Thursday, April 14, 2011

just say yes

If the election of the leader of the Conservative party in 2005 had been on a First Past the Post system then it would have been won by David Davis with Cameron coming in second. But the party realised that it was simply wrong that someone should be elected with support from only 31% of the voters, so they used the AV system and after the second round our current PM was in the lead with 46%. The third and final round pushed him to 68% with Davis still claiming only just over 30% of the votes.

In other words Davis had virtually no support at all from anyone who preferred another candidate whereas Cameron had the secondary support of the fans of the eliminated candidates, namely Liam Fox and Ken Clarke. The majority of voters said they were happy to have Cameron elected (albeit not for all of them as their first choice) but, apart from a small minority, certainly did not want Davis to become their leader.

The Labour party also uses the Alternative Vote system to elect its leader, allowing Ed Miliband to be in charge even though his brother whatshisname was in the lead after the first round and so would have won under FPTP.

So it’s a good system for the parties, who seem to understand it perfectly well and like it, but many of their MPs don’t think it’s right for inferior people like us to use when we elect them to parliament. Why ? Because it will make them work harder to gain our support. Because their safe seats may become more contested and they will have to invest time and effort in defending them. Because they don’t want to change a system that provided them with a gateway to their high salaries, privileges, incredibly generous pensions and dubious expense claims. Because they are scared of AV. Because they know it will give voters more choice and more power.

They know it is a better system than the one we have but the majority of MPs will never miss an opportunity for demonstrating hypocrisy and this is a golden one. At the last election, only a third of them had the support of the majority of their electorate; only 1.6% of voters played a decisive part in the election.

There are many myths about Alternative Vote which are dispelled by the YES to AV Campaign.

The No Campaign headlines its case with flawed arguments.

They claim that FPTP delivers clear outcomes. Really ? In 2010 for example ?

They say AV is complicated. It isn't. The No Campaign insults our intelligence. The mechanism for counting votes is simple and easily understandable. But those not interested don’t need to know how it works; they just need to know that they can (if they want to) mark one candidate as their first choice, another as second choice and so on. Or just put a cross against one candidate as they do now. Nobody has to use the extra flexibility that AV offers. It’s a choice.

They say AV is expensive. Of course it isn’t. It requires paper, pencils, and people counting. Just the same resources as our current system.

They say AV is unfair. A laughable accusation. It’s a lot fairer than FPTP. The leaders of the two main parties thought it was perfectly fair when it was used to elect them, though Cameron is now firmly against it and Miliband is keeping cowardly quiet.

They say AV gives some people more votes than others. That's the daftest of all the feeble criticisms made by the FPTP supporters. If it were true then when they count the votes the total cast would be more than the number of people in the electorate. It won't be. Under AV, everyone will have one vote but with more choice. It is the current system that is unfair, giving voters in marginal constituencies much greater power than those in safe seats.

The hollow No Campaign is based on their slogan that “It should be voters that decide who the best candidate is, not the voting system.” Absurd, meaningless, inane nonsense. A vote of No to AV is a vote for No to Common Sense.

AV will give us all more power to make MPs work harder to gain our support and to maintain it. AV will enable Strong Voters, Accountable Politicians, Popular Government and Mature Politics.

Everybody should take this opportunity to vote for AV. Make the change. For the vast majority of us it really is the chance of a lifetime.



At April 14, 2011 7:35 pm , Anonymous Derek said...

Say NO to AV, if AV is so good why then is it only used in Fiji, Paper New Guinea and Australia where concerns are being raised. AV will only benefit fringe parties such as the BNP whilst   safe seats will remain unaffected. FPTP is not perfect but AV does not deliver strong governments only a coalition of minor parties.  FPTP has worked well for the UK and should not be ditched. 


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