Tuesday, 3 May 2011

To Get PR, We First Have To Change The Status Quo.

If you support proportional representation, as I do, then you probably don't need me to tell you how undemocratic and unfair our present system is. First-Past-The-Post is even misleadingly named, it is a misnomer. A more accurate name would be Furthest-Down-The-Track or Closest-To-The-Finishing-Line-Wins.

The NO campaign have outspent the Yes campaign many times (we should find out by how much after the referendum). They have delivered pampthlets to every household in the country (twice) in the last few weeks. 99% funded by bankers in the city who also bankroll the Conservative party. They are spending a lot of money because they know that AV will make a significant difference and also allow an easier path towards PR.

One of their most popular analogies is one of a horse race where the 'winner' under our present system crosses the line, but somehow loses under AV and the third placed horse wins. What a load of tosh, utter rubbish.

To make the analogy accurate, you have to imagine an official running onto the track and stopping the race on the final bend and announcing whoever was in the lead at that point as the 'winner', even if it was clear that the 2nd or 3rd placed horse was closing in fast and clearly going to overtake and go on to the finish line first. AV justs finishes the race off and makes sure that the 'winner' is the one who finishes the race first, not just the one that gets into the lead after the first lap.

AV is simple. Rank as many candidates as you want to in order of preference. Count the top choices and keep knocking out the candidate with the fewest votes and redistributing their next choices until someone is preferred by more than half those who expressed a preference. AV is not a proportional system, but neither is first-past-the-post. In fact every disadvantage that AV has is also shared by FPTP. But AV has some crucial advantages;

1. No more minority MPs - More people will prefer the winner to the candidate who came second. No more MPs elected with just 29% support.
2. No more spoiler effect - parties with similar ideologies and policies can stand against each other without either them or the voters having to worry about splitting their vote and a candidate with opposing ideology winning with minority support.
3. No more extremist MPs - Your vote is more powerful, if you want to stop the BNP, you can make sure by ranking every other candidate bar them. That way you are guaranteed that one of your preferences will count against them. The majority dislike the BNP, which is why the BNP want a NO vote to AV.
4. No more impossible choices - Ranking candidates in order means not having 'to study form' in the constituency and trying to 'guess' how other people might vote and having to use your one and only choice for someone other than your favourite. Simply rank the candidates in the order that reflects your views and you know that one of your preferences will count in the final round betwen the top two.
5. No more misinterpeting of voters choices - The voter will impart far more information under AV. All those tactical voters will not have their vote interpreted as a first choice for a particular party. The true first choices will now be revealed. This will be important in showing just how diverse a choice people want and will highlight even more why we need PR.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Yes to AV, Yes to PR

The Electoral Reform Society has campaigned relentlessly for many decades for a change to a more proportional voting system. Its membership voted overwhelmingly to campaign for a YES in the referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV). It did this because there are many ways AV is fairer than the present system, but one of the main reasons was that AV generally produces more proportional results.

The NO2AV campaign is outspending the YES campaign many times (by how much we will find out after the referendum).

Initially the YES campaign played to its strengths by focussing on its biggest asset - its many supporters and it ran a successful grassroots campaign, but lately NO2AV partly by being underhand but also by being very clever are beating the YES campaign with NO2AV propaganda funded by right wing Tories and Taxpayer Alliance types and backed by the right wing media.

It is preposterous to claim that a NO vote to changing the present system will somehow help the PR cause. Once this referendum is over, and this has took decades even to get this vote in the face of MPs overwhelming hostility to changing a system that gives them jobs for life, it will be business as usual and a NO will be presented as a YES to first-past-the-post. Those funding this new cause with its brand new website are against ALL forms of change. They oppose PR more than they do AV, but they know they need to win over some PR enthusiasts if they are to win against AV, so they fund this ridiculous campaign.

What is even worse is that the BBC gives 2 links to the NO campaign because of this new website, but only one to the YES campaign. How is that fair or impartial?

To this end, I will be contacting the YES campaign to right this wrong. In the meantime here is my new website I have set up to campaign for AV AND PR. A campaign for change that makes far more sense than the spurious and dare I say cynical NO campaign.