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I seem to be the only habitué of this site, either poster or visitor, who advocates AV, but advocate it I do. It will shake up the whole ball of wax and make the big boys take more notice of the constituency, so do it.


Don’t go for business as usual.

Just do it. Ok?

Update:     I’d point out in the comments, I just don’t recognise most of the scenarios mentioned, especially RAB’s, they just don’t jibe with the Australian experience. the two people with any experience of the system, myself and the Angry Exile, are both in favour…..

Surely that counts for something, right?

First preference:        UKIP (the hope they get in choice) (sorry LP)

Second preference:    Tory  (the keep the other side out choice)


  1. John A says:

    No bloody way.

  2. Angry Exile says:

    You’re not the only one. I’ve argued for it and I’ve voted for it. But if I was the betting type my money would be on the No vote winning pretty comfortably.

  3. richard grey says:

    To be honest I dont’ really care either way.

    The biggest problem with our voting system isnt the system, but the voters.

    There are still huge swaths of people that vote for their football team, opps I mean their party, because they always have, and always will, whilst largely being clueless about what they actually intend to do or have done.

    Get rid of the stupid votes, you get rid of 90% of the problem.

  4. I’m not quite sure what is your definition of “habitué”, but I’m here now and I’m with you now on AV (though I want much much more).

    8 comments (currently) on Direct Democracy

    1 comment on Samizdata, but (depending on your browser) you might have to search down for “April 17, 2011 10:29 AM” or my name

    Best regards

  5. Sam Duncan says:

    Your last comment on the subject did sway me a little (as did the video, despite the pathetic bulldog-in-a-top-hat-Tory), I have to admit, but four things still bother me:

    1) As you say, Australia has used AV for years. Australia still has an entrenched two-party system, and is, in general, not appreciably better governed than anywhere else.

    2) Surely if a party can win a seat on second-preference votes, it’ll pay less attention, not more? Some seats may become more competitive, but some will become less so. There may be more people “in the game” during the first or second count, but in the end the result will be the same.

    3) I don’t have a second preference. I barely have a first, much of the time. The video assumes a nice, tidy arrangement where cats, by dint of being cats, will lend their second preference to another cat. What if they hate that cat’s guts? They’re cats; they probably will. So what if they don’t cast a second preference? Either the most popular cat wins on a minority of the vote, or the dog still gets in. I accept that this isn’t neccesarily an argument against AV, but to me the best argument for it is a lot weaker than its advocates make out.

    4) And finally, I think my point about it increasing governments’ spurious “legitimacy” still stands.

    In the end though, I won’t be crying into my breakfast on Friday morning if there’s a “Yes” vote. The worst that could happen is that some people will appear to endorse candidates they don’t really want, and at best it makes tactical voting slightly more obvious to the candidates. But I’m still going to vote “No” myself.

  6. Kevin B says:

    The Candian system is first past the post, (modelled on our own dear parliamentary system), and has repeatedly thrown up* minority or coalition governments, involving four parties in the machinations, as a result of the last several elections. However, just this week it has wiped out one party, (BQ), promoted another, (NDP), given one more a seat, (Green), shattered the party that has been in government or opposition forever, (Liberals), and given a true Conservative party a clear unfettered run at government as just reward for managing the country, particularly the economy, in a way that has brought it out of recession faster than it’s southern neighbour.

    The electoral system is far less important than the political class that offers itself for election. And ours is shit. Nowhere on the horizon is there a Harper or a Ryan or a West or a Palin. The nearest we’ve got, Hannan, blogs well and makes pretty YouTube videos in the European Parliament, but I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that he’s happy on the sidelines where he won’t get his toga dirty. Until we put down the Oxbridge PPEs and get some decent talent in our politics, fiddling with the electoral system makes Titanic orchestration look madly purposeful.

    *Figuratively or literally? Take your pick.

  7. Lynne says:

    I’m still firmly in the “no” group and that’s how I’ll be casting my vote. KevinB has it right – the thieving and lying vermin passing themselves off as our political elite aren’t worth voting for no matter what system we have. Until we get rid of them and drastically shrink the State there can’t possibly be anything approaching democracy or good government. That won’t happen any time soon because of the sheeple problem highlighted by richard grey.

  8. Sam Duncan says:

    Of course, Kevin, back in the ’90s the Canadian Tories could have been cited as an example for AV advocates, in that the centre-right vote was split between the old Progressive Conservatives and the Reform Party, allowing the Liberals to win seats they might not otherwise have had any chance in.

    But the story didn’t end in the ’90s. After the Libs won three times, with the Tories almost wiped out in the last, the PCP and the renamed Canadian Alliance decided to merge. Had Canada used AV, either one Conservative party would have won out or a series of PCP-Reform/CA coalitions would have led to some kind of merger or official pact anyway. The eventual outcome wouldn’t be exactly the same – those Liberal-led governments might never have happened – but neither, in the long run, would it be much different.

    As you say, how you vote is far less important than who you can vote for.

  9. RAB says:

    I’ve already voted NO, I got a postal vote as I am currently on holiday in West Wales.

    I can’t see how AV will make it fairer to end up with your fourth choice winning the election, because all the other fuckwits voted tactically.

    It will certainly not lead to a UKIP, Green or BNP govt for that matter. You just end up with the same fuckers in power and a whole bunch of broken Manifesto promises, because of compromises that must be made to ring holding tiny minorities.

    What crdedence do you give to the current situation for instance, when 50 LIb/Dems are currently able to wield power? They have 50 fuckin seats not 500, nobody bloody voted for them, yet we get their crackpot ideas rammed down our throats.

    What happened to the constituancy boundary changes that were to go along with switching to AV? Anyone heard a dicky bird about them lately? No of course you fuckin havent, because that might make FPTP much fairer wouldn’t it?

    NULab won a landslide in 1997 with 36 % of the vote. The tories under Major’s last Govt clung to power with barely a majority at all, also with around 36% 0f the vote. The Boundaries have been gerrymandered in favour of Labour over many years, and they want no comprehensive revision now to level the playing field.

    But finally, what is the fuckin point whatever system we use. The English Parliament may as well fess up and call itself what it is… The Parish Council of Avalon, because we are Brussel’s bitch now. They make our Laws without ever getting elected by us, or us ever able to remove them. Until we get out of the EU, this is all illusion that what system we use matters.

  10. Agreed.

    The Lib Dems are going to get a kicking in the council elections anyway, so far more satisfying to give the Tories and half of Labour a really big kicking than to give the Lib Dems a relatively small extra kicking.

    And look at it this way – can you envisage a scenario in a future GE, where you really would like to be able to cast a ‘conscience vote’, a ‘comedy vote’ and a compromise vote’, rather than being forced to choose between a ‘wasted vote’ and a ‘tactical vote’? If yes, then vote ‘Yes’.

  11. Nope, I don’t buy that. Clever couching, mind. Lefties are pumping hard for it as they know they will get preference votes from a large Lib Dem contingent. Casting the dog as the only candidate for one side is misleading as left and right both have competing interests, but the right have more than Labour.

    It’s why progressives are going apeshit about a tiny difference in voting.

    Doesn’t change anything, despite being a very cool video (it has cats in it, after all :) )

  12. Laird says:

    I don’t get a vote in your referendum, but I remain unconvinced that FPTP is superior to AV. Being a Libertarian, I am painfully aware of the “wasted vote” argument, which AV would eliminate. Even if the minor party candidate doesn’t win, and the end result is identical to what would be achieved with a FPTP election (either with a plurality winner or a run-off system), merely having the ability to register a “protest” vote without effectively disenfranchising yourself is a benefit. If a LP candidate, who normally would be expected to garner <5% of the vote, wins (say) 15% in the first round, that says something to the political class, and could help to get some of that party’s ideas more of a hearing than would otherwise be the case. It would be clear evidence that the “fringe” party isn’t really so “fringe” after all. How can that be anything other than beneficial?

  13. Angry Exile says:

    DP, there’s some evidence to suggest that the Tories would gain more from AV than the left (yeah, I know, these days the Tories are sort of left themselves). A survey for Channel 4 found that more Lib Dem voters gave the Tories as their second preference, and it also seems very likely that most of UKIP’s – another party that stands to gain, though probably influence rather than seats – second preferences would go the same way. If that’s the case then the main party that would benefit most is the one arguing most strongly against it.

    It’s all moot because the Yes vote is going to lose because of the same thing that Richard Grey mentioned – too many people vote for ‘their’ party not on its merits or because the local candidate is any good but simply because they always have. They’re almost certain to vote for ‘their’ voting system for exactly the same reason.

  14. RAB says:

    Well it’s very moot now, because 70% of us who voted, voted NO.

    There are always bleats against low turnouts by the supposedly dissafectected, but this one was reasonable in the circumstances. Unless you make voting compulsory, as it is in OZ, then you get what you get, depending on the interest the Electorate take in the issue, and this time round the Electorate were completely uninterested in changing the voting system. Only the “Progressive” Politicians were, for their own ends natch!

    So I repeat…

    I voted NO because I am a conviction voter. I do not want to quibble over who is the least worst, or the best least, rank the fuckers in some kind of order that might suit my opinions on a sunny day or a cloudy day, I want someone to tell me what they stand for and what they will do for me and my country. If I disagree, I don’t vote for them. If I can’t find a candidate that I substantially agree with then I don’t vote at all.

    And I repeat again, there is nothing wrong with first past the post that boundary equality won’t fix. But don’t hold your breath for that one.

    And once more… Until we get out of the EU, there is no merit in any voting system at all, because our Politicians are no more powerful than the Queen. They have well paid placements, but the rules are being made in Brussels, and there is not a damn thing we can do about it. Our so called Government is a hollow and vastly expensive sham.

  15. I have quite a bit of sympathy with RAB’s view, having some fairly firmly formed views myself. However …

    RAB: “I voted NO because I am a conviction voter.”

    This implies certainty. I doubt it is a good idea to have too much of that, especially in politics. Nothing in politics is simple; many things are a definite compromise between the pros and cons for different groups of people. Also, a general feeling of more of some things and less of others may well be the correct view, without any certainty of the absolute value that would be the optimum.

    Many holders of conviction, including many of those most remembered in public office, have nothing but a personal certainty of their own correctness: which they pursue with vigour until everyone but themselves knows they are wrong. It is difficult to change one’s mind when one is a person of conviction: it does not look good.

    RAB: “If I can’t find a candidate that I substantially agree with then I don’t vote at all.”

    I worry that this is an abdication. If everyone said that, we would get nowhere.

    It seems to me better to have politicians who have a sound philosophy, combined with the ability to hunt out evidence, avoid rhetorical (and statistical) falsities and think things through. Their opinions on just the issues of the day are not enough.

    RAB: “… and there is not a damn thing we can do about [the EU]. Our so called Government is a hollow and vastly expensive sham.”

    This is, IMHO, rather like the actions of trade unions in changing industrial sectors. They resist moving gently with the times until a great distance arises between the preserved old ways and where their industry should be. Then it all gets very unpleasant for the very workers the union was striving to help.

    Gradual change is, on the whole, much better. Small steps can be tried and reversed if appropriate.

    As I’ve written elsewhere on Counting Cats over the last couple of days, there are possibly good reasons for using AV: it allows the voters to express a more comprehensive (even more nuanced) view. Maybe the world needs that now, where it did not in the past. A contribution on that change may well come from the Internet, with the wider availability and greater timeliness of knowledge of what is going on in the world. The world is a smaller place than it was 40 years ago.

    Best regards

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