Monday, September 06, 2010

Maybe to AV

The more I think about the AV referendum the more I think I could surprise myself.

As a conservative Conservative if you'd asked me about the alternative vote system (AV) a year ago I'd have been dead against.

But I am increasingly frustrated that certain issues where the public want action ( Europe, Immigration are the obvious ones ) the political establishment combined with the civil service establishment stop anything happening. Neither of the two main parties has to worry too much about its core vote - and hence they neglect it in a rush to the centre ground.

Yes AV will produce some weird results - and its certainly been cooked up as a left wing plot to deny the right access to government. Its just I'm not sure that's how it will play out.

The left ( media and politicians ) always underestimate the support for the right as they believe their own propaganda. [ After all if they were balanced rational human beings they would have left wing views anyway ! ]

I'm not sure the things I'd like to see happen in this country wouldn't be more likely with AV rather than less.

There are of course problems - like why should someone get 4-5 of their choices considered and would the system really be understood - but they need to be aired in the campaign.

The one thing I'm very unhappy about is the referendum date - which is up there with how Labour disgracefully fixed the Welsh devolution referendum.

Anyway - lets the campaigning begin. Its an unusual position for me being one of the undecided.


wildgoose said...

I know what you mean about undecided. But Alternative Vote is just a bad form of First Past the Post that just because it uses numbers happens to mimic Proportional Representation. Which means we might be stuck with it for decades. It's a "Reform" that isn't.

And of course, in closely fought contests the final decision is made by supporters of the least popular candidates, mainly loony socialists (including the BNP and Green Parties) simply because they are the first to be eliminated.

It's an even more stupid system than First Past the Post. The only sensible system for a single member constituency is Approval Voting, but that is deliberately downplayed by Electoral Reform enthusiasts because it is perhaps the biggest threat to their cherished goal of STV and permanent coalition governments.

I want Voting Reform but Alternative Vote isn't Reform in any way shape or form.

adamcollyer said...

AV is just FPTP plus a load of pointless maths. The result would be little different (except a small boost for the Lib Dems at the expense of whichever of the two main parties came second).

The public wouldn't understand it and most would just put "X" (which would be counted as a first preference).

FPTP is simple and easily understood, it produces decisive results quickly, and it normally leads to government by the party with the most support. It is less prone to fraud, because of its simplicity. And it is almost universally accepted as fair by the electorate in this country, which is a very important consideration.

Man in a Shed said...

@Wildgoose - There's plenty to dislike about AV, however it does increase the potential for upset and the emergence of new parties.

But of course the public are entitled to ask why they are just getting a referendum on AV and not a series of options etc. Of course they'll not like the answer.

I can see I'm going to have to read up on various voting systems to stay up with you in this debate!

@Adamcollver - I think the idea that the Lib Dems will benefit from this may be one of the great mistakes of this whole debate. The Lib Dems really aren't that popular. Many people vote for them as a proxy for the party they know has no hope where they live ( in some-ways the Lib Dems are a form of AV. ) AV could actually reduce their support.

adamcollyer said...

That's a very good point, and I'm sure that would reduce the benefit to the Lib Dems. But don't forget that most Tory and Labour voters would put them second (or at least that's what they tell pollsters) which means some Labour-Tory marginals could go Lib Dem under AV.

Man in a Shed said...

@adamcolleyer - my assumption about poor Lib Dem performance is on the assumption that many more "protest parties" will find life under AV. But who knows ?