I’ll be voting ‘yes’ this evening in the AV Referendum (after a stint of flyering outside a polling station).
What AV will not do
1. It will not create proportionality. It’s a majoritarian system and will likely be only marginally more proportional than FPTP.
2. It will not eliminate safe seats. Some seats that go to one party by a landslide every election still will.
3. It will not put the BNP in power, or even give them extra influence. No, really, it won’t – if anything, they’ll suffer.
4. It will not create more coalitions. Majoritarian voting systems don’t create coalitions; people do.
5. It will not cost the earth. This is just a straight-up lie. AV does not require voting machines.
6. It will not make anyone’s vote count twice. Again, this is willful misinformation.
6. It will not create ‘back-room deals’ or ‘horse-trading’. Again, this is a product of an undecided electorate, and will happen or will not happen under AV or FPTP.
7. It will not automatically make our politicians work harder – AV might affect the political landscape in that respect; it might not. (But no change definitely won’t.)
8. It will not confuse you. I promise you: AV is not hard to understand. Don’t let yourself be patronised and told it’s ‘too complicated’ to rank things in order of preference.
What AV will do
1. It will usually output a result that more than 50% of a constituency’s electorate are okay with.
2. It will make tactical voting harder and less profitable – people will be more free to vote first for the party they really want, then hedge their bets in case that party doesn’t get enough votes. Voters will no longer be forced to choose between “Get this one in” and “Keep that one out” – with AV you can vote to do both.
3. It will cut back on safe seats. Many seats where MPs sail in with a minority of votes because the rest of the votes are so split will find themselves far less safe.
4. It will introduce more moderation into politics. Politicians will be forced to campaign more positively to court second and third preferences, to seek out consensus as well as draw distinctions. Maybe you won’t see this as a good thing, but I do.
FPTP was great when we just had blue and red. But UK elections aren’t a straight up two-horse race anymore, and the result is that the majority of the electorate are not being represented in their constituencies. We can’t fix that completely with this referendum, but we can tweak the system so that the person chosen better reflects their electorate’s views. That’s what AV does.
I don’t love AV. I don’t even like it much. But it’s not a significant change or expense, and it’s a definite improvement on FPTP. We don’t get a national referendum very often. Why not use this one to set off down the right road?
My personal AV campaign slogan:
AV: IT WILL GIVE YOU THE RESULTS YOU HATE LEAST
In today’s politics, that’s a start, right?