When the referendum on Electoral Reform was announced, I’ll be honest, I was excited. Changing an electoral system I don’t like? Great. I don’t like PR or STV (I could maybe go for AV+) but I like AV – the choice to express your true preference and the retaining of the constituency link appealed to me greatly.
But now? Now I just want it to be over.
You may think that’s weird, looking at how much I talk about it, but the sheer amount of utter bollocks spoken by both sides makes me angry enough to challenge it.
If you want to campaign – for either side – do it openly and honestly. Admit both the pros and cons of your chosen system and allow people to make up their mind based on the truth.
Things might have been a whole lot better if Politicians were banned from campaigning and all was done through the Electoral Commission itself, the info taken from academic studies (such as this one from the Political Studies Association), – a boring, factual, low-key campaign that wouldn’t see people (from all sides) losing respect for their fellow party members and/or politicians as they put their name to underhand tactics and cheap personal shots.
But that didn’t happen, and we’re stuck with what’s out there for another 20+ days.
So I thought I’d vent here a bit, and allow anybody else who wants to to do the same.
Below are all of the inaccuracies that have annoyed me throughout the campaign:
AV with cost £250m
As discussed in a previous blog post, the costings are wrong.
And don’t even get me started on those posters.
I’m from a military family (no seriously, I am!). My granddad didn’t just fight for Queen and country, he fought for the freedom of others; for everybody to have the right to live in a safe, democratic environment. He would be furious to see the good names of his fellow servicemen used to scaremonger voters into a 1984-style panic.
AV is not one Member, One Vote
As both these graphs show, each person gets one vote – if your first preference is still in? Your first preference gets counted in the second round along with my second preference. Vote numbers do not go up – in fact, they go down if people choose not to express their preferences.
You wouldn’t award a third place runner first place
Sporting analogies are bad to begin with. You don’t vote for who wins a race or who gets to participate – be it athletics or horse racing – so there is no external influence exerted by spectators. Not only that but, as someone pointed out, athletics has heats. And Usain Bolt? Came second in one of them before going on to win the final.
If you are going to use any kind of analogy? Make sure it is relevant.
AV will make MPs work harder
MPs represent their entire constituency and work in all their best interests, so it’s unfair to imply they don’t do this already.
However, what it might do is encourage those fighting an election to broaden their base of support – which, in itself, is a good thing.
Linking FPTP to the expenses scandal
A different electoral system would not reform a person; those who have been punished (and rightly so) were not encouraged to do what they did because of majorities or voters – some people are just bad eggs.
AV is a ‘miserable little compromise’
As pointed out here, this is a quote taken completely out of context. Misquoting politicians may be common practice in the media – but it’s hypocritical to criticise them for it then engage in it ourselves.
There’d be no referendum without Nick Clegg
If the Tories got a majority Government, this is true. However, I’d like to draw your attention to the Labour Party’s 2010 Manifesto. Specifically, Chapter 9.3:
…in referenda on reform of the House of Commons and House of Lords, to be held on the same day, by October 2011.
To ensure that every MP is supported by the majority of their constituents voting at each election, we will hold a referendum on introducing the Alternative Vote for elections to the House of Commons.
If you have a problem with Clegg – or any other politician – vote against him in local and general elections, not on something that is supposed to be nonpartisan.
Nick Clegg would become Kingmaker
Literally impossible. Why? Well, firstly, Clegg is neither physically nor politically immortal.
But, more seriously: If you think the Lib Dems are finished as a party and UKIP will continue to overtake them as the biggest ‘third party’, then you contradict yourself with this argument.
Those opposed to AV are dinosaurs/have vested interests
In some cases, this may be true. But people are allowed an opinion – you can disagree with them, but that doesn’t give you the right nor the justification to cast aspersions on their reasons for preferring one system over another.
AV is complicated
I think that’s a bit insulting to the general populace. When explained, properly, AV is quite easy to understand – especially since forms of it are used throughout every day life, be it betting, reality shows or just choosing a drink in a pub.
AV will let extremists in
The worst kind of scaremongering. AV is actually the most “anti-extremist” of all the voting systems. But this is still no excuse for this poster.
I don’t care what Griffin thinks – in fact, I don’t care what any politician thinks. In some way or another, all have vested interests. Asking the people we elect how they would like to be elected is akin to asking a child how long they want to be grounded for.
AV would end safe seats
A safe seat is unlikely to ever not be a safe seat, short of a miracle (one particular seat, for example, has been Conservative since 1895).
But it does increase the number of marginal seats, meaning more voters affect the outcome of a result. This would mean less intensive campaigning focusing on just (roughly) 400K of the electorate.
MPs would have to get 50% of the vote
Some areas could still come in under 50%.
100 people vote – there are 10 candidates.
As each candidate is eliminated, the number of ‘votes’ goes down as people choose not to express their preferences.
With two candidates left, only 75 of the original 100 have cast all their preferences.
Candidate A could win 50% – 25%, but it’s also possible for them to win 38%-37%.
It’s highly unlikely, but it’s not impossible.
If there any more that I’ve missed out or that annoy you, please add them below.