Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A 'Yes' to AV: Primary Motivations

Am I interested at all in the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum? Not really. Like most people, there are other systems I might be more interested in voting for, while AV seems like (in Nick Clegg's words) "A miserable compromise". I don't care about it.

However, I will be voting for it. What's my motivation?

1: Annoy the Tories.

I find the 'no' campaign needlessly negative. It shouldn't be a 'no' campaign at all - but a "Yes to First Passed the Post" or "Keep First Passed the Post" campaign. Instead, the leaflets I get through the door are childish and emotive drivel that rely on spreading confusion and fear in the electorate.

It is needless. Why not simply tell us about the benefits of the system they want to keep?

The 'No' campaign is run by the Tories, who have lost me through their bundling efforts at governance over the last year. In the end, it will annoy them if I vote for AV. Good.

2. Our Political System Needs Reform.

The referendum should have been run, not by parties, but by an independent special commission whose job it is to inform the voter with facts. Voting on the matter should not be a one-day event, but the ballots should be held open over the course of a week to allow a greater sample of the electorate to vote. There is no reason for this not to be done.

I don't see why this should have been a party political campaign. Why can't the voter simply be informed and make their own judgments, without the tribal coercion of red, blue and gold?

AV is said to increase the chances of more hung parliaments in the future, which I think must lead to more sweeping reform of our stupid system. I am for anything that draws us closer to a time when issues will be decided on the strengths of arguments and not allegiance.

3. Foil the Tories.

When they were cutting a deal with the Liberal Democrats in the coalition talks, the Tories forced a compromise on the voting system issue.

While the Lib Dems wanted a referendum on Proportional Representation (PR), the Conservatives forced them to settle for the AV referendum, in the knowledge that it is not really what the Lib Dems wanted.

The idea was that no-one wants AV - not Labour, not the Tories and not the Lib Dems - so the likelihood of a successful 'Yes' campaign is pretty slim with this minimal level of enthusiasm on every side.

Oddly enough, I would have certainly voted against PR.

However, after forcing this compromise from the Lib Dems, the Conservatives then set about showing AV up for being a compromise.

So: they forced the referendum on AV as a compromise, then attacked it for being a compromise. It is intellectual dishonesty of the worst kind and I would be happy to help their plan fail.

4. I haven't heard from the 'Yes' campaign.

This either means they are a disorganized rabble, or aren't active in Brighton, or that I threw it away without looking at it. The pamphlets I have seen from all parties have been sickening and appallingly written.

Having not heard from 'Yes' makes it much more likely that I'll vote "Yes" because I won't have to stomach the dishonesty they no-doubt peddle.


  1. "childish and emotive drivel that rely on spreading confusion and fear in the electorate"

    I think you just summed up the Tory party.

    I agree, I'm voting yes as well (if I go). I can't remember why but you've persuaded me with your blog post and Matt's persuaded me with the conversation we had on the way to the station. Also, I'm a simple-minded soul and I don't really discuss politics with many Tories so I haven't really been exposed to the "why I should vote no" argument but I imagine if I were to start arguing with Tories we'd soon veer away from AV and into "why are you all twats?" territory.

  2. Speaking as a confirmed Thatcherite, I'd like to be voting for first past the post - however I'm going to be out of the country. The conservatives, bungling or not, should not be blamed for making a deal that was the best they could manage, and saying that the deal was bad and that the public have a chance to reverse it.