Why I’ll be voting Yes to AV on 5th May: it’s all about choice

I will be voting ‘Yes’ to the alternative vote in the referendum on the 5th May. Here’s why.

For me, this referendum is all about choice. The ‘Yes’ campaign stands for giving voters greater choice — the choice to rank candidates standing for election according to our individual preference.

But, in fact, the ‘Yes’ campaign stands for more choice than just that. If you prefer, you don’t have to rank your candidates by preference. That’s right, under the alternative vote, you can express as much preference, or as little preference, as you choose:

  • If you love only one party — let’s for sake of argument, call that party the Liberal Democrats — you can quite simply mark a numeral ‘1’ on the ballot paper next to that party’s name. And, if you choose, you can leave it at that.
  • But if you hate just one party — let’s for sake of argument, call that party the BNP — you can ensure they don’t get elected by expressing your 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc preferences for other parties.
  • And if you’re a floating voter — let’s for sake of argument, call you a progressive, liberal, moderate voter — then you can express your preference for the parties you think best represent your views in your preferred order, perhaps Lib Dems ‘1’, and then any combination of Conservative/Labour/Green as ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’.

It’s a simple system, one which places control firmly in the hands of you, the voter.

The ‘No’ campaign wants to withhold that choice from you, to deny you the choice that the alternative vote offers. The ‘No’s want to boil down all your thoughts on politics, all the nuanced views you hold, all the arguments you’ve ever had with family and friends, to a single, crude cross against one party’s name.

It’s absurd that we as voters — with our increasing expectation of consumer choice, and of the responsiveness of institutions, private or public, to our aspirations — should have our only expression of political power trampled into such a blunt, meaningless anachronism as a single ‘X’.

The referendum campaign has, sadly, generated more heat than light. And nor should those of us who are voting ‘Yes’ heighten expectations unreasonably. Our politics will not be magically transformed overnight by a new voting system, even one that’s fairer than at present.

But it will improve things. It will remind the elites in power that we citizens value our vote. And it will give us all as much — or as little — choice as we individually want.

That’s why I’m voting ‘Yes’ on 5th May. I hope you will consider voting ‘Yes’, too.

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43 Comments

  • “this referendum is all about choice”
    We live in a form of democracy and I totally respect your right to vote how you please, I can even respect the reason why you came to that conclusion, but sadly I have a slightly different take on it.

    Where you see choice, I see restriction of choice and perhaps a move from a 2 party stranglehold to a 3 party stranglehold.

    We have already been reliably informed that AV can prevent extreme views coming to the fore, that is very convenient for politicians but may not be so good for democracy. There are certain things that should be remembered, giving people with extreme views the chance to sit in parliament actually exposes those ideas to a greater portion of the people (some may feel this is a bad idea but such exposure didn’t seem to help the BNP). Having something approaching a realistic chance of putting an MP in place may well act as a pressure valve that prevents extreme views turning into extreme actions.

    Also, “extreme” is a fairly relative term, many things considered extreme in the past are now mainstream, but if AV had been in operation when the ideas started they may have got nowhere.

    That plus the fact that not much really changes is the reason why I have now decided that I’m going for no – unless something spectacular happens, in which case I may change my mind 😉

  • It is certainly odd that a move to AV can be presented both as giving voters a “greater choice” and as reducing the likelihood of any representation at all for those who vote for minority parties of the right or left. But of course part of the “Yes” argument has always been that it’s beneficial for voters to be able somehow to register their first preference, even if that preference has no bearing at all on the result of the election.

    The problem is that if instead of looking at the individual voter in the polling booth, we look at how well the wishes of the electorate as a whole are represented, the projections indicate that on average AV would have produced _less_ proportional representation than FPTP did – at least over the last decade and a half. To my mind, that makes it a less fair system, not a fairer one – and on that wider view, a system that restricts, rather than enhancing, the ability of the electorate to choose its representatives.

  • LondonLiberal 28th Apr '11 - 12:35pm

    I’ve found this way of explaing AV pretty helpful in discussions with people:

    AV is when someone gets a round in in the pub and when they ask what you want you say ‘i’ll have a real ale, if they don’t have that then a guinness, and if not that, then a lager’, thus guaranteeing you at least have something to drink that you like.

    First past the post is like asking for real ale and your mate coming back with nothing for you cos they only had guinness or lager, but you weren’t allowed to choose them. So you sit there, sober and bored all night long.

    Which of the above would you prefer? (with apologies to those who don’t think you need to drink to have fun)

  • “AV is when someone gets a round in in the pub …”

    But of course it’s not at all like that, because people in a pub are choosing a different drink for each person, whereas in a parliamentary election tens of thousands of people are choosing a single person to represent them all.

  • ive already voted NO and am pleased that I did.

    The Liberal Democrats have already shown themselves to be deceitful in my opinion and unfit to govern.

    AV would result in more coalitions and allow power hungry Libdems to become King makers, without the accountability of Government.

  • “But if you hate just one party — let’s for sake of argument, call that party the BNP — you can ensure they don’t get elected by expressing your 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc preferences for other parties.”

    Hold up, for weeks we’ve been told that candidates will get the SUPPORT of over 50% of the electorate. I take it you now admit this is false and that some (non first preference) votes will be due to “hating” one party not supporting another….

    @London Liberal
    “thus guaranteeing you at least have something to drink that you like.”
    Not true, if AV was in place at the last election I would have voted Lib Dem, Green, Labour
    I got a Tory…..
    Meaning your drink would have been a pint of Cider !

  • Stuart Mitchell 28th Apr '11 - 6:15pm

    “But if you hate just one party — let’s for sake of argument, call that party the BNP — you can ensure they don’t get elected by expressing your 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc preferences for other parties.”

    Quite – AV would bring about an exponential increase in tactical, negative voting, which is one of its worst features.

    Ultimately, though I’m much troubled to be on the same side as Cameron and opposed to that nice Mr Miliband, it’s the one-person-one-vote factor that swings it for me. Every vote should have the same properties and the same weight; anything else doesn’t feel like democracy at all.

  • I will be voting Yes because AV puts a more powerful tool in the hands of the voter than FPTP does. We live in a very weak form of democracy with a political class determined to manage and frustrate the electorate rather than represent them. I don’t buy for a minute any of Yes campaigns specious arguments about expenses and making MP’s work
    harder and I loathe Clegg and all his works but that is not going make me vote to deny myself the chance to express my political preferences. Voting against AV is like a dog voting for a muzzle.

  • Andrew Suffield 28th Apr '11 - 7:57pm

    AV would bring about an exponential increase in tactical, negative voting

    “Tactical voting” has a specific meaning, you can’t just make one up like that. It is when you cast your vote in a way that does not directly represent your true preferences, in order to prevent an undesirable outcome.

    In the example you give, the voter is attempting to prevent an undesirable outcome, but they are also voting in a way that represents their true preferences: they have ranked all other parties above the one they dislike. That’s sincere voting, the exact opposite of tactical voting.

    Indeed, this is precisely the property which makes AV good. Under FPTP, you often have to vote tactically for somebody other than your first choice if you want to block the candidate that you dislike the most. Under AV this is no longer necessary, and you can simply rank the candidates in the order of your preferences.

  • Andrew Suffield 28th Apr '11 - 7:58pm

    Here’s a detailed discussion of tactical voting in various systems. AV is given its more normal name of “instant runoff voting” in this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactical_voting

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Apr '11 - 8:25pm

    matt

    The Liberal Democrats have already shown themselves to be deceitful in my opinion and unfit to govern.

    In what way? They did not win a majority in Parliament, so they could hardly implement their manifesto. They formed a coalition with the party which won the most seats, which is what they said they would do.

    AV would result in more coalitions and allow power hungry Libdems to become King makers, without the accountability of Government.

    In this case, they did not have the opportunity to be “King makers” because there were not enough Labour MPs for that to be a viable alternative. The alternatives were either a coalition or a minority Conservative government.

    As for “power hungry”, if you were a power hungry person would you join a party which is savagely discriminated against by the electoral system, so that to get elected under that party’s label you have to work much harder than you would to get elected under the label of the big two parties, and even then except in the rare case of a no majority party you are in opposition? A power-hungry person surely would not dream of joining the Liberal Democrats.


    ive already voted NO and am pleased that I did.

    You are presumably displeased with the Liberal Democrats because you feel they have not done enough to stop the Tory policies of this government, yet you vote for an electoral system whsoe supporters say the best thing about it is that it does just what you moan about – makes third parties weak and gives all power to one party even if it did not win over half the votes. So you vote for an electoral system whose effects are prceisely what you call the Liberal Democrats “deceitful” for doing.

    Look, isn’t this absolutely daft? If, as your support for FPTP suggests, you believe representation should be distorted so all power goes to the biggest party, shouldn’t you be PRAISING the Liberal Democrats for doing little to stop the Tories? The logic of your “No” vote is that you believe there should be a 100% Tory government, so therefore the only honest complaint you should be making about the Liberal Democrats is when they do something which weaknes true Tory policy.

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Apr '11 - 8:28pm

    Stuiart Mtchell

    Quite – AV would bring about an exponential increase in tactical, negative voting, which is one of its worst features.

    But that is just NOT TRUE. It enables people to vote honestly and no feel forced to vote tactically to avoid “splitting the vote” as FPTP does.

    Ultimately, though I’m much troubled to be on the same side as Cameron and opposed to that nice Mr Miliband, it’s the one-person-one-vote factor that swings it for me. Every vote should have the same properties and the same weight; anything else doesn’t feel like democracy at all.

    But if you are saying that is not the case with AV, it is just NOT TRUE. AV involves repeated rounds of counting in which EVERYONE’S VOTE IS COUNTED EQUALLY.

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Apr '11 - 8:31pm

    I shall be voting AV because it is fairer and breaks the “don’tt split the vote” fear.

    I shall also be voting AV because almost all the “No” arguments I have heard are illogical, innumerate, contradictory, and if those making them truly believe them it is the equivalent of sticking a label on onself reading “I am an idiot”.

  • I am displeased with Liberal Democrats as they have shown themselves to be morally bankrupt in my opinion.

    The Liberal Democrat Party has one set of policies and values for the party, and then behave totally the opposite in Government.

    I.e Tuition Fee’s, Control Orders e.t.c e.t.c

    Just because you are in coalition, does not mean you should abandon your policies and principles, which is exactly what happened when Liberal Democrat MP’s supported the rise in Tuition fee’s and voted to renew control Orders.

    And it is the same old excuse

    “In what way? They did not win a majority in Parliament, so they could hardly implement their manifesto”
    that proves my point, when I say that AV does not make Governments more accountable. Av would lead to more hung parliaments and allow government to use the excuse for abandoning promises and principles.

    At least with FPTP {as a general rule} we only have to get rid of 1 ruling party at the next general election, if we did not like what they did.

    It would be much harder to get rid of 2 parties that where in coalition together if we switched to AV.

    NO2AV

  • Barry George 28th Apr '11 - 9:32pm

    I have just got to say that finding a large google advert telling me to vote NO after every 5 comments, in an article intended to speak up the merits of the yes campaign, on this site of all places, is one of the funniest things I have seen in some time…

    Thanks for that 🙂

  • @ matt Posted 28th April 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Although I’m voting no, I would urge you not to make up your mind until after doing your own research, don’t rely on anything the Yes or No camps are telling you (both camps are full of rubbish statements).

    There isn’t really a huge amount of evidence to support the increase in coalition claim, it may increase the chances but there again changes to the way people vote may also lead to an increase under fptp.

  • Barry George Posted 28th April 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Amazing, but I hadn’t actually noticed that – thanks for pointing it out 😀

  • PMSL

    Well the party is morally bankrupt and probably financially also, LDV is probably no different too the rest of the party and desperate for sources of revenue from wherever they can get it

  • Barry George 28th Apr '11 - 9:56pm

    Amazing, but I hadn’t actually noticed that

    Here you go…

    http://s1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/HS71/?action=view&current=LOL.jpg

  • There is a tragic irony about the AV vote.

    On the one hand, the vote is only taking place because the LibDems are part of the government.

    But on the other hand, all the indications are that the vote will be lost (heavily, according to most polls), partly because of an ineffective “yes” campaign but mainly because of the LibDems role in supporting the Tory-led coalition.

    The “No” campaign are plastering Nick Clegg all over their leaflets and obviously see him as their greatest asset.

    I write as someone who supports AV (with reservations).

  • Kevin Colwill 29th Apr '11 - 7:52am

    The pro-AV have to understand that having your vote counted is not the same your vote counting.
    I live in a Lib Dem/Tory marginal council ward in a Lib Dem/Tory marginal parliamentary constituency. If I didn’t already know all that any Lib Dem leaflet would spell it out to me with charts and graphs aplenty.
    The current Lib Dem MP is there because he managed to create an anti-Tory collation of voters (I’ll let that irony hang). Under AV I could vote Labour, Green, Monster Raving Loony or anything else I fancied as my first choice and it would, indeed be counted. Would it really count though?…no. The electoral maths wouldn’t change and my first choice would lose, I’d know that even as I put the 1 against the name. I’d still have the same old tactical decision as now but it would become all about my second preference. To borrow a line from a Paul Whitehouse character in the radio comedy Down the Line- “what is point?”
    As a side note- there won’t be a Lib Dem MP here next time under any system. Under FPP he’ll lose because he’ll no longer be able to gather an anti-Tory collation of voters. Under AV he’ll lose because the UKIP second preferences would see the Tory home. – and that’s before anyTory helping boundary changes. I repeat- “what is point?”

  • richard heathcote 29th Apr '11 - 8:56am

    @ kevin colwill

    I fully agree with you in the case of choosing greens and then the loony party as 2nd and 3rd preference i would presume in a tory v lib-dem marginal they will have been eliminated in earlier rounds so your vote wont actually count. if there are more than a few who voted the same as you it would see the eventual winner being returned with less than 50% of the vote which is one of the main arguments for AV.

    the argument that every vote counts and that tactical voting will end is a load of rubbish.

  • “The really discouraging thing about some of the No arguments is that they are using present-day personalities to argue about something that may last for decade”

    It is the job of today’s political personalities to portray the image of future politics and what it would look like.

    Indeed Nick Clegg and your party “promised” a new kind of politics based on truth and principles.
    Well we know what happened there and how that utterly failed.

    AV would lead us to more of the same kind of politics that we have now with the coalition, a complete shambles, and a lack of accountability and the constant excuses “we didn’t win a majority ”

    So it is right that we judge the prospects of AV through the actions of the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg in particular, and i think it is fair to say on those principles, they have failed miserably

    Vote NO 2 AV

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Apr '11 - 9:54am

    Matthew Huntback: “AV involves repeated rounds of counting in which EVERYONE’S VOTE IS COUNTED EQUALLY.”

    Is that a mistype? Surely you must be aware that under AV, votes cease to be counted (you can think of them as being thrown in a bin) once all the candidates for which a preference has been expressed have been eliminated. In practise there will likely be thousands of votes not counted in the final round in most constituencies.

    As for the “EQUALLY” part, you have a very different definition of the word “equally” to me. If one vote is counted in five rounds for five different candidates (in other words, five separate votes) while another vote is counted once against one candidate then chucked in the bin, there’s nothing equal about them.

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Apr '11 - 10:09am

    Andrew Suffield: “‘Tactical voting’ has a specific meaning, you can’t just make one up like that.”

    You’re reducing a complex issue to a sweeping assertion. In fact the definition of “tactical voting” is complicated and has been debated at great length by psephologists (see opening comments in http://www.crest.ox.ac.uk/papers/p95.pdf).

    The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines tactical voting simply as “when people vote for a political party that they do not usually support in order to prevent another party from winning”. That practise – whatever you want to call it – will increase exponentially under AV.

  • @Matthew Huntbach “But that is just NOT TRUE. It enables people to vote honestly and no feel forced to vote tactically to avoid “splitting the vote” as FPTP does.”

    This simply isn’t true, one of the worst arguments in favour of AV is that it ends tactical voting, it simply doesn’t, AV is tactical voting city, whether it’s regarding the order of your preferences or whether you decide your candidate won’t win so you choose another candidtate, tactical voting will be alive and well under AV.

  • Paul Kennedy 29th Apr '11 - 4:03pm

    Good article. For me, the argument about choice is a no-brainer. However, I am afraid that this referendum will not be remembered for that argument but for the nastiness of the no campaign:

    – the blatant and deliberate lies about imaginary counting machines, pretending AV is a form of PR which will somehow lead to permanent coalitions, and that it will somehow help the BNP when it is actually our best protection against them

    – the flogging of the existing system’s misnomer ‘first-past-the-post’ (which should be first-under-the-post) for all it is worth with misleading diagrams and analogies, including the claim that AV will somehow lead to 2nd choice MPs when we all know that it is the existing system which forces people to vote for their 2nd, 3rd or 4th choice candidate, and even then doesn’t usually deliver an MP with majority support

    – the selfishness of those whose 1st choice candidate is already one of the leading candidates and don’t need to vote tactically for their 2nd, 3rd or 4th choice, who want to deny the same right to others

    – the ruthlessness of the vested interests that still dominate our so-called democracy, and have backed the status quo with their money and their dominance of the press

    – the viciousness of the ad hominem attacks on Nick Clegg, in order to divert voters from considering the merits of the two systems

    – the calculated duplicity of those Labour supporters who have put self-interest and bashing the Lib Dems ahead of helping achieve a small measure of democracy for voters

    – the laziness of those commentators who have failed to expose the no campaign’s lies or challenge their ultra-pedantic arguments about whether AV will ensure the winner has 50% support (of valid votes cast after eliminating weaker candidates), or whether being able to vote for the candidate you really want as your 1st choice (and rank the other candidates so that your voice can still count if your 1st choice is eliminated) somehow constitutes multiple or tactical voting.

    Whatever the result, I expect the way the no campaign has been conducted in order to deny voters a real choice will lead to a number of very angry and disgusted former supporters of the Conservative and Labour parties. For them, there will only be one choice.

  • @Paul Kennedy, the onus remains with the yes campaign to convince people AV is a superior enough system to be worthy of change, I simply do not see AV as being worth the hassle, it is not a good system, replacing one bad system with another is not a good reason for voting yes.

    The only issue that has made me pause for thought is whether a change to AV is a stepping stone to a better system, some seem to think if we change once it will be easier to change again, I’m not quite convinced enough about that to vote yes to AV.

    Neither FPTP or AV are good voting systems in this day and age for parliamentary elections, that’s the real problem, AV should never have been the only other ship in the port.

  • richard heathcote 29th Apr '11 - 7:26pm

    @ paul kennedy
    “Whatever the result, I expect the way the no campaign has been conducted in order to deny voters a real choice will lead to a number of very angry and disgusted former supporters of the Conservative and Labour parties. For them, there will only be one choice.”

    i suspect most people in Labour or Conservative parties don’t give a toss about AV so are unlikely to come over to the Liberal Democrats. I also don’t see how anyone has been denied anything we have the chance to vote this hasn’t been denied by anyone, we have seen material from the yes campaign and its this that will persuade people to vote yes if they so desire.

  • richard heathcote 29th Apr '11 - 7:37pm

    @ paul kennedy
    – the laziness of those commentators who have failed to expose the no campaign’s lies or challenge their ultra-pedantic arguments about whether AV will ensure the winner has 50% support (of valid votes cast after eliminating weaker candidates)

    this is another point id like to discuss AV does not guarantee 50% of the vote to determine who is selected as MP. If all of a voters selections are eliminated and they haven’t voted either of the top 2 then they would be no better than if they had voted under fptp certainly their vote will not count towards the selection of their MP. Or does that not count as a valid vote? imagine a 3 way marginal between the top 3 parties with Lib-Dem voters who select greens as 2nd preference maybe a couple of others but do not vote Labour or Conservative and they are the 3rd party remaining in this vote then ultimately their vote counts for nothing as they will have no valid selections left once eliminated. If this happened on a big scale we could see the remaining valid vote being 70% of the electorate. potentially we would select an MP with 36% of the vote if 30% are not counted as having no valid parties left in the running.

  • @Paul Kennedy Posted 29th April 2011 at 4:03 pm

    “.. the laziness of those commentators who have failed to expose the no campaign’s lies or challenge their ultra-pedantic arguments about whether AV will ensure the winner has 50% support (of valid votes cast after eliminating weaker candidates”

    As a matter of interest, have you read anything that didn’t come from the Yes campaign website? How about the Electoral Commission?

    “Because voters don’t have to rank all of the candidates, an election can be won under the ‘alternative vote’ system with less than half the total votes cast.”

    Or how about the PSA?

    “AV would indeed increase the number of MPs elected on a majority vote. But three provisos are needed. First, some minority winners would remain. ….”

    and
    “In state-level elections in New South Wales and Queensland – where voters are allowed to rank as many candidates as they wish – the proportion of constituencies with minority winners has ranged from just 1 per cent to 31 per cent in elections since the early 1980s.25 In the 31 Scottish local authority by-elections held using AV since 1997, twelve – just under 40 per cent – have produced minority winners.”

    As I’ve said before on this site – pots, kettles, glass houses.

  • Kevin Colwill 30th Apr '11 - 12:02am

    Imagine we were having an AV referendum on voting systems. I think good old AV might just scrape in. Of course it wouldn’t get too many first preferences but it could be expected to be a lot of people’s second or third choices.
    The trouble for the yes camp is the referendum is about AV but not conducted by AV…didn’t anyone spot the that?
    It would all be laughable if wasn’t for the fact that this fiasco will put the wider campaign for fair votes back years. Then again the collation has set progressive politics back a generation. Is it just me or do you think the two are somehow linked?

  • Andrew Suffield 30th Apr '11 - 1:59am

    In fact the definition of “tactical voting” is complicated and has been debated at great length by psephologists

    The design of voting systems is exclusively the domain of mathematicians and the term has a specific, single mathematical definition. Appealing to the opinions of greengrocers or anybody else is just silly.

    The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines tactical voting simply as “when people vote for a political party that they do not usually support in order to prevent another party from winning”. That practise – whatever you want to call it – will increase exponentially under AV.

    This made-up definition just shows how intellectually bankrupt your argument is: under any system where you rank all the candiates, you “vote for” all candidates, hence it is completely meaningless when applied to them. The actual mathematical definition by which voting systems are analysed in research papers is clear and precise.

    I note that you have entirely failed to respond to any of the important elements, like how AV largely eliminates tactical voting.

    Then again the collation has set progressive politics back a generation.

    This is by far the most progressive government that this country has had in a generation, so that’s nonsense. Recall that this timespan means you must compare it to Thatcher and the travesty of Labour’s abuses, by which standards it’s massively better. Certainly it’s far from ideal and has many problems, but to claim that the least bad thing to come along in a generation is “setting things back a generation” is just absurd.

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Apr '11 - 11:57am

    “The design of voting systems is exclusively the domain of mathematicians and the term has a specific, single mathematical definition.”

    TWO huge unsupportable assertions in one sentence is some going.

    If you do a quick Google tour on the literature coming out of our leading universities and research institutes on voting systems, you’ll soon see that most of it comes from political and social scientists rather than professional mathematicians. And I’ve already given you two links which prove that your second assertion is nonsense.

    “This made-up definition just shows how intellectually bankrupt your argument is”

    Who are you saying made it up – me, or the lexicographers at Cambridge? If I’m intellectually bankrupt then I’m in very good company.

    “: under any system where you rank all the candiates, you “vote for” all candidates, hence it is completely meaningless when applied to them.”

    1. The variant of AV on offer next week wil NOT require anybody to “vote for all candidates” so I really can’t see what your point is there. 2. There’s a world of difference between marking a “preference” for a candidate on an AV ballot (especially in a compulsory system such as you refer to) and actually SUPPORTING that candidate.

    “I note that you have entirely failed to respond to any of the important elements, like how AV largely eliminates tactical voting.”

    I’ve told you exactly why AV will lead to a massive increase in tactical voting, using the Cambridge definition (which I prefer to the Wikipedia one).

    Have you noticed that the Wikipedia article, though quite lengthy, is extremely light on references – and indeed the definition you quoted from it is itself unreferenced. Yet you seriously seem to think that this anonymous definition is the ONLY POSSIBLE ONE and has more authority than the definitions given by reputable lexicographers at places like Cambridge and Oxford (http://www.oxfordadvancedlearnersdictionary.com/dictionary/tactical-voting).

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Apr '11 - 12:15pm

    Paul Kennedy :-

    “…ultra-pedantic arguments about whether AV will ensure the winner has 50% support (of valid votes cast after eliminating weaker candidates),”

    Groan, it’s the old “the 50% claim is OK because it works in the final round” schtick…

    You do realise, don’t you, that FPTP could be made to guarantee exactly the same thing with just one tiny modification, as follows :-

    1) Count all the votes.
    2) Take the votes for candidates placed third or worst and discard them – pretent they never existed.
    3) Count the remaining votes again, and hey presto! the winner is guaranted to have at least 50% of “the vote”. Or as Paddy Ashdown might put it – never again would an MP be elected without majority support!!

    This is all the AV “50% guarantee” does – it contrives a meaningless majority by simply ignoring voters who do not like either of the top two candidates. ANY system would guarantee a majority if it only counted votes for the top two candidates. It’s a fraud and a con.

  • Kevin Colwill 30th Apr '11 - 7:35pm

    @ Andrew Suffield… I suspect you and I will differ so much on what constitutes “progressive politics” as to make my use of the phrase rather meaningless. If Osborne, Willetts et al are progressive in your eyes then so be it.
    On fair votes, however, I will not withdraw. If do you really believe the case for change will be stronger after this referendum then you probably also think the Republican cause has been enhanced by the Royal Wedding.
    This as a classic case of shooting yourself in the political foot. I imagine, however, many posters here are way to personally involved to accept that.

  • Old Codger Chris 2nd May '11 - 11:45am

    Under AV if I give my first preference to the least successful candidate (the BNP gentleman perhaps) and my fourth preference to the Conservative, that fourth preference may help the Conservative to win. But if my first preference is for the Labour candidate and my second for the Lib Dem my second preference may be ignored because Labour outpolled the BNP.

    In what way is this more democratic than FPTP?

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