Monday, May 02, 2011

The AV Referendum

I just received the No Campaign Ltd mailshot. To summarise, it's position is the voting system should be simple, just like you.

"The winner should always be the one who comes first." Comparing electing a government to winning a race, match or bout is a terrible analogy.

Imagine the following election results under first-past-the-post:
BNP 18%
Conservative 17%
Greens 17%
Labour 16%
Liberal Democrats 16%
UKIP 16%

Under this system we have a BNP Member of Parliament with 18% of the vote. Congratulations.
The 82% majority that didn't vote for this candidate would mostly veto him/her if they could. But they can't, so tough. And they can't even register their opposition by putting him/her 6th or even leaving off entirely. Your preferences beyond your first choice are completely ignored.

The leaflet is quite vacuous.

The literal big picture (of Nick Clegg)
"The Lib Dems and Nick Clegg would always be part of the government." What a ridiculous statement. Clegg is going to be lucky to survive the next year in the government, let alone being an indefinite fixture.

The figures
"The alternative vote system could cost the country £250 million"

"£91 million on the referendum". Considering that money would be spent even if we stick with FPTP that's a bit of a non argument.

"£26 million explaining how people should vote under the new system". Less than £1 per voter. Money well spent. Though you would have thought that all the money we ploughed into education would have been enough. The only reason FPTP doesn't need explaining that every child is familiar with a pirate's treasure map and knows that X marks the spot.

"Up to £130 million on electronic vote counting machines". You know you're stretching the argument when you use "up to" because the item itself is discretionary.

And there's not even an "or" in the alternatives the money could provide. So the
2503 doctors,
6297 teachers,
8197 nurses,
35885 hip replacements,
69832 school places
could look very attractive to someone who must have the FPTP system because they are too ill witted to understand the alternative vote.

Lets not kid ourselves. AV is a miserably little compromise, to borrow a phrase, but that's no good reason to dismiss it because we aren't being offer proportional representation.

Getting proper political, the gap between this referendum and the last referendum in this country has a span encapsulating a 18 year Tory administration followed by a 13 year Labour one and a few years either side. If we say no to AV, how long do you think we'll get until one for PR comes along?

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