Why I Will Not Support the “Yes to AV” Campaign …

I’ve visited http://www.yestofairervotes.org today to check out why I apparently should vote ‘Yes’ to a supposedly fairer system of votes.  Whilst I agree on the face of it, AV looks attractive to voters, I don’t actually think that it is fairer than the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system.  My reason comes down to my suspicion that ‘fairer’ for most people means ‘what I want’.  Check out the website if you want an explanation of AV, I won’t do one here.

Interestingly the “Yes for Fairer Votes” state that FPTP is unfair because you only vote for one person and that two-thirds of MPs get into parliament with less than 50% of the voters support.  Let’s look at that.

If you’re in a constituency with four candidates which is say normally a labour strong hold, this isn’t going to change under AV.  Not really.  In solid seats either way things will hardly change.  You do the maths, only in seats where the candidates are reasonably equal will there be any difference.  Have a look at this article  from the Guardian, it shows that the results would not have been that much different overall.  Take the results with a pinch of salt, but I truly don’t see what great difference AV makes.

Also Interestingly the “Yes for Fairer Votes” states “The Alternative Vote takes what works with First Past the Post and improves on it.”.  So FPTP isn’t all bad apparently, but then it also states that FPTP fails the basic test of fairness.  It then says that FPTP fails each and every test, and yet despite AV being based on FPTP that apparently is OK … eh? 

I like FPTP for the following reason: I am forced to make a decision. No get out, no wishy–washy pandering to the people who don’t get their way. Take it or leave it.  I don’t always get the Government or MP I want, or the council, but you don’t get me bleating about how unfair the voting system is.  I’ve wanted a government with the beliefs, grit and determination of the first two Thatcher Governments for years, I ain’t going to get it though.  What I do get with FPTP is I normally get a Government with a mandate and I’d rather have a Government with plan and a belief, than a Coalition which trades away it’s convictions and principals for a chance to hold power. 

The “Yes for Fairer Votes” by the way, conveniently mixes up Hung Parliaments and Coalitions, stating that Australia have only had one Hung Parliament in 38 elections, I don’t know where they got that from, but Australia have had loads of Coalition Governments, Robert Menzies for example was heading a Minority Coalition Government when war broke out, John Howard led a Coalition Government in 1996.  They also state that that Canada have permanent Hung Parliaments whilst using a FPTP System.  But  the Canadian House of Commons Web Site states “Coalition governments have been rare in Canadian history.”, which is true but they have been ruled by Minority Governments for years and years, and I say again, I’d rather be ruled by a party that sticks to it’s principles, rather than a conglomerate of people, hell-bent on political power at any cost, forging a Coalition of convenience.

Would I rather have a Labour Government now than the Coalition? Yes if they had enough to form a Minority Government, I wouldn’t complain.  Would I rather Cameron ditch Clegg and rule with a Minority Government? Absolutely and twice on Sundays.  Why? Because then the government might stick to it’s principals more. Forging a Coalition has probably done more damage to the LibDems than any other action in recent years with accusations of ‘selling out’, yet this kind of deal would be common place in Coalition Governments which would be more commonplace under AV.  Yet people want more Coalitions?  I don’t get it …

I would like one change made to the FPTP system however, and that is a box which says “None of the above”.  If this figure reaches 50% then the election should be held again, and the candidates have to run again and pay for their submission again.  That might help motivate the candidates.  It also might encourage people who decide not to vote to actually vote and take part, as the most common thing I hear is “I don’t want to vote for any of them” and not “I prefer him first, him second, him third …” and so forth.  Having to stand for re-election again might encourage candidates to work hard and listen to their voters a bit more.

So I will be voting “No to AV” simply because it does not improve the voting system or make it any fairer, it only makes it more likely that once again trying to please everybody will result in it pleasing nobody.  But if, as I suspect, the vote will be for ‘Yes’ again, you won’t hear me belly-aching about how my vote didn’t count or how unfair it all is, just because I was on the loosing side …

Cheers

Dave Mc

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About davemcmahon81
Software Developer & Architect, User Group Leader, Speaker, Writer, Blogger, Occasional Guitarist, Man-made Global Warming Sceptic, Climate Change Believer, General Optimist but most of all proud Husband and Dad ...

6 Responses to Why I Will Not Support the “Yes to AV” Campaign …

  1. Andy Maggs says:

    Clearly Dave you do not believe in a democracy where every vote is worth the same wherever you happen to live. Unfortunately we are stuck with AV as the only offered alternative to FPTP because the Government does not have the courage or integrity to allow people to vote for the only truly fair voting system which is PR. At least with AV the dream of PR lives on and may one day become reality. If we end up with a country split 50:50 at every election and coalitions being the order of the day then that is just the will of the people and that is how it will have to be.

    On a different note, you might want to reconsider your true blue status at any cost when you realize that this wonderful Government of ours has been the first to introduce the Carbon tax you hate so much (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8423554/The-Budgets-green-dreams-will-leave-us-powerless.html).

    • Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t see how any one vote is worth less than any other under the current system? But then again, you hit the nail on the head, I am far less concerned about perfecting the voting system than I am about having a Government that provides strong leadership, direction and a clear sense of purpose and has a plan to help encourage people to create the wealth and jobs that this country so badly needs. I’m less worried about lack of representation than I am about lack of leadership.

      A future of coalition governments where politicians horse-trade and compromise and make deals with minority groups just to cling onto a dubious majority, seems a recipe for disaster in my eyes. No-one party would ever have a majority, so we end up being run by committee and inherit a govermental machine geared to prolonging governments rather than running the country. You see it in Europe and the EU, and if you think the expenses scandal in the UK was serious, it’s nothing, nothing compared to the filching of funds in the EU bureaucracy, which is created through many forms of PR voting systems.

      On the Carbon law, that is a law which, in my eyes, no true blue Conservative would every consider. Ever. There again, in my eyes, Cameron and Osbourne are not true Conservatives. They are a mish-mash of new Labour, Heath-ites and LibDems. I’m a true blue yes, and proud of it, and I don’t need to reconsider my status, thank you very much. My political beliefs and convictions have not changed since I was a teenager, I inherited them from my hard-working and dedicated father who worked all hours to provide us with a safe and comfortable childhood, and from my equally dedicated mother who was (and is) devoted to my father, and supported him to the best of her ability. My beliefs that nobody owes you a living, that you treat people with decency and kindness and respect, irrespective of background, but that you don’t have to go with the majority, that you have your own abilities and choices and life to live and you do what is right for you, your family, your community and your country. Note, you do what is right,not what is popular, or what brings in the most money. You do what is right. That to me is the essence of what people disparagingly refer to as being ‘true blue’ Conservative. It has nothing to do with voting for the Conservative Party, which I might remind you I didn’t do, as I voted for my local MP, Dr Taylor, a local man, concerned with local issues, who worked hard to represent the wishes of the local people.

      Which brings me back on subject, it is my firm belief that if MP’s were required to represent their constituents first and their party second, the whole face of government would change for the better, and that has nothing to do with voting systems. Changing to AV and PR IMHO will only enhance the ability of politicians to U-turn, flannel and compromise, when we above all need strong leadership. Once again, people seem to be obsessed with the things that are not important, but I guess the politicians like it that way …

      Thanks for the comments anyhow chap, perhaps this thread will get to 100 comments too and comply with Godwin’s Law eventually …. 🙂

      Cheers

      Dave Mc

  2. Andy Maggs says:

    Too easy – strong leadership = dictatorship = Nazi – there done it already 🙂

    Maybe what we really need is no Government at all then, just multi-national corporations and the people – oh my goodness I do believe that may be what we already have – corporations paying figurehead politicians to do what they are told and if you consider that big corporations mostly get what they want regardless of the party in power, democracy is surely a myth regardless of the voting system.

  3. Ben E says:

    Dave, I couldn’t disagree more! AV puts an end to one of worst about things about FPTP: tactical voting. I’ve voted in every general election since 1997 and only once has the candidate that I’d voted for been elected – that particulary MP (Richard Taylor, Wyre Forest in 2005) was an anomaly in that he was an independent who represented the needs of his constituents before vested interests – but for the other 9 years of my voting life I’ve felt disenfranchised. I’ve never voted tacticallly, but I suspect that most people do – nobody wants to be on the losing side.

    In the modern era of voter apathy, FPTP tends to give you the least unpopular candidate rather than the one that the majority of voters would be happy with. So we get “strong” government who implement policies that the majority of voters don’t actually agree with (e.g. sale of Forestry Commission land, mass redundancies, etc). However, as there was a united minority (of about 30%) that did endorse these policies, the rest of us get them anyway. While there is a fatuous case for saying that this was the decisive 30% and the rest of us shouldn’t have dithered, this feels very much like the tail wagging the dog.

    What AV allows me to do is say “I’d like candidate x, but given a choice between candidate y and z, I’d rather have y”. We’re afforded this luxury when picking most things in life (e.g. state school places), why not those who represent us in government?

    • Hey Ben,

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it – truly. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I think your response epitimizes the reason why most people are supporting AV, that is they don’t like to be “on the loosing side”, they feel “disenfranchised” i.e they didn’t get what they wanted! As I said in my original post I haven’t had the government I wanted for 14 years. So what? I accept that people have different opinons from me, my good friend Andy Maggs and myself often disagree, it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, but more importantly I accept that I don’t always get what I want. Life is not fair and the good intentioned efforts of people to make it completely fair often make things worse for everybody.

      I ask is peoples opinion of the Liberal Democrats enhanced or diminished? It’s way down – why? Because they have discarded their principles and ignored their election pledges, why? To get into power, to broker power. If this is the future that you you want more of, then by all means support AV, personally I want none of it. But as I say I appreciate I’m probably in the minority so AV will almost certainly be voted in. But you won’t find me complaining that I didn’t get what I wanted, that it’s not fair. I don’t always get what I want, but that is OK by me.

      Cheers

      Dave Mc

  4. Pingback: Blimey … “Yes to AV” trounced … « Dave Mc's Blog

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