The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #47230   Message #705255
Posted By: GUEST,An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
06-May-02 - 11:53 AM
Thread Name: BS: The Hartlepool Monkey (Continued)
Subject: RE: BS: The Hartlepool Monkey (Continued)
... is Irish for "The Musical Plumber", because I play uilleann pipes. It's a reference to the scene in Flann O'Brien's hilarious "The Poor Mouth" which features Dublin members of the Gaelic League who adopt Irish pen names for their literary endeavours. Every summer they dress up in homespun tweeds and, armed with notebooks and pencils, descend like bird-watchers on the mythical Kerry region of Corca Dorcha to study the language and habits of native speakers of Irish.

It's also a self-deprecating homage to my late parents. My father, who trained as a post and telegraphs instrument technician, used "plumber" as a term of abuse for sloppy tradesmen (I don't think I'll ever be a great piper). My mother, who didn't regard Irish trad as real music, was convinced that the music (i.e. classical) had skipped a generation in our family.

But drifting back on topic, I still think that STV is about the best voting system I've heard of (or, like democracy, the worst apart from all the alternatives). If the French had had it instead of their messy two-round system, they could have given first preferences to the no-hopers (e.g. greens or relatively incorrupt or non-hate-filled candidates) whom they really supported without wasting their votes, because they could still give second or lower preferences to people whom they didn't really like but who were least unacceptable to them.

The French parliamentary elections to be held in June are likely to be really messy and produce perverse results, because they will be turned into some sort of game-theory excercise: people will be afraid that by voting for the candidates whom they really support they will either waste their votes or create an opening for the acolytes of the toxic Le Pen. They will thus be reduced to relying on unreliable opinion polls to guess who among the people whom they least dislike is likely to make it through to the second round.

When the British Labour party thought they could never get a Commons majority again, they flirted with the idea of introducing proportional representation, but now that they, rather than the Conservatives, are beneficiaries of the "first past the post" system, they have come to realise what a great system it is after all. Only the Lib Dems, who see themselves as long-term no-hopers, still support PR.

Incidentally, PR was to be used in Northern Ireland, but it was abandoned very soon after 1920 because it made gerrymandering much more difficult. The quirks of the first-past-the-post system made it easier to ensure a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people - and to generate a seething sense of frustration among Catholics which boiled over in the late 1960s. One of the important elements in the present peace has been the restoration of PR for internal Northern Ireland elections (including, I think, local elections), but it is still not used for the NI seats in Westminster, hence the continuing disparity in the composition of the Norn Iron component of that parliament.