10 lessons for winning an AV referendum

An excellent post from Neil Stockley:

Holding a public vote on changing the voting system is a radical step for the UK. But it has been done before. In 1993, my home country, New Zealand held the second of two referendums to decide how to elect MPs. An established Westminster democracy voted by a 54:46 per cent margin to get rid of first past the post (FPTP) voting and put in its place the German-style mixed member proportional (MMP) system…

Of course, the UK in 2011 will not be New Zealand in 1993 and, for that matter, AV is not a proportional voting system. But I believe that some valuable lessons can still be drawn from the New Zealand experience.

You can read his full piece here.

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9 Comments

  • Paul McKeown 7th Jul '10 - 8:08pm

    Let’s not forget 1931, either.

    If the referendum passes, AV must be enacted and must apply to the 2015 general election.

  • Paul McKeown 7th Jul '10 - 8:10pm

    In fact, given that the House of Commons voted in favour of AV in 1931, a referendum is not really necessary, except as political cover for David Cameron.

  • Paul McKeown 8th Jul '10 - 2:10am

    Thanks “all”.

    Refreshing at the moment to hear from a friendly opponent putting the democratic interest first!

    You need to get your colleagues in Labour firmly behind it.

  • George Kendall 8th Jul '10 - 9:24am

    His comment, “All this suggests that politicians of all parties may be well-advised to take a back seat during the referendum campaign.”, is interesting. A lot of the media commentators are talking about, for example, will Cameron be campaigning on the issue. Sounds like the pro-FPTP crowd would be wise not to press him to.

    Next May is going to be tricky for us. The cuts will be really biting, and our poll rating will probably be much worst. The argument that AV could lead to more coalitions, and that coalitions are a bad thing, may resonate much more than it would now.

    We’re going to find it very hard to raise significant funds to counter the savaging AV will get in the tabloid press.

    One opportunity of the AV campaign, is it may provide a way for Lib Dem and Labour supporters to reacquaint themselves with each other, and realise the other lot aren’t all the devil incarnate!

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jul '10 - 11:45am

    A referendum should not be required for AV because it is really a rather insignificant change. Bigger changes to what is in effect the constitution have gone through without a referendum. The abolition of voting rights for local councillors went through with hardly any public attention at all, to me this was hugely bigger than AV.

  • Unlock Democracy reports rumours that MPs are planning to table amendments to the Bill to introduce a turnout threshold of 40% of the total electorate for a yes vote on AV to be binding. Surely you should be seeking assurances from Cameron that he will discourage his MPs from supporting this? Otherwise, how can he be serious? I believe it is rumoured that one Tory MP has even suggested an 80% threshold.
    (Follow link for TUC Touchstone blog report)
    http://www.touchstoneblog.org.uk/2010/07/turnout-thresholds-are-a-bad-idea/

  • Anthony Aloysius St 9th Jul '10 - 2:38pm

    “Unlock Democracy reports rumours that MPs are planning to table amendments to the Bill to introduce a turnout threshold of 40% of the total electorate for a yes vote on AV to be binding.”

    As I read the blog you link to, the 40% would be a threshold for the Yes vote, not for turnout (implying an 80% threshold for turnout).

  • I have re-checked this. The report cites a Guardian article in which Bernard Jenkin proposes that 40% of the electorate would have to vote yes which would require an 80% turnout to secure a yes vote. I appologise for any confusion. Here is the link to Unlock Democracy.http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/?p=2415 which then links to the Guardian article. Or you can go back to my original link and follow the trail from there.

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