Friday, January 14, 2011

The Alternative Vote Referendum

I've started to have a think about the AV referendum in May. I've been disappointed so far that I've not seen any wide-ranging discussion about a possible change in our voting system.

My instinct has been to support Alternative Vote, but I'm happy to change my mind in a public debate. I just want to see a public debate. I haven't seen one yet. I feel like this is a pretty important issue and we need a proper debate about it.

I've had a look at the Yes campaign and the No campaign websites. I did so with a reasonably open mind, but I have to say the arguments of the No campaign are absolutely rubbish. They keep talking some people having their votes counted more than others. But this is misleading nonsense. Under AV some people's votes may be physically counted by the vote counters on the night more than once, but everyone still only gets one vote. A person's vote will only be counted again if their first choice is eliminated. It seems to me to be intentionally misleading to say that some votes get counted more under AV.

I'd like to see the BBC or some other media give an objective survey of the issues on their website, but I couldn't find anything.

But I'd like to see a debate.


Blogger Ian said...

Personally, I'd like to see a true proportional system in place. The constituency vote is fine if the candidates are independent, and will represent the constituency to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, in this country, it's mixed with a party system where the MP has to toe the party line. The AV system is still a constituency vote system. The only difference to the first-past-the-post being the counting of second preferences after elimination of the lowest votes. The constituency voting system is not representative in terms of the number of seats returned for the proportion of the overall vote.

7:54 pm  
Blogger Stephen Lingwood said...

UPDATE: Jonathan Bartley has written to Margaret Beckett, asking for a public debate on both systems. You can co-sign the letter here (

3:35 pm  
Anonymous Robertson said...

The case for reform of the voting system is unanswerable in my opinion - and I don't think there are many causes of which I would say that.The present coalition has no mandate- because no one voted for it - they voted for distinct parties;it is only because David Cameron managed to forge a coalition against the natural instincts of most of his party, that Nick Clegg has a sizeable foothold in government.In my opinion to defend first past the post is to endorse the result which ended up as the party which did least well having a significant role in legislation ; of course under AV there might have been a similar outcome but as a result of the votes cast rather than the gift of the party leader who emerged as prime minister and discussions behind the scene.Then the student fees matter and NHS reforms would have developed in proportion to the policy ideas of the constituent parties rather than what we have which is essentially Tory policies with a few titbits like the reformed paternity/maternity leave proposals thrown to the minority group to keep them on side.

7:17 pm  
Blogger Stephen Lingwood said...

Jonathan Bartley has also addressed the "people getting more than one vote" issue here

9:09 am  

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