Thursday, 11 February 2010

Why Labour Wants AV

The BBC have published an analysis of what the effect of introducing AV would have been on the 2005 election. This is interesting - we can compare it to the actual results to see what the effect of various systems.

In short, we find this:

Or, to put it differently, AV in the 2005 election would have been even less proportionate than first-past-the-post. It would introduce still further bias in favour of Labour into our system, and would make life even harder for the Conservatives.

So next time someone asks what the Conservatives have against electoral reform, look at the above figures in this way: If we ask which systems an utterly cynical and self-serving politician would prefer, and in what order, the answers would be:

Gordon Brown: AV, FPTP, PR
Nick Clegg: PR, AV, FPTP
David Cameron: PR, FPTP, AV

Two of those lists match the relevant party's stance. Only one party is not adopting the stance that is in line with their own self-interest.


  1. @Measured, when I read this post, I realised that I hadn't read Patently's previous one on AV. So I've just done so now, and have noticed your kind comment to me - sorry I hadn't replied earlier.

    Yes, I'm very excited the Holy Father is coming to the UK, it is great news and I hope non-Catholics will enjoy the visit as well - as they did last time.

    I was heartened by the thing about equality, not just because the Holy Father spoke up for us (and not just for us), but because of the number of commentators (even in the Guardian, if I recall!) who had to admit that he was right.

    Well he would be wouldn't he?

  2. I looked back at the historical voting figures in the .pdf the BBC linked to and, well, yes, but.

    The AV system seems, from their data, to accentuate the advantage of the majority party (in the style of parliaments that we've had for the last 30 years) whichever one forms the government. Admittedly the Labour advantage does seem to be stronger than the Conservative advantage but not by a great deal.

  3. @Albert,

    I see your faith in the Holy Father is unwavering and that is something to be very proud of. I think the visit will be interesting. I have no doubt that not only the Catholics but religion in general in this country will benefit as a result. That must be seen as a good thing even if you are not a believer.

    As for the topical issue regarding the possibility of openly gay priests, should religion be above the law? No. Is Catholic Church or Christianity to be treated differently? No. Are sexual practices not subject to the norms of discrimination? Argh, now it starts to get problematic.

    I read some of the conversation on @YMB's blog and thought if you can distinguish between the points of view of the lion and the lamb (I think it was), maybe one should distinguish between the giver and the taker in homosexuality but then I thought this is going too far and for me, distasteful!! Like R v Brown, some things are best kept behind closed doors but society must protect others preying on the young, the old and the weak. I cannot see that anything more I say will add to what already has been said about the application of discrimination laws on religion. It is the politicians that seem omnipotent these days.


    I think you are right that the Conservatives are being selfless. Isn't it a rule of thumb that any system that becomes complicated is more susceptible to manipulation as it has more variables? As I read @manwiddicombe , I worry this is just another softly softly approach to open the door to lots of tweaks. It also encourages the Lib Dems to be less vitriolic as they love electoral reform; this ploy could be a tad useful during a General Election campaign.

    However, if it all becomes too complicated, it will deter people from further from engaging in the political process. Wasn't that one tactic the militant trade unionists used to rise to power? What saddens me is that from what I see and hear, the policies of the Conservatives fail to be conveyed to the public. The Conservatives are bucking the trend, as self-interest appears to be increasingly at the top of everyone else's agenda. Is this always so at a General Election?

  4. Thanks Measured.

    With Patently's indulgence:

    should religion be above the law? No. Is Catholic Church or Christianity to be treated differently?

    No it shouldn't, but then everyone is above an unjust law. We have to have a moral standard which is itself above the law, and to which the law must conform (or at least, not transgress).

    It is the failure of secular discourse to be able to make sense of justice, morality and law that made the C20th so bloody. People are still confusing morality with law - hence the MPs expenses scandal (etc.).

    I think the equality law proposed was unjust because it prevented the Church from discriminating against someone on the grounds that they were unable to do the job properly. Frankly, if the Church doesn't have that right then who has the right to appoint any candidate above another? But I think it's more a problem of the Government's ignorance of religious matters disqualifying itself from legislating on religious matters.

    It certainly was an interesting discussion on YMB. Indigomyth was hard to argue against because normally in moral discussions you can get someone to withdraw by pointing out the morally abhorrent conclusions their logic leads to. But Indigomyth was happy to say it is moral for a parent to leave her child to starve to death. Similarly, I normally find people are able to agree that seeing it the natural and proper use of eye-balls, not ping-pong. But it certainly made for a more interesting discussion!

    One very interesting point Indigomyth made was that people are obviously not equal. I think he's right in that equality is actually a metaphysical concept IMO. Take out metaphysics (i.e. the religious belief that we are all made in God's image and likeness) and the idea that we are equal seems plainly false (equally what?). It may well be that those who want religion out of the public sphere will sooner or later wake up to the fact that they are undermining the concept of equality too.

  5. Until we have compulsory voting, all talk about FPTP, AV or PR is irrelevant.

  6. Welcome to the blog, anglicus. You'll find that, after reflection, I agree with you.

    The problem with our system, in my opinion, is not the style of voting, but the amount. The frankly abysmal voter turnout that we see says that most of the people support none of the candidates.