Meh to AV

April 27, 2011

In case you haven't noticed, next week the UK is having a referendum.

Some people think First Past The Post is unfair, because say the vote was split 30/30/40, the person with 40% would end up winning. Whiners say that because they got less than 50% of the total vote, they aren't the "choice of the people". I'm not convinced, as after all this is how you win most games. You don't have to get more than half the total: you just have to get more than everyone else.

Some people think AV is overly complicated. It is more complicated than FPTP, but I think people who can't understand it are morons. What is so difficult about ranking candidates in the order that you like them? And if you can't manage to get your head round that, just write "1" next to your favourite candidate and you're done.

I'm a lifelong Labour supporter and young Ed is in favour of AV. So you would think that voting Yes to AV would be a no-brainer, right?


I have two main reasons. Firstly is that I think coalitions are complete crap. They weaken both parties policies, they cause internal bickering which gives more power to the opposition, and they always involve the Liberal Democrats. I'm glad Labour told the Lib Dems that they weren't interested in their 'deal' after the last election, because I'm not sure I would've liked what Labour would've become as part of a coalition. I think they're better off on their own. Coalitions involve parties abandoning bits of their policy AFTER you've voted for them. How does that help people put their trust in politics?

Secondly, I bloody hate the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg in particular. It all started when they got rid of Charles Kennedy. I remember watching in horror as his own party basically turned against him. He stood up and admitted he'd had a drink problem which he'd been receiving treatment for, they all said, "Oh how very brave," and then stabbed him in the back. "What a bunch of power-hungry fuckers", I thought to myself.

Then there was the last general election. When Clegg did well in the televised debates, I was pleased. I was hoping he'd snatch some of the Tory voters from under Cameron's nose. He seemed like a principled man. Given that our local MP is a complete toad of a Tory and our local Labour party didn't have a hope, I decided it was the lesser evil to vote Lib Dem tactically.

Then, as the coalition unfurled, my hope turned to disgust. The Lib Dems in general and Clegg in particular seemed willing to sacrifice their principles for a taste of power. It had never occurred to me that the Lib Dems would jump into bed with a right-wing party - how could they? Their policies were (and are) in many cases, diametrically opposed. And yet ... strangely, the Lib Dems managed to quietly forget about that in order to get a bite of the cherry. The fact that my tactical vote had basically helped David Cameron into power made me feel sick. I'll never make that mistake again.

Mattgreen, who is actually a Lib Dem voter, said they had to do something to get a chance to show that they could govern. Personally I think sacrificing your principles is too high a price to pay. Tuition fees anyone?

So, back to AV. The Lib Dems have always supported voting reform, and I have some sympathy with this. I don't think the current system is totally unfair, but I do think there are fairer systems, such as proportional representation. On one thing I do I agree with Mr Clegg, and that's that AV is a "miserable little compromise".

I also think that if AV goes through, Clegg will be smarmily delighted at securing his place in history and improving the fates of the Lib Dems forevermore. I don't think he deserves that accolade and I most certainly don't want to help him get it by voting in favour of AV.

In actual fact, the most compelling reason to vote for AV is because the Tories are against it. But that means helping slimy Clegg, and putting up with years of useless Coalitions.

Then again, Ed Miliband is in favour, and that must mean there's something in it for Labour. I think that progressive Labour recognises that voting reform is important because the existing system isn't fair, but equally traditional Labour doesn't want to shoot itself in the foot by changing from a system under which it has been successful. (Article here)

This is an interesting pro-AV article. And this is a well-written article that shows that tactical voting may get even worse under AV - the bit about Australian 'party voting cards' made my heart sink.

In truth, it matters not a jot in my constituency, since our vile MP has the safest seat this side of the Home Counties, and will continue to win under either system with a comfortable majority.

And to finish this long and rambling post, here is Charlie Brooker, brilliantly explaining why both sides are idiots.

So as you can see, I have done loads of reading, and I am still undecided as to what to vote for, or indeed whether to vote at all. Sigh.

Tactical voting only exists because we don't have a system of proportional representation. AV on the other hand, keeps the crazies out of parliament that you would see with PR. If 'scorecard' political advertising takes hold in a multi-party system it will naturally lead to the application of game theory in local politics.

Sounds interesting to me.
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