Friday, 8 October 2010

My AV referendum dilemma.

The First Past The Post system is one which needs to be put out of its misery, killed, finished. It is hopelessly outdated in an era where many constituents don't need to live down the road from their MP to be able to contact them and follow their work thanks to the advent of the internet. It is also hopelessly unrepresentative, as illustrated by the last General Election where much smaller parties got MPs, while UKIP with nearly 1,000,000 votes still has zero representation in the House of Commons.

It would be logical for me then to vote "yes" to the Alternative Vote in next year's referendum, yes? Well hang on. AV is a preferential system, not a proportional one. On the other hand, those who seem to be running the "no" campaign seem to be largely Conservative advocates of FPTP.

I am in neither of these camps. I don't like AV and I don't like FPTP. So the question I have to ask is, would a "yes" vote open up the flood gates and make the possibility of further PR reform possible, or would it simply serve politicians to turn around and say "job done, PR secured"? Would it effectively be used to kill off the argument for full PR, as it would have supposedly been secured?

On the other hand, a "no" vote against AV will be used many to justify the view that their is no wide appetite among the British public for electoral reform or proportional representation. It could set the case for those who want genuine PR back many years again.

Which camp am I in? I'm still not quite sure, and I doubt I'm alone.


Anthony Butcher said...

Most electoral reform activists are in agreement that AV is not only a (marginally) better system than FPTP but that it would open the door for proper PR... especially once an election under AV helps to reveal the large underlying support for smaller parties that FPTP hides.

If the referendum fails, it will *definitely* be taken as a sign that the public don't want reform.

Anonymous said...

Michael - your analysis is correct. UKIP suffer under both FPTP and AV. AV is an illusion - it provides preferential voting but all minority support will be eliminated during the earlier rounds of counting and the votes transferred to the larger parties. At least you realize this - many don't. Further, all the evidence points to AV being the END of the road to PR not the beginning - see here:

There is a way foward - sign up to PLAN A - the introduction of STV for local elections - see here:

Bashtoe said...

I have had the same problem decideing. I think that if we vote for AV we will be stuck with it for many years as those in power will say "just give it a chance"
where as if we stick with FPTP we will be given a beter option as it is obviously that FPTP does not represent the peaple and that no one is happy with it

Steven Allan said...

With FPTP, a vote for UKIP is a vote against the Conservatives ( the party I, like many other UKIP voters, used to support ). It's important. Just look how pleased Lord Pearson was that we denied the Conservatives an overall majority at the general election. With AV, the Conservatives are likely to pick up most UKIP votes as second preference votes, thus eradicating the need for them to take any notice of the views of UKIP voters. Furthermore, I doubt that AV would gain UKIP any seats at all.

I would like to see a UKIP government one day and the system that would allow for us to win with the least number of votes is the one we already have - First Past The Post. Any other system would likely mean we would never get anything beyond a coalition government with UKIP in it.

Furthermore, AV would give rise to more coalitions with the Liberals . It's important to note that the Liberals are in government at the moment even though they got less votes than Labour ; coalitions are neither fair nor democratic.

Those are just three reasons for sticking with what we have.