AV. A rant.

I wanted to have a good rant about the result of the AV vote last week, but somebody else beat me to it. And it’s so well put, I’m going to simple quote them…

For decades, Britons have voted using the first past the post system. And it’s crap. What sane electoral system requires you to look at the results five years ago in order to determine who to vote for this time? Not to mention the opportunities for splitting votes to allow an outsider to get in.

So the UK are offered AV in a referendum. I’m the first to accept that AV isn’t perfect – it’s still subject to local geography, and it’s still more than likely that the government that you get aren’t the ones with the most votes, but at least your local politician is tolerated by most people. It’s not the system I’d like (multi-member constituencies with STV, thus avoiding the party lists of PR), but it’s about the best system for a single winner constituency.

So what is the campaign like? Crap. Both sides play the man, and most of the population haven’t any clue about what the system actually is. No mention of alternatives such as approval voting or concordet. Lies about how many times votes/preferences are counted – and don’t argue, the academic analysis shows that votes aren’t counted more than once. Arguments that Nick Clegg wants it, so it must be bad (although conveniently ignoring that Nick Griffin didn’t want it). ‘It’s too complex’, people say, although putting 1,2,3,4 on a voting paper doesn’t seem hard to me. AV is instant run-off, and we can manage run-off elections for Strictly Come Dancing. If Bruce Forsyth can understand the concept, it can’t be that hard.

If we had moved to AV, the outcome wouldn’t have been far different, but the mechanism for getting there would have changed. We could have had more inclusive politics. It would even be feasible that parties could field more than one candidate in a constituency, allowing greater voter choice. Candidates would have needed to engage with the electorate, rather than relying on a few swing votors.

Despite all this, the UK has voted against it, in possibly the biggest case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. We won’t be asked again, we’re stuck with our miserable little system, and the rest of the world is laughing at us.

For a normal election, I wouldn’t care. Other people have different views to me. For this, I’m depressed. It’s a no-brainer. So why the hell have 70% of the population voted no? Are these the people with no qualifications? They can’t all be MPs or media moguls. Would they have voted for a dictatorship if it was on offer?


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