Tuesday, March 15, 2011

AV vs PR

In my last few posts regarding the upcoming referendum I've laid out the points of both First Past the Post (FPTP) and the Alternative Vote (AV) and one of the continuing arguments presented by the anti-AV brigade is that it's not Proportional Representation (PR).

This argument supposes that what we really what is PR and that it should be offered as an option at the referendum and I agree; if only to silence this annoying argument. To put it mildly if PR was given as an option I still wouldn't vote for it. For me PR strikes at some of the fundamental principles of democracy.

Allow me to demonstrate. Hands-up if you know who your MP is, or at least which party they represent. Given that you're obviously intelligent and keep up with the news I'm guessing a fair few hands went up. Now tell me who your MEP is. Hmm far fewer hands there.

Perhaps that's because you don't have a MEP you have many. In the West Midlands we have six and I voted for none of them; in fact no-one voted for them. Using the PR system you can't vote for them you have to vote for the Party List instead which you may have no say over.

That candidate who knocked at your door; whom you had that long and interesting chat to and was really impressed by may well be fourth on that party list and stand pretty much no chance of being elected because the top three places have been taken by someone you've never met.

Did you vote for Rustie Lee in 2009 standing for UKIP? Congratulations that Party won two seats; shame Rustie was fourth on the list.

This is the failure of PR - don't vote for the person, vote for the Party. Quite the reverse of everything I've advocated. PR holds Party over the individual and dilutes the vote to the extent that the people supposedly representing you don't have to represent anyone. So long as they can get their name first on the list that's all they need to do.

If it came down to a flat choice between PR and FPTP I'd choose FPTP, because at least I know who I'm voting for.