Thursday, 28 April 2011

AV'ing another Crack

Yes, I'm back on the subject of AV.

I've tried to explain the logical reason why I'm going to vote "no".  I've explained why I'm not impressed with the "Yes" campaign (note - the "No" campaign is equally pathetic; I will try to find time to explain why).  But I've been aware that I have a gut reaction against AV, meaning that - convinced as I am by the merits of the "No" argument - I've known that is not the only reason why I'm going to vote "No".

I've just realised where that gut reaction flows from. And it's quite simple, really.  This whole referendum is a stitch-up.

I tweeted yesterday that the referendum should offer us all the possible voting options, and let us try AV out in the process of choosing from them.  That was the first part of the realisation.  AV is just one system of many - there are loads of them to choose from.  From FPTP, Run-off, Elimination Run-off, Primary, IRV (which is actually AV), AV+, SV, PR, Multiple-Member, STV and so on, there is enough choice to make you feel like throwing in the towel and letting Her Majesty take the reins again.  However you count them, there is more than just FPTP and AV.

Which means that this big thing, this tectonic shift in the electoral landscape of the country that will (we are told) shift power away from the politicians and back towards the voters, is the one that has been chosen for us.  By the politicians.  Do you remember those card tricks done by magicians, where the victim was invited to "pick a card, any card"?  We all knew that the poor sap would choose the card the magician wanted them to pick. The one that matched the duplicate up his sleeve.  The one that suited the magician's needs, not the victim's.

This is the same.  Clegg is proferring this option to us because of all of the options available to him, he knows it fits his career needs best.

Of course, there is a slightly ironic side.  No-one (so far as I know) has ever spent their political career desperately fighting to introduce AV.  The Lib Dems have always wanted PR - the system by which after they lose all the constituency votes, they are given a raft of extra free seats for their party bigwigs,to make it "fair".  They have never (to my knowledge) campaigned for AV.  But they insisted on electoral reform as a condition for the Coalition Agreement, and AV was (presumably) all that the Cameroons would let them have.

So, the electoral system that will probably let the runner-up win instead of the candidate that most people want, was itself the runner-up system that was adopted over the system that most reformists wanted. Says it all, really.


  1. Any system that lets people who back losers have more votes than people who back winners is absurd.

  2. The choice was presumably made by Cam as part of the coalition negotiations. My guess is that Clegg said he wanted a referendum and Cam thought to himself something along the lines of "AV isn't as bad as a fuller PR system" and Clegg stupidly accepted that.

  3. You might find the following blog comment of some use:

    [Posted at April 17, 2011 10:29 AM, which helps if your browser also fails to follow the full link to my comment.]

    Best regards