Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, May 01, 2011

No to AV on 5 May

On Thursday Scotland goes to the polls, firstly to elect members of the Scottish Parliament and secondly to vote in a referendum on changing the voting system for Westminster (UK-wide) elections. The Scottish Parliamentary election will take place under a form of proportional representation PR), where we each cast a vote for an individual to represent our constituency: this is evaluated using First Past The Post (FPTP). Then we have a second ballot for candidates from a regional list, list typically includes many more small parties. Members from the lists are allocated to top up the overall numbers in parliament so that it reflects the proportions of votes cast for each party across the region. We've had the system since we got devolution, and it seems to work fine.

Westminster elections are currently done by FPTP voting, and the referendum is for a change to the Alternative Vote system (AV), where you mark preferences. The lowest first-preference scorer is eliminated and her/his votes allocated among the remaining candidates according to the second preferences; the process is repeated until one candidate has more than 50% of the votes.

This is a little more proportional that FPTP but not much. Supporters of AV claim that it would remove "safe seats", but that is only true if the "safe" seat isn't very safe to begin with. Because only one candidate is elected from each constituency, as now, small parties still have no chance of representation (under the Scottish system we've had Greens, Scottish Socialists and various independents who could bever have been elected under either FPTP or AV).

The principal beneficiaries - probably the only significant beneficiaries - from AV would be the Liberal Democrats who proposed it (despite a manifesto commitment for many years to provide actual proportional representation). I suppose the Scottish Nationalists might pick up the odd extra seat on the back of second preferences.

Most people expect the Liberal Democrat vote in Scotland to collapse completely as a result of their disastrous coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster. Personally I hope it collapses so far that we never have any more Liberal Democrat MSPs, and as few as possible in Westminster under whatever voting system. Hence my intention to vote no to AV on Thursday.

Reason 1) If it were proper PR I would put other concerns aside and vote for it. However, AV is a compromise that looks proportional but isn't. The fact of having the referendum on AV at all has put back the cause of PR by a generation or so: if AV is actually implemented the chances of ever having PR nationally fall to around zero.

Reason 2) The main beneficiaries of AV would be the Liberal Democrats. Excellent reason to vote no.

Reason 3) Nick Clegg is already in trouble with his party for having watered down the commitment to PR to merely having a referendum on AV. If he is unable to deliver even on that, then his career is almost certainly over, especially if he is simultaneously faced with a total wipeout North of the border (and indeed in the English and Welsh local councils, also poling on Thursday).

Clegg has already managed to kill off PR probably for my lifetime. I shall be voting NO to AV to keep the possibility alive for the future, and to inflict as much damage as possible on the Liberal Democrats who have so thoroughly betrayed all they once stood for.


At 16 May, 2012 00:23, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just came across this - a year late but still.

Vote no to AV to get PR? You are an absolute moron.

At 17 May, 2012 10:56, Blogger Rob said...

And you are an anonymous cowardly troll who either can't read or can't understand the clearly stated reasons for rejecting Clegg's useless compromise.

In Scotland we have a perfectly effective system of PR - so effective that it did indeed lead to the almost total destruction of the LibCon turncoats as a political force. And if voting no to AV in the referendum sped up that destruction, that's a further point in its favour.

Now run along: I'm sure you must be terribly busy winging about how unfair it is that nobody is interested in the LibCons any more. And hurry up: soon there will be none left, and nobody will be more delighted than I will.

At 17 May, 2012 10:57, Blogger Rob said...


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