Yes to… something other than FPTP

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/02/david-cameron-av-attack?INTCMP…

Cameron (allegedly) says that someone who supports the BNP gets their vote counted several times. In most constituencies, their second, or third choice will be invoked, rather than their first. So, if you feel the need to argue it in those “argument from fear” terms, a counter may be: those short-sighted people’s first vote is ignored, and their more reasonable second or third vote is used. They have a partial vote, rather than a full vote. As a bonus, for the country, the first vote is included in official voting statistics, so there’s a record that something may need to be addressed in that constituency by the other candidates, especially the one that got elected. If a BNP candidate does get elected under AV, it shows front and centre that something needs addressing, rather than FPTP hiding it under the carpet for another 4 years.

A slightly more substantial argument might be: in the current system someone who would prefer to vote Green might feel that is a wasted vote in their constituency. In an AV system, that person can vote Green first, main stream second and third, and have their considerations taken in account in the official voting statistics and some additional feeling of having contributed if their second or third preference is elected.

Part of being a developed country is the additional headspace we get to worry about things outside of feeding ourselves and the children over the winter. It allows us the luxury (although it may not feel like it) of time to think about how we want our society to act and work. If we feel that thinking time is wasted because no matter what we believe, as part of the electorate, virtually all our actions have zero affect on our countries, we feel disenfranchised and go and vote on Strictly instead (a combination of round based, televoting, last man standing, and deliberative democracy) immersive voting with a fast feedback loop which feels like we make a difference each week. The only way you can feel like you’re making a real difference as a member of the electorate is to go and live in a swing seat, in which case you’re probably fully engaged anyway.

Cameron’s other quoted argument, Usain Bolt wins the 100 metres, but the 3rd place gets the gold medal, is comparing apples and oranges. A Watch the Lady argument. I could equally phrase the argument as “A husband wants his wife to shut-up so he floors her with a powerful haymaker, but under AV the wife would not shut-up”. It’s a daft argument (whether he set it up as a Straw Man so that people like me make fun of it as above and get mullered by other people thinking I’m advocating that would be too cynical and self-aggrandising).

The “our system is used by half the world” argument is argument from tradition. It’s almost not worth addressing, but for some reason people put great store by tradition ;-). To counter:

  1. Countries that use FPTP include Iran; Pakistan; Lebanon; Yemen; and Zimbabwe. 
  2. Britain colonised much of the world and introduced it’s traditions there. 

Neither of which are substantial arguments for AV, and show that the reverse is true for FPTP too. 

IMHO the no campaign “which still refuses to list its donors” is the voice of those that fear change or have a vested interest in the status quo. I agreed that AV is not the best system out there, but neither is FPTP. If the no campaign win on 5th May, electoral reform will not be discussed for another 20 years, so we have FPTP and nothing else, whereas if we get AV, there will be a visible effect on politics, no matter what it is. People respond to stimuli, so seeing the political landscape changing will engage more people, whether it being arguing to change the system again, or keep it as is.

Status quo, and we have another generation lost to politics, with an inevitable further degradation of democratic thinking, discussion, and action in our countries… but probably to the huge benefit of the Simon Cowell’s and TV companies of this world (IMHO, I cite no evidence to support my gratuitous dig at trivial TV). 

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