Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The No2AV referendum ad

I was lucky in catching the Referendum broadcast on BBC2 last night from those opposed to AV. Wow what a huge stinking pile of distortion. Note also that comments have been disabled for this "official" video so it's not open to debate on YouTube (or what might pass for debate on YouTube)

We start off with an introduction to the "Right Honourable Alan B'Stard". Yeah so those too young probably won't remember the show or know who he is and those old enough will hopefully remember him as an Ultra-right Conservative bank-bencher; good call in using him then.

"Alan B'Stard is back again running for office and with this new voting system he could just succeed"
Except he's managed to win under FPTP so why should this system be hailed as any different?

Alan then sets out his policies:
"Abolish all taxes. Free housing for everyone. No more tuition fees of course, and free electricity to anyone who votes for me."
Hell he'd win under FPTP with that platform, so what was the point again? Oh wait he's a baddie -
"You do realise we can't afford to do any of these things you're promising?"
"Of course we can't you silly thing. We just say we're going to make these changes then when we get voted in we'll just blame the other lot saying they stopped us doing it because it's all in the 'National Interest'"
What, what the hell has that got to do with the voting system and who the hell are this "other lot"? Are they saying that AV makes politicians more likely to lie and break promises? I don't think we need a new system for that to happen. Ah -
"Of course even with AV even if they don't vote for me I'll still probably get in"
Um no because people still have to vote for you. In fact more people would have to vote for you to win then under FPTP.

Now we get the answer to who the "other lot" are.
"The great thing about a fudged coalition is that neither of us need carry out a single promise of our election manifesto"
Yes because you won't get coalition governments under FPTP... oh wait a second don't we have one right now?
"Of course the best thing about AV is never having to say we're sorry or to pretend that we care"
No that's a consequence of not being able to recall an MP, which will apply to both systems.

And now for an analogy - a horse race. Labour Lad wins followed by Tory Boy and LibDem in third place. Oh but what's this the judges have awarded the result to LibDem "What a mix-up"

The racing analogy seems to get used a lot to point out the 'unfairness' of AV, but take a closer look. The outcome of the race is decided only by the competitors. The people watching, the people betting, the people 'voting' on who they think will win has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the outcome.

The person who comes first should win
Well yes in a race; in a competition decided only by those competing. However an election isn't like that. The candidates don't decide amongst themselves who's won, they don't run laps or arm-wrestle for the job (though that would be fun to watch). So how does this in any way equate to the election process? It doesn't.

Now a 'teacher' explaining the AV system
"The candidate with the most votes may or may not win depending on whether they gain 50% of the vote or not. After that it's down to your second preference votes provide you vote for an unpopular candidate. So then your second and your third choices will be added to the most popular ones which means that now..."
Perhaps you could use Pig Latin instead to make it more complicated. Try "If no candidate has 50% or more of the vote the least voted for candidate is removed and their second preference votes reassigned amongst the remaining candidates"
"If the winner gets 38% and the second 32% then the contest is still not finished because what they do now is if the runner-up gains more second votes then the winner then number two or three is now the winner. Okay?"
What! What the hell is that? Notice also they're using FPTP language such as winner and runner-up to explain the non-FPTP system. Ah now the voice of the public:
"If I went to the betting shop and I put a bet on, I don't know, red because it's black and red on roulette and even if red don't come but black comes I still win?"
No, it's as if you bet on red and then they brought out an all-black table to spin and said "Tough you've had your choice". Back to the 'teacher'.
"After that what happens now?"
"Count everyone's third choice?"
"No? You can only use the third preference choices for those people who have already been eliminated twice"
Correct well done, but you've still managed to make it seem confusing. I don't think you need the thick ring-bound "AV Manual" though seeing as the Electoral Commission managed to explain it in only 3 pages.
"What you've got numbers two and three all in the same pile?"
"No you have numbers one, two, and three all mixed together and after that it goes to round four and then round five and then..."
Or you could do it intelligently like this:

This is an attempted breakdown of the Radio 5 AV experiment. Not exact due to the lack of raw data. Rounds run top to bottom. Does that seem confusing to you?
Democracy is One Person One Vote
or as the dictionary puts it:
government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
Anything about one person one vote there; in fact until 1948 it was quite possible to have two or more votes. So this whole "one person one vote" thing is only a snip over sixty years old. Besides under AV you still only get one vote. In the above representation I can't have my ballot paper in both the Labour and Green Party's piles at the same time.

So a totally negative campaign that goes out of it's way to distort and complicate matters in it's own interests. That'd be politics as normal then, which is just how they want to keep it.