Posts Tagged ‘AV’

AV – who cares? The whole debate’s a waste of time and money.

31/01/2011, 12:00:18 PM

by Michael Dugher

In September 2009 I was asked to conduct the traditional pre-briefing for broadcasters of the leader’s speech to the party conference. I remember reporting back to Gordon Brown’s other advisers that I had just “had my balls fried” by journalists about a line in the speech committing Labour to hold a referendum on the alternative vote. There was much confusion. The journalists wanted to know why having a referendum on AV had anything to do with the need for political reform after the MPs expenses scandal. They also wanted to know whether Labour would be campaigning for a “yes” vote, or whether we were simply committing to giving people the choice to move to AV or not. “Oh we’re definitely in favour of AV”, said one policy wonk. “No we’re bloody not,” said a political adviser, “large parts of the PLP are against and it hasn’t gone through the NEC yet”.

18 months later, the tedious irrelevancy that is the debate about whether or not to change to the alternative vote system continues. It is striking that the only party to have had a commitment to having a referendum on AV was Labour, the party that definitely lost the election. The Tories were opposed, as were the Lib Dems, who, as longstanding supporters of proportional representation, dismissed AV as “a miserable little compromise”. And yet we are having a referendum nonetheless, whether the public wants one or not. (more…)

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Only electoral reform can rescue democracy from MPs

19/01/2011, 04:34:02 PM

by Alex Hilton

The referendum debate is getting a little personal, with yes and no campaigners bickering and name calling. Which does Labour little good, because we’re the only party split on the issue. So I will write in the spirit of comradeship. No calling of names like “analogue” or “swivel eyed”. No abuse.

Except of MPs of course. They deserve everything they get.

Remember, that’s where this all came from, the expenses scandal. In the days of the Jenkins review, the electoral reform debate was entirely about fairness. And that didn’t get very far. But the expenses scandal highlighted the other really big problem of FPTP. That of accountability – and that’s an issue that isn’t going away.

MPs are desperately trying to forget the expenses scandal. They want you to believe – they want to believe themselves – that it was a few rotten apples who are now facing the courts or who have resigned in disgrace. But if the sum total of politicians who face trial reaches even twenty, that won’t include any of the MPs who stuck to the rules (that they made to suit themselves) in their over claiming – like the capital gains tax flippers. Nor any of those who weren’t greedy but who turned a blind eye to their colleagues’ behaviour. Which adds up to nearly all of those in Parliament at the time.

I do still have a lot of respect for some of those people, particularly those who achieved most and who represented people best. It’s just a lot less respect than it used to be. (more…)

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In its proponents’ own terms, AV is just soft porn and repeats of Minder

18/01/2011, 07:00:03 AM

by Kevin Meagher

At this time of year, it’s chilly up there on the moral high ground. But that isn’t stopping Yes campaigners for May’s referendum on the alternative vote (AV) donning their bobble hats and clambering up to pitch their tents.

They are doubtless buoyed by a poll in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday which showed 61 per cent of the electorate “could be persuaded” to make the change from first-past-the-post to AV.

This led some chap called Jonathan Bartley from the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, to write to former Labour deputy leader, Margaret Beckett (who is President of No to AV) to demand “in sorrow rather than anger” that they hear “truthful and honest arguments” for the retention of FPTP in future.

That’s you told, Marge.

For huffy Yes-ers like Mr. Bartley, those staying loyal to our current first past the post (FPTP) system are “defending the indefensible”. FPTP, they argue, is “an analogue system in a digital age”. A strange comparison, I would have thought. Digital television is full of soft porn, repeats of Minder and shopping channels auctioning crappy jewellery. (more…)

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No to AV – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

09/01/2011, 10:30:18 AM

by Dan McCurry

How ridiculous that the pro-AV campaign attacked the MPs who have pledged themselves against. That policy was in the manifesto for the benefit of the Lib Dems, who then shafted us, yet they claim that we’re committed to an obsolete manifesto that has already lost us the election.

Just as silly is their argument that AV would not be good for the Lib Dems. I wish they’d tell the Lib Dems that, because this was the crucial offer from the Conservatives that made the coalition happen.

We’ve waited for generations for a chance to destroy the Liberal Democrats and get British politics back to its natural balance of a two party democracy. Finally, the Lib Dems have been exposed for the shallow bunch they are, and just at that moment when we can finally clean up, along comes this campaign, from within the party, seeking to bring about eternal coalition. (more…)

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AV is a sham

05/01/2011, 12:30:43 PM

by Darrell Goodliffe

It seems that serious battle is being joined within Labour over the alternative vote (AV) referendum. MPs supporting the “No” campaign have been adversely criticised by Labour “yes” for abandoning their manifesto commitment to hold a referendum. In truth, no party is bound by a manifesto commitment that has been submitted to and rejected by voters. Consider the consequences if it were: presumably. Labour “yes” thinks that we are still bound to commitments made in manifestos throughout the 80s? Maybe, in some cases, it would be better if we were. But insisting that commitments made in a losing manifesto are binding is nonsense.

The battle in Labour over AV will be hard-fought because the stakes are high. In all likelihood, the side on which Labour voters eventually come down will decide the outcome of the referendum. I will vote no. Not because I believe in first past the post (FPTP) – although I think it is superior to AV – but because I believe that AV is the wrong reform. Those who support AV in the expectation that it will lead to further reform are sadly misguided.

Let us assume that on 5 May the public votes for AV. Who will then go on to initiate further reform? It certainly will not be the Conservatives.

Nor will it be Labour. Ed Miliband, and the majority of the leading figures in Labour “yes”, have made their view clear: it is “AV and no further”. (more…)

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Sally Bercow prefers electoral reform to adult videos

22/12/2010, 08:07:07 AM

by Sally Bercow

It is hard to get excited about electoral reform. Indeed, mention AV to the proverbial bloke on the bus and he will look completely blank. And then perhaps he will think “audio visual” and start fantasising about the latest 52” Sony Bravia with Bose surround sound. Or maybe he will blush because “adult video” has popped into his head (though he only watched one, many moons ago, purely for research purposes – honest). Or, if he is a retired cardiologist, he might claim to be reminiscing fondly about aortic valves (believe this if you will).

Only if you have chanced upon a Liberal Democrat (increasingly improbable, statistically speaking) or your telltale cagoule-clad political geek, will he say, “aah – the alternative vote, the electoral system in which voters rank constituency candidates in order of preference”. Which, of course, is the right answer in the context. Please note if you have landed here after googling “AV”, this is Labour Uncut. No adult videos here. (more…)

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AV would end the scourge of tactical voting

09/12/2010, 11:24:00 AM

by Luke Akehurst

One of the great myths about the alternative vote (AV) is that it will predominantly benefit the Lib Dems.

I’ve spent all my political life trying to expose the Lib Dems and resisting calls for tactical voting for them. As an election agent one of my proudest moments was when Hackney Labour reduced the Lib Dems from 17 seats to just 3 on our local council.

But I see no contradiction between this and my support for a Yes vote in the AV referendum next May.

The starting point when judging any electoral system is not a snapshot of the partisan benefit to your own party, but whether that system delivers for voters.

AV isn’t proportional representation, so it does not necessarily deliver an improvement on first-past-the-post (FPTP) when it comes to proportionality (that is, share of votes relating to share of seats). (more…)

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Billy Bragg: what the next leader must do to win my vote for Labour again

19/08/2010, 09:00:13 AM

I live in one of an estimated 80% of constituencies where the result is a foregone conclusion. West Dorset is a ‘safe’ Conservative seat. With Labour stuck at around 10%, a vote for the local candidate would be a somewhat futile gesture. Instead, I have voted tactically for the Lib Dems in the past three elections in the hope of unseating the Tories. Although they always win, the majority of us vote against the Tories. This tactic has brought us some success; in the neighbouring constituency of South Dorset, a Labour MP – the first for 40 years – was twice elected with the support of Lib Dem tactical voters.
Our local anti-Tory coalition has been shattered by the national Tory/Lib Dem government, making my choices at the next election very limited. No longer willing to vote tactically for the Lib Dems, I am left with the prospect of walking down to polling station in the sure knowledge that voting Labour will make no difference to the outcome. It’s a dilemma that millions of other potential Labour voters around the country will face if the next election is fought under first past the post; would you bother going to a football match if you knew that your team all had their legs broken before the game? 
It is even more frustrating when you look at the size of anti-Tory vote. Under a fairer voting system, the Tories could be defeated. Although AV is not the proportional change that I had hoped for, it does have the potential to re-engage Labour voters disenfranchised by FPTP. To get me to vote Labour again, a new leader of the party would first have to make my vote count. A strong campaign in favour of AV by the new leader of the Labour party would have my active support.
Having made my vote count, the new leader would then have to give me something to vote for. The party desperately needs to remember why it was formed; to defend ordinary people from exploitation by a financial system that refuses to accept any responsibility for the inequality that it creates.
As the coalition government go beyond the requirements of deficit reduction to make ideologically motivated cuts to public services, the new leader of the Labour party needs to make the case for the collective provision of health care, education, housing and pensions as the best way to protect the majority of citizens from the insecurity that has accompanied globalisation.
Five million Labour supporters went AWOL between 1997 and 2010. They didn’t switch to the Tories, most of them simply stopped voting for a party that they felt no longer stood up for their interests. To win them back, the party needs to make an ideological commitment to significantly narrowing the gap between rich and poor. And you can’t create a fairer society without a fairer voting system. 
The fact that neither Labour nor the Conservatives were able to win a majority at the last election suggests that our democratic discourse has become stale, the electorate jaded. A Labour party that sided with the Tories to defend the status quo in the AV referendum would only serve to undermine enthusiasm for a new leader.
Instead, the party needs to use the referendum as a shop window for radical policies that engage a new generation of activists and supporters who want to live in a society where the interests of the people come before those of the markets.

Billy Bragg

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Tuesday News Review

10/08/2010, 07:57:14 AM

Lib Dem slump

Liberal Democrat support has slumped to its lowest level since the start of the general election campaign as voters protest that the party has lost its voice in the coalition government.A ComRes poll for The Independent finds that backing for Nick Clegg’s party has fallen to just 16 per cent, its worst showing since early April. It also found that almost three-quarters of the public says it does not know what the Liberal Democrats stand for any longer. The survey puts the Conservatives on 39 per cent, down one point since the last ComRes survey for The Independent on 28 June. – The Independent

What does stand out is the 12 point share for others – SNP/PC/GRN/UKIP/BNP – which is in marked contrast to what YouGov has been reporting. In one recent survey it had the total for the five parties at just five points. It’s having fewer points for others and a much lower LD figure which is behind YouGov’s highish shares for the Tories and Labour. Even though it has the lowest ComRes share for the LDs since early April tonight’s poll will be viewed with a sense of relief by the yellows after watching their YouGov total drop to 12 points at the start of last week. – Political Betting


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Equal-sizing constituencies is gerrymandering through ignorance, as well as cynicism, says Kevin Meagher

04/08/2010, 09:10:50 AM

In last week’s Guardian, Martin Kettle, accused Labour of ‘playing fast and loose on AV reform’ following the Shadow Cabinet’s  decision to oppose the bill paving the way for next year’s referendum on electoral reform. It got me shouting at the cat.

Of course the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill also has bolted on to it measures to reduce the number of MPs and comprehensively redraw parliamentary constituencies, hence Labour’s objection.

But in a passage that sent dear old Puss heading for the cat-flap, Kettle cited the Chartists’ call for equal-sized parliamentary constituencies and asked whether Labour ‘is any longer a party of reform at all’ given that it is ‘no longer willing to go into the Parliamentary lobbies in September to advance the equality of representation for which the Chartists campaigned.’ (more…)

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