Monday, February 21, 2011


The referendum is getting news and both sides are sharpening their claws. Tav has posted the Mitton Conservatives view on AV, which sadly appears to be a copy and paste job from the No2Av site. I also managed to watch the 10 o'clock show that had arguments for both sides.

To start with why AV and not AV+ or STV. The answer is simple both of those systems require multiple seats; that could work for council elections but do we want multiple MPs? Firstly that would either mean twice as many MPs in the House or redefining the boundaries to combine two previously separate areas. Secondly - confusion. In our case we'd have both a Conservative and Health Concern MP - who do you turn to with a concern. What if MP#1 wants to build a single site and MP#2 doesn't? If one MP is a member of the government they're most likely to dominate; so what's the point?

Therefore we're left with AV as the main* alternative to FPTP. The main question is - Is it better than FPTP? If it is then we should have it; if it's not than we shouldn't. It really is that simple - so why are the arguments against AV latching on to its perceived flaws without comparison to the existing system? I'll take the "5 Good Reasons to Say No":

"AV is not a fair system". But neither is FPTP, that's why we're looking to change it. Is AV less fair than FPTP? Yes and No. On the one hand those who back minority candidates may well be the deciding factor in who wins; on the other hand at least their votes count for something and aren't simply discarded.

"AV is an obscure and unpopular system". It's obscure, so what? This has nothing to do with the argument and smacks of "If it's so good why doesn't everyone do it?" If you can't see the tautological implications of that think harder. Ah but it's also unpopular even Fiji are switching back to FPTP. That would be Fiji the country that was taken over in a military coup. Gosh if a Military Junta don't want it it must be bad [sigh]. Oh but wait once more in Australia "6 out of 10 voters want to return to the British system" Except Australia uses both AV and STV. Is it both they want removed or just the one? Unlike the majority of quotes here's the source. So is that because they don't like the system or because in the last election it resulted in a hung parliament? Because that can't happen in FPTP can it? Well yes, but I concede it is more unlikely.

[Update - I take that last bit back. Why would a hung Parliament be more likely under AV? We're still electing only one person per area. One could argue that those who would have come second now win thus creating a more even balance; but they might well have won under FPTP with the same result]

"AV is complicated and expensive". It's more complicated than FPTP if you use all your votes - it's the difference between a simple X and writing numbers down and I almost guarantee the first time it's rolled out there will be some problems. More expensive though? How so - same papers; same venues; same counting. The only difference is there may be multiple counts which will incur some added expense, but how much? I'm betting not as much as the naysayers quote.

"AV is not a proportional system" But neither is FPTP, but AV at least has the virtue that we know that the candidate with the most votes is at least liked by the majority of the electorate.

"Even the "Yes" campaigners don't really want AV". Um so why are they voting yes? They may want another system such as AV+ or STV. In other words

"You can have chocolate or vanilla?"
"I'd prefer strawberry, but I'll take the vanilla."
"Ah hah so you don't want vanilla!"
"Well no, but of the choice I like vanilla over chocolate"

Why aren't the other options on the 'menu' I've already given some of the problems inherent in those schemes.

Is AV the best system - no, but neither is FPTP. Does AV have its problems - yes, but so does FPTP. So once again the question is - Do YOU think AV is better than FPTP. If you think it is vote YES if not vote NO.

*I have advocated the plus/minus system whereby your vote can be either FOR or AGAINST a candidate. I still like it.


Anonymous said...

Like your post and completely agree with the ridiculous nature of the no campaign.

It is sad that the no campaign is so negative.