Monday, 5 October 2009

Being nice about Tories and other things.....

Just some snippets today. Firstly, a couple of bits I've sprayed around the web over the last few days.

There was my LabourList column on 'why democratic reformers almost always lose.' It deals with the angry reaction to the Prime Minister's announcement on electoral reform in his speech of last Tuesday:
"Pluralists and reformers disagree amongst themselves. It’s in the nature of the endeavour. If they are truly committed to seeing reform actually happen they do so in a respectful manner. They know that compromises may be necessary along the way.

If PR were to be the only viable way forward then if it was a system that improved on first past the post (i.e. AV+) in terms of democratic renewal then that would be acceptable. I hope that if AV proves to be the only viable alternative - which it seems to be - then pluralists and reformers of all types will accept that also.

It doesn’t seem that it will happen that way. And that is why, just as they almost always do, the majoritarians will win."
Next, I posted on the Progress website about the Conservative party's new online organisation tool. It is not so much the tool itself that I like- the technology is fairly straightforward and Labour has its own version-ish. But it's the openness of the Conservative approach that I like- a lot.

Anyone can use their tools and was launched with a fanfare from their party leader who explained it as an aspect of the new politics. That is why I said that the Tories appear to 'get it' on technology. Party culture impacts the likelihood that new media is effective. The Conservative approach could make a difference over time (though not to the next election.)

Finally, I just want to draw attention to a couple of articles.

I've written on credit agencies in the past and there have been two recent pieces in the New Yorker that deal with the issue. Firstly, James Surowiecki explains how credit ratings agencies not only fostered the bubble but accelerated the panic in the crash. What's more, they did so because they have become an institutionalised part of the system as a result of SEC rules.

Secondly, John Cassidy describes the process of rational irrationality- i.e. individuals behaving in rationally risky ways- and the crunch. It was rational for the credit ratings agencies to upgrade junk securities because they would lose business if they did not. As Cassidy states:
"But in a market environment the individual pursuit of self-interest, however rational, can give way to collective disaster. The invisible hand becomes a fist."
Well put.

Oh, and Graeme Cooke's take on the Tories' welfare proposals is worth a read too. He is a former Special Advisor to James Purnell and now heads up the Open Left project at Demos.

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