Saturday, 16 April 2011


My wife received a communication from the No to AV campaign today. I'm not sure why I didn't but she very kindly let me read hers and its a shocker. The essence of their argument is that AV is bad because Nick Clegg likes it and he's bad so that's that.

However, they were clearly concerned that this wasn't enough so they included a picture of an attractive female doctor and made up a figure for the potential cost of AV which relies on the lie that it requires machines and a lengthy education campaign for people if it is introduced. Utter nonsense.

To dismiss the second point in a phrase, if you can count to 5 you will understand AV. Simple.

Here's a digression: I have two children and we used cotton nappies for both of them with no problems at all. I remember a campaign by the makers of disposable nappies 'proving' that cotton nappies are just as expensive and harmful for the environment as disposable nappies, millions of which are disposed of in landfills every day. The research was based on the presumption that people who used cotton nappies washed them at 90 degrees, dried them and then ironed them. Well, I must be a bad parent because we washed them quite well at 60 degrees, dried them on a clothes line and forced our children to wear un-ironed nappies. I still feel the shame.

But this is a digression. Back to the AV campaign and back to some facts which the 'no' people cannot admit:

1. An AV election does not require any machines or computers at all. It could use them but then so could a First Past the Post election.
2. As I have said, if you can count to 5, you'll get AV.
3. It has been said that an AV election would require more people to organise it and would cost local authorities more. Well, my experience of working for local authorities and attending far too many election counts which have used a range of systems for European and London elections, to name two, has demonstrated to me that the same number of long-suffering staff were present at all of them and they were paid for a day's work, however long it took.
3. In an AV election the person who gets the most votes in the first round can win. If you look at their shocker of a leaflet, it seems this never happens. Well, that's kind of the point behind AV. It gives people the chance to vote tactically and it forces politicians to work for every single vote, considering the views of a far wider range of people. Essentially, the person who does most to get their message across should win. Is that bad? Do some politicians fear having to explain themselves once every four or five years?

Finally, a point about my long-suffering leader. Nick Clegg, who is being pilloried at the moment, quite unreasonably, for all sorts of ills. He's taking it on the chin and sticking to the LD agreement to work with the Tories for the good of the country. If the best the AV campaign can do is to snipe about Nick Clegg and the coalition, it reveals a lot about the strength of the 'No to AV' campaign.

I hope you will consider the pros and cons of AV carefully and I hope you will vote on May 5th according to your view. I hope that your view is in favour of a positive development for our political system. I trust that most people will not be taken in by the nonsense the 'no' campaign is peddling.

NB: for a clear explanation of the relative merits of AV and First Past the Post, don't trust me, trust the BBC and the Electoral Reform Society. There is good information out there.

UPDATE: the Independent clearly reads my blog too, for it has provided a more detailed rebuttal of some of the nonsense surrounding the AV campaign here.


  1. Indeed. The Electoral Reform Society has been pretty clear about AV in the past:
    "It can be less proportional than First-Past-the-Post. ... as AV is not a proportional system, the Society does not regard it as ideal for the election of a representative body, e.g. a parliament, council, committees, etc. ..."

  2. True, although selective quoting of the ERS isn't very helpful.

    That view is shared by the Lib Dems who want the completely fair and proportional STV in an ideal world. However, we do not live in an ideal world so we must take what we can, in the hope that better will follow. AV is better than First Past the Post, if still imperfect and it will make politics better in this country when most MPs are no longer elected by small minorities of voters, disenfranchising most people.