Posts Tagged ‘elections’

The tragedy of Boaty McBoatface

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 | Religion & Politics


Last week it was announced that the new polar research ship Boaty McBoatface would be named RRS Sir David Attenborough instead. True, NERC never promised they would name the ship after the most popular vote, but I think it still raises questions.

NERC is publicly funded, so you would think that they would want to serve the public as best they can. And the public had spoken. 124,109 votes were cast for Boaty McBoatface. The next in line was Poppy-Mai with 39,886 (which was the small child that married her father). David Attenborough collected only 11,203 votes, less than a tenth of what Boaty earned.

However, it was not to be. Jo Johnson said there were “more suitable” names, and that they would be selecting one of them. In the end, they settled on naming it after Sir David Attenborough. Attenborough is a British institution to be sure. However, if I was him, I would have sent a rather grumpy message pointing out that I was in fact not dead yet.

At the same time, we had our local elections. Turnout was around 45%. Most people did not even go out and vote. The situation is more dire in reality because it’s only 45% of those registered to vote: not everyone is registered, and some are even denied the right: prisoners and those under 18 years old for example. Only 69% of the population are registered to vote.

These are not the levels of participation on democracy that we would like to see.

Here is the tradegy: with Boaty McBoatface, people actually became excited about democracy. Young people were voting. People were sharing, and telling their friends to vote. It was worth basically nothing and yet people were engaging, excited and thought they would make a difference. Imagine if we could get that excitement about government elections.

There can be little argument against calling it Boaty McBoatface. Yes, it would be a ‘silly’ name. In what way does that affect the vessel’s ability to do science? The answer, is in no way. Nintendo named their console after taking a literal piss, and the Wii outsells both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

But then a suit stands up and tells everyone that they have made the wrong choice. Forget what the public wants, we will pick a “more suitable” name for you. The powers that be have spoken, and respecting what the public wants is not on the agenda. No wonder nobody turns out to vote, they’re not even allowed to name a ship.

Leeds City 2013/2014 Elections

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 | Life


Earlier this month, Leeds City Toastmasters held their 2013/2014 officer elections. I’m proud to say I was elected as president and am joined by Josh (vice president of education), Chanaka (vice president of membership), Pierre (vice president of public relations), Glynn (secretary), Phil (treasurer), Matt (sergeant at arms) and Jude (immediate past president).

I’m sure with such a strong committee, we’ll be in for a superb year!

Atheist Society 2013 AGM

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 | Humanism

Earlier this month, the Atheist Society held their AGM. Congratulations to Dan Murgatroyd (President), Josh Hulks (Secretary), Gabrielle Stakaityte (Treasurer), Hugh Clayden and James Murray who were all elected. It’s really looking like a superb committee and I wish them all the best for the coming year – I’m sure they’ll do brilliantly.

IMG_2650 IMG_2657 IMG_2659 IMG_2649

Toastmasters and cake

Sunday, May 26th, 2013 | Public Speaking


Earlier this month we held the elections for White Rose Speakers. Erik was elected president, Jane will be taking over from me as Vice President of Education, I’ll be moving to Vice President of Public Relations, Tony will be remaining as Sargent At Arms and Michael will be remaining as Treasurer. Kartik and Sam will be joining the committee as Vice President of Membership and Secretary. Congratulations to everyone who was elected!

We also celebrated our District Governor Anthony’s birthday with some cake.


AHS 2011 AGM

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 | Humanism

The recent AHS AGM, which took place in Southampton, was the a personal first for me in that it was the first AGM I haven’t attended (but in my defence – Southampton really is a long drive). Luckily James, Elettra, Nicola and Norm were all down there, so Leeds was well represented.

Tension was rather high going into the weekend with the far too public way that certain members of the outgoing executive choose to air their dirty laundry, as well as several societies quitting and people raising motions against the BHA’s ultimate control over the AHS, but never the less the storms seem to have been weathered.

The AHS now has a brand new committee, composed of Jenny Bartle, Michael Paynter and Dom Blacklock – a group of people which I am sure the AHS will be in safe hands with!

Most of us have seen Jenny’s leadership close up when we headed down to Bristol for the 2010 AGM, and she is clearly someone who has an ability to get things done.

This style should work well alongside Mike, who is almost certainly one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Always pleased to see you, even if he has never met you before, it is always a pleasure to see Mike’s face at an event.

While I’ve only briefly met Dom at the national convention and BHA reception, but he seems like a great guy as well and I’m sure the three of them will oversee a great year for the organisation. Congratulations to all!

Atheist Society AGM

Monday, May 16th, 2011 | Humanism

Earlier this month, the Atheist Society held it’s 2011 AGM. This was an important event, as it marked the end of my involvement with the group. This year has very much been consultative anyway, as fresh blood takes over, and it’s great to see the society is returning to its great shape.

This December will mark five years since the society was founded, though it seems like forever ago that we were first starting things up. As such, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped make the society what it is.

Without a doubt Norm is due the biggest amount of credit, having signed up on day one and being easily the most influential person also to be involved in the society. I would also like to say a big thank you to Matt and Claire for helping the society to get started and Nicola and Paul for their tireless work over the years. And of course, all of those who have served on the committee and helped out at events have all made valuable contributions which I’m grateful for.

The recent elections saw James, Elettra, Will and Michael form the new committee and I’m sure with such excellent leadership, the society will continue to prosper and grow.

The alternative vote

Thursday, May 12th, 2011 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

On Thursday May 5th, I voted yes to the alternative vote.

Not strictly because I actually wanted the alternative vote, but because the no campaign had been so shocking immoral. If it wasn’t massively exaggerating the cost of implementing AV by including the cost of the referendum (which thanks to the no campaign we still had to pay for even though nothing has changed) it was billboards with messages like “she needs a maternity ward, not an alternative vote.” As soon as that slogan was released, they should have lost the argument on something equivalent to Godwin’s Law.

Not to mention that most of the no campaign has been based on complete lies. Their website scare mongers with claims AV would elect the BNP even though under AV it would actually be more difficult for the BNP to get elected. They trick people by saying almost nobody uses AV even though many countries use even more progressive systems than AV.

Clearly there is something very much wrong with the morality lf those on the side of the no campaign. Even before you discover the BNP are opposed to AV as well.

Some people would argue that simply not liking one side of the argument isn’t a good enough reason to vote for the other. Unfortunately, we weren’t provided with much else to make the decision on.

The yes campaign was appalling. I got a flyer taking about “more of the same” and fat cat MPs getting expenses and still to this day it remains a mystery as to how these could be considered arguments for AV. Dan Snow’s video was excellent but I only watched it a few days after the referendum which leads me to believe that most people didn’t see it at all.

The yes campaign simply failed to convince people that AV was a good idea.

The second problem, is that the yes campaign simply doesn’t have that strong an argument. First past the post is a good system, it means the person with the most votes wins. While it does mean that less than 50% of people vote for the chosen candidate that less people wanted to elect that another candidate. AV, on balance, probably is a better system. But only just.

Which leads me on to my other reason for voting for AV. Ultimately, it’s a step forward to a more progressive system of voting. If we ever do want to move to a more proportional representation system, this would have been a good stepping stone. Not to mention that if it did turn out to be a rubbish system in reality, we could just change it back. That’s the great thing about trying new things. But alas, it’s not to be.

Atheist Society AGM

Monday, May 3rd, 2010 | Humanism

Tuesday saw Leeds Atheist Society’s 2009/2010 AGM. Congratulations to all those who were elected to the coming year’s committee, especially John who is now our new president. Afterward we finished off with the tradition karaoke session that constitutionally every AGM must end with.