Yup, you read that right. No need to wait until the referendum. No need even for there to be a Yes vote in the referendum. For this week sees the start of voting for a new Parliamentarian, elected by the alternative vote.
For Wednesday sees ballot papers being issued that curiosity of an election, a by-election for the hereditary peers in the House of Lords. (Weird isn’t it how it’s the hereditaries get a form of election?) Elected by the alternative vote.
This follows the death earlier this year of Lord Monson, and as he was a Crossbencher his replacement will be elected by the existing Crossbencher hereditary peers. Using the alternative vote.
Oh, did I say that the election, ballot papers for which are being posted out on Wednesday, will be by the alternative vote?
I only mention it for two reasons. First it highlights how ludicrous the “preferential voting isn’t the British way of doing things” type arguments are. Preferential voting is, and has been, widely used in Britain – for elections (by STV in fact) for the old university seats, for directly-elected Mayors (including the clutch being elected next week, without a counting machine in sight), for local elections in Scotland and for elections in Northern Ireland. (And that’s without even getting started on its widespread use within political parties.)
In fact, when you next see the Queen’s Speech in Parliament take a good look at the people in the TV footage as members of both halves of Parliament come together. There’ll be party leaders there, elected by preferential voting. There’ll be hereditary peers, elected by preferential voting. There’ll be MPs, selected by preferential voting. There’ll be select committees chairs, elected by preferential voting. And there’ll then also be those elected not by first past the post but by elections over several rounds in a way very similar to the alternative vote – including another party leader and the Speaker.
And the second reason I mention it is because it highlights the hypocrisy of many No2AV campaigners. That is, those who use arguments about why preferential voting is wrong in principle, yet have never opposed preferential voting when it has been introduced on those other occasions. Of course the honourable few who restrict their arguments to the specific context of elections for the Commons have a let-out on this, but listen to many peers and MPs argue why preferential voting is wrong in principle and then look at their voting records, and you’ll see them supporting preferential voting when it is a matter of them voting for others – and only opposing it if it’s a matter of us voting for them.