Monday, September 26, 2011

Individual Electoral Registration Desk Research Drama

You may have read the Guardian's article on individual registration (IR) earlier this month

"As many as 10 million voters, predominantly poor, young or black, and more liable to vote Labour, could fall off the electoral register under government plans, the Electoral Commission, electoral administrators and psephologists warned"

You may have even read my response, thrown away in passing on a 38 Degrees discusssion

" [...] the issue is not IR ... but how it's been proposed to be done here."

"What are the proposals to mitigate and reverse the drop off if we switch to IR?"

"A botched and/or politically motivated switch to IR could be worse than the current system. It would need to be done well and in a non-partisan way, if it were done at all."

The Electoral Commission have also just put out the following statement:

'We support the introduction of IER [individual electoral registration] as an important improvement in how people register to vote. It was initially proposed by the previous government and we are pleased that the current government has produced a White Paper on its introduction. We welcome the current debate on the issue and the opportunity for pre-legislative scrutiny to ensure IER is introduced in the best way possible.

'We believe IER can be introduced in a way to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the electoral register is improved. We have however highlighted to Government and Parliament our concern that if the opt-out from registration currently proposed is introduced registration could drop towards election turn-out levels.'

Earlier this week, I went looking for some reasoned perspectives on IR and found the Electoral Reform Society, the Open Rights Group and Unlock Democracy. I'll have a look at these and the White Paper and then report back with Tim's take on IR, take two.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Solar panels at stag do venue

Props also to Dale's stag do venue - the Park Farmhouse Hotel near Donington Racecourse in Leicestershire - for having this mightily impressive solar array on site. Apparently it provides most of the energy for the function barns and banqueting halls (where we toasted Sir Dale of the North Hamptons).

Lance Bubo is The Plague Visitor

This is my friend Giles at my other friend Dale's medieval stag do (how awesome an act of geekery is that?) in costume as a plague visitor during the time of the Black Death.

Giles is an archaeologist, but has a secret life going into schools in costume to explain British history in a hands-on way. So I don't in any way need to reach for metaphor to describe him as a legend.

Having no such fantastic costume to draw on, I took one of Dale's mauve shirts, accessorized with a belt, and used it as a belt. When challenged, I simply claimed to be the Purple Sage, tasked with bringing about the Lilac Time. :-)

Disco philosophy and Hercules & Love Affair

Have you ever thought about the progressive character of disco and it's less polyester-prone daughter, house music? What would it be like to live in a society governed by the values of house? Freedom, racial and sexual equality, and piano breakdowns for everyone, that's what.

And at the level of the individual? Disco and house preach self-respect, persistence in the face of emotional hardship, the right to love, and freedom through dance.

Taken as a whole, surely this should be the music of right-thinkers everywhere.
Although there's nothing worse, of course, than a disco fan gone bad.

So why's this music on my mind? In recent weeks, I've built myself an emotional cocoon out of headphones and this year's Hercules And Love Affair album, Blue Songs. It's unashamedly house-driven - divas, hi-hats, hand-claps and yes, that piano boogie - and equally unabashed in its pursuit of house philosophy: love, self-reliance, reaching for the positive, and dancing, dancing, dancing.

Blue Songs even offers a cover of that groove politics classic 'It's Alright' as one of three slower numbers that push it well into crossover territory. It's a mark of how good the album is that they enhance its pacing rather than feeling tokenistic.

So, why not let a little house music into your life? Not even I can listen to ambient drone metal all the time.

I'll leave you with the video to My House, which seems to be doing its best to recapture the spirit of some obscure American cable TV equivalent of the Hitman And Her circa 1989.

Remember to stick around for the commercial break.