Wednesday, May 04, 2011


YES! To AV – 7

My 7th reason to vote YES! to the Alternative Vote tomorrow is quite negative again; that’s what often happens with lower preferences. But as negative campaigning sometimes works… For goodness’ sake, just look at the No campaign! The BNP. Rupert Murdoch. Labour’s authoritarian dinosaurs, with all the Labour reformers voting YES! And most Conservatives – with all the No campaign’s vast cash outspending change coming from the usual Tory millionaires. Why on Earth should the people who have always screamed to stop any change in the history of ever be lying to make you scared of change? It’s a toughie. And why is 0.036% suddenly the biggest number in the world? Read on…

If you made a list of Britain’s most conservative, nasty, authoritarian, reactionary, greedy, tribal, power-hungry, illiberal, unpleasant, wealthy, self-interested, fearmongering, warmongering political rip-off merchants… But look! There’s no need to – the No campaign have saved you the trouble. It’s them.

And from their side, what’s the biggest threat they can muster? ‘We’re afraid of the Liberal Democrats!’ Well, I’m tempted to say, it’s about bloody time! But if you want big scary beasties – why not look to the ones who’ve always had all the power and all the money, not the little fighters who are trying to change it?

Rich Tories

The No campaign have got so many sleazy Tory millions rolling in to back them and so many lying newspapers on their side that David Cameron’s been ashamed every time he’s been asked to take responsibility for it all – even though it’s his party and his donors who’ve created the whole mud-slinging pile of bollocks. No wonder he’s been so desperate to keep under wraps who paid for posters like the infamous ‘be very scared, or the baby gets it’.

So congratulations to those Tory reformers who stick to their principles and support a YES! to the system that the Conservative Party uses in its own elections, even when most of them pretend it’s too good for the rest of us! I wish I could say the same about the honesty of their Leader, but here’s Andrew Rilstone on why David Cameron is a liar.

Poor Ed Miliband

It’s a shame that the Labour Party is split down the middle, as it is so often – or we’d long since have had the referendum they promised, had absolute power to deliver, but never did – between progressives and nasty old conservatives. I feel sorry for poor Ed Miliband, a prisoner of the dinosaurs stomping around him. The Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, supports the Alternative Vote – but most of his MPs want to keep their noses in the trough and ignore him. The last Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, put AV in their General Election Manifesto last year – but most of the MPs elected on that manifesto are ignoring it, too. And the former Labour Leader Neil Kinnock is doing what poor Ed can’t and laying into the Labour dinosaurs who are helping the Tory campaign for a crooked, broken old system that’s helped the Tories more than every other party.

If you’re a Labour voter, why not vote YES! to help poor Ed Miliband?

Paddy Says – Make the Dinosaurs Extinct!

The greatest former Leader for me is still Paddy Ashdown. Unlike the sleazy No-mongers who pretended to speak for our armed forces in claiming our soldiers hate democracy, he’s been a soldier under fire. So forgive me for quoting what he said a couple of weeks ago – it packs a punch:
“I’ve been in politics for a long time. There’s nothing wrong with people of any age getting involved, from a teenager to a centenarian. We can all make a difference.

“But when almost every politician at the top of the ‘No’ campaign was already a dinosaur by the time I was first elected to Parliament in 1983, you have to wonder about the freshness of their arguments.

“Think of the changes Britain has seen during my lifetime – and theirs:

“We’ve joined the European Union. We’ve established a Parliament in Scotland and an Assembly for Wales. We’ve voted in proportional representation elections for both – a far bigger change than AV – and the sky hasn’t fallen in.

“And government, always the last to change under Tory and Labour alike, has often been the last to wake up to the incredible social changes that have changed Britain for the better.

“So when those old Labour and Tory hacks gang up to tell you to be afraid of a long-overdue but frankly much smaller change, it tells you far more about their fears than those of the British public. Of course they’re against change. They want to hang on to the present system because it makes life easier for politicians. Well I am more interested in a system that makes life better for the voters!

“I have always tried to appeal to the politics of hope. But too many votes have been decided by fear – and that’s all that the ‘No’ campaign dinosaurs can offer.

“Not one of them can stand up to say ‘Vote positively for First Past the Post – we know it’s a wonderful system!’ They know it’s broken – but they also know it gave them unbroken power – and that’s why they want to hang on to it.

“What could they say? ‘First Past the Post gives you strong government.’ Like that of John Major or Gordon Brown, then? ‘First Past the Post protects you from coalition governments.’ Well I happen to think that coalition Governments are not bad for the country – they’re good for it. But if you disagree then think of this: Australia has had this system for 70 years and has had fewer hung parliaments than Britain has?

“The ‘Yes’ campaign has a powerful message of hope – yes, the current system is broken. But you don’t have to be afraid that nothing can change, and you don’t have to be afraid of that change – take courage! We’re offering a change for the better.

“Here are some facts: in the last twenty years, the governments elected in British General Elections under First Past the Post have had the smallest shares of the vote in our nation’s history, down as far as absolute power on just 35% of the vote. That’s not a popular mandate, when two-thirds of the people voting vote against you.

“The Alternative Vote would make sure that every MP has the support of a majority of their voters. It wouldn’t make every government perfect. But it would give every MP at least the firm democratic basis that so many of them lack today.

“No wonder people are so turned off by politics, when most of them get MPs they voted against.

“At last, the Liberal Democrats in government are delivering a referendum to let the people – no that politicians – decide on making a positive change to a system we’ve said is broken for decades.

“The power for change is in your hands. Will you have the courage to take it?

“Don’t let old fears decide your vote. With the Alternative Vote, there’s hope that things can be better.

“Take courage. Make that change.”
Listen to Paddy. Send an AV asteroid crashing down on that bunch of frightened old dinosaurs lying to you because they’re terrified that the rotten system that put them into power for so long is about to crumble.

No To All Those Lies (Part VI) – A Big Lie, But They’re So Crap the Biggest Number They Can Make Up Is 0.036%

All those Conservative millions have made it much easier for the No Campaign to send out so many lies, lies and more lies, while the poor little YES! campaign’s been strapped for cash. And who but the reactionary millionaires wanting to hang onto a system that gives them more power than their votes deserve who make up and keep repeating lies about the cost of a “Yes” – to distract attention from how much “No” can afford?

With the usual breathtaking chutzpah of a wholly negative campaign, the “No” millionaires made up a number, doubled it, then told everyone it was true. They make up numbers that everyone from the Electoral Commission to the Australian Government, which has been elected by AV for a century, tell you are absolute fiction (electronic vote counting machines? No-one needs them. Totally made up. They do use them in the USA, of course… To count the “first past the post” system we have now. It’s a good job the YES! campaign aren’t as big liars as the No-mongers, or they’d claim ‘keeping the current system means you’ll have to pay for vote-counting machines, even though we don’t use them and never have and no-one wants them!’). And then they tell us Britain can’t afford the numbers they’ve just made up.

They say that a “Yes” would cost £250 million (actually, they can’t add up even their own lies, but I’ll come to that in a minute), and that “We can’t afford it”. Well, even apart from their figure being almost completely made up… Is that the best they can do?

Not only is it a big lie – it’s a really crap lie.

The British Government is to spend £701 billion this year. The huge, immense, bankrupting, unaffordable figure that the No sleazy millions are scaring you with… Is just 0.036% of that spend.

Seriously, that’s not just a stupid and obvious lie, but a rubbish one. ‘An extra 0.036% of Government spending will bankrupt you all!’ Do they think nobody can count? And do they think we’ll all be swayed by the idea that dictatorship is cheaper than democracy?

And, as a third of their figure – the only bit that’s just about true (but still exaggerated) – is the cost of holding the referendum itself… OK – so, if “No” wins, that must mean the taxpayer doesn’t have to pay for the referendum. Are the sleazy No-monger millionaires offering to pay the cost if they win, then? Or is that just another lie?

The biggest and best of all articles about the two systems up for grabs in tomorrow’s referendum is by Tim Gowers. It’s detailed, fair – it gives the downsides to the system he favours, too – and it’s brilliantly argued.

You should put aside some time to read it for yourself, but here’s a scathing excerpt knocking down the lies about the cost:
“Here is how the NO2AV campaign breaks down the cost of AV.

“The referendum itself: £91 million.
“Electronic vote counting machines: £130 million.
“Explaining AV to voters: £26 million.

“This adds up to £250 million (or rather, they say it does — actually it adds up to £247 million). We can take that straight down to £156 million with the help of the following simple observation:


“Just to make that point clear, imagine that a group of friends want to go to the cinema. Some people want to see Avatar, which is the film showing in a single-screen cinema just round the corner. But others are not so sure, so they suggest catching a bus to a large multiplex cinema where there are three films that look promising, one of which is Avatar. This plan is agreed upon, and when they are at the multiplex a discussion ensues about which film to watch. The Avatar supporters argue that the cost of the bus fare is an argument against choosing another film, since it would have been possible to watch Avatar without a bus journey. The rest of the group laugh in their faces.

“£156 million is still a lot of money. Luckily we can take it down further: it is a straightforward lie that AV requires electronic vote-counting machines. That gets us down to £26 million.

“Does it take that much money to explain AV to voters? If so, could I please please be the one who is paid £26 million to say ‘Put the candidates in order of preference until you don’t care any more’?”

Not completely convinced yet to vote #Yes2AV? Try 1 of my other YES! reasons. Or 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8…!

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Some sound arguments - a shame that the YES campaign didn't foreground some of these themes from Day 1. The NO campaign ought to have relentlessly pursued as the illiberal Tory/Murdochian establishment that they are. Labour politicians are actually acting to their own detriment by voting NO - this makes majority Tory government all the more likely. Some of these people would clearly rather have that than have to work with other parties (Green / LibDem), or for their voters' second preferences...
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