Blimey … “Yes to AV” trounced …

I have to say I was pretty shocked by the result on the AV vote.  Relieved, cheered, but shocked.  In my previous post on this subject I said I thought that “Yes to AV” would win, not that I wanted it to. Nearly 68% of people who voted, which was about 40% of the eligible population decided to keep First Past the Post (FPTP).    So 40% of people were interested enough to vote generally in the local elections and the AV vote, which means 60% didn’t care enough to find the time, so about 30% of the nation don’t want AV or to change the current system at the moment.  Some might say , AV wasn’t a big enough change, so that PR supporters would have voted no.  I don’t buy that.  People I spoke to who are PR supporters all said they would vote for AV as it was a step in the right direction.

So for those of you who were on the loosing side yesterday – deal with it.  60% of people didn’t care about FPTP or AV or PR.  Of the remaining 40%,  68% or about 30% of the nation currently think that FPTP is OK, only about 15% of the nation think it’s the way to go.  If you don’t care enough to vote in a simple Yes/No vote, then the non-voters have to go with the majority of those who do vote.

We do have a democratic problem in this country and it’s voter apathy.  I would refute that PR makes any real impact on voter turnout.  It’s issues which fire people’s imagination to vote, not voting systems.  Germany and the Netherlands both have PR systems, yet both have only about 10% better turnout than the UK and in key years for the UK such as 1997 and 2010 their difference in turnout was pretty negligible. Interestingly I note that voting is mandatory in Australia and in Greece, both PR systems, yet still not everybody votes …

So point number one – you will never get everybody to vote, irrespective of voting system. Fact.

Point number two, PR supporters say that PR is fair as it reflects the overall views of the nation. I would say that that is true. What it doesn’t lead to though are governments who represent the national view, because in order to create effective governments, and by effective I mean those that are capable of making decisions – whether you agree with those decisions or not – you need to have a majority in parliament.  So PR invariably leads to Coalition Governments which invariably leads to political manoeuvering and squabbling such as we have seen between the Conservatives and the Liberals, which only antagonizes the public and leads to charges of ‘surrendering principles’ as have been levelled at Nick Clegg and Co.  Voters will have little or no say over which parties form a coalition. If you want more of this and also more time without effective government like Belgium who are in a position of having no effective government for over a year because they can’t agree a coalition, then go ahead and support PR.

I’ve also been thinking about this a bit and something else has struck me about PR, and that is this … PR would seem to preclude pretty much any radical change in political direction for a nation.

Most people’s political views don’t change that much. We’ve all heard the objections to FPTP, as people are ‘disenfranchised’ and say “My vote doesn’t count because I’m Tory in a Labour safe seat”. It’s true, the direction of the UK has probably been decided by a minority of people in reality.  What FPTP allows is the ability to move away from a direction which is not wanted by the populace at the time.  Most people vote either Labour or Conservative. It’s the floating voter who really has the power.  If the majority of floating voters prefer Conservative policies at a time, then the Conservatives get in, if the majority of floating voters want to ‘Vote for Change’ and vote Labour then the country swings to the Red and into the red … 🙂

If you think about it realistically, under PR it would be really hard to “vote for change” again.  Most people have pretty fixed political views, one election results would look pretty much like another.  Thatcher would not have got such a majority, if one at all.  Blair likewise.  So things would have gone on pretty much like before, of that I’m certain.  This is just my opinion of course.  One thing I’ve come to realise is that FPTP offers a ‘way out’ for the nation, a chance to ‘make a point’ to the politicians.  We can ‘throw out the useless b*****ds’ and get a different lot in.  A PR system I am totally convinced, whilst in theory would allow you to change governments, in reality I’m sure you would find the same old faces in government year after year.  We see the same faces, but they are not necessarily in power.

My final aversion to PR is the way it disconnects the voter from Parliament.  You might find this somewhat strange an argument in that most people’s view we already are disconnected.  But in reality many people make use of their MP.  Under PR you would not be able to have a single simple point of focus. You would either have one person nominated for you by a party or some complex system of multiple representatives from people who don’t know the local area or local conditions. Worse still the ability of independent MPs such as Dr Taylor or Martin Lewis to make it into Parliament, where they did great work for their local communities and influenced votes in the House of Commons, will be completely taken away.  The most powerful feature of our voting system is the fact that you can vote directly for a local representative in the highest organisation of authority in this country. Where our system has gone wrong I believe is in the party whip.  MPs should have loyalty first to constituency and then to party.  There should be no whip.  Then everybody is free to vote on their conscience.  Party whips will be even more powerful in a PR system as coalitions struggle to maintain power.  Not a good thing for government and representation.

Don’t be fooled by the nice percentages of PR.  It all looks so fair and even.  The trouble is, it doesn’t take into account the realities of people’s political views and ambitions.  FPTP is simple.  The current parliamentary system is simple. If you want to fight for something, for greater representation, fight for the disbandment of the party whip, fight for MPs to be able to vote on their conscience every time without fear of repercussions.  Fight for that extra box on the ballot paper which says ‘Non of the Above’  (see my previous post ).  Most of all go and vote for the local  person who you want to represent you in parliament.

All of the above is just my opinion, I’m sure not everybody agrees, but that is your right …

The next question is what happens now in Scotland …


Dave Mc

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 ...

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