06 April 2011

One Person, 0.285 Of A Vote

Should have guessed that since I wrote the last post, someone would work out exactly how worthless our votes currently are. Well done to the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and voterpower.org.uk Other findings are:-

- AV is more proportional than FTtP by around 24% in terms of average voter power.
- AV increases the number of marginals by 54%.
- AV reduces the number of very safe seats by 18%.

Three very good reasons to vote YES to AV on May 5th. Add that the BNP are campaigning for a NO and anti-racists should vote YES to AV to stop the BNP (despite the clumsy YES to fairer votes campaign continually shooting themselves in the foot with their weak campaigning). Also upsetting the BNP's leader Nick Griffin is far more fun than upsetting Nick Clegg. Which Nick do you dislike most?


  1. "AV is more proportional than FTtP by around 24% in terms of average voter power"

    How do they derive that figure? How can proportionality be determined on an "average voter" scale? Proportionality is a product of the POPULATION, surely?

    Whether AV really is "more proportional" really does depend on the election in question. The fact is that SOMETIMES AV is more proportional, and sometimes it is less proportional than FPTP.

    What AV certainly IS, is more UNPREDICTABLE, and more likely to give second placed parties majorities.

    AV should increase the number of marginals. But that figure is not very large, there are not that many marginals, most seats are not marginals, so increasing them by half still means that MOST seats will be safe seats.

    Reducing the number of VERY safe seats hardly seems worth mentioning. Those seats will still be safe seats, and we have to assume that will still be shoe-ins for the candidates selected.

  2. I suppose if you subscribe no value at all to voters' 2nd, 3rd preferences etc, you can argue things are more unpredictable. Unpredictable in my mind is good, doesn't this just mean more seats can change hands and MPs have to work harder to keep support?

    Isn't it also true that knowing where voter's real first preferences are is useful in determining how proportional a result is? If loads of people just tactically vote for their 2nd, 3rd, Nth preferences under first-past-the-post, how reliable is the measure of proportionality anyway?

  3. "Unpredictable in my mind is good, doesn't this just mean more seats can change hands"

    No, unpredictable is BAD. Unpredictable means that the system is much more erratic. It means that an election where the third party gets, say 30% of the vote could mean that they get 20% of the seats, or it could mean they get 5% of the seats.

    Under FPTP, if the third party gets 30% of the vote, it can be predicted with reasonable accuracy what percentage of the seats they will get (all other things being equal, like district size etc). So under FPTP if the third placed party gets 22% or 23% of the vote, we know in the UK they will get something like 60 seats (e.g. the LDs got a similar vote share in 2005 and 2010, and a similar seat share).

    Under AV this would be much more unpredictable. In some elections that 22% of the vote might result in 100 seats, in others it might result in 50 seats. It would ON AVERAGE mean the LDs get more seats than under FPTP, because on AVERAGE, at this level of vote share, the result would be more proportional. But it would not GUARANTEE that they would get more seats, or that they would not get a less proportional result.

    The thing about 2nd, 3rd, 4th preferences is that they serve to make the election much MORE like a set of 600 independent elections, rather than a single election to a single legislature.

    AV is a sensible voting system when one wants to elect a person to a single position. So it makes sense that the President of Ireland is elected under AV, it makes sense that Irish byelections are conducted under AV. It's sensible to run single winner elections under AV. It's far and away the best system in that sort of election.

    What t is NOT, is a good system for electing members to a parliament. The reason for that is IDENTICAL to the reason what FPTP is not a good system. It is because we end up with most votes being wasted, we end up with artificially high electoral thresholds, and we end up with a very unfair level of representation in the parliament.

    I'm no fan of FPTP. But I am really fed up with the fact free claims made for AV. It is NOT proportional, it is NOT fair.

    I expected the No campaign to be full of lies and disinformation, they are, after all, the unreconstructed dinosaurs of reaction.

    I did at least expect the pro-AV camp to be honest about the limitations of AV. Instead we are given wild and inaccurate claims about how it is a panacea.

    Well it's NOT. I'm entirely unconvinced it is an improvement.

    I can only conclude that we are getting these wild claims because the truth is that AV really doesn't have much to commend it over FPTP.

    They are very similar systems, both tie us to unrepresentative, unproportional parliaments. Both give us safe seats, both will give us Tory or Labour majority governments, which gained only minorities in elections.

    What worries me is that when the case comes t be made for PR, people will tell the electoral reformers to get lost. They will have heard it all before, and will know that have been lied to once, so why should they buy it again.

    AV is a BAD system, Clegg should never have accepted this referendum.

    It's the WRONG question. He should have demanded a CONSULTATIVE referendum, something along the lines of:

    "should the UK parliament be elected under a proportional electoral system?".

    Now THAT would have made sense.

  4. Alun, I can agree with you that AV is a BAD system. What I can't understand is why you think a system that allows people to vote for who they really believe in without a spoiler effect, that delivers less safe seats, more marginals and more votes that count, is a system that is not worth having.

    Nearly everybody on the planet but you, seems to think that AV will deliver more seats to parties other than the big two, this has to be a more proportional result than at present. You can hide behind 'unpredictability'. But the real unpredictable thing about AV is what will happen when people are free of the straight jacket of having to vote time after time for the same big parties. That alone is worth a YES to AV in my book.