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April 17, 2011 — robstick

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Alternative Vote (from The Independent on Sunday)

April 17, 2011 — robstick

Below is an article copied from The Independent on Sunday, click the image to see the original.

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Why Churchill is hardly the font of all knowledge:

Debunking the myths surrounding AV

To combat the No camp’s propaganda, Matt Chorley and John Rentoul trawl through the arguments to offer a guide to electoral reform

Sunday, 17 April 2011

With only 18 days to go, and volatile polls suggesting the outcome is far from certain, both sides in the debate about changing the voting system have stepped up the rhetoric. On 5 May, voters across the UK will decide whether to replace first past the post with the Alternative Vote to elect MPs to Parliament. It would mean instead of putting a cross next to one name, voters would rank candidates in order of preference. Low-scoring candidates would be eliminated and their second and, later, third preferences redistributed until the winner had secured more than 50 per cent of votes cast. Those who favour keeping first past the post have made numerous claims about the failings of AV. But are they true? From sporting metaphors to whether we should listen to Winston Churchill, here are some myths explained and propaganda unravelled.

1. “The AV referendum on 5 May is going to cost the taxpayer up to £250m.”

Andrew Bridgen, MP for North-west Leicestershire, Daily Mail, 14 April

Staging the referendum will cost about £80m, which would have been more if it had not been held on the same day as the local elections. That cost will be felt regardless of the outcome. Opponents of AV say £130m will need to be spent on electronic counting machines – but they are not needed and are not used in AV elections in Australia.

2. “The alternative vote is so complicated that it will put people off voting.”

James Cracknell, Olympic rower, 14 April

Most people can count beyond the number one. A lot of people go into the polling booth having thought tactically about whom to support. Under AV, voters can rank the candidates in order of preference, without having to sideline their preferred party “because they can’t win here”.

3. “In sport, as in elections, you have a winner and a loser.”

David Gower, cricketer, The Sun, 14 April

Except when it’s a draw, obviously. And you would still have a winner under AV, except they would have to gain the support of half the voters. Sporting metaphors and politics don’t mix, particularly when describing electoral reform as a “googly”.

4. “If the last election had been under AV, there would be the chance, right now, that Gordon Brown would still be Prime Minister.”

David Cameron, speech, 18 February

Unlikely. Even if the result had been closer and a Lib-Lab coalition had been mathematically possible, the Lib Dems would have been forced to choose. Nick Clegg had made clear that Brown would have to fall on his sword. The only recent election that might have had a different result was 1992, which might have been a hung parliament instead of a Tory majority of 21.

5. “Here in Britain, we have a clear, decisive and effective system.”

Lord Howard, BBC The Daily Politics, 5 April

Except that first past the post gave us a hung parliament last year. All the doom and gloom warnings – yes, Mr Cameron, we mean you – have not turned out to be true. It is claimed AV will lead to more hung parliaments but Australia had a hung parliament last year for the first time in 100 years. There have been more in Britain in the same period.

6. “An electoral system that is not used anywhere in the world apart from Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Australia.”

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny, BBC, 11 March

It is also used for Scottish local councils, in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (They all have multi-member constituencies, but by-elections for a single vacancy are held under what is, in effect, AV.) Also, in several US cities to elect mayors. Moreover, AV is like the French two-ballot system in one go. Most of the world drives on the right, but no one is suggesting there is anything wrong with our left-leaning motoring.

7. “If in doubt, trust Winston.”

David Cameron, Daily Mail, 4 April

The Prime Minister invoked Churchill, who opposed AV in 1931 because it meant results being “determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”. While we are not seeking to denigrate the wartime PM, his views on electoral reform might not chime with 21st-century Britain. He once remarked in 1910: “I do not believe that the great mass of women want a vote.” Oh, and actually Churchill supported proportional representation, not first past the post.

8. “Under AV, people who back the likes of the BNP and Ukip would have several bites of the cherry, transferring their votes between candidates.”

John Healey, Labour MP, ‘The Independent’, 16 March

The British National Party opposes AV, which would force mainstream parties to appeal to a wider section of public opinion. This could mean candidates addressing the legitimate concerns that are exploited by extremist groups in some areas. Oh, and we live in a democracy. Voting for the BNP isn’t illegal.

9. “It would mean candidates who finish third winning elections, and an end to the principle of one person, one vote.”

William Hague, campaign email, 31 March

The democratic principle is one person, one vote. Everyone gets one vote in each round of counting; it would just mean the “big parties” getting a wake-up call that their constituents do not think they represent all of their concerns, hopes and fears. The candidate who came third on the basis of first preferences could go on to win, but it would be rare and would mean the top two had failed to broaden their appeal.

10. “When the Australians introduced AV, turnout nose-dived. They had to make voting compulsory.”

Baroness Warsi, The Sun, 16 April

Not strictly true. In the first federal election after AV was introduced in 1919, turnout was 71 per cent, down slightly from 77.7 per cent in 1917. Both were up from 50 per cent in 1906 and significantly higher than the 65 per cent in the British general election last year. Turnout in Australia later fell to 58 per cent in 1922, before compulsory voting was introduced.

And, finally, a Yes myth debunked:

“Do you remember how it felt when you heard about MPs spending your money on duck houses and having their moat cleaned? First past the post doesn’t work any more. The Alternative Vote is better, fairer. It puts you back in charge and makes MPs work harder for your vote.”

Nick Clegg, speech, 23 February

The Yes campaign hasn’t helped itself by suggesting that because AV will lead to fewer safe seats, it would therefore have prevented the expenses scandal. Douglas Hogg, who claimed the cost of moat cleaning, had secured more than 50 per cent of the vote under first past the post so is unlikely to have been affected by AV. MPs would have to work harder to persuade a broader base to support them at election time. A threat of jail is more likely to affect their behaviour between polling days.

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No mud, just positive questions for AV…

April 16, 2011 — robstick

There has been a lot of talk recently about negative campaigning, whether celebrities should be telling us which way to vote etc.

There have been public debates and discussions.  Indeed there is a varying view that we see from the public on this. Some say that it is definitely time for change and indeed some that all MP’s are crooks and it won’t matter how they’re elected.

I would ask that, although the posturing by both sides has a role in persuading people which way they should vote in the upcoming referendum, it hides the facts, the facts that are masked by the arguments made.

So to the facts:

1.  Is the current First Past the Post system right for modern politics?

No, the FPTP system is good when used in a TWO party system, which when it was first used was what we had. A straight run between the Whigs and Tories. Today we have a multi party system which allows an MP to be elected with 30% to 40% of the votes cast and in some cases in previous elections as low as 19%.

2.  IF we have AV won’t that mean that some people get TWO, or more, votes?

No, because although the 2nd preference of eliminated candidates are counted, they are added to the 1st preference of those still in the election (thus those 1st preferences are counted for a second time too)

3.  Isn’t AV just to benefit the Liberal Democrats, or let the third place candidate win?

No, It benefits the electorate, as the winning candidate has the support of 50% +1 of the electorate who voted. Which could be any candidate who appeals to the MAJORITY of the electorate who vote.

4.  How can AV make my MP work harder?

What AV does, is mean that a candidate must reach out to everyone in their prospective constituency and not rely on their core vote to carry them through, as happens in many ‘safe seats’ around the Country.

5.  What is wrong with just staying as we are?

There comes a time when the voting system is ‘out of tune’ with the electorate. If our fore-fathers had stayed ‘as we are’ then the working class would not have a vote and neither would women. Times change and so must we.

6.  The AV vote is complicated?

Everyone can count to three. Political parties and others use AV (or a form of) to elect their leaders! If it’s good enough for them, are they making assumptions of the general public.
AV is okay to elect the leaders who govern and present opposition in this Country, but not good enough to elect our MP. To me that seems hypocritical.

7. Does AV cost a lot of money?

That is a myth that was dispelled long ago, but still seems to be a mainstay of the argument against AV (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/voting-reform-will-not-cause-more-cuts-treasury-insists-2226784.html)

8.  Why are more people likely to turn out and vote with AV?

In the present system some people see their vote as wasted, because the same old Party gets in every time anyway, so what’s the point!
With AV all votes count, so there is no such thing as a wasted vote, everyone has a say in which candidate is elected.

9.  You support AV so you would say that, wouldn’t you?

I am merely giving the facts. Time after time in debates the NO 2 AV campaign have failed to convince me and others that there is a valid argument as to why we should keep the Victorian voting system.

Ask yourself these questions, answer yourself honestly, what do YOU think.

Above are few of the FACTS, no celebrities, no bickering, just the facts and on that we should judge and in my opinion say YES 2 AV.

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Yes to Fairer Votes Election Broadcast

April 16, 2011 — robstick

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Nick Clegg’s miserable little compromise (by Andrew Emmerson)

April 10, 2011 — robstick

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The AV debate is up and running, it’s rattling on, and it’s starting to get nasty. However, there was just one thing I want to pick up on, amongst the many misquotings of the no campaign, the one i wanted to pick up on is this

Nick Clegg called AV a miserable little compromise

He didn’t, and it’s annoying the hell out of me that so many journalists, and TV programmes are so lazily quoting this without doing even a hint of research. Let’s give you the whole quote, in context before i explain it:

Mr Clegg said: “AV is a baby step in the right direction – only because nothing can be worse than the status quo. If we want to change British politics once and for all, we have got to have a quite simple system in which everyone’s votes count. We think AV-plus is a feasible way to proceed. At least it is proportional – and it retains a constituency link.

“The Labour Party assumes that changes to the electoral system are like crumbs for the Liberal Democrats from the Labour table. I am not going to settle for a miserable little compromise thrashed out by the Labour Party.”

The miserable little compromise line refers to two things within the context of the speech given: 1) Having previously offered AV+ to take a step back to AV is regressive, and the only compromise Brown could get his conservative MPs to support  2) That AV being in the Labour manifesto and STV in the Lib Dem manifesto, Labour can not simply offer the Lib Dems AV, and everything be brilliant, that the lib dems would fall straight into coalition without any movement on the system.

It’s worth nothing that Labour offered no move on their manifesto, AV or nothing, at least the Tories moved from FPTP to AV>

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Launch of fairer votes campaign (from http://www.yestofairervotes.org)

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