Failings

My eyes have let me down a couple of times recently. As you will know from other posts in this blog, my eyesight has suffered as a result of diabetes and/or the stroke. I mean, generally, these days, I live ok with my eyes. Whilst I don’t think they’ve got any better, I certainly don’t think they’ve got any worse.

Yesterday, I was reading something online, which led me off to a newspaper article. I read the article, then made a comment. The only problem I had was that I misread the article – I thought I had read it properly, but I hadn’t. It was quite a serious post in quite a serious forum, and whilst it is interesting to discover other views, and share your own, it’s generally not a very forgiving place – somebody can be relied upon to pick up on something pretty quickly. True to form, somebody did spot the mistake. Fortunately, they managed to tell me without also adding that I was an idiot, that I was brainless etc. which is often the case on the internet, and really is unnecessary – I often think that when people choose just to insult other people, they’re exposing their own limitations. At least, if he did tell me, I didn’t see it.

I, of course, deleted my post and apologised. I don’t think he made capital out of it, but of course he could easily have said something like “make sure you read things properly next time before commenting”, which would have been fair enough. The problem was, I thought I  had read the thing properly.

So as a consequence, as I say, I removed my comment and didn’t replace it, although, of course, I still had a view. But I thought I’d forfeited the right to express that view by my error. I might well have left the group as a result, if I can’t rely 100% on my eyes, but, as I say, I find some of it interesting. I mean, it probable takes me much more effort than it does the average, able-eyed person to work my way through a post, but that’s my problem. The great thing about the internet is that nobody knows how long it takes me to read and write stuff.

The second incident (don’t worry, there are only two) was that I had to renew my PIP benefit. I posted about this just last time out. I’ve had the form a week or so, and when it first arrived, I’d obviously read enough of it to know what they wanted me to do, but I’d missed the deadline, which was a just a couple of days later. We just had a bank holiday in the UK, so there was no postal service, and my form couldn’t possibly get back there in time. I mean, I have to rely on my wife to scribe these forms (really annoying, but for another post), and she works four days a week, plus she was away last weekend and part of this, not to mention having her own things to do rather than just being around to fill forms out for me, so it was always going to be tight. I didn’t realise just how tight.

So my renewal application will arrive a couple of days late, and god knows what they’ll do in response to that. Worst case, I suppose, they might turn around and say that, because I didn’t renew in time, that they’d assumed I didn’t want to renew and have therefore scrapped my case. But that would be a pyrrhic victory. It’d take me extra time to re-apply, it’d take them extra time to sift through a “first-time” application. If they take that route, I could just appeal I suppose, but it’d have the same result in terms of taking us all more time. I suppose the fallback, as far as I’m concerned, is that I’m certainly not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes – I’m far stronger at walking, but my wrist, hand, ankle and foot are still paralysed, so it’s a no-brainer for me to pursue it to the end. With any luck, the DWP will be sufficiently tardy in opening their mail, that they won’t notice anything was late. They must deal with many thousands of these applications so I very much doubt that someone is sitting there waiting for mine.

Malta

Lots of things I hear about the EU leave me thinking, “that’s not very good”, here’s one of those things:

In France, today, the population is 66.9 Million [Google]. This boils into an electorate of around 47.3M [ElectionGuide.org]. France currently has 74 seats in the European Parliament [Google]. The European Parliament is important, since it’s the only thing we European citizens cast our votes for. This institution should be the source for every power European, at least in my mind, and should itself be comprised fairly. So, let’s summarise:

France

Population 66.9M
Electorate 47,293,103
Number of seats in the European Parliament 74
Number of people per seat 904,054.05
Number of electors per seat 639,095.99

Those two last rows are simple divisions of the numbers, I haven’t introduced any new numbers. This is all fair enough, France’s number of delegates is in line (using either population or electorate) with somebody like the UK, which has a slightly smaller population/electorate than France, and 73 seats.

But let’s look at Malta. Here’s that same table:

Malta

Population 436,947
Electorate 341,856
Number of seats in the European Parliament 6
Number of people per seat 72,824.50
Number of electors per seat 56,976.00

My sources here are Google and Wikipedia. You should be able to see it from comparing the two tables, but I’ll just state it for clarity:

Seats per person (Malta) vs. Seats per Person (France) 12.41
Seats per elector (Malta) vs. Seats per elector (France) 11.22

So, again just to be explicit, a Maltese person’s voice is more than ten times as loud as a French person’s. I have to say I’m in no way being critical of Malta here – it’s really up to negotiators to secure the best deal they can, so good on them. My only criticism might be that they could have pointed out that they have a disproportionate number of MEPs, but why would someone put fairness above their self-interest? And that’s my problem, or one of them. To be explicit for the last time, I expect the ratio to be somewhat nearer to one. Okay, I can live with some small variation, because France is a comparatively large country, and Malta a very small country, but a ratio of 10 is not fair. All countries should have about the same number of representatives, per capita.

Then you get to the method used by each of the countries to elect their MEPs, where again, my support is qualified. You’ll pick up from other posts the need to be careful to design a fair PR system, and certainly until John Prescott changed the UK system, our first-past-the-post was less fair still. But all of this might be the subject of another post.

I don’t particularly wish to make further capital out of this, really it’s down to you to digest these numbers and decide whether they’re fair or not, but be aware that these numbers are one of the reasons why I’m happy to walk away from the EU. I have a lot of sympathy with my continental friends, who will readily say that the EU might be imperfect, but there’s no way they can contemplate living without it, but I’m less forgiving. I’m quite happy to live without it.