The 100-plus Labour MPs publicly opposing electoral reform

Poor Ed Miliband. In his first speech to the Labour party conference he tried his valiant best to show that Labour had changed, that it was a party which could re-claim the progressive liberalism it so happily junked in the Blair/Brown years.

No more ID cards, detention without trial, control orders etc — so said Ed. And yes to electoral reform in the shape of the alternative vote — so said Ed.

Unfortunately for Ed, not many of his MPs are listening to him. Today, the No2AV campaign proudly announced that over 100 of Labour’s 257 MPs would be opposing electoral reform in the May referendum: you can read the list here, re-printed for the benefit of posterity below.

It’s only fair to note that Ed is not totally alone in the Labour party in continuing to back electoral reform — there is a Labour Yes! campaign here, and eight of the shadow cabinet are reported to favour sticking with their manifesto promise to introduce the alternative vote. But the lukewarmness of the Labour echelons show how shallow is their commitment to reforming the political system.

Here is the list of Labour MPs who believe the voters shouldn’t enjoy the choice of ranking their candidates in order of preference (except when it comes to Labour leadership elections, of course: that’s totally different):

    David Anderson, Blaydon
    Ian Austin, Dudley North
    Adrian Bailey, West Bromwich West
    Gordon Banks, Ochil and South Perthshire
    Margaret Beckett, Derby South
    Stuart Bell, Middlesbrough
    Joe Benton, Bootle
    Clive Betts, Sheffield South East
    Hazel Blears, Salford and Eccles
    David Blunkett, Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough
    Russell Brown, Dumfries and Galloway
    David Cairns, Inverclyde
    Ronnie Campbell, Blyth Valley
    Jenny Chapman, Darlington
    Katy Clark, North Ayrshire and Arran
    Tom Clarke, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill
    Ann Clwyd, Cynon Valley
    Vernon Coaker, Gedling
    David Crausby, Bolton North East
    Mary Creagh, Wakefield
    John Cryer, Leyton and Wanstead
    Jim Cunningham, Coventry South
    Margaret Curran, Glasgow East
    Simon Danczuk, Rochdale
    Ian Davidson, Glasgow South West
    Geraint Davies, Swansea West
    Jim Dobbin, Heywood and Middleton
    Thomas Docherty, Dunfermline and West Fife
    Brian H. Donohoe, Central Ayrshire
    Julie Elliott, Sunderland Central
    Louise Ellman, Liverpool, Riverside
    Natascha Engel, North East Derbyshire
    Chris Evans, Islwyn
    Jim Fitzpatrick, Poplar and Limehouse
    Robert Flello, Stoke-on-Trent South
    Caroline Flint, Don Valley
    Yvonne Fovargue, Makerfield
    Sheila Gilmore, Edinburgh East
    Pat Glass, North West Durham
    Mary Glindon, North Tyneside
    Paul Goggins, Wythenshawe and Sale East
    Tom Greatrex, Rutherglen and Hamilton West
    Kate Green, Stretford and Urmston
    Andrew Gwynne, Denton and Reddish
    David Hamilton, Midlothian
    Tom Harris, Glasgow South
    John Healey, Wentworth and Dearne
    Mark Hendrick, Preston
    Stephen Hepburn, Jarrow
    David Heyes, Ashton-under-Lyne
    Meg Hillier, Hackney South and Shoreditch
    Julie Hilling, Bolton West Joan Walley, Stoke-on-Trent North
    Margaret Hodge, Barking Dave Watts, St Helens North
    Sharon Hodgson, Washington and Sunderland West
    Jim Hood, Lanark and Hamilton East
    Kelvin Hopkins, Luton North
    George Howarth, Knowsley
    Lindsay Hoyle, Chorley
    Tristram Hunt, Stoke-on-Trent Central
    Cathy Jamieson, Kilmarnock and Loudoun
    Diana Johnson, Kingston upon Hull North
    Helen Jones, Warrington North
    Kevan Jones, North Durham
    Eric Joyce, Falkirk
    Gerald Kaufman, Manchester, Gorton
    Alan Keen, Feltham and Heston
    Ian Lavery, Wansbeck
    Ivan Lewis, Bury South
    Ian Lucas, Wrexham
    Denis MacShane, Rotherham
    Steve McCabe, Birmingham, Selly Oak
    Michael McCann, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow
    Siobhain McDonagh, Mitcham and Morden
    Alan Meale, Mansfield
    Ian Mearns, Gateshead
    Alun Michael, Cardiff South and Penarth
    Andrew Miller, Ellesmere Port and Neston
    Austin Mitchell, Great Grimsby
    Graeme Morrice, Livingston
    Grahame Morris, Easington
    George Mudie, Leeds East
    Meg Munn, Sheffield, Heeley
    Paul Murphy, Torfaen
    Ian Murray, Edinburgh South
    Fiona O’Donnell, East Lothian
    Albert Owen, Ynys Môn
    Toby Perkins, Chesterfield
    Yasmin Qureshi, Bolton South East
    Rachel Reeves, Leeds West
    Linda Riordan, Halifax
    John Robertson, Glasgow North West
    Frank Roy, Motherwell and Wishaw
    Barry Sheerman, Huddersfield
    Jim Sheridan, Paisley and Renfrewshire North
    Gavin Shuker, Luton South
    Dennis Skinner, Bolsover
    Angela Smith, Penistone and Stocksbridge
    Nick Smith, Blaenau Gwent
    John Spellar, Warley
    Graham Stringer, Blackley and Broughton
    Gisela Stuart, Birmingham, Edgbaston
    Gerry Sutcliffe, Bradford South
    Mark Tami, Alyn and Deeside
    Emily Thornberry, Islington South and Finsbury
    Karl Turner, Kingston upon Hull East
    Derek Twigg, Halton
    Keith Vaz, Leicester East
    Chris Williamson, Derby North
    Phil Wilson, Sedgefield
    David Winnick, Walsall North
    David Wright, Telford
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  • perhaps the 100 lab mps feel as I do.
    The lib dems don,t deserve any rewards for the way they have treated all of us who live in this country.

  • I don’t think that the Lib Dems are really in much of a position to talk about divisions in other parties right now.

    That said, I honestly think that too much is being made of ‘unity’ on AV. The stark reality is that, regardless of party, this is one issue where people can make their own minds up. For my part, I simply could not vote for AV – I would hope that no one would think the less of me for that.

    Let the campaign go on and let people, outside of party, decide.

  • Man on the Bus 30th Dec '10 - 8:36pm

    “Dara, why could you not vote for AV?
    And yes, I absolutely think less of you for it.”

    Absolutely! Even before hearing why …

  • I’m a Labour supporter who believes in PR (as did the late Robin Cook), but I don’t believe in AV. I was astonished when the Liberal Democrats capitulated so easily on their ‘red line’ of PR before entering the coalition, because AV is nothing like PR. Firstly, I don’t see why those who support smaller parties should in effect have two votes. Secondly, as a Labour supporter, I don’t any longer – for the moment at least – have another party to whom I want to give a second preference (except perhaps the Greens). I’m not proud of it, but I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I will get some satisfaction at seeing AV fail just to give Clegg a big kick up the backside, with the added bonus that it might precipitate the end of this hideous coalition where decent Lib Dems have been hung out to dry by the Tories.

    Perhaps the most important questions we should be asking are:-
    1. If the AV referendum is lost, will that be the end of any prospects for electoral reform?
    2. If the AV referendum is won, will that help or hinder moves to PR in the future?

    In the meantime, I intend to vote against AV, whatever Ed Miliband says, unless someone can convince me to do otherwise, but I’d like to wish all contributors to this excellent site a Happy New Year, whatever their political persuasion.

  • I find it difficult to understand why anyone would vote against a fairer voting system ‘because it would reward the Liberal Democrats’. I thought it was rewarding the voters by giving everyone a greater say in who should represent them.

  • Can you print the Tory NO VOTE MPs – after all you are in Coalition with them. I also seem to remember that AV wasn’t in either the LibDem or Tory Manifestos and that it only emerged out of sordid coalition horse-trading – so much for democracy.

    Labour did have AV in its Manifesto but surely any objective analysis would see that AV’s gerrymandered joining to odious legislation designed to cut Labour Parliamentary seats means that Labour MPs aren’t going to be keen to support it even if previously neutral. There is the consolation of course that it looks as though gerrymandering will become cleggmandering with the LibDems suffering most from the new legislation.

    I also wonder at the Westminster Village elitism contained in the article about denying voter’s choice – I realise it must be hurting to see AV disappear down the plughole but the voters will make the final decision and not MPs no matter of which colour.

    I realise that some LibDems may have problems with issues of principle but this is one of these issues and a lot of MPs will vote according to conscience. I would also be amazed at any Nortghern Ireland, Scottish or Welsh MPs who supported AV purely because of the disdain with which their election were treated by the LibDems.

    There are side issues which come into play such as having seen the kind of policies that the ConLib coalition throws up, that is good enough reason to prevent coalition government becoming the norm which would be assisted by AV.

    I agree with one of the other posters that there may be an element of punishing the LibDems for their support of the savage Tory ideological cuts. I would expect the electorate to also grab their chance to kick-ass as well.

    I personally would probably have gone down the route of supporting AV but in view the actions of LibDem MPs I believe their party is currently right of centre with a fast-declining elelent of social liberalism. As such I will vote NO because I have no wish to increase the power of such a party.

  • As every Lib Dem Minister has used the excuse that they did not win the election therefore the manifesto does not count then it is a bit hypocritical to raise this….

    Perhaps having seen the way the Lib dem ministers have become Tory lackies will have persuaded some not to back it.

    Perhaps it is the way Clegg pushed the bill through including boundary changes and equalising of constituencies designed to be anti Labour.

    Perhaps it is the fact that the perfectly reasonable objections raised to the date (which may make the results statistically skewed) were ignored.

    Perhaps it is the fact that it is a poor system that is not truly proportional.

    Perhaps it is the constant talk of pacts and luke warm campaign to help coalition partners.

    Perhaps it is that being given a free vote on the issue they wish to make their minds up individually.

    Perhaps it is being constantly attacked and viewed as the enemy by the Lib Dems they have decided to attack back by removing support from a Lib Dem project.

    In short perhaps, as I have stated many times on this blog, attempting to work with them in the run up to the vote would have given Milliband a better chance of bringing more on board. It is a referendum not a party political matter. There would have been AV had the Lib Dems decided to jon a Labour led coalition (not that I supported that). As it is the chance will be lost for a generation.

  • @roger
    “I find it difficult to understand why anyone would vote against a fairer voting system ‘because it would reward the Liberal Democrats’.”

    Sorry but many just don’t see it as a fairer system.

  • TheContinentalOp 30th Dec '10 - 9:07pm

    “….their manifesto promise to introduce the alternative vote…”

    The manifesto promise was to hold a referendum on AV. There’s only one party I can see breaking manifesto promises on PR. But I guess you guys have lost count of broken promises by now.

  • “their manifesto promise to introduce the alternative vote”

    @ContinentalOp is correct to be clear it said..

    “To ensure that every MP is supported by the majority of their constituents voting at each election, we will hold a referendum on introducing the Alternative Vote for elections to the House of Commons.”

    They also promised to include on the same day a referendum on an elected second chamber.

  • As TheContinentalOp says, the manifesto commitment was for an AV referendum. In which case we were always going to have some Labour MPs supporting and campaigning for or against AV. I’m pretty sure this was widely known, so is this a deliberate attempt to re-write history?

  • @roger

    I find it difficult to understand why Lib Dem MPs would block allowing the electorate to have a referendum on Proportional Representation – but that’s what Lib Dem MPs did last October.

  • Ed The Snapper 30th Dec '10 - 10:36pm

    I didn’t think it was Labour policy to support AV. I thought it was Labour policy to have a referendum on AV. Therefore, it is up to inidvidual MPs to decide whether or not to support AV. I think it is better that MPs can take an independent stance on this issue rather than being whipped into supporting it. How many Tories support AV? Does anyone have a list?

  • “And yes to electoral reform in the shape of the alternative vote — so said Ed.”

    Again an innaccurate potryal of what he said which was..

    “So we need to reform our House of Commons and I support changing our voting system and will vote yes in the referendum on AV.”

    He did not pledge to whip his MP’s to do so. It was always to be a free campaign much as they promised were there ever to be a Euro referendum. They’ve broken many promises but not on this…

    The more I re-read this piece the more it smacks of that worst of Labour sins, spin. If you really want grass roots Labour activists to support the AV campaign (and it’s them that will help by knocking doors not the MP’s) then perhaps an attempt to accurately portray the views of both their leader and their MP’s (the majority of whom have not signed up to the NO camp).

    And no I’m not a Labour troll they lost my vote years ago and have yet to come anywhere near regaining it.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 30th Dec '10 - 10:57pm

    Yeah, as others have said the manifesto pledge was to have a referendum, not to vote ‘Yes’ in it.

    I don’t think this is bad news for AV’s chances, actually. My little group of Labour activists have taken this as a shot in the arm- we won’t be campaigning for a Yes thinking all it will do is give Clegg a boost and prevent a Lib-Con merger, we’ll be campaigning for a Yes thinking it will help Ed see down those who oppose him in the party and strengthen his position.

  • Here is the list of Lib Dem MPs who didn’t believe voters should be given the chance of Proportional Representation:

    Alexander, rh Danny
    Baker, Norman
    Beith, rh Sir Alan
    Browne, Mr Jeremy
    Burstow, Paul
    Burt, Lorely
    Cable, rh Vince
    Clegg, rh Mr Nick
    Foster, Mr Don
    Hancock, Mr Mike
    Laws, rh Mr David
    Stunell, Andrew
    Swinson, Jo
    Webb, Steve
    Williams, Stephen
    Willott, Jenny

    On 12th October 2010, they blocked a referendum on PR.

  • Of course Liberal Democrats would like an electoral system that will increase the chances of them gaining more seats and hung parliaments, do you think the electorate are stupid; they understand AV or PR will most likely mean more coalitions…
    As for better representation, you mean like the last election where Liberal Democrats made certain promises and then after the election blatantly broke them, you actually call that representing the people who voted for Liberal Democrats …

    I am sorry but that is why the AV referendum will most likely be NO, telling lies to the electorate is bad for business and the public will not willing give Liberal Democrats another chance for a long, long time.

    So with Conservatives and half of Labour campaigning for a no vote, and the electorate still stinging after the Liberal Democrats betrayed them, you honestly think there will be a yes vote?
    I will vote no, along with most of the students and their families who I think will be voting at the local elections to let Liberal Democrats know how far they got it wrong and whilst they are there No on the referendum, but all that is just a guess.

    I still don’t think Liberal Democrats understand how angry people feel, and the only way people can show that anger is at the ballot box, and the other thing is it is in MAY just after well over 80,000 just hit the unemployment queue, it is not just the 80,000 it is all those family and friends who suddenly start thinking about their own comfort levels

  • @Dan Falchkov
    The Labour Manifesto said…

    “To ensure that every MP is supported by the majority of their constituents voting at each election, we will hold a referendum on introducing the Alternative Vote for elections to the House of Commons.”

    They did not promise to whip the vote hence no betrayal.

    Believe it or not some people just don’t agree with AV….

  • “So does the proportion of Labour MPs breaking a manifesto commitment on this equal that of the Lib Dems who supposedly did the same on tuition fees?”

    Those Labour MPs are NOT breaking a commitment. The manifesto promise was to hold a referendum, it did not commit Labour MPs to vote in favour of AV.

    Irrespective of what was in their manifesto, all those Lib Dem MPs who voted for the tuition fee rise were reneging on personal pledges.

  • There seems to be many inaccurate arguments flying about AV. Firstly, I have heard the argument, “It doesn’t lead to coalitions and hung parliaments because in Australia there has only been like 1 hung parliament in over 50 years (2010).” This argument is NOT accurate. Australia is a Two Party System, where there are two parties: Labour and the National/Liberal Coalition. The Greens only have 1 seat, and there are about 4 independent MPs. This is in contrast to the UK, where we live in a Two and a Half Party System. The Lib Dems come second in over 100 seats, possibly as many as 200 seats. Thus they will be in the top 2 in a range of seats, and they will get the overwhelming number of transfers from Lab in Tory-Lib marginals and from Tories in Lab-Lib marginals, only to keep the other party out. The last election under AV would have made the Parliament more hung than other FPTP. However, it does not benefit minor parties, for one needs to be in the top 2 to be elected, and the Greens/UKIP/BNP etc were not in the top 2 to be elected in any but the one seat they won (Brighton Pavillion). In fact, in every single election since the Lib Dems were formed (i.e. since 1992), the Lib Dems would have got MORE seats than they would have under FPTP, but no other smaller party would have got more seats. The 1992 election would also have resulted in a Hung Parliament.

    Secondly, AV discriminates against people who are disliked rather than who are liked. It allows for people to vote to keep out a candidate. This means it will make election campaigns even less important policy wise, since no party leader will want to say anything that annoys a small, but potentially, significant proportion of the electorate. Manifestos will be less policy driven and more personality driven, and it will make it even harder for people to hold the government to account.

    I see no point in changing from FPTP to AV for it does nothing than simply benefit the Lib Dems at the expense of Labour and the Conservatives. Whilst Clegg may state that coalition works, I disagree. Whilst it may have been relatively easy to ensure that the government stays together, it leads to policies being decided in smoke filled rooms. Since AV will simply raise the number of Lib Dem MPs holding their vote share constant, it will make the likelihood of coaliitons greater. Under FPTP at least you get the thev government that about a third of the electorate voted for. With AV, you may get a government that no one voted for due to the number of policy concessions made by the coalition parties.

  • At least one of those Labour MPs – Thomas Docherty, Dunfermline & West Fife – publicly supported a referendum on AV both during and just after the election (there’s an article in the local press where he did this, if I can find it) so he, for one, is certainly reversing a personal pledge which he made.

  • In any case, whatever people think about the coalition and the Lib Dems, Labour MPs are hardly seen in much more of a positive light. To be honest, both campaigns would probably do better not having any MP support it!

  • @Andrew Tennant
    “Yet another example of Labour abandoning what voters think they stand for, acting selfishly and dishonestly, and no-one being a bit surprised.”

    I’m no fan of Labour, but the facts of this piece, and your post, are simply wrong. “Labour” have not acted selfishly or dishonestly in this matter (they have in many others). Unlike Clegg with Tuition fees etc, Milliband has reiterated his intention to vote for AV and to campaign for the Yes campaign. Neither Brown before him, nor Milliband could have united his party behind one view on this as the divisions have always been there, and been public.

    Even if some MP’s have altered their opinion of AV thee are a number of reasons not to support it which have been made by many here. My own view is that this was entirely predictable when Clegg (probably at Camerons urging) tied other issues into the Bill which were clearly attacks of Labour. This links the issues and gives Cameron his goal of splitting those who could have united to defeat his position.

    Contrast this with the Lib dems whose leadership have clearly abandoned many of the principles I thought they stood for when they gained my vote last May.

  • David from Ealing 31st Dec '10 - 9:40am

    So far as I can see, Dara still hasn’t told us the reason for his opposition to AV.

  • @Andrew Tennant
    Clearly you did not read my post. I am no fan of Labour, but I am also no fan of innacurate spin.

    I don’t defend them, I merely point out they are not being hypocritical as a party, some individual MP’s may be, but not the entity that is Labour. In fact they offered a referendum that went further by including a vote on an elected Lords.

    I have no opinion of Milliband as an alternative PM, it’s too soon. But I’m pretty sure he will not be able to do enough to get my vote.

    As to the reasons against AV…..

    1. It’s not proportional.
    2. It will not help real minority parties such as the Greens and UKIP get the representation their voters deserve. (and no I don’t support either of these)
    3. Peoples votes get counted twice, STV is the answer get a referendum on that and I’ll be knocking doors for the yes campaign.

    And they’re just off the top of my head.

    As to relying on “hate” etc. If you had read any of my previous posts regarding relationships with the Labour party you would note that I have been predicting this and stating that more needs to be done to reach out to Labour moderates in order to build bridges where similarities in approach and policy exist.

    The Lib Dems, having spent years telling of the benefits of plural politics, are becoming increasingly tribal. Perhaps that’s what power does. Attacking Milliband for breaking a manifesto commitment, when he has done no such thing, will only increase this.

    Can you not see that it is those that will support reform that need to be reached out to, not those that are against it that need to be attacked. After all Lib Dem Ministers sit round the cabinet table, and never criticise in public, some of the most right wing politicians this Country has seen in many years.

  • Don’t we have PR now? 10% of seats, 10% in the polls….

  • “The Lib Dem’s support it because they expect to pick up second preferences from Labour in Tory seats and vice-versa”

    If that is the people’s preference then why not?

  • Keith in Bristol 31st Dec '10 - 12:39pm

    Steve Way – if an argument of yours against AV is that “people’s votes get counted twice” (actually, everyone’s votes get counted the same number of times), then how can you possibly cite STV as a solution? STV is also a system of instant-runoff preferential voting – but with multi-member seats. Further, unless you had *very large* multi-member seats, the chances are that STV wouldn’t help the Greens or UKIP much either, on current performance.

    Don’t get me wrong – I think STV would be preferable to AV – but the reasons you cite are not good ones for supporting STV and opposing AV.

  • Jeez what is it with some of you guys, you got the referendum on AV and that was your choice…

    Now because the big boys don’t want to play you sit on the stool and cry…

    Why the hell should Conservatives or Labour force the MPs to support a voting system that is only going to take seats away from them, it is only to the advantage of Liberal Democrats, it has no advantage to any other party.

    As I have said before, you were given a chance, and have shown the electorate the true face of Liberal Democrats maybe you should ask why the majority of government will oppose the AV vote instead of keep bleating about Labour inaccurately; you are the government not Labour.

    The public will only see and hear what the Government is doing, and Liberal Democrats are in government or have you forgotten in your hate for Labour, it is quite amusing to watch.

  • @Keith in Bristol
    As I said those reasons were just off the top of my head but…

    UKIP got 3.1% of the popular vote which would lead to 20 seats under True PR
    Greens got 0.96 of the popular vote which would lead to 6 seats under True PR

    Using some form of STV, accepting their would need to be a regional element this should still lead to their being some representation, after all it does in Euro elections…

    Of course the BNP would also be represented, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. they would be shown to be the idiots they clearly are…

  • In the main a list of non-entities and people whose main claim to fame is kyboshing the Lib-Lab minority government plan in May (Tom Harris, Diana Johnson, Graham Stringer and, of course, David Blunkett. But no eg Andy Burnham or Kate Hoey- are there more to follow?)
    However, I’m disappointed to see the very credible Rachel Reeves, Paul Murphy, Denis MacShane and Austin Mitchell there. I hope Mitchell hasn’t been influenced by the fact that he secured less than 33% of the Grimsby vote in May.
    Ironic that he was once sacked for appearing on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News. How times have changed on the centre-left!

  • @ Andrew Tennant

    Unfortunately, you’ve got your facts completely wrong. Before the election, Chris Huhne said of the proposal for a referendum on the Alternative Vote: “… it is not a proportional system and it does not give voters real power. Only the Single Transferable Vote …would abolish MPs’ meal tickets for life, and we will fight to amend this proposal to give people a real choice for a more significant change.”

    But Lib Dem MPs didn’t fight to amend the proposal when the opportunity arose – perversely, they blocked the amendment. One Green MP, one Conservative MP and one Labour MP, who all believe in Proportional Representation, gave the House of Commons what Nick Clegg described before the election as the “once-in-a generation opportunity” to give voters the choice on a PR voting system.

    Lib Dem MPs blew it. The “once-in-a-generation opportunity” was missed.

  • Andrew Tennant – that bit about thinking less was a pretty undignified shot. I would hope that the yes campaign will be rather less tribal. That being said – I will not vote for AV because it fails to resolve just about every problem with the current system whilst while producing unpalatable side effects.

    AV in itself will not achieve proportional or even per se fairer representation
    AV does not ensure a minority party gets even one seat in Parliament, unlike it has to be said FPTP
    AV does not end majority governments elected on a minority of vote, nor does it stop “landslide” elections (when a party gets a large majority based on a minority of votes)
    AV is over-sensitive to boundary changes and constituency sizes (gerrymandering)

    So we’ll still see the big problems, but what is worse is that compared to FPTP:

    AV runs the big risk of giving minority parties potentially significant electoral power with no accountability. This is a problem with PR too. Granted, this can happen with FPTP too.
    AV’s tactial voting nature might well produce what in other countries are called “drone voters” copying party-authorized preference lists in the polling booths
    AV could very easiy result in more pronounced landslide elections
    AV does not abolish safe seats, and for that matter could make current marginals safer where second preferences are strong enough. Why second preferences for one party should strengthen another is beyond me.

    Furthermore there is are real problem with AV that it lacks monotinicity – it is possible (and indeed some models have suggested worryingly likely, especially where there are multiple candidates) for an increase in first-preference support for a candidate to make it LESS likely that they get elected (because of where that support comes from and how the subsequent second preferences pan out). For me, that this possibility even exists is makes a no vote in a referendum the only option.

    Although perhaps theoretical, there is a chance that AV effectively gives some people a plural vote. A true runoff system fixes this, as in France, where everyone gets to vote in the second round for one of the top two candidates from the first. Where someone gets 50%, all other votes are not countes/reordered where in votes where there is no 50% candidate, the second vote comes into play. Why should I only have one preference counted, but the next constituence over gets two preferences affecting the outcome?

    Lastly, it is not clear to me why somebody’s second preference should carry equal weight to someone else’s first, that to me seems totally wrong.

    AV seems designed to lock in a third party kingmaker, like the German FDP of the 1970s- 1990s. Indeed, the cynic in me wonders if this is why Nick Clegg had a conversion from PR to AV so quickly.

    I would also add, that there seems to be an article of faith that AV will one day lead to STV. I see no evidence for this.

    Now – those are my reasons. If you think less of me, well that is sad. But for now, how about reasons rather than cheap shots?

  • DavidFromEaling –

    So far as I can see, you have not set out the case for AV.

  • Georrrey Payne –

    ‘If you vote against AV then by default you are voting in favour of the current FPTP system.’

    No – you do not get to tell me what my motives and preferences are. I will vote no because, for the reasons I give above, I hold FPTP to be preferable to FPTP.

    ‘This is a system which is highly disproportionate,’

    Yes, to a point.

    ‘which encourages tactical voting,’

    AV does this too. And for that matter I can not see how STV would abolish the mythic tactical vote.

    ‘and which provides an illusion of 2 party politics which has long been rejected by the electorate for many decades.’

    FPTP produces hung councils. And for that matter put the Lib Dems in government, so I don’t really see this 2 party point.

  • @Geoffrey Payne
    “If you vote against AV then by default you are voting in favour of the current FPTP system”

    Too simplistic I’m afraid. There was an amendment that would have given people the option to select which method they preferred. It was voted down by, amongst others, Lib Dem MP’s.

    Although I will listen to reasoned arguments, at this stage I will vote against AV as I am not convinced it is any fairer than FPTP. You mention tactical voting, I think AV has the chance to allow coalitions to encourage this and I do not trust Clegg or Cameron enough no to do so.

    It’s a poor referendum, it was contained within a poor Bill and if some of the comments and innaccurate posts on this web site are to be believed will descend into a tribal bun fight.

    I will not vote for a change unless I believe it is a genuine progression.

  • “The whole reason why there is more support in Labour for electoral reform than the Tories is because the current voting system turned Labour into an irrelevance in large swathes of South East England.”

    On the basis of that argument, shouldn’t the Tories be in favour of electoral reform? Aren’t they largely irrelevant in North East England and completely irrelevant in Scotland??

  • @Dara
    STV would reduce tactical voting to a minimum as everyone’s vote counts. In my adult life I have moved around the country considerably (ex servicemen) and I have generally lived in so called safe seats of all three flavours. I want my vote to count and not only if my second choice happens to push someone over the magical 50% or my first choice gets enough second preference votes.

  • Steve Way –

    ‘I have generally lived in so called safe seats of all three flavours.’

    I have never been all that persuaded by this idea of safe seats. Could it not be simply that the seat being safe is a reflection of what the voters want. I live in Watford – would anyone call Watford a, ‘safe Lib Dem mayoralty,’ and see it as a bad thing. I would add here that the way Dorothy Thornhill has created a personal political machine is not a good advert for elected mayors, but that is for another day.

    ‘I want my vote to count and not only if my second choice happens to push someone over the magical 50% or my first choice gets enough second preference votes.’

    Or put another way, as a wise man once said – AV is a miserable little compromise.

  • @Geoffrey Payne

    Like others before you on this and the other thread, you make too many assumptions. For me, and I’m sure many others, it has nothing to do with giving Nick Clegg a “good kick up the backside.” That hadn’t occurred to me – and I’m not sure it would do any good.

    I will be voting against AV because I don’t believe it is an improvement over FPP – just different – and I’d rather the the considerable pressure that now exists for proper Proportional Representation is maintained. By voting ‘No,’ I think I will doing Lib Dems a favour, not kicking them up the backside, though it doesn’t feature in arriving at my decision.

    My view can be summarised as follows:

    Vote YES, and kiss goodbye to PR for at least a generation.

    Vote NO and PR will be achieved within five years.

  • Keith in Bristol 31st Dec '10 - 4:48pm

    @Steve – I take your point about having some sort of regional top-up system (though that’s not a given, with STV), and honestly I can understand why AV isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Heck, it isn’t my favourite system either.

    On another point you made (in this or another blog entry), it’s not set in stone that party A will get party B’s transfer votes, or vice versa. Political landscapes change. The mere introduction of AV could change them still further. What AV does, in some small way, is offer voters more choice – so that they can vote with their conscience but still contribute towards the election of an acceptable candidate. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean a Lib Dem candidate. Who knows, by 2015, the Lib Dems might all be considered unacceptable. Maybe the Greens will get out of their eco-socialist funk, move towards the centre ground and take their place. Anything can happen.)

    I have to put it to you, though, that the biggest obstacle to any kind of electoral reform right now is the fact that the present system has hung around for so long. And that obstacle won’t get any smaller if AV is rejected.

    I don’t agree with RichardSM, above. If we vote Yes, all that shows is that more people prefer AV over the status quo. It doesn’t mean we endorse AV as the best system of all time. It’s not; it’s merely (slightly) better than FPTP.

    But if we vote No, it will be upheld as vindication of the status quo – and any chance of electoral reform (within my lifetime, probably) will be gone. It will be a gift to the (small-c) conservative elements who see any change in the status quo as a threat. The Tories will be well shot of it; the Lib Dems will be irrelevant anyway; and Labour will quietly shelve the whole notion of electoral reform.

    That’s the reality, and deep down I think you know it.

    Established traditions are the hardest to overturn. That’s why this vote is so important. It will be easier, not harder, to argue the case for further electoral reform once that Rubicon has been crossed, once the sacred cow of FPTP has been slain. I doubt you’d have the likes of Eleanor Laing arguing as passionately for retaining AV in 2020 or 2025 as she has been arguing for keeping FPTP. There wouldn’t be the kind of attachment to it that there is to the existing system. We need to rip that comfort-blanket away.

    Right now, I sincerely believe that voting Yes to AV is the only way of getting there – for all its flaws. Not because Nick Clegg says so. **** him, and the Lib Dems. This isn’t about them. It’s more important than they are.

  • Keith in Bristol –

    ‘Right now, I sincerely believe that voting Yes to AV is the only way of getting there – for all its flaws.’

    With respect (and I do mean that), do you have any evidence for this? I keep hearing this argument repeated that somehow the route to PR runs via AV, but do you know of any other country where this has happened. The French experience seems to me to suggest the opposite.

  • Jonathan M. 3rd Jan '11 - 10:33am

    FWIW, as a committed supporter of a fairer voting system, I’m with Keith in Bristol. I’m simply not convinced by most of the naysayers semantic games. It is quite plausible that the LDs will have less MPs at the next election and the Greens more than the one they hold under AV, as an example.

    But, in honesty, I too confess my prejudice. I don’t like one-party or two-party systems. And I could barely conceal my contempt when I saw some familiar names amongst the Lab ‘No’ supporting MPs: old boring crusty fogies like Skinner, Kaufmann, Beckett, Blunkett et al., mired as they are in the past.

    I won’t be voting since I now live in Australia, but I have yet to hear any convincing reasons to maintain FPTP, which, make no mistake, is what we’ll be stuck with for decades to come, if AV is introduced.

  • Jonathan M. 3rd Jan '11 - 10:35am

    Er….Freudian slip? No way, that last sentence should read ‘….if AV is NOT introduced’.

  • Keith in Bristol 5th Jan '11 - 1:54pm


    “With respect (and I do mean that), do you have any evidence for this? I keep hearing this argument repeated that somehow the route to PR runs via AV, but do you know of any other country where this has happened. The French experience seems to me to suggest the opposite.”

    Which French experience is that? France briefly had PR for its legislative assembly (introduced in 1985 to replace the two-round system, it was used in the 1986 election). It was extremely short-lived, though: it was abolished after Chirac became PM.

    And is there any evidence that voting No to AV is likely to bring about a PR revolution any sooner? That is, after all, what people appear to be claiming here. I simply don’t understand how one can draw that conclusion. The Lib Dems are likely out of the picture for a while, and I can’t see either of the two larger parties putting forward legislation to introduce PR for the Commons any time in the next generation or so if AV is defeated, can you? Turkeys and Christmas, my friend.

    To @matt: I disagree with your statement that AV is “not fairer than FPTP. I think it is, because it gives voters more choice.

    As for “why should {your} second preference carry the same weight as {my} first”, matt – it already does under FPTP. It’s called “tactical voting”. “Party/candidate X can’t win here” is a long-running and successful tactic to get people to vote for a second preference on the grounds that their ideal candidate can’t win in a particular ward or constituency. The only significant difference between FPTP and AV in this regard is that people can express their true choices.

    Regarding the comment “AV runs the big risk of giving minority parties potentially significant electoral power with no accountability”, I really don’t understand the basis for it.

    And as for your comment that “plural politics is not working”, the problem with that assessment is that you’re making that assessment based on an election result that was obtained under FPTP, from an election campaign that was fought on the basis of FPTP, by political parties that are all, in one way or another, the Frankenstinian step-children of FPTP. (Not least the Lib Dems, which party would probably not even [i]exist[/i] if we’d had AV before 1988 – though it could also apply to the Tories, for if we’d had AV back in the 1920s when it was first floated, there’s a fair chance that the National Liberals would have been able to continue as an independent political party for rather longer than it did.)

    One cannot conclude from all this, that an election campaign fought under a different set of rules with different premises and different outcomes by parties with different outlooks and expectations would also produce a scenario of dysfunctional plural politics.

    If, as you claim, AV made coalitions more likely, parties would have to be more up-front about that in their campaigns – macho posturing about what they’d do in single-party Government would no longer wash.

    And there’s nothing set in stone that the Lib Dems will even continue to exist under AV, let alone be in some sort of position of “permanent kingmaker”. That particular scenario contains its own antidote – as the Lib Dems are discovering right now, to their cost – though a collapse in popular support is but one antidote of many; a Grand Coalition is another, as is the rise of a fourth party or general political realignment.

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