Friday, April 1, 2011

Oh daarlings, you just have to vote AV...

Really think this is a load of silly nonsense:
Celebrities have thrown their weight behind the campaign for electoral reform – writing to voters urging them to support the cause.

Colin Firth, Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry are among those endorsing the campaign in a Yes To Fairer Votes leaflet sent out to householders.

On May 5, Britain will go to the polls to decide whether to keep Westminster’s historic first-past-the-post system – or replace it with the Alternative Vote system. Famous faces in favour of reform are keen to drum up support.

The leaflet includes an endorsement from actress Miss Lumley, who says: ‘I hope the Yes Campaign is successful. It will really help our democratic voices be more fairly heard.’

Oscar winner Colin Firth says: ‘This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our clapped-out voting system for good, so I’m voting Yes.’

Other supporters of the AV campaign include actresses Helena Bonham Carter, Honor Blackman and comedian Eddie Izzard.
And not forgetting Stephen Fry, which should give the campaign that final required push...

Alex Ferguson is the greatest ever football manager the United Kingdom has produced but that doesn't necessarily make him an expert on the subject of Scottish politics; similarly winning the odd Oscar doesn't give an actor any greater insight into the workings of British democracy than, for example, my postman.


Timothy Belmont said...

Timothy Belmont shan't be placing the cross beside AV. ;-)

Wildgoose said...

I was going to spoil my ballot by writing English Parliament Now on it, but I can't take the risk, I shall have to vote NO.

I want Electoral Reform, but I don't want to replace a bad system with one that's even worse.

Consider the following. There are 4 candidates. In the first round:

A gets 33%
B gets 32%
C gets 31%
D gets 4%

Candidate B is well liked. So much so that all of A and C's second vote transfers are for B, meaning B has 96% of the first and second preferences.

But the extremist candidate D is eliminated first. Knowing this will happen and his own weak position, C has pandered to the extremist and thus gained his second preferences.

So we know have:

Candidate A: 33%
Candidate B: 32%
Candidate C: 35%

and Candidate B is eliminated.

The lesson from this is that it pays to pander to extremists because they're the first to be eliminated. And the most broadly acceptable candidate loses because the second preferences of the majority of the votes cast are never counted.

Like I said, it's a stupid system.

O'Neill said...


Just make sure you do, we don't want it introduced by default;)


If the various "celebrities" backing AV were to come up with something similar to what you've drawn up I might listen to them.

Keith Ruffles said...

"Like I said, it's a stupid system."

But then so is one that discounts every single vote in a constituency that isn't for the winning candidate.

Imagine if in every constituency in the UK party A got 51% of the vote and party B got 49%. You would then have a parliament comprised entirely of party A, which wouldn't be an accurate reflection of the public's democratic wishes. An unlikely scenario, admittedly, but then I also think the same of the idea that election candidates will start to pander to extremists under AV. It sounds like scaremongering, to be honest.

I've not made up my mind as of yet as to how I'll be voting, but I can't shake off the feeling that a system that renders so many people's votes as wasted is not a good way of appointing our political masters.

Keith Ruffles said...

I also think this article makes some good points:

And here:

Wildgoose said...

Keith, I fully agree that First-past-the-Post needs replacing. But I want something better, not something worse.

They could fix their proposals by counting all the second preference votes at the same time rather than just those of the extremist minority, but that isn't what they are proposing.

Joe said...

The Irish experience of PR is not that it encourages candidates to play to the extremes but that it draws candidates into the centre and you get lowest common denominator politics.
Indeed given the diverse nature of society even in Ireland giving minority parties a mandate and a place in parliament draws them into the political process and makes them accountable. PR works!