Author Archives: Fred Carver

Opinion: 80 million people like this

In my previous post I said I thought the role of social media in Tunisia was a bit of a red herring. I wanted to expand on that thought.

As I said on my own blog Wikileaks and social media played a role in Tunisia, and also in Egypt, but these things should be understood as helpful tools, not the root causes themselves. I thought the Foreign Policy article George Kendall cited was weak and the case for Wikileaks as a direct cause of the protests somewhat thin – even by the Foreign Policy article author’s own …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Interesting proposal, Mr Kendall, but who is “us”?

George Kendall’s piece on Julian Assange was quite good. If it wasn’t I’d scarcely bother replying. And no, I am not Mr Assange’s spokesman, but as Mr Assange’s spokesman is quite busy I thought I’d jump in and attempt a defence.

Firstly I think Tunisia is a bit of a red herring here, and it would in any case provide only an empirical proof to say that Wikileaks is good or bad based upon one revolution or several. It would say nothing about the general morality. I’d much rather argue from general principles, as George Kendall then goes on to do.

As I can see it there are two elements to his proof:

  1. That some things do need to be kept hidden
  2. That the decision as to what those things should be should be taken by elected leaders.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: No more broken promises

no student tuition feesIf you remember, this is the opening frame of the party political broadcast the Lib Dems aired just a few days before standing for election in May. You may remember it: Nick Clegg wondered around what appeared to be the set of “I am Legend” on a day when the prevailing wind was coming from the foolscap factory wearing a jacket 8 sizes too big for him. The tagline, the message, indeed the point of the advert was “no more broken promises” – the …

Posted in Op-eds | 24 Comments

Opinion: Condorcet 101, or We Can Do Better Than AV

Attentive readers may have noticed I am not a fan of the alternative vote. I don’t think it is proportional – because it isn’t. However, it is not a bad system for selecting a candidate for a single vacancy. On this basis the Lib Dems use it extensively for internal elections when there is only one vacancy. However it is, to my mind, not the fairest such system.

No single vacancy system can be proportional. That is why the Lib Dems rightly push for Single Transferable Vote in every election they can. However, there will always be single vacancy elections: for …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 34 Comments

Opinion: What the US midterms do (and don’t) mean for the Liberal Democrats

I’ve heard a few Liberal Democrats express concern about the mid-term election results. The fear, as it has been expressed to me, is that Cleggmania had a lot of superficial similarities to Obamamania – it was a campaign based on hope, by a progressive liberal who offered something new, and it led to the formation of a government. Seeing Obamamania apparently swept away in a surge of vehemently conservative tea-partyers, several Lib Dems fear that the same fate could befall them at the next election.
I think this is simplistic.

Posted in LDVUSA and Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: the Australian election and AV

Fans of the alternative vote system would do well to look at the result of the Australian election. Australia and Fiji are the only two countries in the world to use AV. The two main parties got about 80% of the vote. A record* 2 million+ people voted for minor parties, that’s around 17% – a 50% increase of the number of people not voting for the big two.

And the result? Well the two main parties got 145 seats and the minor parties 5.

Now at this point defenders of AV will be saying “yes we know AV isn’t that good …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 50 Comments

Opinion: Lib Dems should abstain or campaign for “No” on AV referendum

I’m passionate about PR. But when it comes to PR AV is, at best, a red herring.

Be very clear, AV is not one jot more proportionate than what we have now. It is a system of first Past the Post pure and simple. It does have other positive characteristics (although personally I think both our current FPTP and AV are systems I’d score at 0 out of 10) but it is not one iota more proportionate than the system we have now.

Some people have said that it is likely that AV will produce more proportionate outcomes. I think there are four things to bear in mind here:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 72 Comments

Opinion: Making the case for liberal interventionism

I’ve just had the following article published in the “Rhode Island Provident” of all places:

You would be forgiven for having been taken by surprise by the revolution in Kyrgyzstan. A few Scrabble enthusiasts may have been rubbing their hands at the news that (now that Mattel are allowing the use of proper nouns) the tiny mountainous nation in Central Asia will earn you 80 points for just one vowel – more if you can snag a triple word score tile. However, for the most part Kyrgyzstan has been unnoticed by the rest of the world.

It is now the site of

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

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