Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Say YES to AV on 6 May 2011

Politicians are running scared, in fear of losing the safety and security of their jobs. If ever the Alternative Voting system (AV) won the referendum on 6 May 2011, politicians would have to start working for the electorate instead of party ideals. It may not be the greatest voting system in the world but it is better for the electorate than the First Past the Post (FPP) that the UK has had for so long. We simply must vote YES to AV. It would be the best move that the electorate could make to prevent systemic sleaze, corruption and the eternal strangle hold of Labservative.

The argument put forward by the No to AV campaign is absurd. I received a leaflet through my door today offering me six reasons why I should vote No.

1. It will produce more coalitions under the Alternative Vote system...

Fantastic! Already the Vote No campaign admits that Labservative will be no more. This means that other, more electoral-friendly parties may come forward with better policies and better politics. So on point one I would vote YES to more coalitions.

2. It is used by only 3 other countries in the world...

Steve Baines (Fairer Votes Oxfordshire) has already done the homework and posted a letter on Newton News saying how widely the AV system is used, including India and the USA. Prime Minister David Cameron was elected as leader of the Conservative Party under the AV system. It is a gross distortion to say it is only used in three countries. And anyway, if it was only used in a single country, the questions would have to be asked: what did it replace? and why did they choose AV over FPP? Point 2 doesn't strike me as having any truth in it.

3. It allows the second or third place candidate to win.

Or to put it another way, it stops the first place candidate with only 30% of the vote going on to represent a constituency. Only a Proportional Representation System like the one I devised (Political Solutions) back in the year 2007 would truly reflect the Democratic wish of the electorate. In the meantime, why should any Government be formed with less than 50% of our vote? It is silly to support the FPP system as a fair system.

4. It will cost the country £250 million

The Spectator ran an article with the figures but it has to be pointed out that £90 million of this is the referendum. So it costs that much for EVERY referendum the country has and why should we not have a say at something so important. Take this figure away and the cost to the country is now £160 million, which admittedly is not such a round and headline grabbing figure. The cost of running the 2010 election probably hit about £100 million anyway so what are we arguing over... £60 million. Considering the billions of pounds the taxpayer handed over to the banks, only to see the banking industry award themselves millions of pounds in bonuses, this is hardly a startling increase. I would rather spend £60 million on a fairer voting system than billions on bankers any day.

5. It means that someones 5th preference is worth the same as your 1st preference.

This is true but until politicians have the guts to allow a proper Proportional Representation System to be used, where almost every voters first preference is worth the same, we have to start somewhere. Under the current FPP system there are many voters first preference that will never count. They will never be represented by their choice of political persuasion, either because it is an extreme minority or, as is much more usually the case, the voter votes for the wrong candidate in a 'safe' constituency. For example, no Conservative voter has ever been represented by a Conservative MP in Hull. This means that Conservative votes in Hull are always worth less than Labour votes. The AV system will not wipe out the safe seats of constituencies where the incumbent candidate already has over 50% of the vote. So even AV will not solve this current injustice and that is where a proper PR system is needed; but greedy politicians would not allow the electorate a real referendum on a range of voting systems. They only allowed us this one choice, which just goes to show how scared they are about giving the electorate real power to decide a voting system for themselves.

6. It will mean that supporter of the BNP and other fringe parties would decide who wins.

What rubbish! First we have to acknowledge that the BNP is represented in the European Parliament because of the PR system used for the European Elections. What politicians must address is why such extreme parties have become popular? If Labservative had done a better job there would most likely be fewer extremist supporters but if no one ever listens to people's concerns it is only natural to gravitate towards more extreme measures. It will be the voters who decide the winner, and yes this may include supporters of extreme parties but they have a democratic right to vote and who is to say that they do not already vote tactically within the current system? This is all just scare mongering.

Well that is the campaign for No to AV. It is hollow and misleading.

Saying YES to AV is not the end of the line for the voting system. Like the rest of the World at this time seeking reform, we need a better voting system. AV is not the end - it is the beginning. I don't particularly like the system but I like FPP even less and this is the limited choice we have been given. IF People vote for AV, the next step will be to encourage MPs to give us the right to campaign towards Proportional Representation, just as we have a type of PR in the European Elections (and that could be reformed even more). The old two party politics has to go if we are to make politics more transparent. Clearly we cannot rely on the present 'No to AV' campaigners to tell us the truth... and one has to ask why? Is it because, like the rest of us, they can no longer count on a job for life. And is because, unlike most of the rest of us, they fear losing the diamond encrusted pension that we could only dream of? Politicians have more to lose under AV than the electorate. Now you should look carefully at who does not support this important reform.