Monday, November 15, 2010

Thinking about AV

Assuming Labour haven't managed to kick the whole thing into the long grass ( haven't checked since I got home of the shenanigans in the house of Lords ) then we have less than 6 months to go till the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum.

AV was dreamt up as a method of getting the Lib Dems to support the political careers of firstly failed Labour politicians, and then not quite succeeded Conservative ones.

The rather better organised #No2AV campaign have a whole raft of reasons why AV is a bad idea - not least is the election of #RedEd as Labour's new supreme leader.

But I'm still tempted by AV.

The #No2AV camapign are right about their many objections on grounds of justice, however I am stuck with the facts that various views I hold, that are majority views, don't result in the policies I'd want. ( Eg EU departure and an English Parliament - not to mention a proper immigration policy not undermined by a deeply flawed Lib Dem cabinet minister ).

How does this happen ? Well its party politics combined with the First Past the Post (FPTP ) voting system. The two main parties don't really allow their members to determine policy, or even their candidates ( yes that points arguable - but we all know its mostly true ). They rely on the fact that we hate the other sides ideas enough to back anyone who can beat them.

For example it very likely that a lot of card carrying, door knocking Tory party members vote UKIP at Euro elections, but not at general elections. Based on calculations about the voting system.

If we had AV people would vote differently, I think. And the truth is we are just not getting what we want with the current system.

So AV might be more monstrous and unjust that FPTP - but it might make up for this by being a method to bypass the party machines and for the population to rebel.

This line of reasoning is new to me. A few years ago I would just have seen the AV referendum as a way of ensuring a left of centre government in perpetuity, or at l;east the Lib Dems being king-makers for ever. But I'm not so sure now.

Right now I'm still finely balanced. Most of my party will vote no, and I may do so. But I'm not happy with the lack of influence that the democratic leavers of power offer right now, so perhaps a more unjust voting system that changed the balance of party politics might be a greater good.

This juror is still out on this issue...but of to do a little research tomorrow.


marksany said...

You atr coming round, my friend. AV will let us vote for who we would really like to have our vote, whilst ensuring we do not let our enemies capture the seat.

I'd like to vote UKIP, but I don't want to hand my seat to labour by not voting Tory. AV will l et me do this.

UKIP will be the big winners if AV goes through.

Anonymous said...

As marksany says, AV frees you up to express a conviction vote as well as a tactical vote: in his case, voting UKIP first preference and Conservative second preference. But it doesn't empower the first preference - i.e. make it more likely that UKIP will actually win any seats - and it's ultimately only the tactical, subsequent-preference vote that counts.

At a national level, AV will almost certainly do nothing to remedy the distribution of power in England and the UK as a whole: it can just as easily produce massive, disproportional landslides as FPTP; it is likely to perpetuate Labour's dominance of the North of England, Scotland and Wales, and the Conservatives' dominance of the South, with the Midlands being the battleground on which everything hangs; it won't foster political pluralism (cf. my point about UKIP still not standing a chance); and it's not designed to promote more popular sovereignty, such as the people's right to call referendums on issues such as the EU and an English parliament.

So AV's no better than FPTP, and arguably worse. I'll probably spoil my ballot paper and maybe write on 'none of the above'.

Anthony Butcher said...

If you have only heard the NO side of the arguments, then please take a couple of minutes to see the enormous advantages of AV over FPTP here: