Say Yes to AV on 5th May 2011
The BBC news website gave space to both the Yes to AV and the No2AV campaigns; each got 5 points to make. This is my response to the No2AV campaign (with their points in italics, my response in normal text):
1. AV is unfair – Under the AV system, some people would get their vote counted more times than others. For generations, elections in theUK have been based on the fundamental principle of ‘one person, one vote’. AV would undermine all that by allowing the supporters of fringe parties to have their second, third or fourth choices counted – while supporters of the mainstream candidates would only get their vote counted once.
Under the current FPTP there is no such thing as one person, one vote. My vote counted for 0.19% of the general electorate, that is barely one-fifth of a vote! People currently choose to vote tactically rather than for their first choice, so again, their vote is not truly the one they would wish to make. AV means not only will people have their voices heard, they will be able to choose the candidate, or candidates, they wish to elect. To state that mainstream candidates will only get their vote counted once whereas fringe parties may receive more than one shows a complete ignorance with regard to the AV system – fringe candidates would most likely be knocked out in the first round (if you are lucky enough to have fringe candidates in your area – many areas are still limited to the main three parties). It is the second, third, fourth choices on the fringe candidates polling forms which would be counted, and as these are clearly listing the fringe candidate first, it is far MORE likely that mainstream parties would benefit from the second, third, fourth choices.
Analysis of previous election results has shown that, contrary to the No2AV claims, those elected may have in fact seen their majorities increased. Hung Parliaments are less likely, as there will be a 50% majority at all times.
2. AV is not widely used
AV is only used by three countries in the world -Fiji,Australia, andPapua New Guinea- and even they don’t like it. InAustralia, AV hasn’t made their MPs work any harder, got rid of ‘safe’ seats, or stopped negative campaigning. By contrast, our first-past-the-post voting system has been copied around the globe. It is used by 2.4 billion people, making it the most widely used system in the world.
True, AV is not widely used. Apart from by all three mainstream parties in theUKwho use it to elect their own party leaders, as they deem it a fairer system than first past the post. The hypocrisy of the No to AV campaign in failing to address this is shocking.
As for the claim that the FPTP system has been copied around the globe, I am rather disturbed to note that no member of the No2AV campaign understands that this is because the UK was a major colonial power, and rather than have the system copied by other countries, the FPTP system was imposed upon them by invading and occupying rulers. We cannot know what system they may have chosen to have, had they had the choice.
3. AV is expensive
AV would end up costing our country an estimated £250m. This referendum alone is costing us £91m and AV would be a more costly way of running elections.Australia’s elections under AV cost three times more than ours do. When preferential voting systems were introduced inScotlandandLondon, expensive vote counting machines were bought in at a cost of millions. That’s without even counting the need for more polling stations and election staff because AV ballots take longer to complete.
All electoral systems cost money. The No2AV campaign has repeatedly failed to prove this claim, yet persists in repeating the same. Costs for the new system can be off-set, and the estimated claim of £250million comes from the No2AV campaign. If they wish to keep claiming this, why have they repeatedly failed to substantiate it?
AV ballots take no longer to complete than FPTP; times which vary according to the people filling the forms out. One need not make more than one choice if one does not wish to. Counting can be computerised, or done by hand, and this takes slightly more time than under FPTP. The difference is negligible.
4. AV hands more power to politicians
AV is a politicians’ fix and will do nothing to fix our broken politics. By boosting the number of Lib Dem MPs, AV makes hung parliaments more likely – leading to more broken promises, more back-room deals, and more power in the hands of politicians rather than the voters. If AV was the answer to the expenses scandal, why didn’t we hear about it at the time and why are Members of the European Parliament abusing their expenses even though they’re elected under a different system?
I repeat, AV makes hung parliaments (a coalition) less likely as the candidates will definitely have a 50% majority vote. It would then depend upon how many candidates of each party have been elected in order to determine the way in which the House is to be made up. If the people have elected candidates whose party numbers would require a coalition, then that is the will of the people. Keeping a system such as FPTP which forces people to vote tactically and not for their first choice in fact, forces the electorate into compromise and actively disables them from voting for their true beliefs. This makes FPTP far less democratic than AV.
Again, the No2AV campaign is bringing up irrelevancies in an attempt to detract from their argument. They are the ones stating AV may have been the answer to the expenses scandal. What the Yes to AV campaign states is that it makes MPs more accountable and requires them to work harder as people will be voting for their true first choice, not tactically. This point is obfuscation, and like so many points made by the No2AV campaign, treats the voter with disdain.
5. AV supporters are sceptical
Even the Yes campaign think AV isn’t good enough for our country. Those people telling you it is the best thing since sliced bread have spent years pointing out its flaws. Nick Clegg dismissed it as “a miserable little compromise” while Chris Huhne said “there would continue to be safe seats where the MP will effectively have a job for life”. But now they’ve all changed their tune. AV remains unfair, obscure and expensive and would be bad for our country. That’s why people should vote No.
For many who support the Yes to AV campaign (although by no means all of us), we would prefer proportional representation. But that is in preference to FPTP AND AV. We also believe AV is better than FPTP. AV is far more far than FPTP, as any basic understanding of the system would show. It is not obscure, the mainstream parties are already well-versed in its implications and practice as they use the system to elect their current leaders. It is no more expensive than any other electoral system. AV is far better than FPTP.
We will not get another chance to reform the electoral system, especially if AV fails to be passed in the referendum. AV is the only choice for those who wish to have a fairer, more just, more representative system.
That is why people must vote YES TO AV.