Sunday, December 03, 2006

Blech!

The weather today is horrid. Gale for winds, driving rain, and cooooooooooooooooooold. Not nearly as bad as the winter storms in the US though, for which I am grateful. We're also very unlikely to be flooded here, unlike the poor folk in Hawick 10 miles away where they have been building on the old floodplain with predictable consequences. Those folk are now pretty much trapped, as they won't be able to sell (no-one will give a buyer a mortgage in a known high flood risk area), they can't get flood insurance, and there's a good chance they will be under water most winters. Dumfries, on the other side of the country, seems to be suffering badly as well. The perils of living on a small, densely-populated island when no-one wants to live in high-rise developments....

Politics
Yesterday, I signed up on the UK Government's experimental 'e-petitions' site. There's a petition requesting that ballot papers be modified to include None of the above as a valid option. I think that would probably increase voter turnout quite a bit. Spoiling a ballot paper just means your opinion isn't registered: this might be a better option and might even increase the pressure for proportional representation at Westminster.

Comments
Thank you all for your congratulations on the new-look hotel. We're still dealing with painters in the corridors and a bit of joinery in the new dining room, but overall we're very happy indeed. I'm horribly jealous of the new guest bathrooms....

Knitting
More socks! I've mislaid my sewing-up needles, so the next pair will remain technically unfinished until I find them.

I'm also experimenting with log cabin knitting, after being inspired by this.

Fibre Craft Retreat
Sigh. It's taking me far far longer to get this finalised that I had feared. So far I have two workshops confirmed: backstrap weaving and patchwork knitting, with possibly feltmaking as well (depending on whether the teacher is available).

It will definitely be going ahead on the weekend of 11 - 14 May 2007, here at the hotel, and will include a Borders Banquet, the opportunity to visit a working knitting mill/factory (from Sheep to Sweater), a guided walk around the Royal Burgh of Jedburgh, and of course, plenty of time to sit and be sociable.

I'm also hoping that we can work on a charity blanket, which will be offered to the Roxburgh Volunteer Service to help them raise funds for their work with the elderly in the area. I suspect this will take more than one Fibre Craft Retreat to complete....

Just as soon as I've had confirmation from everyone involved (this includes the Council, as they are supposed to be helping with advertising) I will contact everyone who has expressed an interest. If you want to add your name to the list, please email me using the link at the top right of this page.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Barbara-Kay said...

One wag of a politician in the U.S. legally changed his name to "None of the Above" in hopes of taking advantage of our dissatisfaction. There certainly have been many occasions "none" would have been my choice!

4/12/06 07:42  
Anonymous William H. White said...

Given voter dissatisfaction election choices, many voters often wish to vote NO in elections to office just as they can on ballot questions.

Why not? In a democracy, government must obtain the consent of the governed, and all legitimate consent requires the ability to withhold consent. Clearly, the legitimate consent of voters requires they be able to withhold their consent to an election to office.

Essentially, elections to office are hiring decisions made by voters, where the political parties act as search firms and the campaign serves as the interview/assessment process. Can you imagine any institution arranging its affairs so that each search firm sends a single job candidate for a position, with the understanding one of them must be hired? Compounding the problem, the two largest search firms arranged the institution's regulations so that, expect in rare instances, only they present candidates for selection. Worst still, often only one candidate is presented in these "must hire" elections. Furthering difficulties, where there is a choice of candidates, the “must hire” method causes candidates to attack each other rather than discussing their own qualifications. Any institution using such methods would soon be controlled by those search firms. The wonder is government is not more of a mess than it is, since that is exactly how we hire (elect) most candidates for public office.

Instead, we could enact Voter Consent laws giving voters a binding "None of the Above" (NOTA) option after each candidate list, which calls a new election, with new candidates, to fill the office should NOTA win. While NOTA by-elections are an expense, they would not occur unless voters vote to hold them, and are likely less costly than electing unacceptable candidates to office.

With a NOTA ballot option, voters make the final decision about the choices political parties made, rather than those parties deciding the final choices voters can make. Even candidates running unopposed would have to obtain voter consent to be elected. And all political parties would know their selected candidates must face NOTA as well as any opponent, reducing the incentives for negative campaigning and "lesser evil" candidates. Buying "access" to candidates or determining election outcomes with contributions becomes a more uncertain enterprise.

Surely Voter Consent laws will not solve all the problems with democratically governing ourselves; however, it seems to me NOTA based Voter Consent laws are a common sense, much needed improvement, returning some power to voters, and taking some power from political parties.

In the meantime, for voters who do not vote for any candidate for an office, or do not vote at all, because of dissatisfaction with all candidates, I suggest voting and writing-in "None of the Above" as a clear way to withhold consent as well as to call for enactment of a Voter Consent law.

Below is a list of specific reasons for enacting NOTA based Voter Consent laws:

o All legitimate consent requires the ability to withhold consent; "None of the Above" gives the voter the ballot option to withhold consent from an election to office, just as voters can cast a "No" vote on a ballot question.

o Would end the "must hire" elections where voters are often forced to vote for the least unacceptable candidate, the all too familiar "lesser evil."

o A candidate must obtain voter consent to be elected, even if running unopposed.

o Voters would decide the fate of the political parties' choices, instead of the parties deciding the voters' choices.

o It should reduce negative campaigning by encouraging candidates to campaign for their own candidacy rather than against their opponent's candidacy.

o Many voters and non voters, who now register their disapproval of all candidates for an office by not voting, could cast a meaningful vote.

o The meaning of elections should become more clear, since voters would no longer be tempted to vote for a presumed losing candidate, with whom they really do not agree, as a protest vote.

o Establishes flexible, voter controlled term limits of one term for every office, as the framers of the U.S. Constitution intended.

o Campaign contributors who give to all candidates to insure "access" would no longer be sure they backed the winner; in general, buying elections should become a more uncertain enterprise.

o Improves checks and balances between voters and political parties, especially needed in jurisdictions with one dominant political party or nearly identical alternatives.

o Political parties would nominate candidates knowing those candidates must be a better choice for voters than "None of the Above."

o Follow-up by-elections are far less costly than electing unacceptable candidates to office.

o Office holders, knowing they face "None of the Above" in the next election, would be encouraged to insure their re-election by focusing more on doing a good job in office and less on attempting to prevent the emergence of an effective opposition candidate.

o When pre-election polls include "None of the Above", the feedback from voters should help guide candidates and parties.

o Even when "None of the Above" does not win or is a non-binding NOTA, the reported NOTA vote would help identify those offices for which voters might be more receptive to new candidates in a future election as well as limits the winner's mandate.

o Provides a permanent option for voters to withhold consent that is independent of expensive and infrequent candidate based "reform" movements.

o Should make public service more attractive by improving the quality of those elected to office.

o Opportunities for election fraud should be reduced because fewer blank votes for an office would be cast.

o Applies to all candidates and parties equally.

o It is a relatively simple, fair, sensible, accomplishable and permanent improvement to our current system, hopefully making for a more democratic and ultimately stronger nation.

Sincerely,
William H. White
Dirctor, Voters for None of the Above
http:/nota.org.

7/12/06 22:48  

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