Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

AV: The arguments of the No side.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 12, 2011 in AV Referendum May 5 2011, British Politics |

I thought I’d post this again as I watch the No campaign run the most disingenuous angle I’ve seen since some of the crazy stuff run by some of the No campaign during the Lisbon referendum. What I find extraordinary is that the No side seem to have completely abandoned defending First Past the Post (which does have some good features) in favour of this crap. Anyway, the following are the main five points being made against the Alternative Vote by the No to AV campaign. My comments are in italics (you know, all slanty, like). 

1. AV is UNFAIR. Supporters of fringe parties can end up casting more votes than those who voted for mainstream parties. THE MOST LUDICROUSLY MISLEADING POINT BEING MADE BY THE NO SIDE. IF YOU APPLIED THIS DEFINITION TO THE X FACTOR, IT WOULD MEAN THAT ANYONE WHO VOTED FOR A CONTESTANT WHO WAS VOTED OFF SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED VOTE AGAIN NEXT WEEK. UNDER AV, EVERY VOTER IS TREATED THE SAME, AND THEIR VOTE IS WORTH THE SAME.

2. AV is OBSCURE. It is only used currently in Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea; Fiji are about to scrap it and 6 out of 10 Australians want to scrap it. AV IS OBSCURE? SO IS MARMITE TO THE PEOPLE OF FINLAND. SO WHAT? AV IS USED IN IRELAND  TO ELECT THE PRESIDENT, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN BYELECTIONS, THE AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT, AND A VERSION OF IT WAS USED TO ELECT DAVID CAMERON LEADER OF THE TORY PARTY, BECAUSE THE TORIES THOUGHT FIRST PAST THE POST WOULD BE TOO UNFAIR! AND IT IS NOT AN ELITE THING EITHER: IN TWO REFERENDA, THE IRISH PEOPLE VOTED TO KEEP THE CURRENT SYSTEM RATHER THAN ADOPT FIRST PAST THE POST.  

3. AV is COMPLICATED, which can lead to extra expense. Counting can take longer and taxpayers will foot the bill for extra costs. IT DOES INVOLVE PEOPLE BEING ABLE TO COUNT TO TEN, AND RETURNING OFFICERS BEING ABLE TO TELL WHETHER SOMEONE HAS OVER HALF THE VOTES OR NOT. IS THAT COMPLICATED? THE NO CAMPAIGN ARE SAYING THAT MILLIONS MUST BE SPENT ON MACHINES TO COUNT THE VOTES. IN THE IRISH ELECTION TWO WEEKS AGO, WHICH USES A FORM OF AV, ALL THE VOTES WERE COUNTED BY HAND. 

4. AV is NOT PROPORTIONAL. In fact, the Jenkins study showed that it was less proportional than the current system. Supporters of PR should not support AV. THIS POINT IS TRUE: THE CONCLUSION DRAWN FROM IT IS A CON. ASK YOURSELF THIS, WILL A NO VOTE IN THE REFERENDUM BE SEEN AS A VOTE FOR PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION, OR A VOTE FOR FIRST PAST THE POST? WILL THOSE SAME NO CAMPAIGNERS VOTE FOR A REFERENDUM ON PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION? OF COURSE NOT.   

5. AV isn’t even supported by the ‘YES’ CAMPAIGNERS. Before the general election, Nick Clegg called it a “miserable little compromise” and Chris Huhne said “it does not give voters real power”. IT’S TRUE, NICK CLEGG AND CHRIS HUHNE WOULD MUCH PREFER A REFERENDUM ON PR. BUT THE SAME PEOPLE MAKING THIS POINT ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO BLOCKED ASKING THE BRITISH PEOPLE DO THEY WANT PR IN THE FIRST PLACE! AV GIVES VOTERS MORE POWER THAN FIRST PAST THE POST, SIMPLE AS THAT. THAT’S WHY THE PROFESSIONAL POLITICIANS DON’T WANT IT.

AV is not perfect, but it is better than First Past the Post and professional politicians don’t like it being used by voters (they insist upon using it in their own internal elections) because it gives voters too much power. For that reason alone, vote Yes on May 5.

9 Comments

Muirchertach
Dec 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Brilliant!

In response to the No campaign’s 10 reasons to vote ‘No’ I came up with 10 reasons to vote ‘Yes’

You’ve made a couple additional points here, thanks.

By the way AV is used in the UK to elect the party leaders, the Speaker of the House of Commons and the chairs of HoC select committees, and they still try and tell us AV is obscure!

Simon


 
George
Dec 10, 2010 at 2:37 am

Excellent points. For the point 4 about the proportionality, it is a con too. AV will give a more proportional House in most scenarios. It is one well known principle in Political Science that the FPTP creates a two party system, it even has a name: the Duverger Law.

The Jenkins study looked at 1997 and argue that Labour would have had more MPs with AV. To do so, they used the vote expressed in FPTP… The whole point of AV is that people can vote differently and stop voting tactically for the two main parties. So the conclusion of the Jenkins study is at best disingenuous.

Moreover, even with their lousy methodology, their argument is dubious. With their own calculations, LD already get much more MPs: 84 vs 46. But they only focus on the Labour share to give a negative verdict… http://www.democraticaudit.com/download/mvc.pdf


 
Jason O
Dec 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm

George, that’s a good point. Certainly, in Ireland, there is a greater willingness to vote for smaller parties and less likely candidates because one knows one is not wasting one’s vote.


 
david morris
Mar 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Not wishing to labour the point, but this post loses most of it’s interest when it starts with
“crazy stuff run by some of the No campaign during the Lisbon referendum”

What crazy stuff was that ?

As crazy as the main parties in Ireland endorsing a yes vote on the basis that this would guarantee jobs ?

Hows that working out for you ?

As regards AV, you omit to point out that a large proportion (i.e. most, if not all) of the funds being used to promote this change come from a company that would be involved in the manufacture & sale of equipment that would apparently be necessary to ensure all votes were fairly counted. Funny that.

Kind regards


 
Jason O
Mar 12, 2011 at 11:25 pm

There you go again David. The Yes campaign gave no such jobs guarantee. What they said was that a Yes vote would make it easier to create jobs in Ireland, which is still true. Show me a single piece of literature from the No side outlining how a No vote would lead to higher employment levels than existed at the time of the referendum.
As for this fantasy about needing machines to count votes under AV: Australia counts AV manually. Ireland, which uses a more complicated form of AV, STV, counts the votes manually too. Who is proposing to purchase all these voting machines? Can you name the minister in charge of this apparent proposal for me?
Hearsay, innuendo and misdirection, that’s all they’ve got.


 
Jason O
Mar 13, 2011 at 6:53 am

What’s the company name, by the way?


 
david morris
Mar 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

When you’re in a hole, stop digging old chap.

The largest single donor to the ‘Yes’ campaign is Britain’s no1 vendor of ballot papers and vote counting services – a massively profitable outfit whose commercial interest in a new, complicated Westminster voting system is clear.

The Electoral Reform Society – the organisation really in charge of the referendum campaign – has admitted to making a donation of £1.05 million to it, but not only do internal Society documents show that they have really donated much more, they’ve also been less than open about the real source of their funding.

First, let’s examine the “£1.05 million” claim. Well, this turns out to be an admission of only one fraction of the Society’s involvement. The internal documents show their assistance is two pronged – consisting not just of the cash donation they have admitted to, but also an entirely separate gift of staff and resources that has not been publicly declared. This support, which extends to the secondment of more than a dozen paid staff, means that well over half the resources used to fund the Yes campaign are being directed by the Electoral Reform Society.

The Society also turns out to be the majority shareholder in Britain’s leading and highly profitable supplier of election services, and its dividends are funding the campaign. The business, which is called Electoral Reform Services Ltd, turns over £21m. There is almost no aspect of our so-called democracy ERSL’s services do not touch – their stationary and postal voting packs, poll cards and ballot papers are used in parliamentary, European and local elections. They have already been awarded to contract to administer the 2012 Mayoral election using electronic counting machines. So, should Britain decide to hold more complex elections as with the Alternative Voting system, ERSL could be well-placed to receive the contracts.”

So the company in charge of administering the referendum on AV is itself funding one side of the campaign. As the internal documents from the Society state, “it is possible that ERSL will profit as a result of a YES vote (increased business opportunities).” And if ERSL profits then so will the Electoral Reform Society, which is currently straining its resources to persuade Britain to vote Yes.

This is a financial conflict of interest of the very gravest kind, which may be agreeable
within European political circles, but for those outside the Federast circle jerk is totally unsatisfactory.

Kind regards


 
Jason O
Mar 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

If you are asking me should all donations to candidates and political groups be banned, and campaigns funded from the public purse, I agree.


 
Jason O
Mar 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Sorry David, but I ain’t posting that last post, because as you well know we both live in countries with tough libel laws. However, if you want to post it elsewhere, I’ll happily link to it.


 

Reply

Copyright © 2017 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.