Did you think Taxpayers’ Alliance folks favour AV?

No, I didn’t think so either. Which makes the case of the Yes2AV.org domain name a little curious.

Check the official records and you find that it is registered to Matthew Elliott, not the Australian cricketer but the man from the Taxpayers’ Alliance who is going to head up the “no” campaign for the AV referendum. Also listed is on the registration is Andy Whitehouse, complete with his Taxpayers’ Alliance email address.

If you are campaigning for a “no”, having a domain name with a “yes” just might cause some confusion, don’t you think?

Here’s what the No2AV campaign said to me about this:

The online campaign will obviously be an important aspect of this referendum, so Matthew naturally bought several website addresses, using his personal credit card, to reach different audiences. Matthew bought the domain names before he accepted the invitation to become Campaign Director and therefore used his colleague Andy as the technical contact. Sadly not all the No2AV sites were available, so we look forward to seeing what appears on the others as the campaign unfolds.

“Naturally” isn’t exactly the word I would have chosen…

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35 Comments

  • Hm, clever. Register all the competition domains… someone on the actual Yes side needs to get registerin’.

  • Sad and petty.

    Actually I’m kind of wondering what on earth tax has to do with a yes or no vote over AV… and why the taxpayers alliance should care either way, it in now way fits with their own supposed ‘mission statement.’ My disgust at this little gang of contemporary Scrooges has just gone up a little more.

  • George W. Potter 26th Aug '10 - 10:26am

    @Paul

    Try looking at one of the people on the Take Back Parliament campaign or go to the electoral reform society. They’ll probably be able to point you in the right direction.

  • Foregone Conclusion 26th Aug '10 - 11:10am

    @Alex

    “Actually I’m kind of wondering what on earth tax has to do with a yes or no vote over AV… and why the taxpayers alliance should care either way”

    Just a guess, and this might not apply, but from my experience there is a branch of libertarianism which basically despises the idea of political reform, arguing that it only entrenches elite rule and the legitimacy of the state. There’s also another branch that basically says that more pluralistic and responsive government will further the existence of the big state, which of course is anathema. Not particularly liberal attitudes to my mind.

    Alternatively, he could just be a Tory.

  • Chris Hodder 26th Aug '10 - 12:42pm

    Doesn’t this actually qualify as cybersitting? He’s bought the domain of another organisation after all. After several high profile cases, I thought W3C had decided that domain registration could not be first past the post first served after all.

  • Mister Jabberwock 26th Aug '10 - 12:45pm

    You are just being silly now; or paranoid.

    Obviously there are thousands of suitable domain names for the Yes campaign to choose from so it is not dirty tricks. However if someone is going to spend money promoting no2av.org and creating brand recognition for it then the last thing you want is someone with an opposing view to “borrow” your marketing capital by switching No to Yes and getting the same recognition for a fraction of the spend.

    This is simple marketing practicalities and he would look a toal amateur if he didn’t do that.

  • Foregone Conclusion 26th Aug '10 - 1:18pm

    “Yestoav.org”, on the other hand, is already owned by Yes to AV.

  • Mike(the Labour one) 26th Aug '10 - 2:25pm

    @jedibeeftrix: I do agree with your criticisms- I’ve had rows with people on here about it- but full PR would help that. FPTP is a three-party system and it does lead to coalitions and those criticisms are applicable to FPTP and AV.

    But PR would allow the likes of the Greens to build their support and we’d be more likely to end up with two blocks of parties- Tories/Lib Dems and Labour/Greens/Plaid/etc. Labour could be far more radical than if they were in coalition with the Lib Dems, and the current government would probably be as radical. And because we’d know who would be in coalition with who they wouldn’t be able to dodge responsibility for supposed “compromises” like the Lib Dems can in a three party system.

    If coalition governments are to become the norm, it would be far better to have them as semi-permanent separate coalitions, not the Lib Dems hopping from one to the other as they please.

    AV may not solve the problems, but if it makes PR more likely then it’s worth voting for.

  • @andrew tennett is totally right. av is fairer and on the whole better. the only way the no campaign can win is to spread mis information which others pick up and then retransmit as fact……..

  • @jedibeeftrex: Not as much as in a three party system. The Tories relied on the Lib Dems because before the election it was entirely plausible that the Lib Dems would have gone to Labour, and if Labour overtakes the Tories but doesn’t win a majority they’ll have to give far too much to the Lib Dems because there’d be nothing to stop the Lib Dems sticking with the Tories.

    I’d much rather see a situation with two blocks that ally before the election. It would have the advantages of a two party system except people would be able to vote for the individual party in that block- so not only can they choose which block, they can also choose the relative strengths of each faction within that block.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 26th Aug '10 - 3:12pm

    @Andrew Tennant: I agree with that, I think my post I was writing when you made yours made pretty much the same point! I have shifted my stance a little based on the fact that I think the Lib Dems are unsalvagable as a party of the centre-left, and if a temporary truce over electoral reform is necessary to get to a point where Labour won’t have to rely on the Lib Dems then so be it.

    Labour the Lib Dems should make a common cause over electoral reform in the interests of not having anything to do with each other afterwards. It’ll be an uphill struggle getting Labour traditionalists to agree to AV and then PR but it’s your only chance, the Tories won’t have none of it.

  • Stuart Mitchell 26th Aug '10 - 7:54pm

    Andrew: That’s one way of looking at it. Another view is that the person who got more positive first-choice votes than any other candidate (by a huge margin of almost 14 points) has been diddled out of a seat which should really have been his.

    On this evidence, AV turns voting into a wholly negative process rather than a positive one. What matters is not the number of positive votes cast for the candidate who people want to win, but the number of negative lower-preference votes cast in order to keep another candidate out.

  • Stuart Mitchell 26th Aug '10 - 8:03pm

    This is just a taster of how the dark right will out-manoeuvre the Yes campaign at every turn.

    Being anti-AV (though pro-PR), I am perturbed at finding myself on the same side as the “Tax Dodger’s and Speeding Motorist’s Alliance”, but I guess we’re all choosing strange bedfellows these days.

  • Stuart Mitchell 26th Aug '10 - 8:52pm

    Jedibeeftrix: A striking thing about the Tasmania article is that there seem to be a lot of voters in Australia who *don’t understand how AV works*, despite the fact that they have used this system their entire lives.

    A couple of months back I opined on this site that one of the disadvantages of AV is that some voters would struggle to understand it. Needless to say, everybody told me I was talking nonsense.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Aug '10 - 10:35pm

    Stuart Mitchell

    A striking thing about the Tasmania article is that there seem to be a lot of voters in Australia who *don’t understand how AV works*, despite the fact that they have used this system their entire lives.

    And how many people understand how FPTP works?

    If you were to ask the average person on the street here “Explain how FPTP can give the most seats to the party which does not have the most votes”, how many could? How many would even know it could? How many would even know that with FPTP getting a majority in Parliament does not require a majority of votes nationally? How many could explain why not?

  • I really struggle to see how the result in Denison, Tasmania can be regarded as bad or inappropriate by anyone. Wilkie is an Independent ex-Green and so looking at the broad picture, the “green” candidates have 40% first preferences. Even on first preference votes, it seems a fair reflection of the constituency’s attitude that he wins….

    In fact, it shows up a major advantage of AV – candidates with a similar set of policies/values can stand without the fear that they will split the vote and let somebody in on a small minority. (If it was FPTP, you can imagine endless recriminations between Wilkie and the Greens about letting Labour in).

  • dave thawley 27th Aug '10 - 12:23pm

    Is that Matthews home address in the whois ? Perhaps people ought to send him some information about what AV really is just to break the illusion he actually thinks he is doing the public a service. He must know he is trying to rip the population off already but at least this wound be confirmed.

    Domain ID:D159836964-LROR
    Domain Name:YES2AV.ORG
    Created On:06-Aug-2010 15:59:56 UTC
    Last Updated On:06-Aug-2010 15:59:58 UTC
    Expiration Date:06-Aug-2011 15:59:56 UTC
    Sponsoring Registrar:Tucows Inc. (R11-LROR)
    Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
    Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
    Status:TRANSFER PROHIBITED
    Registrant ID:tumjSbvVfppsx4qu
    Registrant Name:Matthew Elliott
    Registrant Organization:Matthew Elliott
    Registrant Street1:26 Rossetti House
    Registrant Street2:Erasmus Street
    Registrant Street3:
    Registrant City:London
    Registrant State/Province:London
    Registrant Postal Code:SW1P4HT
    Registrant Country:GB
    Registrant Phone:+44.8453309554
    Registrant Phone Ext.:
    Registrant FAX:
    Registrant FAX Ext.:
    Registrant Email:[email protected]
    Admin ID:tud7IQjCMHdsMArK
    Admin Name:Matthew Elliott
    Admin Organization:Matthew Elliott
    Admin Street1:26 Rossetti House
    Admin Street2:Erasmus Street
    Admin Street3:
    Admin City:London
    Admin State/Province:London
    Admin Postal Code:SW1P4HT
    Admin Country:GB
    Admin Phone:+44.8453309554
    Admin Phone Ext.:
    Admin FAX:
    Admin FAX Ext.:
    Admin Email:[email protected]
    Tech ID:tuG3WZkeozAhKOI2
    Tech Name:Webfusion Technical
    Tech Organization:Webfusion Ltd
    Tech Street1:5 Roundwood Avenue
    Tech Street2:Stockley Park
    Tech Street3:
    Tech City:Uxbridge
    Tech State/Province:Middlesex
    Tech Postal Code:UB111FF
    Tech Country:GB
    Tech Phone:+44.8712309525
    Tech Phone Ext.:
    Tech FAX:+44.8701650437
    Tech FAX Ext.:
    Tech Email:[email protected]
    Name Server:NS.123-REG.CO.UK
    Name Server:NS2.123-REG.CO.UK

  • The fact that, so far at least, the No campaign is being led by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (recently and temporarily resigned) and a few seemingly right wing old buffers from the House of Lords is good news – is much of the centre through left really going to feel happy campaigning in such company?

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Aug '10 - 12:04pm

    Ian: Well if the Lib Dems are prepared to align themselves with the hard right for five years, I’m sure I’ll be able to hold my nose and put up with it for the few weeks of the AV campaign.

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Aug '10 - 12:12pm

    Matthew: I agree that most people will not understand or be aware of those aspects of FPTP. I remember when I was about 18 and first read about the infamous 1951 election result, the astonishment I felt at learning that such a thing were possible.

    However, at least with FPTP just about everybody can understand how their local MPis elected. Not so with AV.

    How many people do you think realise that under AV, a candidate could get twice as many first preference votes as anybody else – and yet still lose? More to the point, how many people do you think would feel instinctively that this is unfair?

  • Daniel Henry 29th Aug '10 - 2:35pm

    In that situation Stuart, (which would be a rarity btw) the candidate may have had a strong core following, but the majority of voters in the constituency wanted ANYONE BUT this candidate. So since the majority of that constituency have a serious dislike for this candidate, are they really suitable to represent this constituency?
    You mentioned that this is a negative vote. That’s correct. Being able to say “NO” is as important to a voice as being able to say “YES”. People still vote negatively under FPTP, but it’s at the expense of their positive vote. AV allows the voter to be both negative AND positive, so it will actually INCREASE the positivity in voting.

    I also find AV quote simple to explain.
    You just split it into rounds:
    The first round counts the first preferences, the candidate with the lowest is eliminated.
    Everyone now votes again, supporters of eliminated candidates now choosing their next preference.
    This means that everyone gets a say about the remaining candidates.

    AV isn’t my first choice of system either but I certainly wouldn’t choose FPTP over it in this referendum. It prevents split votes, and it also prevents a person from neglecting their favourite choice in aid of tactical voting. It’s quite common for people to ignore unestablished candidates, no matter how brilliant they might be, just because they see them as a no-hoper so a wasted vote. AV might not solve ALL of FPTP’s problems, but it solves some quite significant ones, and that’s enough for me to support it.

  • “@Alex

    “Actually I’m kind of wondering what on earth tax has to do with a yes or no vote over AV… and why the taxpayers alliance should care either way”

    Just a guess, and this might not apply, but from my experience there is a branch of libertarianism which basically despises the idea of political reform, arguing that it only entrenches elite rule and the legitimacy of the state. There’s also another branch that basically says that more pluralistic and responsive government will further the existence of the big state, which of course is anathema. Not particularly liberal attitudes to my mind.

    Alternatively, he could just be a Tory.”

    Actually I was referring to the statement that the Taxpayers alliance (may they rot in their scrooge like dwellings) will be heading up the No campaign… I mean… why?

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