Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (and the head to head)

There is some more Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality up – go get it now (ht: Paul).

dscn7407-punts-cam Ha ha, fooled you. This is actually a post about rowing :-). Today was the H2H or Head to Head: 2000m, a brief break (well, 20 mins wating by the bank in the rain, yummy; and lets not mention the brief altercation with the marshall over our spinning :-), then 2000m back. We took 14:22, which is quite passable… I’d be happy to do that on an erg. It was also a very clean row and enjoyable. We got stuffed by various 1st Mays crews (winner: 12:48). But in the rowing and running theme, it is interesting to compare that to a running time. I’m doing the Coton 5km fun run tomorrow, and converting 14:22 to 5 km gets me 18 minutes, and I bet I don’t even get close to that. 25 mins is my guess.

[Update: 23 something, it seems. Maz won, just back from the Charge of the Light Brigade. In the 2.5 km, D got 15 mins, E 16, and M 17 -W]

That was in div 1. I’d volunteered to cox M2 in division 2, which was exciting, because the turn-around time was rather short, and our 2-man was coxing the ladies in division 1… so we ended up rowing down the river with 7 to meet them and exchange, all the time hassled by the fear we’d miss our division. But we didn’t. M2 was quite a bit slower (16:55) and somewhat ragged, and Paul hadn’t even been to bed on thursday night due to reporting the election. But we got by. My coxing was OK I think; my course was acceptable (I reserved clipping the banks with blades for the row home, so that was OK) and I didn’t wiggle too much. I still need to get my patter down a bit pat-er; must study The Master more carefully, instead of tuning him out. Oops.

Meanwhile, the election. Still all up in the air, it looks like. Labour would give the Lib Dems their hearts desire, which is to say PR, or at least Broon is offering it – but could he deliver. But Lab+Lib doesn’t a majority make, and not all Labour MPs would vote for it anyway. Plus (I think) the Libs are rightly cautious about being too blatant about putting electoral reform above all other problems. The Tories are offering not very much, really, and it isn’t clear that they and the Libs agree on enough to form a govt. If I was the Libs, and *if* I thought Broon could actually deliver it, I’d go for Labour and take nothing more than electoral reform in exchange. I’m sure the Greens would sign up for that too. It could come down to things like what the SNP think about PR. Back in the real world, it is hard to see what could be an acceptable result. Perhaps that is the cunning Lib plan – wait for it becomes obvious that there is no good result, then the public will accept them doing a bad result? Stay tuned folks, something is bound to happen eventually.

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that the Lib-Dems have started naming their people after porno mags?

17 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (and the head to head)”

  1. What will happen in the aftermath (don’t mind saying it here in the middle of one of your boatie posts).

    The Conservatives will end up going it alone and hoping to hold another election within a year to get a mandate. Gordon Brown will resign and a notgordon Labour leader will succeed him. Labour will then pull the rug and we get a new government, most likely Conservatives with a working majority, possibly a formal Lib-Lab alliance with a commitment to reform the electoral system. A long shot: Labour wins the second election.


  2. I thought the idea was just to have a referendum on PR. Are you saying it would be hard to get a majority on that, even though all it’s doing is giving the voters a chance to express their views?

    It seems to me (having never even visited Blighty, but then that just makes me objective) that a lib/lab deal could be had based on firm dates for a referendum (say in a year) and the next election (say in two years, allowing enough time for at least a good start on dealing with the budget problem). I assume that in all cases Broon would have to go relatively soon.

    [I think the Lib-Dems would settle for a referendum on PR; I heard – somewhere, recently – that they aren’t too sure they could win it but tough: they should certainly settle for the referendum and worry about winning it later. A year is too long; 3 months more like it, perhaps less – who wants to suffer a long campaign on this? There would need to be quick agreement on what sort of PR; but it should be quick – there is no point having yet another endless commission: just get the right heads in a room and hammer it out in 24h – there are no new arguments, everyone knows their own positions and everyone else’s.

    But if we had PR, both the Tories and Labour would fragement – the only thing that holds them together internally is the first-past-the-post-system. They all know this, but maybe they would welcome it – Cameron can lead the nice Tories and let the Europhobes wander off into the wilderness; Broon would probably get to head a minor dour Labour party -W]

    Also, just so I’m clear on this, isn’t it the case that SF not taking their seats reduces the votes needed for a majority to 323? That sounds a little easier, although still requiring SNP cooperation.


  3. Brown has a standing offer of a referendum on proportional representation, but if the Liberal Democrats were seen to be associated with the very unpopular Brown for political gain it could seriously damage their credibility and also compromise the prospects of getting popular consent for the proposed voting reform. The Liberals paid dearly for their association with the minority Callaghan Lib-Lab government in the late 1970s.

    In short, the Liberal Democrats are between a rock and a hard place.


  4. Sure, but what if Brown agrees to go as part of the package? I keep returning to the thought that the Lib Dems have to be very motivated to take advantage of what has to be a uniquely good opportunity to get a referendum.


  5. In answer to Steve Bloom, yes you are right, sort of.

    324 would be the majority needed [(650-5)/2]+1 if it was just SF (who until now have not taken their seats).

    But 323 I think is the correct majority, as the Speaker (Bercow, a Tory) is effectively non-partisan and would be twinned (with his deputy, who IIRC is Lab) in anything requiring a vote.


  6. I did run some thought experiments in which the resignation of Gordon Brown figured, but I could find no plausible mechanism by which the Labour Party would acquiesce to this during negotiations with another party. And if Brown resigned immediately the queen would have to summon Cameron and ask him to try to form a government. I also find it implausible that the Liberal Democrats would accept a promise by Brown to resign, or that Brown would give such a promise.


  7. A poll has two-thirds of the public wanting Brown to resign immediately. I think he’ll remain until he’s pushed, though.

    [On the plus side, I’ve just received my first facebook invite for a “what can we do in Cambrdige to help PR (from Sarah, for Nick et al). I think this is a moment when a really good politician (lord help us, someone like Blair or Mandleson, by which I mean not a good person who does politics but only someone who is really good at doing politics) could push things towards PR by some cunning stuff that I can’t imagine -W]


  8. Ashdown and whatnot are probably pressuring Clegg to talk to Labour right now, but I think it would have to be through Brown.

    Just conceivably the old Liberals could persuade Nick that the least worst thing for the country now is to hold his nose and form a coalition with Brown on the basis of a referendum on electoral reform in the Autumn or Winter.

    That would require the collaboration of lots of small parties, but they’d be mad not to go along because electoral reform would make them all instantly stronger. Brown could actually come out of that stronger, however unlikely that may sound now.


  9. Although you are technically correct Tony, do a search for speaker +denison +rule.

    In a tie, ordinarily the Government’s business would be carried by the Speaker’s vote. A vote of no confidence in the Government may be another matter.


  10. Aha, so I was right about Broon!

    On the rest, I’m now guessing a LibLab coalition based on the better PR offer *unless* something comes up in discussions with the SNP that causes the whole edifice to look too shaky. OTOH the SNP have to be very motivated to get the PR deal since these election results parked them in pretty much the same long-term electoral dead end as the LDs.

    It seems to me that the Greens couldn’t have hoped for anything better. CL’s vote will probably be crucial with some frequency, although I’m not clear that the resulting prominence would be enough to elect more Greens under AV-only.


  11. AV is the worst of all options IMHO. A proper debate is required on the system to adopt. I fear that the political situation will prevent that proper debate, but all may become clearer today and my concerns may be unfounded.


  12. Obviously my ideas about what is plausible in party politics were far too parsimonious! So here we are, the Liberals have two suitors, and senior Liberals have made it plain that they’re not interested in a “rainbow” coalition which would allow Labour to play one minority interest off against another. Which one will they choose?


  13. I’d plump for neither coalition (now) and watch the fun that is trying to pass the Budget by a Tory minority government.


  14. I don’t think the Conservatives would be happy to run a minority government without cross-party agreement on a fiscal reform package (cuts, that is) to lower the deficit.

    I still think it the most likely outcome, though, because at some point the Queen will have to stick her oar in and tell Cameron to get on with it.

    I still don’t think the Liberals will want to go into coalition in the current circumstances, but they may feel compelled by the national interest to join with the Tories.


  15. CL comments that AV is bad. Of course it (especially the AV+ variant) is good for the LibDems as presently situated but bad for small parties. A further shift from AV(+) to some sort of real PR would be good for the small parties, but perhaps not so good for the LibDems. Perhaps that made the Labor offer a bit less enticing for LibDem leadership, although it would be impossible for them to move away from their pro-PR platform in any overt way. It seems to me that the LibDem institutional priority is for voters to get used to the idea of them working the levers of government, for which the Con commitment to a fixed term seems essential. I suppose it remains to be seen how easily Clegg can sell his party on giving up the only chance they’re likely to get for PR.


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