Deconstructing the No Campaign's nonsense 2011-05-04 20:03:18
Apparently, I should vote "no" to adopting the Alternative Vote system tomorrow, but I can't say I find the arguments very compelling. In fact, I think they're downright stupid.
I recently received a leaflet from the No Campaign listing a set of reasons for saying "NO to AV". Not "YES to FPTP", but definitely "NO to AV". I will repeat these points here, with their original emphasis, interspersed with my own thoughts on the matter. Apparently, I should vote "no" because:
- It will produce more coalitions. Under the Altenative Vote system, we would have coalitions most of the time, with Nick Clegg deciding who would be Prime Minister by cutting a deal behind closed doors after the election.
- This is presupposing that a coalition is automatically a bad thing. A coalition composed of the two most preferred parties may not be.
- It is also an obvious ad hominem attack, attempting to play on people's dislike of Nick Clegg. What is clear to anyone who can see past this is that it won't always be Nick Clegg: not only will the leader of the Lib Dems change at some point in the future, but the Lib Dems will only have enough share of the votes to form a compelling coalition if people vote for them. Which is kind of the point, really: the parties who get voted for get power.
- FPTP gives the country no special immunity against a hung Parliament to start with, as has been demonstrated quite recently.
- It is used by only 3 other countries in the world - Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea - and Australia want to get rid of it.
- It allows the second or third placed candidate to win. We would end up with third-best candidates becoming MPs.
- This is complete nonsense, because by definition, the candidate who places first wins - what's changing is the criteria for placing first. Nobody can win until they are able to secure a majority of the total votes. This statement preys on people's familiarity with FPTP by trying to conflate "has the highest number of votes in the first round" with "winning", implying that it if the party with the highest votes in the first round doesn't win, we've somehow all been conned. Having the highest number of votes in the first round does not necessarily mean having a majority of the total vote. I would rather have a system where my second or third choice ends up winning, than a system where a party with only 30% of the vote wins simply because votes for all other parties were spread too thinly in comparison.
- It will cost the country £250 million, at a time when money is tight.
- A clear, concise rebuttal of this figure is available here, penned by someone with greater understanding of such matters than myself.
- It means that someone else's 5th preference is worth the same as your 1st preference.
- Only if that person's first four preferences have already been eliminated, which means they can't have been very popular choices after all. Quite frankly, if my own first choice ends up winning because it is bolstered by the redistributed votes of people whose first four choices weren't able to obtain a majority, I would consider that a bonus.
- It will mean that supporters of the BNP and other fringe parties would decide who wins, because they will be eliminated first and then their votes could be counted again and again for other parties. That will encourage other candidates to pander to the likes of the BNP.
- What utter nonsense. If the "BNP and other fringe parties" are eliminated first, then by definition they must have had rather low shares of the overall vote to start with. This is no different to BNP supporters employing tactical votes under the current system, on the basis that the BNP won't win anyway. If someone votes for BNP first and a more mainstream party second, then unless the BNP get a majority, their subsequent preferences are the ones which matter.
- It's not the BNP themselves they'll have to pander to, but the BNP's supporters. If a party really cares so much about getting that extra share of the vote that they begin introducing policies which appeal specifically to BNP supporters, they will see a corresponding drop in preference elsewhere amongst voters who oppose the BNP. In short, it would be a stupid thing to do, because we all know BNP supporters aren't the majority.
- If the BNP thought this would help their cause, why would Nick Griffin be encouraging people to vote against AV in the referendum?
1 Stu 2011-05-04 20:25:03
The "No to AV" campaign lost my even vague interest when they lead with the implication that most people were too stupid to fill in more than one box. Way to flatter your audience.
2 Stavron 2011-05-26 13:29:41
Ah, cool, I was looking for a map like that! Or even better, one that coloured in the countries by voting system - not that land-mass is a great measure of the importance of a country's voting choice, but the No campaign put one out which coloured the countries that use exactly the proposed system in one colour, and everywhere else in another. The fact that large areas of the world don't even have multi-party democracy is, of course, irrelevant...
Too late now, of course - the fools all voted to keep the broken system we have now, probably out of fear of change. My own (un)favourite bit of No campaigning was this utterly incomprehensible cartoon on a Tory leaflet: http://rwec.co.uk/q/no2av-fud
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