Daily catch-up: it is worse than a mistake to suggest that the election result was ‘undemocratic’

Accidental art, political commentary and a terrific election memoir

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The Independent Online

1. Lovely trick of the eye, an accidentally cropped photo by Boris Ignatovich of The Hermitage, St Petersburg, 1930, via Clive Davis, Anne Mortier and “aucharbon”.

2. It is not often that I disagree with my fellow Sunday opinionator, Andrew Rawnsley, but his column in The Observer yesterday was an awful lot of tosh. He said the “big, basic and brute reason” the Conservatives won the election “is the electoral system”. This turned a 36.9 per cent share of the vote into a majority of seats in the House of Commons, he complained.

I disagree. People voted the way they did under the rules as they are. Had the electoral system been different, people might have voted differently.

Even if you accept Rawnsley’s premise, 50.1 per cent of people voted for the Conservatives, UKIP and the Democratic Unionist Party. Is his complaint, then, that David Cameron ought to be leading a coalition government with Nigel Farage and Peter Robinson?

He suggests that the system is “not just grossly unfair, but utterly undemocratic”. Rawnsley is too sophisticated to hold such a view himself, but he attributes it to UKIP voters and appears to endorse it. And he suggests that Labour lost because of the voting system. No, it didn’t. Labour lost because too few people voted for it.

Of course the present system has its flaws. But so do all voting systems and the British people were given the chance to make a modest change four years ago, which they declined.

We live in a democracy and the result of the election was a democratic one. To suggest otherwise is dangerous.

3. Elesewhere in the Sunday newspapers, the Mail on Sunday had a scoop of interpretation, reporting that Rupert Murdoch would back David Cameron’s referendum campaign to stay in the European Union. Murdoch professed to be baffled at the idea that this was a U-turn, as he has never explicitly supported withdrawal. But he has flirted with it, and his decision to support British membership is significant.

If Cameron wins the referendum, and the economy is in good shape, do we really think he will stand down before the next election? My question in The Independent on Sunday.

4. My Top 10 in The New Review, the Independent on Sunday magazine is Terrible Technology Predictions.

5. Nick Robinson’s memoir of the election, subtitled, The Inside Story Of The Battle Over Britain’s Future And My Personal Battle To Report It, was serialised in the Mail on Sunday. It is a terrific story.

The account of a private dinner with Ed and Justine Miliband just before the election is telling: Robinson detected “doubt and uncertainty” in Ed. (I remember detecting a similar “fearful and defensive” mood.)

He confirms that Tom Baldwin, Miliband’s spin doctor, was the source of the “Milly Dowler moment” comment. And he also, on Twitter, confirmed that it was Miliband himself who first used the word “weaponise” about the NHS.

6. And finally, thanks to Puncroaker ‏for this:

“My inability to pronounce Spanish names makes me sad, and I’m not even Jaoquin.”

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