Why I’ll be voting Yes to AV

I don’t recall any popular vote which has been so full of bitching by both sides. It’s quite sickening to watch. But despite some appalling logic from the Yes men, I’m still going to vote Yes to AV in May.

Why?

Here are my reasons.

1) I’m not stupid. You’re probably not stupid either. So don’t buy the bizarre analogies. The images of sprint races, showing how under “first past the post” the winner is the winner but under AV it could be someone else. What? A running race is different from a vote to determine who the majority of people would like to represent them. A running race is a competition based on one merit only – speed over a measured distance. The fastest wins. If you think that candidates for an office should be picked according to one particular metric then you’re probably best staying at home on voting day.

2) I’m not stupid. Yes, I had that one already but it’s this complexity argument. It’s not really that hard to create an ordered list of favourites in an election. I can cope with that. Hopefully you can cope with that too.

3) I’m not stupid. Sorry, getting monotonous I need to quote this from the “No” website: “The winner should be the candidate that comes first, but under AV the candidate who comes second or third can actually be elected.” Again… what?? The candidate that wins is the candidate that wins. There is no “comes first” which is different from “winning”. They’re the same thing. What this statement is actually saying is that FPTP can give a different winner than AV. Well, duh. Thanks guys. I think we all figured that out for ourselves. Isn’t that, after all, the point – if the two always gave the same result, we wouldn’t be having a referendum.

4) I like Nick Clegg. Yes, I’ve said it. I like Nick Clegg. It’s a crime now, I believe. Nick Clegg-bashing is the in game, I’m so out of touch. But personally I believe Clegg is trying to make the best from the weak hand he’s been dealt. It’s FPTP that dealt him that hand – with AV I believe the Lib Dems would have had significantly more power. With AV we would not now be talking about tuition fees. I mention all this because a major part of the “No” campaign seems to rely on a hatred of Nick Clegg. I’m sure he cries himself to sleep.

People keep saying that AV isn’t ideal. I’m sure it isn’t. Ideally, we would know and understand in deepest detail each candidate. We would have full trust that they would do exactly what they say they’re going to do. They would not then march into parliament and toe a party line. Are we voting for the candidate, or for the party? Sadly, we’re doing both – which is already so far from ideal that questions about the voting system are largely irrelevant.

AV will be fairer than FPTP, because the winning candidate should be acceptable to more people. Of course it’s hard to see this in practice, because FPTP doesn’t give anyone the option to cite who they would find acceptable. But by definition it must be true. The nonsense about AV counting some peoples vote more times than others is just that – nonsense. AV is DIFFERENT, not because it breaks a one-man one-vote rule but because it allows choice to be something more than binary.

AV will lead to more hung parliaments, apparently. Apparently this is a terrible thing. Well, I don’t agree. I like coalition governments. I like multiple parties having to work together. I like a mix of opinions forming policy within a single government. Does this lead to mediocre government? Maybe, but frankly when it comes to running the country slow and steady suits me just fine.

And finally, AV apparently will be costly. £250M. Sounds like a lot… well, it’s just over £4 each – or (at a guess) around £8 per working adult. Is that a lot? It doesn’t seem so to me.

Is AV better than FPTP? I have absolutely no idea if it’s better, but it will by definition ensure that a winning candidate is acceptable to more people than FPTP will. I doubt it will revolutionise politics. I doubt it will make politicians any more accountable. I doubt it will have much impact on any of our lives – even changes of government don’t have as measurable an impact as the newspapers might suggest.

But it’s a change worth trying, and significantly I believe that if we vote “No” to AV then politicians will see this as a vote for FPTP – a vote to keep things exactly as they are, and an expression that we’re all happy with the voting scheme in place. Not just the first-past-the-post system but the whole confusion of candidates and parties. Whereas voting for AV sends a signal that we think improvements are needed. Why on earth would politicians make this link? Well, they’re politicians aren’t they. Creating arguments to support their views is what they do.

So, friends, vote yes to AV.

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About mikbarne
I'm a writer and freelance communications and collaboration consultant with nearly 20 years experience in UK telecommunications, specialising in VoIP, Unified Communications and Collaboration, and building effective communications architectures. Visit my Google+ Profile

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