Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I Could Be Persuaded (Nearly)

Click to enlarge

I was hauled over the coals by one of my readers who said:  '... you follow that unreconstructed unionist Guido in his contempt for AV.'  These days I seldom read Guido but someone, knowing my like of satire sent me the link. I liked it because it was superb and for no other reason.

Those concerned with this pathetic AV referendum ( only the second in 36 years) have been woeful in substantiating their position.  Guido's point, I'm sure is felt by many.

However, in politics a small chip off a block can eventually result in a chunk and if saying yes to AV means that politics in the UK, (because the Scots already use AV), would make at least one politician work for their living then I'm for it.  The unfortunate part of all this is that I've never met those mentioned on the lists.  The same here in Scotland.  Although I have a keen interest in politics I have no idea who represents me on list votes.  Let me say I have yet to meet anyone who does - apart from those who are members of political parties.

But here is Barbazenzero's distinctive argument in case you haven't read the comments.

Make up your own mind.

AV is a tiny step forward but it is slightly less awful than FPTP. What's more to the point is that Clegg will get his well-deserved kicking in the constituency and list votes.

OTOH, a YES vote on AV would deliver two well-deserved kicks at the two main front men of the No2AV campaign: Cameron and the politician who did more than anyone to put him there, by scuppering the possibility of a rainbow alliance, John Reid.

What I don't understand is why so many in Scotland seem determined to spoil their AV ballots by leaving them blank and writing INDEPENDENCE on them. It may just hurt the L-Ds a little more than they're already due to be hurt on Thursday, but it will bring comfort to Reid and Cameron. OTOH, voting YES 
and writing INDEPENDENCE on the ballot will hurt both of them, since the vote will still be valid provided it doesn't identify you personally.

With the turnout in England likely to be very low, it might even be enough to grant overall victory for YES despite England voting NO. Alternatively Scotland may vote YES but be overwhelmed by English NOes. But either way would emphasise the fault lines in UK politics.

The only thing not to like is if Scotland votes NO thanks to the spoilt ballots. With the FM on record as saying he will vote YES and the SNP - whilst justifiably deploring the date of the referendum - formally recommending a YES vote, I cannot for the life of me understand why some SNP supporters want to throw away this opportunity.

And as ROGER MEXICO aptly put it on UKPR: 
everyone also misses the real point about AV (and for that matter STV). You can put the person you most hate, loath and despise at number 10 or whatever. Then you work your way up, numbering down, through the repulsive; the unpleasant; the mildly nauseous; the merely incompetent; the unknowns; the known unknowns; the OK in a really bad year; the people you could just about send out for chips; the sort of literate; the sort of numerate; the occasionally coherent. Then, if there’s anyone better than all that left, you give them number 1.

AV may not help smaller parties or bring proportionality, but it does allow the voter to express his or her true choice while still making the vote count. First preferences by party will also be counted and published, which may well help those smaller parties next time.

I thank you Barba because there's still time for me to think again yet I know spoiling the paper with writing independence over it will do nothing.  If people want to write independence on the referendum paper please write it outside the boxes then your vote will count.  Otherwise you spoil your paper and nobody will take a blind bit of notice.


Joe Public said...

"........ if saying yes to AV means that ....... at least one politician work for their living then I'm for it. "

IMHO a voting system has no influence whatsoever upon any politician's work rate.

Anyway, if a politician represents a party which you actually didn't want elected, would you want him/her to work 'harder'?

subrosa said...

That's a good point Joe but why would anyone be a candidate if they didn't want elected to the Westminster bubble?

WitteringsfromWitney said...

I am voting NO, SR and it is on principle.

Without being the proverbial bore, I can but repeat my oft stated views.

If the system by which we elect our representatives is to be changed then it should be changed by a referendum in which a choice is given from all the possible systems - and not made on a choice imposed by the politicians themselves.

Whilst the political parties control who their candidates are, how they must vote, whilst candidates loyalty must be to party before country - I fail to see what method would make a blind bit of difference.

Coupled with the fact that whilst we are still answerable to Brussels, it matters not whether we choose a blue, red or yellow rubber stamp to implement those orders.

Sorry SR, rant over!

Mark Wadsworth said...

If in doubt, vote "Yes". That way, if you change your mind you can still go to the next election and put a single "X' (which counts as a "1") and what have you lost? Nothing.

Further, as little as I like the Lib Dems, I hate Labour and Tories just as much, so giving the Lib Dems a kicking is far less satisfying that giving Tories and half of Labour a kicking.

Further, as you point out, the Scottish Assembly election system is far more complicated and the Scots seem to manage perfectly well.

J. R. Tomlin said...

Haha! Got a good laugh and it got picked up from my tweet. ;-)

Barbazenzero said...


A good and thoughtful post. Perhaps the oddest thing about Guido's use of the cartoon is that it is a perfect paradox.

Guido wants us all to blame Nick Clegg for all the UK government's ills by voting NO in the AV referendum, to the benefit of his party along with Nick Griffin's, John Reid's (or so that "gentleman" thinks) and, somewhat oddly, the Communist Party.

But he does this with an amusing AV ballot paper which demonstrates conclusively that if you vote YES you can ensure that Nick Clegg, in perpituity, will never get your vote or that of your spawn, ranking below Beelzebub and a re-incarnated Pol Pot (should they stand). You could even make your will conditional on your heirs swearing fealty to your purpose of ranking Nick Clegg as well as his heirs and successors on earth bottom of the preferences come what may.

Anyone feeling truly vindictive against Clegg should eschew the opportunity to annoy him only once by making their mark in the NO box but instead make it in the YES box, thus annoying him for all eternity, whilst in the meantime doling out a good measure of annoyance to the oddball double-act of Cameron and Reid.

Dick Puddlecote said...

"AV is a tiny step forward but it is slightly less awful than FPTP"

Not compelling, is it? And this is the umpteenth time I've heard this weak argument many times from AV supporters.

If it's not ground-breaking, there is no reason to hold the referendum, let alone change the system. But I think we all know this was just a sop to the Lib Dems anyway.

"it will bring comfort to Reid"

Fine by me, he was one of the very few who stood up for the less well-off prior to the Health Act 2006.

JRB said...

Subrosa, I have a problem …

I believe this referendum to be wrong.

It has been called, not because this is a major burning issue in society, but solely because Cameron is using it as a political sop to appease the ever embattled and isolated Clegg.

If I were to express either a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote, I would be giving this erroneous referendum a degree of credibility which it does not deserve.

So, how do I express my conviction that this referendum is wrong?

Apogee said...

Hi SR, I will be voting no , not because I am against a proper preferential voting system, but because I know that this particular system can under certain conditions be used to give a false result.
In a two horse race, the one with the most votes wins.But if a third horse enters the race, one which happens to have no more chance than a couple of hundred votes , then do the maths as a proportional system and you will see it changes the first and second place winners around.
If the nomination is done at a time there can be no more starters entered, the above will happen.
You need a useful idiot with no chance to stand in the 3rd place.
Was done in the Australian federal elections in the seat of Franklin,
in 1975, R Sherry,Labour, sitting. B Goodluck Liberal. M Bounds, Communist. There was an investigation but I never heard the result.

Anonymous said...

Quite simply, I think, if we vote YES, then they will see that we want change, even to this poor system, because it is marginally better than the outrageous system that we have at the moment. With a bit of headwind we could press our advantage and demand proportional representation within 10 years.

If we vote No, a very smug prime minister will be smugger, and there will be no change in the foreseeable future.

Anyway I'd love to see Cameron fall apart when he loses; I'd love to see his right wing throw him out. He gets all "Michael Winner" when he’s caught out lying about his health reforms, can you imagine how angry he'd be, and what he might do and say if he’s humiliated like this.

We just mustn’t let Cameron think that he’s right again, and that he “knows the British people”.

subrosa said...

I can understand your reasoning WfW. It would appear many people are voting either pro or anti Cameron or Clegg and that shows, to me, the issue is certainly not one of national importance.

Rewriting the military covenant would have been of much more interest nationally. But that won't happen.

subrosa said...

That's the way I use AV here Mark.

Btw, the Scottish Assembly no longer exists. It is now officially known as the Scottish Government.:)

subrosa said...

Another persuasive point Barba.

subrosa said...

Exactly Dick and I would prefer not to vote at all but then guilt creeps in.

subrosa said...

That's my problem too JRB and that's why I'm undecided. But I also feel spoiling a ballot paper isn't right either.

I'll see how I feel tomorrow.

subrosa said...

Your experience with the system in Australia is interesting Apogee. I've not had enough interest in this campaign to want to research all the spin provided by both camps.

subrosa said...

That's the sadness of the whole business Tris. We should be given far more choice because there are more.

This referendum is a complete waste of money and an insult to taxpayers, just so Cameron can keep Clegg onside. It's certainly not for the benefit of the majority of us. We have control over nothing.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Every argument mentioned here for or against AV has a valid point.

But the fact of the matter is FPTP has got us where we are today and the service provided for us by Westminster. So I suppose you have to weigh up whether you believe that service is good, bad or merely indifferent as a model for democracy.

For me, its at best indifferent verging on bad, and while the change proposed may be merely a balm and a cynical exploitation for political purpose it has the possibility to cause a crack in the apathy of both those who govern and the governed.

We have to look to the big picture and in that respect the flaws of FPTP are gaping chasms.

Jo G said...

I think those who vote Clegg or not are something I can't type here.

We want change. If you want change you should vote yes. Otherwise you are giving approval to what we have now, which is crap.

subrosa said...

Little difference between the two really Jo. This referendum is an insult to the UK because it should have been about the EU which would have stopped the constant talk about it.

subrosa said...

It was a difficult decision Crinkly and I'm still not sure if I made the right one. I became bogged down in graphs and figures produced by both sides.

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