From The Independent site yesterday: ‘I Bregrexit’: I voted for Brexit—and now I realise what a terrible mistake I made.

A crucial part of what tripped up such voters is that they’re used to General Elections fought under first past the post, where again and again their vote makes no difference, and in safe seats they can muck about with protest votes and what have you. They totally misunderstood the nature of a national referendum where every vote towards either side counts.

But that misunderstanding isn’t all on them: it’s on the political classes failing to inform them properly, and sometimes even wanting to keep them ill-informed. I think now that the AV referendum was a big part of why this one went as it did: an obvious improvement to Britain’s voting system was undermined because the two main parties wanted to play party politics with it, and wanted to preserve their own chances of winning absolute power outright rather than risk a future of messy coalitions and compromise. AV was portrayed as “too complicated”, when from the voter’s point of view all it involved was numbering the candidates to rank them rather than writing an X in a box. The AV debate indulged a popular sense that votes didn’t matter, that, literally, how you vote doesn’t matter.


This was Owen Jones calling it last Tuesday. Leave was a clear threat right up to Thursday. If anyone was complacent about that, and either capriciously voted Leave or figured it didn’t matter and so didn’t bother voting, then they’re part of Leave’s victory.

But the ones who actually voted Leave brought us here the most, whether they feel bad about it now or not. A “Regrexit” voter had exactly the same influence in the actual voting booth as Nigel Farage himself.

27 June 2016 · Comment · Politics

Voted Off the Island

Brexit has now completely displaced all of the other important stuff that’s supposed to be filling my head right now, and promises to do so for months if not years. The same must be true for countless others in the UK and elsewhere. The opportunity cost will be enormous, and is only going to get worse; other crises don’t stop happening simply because Britain’s voters have self-inflicted the biggest crisis of them all—they compound one another.

Read More · 27 June 2016 · 1 Comment · Politics

A Mefi comment of mine from Saturday.

Read More · 27 June 2016 · Comment · Politics


A few reflections, now that I’ve gathered my thoughts.

Read More · 25 June 2016 · Comment · Politics



23 June 2016 · 1 Comment · Politics

A Nightmare Before Brexit

Say Brexit breaks it.
Boris’ll fix it?
Will he, bollox.

Read More · 22 June 2016 · Comment · Politics

Seven Days

Owen Jones: On Sky News last night, I realised how far some will go to ignore homophobia.

A time capsule of the unpresidential things Trump says. Republican leaders cower as Trump burns down their party.

Our refugee system is failing. Here’s how we can fix it.

Brexit voters are almost twice as likely to disbelieve in manmade climate change.

The pitfalls of Brexit negotiations with the EU.

If you inject enough poison into the political bloodstream, somebody will get sick.

Calls not to “politicise” the assassination of an MP are weasel words by the architects of hate.

17 June 2016 · Comment · Politics

Without knowing it, I posted yesterday’s entry around the same time MP Jo Cox was being shot and stabbed in Yorkshire by a right-wing extremist. I first heard the news later in the afternoon, and hoped against hope that she would pull through; it was awful to hear the police announcement of her death on Radio 4, and her colleagues being asked for their reactions moments after they heard that news themselves (they were in the studio to talk about the attack). The presenter sounded just as upset.

Read More · 17 June 2016 · Comment · Politics

One Week in Europe

A week or so before a referendum seems to be when I finally steel myself to post about it here. As my comments over the years have made clear, I’m as pro-EU as they come, which none of the pro-Brexit arguments I’ve read has changed; most are driven by native-born British or English feelings I don’t share, by stereotypes of the EU that misunderstand or misrepresent how it works, by arguments for democracy that dismiss any evidence of EU democracy and ignore any evidence of problems with British democracy, by notions that saving a few pounds a week per household on EU contributions will give us untold riches to spend elsewhere without making any allowance for what those few pounds buy us, by a misguided sense that the struggles of austerity are the fault of EU immigrants or bureaucrats, or by, in some ugly cases, outright racism. I’ve appended some links that rebut these points better than I have time to do here today.

Read More · 16 June 2016 · Comment · Politics

Overdoing the Fake Tan

Family chooses different dog than reincarnated grandfather.

Trump’s conflict-of-interest problem. Who he?

Bionic leaf surpasses efficiency of photosynthesis.

How Silicon Valley nails Silicon Valley. Its real-life models.

The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare.

Seagull turns orange after falling into vat of tikka masala.

Paris floods, 1910 and 2016.

Frontiers of peace.

Britons demand to live in medieval village surrounded by a wall.

12 June 2016 · Comment · Weblog


It’s too long since I’ve had a new photo gallery here, so here’s an easy one to (re-)start with: some photos of spring blossoms and cow parsley, taken in and around the Meadows in Edinburgh over the past few weeks.

7 June 2016 · Comment · Journal

Sounding the Conch

A petitition is circulating to save Pacific Studies at the Australian National University from erosion through underinvestment. I signed it with the following comment:

I was a PhD student at ANU precisely because of the Pacific expertise concentrated in RSPacS/RSPAS, and benefitted enormously from spending time with staff who had studied the region for decades. In the early 1990s there was already concern that Australia’s attention was turning away from its Pacific neighbours, but at least ANU remained a crucial repository of knowledge about them. Climate change promises to bring Pacific concerns back to the forefront for Australia, and arguably already is. It would be incredibly short-sighted of ANU to lose its position in Pacific studies at that very moment—not to mention disheartening to those who have devoted much of their lives to maintaining it, and younger scholars who were hoping to.

31 May 2016 · Comment · Journal

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