AV Redux

Well, tomorrow is crunch day, and I received some more No-to-AV spam this morning.

Flicking my eyes over it, it’s a repeat of the same-old claims we’ve seen over and over from the No camp, and I could feel myself getting irate seeing them put on paper again. Far too many people will just accept these claims/assertions at face value, which is depressing; thus I thought I’d do my part to combat these false assertions.

The poster itself is shown at the bottom of this post – I had it up here but that gave it way too much prominence – I will be voting Yes to AV, and suggest you do so too.

Now let’s look at the claims separately:-

1) It will produce more coalitions (maybe, but is that bad?)

This may or may not be true, to be honest it is impossible to tell. However, the statement as written contains another assumption – that coalitions are bad. Are they? Again, there are instances were this is true – look at the mess in Belgium at the moment. However, in general a coalition will only occur in the UK if there is fundamental disagreement within the population of the UK. Surely our politicians should represent this? Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that majority governments tend to produce less well thought out, and more extreme, legislation than would occur under a coalition – coalition agreements by definition must reflect the views of a greater proportion of the nation than that of a simple majority (with a smaller overall percentage of the national vote.

In fact, a coalition government can be thought of as a sort-of meta-party, which exists for only a single government, and reflects the views of a greater proportion of voters than any one single party has. As such it will generally reflect the views of a greater proportion of the nation, which is surely what democracy is all about?

2) AV is only used by 3 other countries (Partially true, but irrelevant)

Australia do not necessarily want to get rid of it – that’s an untruth. Also, whilst not many countries currently use AV for their national elections, many organisations worldwide use a system other than First-Past-The-Post, as do several no-national elections. Interestingly, the Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dem parties in the UK do not use FPTP. So what the No campaigners from any political party are actually saying is – do what we say, not what we do!

Also, who cares what other countries are doing? Should we be followers, or leaders? At one point Democracy didn’t exist. And women weren’t allowed to vote. And you had to be 21+ to vote. And many many other things – why should we wait for other countries to change before we do? The UK were also some of the first to outlaw slavery – should we have waited until a load of other countries did so?

3) Allows other than the 1st placed candidate to win (True, by design)

Let’s imagine there are 3 candidates, A, B and C. B and C have basically the same views, whilst A is completely different. A gets 33.5% of the vote, and B 33.4% and C get 33.1%. Under FPTP, candidate A will get in. But surely that isn’t right – 66.5% explicitly don’t want A (they voted against him), but B and C were very similar. So almost everyone who voted for B would have preferred C over A, and similarly those who voted C would prefer B over A. Under AV, candidate B would likely get voted in – a much fairer result, which more accurately reflects the views of the voters, despite not being the 1st placed candidate.

4) It will cost £250 million (False, an outright lie

Let’s look at where the numbers from the No2AV camp come from:-
Referendum: £90 million
Voting Machines: £130 million
Voter Awareness: £26 million

Well, the referendum is already happening, so that number is irrelevant and shouldn’t be part of the £250 million claim. Furthermore, there’s been lots of disagreement with this figure, given that the referendum is taking place at the same time/place as lots of other elections.

Voting machines are not necessary, and aren’t desirable. It’s not appreciably harder to put 1,2,3 in boxes rather than a cross, and won’t be that much harder to count. There will be a small increase in the cost of running an election, but a tiny change. And if you’re worried about that, then think how much would be saved by not having elections at all… Or only allowing 1000 people (the size of the average poll) to vote.

And finally, voter awareness. Well, the government already does voter awareness campaigns prior to every election, so how much extra is needed? And how hard is it to tell people to rank candidates in order of preference, up to the point were you don’t want to vote for the candidate no matter what? Especially as the press will be doing lots of voter awareness campaigning for free…

So, overall, how much will AV cost? No-where near the £250 million claimed. Maybe £5-10 million, but seriously, that’s tiny money in government terms, and well worth the cost. If you are worried about the £5 million, then may I suggest we do away with elections altogether, and have a parliament assigned by the queen, for a saving of at least £80-160 million…

5) People get more than one vote (False, absolute lie)

To understand why this is a lie, you need to understand how AV works, and it’s not complicated. Basically, your second choice is only used if your first choice gets so few votes they get knocked out of contention.

The No2AV camp suggest it’s like going to the newsagents for a chocolate bar: You want a twix, pay your 60p, but there aren’t any. So you pay another 60p and ask for a Mars bar. And so on until you choose a bar which the shop has. But No2AV argue that instead of paying 60p each time, you get to vote again. This is a complete corruption of what is actually happening. Actually, you get to go to the shop with your one 60p (i.e. a vote) and your view is taken into account until a majority of people disagree with you. You don’t get multiple votes.

What you do get is a result which best reflects the views of the majority. See my description for (3) above.

Essentially, AV gets closer to what democracy should (in my opinion) be like – you vote for a set of beliefs and views, and the candidate who both represents the majority of those views, and is deemed trusted to actually represent them honestly, gets in.

6) The supporters of the BNP (and other fringe parties) will get to choose who wins (If true, then this is as it should be!)

To get to the root of the lie here, I would like to ask you a question. Should the person you elect represent the views of 50+% of people in your constituency? If so, then AV is the only option. Yes, some of those views may not be nice, and you may disagree with them, but if 50% of people have those views then it is correct for those views to be reflected. If 10% of people vote BNP (for example), then you’ll find all parties may try to pander for the BNP view. Which may even drive votes away from the BNP! Why vote for the extremists of the BNP if the mainstream parties understand and represent your concerns about immigration etc! Much as I dislike them intensely as a party, they have certain claims and views that are relevant and should be discussed and addressed by politicians.

Moreover, bringing out the BNP is disgusting scaremongering. They are being wheeled out as a boogie-man – tidy your room or the boogie-man will get you, vote for us (No2AV, in this case) or the BNP will get more power.

In conclusion

All told, I am disgusted by the tactics being used, and the claims of, the No2AV camp. They have relied on scaremongering, personal attacks, purposefully confusing the situation, and outright lying – you should really consider whether you want to come down on the side of a campaign which feels the need to resort to such tactics, rather than presenting cogent arguments to try to convince you through logic.

But then, logic and common-sense have long been missing from politics, why should I expect this to change.

This is the leaflet under discussion here:

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