Why “No” should win today

 

              There are two central claims from the pro AV campaign that are misleading. I have shown why I do not believe   their claim that AV would make holders of “safe seats” more accountable – and all the implied nonsense that politics under AV would be transformed, with more responsive and well behaved MPs.

             Today I wish to explain why their claim that every MP under AV would have the support of more than 50% of the electorate and this would be fairer can also be false in certain circumstances.

             Let us take a three way marginal, the type of seat where AV could make a real difference to the outcome. Let us suppose the result of counting first preference votes was

Conservative   38%

Lib Dem 32%

Labour   30%

                 This is the the type of seat the Lib dems reckon should fall to them under AV. They think that when Labour second preferences are brought into play, many more Labour voters will back them than the Conservatives. In this case they hope say two thirds of the Labour voters vote Lib Dem and one third vote Conservative when they get their second vote to determine the election. This would make the final result

Lib Dem 52%

Conservative 48%

            However, there is a snag with this thinking. Labour voters may not be as keen on Lib Dems relative to the Conservatives as the Lib Dems hope. It could be the case that in such a seat many Labour voters decide they have no wish to express a second preference between the other two parties which they do not like. As opponents of the Coalition they may not be that keen on Lib Dems either. So we might have a situation where only half the Labour voters expressed a second preference. Let us suppose that 15% vote again through their second preference, and that 11% back the Lib Dems and 4% the Conservatives. The final result could then be

Conservative 42%

Lib Dem 43%

People not expressing second preference 15%

        In this circumstance AV would reverse the first past the post result, but would not give the winner 50% even though  Labour voters had the chance to vote twice .

             It is difficult to see why this way of counting votes and allowing second votes is either fair or gives a better result than the original First Past the Post one person one vote.

              The case I have described would be quite common under an AV system. There would of course, also be elections under AV where the second votes of BNP,UKIP, Green and Independent candidate voters could determine which of the three main parties wins without needing to redistribute the votes of one of the three main UK parties. These are  the cases which have attracted more attention than the three way marginal.

           I do not believe voters will want to make such a change. On the many doorsteps I have visited to talk about this and local matters there has been a strong view that it is better to stick with what we have. Conservatives feel that strongly. Even some Lib Dem voters tell me they want a truly proportional system, and they do not like AV especially as it could produce even larger Parliamentary majorities for leading parties.

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51 Comments

  1. Julian
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    “even though Labour voters had the chance to vote twice”

    This statement is dog-whistle politics and it demeans you to make it. In the Conservative leadership election (which isn’t AV), after each round of votes, the lowest candidate is eliminated and another vote is held. The people who vote for the same candidate each time do not have fewer votes than those who voted initially for the lowest candidate.

    AV just takes the multi-round system and compresses it into a single ballot. It asks people how they would vote if their preferred candidate didn’t get enough votes. It then transfers their vote to their next preference. All the votes are counted in each round. Those voting for less popular candidates do not vote more times.

    Reply: I think a system where everyone votes in each round is fairer than AV. It is different and is likely to give a different result. It is very unfair under AV that people voting for the 2nd placed candidate on first preferences may have no chance to vote to decide between the 1st and 3rd placed candidate.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Think of the number you first thought of, add 3.797……

  2. lifelogic
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    The NO campaign should win the day because the YES campaign is supported by Tony Robinson, Billy Bragg and Eddie Izzard and the Independent newspaper (a paper which only seems to be read by BBC staff and a few dozen others). If these people are not enough reason to vote no what on earth is?

    That and the fact that AV would clearly give us an increased chance of coalitions and more Liberal policies – which are needed by the country as much as a hole in the head, more government, more regulations, more EU and more “renewables”.

    • rose
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to say, Lifelogic, that at the public meeting here where Tony Robinson was vainly talking about himself and the No lady was sticking logically and persuasively to the point, the audience voted for vanity – overwhelmingly. It was the same at the one before with Billy Bragg, when the No speaker was just as persuasive as the one up against TR, but the audience voted for aggression as well as vanity. Another shallow persuader they love is Dan Snow, talking about going to the pub rather than where the women want to go. At least he has charm.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        How depressing let us hope that the type of people who have the time and inclination to attend such meeting are not typical. And that the general voters have more sense than the ones that did.

    • Simon
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      “because the YES campaign is supported by Tony Robinson, Billy Bragg and Eddie Izzard ”

      I doubt they would have been promoting the Yes campaign if Labour had won the last election .

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I shall be voting No today because of two things:
    1. When politicians make things really complicated, like Mr Brown’s Taxation Announcements, they are quite often introducing a swindle – in their favour. Complication puts them in charge. When they start talking about the 21st century, modernization and fairness, I get even more suspicious.
    2. This is quite simply an attempt by the LibDems and the Green to gain permanent power.

  4. Javelin
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I simply think the concept of a second vote is ambiguous. It means different things to different people and you can’t have a mandate on that basis. First past the post isn’t ideal but we accept it because we know what it means.

  5. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t ANY change still be preferable better than the “mother of parliaments” getting stuck in geriatric rigidity? At present, popular opinion is not well translated into parliamentary power. Hence apathy, frustration and powerless anger. The UK needs a more proportional system.

    • Mark
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Proportionality doesn’t translate into equivalent parliamentary power either. It can give great power to small minorities who hold the balance of power, and leave larger minorities almost permanently excluded from power.

    • APL
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Peter van Leeuwen: “The UK needs a more proportional system.”

      With respect Peter, that is entirely the wrong conclusion.

      What we need is to break the stranglehold of the Party on the apparatus of democracy.

      Only a year ago we voted for a different party, one would expect different policies, who would have guessed that we pretty much get exactly the same policies as the last Labour administration.

      Does this government propose to cut the public sector?

      No, The Blue Labour (with a tint of yellow) will increase public spending but less than the rate of growth in GDP.

      Do we get a referendum on Lisbon?

      Despite the cast iron promise of the leader of the then opposition that we would … No we won’t.

      In short we have changed names on the box, but the contents are identical.

      Was there a instatiable demand in the country for ‘fixed term’ parliaments?

      No! What is the first thing the Party offers? Fixed term Parliament.

      Douglas Carswell has better ideas how to improve democracy, open constituency primaries and the power of recall for constituents.

      What do we get instead?

      The offer of a voting system that allows the political class to claim ‘we were elected on the majority of the vote’, when in fact those turning out to vote is in terminal decline.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        “those turning out to vote is in terminal decline”

        Why? Because the voters have sensibly worked out that their votes change virtually nothing. That what MPs say pre-election is unlikely to be put into effect as most, post-election, are more loyal to party, personal careers, pensions and expenses than voters wishes and interests. Also that the EU is in real control anyway, and EU votes are even less likely to ever change anything.

        • APL
          Posted May 6, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic: says good stuff.

          Agreed

  6. JimF
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Clearly Cleggy thought, in the post-election euphoria of 12 months ago, that he could sell ice to eskimos, and this half-baked scheme to the public. As with many things Libdem, they sound good as soundbites (Let’s not be left out of the Euro, let’s get rid of tuition fees, ban the Trident system…). When taken apart however, just like you have this AV proposal, they are half way to nowhere.
    Proper PR would be fairer on smaller parties at the extremes, who would at least have a voice for their few % showing, and a FPTP system SHOULD give strong and decisive government. This is a fudge which does neither, but panders to government by compromise and promises which cannot be fulfilled.

  7. Alan
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    You say you have difficulty in seeing why it is fair that a Liberal Democrat candidate who receives 43% of the vote should be elected in preference to a Conservative candidate who has 42% of the vote. The answer is of course that he is preferred by a higher proportion of the electorate.

    That seems to me a fairer outcome than one where a Conservative candidate who receives the support of only 38% of the voters is elected. (Not ‘better’ – I would prefer the Conservative were elected.)

    What seems to worry many people is that second and lower preference votes can count as equal to first preference votes. They feel that a voter’s first preference should have a higher value. I think that would be a valid point that could be argued if we were debating what is the best system. But we are not in a debate about the best of all systems. We have to decide only between First Past the Post and AV. Of these two options I believe AV will give a ‘fairer’ result in that the House of Commons that is elected by AV will be more representative of the views of the electorate than one elected by First Past the Post.

    It seems to me obvious that First Past the Post gives an unfair result. I think it is quite clearly an unfair system. It results in too many voters’ votes having no effect on the composition of the House of Commons. It needs to be replaced by something, and the only alternative we are being offered is AV. That may not be a great system but it is a good deal better than First Past the Post.

  8. Tim Carpenter
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    The invalidity of a supporters argument does not invalidate what they argue for.

    AV “yes”does two things IMHO.

    1. It is an indication of the desire for reform.

    2. It exposes tactical voting trends hidden in FPTP, so stopping MPs talking as if all votes for them were support as opposed to “least bad” options.

    This false dichotomy of FPTPvAV is scandalous, compounded by a lack of “none ofthe above”.

    NotA is what my vote will be today, even though I have to add it to the form myself.

    Cameron might think himself clever for managing to engineer this false dichotomy today, but all it does is make him out a charlatan.

  9. John B
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    The AV YES campaign portrays politics as a simple matter of non-conflicting preference in the same way as one might have a preference for tea over coffee, but where coffee is liked too. So if the consensus is coffee rather than tea, that’s OK.

    But is political support really like that?

    I have watched a couple of promo pieces from the YES campaign and it seems this is what they think, or they are being deliberately disingenuous and perhaps do not really understand AV themselves.

    In one it showed three cats and one dog, and in another a group of people deciding what they wanted to drink.

    In the first the cats on aggregate got more than the dog, but the dog got more than any one cat and so was FPTP. They showed how it would work out with AV and second preferences being switched around the cat vote to give one cat the overall cat majority and an majority over the dog. It assumed no cats voted for the Dog Party.

    In the second example it showed a minority opting for coffee and a majority opting for a a drink in a pub, but no immediate consensus on which pub. AV settled the which pub? but it was FPTP which settled which drink?

    In both pieces whilst the intention was to show AV resolution of multiple options, they in fact only showed two. The first, Cat Party versus Dog Party and in the second, booze versus coffee.

    The selection using AV occurred within an option: which cat?; which pub? Then how many wanted Cat versus Dog; how many wanted alcohol versus coffee.

    It was thus a demonstration of FPTP between two differing options and it is difficult to see how in these examples AV made it more democratic for the dogs or coffee drinkers. The cats and boozers were going to get what they wanted anyway.

    As Mr Redwood points out there is an assumption that everyone, or at least a majority, will have a second preference and that this is predictable. It overlooks that politics runs deeper than being a mere preference, a nuance between political parties. If two or more parties are that close, then they should be one.

    In effect it is an encouragement to vote tactically rather than what one believes in, and I think that is a distortion of democracy and a bad thing.

  10. Mark Parker
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I’m a BNP supporter and I could see AV being very advantageous to the BNP. Not in terms of getting any candidates elected to Westminster, but rather in influence. The BNP would of course recommend voting for its own candidate as 1st preference, and then nominate a main-stream candidate as 2nd choice.

    If the BNP bloc-vote then caused the main-stream candidate to be elected where otherwise they wouldn’t have been, the MP becomes beholden to the BNP who can thereafter make or break him (or her.)

    • JimF
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      A fair point, but you need 2 right wing parties which are both evenly balanced in support and waiting for the BNP’s voters second preferences. I don’t see any other parties like that in the offing, unless you really want to threaten to vote Labour or Libdem for repatriation 😕

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted May 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        The BNP is a left wing party, think about this.

      • Mark
        Posted May 6, 2011 at 12:47 am | Permalink

        When you limit a BNP voter to choosing freely among the big three parties, they split fairly evenly between Labour and Conservatives, with few picking Lib Dems. Half of them would give their second AV preference to UKIP, before being forced to pick something else. Mark Parker is right: there are certainly circumstances – i.e. seats – where BNP would become much more influential under AV without winning seats – an influence they don’t have under FPTP, and perhaps they might find the system rigged against them under PR alternatives (e.g. 5% minimum national share of the vote).

        It’s wrong to think of BNP as being right wing (most of its policies are in fact quite left wing) – and the same is increasingly true of UKIP, who seem to be benefiting from protest voters formerly attracted to Lib Dems or Greens, as well as some ex Labour voters concerned about the impact of immigration who regard UKIP as more acceptable to vote for than BNP.

  11. brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    AV has nothing at all to commend it. I hope that the failure to impose a turnout threshold doesn’t allow a tiny minority to change a tried and trusted voting system to satisfy the whims and ambitions of Clegg and the LibDems.

  12. Iain Gill
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    wont it be more likely by UKIP first choice with Conservatives second? or the other way around

    maybe something like this would force the parties to actually do something about the second biggest issue the electors keep telling them about?

    reply: Dream on : there is absolutely no evidence that Av would propel UKIP into victories, just as it looks as if UKIP’s support for Yes to AV has not proved helpful.

    • JimF
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      So far as this UKIP supporter is concerned, this referendum is just a diversion from a/the referendum promised across the Conservative party on Lisbon and b/the referendum promised by Libdems on PR.
      Either of these promised referenda would be preferable to this one.

  13. fake
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure I understand the problem here.

    In the examples you give for FPTP the blues win, but only with 38% of the vote.

    In the second example the yellows win with 43% of the vote.

    The fact that they only win with a margine of 1% can happen in either system, how is it worse that a party will win with more votes?

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a rubbish system, but if you argue the numbers it’s a little hard to see how it is worse than FPTP.

    Reply: It is unfair that some people get to vote twice and decide the outcome.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      maybe you are right

      AV maybe the wrong answer

      but this so called democracy really needs to move on and adapt as its far too easy for any likely government to ignore the will of the people and their views of the most important issues of the day, i dont think this is sustainable long term

      it is a mockery to even call it democracy when in our current party system the policies of many parties are so close, the biggest issues raised repeatedly by the voters can be ignored, and so on

      far too much inertia, power in the hands of career civil servants and businesmen, and far too little attention paid to the genuine concerns of the ordinary citizenary

      at some point the bubble will burst, the public will not put up with being ignored forever

  14. Richard
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    One of the many reasons I dislike AV is that my second and third preference votes are deemed to be of equal value if votes are redistributed later in the secondary ballots.
    I would not have placed them on my ballot paper as being candidates of equal worth but ranked them in a list of declining value and preference.
    There is a logic to saying that the second preference votes when redistributed should be discounted by 25% and third preference votes by 50%

  15. Max
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    It is difficult to see why this way of counting votes and allowing second votes is either fair or gives a better result than the original First Past the Post one person one vote.

    Suppose you went back to the voters in the case you describe with the two results and asked which they preferred. According to your description of their preferences, the majority would prefer the AV result to the FPTP result. Isn’t that a good way to see that it’s the better, fairer result.

    Of course, with more care, you could construct examples where AV does give truly perverse results, particularly when you take into account the kind of tactical voting it will encourage. And no sane person believes that you can demonstrate objectively that AV is absolutely superior to FPTP. The question you need to ask is, in the context of UK elections, in each case where the FPTP and AV results differ, which one would voters prefer if asked to choose between them. As you nicely illustrate, the answer is often AV.

    Reply: No, many people who only want one party or candidate will not think an AV result fairer.
    If I was voting in a seat where the Conservative came second on first preferences, but the true contest under AV was between the 1st and 3rd candidate on first prefs, why don’t I get a say in which of those two wins? That is also a very likely scenario where it is Labour 1 and Lib Dem 3

  16. alan jutson
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I am one of those people who you mention who would only vote for one candidate.

    I do not want to vote for a least disiked candidate in any sort of order.

    The AV system on offer is a typical political compromise and cobbled together suggestion, like so many other policies of the last few decades, which are slowly destroying this country, its way of life, and its businesses.

  17. norman
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I’m sure we’ve all seen the statistic where in 1950’s 95%+ of people were voting Conservative or Labour falling to 60 odd % now. AV would accelerate that fall faster splintering further the ‘first preference’ votes that the big two get.

    I know that I’d vote UKIP first Conservative second (with no third) confident in teh knowledge I wasn’t wasting my vote and I’m sure a lot of others would. Labour and Lib Dem voters may want to vote Green first safe in the knowledge that their second preference will count after their protest vote is discarded.

    Anyway, it’s all theoretical now, this will be a resounding victory for No, and that will be the end of that for a generation, thank goodness.

    The one thing this referendum has highlighted is that if there ever was to be a referendum as to whether we’d want to redefine our relationship with the EU along the lines of a Norway or a Switzerland (the PM insults us when he paints it as in all or nothing / in or out question) then the resultant debate would be epically acrimonious. I realise we’ll never get to voice our opinion on that, just saying.

  18. Michael McGrath
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Thank heavens that this tiresome business will end today and we can get back to the urgent business of getting out of the financial disaster left by the last lot.
    One good start would be to quit the EU and use these savings to start reducing the deficit and start clearing debt.
    Perhaps now that we have tried a referendum we can have another with a serious point.

  19. Martin
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    What your example does show is that the proposed system would still leave great chunks of voters not counting. E.g. Labour voters in shire seats, Conservatives in northern big city seats.

  20. Freeborn John
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I voted for AV (on the grounds it is small improvement on what we have now). But if AV loses i think it will be because of the politicians who backed it. Almost to a man they are the same people (Clegg, Mandelson, Kinnock, Millibands, etc.) who lied on the Lisbon Treaty. It is quite obvious these people are not interested in improving the quality of British democracy, or reaching out to voters of other parties. Mandelson positively gives the impression that his natural habitat is the smoke-filled room, and they he would expire if forced out of it. Some of them even argued for AV on the grounds it would permanently keep the Consveratives out of power, which is a tribal argument and not a democratic one and as such cannot appeal either to non-Tory democratics (like myself) nor to people outside the Labour tribe. I was impresseed that Labour euro-sceptics like Kate Hoey campaigned against AV, but not enough to swing me over because at the end of the day AV is a better system than FPTP.

    I have been disapointed that a polictican like yourself, who would be the first to argue against supply-side protectionism in any business sector, is the first to argue for them (i.e. FPTP) to defend the duopoly in your own business of politics. If the polls are correct and NO2AV wins big, it will be a verdict on the entire poltical class in Britain and how they act in their own interests rather than that of voters. That is ultimately and obviously what makes you support FPTP.

  21. Neil Craig
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    In the particular, and admittedly unusual, case you give the LibDems picking up such 2nd preference votes clearly relies on Labour voters liking them and their candidate> if they have a really stupid candidate Labour voters are considerably more likely to leave 2nd preference blank (or give it to UKIP, the BNP or Scargill according to preference).

    I can also imagine a situation where the Tories were openly supportive of nuclear power, where Labour 2nd preferences would go to them rather than the totally Luddite LDs. The same might apply to a Tory party unenthusiatic about windmills and catastrophic warming, which are unlikely to appeal to sensible Labour supporters (though they do appeal to their silly leaders).

    I note that much of the No campaign has been based on saying AV is a worse option than PR (which indeed it is).

    This leaves Cameron & co in the in an intellectually dishounourable situation if they ever claim that the case for reform is any weaker and an equally dishonourable one if they ever claim that one should not vote for UKIP “for fear of letting Labour in” – since they say people should always vote for their true first choice and never for a tactical 2nd choice. Thus according to Cameron nobody who is generally Conservative but is eurosceptic should never, inder any circumstances, compromise their choice by voting Conservative. I think he may come to tue his opposition to electoral reform

  22. sm
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The arguments against an EU referendum are now bereft of any logic.

    What difference will it achieve ‘not much’ it should have been for full PR or AV?
    The way the public are managed by the the politics and philiosphy students is a spectacle to behold.

    Meanwhile inflation does it work slowly but surely transfering wealth to the debtors and speculators.

    Perhaps the AV vote will force the union apart by installing a permanent divide in Scotland. You better dust the plans down for devolution for England because it seems thats coming courtesy of the Scots. How will the AAA rating work then?

    Still a least money (euros) in Scottish bank might be worth holding if backed by Germany.

    The EU putsch continues.

  23. rose
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    May I suggest to anyone who thinks tactical voting would end with AV, that they read the following article on non-monotonicity…

    http://www.mcdougall.org.uk/VM/ISSUE15/P2.HTM

    Presumably out of all this fragmentation would emerge two big coalitions, bringing us back to the original two party system.

  24. Mark
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Fortunately if the opinion polling is anywhere near right this waste of time and money will be decisively rejected. However, it still leaves us with politics that is far too influenced by the narrow concerns of party whips and the tiny cliques that decide who will be their lobby fodder candidates. This insistence on a single “line to take” has made our parties into grey, monochromatic entities and left space for alternatives to fill in gaps in the spectrum.

    FPTP works best when parties have he courage to adopt a broad philosophy, and allow debate of minority views that can evolve to become mainstream. It requires a mature attitude to politics, where debate is respected as a sign of strength, not a signal of weakness to be tackled by a sub-Paxman interview. It requires less use of the Parliamentary whip, and candidate selection that is not godfathered by the party leadership or its paymasters.

  25. David John Wilson
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Why do you persist in this lie that people whose second preference is counted vote twice while others whose first preference is preserved only vote once. Effectively in the second and subsequent rounds everyone’s votes are counted again. It is just that those whose first preference is retained are counted for the same candidate.
    If 40% of the electorate have a first preference for one candidate but the other 60% would rather have anyone but that candidate surely the 60% should get their way. This can only be acheived with AV.

    reply: But it isn’t always reflected under AV, as only some get to vote twice or to change their vote.

  26. Jan
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Why on earth would I want to have a second, third etc. vote. I can’t stand Labour or LD’s and I certainly don’t think a vote for UKIP etc would make any difference. The whole thing is a fudge, to appease the despised LD’s who I hope fail spectacularly in the council elections today.
    Having been a Tory voter since 1979 at all levels, I find I cannot support them anymore, they are doing so much damage to the country, (with the help of the LD’s) the only referendum I want is on EU.
    Mr Redwood, I do realise there are a few lone voices like yours in goverment, unfortunately your ignored.

  27. Iain
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Of course we should have never got into having to fight this referendum if Cameron hadn’t been frightened into it by the Libdems. Another right fine mess he got us into.

    For Cameron to have blinked first when confronting the Libdems is not a very good recommendation for anyone. If he gets bested by a bunch of sandal wearers, what group will he best? No wonder, for all his big words over the EU, we have seen our membership costs spiral upwards, and our sovereignty continue to haemorrhage away.

  28. electro-kevin
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    The biggest failing with AV is this:

    People giving serious consideration to politics ought not have second or third preferences – especially where second or third preferences might divert wildly from their original choice.

    There should be a single party which represents their views to a satisfactory degree.

    That there isn’t (especially in the case of traditional Tory voters) and where parties often take power with a minority vote, this is a poor reflection on party politics and what each party offers and not the fault of the voting system.

    • electro-kevin
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Oops !

      Second choice only.

      I hope you get what I mean.

  29. Richard Long
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    The only fair system which would reflect the true wishes of the voting public would be to hold multiple referenda for every issue. This would of course be impractical and unworkable. First past the post is preferrable because AV wants you to vote for everybody whether you want them or not. Really whatever electoral system you have my experience over 42 years of voting is you get the government you deserve and most have a tendancy to forget the elctorate and election promises once safely in Westminster where they feel free to embark on their own agendas. Cynical I know but who really trusts Politicians 100%???

    • sm
      Posted May 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Richard please review Switzerland use of referenda you may find it gives some alternative evidence to your assertion its impractical.

  30. Max
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Reply:
    If I was voting in a seat where the Conservative came second on first preferences, but the true contest under AV was between the 1st and 3rd candidate on first prefs, why don’t I get a say in which of those two wins?

    You do, if you choose to express a preference for one over the other (and if you choose not to, you can’t complain). (This is a very basic misunderstanding — who is writing these replies.)

    reply: I write them, and I get no say if my candidate comes second as my other prefs do not get counted.

  31. acorn
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Today, the Scots get to vote for their Parliament. The Welsh get to vote for their Assembly. The Northern Irish get to vote for their Assembly.

    And the English get ………………………..?

    • norman
      Posted May 5, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      You get to watch as nationalist parties whose main line of attack is ‘let’s screw the English for as much as possible’ win power in those elections (and I’m saying this as a Scot).

      Not that I want England to break away from us, I’d far rather our useless talking shops of Parliaments were abandoned, but that is a forlorn hope.

  32. Gary
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    you cannot get a more perverse result than a party with a low 30’s percent of the total vote gets 100% of the power. Maybe in some third world kleptocracies.

    • rose
      Posted May 6, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      This is why the boundaries need to be fixed, and the BBC reformed. It is not the simple system of counting votes that is at fault. Rather it is the over-representation of Scotland and Wales, and of the inner cities; and the under-education of the electorate – which is then susceptible to biased and ignorant broadcasters. (We had a good example of both bias and ignorance from John Humphrys the other morning, and it was all but impossible for the PM to get him to understand just how stupid he was being. Other people may not have understood either because of the blustering interruptions in which the presenter specialises.)

      AV will not educate people or give them a sense of responsibility. Nor would PR. When we elect an MP we should do so in the knowledge that they will be taking difficult decisions on our behalf, on a whole range of complex subjects. But the broadcasters have for a long time now cultivated the idea that these representatives should be just like us, and in particular, not well educated or benefiting from hereditary knowledge of how statesmanship works. After all statesmanship, like music or any other complex craft, will be refined and improved over the generations, however unfashionable it is to say that. A true meritocracy would not rule people out just because they had been to the school which specialises in producing statesmen, or were descended from people who understood the complexities of high office.

      At the same time, the broadcasters have also insisted that these representatives should not be just like us, i.e. there must be no peccadilloes of any kind. This has resulted in an even narrower range of talent from which to choose, and a less well-informed electorate does not exactly make up for that.

  33. Gary
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I might add that , sure we have a parliament to supposedly thrash things out, but Blair, Iraq and “sofa cabinet” showed the worth of that.

  34. Barbara
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid I had to spoil my AV vote, by writing in big letters I WANTED TO VOTE ON THE EU REFERENDUM

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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