The “No to AV” campaign leaflet from the Conservative Party dropped through our door last night. (Remember, this referendum is not about party politics, it’s about a fair voting system, I just mention that it’s from the Torys because it was headed up that way.)
I thought it worth a little scrutiny, so let’s begin:
AV is unfair
With First Past the Post, everybody gets one vote. But under AV, supporters of extreme parties like the BNP would get their vote counted many times, while people who vote for one of the mainstream candidates would only get their vote counted once.
This is the “I did not have sex with that woman” (Bill Clinton) clause, and is palpable nonsense. I’m surprised they lead with this. It suggests that some votes have more value than others and is therefore obviously, absolute nonsense. But it does buy into the fear factor. You know, how Governments manage populace by fear. It also makes for a good “red top” headline – which I suspect is their target audience with this one.
AV doesn’t work
Rather than the candidate who receives the most votes winning the election, the person who finishes second or even third could be declared the winner.
Sporting analogies in politics is always a bit dodgy but if that’s what you want here goes. I can think of several sports that employ a handicap or seeding system to create a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD – golf, cycling, horse racing (weights), tennis (seeding), Football World Cup ( seeding) (There are probably more.)
AV is expensive
Calculating the results is a long, complicated process, which would cost the taxpayer millions. It can take days to figure out exactly who has won.
So, if we’re taking it down to the classroom……there are 30 in the class. Little Johnny gets his mates, plus a couple he bullied, to vote for him, but it only guarantees him 9 votes (including his own). Emily gets her friends to vote for her but she has competition from Steven and Jane for the rest of the class. Emily totals 8 votes, Steven 7, and Jane 6. None of Jane’s friends like Little Johnny, he pulls their hair, but if they couldn’t have Jane as their Captain they wanted Emily so they put her down as their second choice. Emily now has 14 votes. Steven is now last in the race. Oh well, Steven’s friends really wanted him to win because Little Johnny, well, he has his gang, and if you’re not in it you’re a dickhead. Steven’s friends put down their second choice for anyone they fancied, and 2 of them fancy Emily, so now Emily has 16 votes – either as first or second choice – and therefore has over 50% of the class behind her. Poor Little Johnny. He can’t use his muscle to bully and rule the class as their Captain because frankly, more people didn’t like him than did. Easy !
The charge that AV is expensive and too long to calculate is feeble. Are we actually saying that we don’t want to spend money and time on getting the correct representation for the people? Do the people who champion this argument actually believe in democracy as most people understand it? Will any result suffice so long as it’s quick and cheap ?
AV is discredited
Whereas First Past the Post is the most widely used system in the world, only 3 countries actually use AV – Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea. In Fiji they want to get rid of it, and in Australia six out of ten people want to scrap it.
If only 3 countries in the world use it how can that form a large enough sample to discredit it?
If only 3 countries in the world use it, are they ahead of the rest of us or behind ?
If no-one used it, why shouldn’t we, and be at the forefront of fair and representative elections around the world. (Our current system was put in place when only the landed gentry had the vote. Since then we have tinkered with it to extend the vote to the working classes and women !! )
Australia – again, the statement, as far as I can tell, is a twisting of the truth. Proportional voting has been in place since 1918 (if it is discredited here has it really taken the Ozzies almost 100 years to work that out ?) . The debate in Australia, as I understand it, is about whether or not compulsory voting, as enshrined in their laws, should be removed – NOT the system.
No-one wants it
Even the ‘Yes’ campaigners don’t actually want AV – they see it as a convenient stepping stone to even more reforms. Many of the Yes campaigners have previously criticised AV.
There they go again. A government, elected by a minority, putting words into the mouths of the majority. Only politicians who can claim 50% or more of their constituents support can even come close to saying that they speak for everyone.
Think for yourselves. I did not have sex with that woman.