AV: Excuses And Half Truths Sez Yes

It’s time to put my cards on the table, to put up or shut up, to stick my money where my mouth is. It’s time to make a stand, stake my claim, state my position.

Yeah, the headline kind of gave it away, but with just over a week to go, it’s time to add my voice to the debate, and explain why X&HT supports the Alternative Vote.

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Under our current system, it’s acceptable that a party can take take power with a third of the vote. Under our current system, our so-called representatives can get their feet under the table and stay there for life. It is a system that has led to complacency, and abuse of power. Just look at the expenses scandal, at how difficult it can be to get a meaningful response out of MPs who’re more interested in a comfortable, easy life than actually doing the job we gave them.

The current system worked when we had a two-party system and everyone voted. That’s no longer the case. We need a better, more effective way of electing our parliamentary representatives. A way that means that they need a clear fifty percent or over majority to take office. A way that gives our vote more meaning and value.

Critics of the system call AV complicated and expensive. It’s neither. The myth that AV will require new electronic counting machines is just that. And frankly, I find cricket scores or goal difference much more complex then the idea of listing my candidates in preferential order.

The sports analogy has been batted around (sorry) quite a bit over the last few days, with the No camp claiming that under AV the loser can win. They are clearly unaware of the existence of heats, or the concept of a knockout competition.

AV is simple. Indeed, it’s closer to first past the post than the current system. You list your candidates in order of preference. When the votes are totted up, if no one party has hit a clear majority, the weakest candidate is eliminated, and their second preference votes are shared out amongst the survivors. And so on, until one party gets over 50%. That’s it.

If there’s a landslide vote for one party, then there’s no need for the recounts. There’s also no way under AV for marginal nutcases like the BNP to get seats – in fact AV protects against that sort of thing happening. They’re knocked out in the first round. Which is why the BNP have campaigned to keep the old system. Furthermore, you don’t even have to rank everyone on the ballot. If you don’t want to vote Tory, don’t mark them in the first place.

It’s such a fair system that parliamentarians use it themselves to vote in their leadership. Which does make you wonder why they don’t think it’s good enough for the rest of us.

I’m glad that we’re finally having the discussion, and deeply bothered by the way that the No lobby has resorted to lies, smears and low tactics, with absolutely no positive explanation of why we should hang onto First Past The Post. They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, it is broken. They say, “it’ll lead to unfair and unrepresentative results and coalitions”. Which is exactly what we’ve got at the moment. To quote David Cameron, we can’t go on like this. And you know what? We don’t have to.

Under AV, MPs will have to work harder to earn and keep our votes. In an age where it’s easier than ever to keep tabs on your elected representative, it’s the logical choice, and a step in the right direction towards true proportional representation.

For more, take a look at the resources available on the Electoral Reform Society site. Find out why it matters that you vote on May 5th. We don’t often get a chance to reshape Britain’s political landscape. Let’s make the most of it.

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Rob

Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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