No2AV campaign left red-faced by list gaffes

Last week I posted to Lib Dem Voice what I thought to be an accurate list of the 100+ Labour MPs who had proudly announced they would be opposing electoral reform in the May referendum.

I assumed it must be accurate… after all, the list was taken directly from the No2AV campaign’s official website. Surely they would have checked with each MP before publishing their name, I thought. Not carefully enough, it turns out.

As Left Foot Forward has highlighted, five Labour MPs named by No2AV as opponents of electoral reform have been listed incorrectly — take a bow Barry Sheerman, Alun Michael, Ivan Lewis, Albert Owen and Meg Hillier.

Mind you, that does still leave 109 out of 257 Labour MPs publicly opposed to reforming the UK’s broken electoral system, which last May ensured 98.4% of the public’s votes made no difference to the result.

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31 Comments

  • conservative 5th Jan '11 - 7:58pm

    I read the report by the IPPR and I have to say it is a very mediocre piece of work riddled with errors and assertions (indeed in the list of hung parliaments give HALF OF THEM WERE BEFORE THE INTRODUCTION OF UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE)! How can you possibly argue that 98.4% of the vote was wasted by just counting the votes that gave majorities? If so then that is a complete farse because had those other ‘wasted votes’ not voted in various proportions the results would have been different. It is one man, one vote and every vote in every constituency is worth the same.

    This party has consistently u-turned on its beliefs and this is one of them – your MPs viewed AV as a useless system (take a bow Nick Clegg) and you beloved Mr Jenkins said that is was less proportionate the FPTP which surely defeats the wish for PR in your camp.

    Then of course the trend talked about in the IPPR report is that the top 2 parties have had a steadily declining share of the vote (only about 65% at the last GE) and that will continue because? Well actually it won’t by looks of things (latest YouGov report puts top two parties on 82% of the vote. So that assertion is also flawed also. And then…well I could go on but it is supper time 🙂

  • “ensured 98.4% of the public’s votes made no difference to the result”

    This is a staggering statistic – does anyone know how it is calculated?

  • Andrew Suffield 5th Jan '11 - 9:01pm

    It is one man, one vote and every vote in every constituency is worth the same.

    That’s farcical. The constituencies aren’t even the same size! A national popular vote (with the usual distribution) of 38% Labour, 39% Tory, is likely to give Labour a working majority. In no sense is every vote worth the same.

  • “Mind you, that does still leave 109 out of 257 Labour MPs publicly opposed to reforming the UK’s broken electoral system, which last May ensured 98.4% of the public’s votes made no difference to the result.”

    Does it ? Or does it show 109 Labour MP’s are opposed to AV…..

    I don’t agree with AV but would vote for a decent PR system. Either every vote counts or it doesn’t, and under AV votes are still wasted.

  • paul barker 5th Jan '11 - 9:24pm

    @Conservative, the decline in the vote share of the Big 2 Parties has been steady over 60 years. Perhaps thats gone into reverse in the last 6 months but some actual evidence from real Elections would be nice, lets wait to see what May brings.

  • Anyone on the 98.4% statistic? Is it that the majorities of the 650 odd winning candidates over the 2nd place ones totalled 1.6% of the vote? Not sure that makes sense though as presumably the vote that drew the 1st place candidate level with the 2nd place one counted to offset the 2nd place candidate’s last vote, and so on down the line.

  • Presumably the 1.6% is the sum of the majorities in marginal seats?

  • John Fraser 5th Jan '11 - 9:53pm

    Not a supporter of FPTP but the main argument against AV is that it only seems to help one party that is the Lib dems . there is little possibility that the smaller parties will make a brakethrough under AV . Their first preference vote may go up however because the vote is tranferable and this paradoxically will make the system even less proportional. It is possible the Nationalist parties e.g. The SNP may actually suffer as they perhaps hit the marmite factor in politics (you either love them or you hate them) . Roy jenkins indeed may well have a point.

    Whilst in the pure sense an individuals vote is more liable to mean something .As in a practical sense only one party will truly benefit there is a grave danger that the referendum may start to look like a reward to the Lid dems for supporting this current Thatcherite government. If the referendum is going to have a chance of success I would advise that you stop slagging your opponents off and endulge in some positive campaigning .

  • Paul Griffiths 5th Jan '11 - 10:18pm

    @ Steve Way (and too many others)

    “I don’t agree with AV but would vote for a decent PR system.”

    In which parallel universe?

    FPTP or AV. Stop day-dreaming and pick one.

  • Grammar Police 5th Jan '11 - 10:23pm

    @ John Fraser – there is absolutely no evidence that the Lib Dems would particularly benefit from AV. People’s first preferences would completely change as the need for tactical voting with the first pref would be removed. This could affect all parties, and we may find that plenty of ‘safe’ seats are, in reality, not.

    However, AV would change campaigning, slowly but surely, as candidates would need to rely on reaching out to more than just their core vote. “Extreme” candidates from any party would be largely unappealing.

    Whether this is a good thing or not depends on your view.

    One thing I am sure of is that a “no” vote means we’re stuck with FPTP for another generation, as “there is no appetite for change”.

  • “I don’t agree with AV but would vote for a decent PR system.”

    Ah, the morning call of the lesser spotted Labour sophist. That’s the songbird that wants electoral reform but wants to hit the Lib Dems more.

  • @Paul Griffiths
    “In which parallel universe?

    FPTP or AV. Stop day-dreaming and pick one.”

    In the parallel universe that managed to get it for Scottish and Welsh and even euro elections. you know the one where Lib Dem MP’s didn’t vote against it being on the referendum paper. Take a look at the IPRR report you will see how many voting systems have been used in the UK (figure 12), to greater or lesser success. If the lure of power hadn’t been so strong one of those may have made it onto the ballot paper.

    @MBoy
    “Ah, the morning call of the lesser spotted Labour sophist. That’s the songbird that wants electoral reform but wants to hit the Lib Dems more.”

    What rubbish, I am no fan of Labour as I believe my previous posts have proven. Just because I prefer facts to Stephens spin and do not like AV. In his last piece on this the names of no vote Labour MP’s were not the only error. He misquoted the Labour Manifesto and Milliband.

    There is no golden rule that says that if you want electoral reform you must support AV. I do not believe it is any more fair to most minority parties than FPTP.

    If you take a look on the post regarding Oldham you’d see I am hoping for Labour to lose (even though I feel let down by the current Lib Dem leadership and understand some people’s wish to register a typical by election protest vote). I have voted Labour in the past but vowed not to do so again (unless there is a truly massive change) due to their blatant lies to get elected. I’m halfway there with the Lib dems who have had my vote in all local, eyropean and general elections for some years but hold out hope that the party will change direction and make the coalition work as it should. As someone who actually believes in thoughtful politics I will lend my vote to the party that most represents my views and proves themselves to have integrity.

    Still, I suppose that’s the standard of your intellectual debate, someone disagrees with me therefore they must be a Labour sophist. Obviously not the type of Labour sophist to follow their leader though.

    Just remember whilst insulting people like me that it is the floating voters that win seats for Lib Dems. You members alone will win you nothing.

    Good luck using your approach to convince wavering voters.

  • Would rather see proper PR, which would give the Greens about 7 or 8 seats, UKIP about 8 or 9 seats and the Lib Dems about 90 seats – all traditionally muted voices under FPTP but voices with considerable support nonetheless.

    PR isn’t on the ballot paper though – so I’ll have to vote for AV. There are 2 stages to real fair votes – proportionality and preferential voting. AV at least gets us half way there.

    Names out of a hat would be a fairer system than first past the post – anyone who believes in PR or STV or AV+ or AMS etc.. would be mad to vote no in this referendum.

    Every other assembly in the country will soon have a more democratic voting system, even the house of lords. To think that the Lords will modernise before the Commons sounds pretty mad, but even then Conservatives are signed up to a PR-elected lords. Just leaving a few Labour dinosaurs to oppose it.

  • John Fraser 6th Jan '11 - 12:12am

    @Grammar Police
    One thing I am sure of is that a “no” vote means we’re stuck with FPTP for another generation, as “there is no appetite for change”.
    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    This seems to be a common ‘psychical’ prediction that is used perhaps for properganda purposes. There is no real evidence for this at all. I remember the same sort of ‘psychic’ certainty along the lines of ‘if we dont have a proper coalition with the Tories they will be so far ahead by October they will simply call another election’ . There is never an appetite for change per se but an appetite for improvement . The failure of a poorishelectoral system will not necesserily prevent the introduction of a good one. As for the Lid dems not benititing from AV … you well know that few people will put Con Lab Lib as their preferences and until recently at least few would have put Lab Con Lib. I am not going to pretend to be psychic but with all other things remaining equal AV has an undoubted tendancy to assist a centre or even a centre right party such as the Lib dems currently are.

  • Man on the Bus 6th Jan '11 - 1:02am

    “there is absolutely no evidence that the Lib Dems would particularly benefit from AV”

    Apart from every single study that’s ever been done, that is.

    Obviously AV benefits centre parties, or parties perceived as such. Of course, there may come a time when the Lib Dems have crawled so far up the arse of the Tory party that they will no longer benefit from AV, but I suspect that’s not what you were getting at …

  • Andrew Suffield 6th Jan '11 - 8:09am

    Apart from every single study that’s ever been done, that is.

    Citation needed.

    (I’ve seen quite a few and they all said very different things to this)

    Obviously AV benefits centre parties

    That is neither obvious nor correct. Overall it tends to benefit centre voters (the same as FPTP, because they both drop votes from outliers), but for parties it tends to benefit the largest party that isn’t hated by most of the voters.

    That’s pretty similar to the status quo, except that it becomes much easier to unelect an unpopular MP even if they have an FPTP “majority” of some 30% of the voters.

  • Dave Dennis 6th Jan '11 - 9:30am

    The point which is missed in most analysis of the effect of AV is that it changes voting behaviour, as does any electoral system. Liberal Democrats are doing consistently worse in PR Party list systems as used in Euro elections and for the GLA in London, than in any other system. This is probably because the party list system is less influenced by the popularity of local candidates of ward based Focus campaigns.

    In most of the South West the Lib Dem vote has been boosted by anti-Tory tactical voting, yet under AV people could vote Labour or Green for first preference and Lib Dem second or third. If thy do, the ‘Lib Dem vote’ could fall. (Equally right wing nationalist voters might vote UKIP first and Tory second.)

    Its also not true to say that smaller parties would always lose out, the SNP for instance could well gain seats if Labour voters pefer them to Tories and vice versa, they just need to start in second place. Like the Lib Dems the SNP are basically a centre-left party, and SNP & Lib Dems have worked in coalition together at Council level. Why this doesn’t happen at Holyrood I don’t know, it seems Scottish Lib Dems prefer being part of a unionist consensus with Labour and the Tories. But remember AV will empower VOTERS not party leaders. I could forsee the SNP and the Greens winning a few more seats under AV, though under a PR system that would be a certainlty.

    The Jenkins commission said AV+ was th best system for the UK, I prefer STV, but at least if we get AV its a first step, it gets people used to preference voting, and we argue about how we do the ‘+’ bit later.

  • Man on the Bus 6th Jan '11 - 9:53am

    “I’ve seen quite a few and they all said very different things to this”

    Is there no limit to the idiotic things people will say?

    You’re really claiming that you’ve seen studies showing that AV WOULDN’T benefit the Lib Dems??? You think the Lib Dem campaign for a “yes” vote is an act of noble self-sacrifice?

    And how can anyone dispute that AV tends to benefit centre parties rather than parties of the right or left? It’s so obvious.

  • Dominic Curran 6th Jan '11 - 10:30am

    disregarding matt’s waaayyyy off-topic posting above this, i think that everyone interested in the debate around electoral reform should keep in mind the following sentence when thinking about May’s vote:

    Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    AV isn’t great, but it’s an improvement on FPTP. It will make MPs work harder as they’ll need support of more than 50% of their voters. It will reduce the number of safe seats, where most of the dodgy expenses claims took place. It will show the Daily Mail-reading Tory buffoons that there is a progressive voice in this country, and that we won’t accept their crap any longer. How’s that for starters?

  • Andrew Purches 6th Jan '11 - 11:00am

    AV is,I suppose a start, but why oh why is it not being proposed for local elections as well? If we are to adopt such a system,then logic would dictate surely that all elections,National and LOcal use the same procedure. The electoral law reformers must have been napping when the terms of this proposed legislation were drawn up.
    What I cannot tolerate though is the reduction in number of constituencies. If any change is deemed necessary then perhaps we need more,particularly so if A.V is to be adopted. It makes a mockery of the localism agenda, and what is more,the gerrymandering that will result from the planned reduction in constituencies can only benefit the Tories at the expense of the Lib Dems.

  • Dominic Curran 6th Jan '11 - 1:15pm

    @ matt

    thanks for clarifying your post. it made more sense once i realised that i should have read more clearly what it was in response to!

    however, i must agree with dan – while your point that no one is entirely clean is quite true, from the reading that i’ve done it does seem that those with safer seats appear to have been more willing to abuse the expenses system. i think that AV will reduce the ‘safeness’ of seats, which to me is a good argument (but by no means the decisive one) in favour of the change.

    it is a valid debating point to note that supporters of the status quo also seem to have been disproportionately the worst expenses abusers. it is less of a point that some who have also fiddled expenses are in favour of a system that makes it harder for them to do so with impunity. in fact i think it’s a feather in their cap that they want to make life harder for them (in that sense)!

  • “98.4% of the public’s votes made no difference to the result.”

    What an utterly ridiculous thing to say, you might as well claim that only one voter needed to turn up in each constituency and vote for whoever won.

    Under any system a large number of votes will always, in effect, cancel each other out leaving only a minority of the votes cast actually leading to a change between the various alternate outcomes. That however doesn’t mean the other votes have no value, since it doesn’t matter who casts the votes that change the outcome and we cannot predict said outcome in advance. These are the very principles of electoral democracy, why is it a reason against FPTP and for AV?

  • Keith in Bristol 10th Jan '11 - 1:55pm

    @Steve Way
    “@Paul Griffiths
    “In which parallel universe?

    FPTP or AV. Stop day-dreaming and pick one.”

    In the parallel universe that managed to get it for Scottish and Welsh and even euro elections. you know the one where Lib Dem MP’s didn’t vote against it being on the referendum paper.”

    It’s hard to fault Lib Dem MPs for voting against what would have been a wrecking amendment. Had the referendum paper included the STV option, Tory MPs and Peers would justifiably have been able to vote down the entire Bill – with a little help from the Opposition – on the grounds that it was not what they’d agreed to in the coalition agreement document.

    And it’s not really comparing apples with apples when you talk about Scottish, Welsh and EP elections – for the simple reason that Governments and Parliaments are far keener on reforming institutions external to themselves than exercising introspection. That’s why Lords reform is resisted most strongly by the Lords – and why reform of the Commons has been no better than “slow and incremental change” over the last 180 years or so. To top it off, with Scotland and Wales, they had a blank sheet. (And people don’t really get excited about the EP, for all that it’s a terrible voting system we use for electing MEPs.)

    That’s politics for you.

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