Saturday, 25 February 2012

Bye-bye, blogger - this blog has moved

My marginalia can now be found in my own Wordpress installation at Please follow me there!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Reasons to be cheerful in midwinter

  • Oranges are in season.
  • I am reunited with certain favourite winter clothes.
  • Underwear won’t show, so it doesn’t need to be chosen with any care.
  • Cats choose to spend more time indoors.
  • I wake with Andrew (not hours earlier).
  • If the garden is tidied, it stays tidy—weeds don’t grow back.
There must be more.

Monday, 7 November 2011


Andrew: ... the weird thing, when you go to visit and actually look at what they are saying, is how moderate and reasonable the Occupy people seem to be. Most of them are only saying the same sort of things as most of the other people you hear. [As he talks he is approaching the wall with a new photo off the big printer, this one cropped to a tall portrait format.]

I: [looking critically at the new print] Why such huge margins?

Jón: [without missing a beat] Yes, that’s the kind of question they’re asking.

It’s this sort of thing that makes me glad I live in Cambridge, despite the drizzle.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The coldest May night for some 15 years

... so said the weather report on the radio. And it was.

But it could have been worse. And at least now there is something definite to do: we have a referendum to win. I know it’s only for AV, but still it must be won.

AV does at least solve some of the problems with the current system: it removes the need for tactical voting—you give your first preference to the one you really want, and your second preference to the one you would have picked as the safe tactical choice—and it has the potential to lay to rest all those tedious arguments about how the voters would have supported a party if only it had been either more or less extreme in its policies: you can test the theory by putting up candidates of both flavours and seeing which of them the voters actually prefer.

And an AV system can be modified later into a true PR system. Once people have got used to the idea of preference voting, perhaps expanding the size of constituencies (so that it becomes STV) or adding top-up members (so that it becomes AV+) would seem like less of a leap into the unknown.

The next five years, or however long this coalition lasts, are going to be grim for the country, though. I haven’t forgotten the 1980s. And I went to Cambridge, and I met a lot of people like that Cameron chap, and I know how obnoxious they are when they aren’t trying to sound nice.

Monday, 10 May 2010

No deal without PR!

I find that taking part in a demonstration is not compatible with photography. This is the only usable still photo I got. I made a little video, too, where you can hear the shouting.

To London, wearing purple

I’m off to London this afternoon to join in the shouting outside the Lib Dem meeting. Meanwhile I have set up a Facebook group in an attempt to get a critical mass of supporters for a protest event here in Cambridge. There are events being organized for this coming Saturday (the 15th) in several other places, so I hope we might manage one here, too.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Electoral reform - can we do something in Cambridge?

This is the moment electoral reformers have been waiting for—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I feel inclined to do something active. I’d have been in London yesterday outside the Lib Dem meeting, shouting, if I hadn’t had a work commitment. I know that a lot of people here in Cambridge feel as I do on the electoral reform question. Can we get ourselves together and do something locally, in the way of a public meeting, rally or demonstration?

I think it is important to remind the Lib Dems that a lot of their support came from anti-Tory tactical voters who will be outraged if they sacrifice this chance in order to make a deal. The long-term health of the country will be best served by their insisting on a referendum now.

For a statement of the main arguments for PR as I see them, see a piece I wrote some time ago in a quieter moment.