Friday, July 24, 2015

Soap opera

Tony attacks Jeremy, John goes for Tony, people tell Liz to drop out to prevent Jeremy winning (showing that they don't understand how preferential voting works), Liz says 'no way,' Andy dithers, Yvette stays quiet. People are called morons or heartless. Margaret even called herself a moron. The longest Labour leadership contest in history drags on and on. And all the while the media goes berserk. Everything in the press and online seems to be about Corbyn; not what he stands for of course, little of the debate has been about anything substantive, but what it means for the Labour Party if he would win it - vote winner or loser - the remaking of the Party or the final nail in its coffin. And what has sent everyone into this flat spin is a poll. One that has Jeremy Corbyn in a clear lead in the contest. Yep, just one opinion poll. Cast your mind back and think how unerringly accurate the polls were in predicting the election result. Wouldn't it be a good idea to pause and think?

 Atul Hatwal has. And his conclusion?
Sorry, that Labour leadership poll is nonsense. Jeremy Corbyn is going to finish fourth
 He continues:
The general election hopelessly wrong-footed most commentators for two reasons: dodgy polls and shouty lefty Twittervists.
The polls created an illusion that Ed Miliband and Labour were a nose in front. Labour’s voluble activist base on Twitter then leapt on every iffy poll and each tweet describing yet another great session on the #Labourdoorstep to amplify and broadcast the narrative that Ed Miliband was about to become prime minister.
Understandably, most journalists looked on and followed the crowd. The pollsters and the Twittervists seemed to be saying the same thing.
A self-reinforcing spiral of delusion took hold that was only broken when the public’s actual votes shattered the Westminster’s conventional wisdom on the evening of May 7th.
Now, it’s happening again in the Labour leadership race.
I think he's probably right.


Laban Tall said...

Off topic, but have you seen this version of the Greek disaster? That Varoufakis was willing to pull the euro plug and set up a parallel banking system but Tsipras caved?

"The goal of the computer hacking was to enable the finance ministry to make digital transfers at "the touch of a button". The payments would be 'IOUs' based on an experiment by California after the Lehman crisis.

A parallel banking system of this kind would allow the government to create euro liquidity and circumvent what Syriza called "financial strangulation" by the ECB.

"This was very well developed. Very soon we could have extended it, using apps on smartphones, and it could become a functioning parallel system. Of course this would be euro denominated but at the drop of a hat it could be converted to a new drachma,” he said.

Mr Varoufakis claimed the cloak and dagger methods were necessary since the Troika had taken charge of the public revenue office within the finance ministry. "It’s like the Inland Revenue in the UK being controlled by Brussels. I am sure as you are hearing these words your hair is standing on end,” he said in the leaked transcripts.

Mr Varoufakis said any request for permission would have tipped off the Troika immediately that he was planning a counter-attack. He was ready to activate the mechanism the moment he received a "green light" from the prime minister, but the permission never came.

"I always told Tsipras that it not be plain sailing but this is the price you have to pay for liberty," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"But when the time came he realised that it was just too difficult. I don't know when he reached that decision. I only learned explicitly on the night of the referendum, and that is why I offered to resign," he said. Mr Varoufakis wanted to seize on the momentum of a landslide victory in the vote but was overruled."

The Plump said...

Yes, very bizarre. But was was most bizarre is that it came to light through a leaked conversation with Norman Lamont!

George S said...

As to Corbyn, today he has a vast 22 point poll lead over the next best, Cooper. I suspect there is considerably entryism, (and why would;t there be at £3 a throw) but I also think the rise of a hard left figure was inevitable after a long period of essentially consensual politics.

Frankly I don't know what it means to be 'against austerity' since I don't suppose anyone actually likes it, so that part of it seems a little meaningless to me. But, slogan or not, a thorough self-examination may be what Labour has to go through. I am quite prepared to believe that his has the support of the younger voters. My Facebook friends seem pretty solidly Corbyn too. Not that they constitute a representative majority - artistic types like dramatic politics.

Then, of course, there's the rest of the country.

The Plump said...

I have seen that one George. My caution would say that it is an unpublished poll and there isn't anything about the methodology used.

What I liked about the article was that it wasn't about the politics, but the polling. It was really an article about sample error. And it was sample error combined with a willingness to believe the most exciting poll results, rather than the ones that turned out to be less thrilling but right, that led to the misleading polling before the general election. I remain sceptical, though I can understand the appeal and may well be wrong.

The big unknown is the strange electoral system they have adopted. A vote at three quid a throw is no more than a couple of texts to vote in Strictly Come Dancing or whatever. I have seen some crazy figures mentioned for new registered supporters and I don't believe those either.

My favourite example of this sort of voting was when Manchester City had open voting for who they would name the stands at the Etihad after. United fans masqueraded en masse to vote to name one of the stands behind the goal after Colin Bell. They so wanted one called the Bell End. It didn't work. Not sure this one will either.

Josh said...

Some people are definitely pro austerity. Its a very useful political tool for redistributing wealth upwards. As a result, there has been a very effective propaganda campaign to convince people its necessary.

I'm not sure on Corbyn. I believe in most of his policies, but I think it will be an uphill struggle for him to reach the mainstream. He will have to fight against a Tory narrative that has thus far gone unchallenged, and after 5 years it might be too late to start picking apart the story they sold to the public.

As for Varoufakis, I remember him saying on his blog that he thought a Greek exit from the Euro would be 'painful' now, but 'manageable' in two years. I think it was always his and Tsipras' plan to accept a favourable bailout and prepare for exit in the future. When the bailout terms were so harsh Varoufakis changed his tune, but Tsipras didn't. Maybe I'm wrong, that is just my interpretation in the lack of hard facts.