We have so much to be concerned about in the world; the Middle East is in turmoil, Bosnia is quietly falling apart, Kosovo remains violently divided, many African countries continue to experience crippling poverty, the Caucasus (scene of the Beslan school massacre) continues to bubble with hatred, Japan is struggling to contain a nuclear disaster, Pakistan is being torn apart by terrorism, Iran is imprisoning its heretics.

Yet despite all of this, our politicians, our media, our national conversation all seems to be lost in celebrity comings and goings.

Maybe their is some truth in the controversial ideas of American Marxist-cum-Radical-Conservative, James Burnham, who argued (something along the lines of) in his famous works The Managerial Revolution, The Suicide of the West and The Machiavellians (which I have admittedly not read page to page) that:
  • Capitalism in its truest sense - as a competitive, dynamic marketplace of entrepreneurs, innovators and grafters - will be replaced by 'managerialism', a system dominated by big business oligarchs and technocrats.
  • Politics will become increasingly closed and bureaucratic despite maintaining 'democratic habits' at surface level. Change within the political system will be limited to a circulation of elites. Movements for radical change will be ostracised, and those that do have some success, will adopt the power-hungry methods and compromised values of the elites - thus becoming the very thing they claim to oppose.
  • Liberalism as a progressive political ideology will become reduced to a vacuous guilt-ridden, contradictory set of positions held in reaction to perceived adversaries and past injustices (begging the question, "What's Left?").
  • Society's consciousness will become chained to the ebbs and flows of pop culture - bogged down in triviality - and in doing so, lose sight of its foundational values and mission.
Maybe I'm just having a bad day, maybe I'm suffering from pomposity, but as I reflect on the real issues of our times - and this national obsession with the love lives of overpaid footballers who typically earn more in a week than a nurse will in five years - I do see some truth  in these pessimistic narratives. I believe it is the duty of Christians (and by that I do include we of the liberal Christian traditions), where possible working with those of other paths of faith and philosophy, to bear witness to something more hopeful and constructive in our society - in both our words and actions, to become a positive counter-culture. Just as that man Jesus did.

    20/05/2011

    Reason for Hope - no.198040


    There are so many reasons for hope in a world that often appears broken.

    This is one of them.

    15/05/2011

    Reality TV Economics

    Luke Johnson makes a good point about The Apprentice in his article for the Daily Mail:

    "The Apprentice is essentially a pantomime, full of circus clowns: since 2005, Sugar has been playing a theatrical villain in a pretend office on a TV stage that is about as authentic as Aladdin’s lamp.

    Genuine companies prosper thanks to teamwork, co-operation and consensus, not by bullying and back-stabbing. And innovative companies encourage experimentation — which inevitably includes mistakes — because that drives progress.

    No real boss has said ‘You’re fired!’ for many years — they know that employment legislation these days is far more serious than that.

    But television needs relentless drama to win big ratings — so it has a tendency to exaggerate and distort. The Apprentice is a prime case.

    Not all reality TV about business is so awful. Undercover Boss is a much more enlightening show, while the classic of the genre was the Bafta-winning Troubleshooter series, a creation of the late British industrialist John Harvey-Jones.

    He ran ICI, a vastly bigger concern than Sugar’s empire ever was. And Harvey-Jones was never much of a fan of Alan. ‘I always thought he was a bully,’ he once commented. ‘His values are, in my view, totally irrelevant to the needs of business.’

    It is disappointing that the BBC can no longer make shows like Troubleshooter, in which Harvey-Jones visited real, struggling, small businesses and offered advice."

    The BBC needs to be showcasing good examples of entrepreneurial leadership and real apprentices making their way in life - not setting up young, naive, brash individuals for a very public fall all in the name of tabloid coverage and TV ratings. This is not what our public service broadcaster was set-up for.

    If we are to establish a more ethical, responsible and meritocratic form of capitalism in this country, then the BBC could help by moving on from this outdated 'reality' TV show and look at more inspiring - and ultimately more interesting - forms of business.

    Channel 4's Jamie's Dream School, although deeply flawed in places, offered a more thought-provoking and watchable drama-documentary. Perhaps something similar - maybe by revamping the Dragon's Den format (with the Prince's Trust and investment bankers on the panel instead of more C-list celebrities) and following bid-winners as they then go through the trials, tribulations and achievements of setting up their own business - would be a better format, and more suited to our current socio-economic times?

    14/05/2011

    Multi-Sensory Learning

    "If you live inside your head, Science, Art and Religion will appear to contradict one-another. This is because, inside our heads, we build systems of knowledge, and in the name of reason, we demand consistency.

    If you stay inside your head, only science and logic ultimately make sense. Art becomes nice things to look at to make us feel happy, and religion becomes wishful thinking to calm us when we are afraid – especially afraid of death.

    Get outside your head, and Science Art and Religion are things that we do. And we do things differently. Science tells us how best to use the world to meet our needs. Art tells us how best to view the world to find value in it. And religion tells us how best to relate to the world, including and especially to one-another."

    09/05/2011

    Winston, NHS Guard Dog

    OF THE NHS...

    The Conservatives enjoy quoting Winston Churchill at people on all manner of political matters - sometimes with a bit of selective editing, as in the case of the Alternative Vote Referendum.

    So in today's debate over NHS reform, which saw Mr Clegg finally find a voice in keeping with his party and the general public on the issue, perhaps we also need a bit more of Churchill for Cameron, Osborne and Lansley et al to mull over:
    "The discoveries of healing science must be the inheritance of all. That is clear. Disease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the fire brigade will give its full assistance to the humblest cottage as readily as to the most important mansion. Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country, irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available."
    (source)

    08/05/2011

    Pause for Arabia

    Having caught the news of Muslim-Christian conflict in Cairo, this Sunday I am giving thought to the plight of the Christian peoples of this region who are now experiencing, just as their Jewish forebears did, exodus and diaspora. Imagine if simply visiting your local house of worship or celebrating your festival openly put your life in danger, if your relatives had been killed because of their faith or if you had to hide your faith completely for fear of arrest & torture - for many Christians in the Middle East, particularly in 'liberated' Iraq and 'close ally' Saudi Arabia, this is their day-to-day existence.

    For other Christians - such as those in Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt - it is a case of having to increasingly engage in a tense stand-off with hostile Islamist movements to preserve their minority rights. With Western governments seemingly turning a blind eye in their pursuit of economic and geo-political interests, it is no wonder then that these ancient communities are choosing to uproot in their thousands and flee to a Garden of Exile.

    This is of course all part of the latest chapter in the story of empire & resistance in the Middle East - and the rise of an often intolerant form of Islamism which views these last vestiges of Christianity as the outposts of Western imperialism, just as Israel (which contains many communities originating from neighbouring Middle Eastern countries, who moved their following oppression) is framed purely as a classical European colonialist state.

    And so, whilst pausing to consider the various Christian communities of the Middle East, we must pause further for the Middle East peoples as a whole; that the complexities and conflicts of their societies are not reduced to dangerous black and white (mis)truths - instead, that they will take time to reflect and then work together for non-violent revolution, reconciliation and renewal.

    07/05/2011

    Lib Dems at the crossroads

    Dave wrote the note, Ed stuck it on him then Rupert told everyone...

    The party I've supported for a few years now, the Lib Dems, are at a crossroads following a damning mid-term electoral result. I switched to them following Labour's sinister treatment of one of their dissenting members and because I believed their platform as social and political progressives had far more substance than Labour's 'spin to win' approach to our country's issues. 

    Unfortunately, as with many parties that move from opposition to government, the Lib Dem's talented leadership have lost their way for the sake of holding onto power. The machinations of government have shackled and bruised them, particularly so because they are the junior partner in a coalition with a Conservative Party far more experienced at such things.

    In the words of fellow Sheffield MP, David Blunkett, today, “Cleggmania” has become “something akin to Clegg pneumonia.” It appears Nick Clegg, as figurehead of his party, has become the convenient scapegoat for the Conservatives as they make whole-scale cuts - cuts which were predicted before the 2010 General Election to make any next governing party overseeing them unpopular and unelectable. Even the Lib Dem party faithful have bought into the 'toxic' label and sought to distance the local election campaigns in his home city of Sheffield from him - just as Labour played on this and distanced themselves from him for the Yes to AV campaign (and the campaign itself). It would also seem that other leading figures in his party are in quiet opposition and maybe even considering a leadership challenge - it could be that the self-declared Westminster interloper now faces a Judas moment.

    So where do the Lib Dems go from here? Where does Nick Clegg go from here?

    First they must dismiss the lie that the Lib Dems have somehow betrayed the socialist-left. For a start, the Lib Dems are not part of the socialist-left tradition - their very founding was a result of Labour members who dissented from their party's increasing militant-socialist stance. The Lib Dems have since developed their own distinct (albeit broad church) tradition, one that is generally liberal-left - favouring a leaner state (though larger and more welfare-minded than the Conservatives), a fairer and more transparent redistributive tax system, support for ethical capitalism, an emphasis on democratic reform, an emphasis on protecting individual liberty, a more pacifist pro-European foreign policy and a focus on environmental conservation.

    Secondly, the stand-out progressive policies such as whole-scale electoral reform, the breaking up of the banks and free university places for all were simply unachievable following the results of the 2010 General Election. The Lib Dems could only have implemented these if they had won a majority or if they entered a more equal coalition partnership with Labour, which again would have required more Lib Dem seats in parliament. In reality, the Conservatives were the largest party in parliament and the Lib Dems did the principled and honourable thing in forming a coalition with them as the victorious party under the first-past-the-post system.

    The question that senior Lib Dems have to answer is whether they can continue to act constructively in government with a Tory apparatchik that is seemingly treating them in an unprincipled and dishonourable way? Will the bitter after-taste of the AV referendum lead to the party returning to minority opposition?

    I think the Lib Dem leadership must first take stock with their MPs and ordinary members - they must re-affirm their unity. They must get behind Nick Clegg (for now at least) rather than getting caught up in Murdoch-Miliband spin. Then they must return to the the terms of the coalition agreement and find their voice again as a robust liberal-left party working in partnership rather than appearing as wide-eyed flunkies. This means using their position as a party in government to push ahead on the following:
    • Democratic reform of the House of Lords
    • Introduction of fixed-term parliaments
    • Establishing powerful committees on devolution with a view to further democratic reform
    • Opposing the almost universal adoption of prohibitive tuition fees by English universities
    • Opposing further marketisation of the NHS
    • Continue working towards full implementation of the Freedom (Great Repeal Bill) which restores rights and personal freedoms following the encroachments of 'War on Terror' legislation
    • Holding the banking sector to account
    They must also draw attention to their achievements so far - their removal of income tax paid on the first £10,000 earnt being one and their role as limiter on Thatcherite-style initiatives such as NHS reform.

    To simply press the ejector seat now would solidify the Lib Dem image as perpetual oppositionalists - nice ideas but too naive and idealistic for government, still not ready for the rough and tumble of Cabinet. The Lib Dem leadership must dust themselves off from this kicking, dust off their principles and get ready for some dust-ups with their Conservatives colleagues in the name of progress. If in another twelve months the Lib Dems are still no further in their agenda, then it will be time to declare the coalition 'unworkable' - and in turn, seek new direction under a new leadership.

    06/05/2011

    Christians on the Bin Laden killing

    “I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling, because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done. In those circumstances, I think it’s also true that the different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not done a great deal to help.

    “I don’t know the full details any more than anyone else; but I do believe that, in such circumstances, when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a war criminal in terms of the atrocities inflicted, it is important that justice is seen to be served.”

    -- Rowan Williams, Church of England

    “The best response doesn’t come from the likes of me, they come from poets, because they have a way of saying things more deeply.

    John Donne said ‘No man is an island entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

    Osama Bin Laden was a symbol of hatred against the West and of brainwashing people for evil purposes, and his death in many ways is an end to that. But just remember he is a symbol of it.

    People in the USA are feeling ‘at long last this evil man has gone’, but he has been inspiring people to do such terrible deeds.

    The trouble is he has been inspiring other people to do such terrible, wicked deeds, and what do they do when the symbol is gone? Does that mean the end of all the suicide bombings? I’m not so sure, myself.

    He committed some terrible, terrible acts and persuaded people to blow themselves up and I think anyone who brainwashes anybody to such a level is evil, but just remember that Osama Bin Laden is not Satan.”

    -- John Sentamu, Church of England

    "First of all, I recall this verse from Ezekiel 33: “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” says the Lord.

    Second, I’m remembering the victims and families of 9-11: I hope this helps them find closure.

    I’m also mindful that in the long search for OBL, US attacks have killed thousands of innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their names are not in the media today, but they should be.

    Third, in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was executed, that didn't end bloodshed there. I doubt that Osama Bin Laden’s death will end violence in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

    Finally, now that our government has achieved this goal, I urge our leaders to bring our troops home from that region. Let’s focus on ways to interact peacefully with the battered peoples of that war-torn part of the world.

    That, and not more war or torture, will make the U.S. and the world safer from what this man represented."

    -- Chuck Fager, American Quaker

    "The recent announcement of the assassination of Osama Bin Laden causes me to reflect on one of Jesus’ more uncomfortable teachings: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

    Sit with this and say it again: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

    Bin Laden’s death carries with it a variety of emotions; it is rare that we have such a visceral reaction to one of our “enemies.” Because of this, it is important to sit with that feeling and to allow God’s love, peace, mercy and presence to dwell within us. Faith is not something added on to our lives for convenience but should be our source, especially in times of great emotion both in joy and in sorrow. I rejoice that Bin Laden will no longer be able to inflict evil and pain on this world, but I am also saddened that his heart was so hardened and I pray for his soul and for those of his followers.

    My response is that I may “be the change [I] want to see in the world” (Ghandi) and that I may allow peace to begin with me. We are called to transform the world and we are offered an amazing moment to transform the world today. This is not easy but this is the radical love that we are called to, which counteracts the evils of terrorism and violence. May we emulate the heart of God our Father to hold both justice and mercy in our hearts." (source)

    --Jonathan Lewis, Roman Catholic Church

    There is also an excellent dialogue between a Christian, Jewish and Muslim leader on the killing of Bin Laden to be found HERE.

    05/05/2011

    Trump Backfire


    I am not necessarily opposed to negative campaigning. It can be a healthy part of debate to highlight possible flaws and contradictions in your opponent's arguments - and it has been a feature of history-making political and theological debates since ancient times. But attempting to smear your opponent by playing on bigotry and paranoid conspiracy theories is another matter. Trump thoroughly deserved this sharp counter-attack - I dread to think of this man becoming the leader of one of our nearest and dearest allies.

    04/05/2011

    No to FPTP & AV, Yes to Tapas

    ...or more accurately, why I'm going to vote for the introduction of the Alternative Vote with the intention of eventually opening up the way for Proportional Representation (Single Transferable Vote).

    A referendum on the voting system for electing MPs and their political parties to House of Commons, and in turn deciding on the British government, is set to be held on the 5th of May. Voters will be asked whether they want to replace the existing First Past The Post system used to elect Westminster MPs in favour of the Alternative Vote system. It could prove to be the beginning of a historic leap forward for our political system, an opening up of a Pandora's box or if the public decide to vote no, which is looking increasingly likely, a re-affirming of the status quo.

    Its one of those big decisions that I'm excited yet anxious about - political reform being one of my passions. And I'm struggling to make my choice. Looking at the various guides to voting systems (this being the best so far) and reading through debates about their apparent pros and cons reminds of sitting in a restaurant staring at a menu. I've been building up all day for this and I'm starving but what do I plump for? A few dishes appeal, a few sound risky but interesting, others not to my taste at all - sometimes I struggle to understand the ingredients. And you know where this often leads? I end up going for what I already know whilst wondering what could have been - usually looking enviously at the person-opposite-me's dish.

    This decision is in many ways bigger than choosing a local MP or a government. You can act to vote out an MP or government if they're not fit for purpose. Similarly, you can put a unpalatable dish to one side and decide not to choose it again. However, in a country adverse to revolution (not many countries tear down their monarchy then invite them back a decade later) and keen on talking up its tradition of evolution (which generally translates as procrastination and a preference for the status quo), the chances are we won't get another chance like this in our lifetimes. It's like being asked to choose a dish that is then served up every time you go out for the rest of your lives - there's a lot of scope for regret!

    So, having looked at the guides - and keeping with my restaurant scenario - imagine you are out with 9 friends at a Spanish restaurant, La Tasca maybe. It's a birthday party and the group has decided to share a paella. There's a discussion about which to go for, perhaps a little tense in places, but fortunately no accusations of 'Nazi tactics'. The group ends up taking a vote, but the outcome depends on the system used... 

    Option 1 - First Past The Post

    Each member of the ten strong group casts a single vote for their dish. Paella de Carne gets 3, Paella Valenciana gets 1, Paella de Mariscos gets 4, Paella de Verduras gets 2. Under this system, the Paella de Mariscos wins out - a distinct seafood dish but one that leaves 6 members of the group unhappy. The outcome is not representative of the likes & dislikes of the group - and some members of the group quietly resolve not to bother taking part next time, perhaps making their excuses and staying at home instead.

    This is the system we have now - it's simple, it's easy to understand, it's served the British public for centuries. Yet in the 2010 General Election it lead to 2 out 3 Westminster-based MPs not having majority backing within their constituencies. The knock-on-effect is voter apathy ("my votes are a waste"), negative campaigning ("if you don't vote for me, you'll get them") and tactical voting ("I'll vote for him, who I don't like much, just to stop her, who I hate") - for a small minority, the next step is to affiliate with political movements outside of the democratic process.

    Option 2 - Alternative Vote

    With this system, each member of the ten strong group vote ranks the paella dishes in order of preference (1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, 4th choice) - initially with the same result;  Paella de Carne gets 3, Paella Valenciana gets 1, Paella de Mariscos gets 4, Paella de Verduras gets 2. Because there is no outright majority, the least favourite is wiped out in an instant run-off with the 2nd preferences of those voting for the least favourite now added to the final 3.

    This has two most-likely outcomes - this leads to our diners either voting for the nearest dish to their original choice ("the next best thing") or voting for the least disliked, mildest dish ("the least worst thing"). So it is likely that the Paella de Mariscos or Paella de Carne has been chosen as 2nd preference because of the seafood or meat element which they particularly like. Or alternatively - though less likely - the blander vegetarian dish gets picked as 2nd preference because it doesn't contain the seafood or meat element which they particularly dislike (as Churchill would perhaps put it, "the most worthless votes cast for the most worthless dish...").

    Either way, the eventual dish selected still does not proportionally represent the group. There will still be a level of dissatisfaction. Under this system, members of the group are also still inclined to vote tactically / negatively. And it favours either the most popular dishes or least worst dishes - minority tastes tend to get pushed out.

    In terms of our political system, we have to question whether the Alternative Vote will genuinely alleviate the problems of apathy, negative campaigning and tactical voting - and whether it will prevent those with special interest / non-conformist causes from feeling marginalised.

    It could also lead to a more placating form of political campaigning ("all things to everyone") whereby candidates and their parties ditch distinct ideology ("the battle of ideas") in favour of media image ("the spin cycle"). And we know where that kind of approach has taken some parties and our political system as a whole.

    The point is we don't really know what the impact of the Alternative Vote on a mass scale will be - will it revolutionise our politics for the better or worse? Or just lead to more stagnation? We are in many ways heading into the unknown.

    If we look to the Scottish experience of the Alternative Vote - the system having been used in 32 by-elections - the candidate who secures most first preference votes typically ends up the winner. The pattern of election outcomes with AV is more or less the same as with First Past The Post because only a half to two thirds cast a 2nd preference and too few voters cast sufficient number of preferences to take anyone past the 50 per cent mark. Based on this albeit limited experience of Alternative Vote in the UK, we could argue that the Alternative Vote would not radically change things for the better or worse. It is little more than surface-level tinkering, which is reasonably predicted to give, at the most, a small increase in seats to the Liberal Democrats as the usual second 'least worst alternative' choice of centre-left and centre-right voters.

    There may also be a very slight increase for UKIP and the Greens which have some weight as increasingly common second preferences to Labour and the Conservatives but there would be other special interest / non-conformist parties such as the English Democrats, Health Concern, Christian Alliance Party, Respect Party, British National Party, Trade Union and Socialist Party etc. which continue to be marginalised by the voting system despite nationally polling in the hundreds of thousands. And whilst some politicians may argue it is a good thing that parties like the BNP are marginalised, this is surely against the very principle of a liberal and pluralistic democracy?

    In short, it would appear the Alternative Vote referendum is simply a £80million question of whether to shift the chairs on the titanic. However, there is a third option which Nick Clegg and his party long campaigned for until they accepted a referendum on this "miserable little compromise" (his words).

    Option 3 - Proportional Representation (Single Transferable Vote)

    OK, take yourself back to the restaurant scenario...

    The plan was for a great big dish of paella - but nobody could agree which one. Then some bright spark half-asks, half-suggests, "Why don't we have tapas instead?"

    The group agrees and instead of ordering one single dish, and all the issues that brings, they vote on multiple dishes according to their preferences - working out roughly at 2 seafood dishes, 2 meat dishes, 1 vegetarian dish. The bill is higher, but just about everyone is happier as their distinct tastes are catered for.

    In terms of dealing with the problems facing British politics, there is good reason to believe that Proportional Representation (Single Transferable Vote) offers the most effective solution. Used in similar cultures such as the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Australia, this system allows voters to vote for individual candidates (as opposed to party lists) in order of preference. Voters rank the candidates in order of preference; first preference votes are the first to be looked at, and the votes are then transferred if necessary from candidates who have either been comfortably elected (according to a pre-defined quota system) or who have done so badly that they are eliminated from the election.

    In most instances, a number of representatives are elected for each constituency - which in the UK would require an increase in the number of MPs or the re-drawing / merging of constituencies. This would likely cost more and cause more initial instability than a transfer to the Alternative Vote. However, as the Electoral Reform Society notes, the inherent proportionality of this system alleviates the issue of wasted votes, tactical voting and negative campaigning. In terms of making MPs more accountable to their constituency (one of the arguments made for the Alternative Vote although questionable), this system removes safe seats because of its acute sensitivity to all votes and because constituencies would have a number of representatives working in what effectively would be a marketplace.

    Unfortunately, Option 3 is not an option - so where does that leave someone like me? I am convinced of the need to change our voting system but I'm unconvinced by the merits of the Alternative Vote. However, the danger in voting 'No' and contributing to a resounding victory for the No to AV campaign is that electoral reform is then put off the agenda along with other much needed changes (fixed term parliaments, recall procedures for MPs, fairer party funding, compulsory voting, the none of the above / dissenter's option etc.).

    So I will be somewhat reluctantly voting Yes to AV tomorrow - to at least demonstrate there is some public thirst for change and if there is sufficient swing, to show that change really can happen in this country - with a view to the British system then 'evolving' towards Proportional Representation (Single Transferable Vote), amongst other things.

    03/05/2011

    Radical Reformation No,2?

    "I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian... Something new is in the air."

    -- Rob Bell, 'Megachurch' Pastor and Writer

    (Click here for more. HT: Shawna Foster)