Welcome to suburbia

I've finally plucked up the courage to set-up an online blog. I'm going to endeavour to blog as often as possible to share my thoughts, to share some articles and news i find interesting, and also use it for my private reflections (you guys won't get to see that!). Also i hope people will read and comment on some of my posts.

The spur for deciding to set-up a blog has been my studies through the Open University. They encourage learning and reflection, and collaborating with others.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

To AV or not to AV

I remember, when studying my A-Level in Politics, covering alternative voting systems. However what springs to mind is that AV (or single transferable vote, as it was known) wasn't really taken seriously as an alternative system. You can argue both sides of the fence; AV is fair and reflects the voting preferences of the majority, and also that it is not fair as (yes its true, although unlikely) a candidate in 3rd or 4th position on first count could win after all votes have counted.

Its the first election in a while that i am really struggling to decide what to do. Not an issue last year in the general, not an issue in this year's local elections (mainly because i have a disappointing selection of three candidates from the main parties).

This referendum is a real head scratcher, why? because i'm in favour of every vote counting, i want the lack of choice provided by FPTP to be abolished, i hope a change in system will create a more collaborative political climate (although the current coalition is insistent on proving me wrong on this point!), but at the core of it all i am convinced that AV is a half measure, not really proportional, not really allowing for every vote to count, and in some constituencies will result in the three big parties getting a 1,2,3 and therefore hoarding all of the bloody votes!

Ah ha, i hear you say, but AV works in Australia. Well yeah it does, but it would have to wouldn't it? For compulsory voting to work you need some sort of incentive to the masses, and being able to be indecisive (the modern political equivalent of not bothering to turn up in the first place) and choose your 3 favourites i some incentive!

What do i really want? that is easy, party list is what i want. This is the method they use in European elections, and is where rather than choosing a constituency MP you choose a party to support (which is what most people do anyway), and in your region/area the representation is distributed based on true proportion of votes cast. Yes that does mean that the BNP gets in, but it also means the Greens get a seat at the table (outside of the fabulously liberal Brighton Pavilion), and will hopefully lead to the rise of some leftist parties outside of the current (limited) spectrum. It means when i vote i will get represented by an MP from the party of my choice in my region. Opponents of such a system say that it removes the accountability that a constituency MP has to their voters, in response i have one word- Expenses. Also they say that people won't know how or who to raise local concerns with. Frankly that is a bit of an old fashioned view to hold. Most people are using a variety of new technologies to make themselves heard and get the ear of power; take Mumsnet etc. Also i have never had cause to speak to my MP- he is too busy eating lunches paid for by professional lobbyists to worry about what i have to say.

Sadly party list is not on the table. So do i do as many are saying they will do which is vote Yes to push the door ajar on the issue of proportional voting, or do i vote No as on principle AV is the wrong system to push the door open with and may in effect stall the adoption of a better system.

Voting No has additional complications, mainly siding with a group of people that are willing to use scare tactics and down right lies to win votes. If i wasn't comfortable with AV, i am even less comfortable with this!

Decisions, decisions. only a week to go!

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