Alternative vote: a reconnaissance by fire

I’ve realised that I don’t know where I stand on electoral reform. (With that, even my readership vanishes into the distance like Libyan rebels encountering Gadhafi’s one loyal artillery observer.) So I’ve decided to abuse both sides in the hope that they react interestingly.

For AV: What, you want to give Nick Clegg what he wants? Crush! Like! Rat! Are you chicken? Anyway, it’s not proper proportional voting – it’s just a weak compromise that happens to give Cleggy Boy a life pension without even the embarrassment of going to the Lords. Alan Beattie is right. The Left, the Greens, the ‘kippers and fascists and God knows what, they’ll all be shut out just as much as ever. And, y’know, AV is cheating, like stealth aircraft and quantum computing and gas barbecues. Caroline Lucas didn’t need AV to get elected – she had to do it the hard way. And if the Lib Dems get AV, do you really think they’ll be in a hurry to concede STV? They get all the benefit of AV, and then they’ll pocket it and just sit there. No is good. Look at the polls, anyway – the solution is to force a general election as soon as possible. Power, baby!

Against AV: Well, nice mates you’ve got there. Have you seen the fuckos and liars and thugs and gargoyles on your side? There’s “Tom” “Newton”-“Dunn” of the “Sun”, talking about “Baroness Warsi warns that the DANGEROUS alternative vote system will let FASCISTS into the House of Commons…” Rather than the papers, where they belong. It’s the M factor – whatever Murdoch wants is evidently wrong. There’s the charming No campaign, which is so rich it refused to take its public funding so it didn’t have to admit to who’s funding it. And just imagine Eric Pickles’ face! And Redwood! The horror of it! We have a moral responsibility to vote against the Tory in all its forms.

Does that cover everything? I’m teetering between the principle of spanking Clegg and the principle of doing anything the Murdoch papers are lying about. On the merits, as far as I can see, AV is a little better than the current system, but not really enough to be worth having and certainly not enough to let the Lib Dems off the hook. And I’m in the mood for approval voting, the system where you cross off all the candidates you absolutely reject and the least hated wins. But please try to convince me.

6 Comments on "Alternative vote: a reconnaissance by fire"

  1. ” I’m teetering between the principle of spanking Clegg and the principle of doing anything the Murdoch papers are lying about”

    Organ grinder or monkey? Yes all the way, baby.


  2. I say vote yes. It’s not great, but it greases the skids by changing the system; once changed, it’s that much easier to change it again — much as the Reform Act 1832, whilst imperfect, led to far greater changes in the electoral system. If AV is rejected, it’ll be touted as public approval of the current system, and it’ll be a generation or more before anyone dares try again.


  3. Agree with Nomad. If you want PR, voting against this makes it less likely. Remember the sinking of devolution in the 1970s? Took 20 years to get that going again.

    Nick Clegg is ****ed anyway, AV isn’t going to save him.


  4. I agree with Nomad as well. Just think of the “told you so” smirking if there’s a no vote. And I can’t bring myself to side with Cameron and bloody Nick Griffin.


  5. In Australia we have AV for our lower house and STV for our upper house. [For the state and territory parliaments we can have either AV or STV for either house, depending on the state or territory.]

    STV is fairer.

    But AV at least prevents you ‘wasting’ your vote by voting for a minor party. And over time minor parties can grow in strength to win an AV seat. Adam Brandt winning the seat of Melbourne for the Greens at the last Federal election being a case in point.

    – Syd


  6. Love your blog Alex. But AV is a joke, STV is dog’s bollocks of a democratic electoral system (as my LSE prof might or might not have said back in the day)… That is of course why it’s not one of the options on offer.


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