Monday, May 02, 2011

Two thoughts on AV

(N.B. It's me, the P-G)

Two things and two things only.

Thing one: Why are we doing this anyway?
All this nonsense about electoral reform was supposed to be a reaction to the expenses scandal. Remember that? Our elected representatives were getting more and more remote from the daily lives of those they purported to represent and "something needed to be done" (tm).

In very much the same way as the EU Constitution Lisbon Treaty lost all connection with the Laeken Declaration to which it was supposed to give life, there has been shag all mention of why we are doing this in the first place. Quite possibly because it would be rather embarrassing if anyone did. It strikes me that this particular hoo-ha is a massive distraction.

Thing two: Has anyone else noticed that the examples of how AV works don't exactly make the case for more democracy?
I've lost count of the number of illustrations of the AV method that run along the lines of
"what shall we have for pudding?"
"what's your favourite biscuit?"
or some other irritatingly patronising LCD rubbish.

The correct answer to these questions is "Everyone should be able to choose their own sodding favourite pudding or biscuit or greatest Prime Minister in peace without either imposing their views on others or having the views of others imposed on them". In short, the discussions of voting reform merely call into question the size of the state: we might very well be a lot happier if a great deal less was in the hands of our elected representatives and more in our own.

I remain astonished that no-one has mentioned this at all. Quite possibly because it would be rather embarrassing if anyone did.

There. Exactly two things as promised. Except of course, that they might just be the same thing under the bonnet.


paul garrard said...

Not quite sure what you are saying. Seems to me that you are avoiding the real issue.

Ian R Thorpe said...

I have always supported PR (without it I don't really have a vote as I refuse to vote for one lot just to keep the other lot out).

AV is neither FPTP nor PR however, it could be described as LPPT as the election will eventually be decided by who came last in the previous round of counting.

Our current system can be made democratic however. Just abolish the whips office and make coercive tactics to ensure party loyalty a serious offence.

An MP's job is to represent constituents not party donors. Make every vote a fre vote and take care to ensure voters know how their MP voted on various issues.

The Stigler said...

1. The expenses scandal thing is quite a good benefit of AV. Consider this: Jacqui Smith, a liar and a thief stood at the last election for Redditch and came 2nd. Why? Simple reason is that despite being a liar and a thief, voting under FPTP leans heavily towards 2 parties in each seat. If you don't like the tories, you will hold your nose and vote for the liar/thief because it's the only way you can see to get them out.

Under AV, a rival candidate with similar policies could stand. You could still put Smith down as an option, but she'd be your 2nd option. So, your vote could still, at worst count as getting someone other than the Tories in. But at best, you could get who you really want.

This also means that someone is less likely to act as a liar and a thief because they can't rely on a block of tactical votes like they can now.

2. That's where we are, unfortunately. If you want a smaller government, you won't get it by FPTP, because both parties are focussed on the floating votes at the centre which means a range of government between slightly-smaller-than-Cameron and Brown. Neither party cares about the hardcore left or right. They know nearly all of them will vote Labour or Conservative anyway.

marksany said...

I am pro AV because it allows voters to enter more information into the system and more truthful information at that. As any fule knows a system works better if it has more information available to it.

The Pedant-General said...

Paul and Ian,

You seem to be missing my point entirely.

That's much much better.
1) Good: an argument in favour of AV related to the expenses scandal. So why hasn't this been made?

Personally, I think it's pretty weak overall: my point is that the problem is not the voting system - it's the politicians. How about a "none of the above" option, for example?

2) Possibly, but you might still be missing my point. The examples given are screaming for someone to say "the politicians are the problem and we want them to do much much less" - we shouldn't have to choose just one option to be foisted upon everyone regardless of how that option is arrived at.

Perhaps it might inject a bit more interest in the process if someone did...

Roger Thornhill said...

both av and fptp camps forget that this exercise is not about deciding which mp can 'win', but establishing the least-bad choice for the electorate.

Anonymous said...

but the PG's point is that the choices are limited. All possible choices are not particularly "good" for the electorate. If we are going to keep a representative parliamentary democracy, at the end of the day voters can only vote for people who are nominated. So surely if a constituency returns a result of 34%, 33%, 32%, 1% with FPTP, it means that the area would best be represented by 3 MPs whatever the AV result would be. I think that is (one of) the real issue rather than the exact mechanism of how the "winner" is chosen.

Adam Bell said...

Surely the point PG is making, in a roundabout way, is that since AV isn't fully proportional we should be going for a multi-member system like the form of STV used by the Irish. As AV incorporate preferential voting, it's a step towards it.

Roger Thornhill said...


but 3 mps is out of the question. with av there is a chance that 65 per cent of voters would get either their first or second choice and not lumber them with the 34 percent choice that 65percent utterly despise.

fact is, though,we are denied a true choice here and are presented with a false dichotomy and without a 'none of the above', which i am now tempted by exercising to make my point.

9 apologies btw, my keyboard suffered a guinnessunami the other day and no shift key1 thank crap my password was all lowercase19

Murray Rothbard said...

I think I finally have the hang of this AV voting nonsense:

Sres said...

AV is my second preference

Steve Perrett said...

Why oh why are we still fuck*ng around with elected representatives? They don't represent anybody but themselves! This is the age of communication. We can talk to somebody the other side of the world from a feckin campsite in Bude for bobs sake! We can represent ourselves! We don't need some upper class twit with his/her head so far up his/her own arse they can't see the light at the end of the colon to line their own pockets at our expense!

@ Paul Garrard: Are you for real? Read the blog again mate! Maybe you'll see the light!

The Pedant-General said...

Have been away for last few days, but thank you Steve. Those were my points absolutely precisely.

Slightly surprised that the erudite and eminent commentators here appear to have been hoodwinked by the massive distraction to which i alluded in the post.

Anonymous said...

You wait 36 years for the next referendum to come around and they give us this. This was the wrong question asked for the wrong reasons by the wrong people. I registered my protest vote by suggesting what the question should have been but am now disappointed to find that my vote was not recorded. No spoilt ballot counts have been reported and the turnout figures have been adjusted to pretend that they never happened. Who decided that it should be like this? Who gains by expunging any signs of dissent from the record? Spoilt ballots are normally recorded in elections and afford the disaffected a route to protest, but not this time. I must admit that I can’t remember whether they were counted 36 years ago, but at least then it was a serious question – just a shame we got the answer wrong. Or did we? If you can disappear votes today perhaps votes were disappeared back then? Let us not forget the scandal of the Glenrothes by-election less than two years ago when the voting records were lost. Perhaps we don’t get the government we deserve, perhaps we get the one we are given?

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