Sour Grapes

It seems that #yes2av is #downthetoilet, but I was watching Twitter tonight and two tweets passed me by the first says,

“congratulations cameron, congratulations murdoch, your lies have denied the country a democracy. #yes2av #vote2011 #libdems #tories #labour”

and the second, which I can no longer find says something like

“Nick Clegg , you #fail HAHAHA etc….”

You get the idea. There is a very short term view here. I hope some of my Labour friends understand what they’ve done. It’s a huge mistake. First past the post is not democratic, it’s also not helpful to our cause. …

Fair Votes, honest and dishonest arguments

In summary, I believe

  • MPs representing communities should have the support of the majority of their voters,
  • AV may nationally exaggerate the size of popular majorities, but it is likely to constrain the power of unpopular minorities and this is a good thing,
  • the choice of government should not be taken by a small number of swing voters in middle English constituencies, and I mean English,
  • AV is harder to ‘game’, people will be able to vote for their first choice, it gives more people a reason to vote and we’ll all see the real attraction and support of each of the parties,
  • AV means that more people’s vote will count,
  • many MPs will need to appeal to more than their tribal support,
  • the British system asks people to vote for an MP, not a government, the voting system should support this,
  • ‘First Past the Post” is dying, we use other systems for the European parliament, executive mayors, the Greater London Authority and in Northern Ireland, it’s time to move on.

I shall be voting for AV today, it’s not my first choice, but its better than what we have, why don’t you join me?

Clegg and Cameron enter No 10On issues of tribalism I was unhappy to receive a No2AV leaflet, with a picture similar to the one on the left.  I have tried to scan the original to share with you, but my scanner isn’t good enough. Interesting that they have Cameron’s back to us. Are they hoping that Labour and other left wingers will forget that the coalition is Tory led by the simple ruse of having him turn his back on us?. (It won’t be the last time!) The leaflet is decorated with text in UKIP’s Purple and Yellow. (Did they have some ink left over from the General Election?). The text suggests that we should oppose AV because of broken promises and back room deals, and that we, the voter, should punish the dishonest. It’s merely another attempt to keep the interests of the Tory party out of the debate. How stupid do they think we are? Why should we punish only Clegg and the Lib Dems for a deal they did with the Tories!  Anyway, outside London we can punish them both in the local & national elections by voting against them.

The biggest lie is that the current system is in democracy’s interest. If you vote on the merits of fair voting, you’ll support change, otherwise you have a party agenda, and the Tory Party agenda at that. …

Reasons Labour should support AV

Say Yes to fairer votesMartin Kettle, in an article at Comment is Free, on the Guardian’s web site, called “Vote yes to AV if you want to see Tories feel the fear again” among other arguments says something I have been struggling to say. I don’t know if he is Labour Party member of supporter, but I am and so I have quoted it here, and hope that fellow Labour supporters consider it before voting next week. I also suggest you read the article in full. I am unsure if his focus on Labour and anti-coalition activists helps make the argument that AV is fairer than FPTP, but for those who won’t, or don’t want to consider the  issues on their merits, but only in the context of the current Government’s longevity and programme he has some interesting things to say which you should read in full. He concludes the article saying,

“Labour still thinks short-term and tactically, not long-term and strategically. It is obsessed with the wrong target, with battering the Lib Dems, with punishing Clegg for the coalition and the cuts, and using those votes to propel itself back into an overall majority. The first part of that may well happen, starting with the local and devolved elections. The second part, though, is much less certain. It depends on breaking the coalition quickly and winning an early election. But that isn’t going to happen, even if AV goes down.

If everyone in Labour thought straight they would see there is a powerful argument for saying that the coalition will be more weakened by a yes vote than a no. If you want to weaken the coalition you want the Lib Dems to be bolder in standing up for themselves against the Conservatives on a range of policy issues. That is more likely with the security of AV, which favours the Lib Dems because it is fairer, under their belt.

You also, however, want to weaken Cameron’s standing in his own party and strengthen the influence of the more rightwing Tories to create mayhem. A yes vote would be a lightning rod for these angry Tories. That’s why, if you want to harm the coalition, vote yes to AV. If you want to make the British establishment fear Labour again, vote yes.”

I understand how, in particular many Londoners, who will not have a chance to use their vote  may wish to vote in the referendum to punish the coalition partners but this isn’t a vote of confidence in the Government. Voting No won’t save the NHS or stop further privatisation, or reverse the cuts.

Use your vote in the referendum to change our politics, vote “Yes”, that’s what I shall be doing. …

What if we’d had a fairer voting system last May?

The New Statesman has a series called “Data Hound”, which appeals to me. Last/this week they ran an article on Voting Systems, which is not yet on the web. I thought it was quite good fun, so I have re-produced the graph here. They make the point that Alternate Vote, is not proportional, but that while “First Past the Post”, our current system, may exaggerate the victory of unpopular parties, “Alternate Vote” may exaggerate the victories of popular parties.

I argued earlier this week that there were principled reasons  for supporting AV and I hope that most people will vote on the basis of principle and not on the basis of party advantage. So while examining the potential results of last May is fun, I am not sure it should be a major factor in making one’s mind up.

What the idea above does for my argument that we need to restrain the ‘elective dictatorships’, I am not sure, but below, is what the House of Commons would have looked like under “First Past the Post” FPTP, Alternative Vote AV or Single Transferable Vote STV, a more proportional system similar to that used in the European Parliament elections.

If we'd not been using FPTP in May 2011

If the Liberals had had a choice, what would they have done?

In any event, I shall be voting Yes for fairer votes. …

Say Yes to AV

Say Yes to fairer votesI shall be saying Yes2AV next week, if I can get to a polling station, as I shall be working. It’s not much of an excuse, but its the last day of the working week and I shall be commuting back to Hampshire, particularly if I want to vote in the local authority elections.

I have finally made my mind up and believe that

  • AV will allow people to state their first preferences, we’ll get true idea of the locus of political debate in the UK and its constituent countries and regions.
  • its wrong that elections are decided by swing voters in about 50 seats,
  • MPs should have the, at least, tacit support of the majority of their constituents, FPTP disenfranchises people who live in areas dominated by their opponents; they either have to vote for their 2nd preferences, not bother or just hope their vote counts in the total national scores. AV will give more people a reason to vote.
  • I care more about stopping the ‘elective dictatorship’ of a single party government than I do about having a ‘firm’ government with a secure majority. Thatcher’s government didn’t listen to, well, anyone really and Blair’s majority isolated him from taking advice from his real friends and supporters, leading to tragic mistakes.

Finally it may have a liberating effect on political organisation and debate in this country; the tensions within the Parties may require them to ask their voters to help them resolve their debates creating new re-alignments.

It may be a ‘miserable little compromise’, but FPTP has been dying for years, its rarely used in civic society and we’ve been using more proportional systems in public elections more and more frequently, notably in the European Parliament, and in Northern Ireland. It’s not perfect, more proportional systems would be best but it’s better in my mind than the current system. …