chris: A birthday cake in the shape of a slightly cartoon-like panda (Default)
[personal profile] chris
In the UK, a referendum is being held on Thursday 5th May, at the same time as council elections in some parts of the country, on potential reform to the way MPs at Westminster are being elected. Only one alternative to the current "first past the post" system is being offered, the Alternative Vote. If you can vote in the election, particularly if you were neutral on the topic, please consider voting YES on Thursday 5th May for change.

All voting systems have their flaws. The Alternative Vote, while far from my favourite voting system, has flaws that are considerably more to my taste than the system we have at the moment. At heart, it attempts to reflect that people can, and do, like more than one option in a list, and really do have degrees of preference. Life is based on grey scales rather than absolute black-and-white decisions; so should be our politics.

If you like exactly one political party and dislike all other parties equally, the current system is fine. If you recognise that all candidates - and all parties - have pros and cons to differing extents, the proposed AV system is better. If you want to be able to express a preference for your favourite party above all others, but also express a preference for your second least favourite party over your least favourite party, by far the best way to make the change happen is to vote YES on Thursday 5th May. Please take the time and effort to go out and do so.

The campaigning has been depressing so far. So far the "no" campaign has made claims that I consider misleading at worst and annoying at best; the "yes" campaign has not caught people's attention and has spent its time arguing against the case made by the "no" campaign. Too much time has been spent trying to associate "yes" and "no" with particular politicians and particular parties, when there unfortunately aren't actually any significantly popular politicians in the UK at the moment. I haven't yet seen a "Vote YES to get all of them out!" campaign, which might do quite well. Hey, voting no certainly isn't going to get all of them out...

In practice, the case for "yes" seems to have been made around "AV isn't ((some negative adjective or other))", which is not the sort of way to get people interested and excited. I've tried to give positive reasons for the change I want to see. I'm happy to rebut the arguments against in the comments, if you like, but I view AV as a change for the better first and foremost and "not actually a change for the worse" only incidentally.

There's also a lot of campaigning, mostly unofficially, taking the form "give ((some party or some politician)) a bloody nose, vote ((one way or the other))", which is also really grubby on both sides. It's really not possible to say what the effects of AV would be in practice; there have been competing analyses suggesting AV favours and disfavours each of the large parties separately. That said, on the face of it, AV would seem to do better than the current system at treating relatively small political operations equally with larger ones, and would also tend to disfavour parties with extreme positions. Even if you have a strong partisan preference, this really is an issue where you have to vote based on this issue in particular, not what it might or might not do for your party, and I think that's the way it should be.

For me, the most important reason to vote "yes" is that a "no" vote will be taken, rightly or wrongly, as a statement that the UK people have no interest in electoral and political reform. Of course I want the government to get on with the act of governing the country, but I don't feel that enough time, effort and money is spent at the moment on thinking and acting about the systems in place and whether they are the most appropriate ones for us for now. The beneficiaries of the current system (that is, whoever's in power, regardless of which party they are) have every incentive to make changes that will benefit them, rather than changes that will benefit the country. A vote for "yes", as well as bringing about some degree of improvement in one particular voting practice, would reflect that the people of the UK care about how political decisions are taken, as well as what decisions are taken.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-24 10:59 pm (UTC)
lucius: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucius
I'm voting 'yes' :)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-25 11:52 am (UTC)
undyingking: (Default)
From: [personal profile] undyingking
I'm voting yes, but pretty pessimistically. I suspect that it is actually the case that the large majority of "the UK people have no interest in electoral and political reform".

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-25 02:12 pm (UTC)
undyingking: (Default)
From: [personal profile] undyingking
Not necessarily, it may just be that the sulky apathy sector is growing!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-27 07:13 pm (UTC)
daweaver:   (redlightdoor)
From: [personal profile] daweaver
The vote next Thursday is happening...

at the same time as council elections in some parts of the country

And a mayoral election and Westminster by-election in Leicester. And elections to the Welsh Assembly. And elections to the Stormont Executive. And elections to the Scottish Parliament. None of these bodies is quite on a par with Chipping Snodbury Town Council, and at least one of them has more influence over day-to-day life for people in their remit than does Westminster.

Deep breath.

I agree with chris on what the AV system can offer...

The campaigning has been depressing so far.

...and I completely agree with this statement. It's been a spectacularly rubbish campaign: it's enthused almost exactly no-one outside the wonketariat, and probably isn't even the topic of conversation at Sir David Butler's dinner table. The whole thing has been overshadowed by the remarkable spat between the SNP's Alex Salmond and Labour's John McMajor Iain Gray, and by the usual bloviations in Wales. And there are loud grumblings in Nornireln, but that might just be Stephen Nolan waiting for his twelveses.

Too much time has been spent trying to associate "yes" and "no" with particular politicians and particular parties, when there unfortunately aren't actually any significantly popular politicians in the UK at the moment.

It's interesting to note that most of the people who might qualify for that accolade - Alex Salmond, Caroline Lucas, Chatshow Charlie, and Nigel Farage - are all lining up on the yes side; only Boris Crumbs Johnson is mildly popular and in the "no" camp. Compare and contrast against the 1975 Euro-referendum, when the Yes campaign had Shirley Williams and the No side had Tony Benn, and that was just campaigners in the cabinet.

There's also a lot of campaigning, mostly unofficially, taking the form "give ((some party or some politician)) a bloody nose, vote ((one way or the other))", which is also really grubby on both sides.

From where I'm stood, this seems to be No trying to tap into the disillusioned C2DE Lab-LD floaters. Further discussion of this subject can probably (read: will have to) wait until I have more spoonage.

If readers want to give Mr. Clegg, or Mr. Cameron, or Mr. Miller Band, or Mr. Salmond, or Mr. Robinson a bloody nose, then all they have to do is go up and punch them in the mush. I cannot recommend this, owing to the deleterious effects of going to prison for a very long time ie forever, including the loss of franchise.

It's really not possible to say what the effects of AV would be in practice

"We just don't know," said Peter Snow.

Even if you have a strong partisan preference, this really is an issue where you have to vote based on this issue in particular, not what it might or might not do for your party, and I think that's the way it should be.

To that end, readers may be interested in a post at Gowers's Weblog, entitled Is AV better than FPTP?. It's couched in the language of mathematics and employs the synthesis of logic to reach the following conclusions:

First Past The Post Is Not First Past The Post
AV Is Multiple-Round Voting Minus Tactical Game Playing
This Referendum Has Nothing To Do With Nick Clegg
AV Makes It Easier To Get Rid Of Unpopular Governments

And, for our mutual friend Mr. Quirks the Magpie,

Vote Yes To AV Unless You Live In Basildon

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-29 06:17 pm (UTC)
daweaver:   (Default)
From: [personal profile] daweaver
Perhaps I could say that "the country" refers to England in this case, and go back on what I might have said on my census form.

This civis mundi sum thing is hard. That, and I've spent some days in not!England and have been following the national elections there.

Middlesbrough is having a mayoral election on the 5th too, FWIW.

For the complete record, there are also mayoral elections in Mansfield, Bedford, and Torbay. Only Leicester gets a programme on BBC Parliament, though.

Definitely an interesting list of popular politicians, and better than any I could come up with off the top of my head.

This might be a challenge for the panel. My one and only criterion: someone who would be reasonably entertaining on HIGNFY, less of a turn-off than Chris Addison.

Whether their "yes" (or their "yes, BUT...") is genuinely held or partisan remains to be seen.

For the four people I mentioned, I think "yes (with qualifications)" is a genuine opinion; perhaps more tactical from Mr. Farage, certainly as a staging post to PR for Mr. Salmond.

*double-take* Tim Gowers on AV? Wow!

The very same.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-02 08:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hurrah for AV!

I have done a few bits of volunteering for Yes to AV. Not that impressed by the AV campaign...

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-02 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] malachan
That was me!

Profile

chris: A birthday cake in the shape of a slightly cartoon-like panda (Default)
Chris

September 2018

S M T W T F S
      1
23 45678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags