rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Unlike Andrew Rawnsley (and quite a few of my friends) my tolerance for endless discussion of different voting systems is pretty low. I'm also not that keen on discussing hypotheticals rather than actual situations. I strongly feel that voting No in May because Alternative Vote isn't some other preferred alternative to First Past The Post, is making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Twitter's rubbish for discussion, so this is partly an attempt to sensibly expand on my recent exchange with @planetxanna about "why does no-one like AV?". My long answer is:

1. Most people don't think much about electoral systems and therefore neither like or dislike AV.

2. Of those that do think about voting systems, those who really prefer FPTP don't like AV at all. Those who want to get rid of FPTP electoral reform tend to favour systems that go even further than AV and deliver rather more proportionality. AV is a compromise1: it addresses some of the concerns of FPTP supporters: a clear winner, one MP per constituency, keeping the small fringe parties out of power. It addresses some of the concerns of electoral-reform supporters, in particular allowing voters to express preferences honestly.

1 Possibly even a miserable little one.

I like AV, and here are the two main reasons why:

1. The voter can be honest about what they want, rather than tactically voting based on guessing what everyone else in their constituency will do. Maybe for some people only one party will do, but most people have a second and third preference. Existing campaigning implicitly acknowledges this, whenever there's an effort to squeeze the third-party vote. "It's a Two-Horse Race" only works if people have more than one preference. AV lets people make their preferences explicit.

2. The 50% threshold will force candidates to appeal outside their core party vote, wherever a constituency isn't either solidly one-party or divided roughly evenly between two parties. At the moment only a third of MPs were chosen by more than 50% of the people who voted (and that's not addressing turnout issues). The current system encourages negative campaigning, especially in marginal seats and wherever more than two parties are in serious contention. "Vote for A to keep B out" is a depressingly common message. Under AV, there's far more incentive to campaign positively and to avoid pissing off supporters of your opponents with slurs, innuendo and insults.

I think these are desirable changes, and that's why I'm voting Yes in May.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
The Yes To Fairer Votes made this little film the morning after the bill authorising the AV referendum finally got through parliament:


(I really like the music; you can find more by the band here: http://www.myspace.com/edwardsharpe. I love the internet.)

Nick Clegg and David Cameron gave separate speeches, respectively supporting and opposing the voting system change. The BBC compare and contrast the arguments, while the Economist's Bagehot blog picks out the best and worst arguments from each speech.

Ed Miliband writes in the Guardian about why he's campaigning for a Yes vote. I don't often agree with Ed, but here I do: "AV will also force parties to admit where there is agreement between them ... Exaggerating disagreement in order to create false black-and-white choices under first-past-the-post has only added to a particular style of politics that turns off the electorate."

Andrew Rawnsley in today's Observer charmingly admits to "belong[ing] to that tragically nerdish minority who are fascinated by electoral systems" and then goes on to discuss David Cameron's speech which "was not among his best. Those in his party who are paranoid about Mr Cameron's long-term intentions will rumble that this is because his heart really isn't in it ... I think the speech wasn't that good because the case for retaining first past the post is so uncompelling."

This twitter exchange gave me the giggles:
@Conorpope: So AV delivers more or possibly fewer coalitions, depending on if you support AV and whether you think coalitions are a good or bad thing?
@dhothersall: @Conorpope Excellent, let's put that on a banner and take to the streets demanding gradual change in due course.

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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

September 2017

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