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.

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