The Yes campaign has put up misleading posters as part of their contribution to this bad tempered referendum campaign. They want voters to believe that AV will make MPs in safe seats more accountable, and force them to appeal beyond their party suppport to those of differing views. This is wrong on so many counts.
The most obvious way it is wrong is it ignores the arithmetic of AV polls. By definition a “safe seat” is one where the current MP already gets more than 50% of the vote. It is deemed to be safe, because it does not matter how the opposition vote is cast, as more than half support the winning party. If a candidate already gets more than 50% of the vote with his or her current approach to politics, why should he or she change it because AV has been introduced? The MP might well conclude that the “core vote ” strategy had worked in the past and would work in the future.
It is wrong because it falsely assumes that MPs who get more than 50% of the vote behave in a tribal party way under FPTP. Sensible MPs understand two important things about democracy. The first is, MPs are elected to represent all the people in their area, however they voted or whatever their views. The second is there is no such thing as a permanently safe seat. Some candidates have managed to lose seats that their parties have held for a long time and where they used to have very high proportions of the votes for that one party. Bermonsdey, for example, was a very “safe” Labour seat but the Lib Dems toppled them many years ago. The Conservatives have lost Ryedale, Winchester, Eastleigh and various other “safe” Conservative seats in the past.
The two truths are related. If an MP did seek to abuse his position of trust with a large majority, and failed to look after the minority in his area, this could become a matter which started to undermine him. It might lead to his party wishing to remove him as future candidate before it got out of control, or it could become a major issue in an election which damaged his vote or even lost him the seat.
The Yes to AV campaign wish to side with those who dislike any arrogance or assumption by politicians. Unfortunately for the Yes to AV camapign there can be no monopoly of the anti politics feeling on any one side in this referendum, as everyone knows it is politicians that are the driving force behind both sides. The Yes campaign have misjudged this argument badly – AV would not humble any arrogant safe seater, but any sensible MP reaches out well beyond their party in order to represent their constituents in the round and to the best of their ability.