Why Vote Yes on May 5th?
By James Gibbon
Firstly, let me begin by saying that the system we live in, the system that governs the factors that decide a lot of the ways how we live our lives is broken. Democracy means that politicians won’t always make decisions that we like, we elect them as representatives and they should not be puppets and they should be allowed to use their own judgement. There is not a problem with that. However, when less than half of the population wants them doing that job, when only 60% turn up to the polls because they believe that their vote won’t count, that is a huge problem. That is where a country stops being a democracy and being an MP starts being a guaranteed job for life for a disturbingly high number of politicians.
I think one of the best ways in which to prove that AV is right for the UK is to show how weak each criticism of AV presented by the No campaign are; criticisms which are misleading and, in some cases, just plain false.
1.) AV is only used by three other countries: Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Firstly, each country is unique. Just because one system works in one country doesn’t mean it will in ours. Therefore, it is irrelevant how many countries use it, all that matters is that it is right for our country. Secondly, it is completely hypocritical to criticise the choice of AV as it was the Tory Government which limited the British people’s choice to either AV or First Past the Post. We don’t claim that it is a perfect solution to iron out all the unfairness in British politics today but it is a small change which goes a long way to making our democracy stronger by being able to hold our government to account more efficiently. To try and mislead voters with xenophobic scare mongering shows a desperation which comes only from trying to promote something that the opposition know is wrong. (I refer specifically here to an article by Jane Kennedy who wrote “Of course it’s a safe system. They use it in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Australia. OK, they’re the only three nations that do. But why not make Britain the fourth of this illustrious group?” The sarcasm and arrogance used undermined an already weak argument)
It’s also worth noting that the majority of the countries that use FPTP do so because it’s a result of a painful hangover from the days of the British Empire.
2.) The fact that supporters of minor parties may have their votes counted several times, while those supporting mainstream candidates have theirs counted once, is deemed fair.
This point made by the opposition shows either criminal levels of falsification or criminal levels of stupidity. Either way it is criminal. The way the system actually works (for anyone interested in facts, not protecting a system that allows for a secure lifestyle and a job for life at the expense of the British people) is that after the first round of elections if no one has a clear 50% majority then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the election is run again, this time discounting the first preference votes of the people who voted for the lowest candidate and counting their second preference instead. Everyone’s votes are counted the same number of times. It just means that supporters of major parties are more likely to keep their first preference for longer. The process is repeated until a clear 50% majority is seen. This can hardly be deemed as unfair to any voter. It merely gives minority parties a bit more of a fair chance at getting elected, and will be more representative of the views of constituents.
3.) The AV system embeds hung parliaments into the electoral system.
I would love to see the proof for this. The fact is that hung parliaments, whilst certifiably can become more likely under proportional systems (one of which AV is not), happen for numerous reasons. For example, as was previously mentioned Australia uses AV. Australia has had only one hung parliament since 1945 to our two. In contrast, Canada which uses FPTP has had three successive hung parliaments. And finally, in the event of a hung parliament, AV would show much more clearly how the government should be formed with a simple analysis of the facts. There would be no ridiculous bidding for the Lib Dems support as seen in the aftermath of the last election.
4.) The fact that votes may switch back and forth, seemingly randomly, between numerous candidates on one ballot is apparently equitable.
I find it insulting that the opposition think that the voting population vote randomly, and so should you. If this does occur, I find it hard to find what is wrong with this. There is one key word in the above statement and that is “seemingly”. Votes don’t swap for random reasons. Voters do not walk into a voting booth, close their eyes and see what happens. It does not matter about the process, the result is a fairer, more representative and generally more suitable candidate gets elected at the end of it.
5.) It’s confusing.
No its not. I believe the voting public have the capability to count to 10. Heck I bet some of them even know their ABCs. The fact is that even if they don’t feel they can make an informed decision on all candidates and only want to vote for one then that is absolutely fine, their ballot will still be valid. The bottom line is, if they can be trusted to be a member of a jury; weigh up a field of evidence and decide upon the fate of a fellow citizen from a completely unbiased and neutral standpoint then they can be trusted to make a list of preferences from 1 to 5 or even more. Furthermore, to suggest that people will be confused and accidentally vote in the BNP or any other abhorrent party is ridiculous. If someone doesn’t want to vote for a party they don’t have to.