25 April 2011

What Are The Genuine Arguments Against AV?

As you know, I will be voting YES to AV on May 5th and implore you to do the same, especially if you are, like me, a supporter of proportional representation.

There have been a lot of myths/lies used by the NO campaign in trying to persuade people to vote NO. Categorically, AV will cost no more, it will not help extremists, in fact the reverse which is why the BNP support a NO, it is not complicated (unless you can't count), does in general give a more proportional result and does eliminate the need for tactical voting.

So what are the genuine objections?

First, just to clarify on a few points above and re-emphasise. The two most argued points are the last two, especially amongst those claiming to be 'intelligent'.

Yes, in theory you could tactically vote under AV, but if anyone in practise can run a successful campaign that says 'can some of you (but repeat only a few of you) not vote for us and vote for a party that might come third without your vote, so we can get the second preferences of a party that would otherwise come second', can you let me know who the genuises are? Not exactly as snappy as 'vote for us 'cos x can't win' is it?

In practise with AV it is easier to rank your candidates in order of preference if you want to maximise your vote. Under our present system, it is very easy to tactically vote, in fact it is imperative to maximise your vote, with all the horrible distortions and mind bending vote guessing, heart/head conundrums that brings.

As for the proportionality argument, it is a fact that AV would have delivered more proportional results because minor parties would have maximised their votes and possibly gained more seats, and the third placed party would have gained most of all. All of this is bound to have increased proportionality. Some argue that AV is more unpredictable, but only if you place no value on 2nd, 3rd preferences etc. As I have said before, very few people only support one party's policies absolutely and agree with none of the others at all. Therefore is makes far more sense to rank candidates than be limited to just one choice. Of course AV gives people the choice, if they only want to support one party they can, if not, they have to choice to rank as many or as few as THEY choose.

So what are the real arguments? Well the most powerful is that PR will be delayed if we vote YES to AV as the system will need time to bed down. This is actually impossible to know. Equally plausible is the argument that changing FPtP will lead to a quicker change to PR. I favour the latter because why ask yourself are those implacably against PR quite happy to fund a campaign based on the YES to PR, NO to AV argument? Because they know, the here and now is defending FPtP. A No to AV is effectively a YES to our present system - FPtP. And believe me that is all they will be arguing once this once in a lifetime referendum has been lost. So if you want to keep the present FPtP system vote NO to AV, if however you want change, Vote YES to AV on May 5th, please!


  1. What I don't understand is why people are still for it. We've seen that the country is full of tactical voting. We know that people in "safe seats" are powerless, yet the polling suggests that AV is going to lose.

    I think the problem is that a lot of people out there aren't abstract or systemic thinkers. And it takes an understanding of the system and its problems to really grasp how much better AV could be.

    If we actually got AV, I'm convinced that once people had seen the results (not having to tactically vote), they'd never go back.

  2. Hi Neil
    I have already cast my vote in favour of AV - it's not perfect but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

  3. Urko, well done. Joseph, I think the biggest problem is that the YES team have failed to really hammer home how easy AV is, and the NO team have cleverly exploited this. It is almost as if the YES team belived the NO propaganda that AV is too complicated for people to understand. Is it really too hard for voters to rank candidates 1,2,3? Is it really too difficult for people to understand a count where you keep knocking out the bottom candidate and re-allocating their top choices to those remaining until someone has a majority.