Tuesday, May 03, 2011


YES! To AV – 5

I’ve offered four largely positive reasons to vote YES! to the Alternative Vote on Thursday… But sometimes I’m a grumpy sod, so now I’ve got down to number 5 I’ll admit there are also some very negative reasons to vote YES! Is there a party you hate the most? Or has one politician in your area really pissed you off? Then imagine the satisfaction in putting them all the way at the bottom of your ballot. If the “No” campaign is right that Lib Dems are unpopular, then AV is the system that lets you give us the biggest kicking.

Can I confess that in internal Lib Dem elections I often take some pleasure in putting the people I like most at the top of the ballot, then filling in people I particularly dislike (surely not!) at the bottom…? Which is much more fun. And only then thinking about the order of those I don’t mind in the middle. You don’t have to use more than your top preference, of course – in fact, you can abstain altogether – but knowing you’ve made it more difficult for the person you like least to get elected can be very satisfying.

The Alternative Vote magnifies people’s views, and lets voters gang up on unpopular parties. That means it’s far easier to kick out an unpopular government – if people think a party’s good, or at least ‘OK, I suppose,’ they get a bonus; if they’ve totally fucked up, AV hammers them, because they don’t get many preferences.

Remember the 2005 General Election? Remember the fury at Tony Blair and the Labour Party for their illegal invasion of Iraq and lies about weapons of mass destruction? The Labour Government got just 35.2% of the vote. Nearly two thirds of the country voted against them, giving Labour the smallest share of the vote that a “winning” government has ever had – but they still “won” 355 seat. A comfortable majority.

Vote “YES!” to make unpopular governments a whole lot less comfortable.

Fairer votes might have let all those of us who thought Labour’s warmongering authoritarian smugness needed taking down a peg gang up on them. Instead, as the ‘biggest loser’ under our current system, they were rewarded with absolute power even when two thirds of the country voted them down. They had absolutely no mandate, but still – again – absolute power.

And if you hate the Liberal Democrats as much as I hated Labour, AV lets you give us a thrashing, too. The “No” campaign tell a lot of lies, but one of the stupidest is that the Lib Dems are incredibly unpopular – and that AV would give us more power (it never has to a third party in Australia, where it’s actually used). It is simply not possible for both of these to be true. If the Lib Dems are now widely hated, AV would hammer us.

I believe in fairer votes for the sake of democracy, not just one party, so I’m willing to take that risk. That the “No” campaign tells such lies to scare you just shows their narrow partisan agenda has nothing to do with democracy.

No To All Those Lies (Part IV)

All the No Campaign can do is keep heaping on more lies because they can’t come up with a positive case for the current broken system. But as in this post I’ve almost matched “No” for being negative, why not read some of the reasons why their lies about AV don’t stand up by my friend Andrew Hickey, who’s a big, positive fan of the strengths of the Alternative Vote?

Update: with tonight’s two polls bizarrely showing either “No” just 1% ahead and all to play for – “YES!” voters take note: it’s close as can be, and your vote counts! – or with the biggest lead yet – “No” voters take note: you’re safe, you can sit at home and not bother ;-) – Andrew is very forceful: get out the YES! vote!

Not completely convinced yet to vote #Yes2AV? Try 1 of my other YES! reasons. Or 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 or 8…!

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