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An elephant in the bush is worth two on the veldt. Or something like that.

KANGAROOS and koalas should share this wide, brown land with elephants, a scientist has advised.

David Bowman, of the University of Tasmania, said the world’s biggest herbivores should be brought to Australia to munch their way through the large swath of introduced grasses pushing out native species in northern Australia.

The provocative suggestion by Professor Bowman, a forest ecologist, has been heavily criticised by some scientists as careless, given the potential for the giant creatures to create a greater problem than they will solve, and applauded as a radical solution to a growing environmental conundrum by others.

Because of course this kind of thing has worked so well in the past, as with the rabbits, rats, camels, cane toads, pigs, foxes, cats, dogs, goats, donkeys, mynah birds, trout, various ants and wasps, and dozens of plant species including some aggressive growers like blackberries and gorse bushes and the grasses which Prof Bowman suggests might be controlled by introducing elephants. I don’t know enough to call this a bullshit idea but it seems like something that should be treated with a great deal of caution.

Hey, wait a minute… his name is David Bowman? Really?

... just what do you think you're doing, Dave?












Sigh. Shame Fairfax closed the comments on that article before I found it.

Justice is also a dish best served cold

Over at Max Farquar’s blog and one or two others is an horrific story of a very young child, a baby in fact, who has been brutally raped. As yet few details are known – even the baby’s gender isn’t certain and whether the poor kid is critical or has in fact died from the injuries is also up in the air. Other than that a really nasty assault with some terrible injuries has taken place and that the parents were arrested and then bailed far more is not known than is known.

Max, who I have a lot of time for as I agree with much of what he says, wrote this:

North Kent police have said that a 35-year-old man was subsequently arrested, on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and rape, along with a 33-year-old woman. They were both from the Gravesend area and were detained in a North Kent police station. However, they have now been released on bail.
Released on bail?
WTF! A one month old baby has been raped!
Who is the 35-year-old man, that is walking free after raping a one month old baby? Is he the father or is he the boyfriend of the 33-year-old woman that has also been released on bail? Do we presume she is the mother? Someone, somewhere out there must know who these loathsome, disgusting and unbelievable evil people excuses for human beings are!
It’s time to name and shame.

Here’s my problem.

With respect to Max, we don’t as yet know that anyone’s walking free after raping a baby and so no it’s not time to name and shame. It’s time to thoroughly investigate, identify the guilty party(s), build an absolutely watertight case with extra attention to detail given to all the human rights – yes, I know, but hear me out – of any initial suspects and the eventual accused. And there are two reasons – first is that we all know the police screw up from time to time and arrest the wrong people, and right this second we can’t honesty say that those arrested are guilty of anything. Suspected, yes, sure, but right now they haven’t even been charged and in law they are innocent ’til proven guilty, just the same as everyone else. This is not a triviality. This is not showing more concern for the human rights of the perpetrators, who I repeat are not as yet known to be the perpetrators, than it is for the victim. This is absolutely essential for law to work at all. As Bolt’s Sir Thomas More put it:

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

The second reason is more prosaic. I’m appalled by this crime and I want to know that someone is punished for it. I want to hear that they got the bastard, that he was tried, convicted and locked away like an animal. And if he appeals I want to be confident that he’s got no hope at all and the Appeals Court will reject it in very short order because the police and CPS did a thorough job, cutting no corners and respecting the accused’s rights at every step of the process. I said they were important, and that’s why – it’s not just that some accused really are innocent but also that you don’t want it to become a get out of jail free card for the guilty ones later on.

Naming and shaming now, if the eventual accused is indeed the one who gets named, puts that all that at risk if the defence persuades the court that it’s prejudiced the jury and a fair trial is no longer possible. And before we start launching into defence barristers, see above – if you’d been charged and you were innocent you’d be wanting the barrister to do absolutely everything, play every angle at every stage, to get you out of there and back to your life, and if we want that for innocents accidentally put on trial or maliciously fitted up then it’s got to be done for the crims too. It’s not perfect but that way we know. If there’s no trial, no guilt can ever be proven, and I don’t trust British mobs to get it right when people have been known to attack the house of a paediatrician.

The disgust I feel over the idea that someone of technically the same species could do this to a tiny baby meant that I struggled to blog anything right away. There is no just punishment for this, none. There can’t be. We’re not a society that tortures people to death over extended periods anymore, and we’re the better for it, but even if we were I’m not even sure Leg-iron’s suggestion of hacking their legs off at the knee and standing them in salt is enough. Death certainly isn’t, and not just because it’d be sending him off to a hell I don’t believe in but because even if I’m wrong and there is one the bastard would get the opportunity of absolution before he got the rope or the needle or whatever. Spending the remainder of his miserable existence hearing the whispers, knowing from the beginning that the first beating – and worse – will come sooner or later, and then over the years learning from the less than gentle ministrations of fellow prisoners that the most frightening sight is an absence of screws and the worst sound is the small metallic click of a door that should remain shut being quietly unlocked, being moved for his safety and living in terror of the moment that who he is and what he’s in for will become known in the new prison, that might well be the closest thing a civilised society can do for a just punishment.

We should want as many waking moments of this creature’s remaining life as possible to be filled with nervous fear, and as many filled with terror and pain as other guests of Mrs Majesty’s prison system are able to supply. The best chance of all that happening is to name no names except to police officers. If folks on the blogosphere or Twitter or Facebook blab enough to screw up a trial, or even any chance of there being a trial, then they’d almost be accessories to the crime. Because the perpetrator of this evil will go free and those who named him will all have helped. Jeez, if he gets a new ID and life somewhere at taxpayers’ expense the blogs and twitterers and facebookers might as well have clubbed together and bought the bastard a ticket abroad and a clean docs.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Quite often so is justice.

Happy sights, happy thoughts

Click for linky

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not gloating. Well, to be honest actually I am gloating a bit, but not all that much. That partly because it’s not happened yet and we should keep the champagne on ice until it does, and partly because I’m not philosophically opposed to the idea of single currencies or federalisation as such. I think living in a federation of competing states (with a small ‘s’) has got a lot to be said for it providing they really are competing to attract citizens, and as far as I’m concerned people can do business in Altairian Dollars, Flanian Pobble Beads or the Triganic Pu, or even a single currency with a stupid name if they want, as long as both parties agree to it. What I find so objectionable about both the Euro and about EU federalism is the attempts to impose both on half a billion people whether they want them or not, and the lack of any real efforts to make either really worth wanting much.

The only note of caution I’d sound, and this is aside the view of the experts that the whole process is likely to be painful and bloody even for nations not directly connected, is that I suspect the death of the Euro will lay the grounds for the next battle. “We know what went wrong,” they’ll say. “We should have done it like the Americans did when the USA was born: political union first and monetary union second.” Prepare yourselves, Europeans, because this might not be the beginning of the end, but just the end of the beginning.

Vote early, vote often

Bucko the Moose has a link up to an online poll about banning smoking in all cars – ha, fat lot of good the BMA’s retraction of the 23 times lie has done, eh? They got the headlines and response they wanted and now idiots passing as journalists who can’t or won’t question the no-stop feed of bullshit PRs they’re given. So do pop along and have a little vote at the Lancashire Borgograph and remember what it is you’re voting for. On the one hand it’s the right to be left alone in property that you’ve paid for and belongs to you. On the other hand, well, you work it out.

Spot what’s missing here

Down here in Mellie we’re currently basking in sunshine and unusually warm temperatures for the time of year, it still being winter and all. And since Victorians, though many wouldn’t admit it, like to chat about the weather as much as the English it’s no surprise to see a news report or two on it. Here’s one from The Age, which I’m going to quote en bloc since I think it’s notable for something it doesn’t say. Read all the way through and see if you end up thinking the same thing as I did.

Melburnians have revelled in record-breaking warmth today and can expect more freak winter warmth in the coming days as the city experiences an unseasonably sunny start to August.

The top temperature in the city reached 20.2 just after 2.30pm, the warmest ever August 2.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Stuart Coombs said it was the warmest start to August since records began in 1855.

In Geelong and Avalon, the mercury climbed to just over 22 degrees.

The Bureau has nudged up tomorrow’s forecast maximum from 20 degrees to 21 degrees and expects Thursday will reach 22 degrees.

Mr Coombs said if the Bureau’s forecasts were correct, Wednesday and Thursday will also be the highest recorded temperatures on those dates.

The city’s previously hottest August 2 was recorded at 19.5 degrees way back in 1873.

Nights have also been remarkably warm for mid-winter, with the minimum temperature in the city hitting 11.7 degrees at 3.46am today.

That is five degrees above the average minimum temperature for August.

Other parts of the state are also enjoying pleasant conditions. Mildura hit nearly 27 degrees today, Orbost reached just over 20 degrees and Kyabram nearly 21 degrees.

But the sunshine won’t last.

“Let’s face it, in Melbourne these things never do,” Mr Coombs said.

“We will see a cold front gradually crossing the state by the end of the week bringing rain and cooler conditions by the weekend.”

The temperature is expected to drop to low and mid teens by Saturday and between 10 and 20 mm of rain to fall from Friday.

This week’s mild conditions are being created by a high pressure system over the Tasman sea and northerly winds over Victoria.

Did you see it? Or rather not see it because it isn’t there? An article about unseasonably warm weather with not one single mention of climate whinge, emissions, carbon taxes or any of the other warble gloaming catastrophist agitprop that’s so often regurgitated for these kind of stories. And it’s not the first time recently that I’ve scrolled down a weather story looking for the almost inevitable ‘the Earth is angry because you drive a Land Rover’ line only to find it’s not there.

Why do you think that is? I’d like to think it’s a sign that the whole trope is gradually suffocating in its own bullshit and climate science might soon return to an honest approach, being open about the huge amount of uncertainty there is and the vast number of things that remains unknown about how the climate works, or perhaps that the media is finally becoming bored with linking everything to warble gloaming. But there’s another possibility too. There have been some damned cold winters in the last few years, and here in Oz our decade long and allegedly warble gloaming induced drought broke all of its own accord.* And each time the catastrophists have said, quite correctly, that these are weather events rather than climate. The trouble is that sceptics have always said the same thing about warm weather events that the catastrophists and their media fellow travellers have beaten up as indicators of coming disaster, and weren’t slow to point out the hypocrisy of pointing fingers at our industrialised lifestyles when there’s a heatwave before dismissing a cold snap as ‘just weather’.

Maybe the science is getting more honest and maybe the MSM are getting over it and looking for the next long term scare so that terrorism doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting on its own.** But maybe the savvier catastrophists have realised that to the layman this seems like they’re trying to have their cake and eat it and this is less a surrender and more a tactical withdrawal. It’ll be interesting to see which.

* How dare it not wait a year or two so the carbon tax we’re about to be screwed by could try to claim some credit, but of course some pinned the blame for the rainfall on warble gloaming anyway. The scientific formula is very simple: any negative consequences of any kind = evidence of warble gloaming.
** The events of the last week make me wonder if the next scare down at the MSM’s joint bullshit production facility will be libertarians and anarchists. I’d be kind of flattered since I don’t think I’ve ever been scary before.

Questions, questions redux

And now the lily is being de-gilded. Contrary to what was being reported earlier it now turns out that Bin Breathing did not use his wife as a human shield and being apparently unarmed nor did he return fire. I appreciate that this is still soon after the raid in which he was killed that the ink labelling his DNA test has barely had time to dry and that details can easily be misreported at this early stage, but it’s a pretty big detail to get wrong, isn’t it?

I’d bet the guys who actually dropped the bastard knew perfectly well which of those was closest to what actually happened and the info from their first hand reports is now starting to come out and contradict the earlier stuff. The whole cowardly hiding behind others while fighting to the death thing was just too like the story that Hollywood would have told. Embellishment, perhaps not deliberate, added by someone who wanted to believe it happened that way? Who knows, but it sounded a bit too comic book villain to be reliable enough for the papers to jump all over right away.

Professional offence seeking reaches new heights.

Okay, maybe I should have put that another way because no doubt the Campaign for Equal Heights, ah, sorry, I mean the Walking with Giants Foundation would probably be upset if they read it.

The charity said it considered all such jokes as a form of harassment, contrary to equalities law, that enhanced negative stereotypes.

Oh, that’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it?

Shit. Done it again, and clearly having no intention to offend makes no difference at all.

Mr Cameron’s spokewoman said he had made ”light-hearted comments not intended to cause offence”.
But John Connerty, WWGF co-founder and charity secretary, launched a fierce condemnation of the Prime Minister’s decision to ”glorify” the previous incident.

Look, John, I honestly feel you’d be better off talking about the work your charity does for people who actually suffer from dwarfism rather than taking offence on behalf of all of them over a comment aimed at someone who is perfectly normal but a bit of a short arse. Bercow should certainly not be confused with a dwarf when he’s plainly just a pint sized twat. Anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly Dopey.

Shit. Done it again.

Tourist advice for travellers to Australia.

Do, do, do try not to get arrested in East Perth unless you like being surrounded by cops and repeatedly tasered. In the fucking custody suite at the station.

Nine police who surrounded an unarmed man at the East Perth watch house used a Taser on him 13 times even though he wasn’t threatening them, the WA corruption watchdog has found.

The Corruption and Crime Commission investigation was part of a wider examination of WA Police’s use of Tasers since their introduction in 2007, the majority of which were found to be reasonable.

Perhaps. I’m certainly prepared to believe that and I don’t have a problem with officers using tasers or even their sidearms to protect themselves or members of the public. And I’m even prepared to believe that the guy was somewhat short of a sainthood.

Police said they tried to arrest the man on a Bayswater street after complaints of a trespasser sniffing petrol from cars, but he fled. They later arrested him after he ran into a stationary car on Guildford Road. He allegedly collapsed and became violent, kicking two officers when he woke.

He was taken to the watch house, where police attempted to strip search him. Police said he had previously been convicted of a number of offences including assaulting police officers, resisting arrest and common assault.

On the other hand all he was doing was just sitting there saying he didn’t want to be strip searched and wouldn’t let go of the bench. Is the taser supposed to be a tool for protecting police officers in the field or is it okay to use it as a cattle prod to shock, literally, into submission anyone who’s doing nothing worse than being a passive aggressive pain in the arse?

“The man had been compliant, removing his belt and earring when requested by police officers. However, the man refused to comply with a strip search and held onto the armrest of the bench. One police officer kicked out at the man in an attempt to ‘startle’ him into letting go of the bench,” the report said.

Because to me that’s what they look like they’re doing (you may not find this easy watching).

Do you wanna go again? Do you wanna go again?

I don’t even want to watch it again, but in case you didn’t that was said after he’d been shocked a few times, and it was by no means the last one he got. For Christ’s sake, couldn’t they have got two cops on each limb and gone from there? I mean what did police do before they could just repeatedly send electricity through people? Well, I suppose there was bouncing people off the cell floor, but surely they didn’t do that to everyone. Still, I’m sure at least that was the worst and the interview was comforta…

No, I don’t want to go again.

… Oh.

Joking aside I do seriously wonder how well I’d do in a police interview if I’d taken 13 shocks from tasers when they brought me in. After that I might be inclined to waive a solicitor, confess to pushing the iceberg in front of the Titanic and worry about court later… anything as long as it got me the fuck away from that bloody cop shop. I’m sure that wasn’t the cops’ intention but it’s a possibility and it worries me, because if it can be done eventually some dodgy copper will do it. I’d hope that WA Police haven’t got a single member who’d stoop that low but between tasering each other on purpose and maybe accidentally setting someone on fire they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory when it comes to taser use.

And the other thing is that this kind of thing is changing my opinion of tasers. I’m never slow to criticise the police but in principle I’m all for giving them the tools they need to enforce the law (getting rid of a lot of unnecessary and illiberal laws would be far more effective a way of tackling incidences of over the top policing). Up until recently I’ve felt that that includes tasers simply because they’re a less lethal, usually non-lethal, alternative to using a gun. But the reason why I’m now no longer sure is that these controversial taser incidents seem to be happening more and more around the world and I’m wondering if a cop with a less lethal option than a gun will be more likely to use it. I read somewhere that we humans have a kind of built in acceptable level of risk and so the more safety features are on a car the less careful the driver will tend to be as a result of ‘risk compensation’. Could the same thing apply to a cop choosing between a baton, a taser and a gun? Any reasonable person, and I believe most cops probably are reasonable people and quite possibly the cops in that video are too, would be extremely reluctant to pull the trigger of a gun aimed at someone, but would we be equally reluctant to pull the trigger of something which while undeniably unpleasant and painful only very rarely causes a fatality? I hope that I would be as hesitant to taser as I would to shoot but in all honesty I’m far from sure. And I’m not sorry that I’ll probably never find out.

Where to draw the line.

The other thing I wanted to post just before I unplug myself from the blog for the weekend relates to another round of the interminable debate on capital punishment between me, JuliaM and some of the other commenters that hang around the Ambush Predator’s cave. As usual Julia and others take the view that sometimes capital punishment is justified because the world has got some proper fucking scumbags in it, while others oppose for various reasons while conceding that there are indeed some scumbags, but it’s the fact that the state itself is the biggest bullying scumbag of them all that is the reason why I’m personally against putting that power back into its hands. I was going to copy and paste the arguments I made at Julia’s and edit them a little to make a quick post on it here but really there’s nothing much I didn’t say in this blog back in May last year. In short, the state has a habit of granting itself powers and abusing them before you can even say, ‘Hey, I’m just a photographer, leave me alo-aaargh,’ and with that in mind how can we trust that the same mission creep would never be applied to capital punishment? Even if you trust the current crop of politicians you can never be certain that will always be the case. As I said at Julia’s, the Weimar Republic were happy to keep capital punishment on the books just for murder and probably never envisaged a deranged demagogue being democratically elected and going on to pass Enabling Acts so the law could be changed to suit his regime. The handful of murderers the Weimar Republic executed became 40,000 under the Nazis, many of whom were guilty of nothing more than speaking out against the state.

And where is Britain now? Populist leaders democratically elected recently, check – Thatcher on one side, Blair on the other. Enabling Acts, check – Blair and Brown passed lots of mini-Enabling Acts that add up to a great deal of executive power and which, rather worryingly, the Cobbletion doesn’t seem at all interested in repealing. They probably wouldn’t but there’s not much to stop a future fucknuts PM as it is. Still, like Sophie Scholl they can only cut off your head for it once, eh?

But it doesn’t even need that to happen for death sentence mission creep to occur. All it needs is a government under some pressure to save a few quid and look tough for the tabloids.

Minister: Can we release a few more of the minor criminals early?
Advisor: Sorry Minister, that’s political suicide.
Minister: Alright, what about speeding up the death penalty procedures and executing more of the worst criminals? Surely that would be popular?
Advisor: Well, we could certainly streamline the process a little more.
Minister: Only a little?
Advisor: To be honest Minister, after removing the right to a final appeal for clemency to the Queen there’s not that much scope left beyond processing the paperwork more quickly.
Minister: Right, do that then. Anything else? Could we extend execution to other serious crimes?
Advisor: Such as, Minister?
Minister: Well, what have we got now? Murder, obviously.
Advisor: Yes, and terrorism, rape and sexual assault of minors.
Minister: Okay, then we just need to know what the papers are baying for blood over at the moment. You take The Daily Shriek and I’ll look through the Gnash Of The Teeth.
Advisor: People seem very concerned about drugs again, Minister.
Minister: Okay, shall we say any second offence of dealing Class A?
Advisor: I can draft it this afternoon, Minister.

First offence? You’ll probably get off with crucifixion.

So without rehashing the case against capital punishment any further I’d like to expand this whole argument into a simple principle of restraint on the power of the state. A golden rule on limiting executive power, if you will. Simply put it is this:

Never give your government any power that you wouldn’t also be comfortable
entrusting to a genocidal dictator.

Now I’m definitely off. Enjoy your weekend.


This could be interesting, and personally I think there’s nothing like a little bit of competition from someone who’s prepared to offer the market something that the big boys are unable or unwilling to provide. That people on my blogroll are behind it only means I’m bound to wish ’em the best of luck. The only thing that worries me slightly about EyeTube is the name. Not that I have a problem with it at all, and it’s nothing to do with me anyway, but there are some extraordinary cunts out there and some of them are both notoriously litigious and insanely (and unreasonably) over protective of their names and IP issues. There have been examples of this only recently. A small site for people in the education profession called Teachbook is being sued by Facebook, who is less than understandably upset about the use of the suffix ‘book’ on a networking site even though it’s got less than 50 members and is clearly specialised, and for that piece of legal bullying I’d delete my Facebook account if I had one. Perhaps Facebastard hasn’t heard that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but no doubt they’d prefer the teachers to set up and join groups there, which makes me worry for EyeTube that YouTube won’t take the same attitude because it’s also a similar service with the same suffix in the name. Ironically Facecock itself is being sued along with YouTube’s owner Google, those litigation happy folks at Apple (see this blog, and this one, and this Cracked article, particularly number 2, 3 and 4) and others for patent infringement relating, among others things, technology to annoy the tits off of web users by flashing ads at them.*

… Google called Allen’s lawsuit “unfortunate.”

“This lawsuit against some of America’s most innovative companies reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace,” said Google. “Innovation — not litigation — is the way to bring to market the kinds of products and services that benefit millions of people around the world.”

I couldn’t agree more, and I hope for EyeTube’s sake that YouTube/Google take the same attitude with them. But just in case they don’t it’s probably one to jot down and quote straight back at them if the cease and desist letters start hitting the doormat. Hopefully the spelling will fuck up any plans Apple have to own perpetual rights over absolutely anything and everything prefixed with the letter ‘i’, the fucking iDiots.

* If they annoyed the ads off of web users by flashing tits at them they might have won more friends.

We know where you are.

Friends who know I use a Mac often believe I’m a closet Apple fanboy despite the fact that I will bitch and bag Apple at the drop of a hat, and those among them who have an iPhone and are deeply, deeply in love with it are incredulous that I haven’t got one and don’t intend to get one. Well, confession time – I did once want one but because I was having a row with Apple Australia at the time I was damned if I was going to give them another cent, and settled on a boggo Nokia instead. ‘Oh, but it’s so handy to get GPS,’ they say. ‘Bollocks,’ I reply. For the price of an iPhone I could have my Nokia and a separate GPS and a brand new Melway for when the GPS instructions turn out to be wrong. And not only that, I wouldn’t have to worry about making  a tinfoil hat so that Apple couldn’t see my thoughts, or failing that see where I am.

A thief, Horatio Toure, who stole an Apple iPhone from its owner’s hands was arrested by American police within minutes after being tracked by global positioning system (GPS) software.
The 31 year-old snatched the highly-sought after phone from the hands of a software company employee who was testing a new application in San Francisco earlier this week.
But the hapless thief was arrested by police just nine minutes later after the iPhone tracked his every move.

Now, granted this was new software being tested and which happened to be on at the time, and Apple have said that if he’d turned the phone off it would have been game over as far as nicking him so quickly was concerned. But it occurs to me that with a bit of code here and there surely it would be possible to have a phone that turns itself on at regular intervals to give a little ‘Here I Am’ wave in the direction of Cupertino, or whoever pays them for that information. To be honest I really can’t think of any reason why they would do that, but if it can be done then it is a concern. The fact that Apple are so bloodyminded about running anything other than their own or their approved software on their products and how dickish they are with licensing doesn’t make me more confident.

I’m sure some people will look at this and think ‘wow, what a great advert for an iPhone’. I think ‘wow, I’m so glad I didn’t buy one.’ Paranoid? No, not really, but that’s at least partly because I’m happy to use an obsolete ‘dumb’ phone, and you know what? It makes phone calls just fine.

PR is not the answer.

First Past The Post is looking increasingly obsolete so naturally thoughts are turning to the Liberal Democrats’ personal wet dream, Proportional Representation. It’s going to be talked about quite a lot because in Britain, thanks to the LibDems, it’s the only other one that a lot of people have heard of. And to give PR its due it is a fundamentally more fair system than the current one that has allowed government after government after government to be formed by parties claiming a mandate despite nobody actually winning the popular vote. I’ve talked at some length about electoral reform (here, here and here if you’ve got a while) and gone into the pros and cons of PR, so in the interests of not repeating myself to much and keeping it quick I’m just going to repost a comment I left on Old Holborn.

As someone who lives with it let me explain what PR will give you.

Yes, it will give seats to the BNP, Commies, Greens etc, and on that I agree with Old Holborn. So what if it does? It’ll also give seats to UKIP, probably a few independents and maybe nascent parties like LPUK. Goose and gander stuff, not a problem. The problem, or at least the first one, is that it will do precisely fuck all about the cronyism of the main parties and the unaccountability of their MPs.

Let me introduce Senator Stephen Conroy, a tool of the worst ordure, whose policy baby is government filtering of the internet to the entire fucking country. How do we get rid of the authoritarian prick? Answer: we can’t because PR makes him at least as safe – probably more so – as any British MP in a reliably safe seat for their party. For a start he’s a Victorian Senator so most of the country get no say anyway, but it’s PR that keeps us here in Victoria from getting rid of the bastard. PR means party lists, and as long as Conroy is in the good books of the Australian Labor Party (please send spare vowels to Canberra) he’ll be at or near the top of their list and absolutely guaranteed his Senate seat even if the ALP lose the popular vote in the Senate election here. The guy is literally fireproof since only the ALP has the power to fire him. We voters certainly don’t.

Do you want that for the House of Commons? Do you want to give the Labial Conservocrats even more power to impose a collection of yes men, lobby fodder, fuckwits, spivs, tools and chancers on the electorate? If so then PR is just what you want. If not then look for something else.

The second problem is representation. Who is my Senator? Is it Conroy? Or is it one of the other five ALP Senators? Or one of the half dozen Liberals? Or the microparty madman from Family First? Because there are no constituencies the answer is none and all of them. Even if you consider the state of Victoria as a large multi-member constituency PR has weakens the link between representatives and constituents, particularly since nearly all serve at the pleasure of their parties rather than Victorian voters. That’s not a huge problem here because we have constituency MPs in the House of Representatives for that – the Senators are there to represent the states and the role of the Senate is more or less what the House of Lords is for. For that PR is just fine, though party lists preventing easy dismissal of crap Senators is still a problem.

If you want to get rid of the Lords and have an elected chamber PR is a fantastic idea. But as a replacement for FPTP? If it happens I think many will soon be bitterly disappointed that the chance to replace the busted FPTP system with something that works was instead squandered on PR. You’ll get your minor parties in but in the main parties, the ones that will actually form governments, you’ll get even less accountability than you have now. FPTP has certainly got to go but don’t jump from the frying pan to the fire.

So don’t get all starry eyed and in love with the idea of PR. Supporting a new electoral system simply because it’s less bad than the one you have is a bit like voting for a candidate who is less awful than the incumbent.