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Referendum on the Alternative Vote
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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #1
20-02-2011 08:59 PM

Roz said, on the 'Lewisham Libraries Read-in 5th February' thread,

Quote:
I won't be voting for an AV system however.

I'd be interested to know why, Roz, as I have hitherto assumed that you are exactly the sort of progressive-minded young person who would be in favour of refreshing the current voting system, which seems to be losing the confidence of the electorate if turn-out figures are anything to go by. You may have read Andrew Rawnsley in today's Observer: The no campaign will probably not put it so indelicately themselves, but they are calculating that their best hope of preserving first past the post is to mobilise what you could crudely call the Thicko Vote. Not you, surely?

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Baboonery


Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #2
21-02-2011 12:21 AM

Au contraire, I think the 'yes' campaign are hoping for a thicko vote themselves - someone who wil say 'oh, well, this is a step forward, isn't it?' without actually realising how iniquitous and undemocratic AV is.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #3
21-02-2011 08:01 AM

Why is it undemocratic (let alone iniquitous) to have a system which ensures that the successful candidate is the one who has the widest support amongst the voters and which reduces the number of wasted votes?

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #4
21-02-2011 12:28 PM

I think it is unfair to suggest one or the other voters are thicker than the alternative.

I will probably vote No but could yet be convinced otherwise.
Not sure AV is any better at representing the voter tha the current system.

In Germany the FDP normally gets between 5 and 10% of any vote but in virtually every government since the was has been in Government. Not sure if this is just.

Our system has served us well.

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grahamw


Posts: 58
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #5
21-02-2011 01:20 PM

I remember writing a paper on this 20 years ago when I was at sixth form... I can't believe it's taken that long for the country to even be able to consider an alternative system!!

AV is not a pure system of proportional representation, but in my view it certainly reflects a fairer representation of the electorate's wishes. That can only be a good thing, even if it leads to more hung parliaments and coalitions (and lets face it, whatever you think of the present coalition, we wouldn't be having this referendum if it were a solely conservative government!).

The current first past the post system hasn't served the country well at all. It favours the big parties, and that's why politics in the UK is dominated by labour and conservative.

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michael


Posts: 3,217
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #6
21-02-2011 02:28 PM

I'm not sure how many constituencies will actually end up with a different candidate using AV rather than FPTP. I would suggest that in most it will make little difference based on current voting patterns. However, in marginal seats it would be likely to result in a much closer election and a fairer contest when the vote is split three or four way.

It would result in many more 'marginal' constituencies, which means that more people would actually influence the result of the election than at present. Since I have been old enough to vote Lewisham West (& Penge) has never really been regarded as a marginal. My vote could not influence the party(s) that form the government or even have much impact on the MP. On the other hand, if we lived in Hampstead, where three parties were all around 32%, a vote for any of these large parties can make a big difference. AV does not do away with this problem, but it does start to address the problem.

With a number of smaller parties; Lib Dem, UKIP, Greens, it is less likely that a single party will always control who forms the government if we have more coalitions. But then I see the third party in coalition as a balance against the worst excesses of a single party in power.

Once we have a slightly more democratic system for the commons, the Lords can be moved to a fully proportional system (at least for the majority of members).

We have been experimenting with different voting methods since 1997 for local assemblies and directly elected mayors. Now we have the chance to learn from these successes and use a better system for Westminster. Unfortunately I fear that those who want to punish Clegg and those who benefit from the status quo will join together to kill off any chance of electoral reform for another 50 years.

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sandy


Posts: 189
Joined: Oct 2006
Post: #7
21-02-2011 02:40 PM

Michael says 'But then I see the third party in coalition as a balance against the worst excesses of a single party in power.'

Mmmm....doesn't seem to be the case currently.[/quote]

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sandy


Posts: 189
Joined: Oct 2006
Post: #8
21-02-2011 02:41 PM

Not quite clear on use of quotes...

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #9
21-02-2011 03:33 PM

Michael
You say punish Clegg ( not even Mr )

Surely he did what any party leader should aim to do , that was to form a Government. The Conservative party were the only viable option. To join with The Labour Party would also mean the SNP, Plaid and some Ulster members.

If he is punished , as you say , just shows how childish and ignorant some of the voters are

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #10
21-02-2011 03:57 PM

Graham W said

Quote:
AV [...] in my view [...] certainly reflects a fairer representation of the electorate's wishes. That can only be a good thing, even if it leads to more hung parliaments and coalitions.


In fact, according to an analysis by John Curtice of Strathclyde University, as reported in today's Independent, the only hung parliament which would have emerged from the last seven general elections if they had been conducted under AV would have been the present one. That's no predictor of what might happen in future, of course.

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michael


Posts: 3,217
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #11
21-02-2011 04:09 PM

Quote:
doesn't seem to be the case currently

That depends on your view on what each party would have done without the other in coalition.
Do you think taxes would have been reduced for people earning the least if the Conservatives had an outright majority? Would Capital Gains Tax for higher rate taxpayers increased in the budget? Would trident have been renewed without a second thought? Would we continue to increase aid budget to meet the UN target? And would there be targets on universities to take more pupils from the state system if they increase tuition fees?

I think it is reasonable to assume that some of the worst excesses have been avoided even in the nine months the coalition has been in power. What I don't think you could say is that the government is being driven by the junior partner, that is simply not the way coalitions work (except in Israel).

Brian, I would agree that it would be very childish to base a referendum on the dislike of a single politician, or the government as a whole. But that is what I fear will happen, and I am not alone in this fear http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/uk-politics-12462662

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michael


Posts: 3,217
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #12
13-04-2011 10:37 AM

Journal of Parliamentary Affairs Wrote:
councillor Alex Feakes would have beaten Labour to take the seat of Lewisham West and Penge if the alternative voting system had operated during last year’s general election


from http://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2011/04...av-system/

eastlondonlines Wrote:
Dowd, meanwhile, was among 51 Labour MPs who signed a letter announcing their support for AV. “first past the post isn’t working” and claiming this year as a “time for change.”


So it seems that Jim Dowd and Alex Feakes both wish to see AV adopted for the election of MPs, the same system as used to elect the Lewisham and London Mayors. At the very least this will (almost) bring the voting systems for the election of single representatives in line with each other, and in line with the system that is used to elect the leaders of all political parties and unions.

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #13
13-04-2011 10:52 AM

Interesting Michael but how can we know for certain what the second and third etc preference votes would have been in the last election.

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michael


Posts: 3,217
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #14
13-04-2011 11:08 AM

The details of the research and methodology can be found at http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journa...gsq042.pdf
I have not taken the time to read through this research.

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Baboonery


Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #15
13-04-2011 02:25 PM

Robin. It's undemocratic and iniquitous because it gives fifth preferences equal weight to first preferences if we have that many counts. There is no way that someone's fifth preference (or for that matter, their second) should count the same as someone else's first. This is transparently unfair. AV is a partisan fraud being introduced by the LibDems, who don't actually want it – they'd much prefer STV, which is also democratically dubious but at least has a bit more logic to it – but see that it is to their massive electoral advantage. Alas, some on the Labour benches have been taken in by it (the current leader dimly included it in the last manifesto as a sop to the shallow anti-politics howls that were going round in 2010).

And I think in your earlier post, when you said 'wasted votes' you meant 'votes for unsuccessful candidates'. This is an election, not a school sports day where all must have prizes.

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michael


Posts: 3,217
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #16
13-04-2011 03:31 PM

Baboonery,
By that logic it is undemocratic if the BNP or Monster Raving Loony Party choose not to field a candidate in Lewisham West, afterall, you would expect their voters to vote for one of the candidates that did stand - but in the current system they cannot mark that this is their 2nd preference and they would prefer to vote for the Jedi Knights - or at least if they do it is marked as spoilt.

In the elections for Mayor of London and Mayor of Lewisham all votes for candidates other than the top two are redistributed in one go. But this is a little unfair on the third and fourth placed candidates who may be able to muster more support were it not for the even less popular candidates.

More than anything else AV encourages people to vote (in as their first choice) according to their real beliefs, and not to dismiss candidates that traditionally do not do well in their area because in really is a wasted vote. In terms of democracy this gives every voter the ability to express not just their least favourite option between two candidates, but actually tell politicians and the country which party matches closest their views.

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Baboonery


Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #17
13-04-2011 03:58 PM

...And then have a vote for their eighth preference counted anyway.

Vote NO.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #18
13-04-2011 04:48 PM

The aim of AV is to ensure that the successful candidate is the one who, at the end of the day, gets at least 50% of the votes. It seems to me that the key issue is whether you think that is a sensible aim.

Another way of achieving the same thing would be to have provision for second or third etc ballots (in successive weeks, presumably) if no candidate got 50% in the first etc ballot, with the bottom candidate dropping out each time. (Doesn't that happen in the French presidential elections?) Everyone who had voted for the eliminated candidate(s) in a previous round would then have to decide who their second etc choice was. People who had voted in the previous round for one of the candidates who was still in the running would presumably vote for them again.

AV on the other hand achieves this, or something very close to it, without having to spin the process out over several weeks.

It is true that either of these systems gives equal weight (at successive stages) to those who stick to the same candidate and to those who are obliged to vote for a candidate who is not their first choice. But I don't see, 'Baboonery', that that is 'undemocratic', 'iniquitous' or 'transparently unfair.' It all depends on whether (like me) you think it's better to have an MP with the widest possible support within the constituency or whether you prefer having one who, although rejected by the majority of the constituents, still gets more first preference votes than anyone else.

I don't myself favour STV, as it would mean much bigger constituencies and dilute the relationship between MPs and those who elected them. 'AV+', as proposed by Roy Jenkins' commission, is in my view worth condidering further.

I agree that to talk of 'wasted votes' begs the question. I shall avoid the expression in future!

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roz


Posts: 1,793
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #19
13-04-2011 08:15 PM

I think that this referendum is far too premature and further options and alternatives need to be put forward and considered before any referendum takes place. Few people even those with the time to pay attention to in depth discussions will know enough to be able to make an informed choice. As highlighted here there are various options for alternative voting systems that should be explored and debated. Does this referendum mean that if people opt for AV, then we are guaranteed to get AV, and if so which version of AV are we going to get? Is it going to be debated further and pulled apart by the various parties so that we get a completely different alternative voting system than what we thought we were sanctioning?

I still have mixed views. I don't with what I know feel comfortable enough to vote yes because I do not feel that 4th//5th preference votes should be counted at all, as I don't feel that those casting them have given any real consideration in that action. I think as someone has said previously, people will vote for 'change' without really understanding what they are getting into. I don't personally want to see the UK governed by a series of coalitions incorporating minority parties as this country contains a lot of extremist and polarised views. Above all, I don't want to see a repeat of the shameless governance currently in place in the UK. If you can convince me that I won't, then I'll listen to you.

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michael


Posts: 3,217
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #20
13-04-2011 10:15 PM

Roz Wrote:
I don't want to see a repeat of the shameless governance currently in place in the UK. If you can convince me that I won't, then I'll listen to you.

This can and did happen under FPTP. You may not like the coalition, but that is the result of the FPTP system. A bit of background on the likelihood of coalitions is provided by full fact another useful article is Why AV does not necessarily produce more coalition governments. Nor does it help small parties to win more seats.

Extremists are unlikely to win seats as it requires 50% of the voters to make a positive vote for them. This actually seems quite unlikely for the BNP to gain a single seat in the UK parliament, and certainly not to have enough seats to justify them becoming part of a coalition government.

Finally I would suggest that the 'shameless governance' that exists as a result of the coalition government would only be worse if a single party was in government. It was not a coalition government that introduced the poll tax or invaded Iraq or even introduced tuition fees in the first place.

Roz Wrote:
if so which version of AV are we going to get?

The version of AV that will be introduced is set out in the legislation that has been through parliament. There is not an option to vote for AV+, STV, or any other method - it is a straight choice between FPTP and AV.

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