Posts Tagged ‘Yes to AV’

Cock a snook at the Tory press: vote Yes to AV

06/04/2011, 01:00:26 PM

By David Seymour

Wake up, Britain, the Daily Mail exhorts its readers and I agree. If the people of Britain woke up and voted the right way in the AV referendum, they would strike a terrific blow for democracy and plunge a dagger in the heart of the anti-democratic forces that are taking over the country.

Where the Mail and I part company is that they want a No vote while I want to say No to the Mail and the other right-wing papers, which means voting Yes to AV.

It is an inescapable fact that referendums, like by-elections, give voters the chance to cock a huge snook at whoever they feel like teaching a lesson at that time.

The politicians are so split on AV that snook-cocking is particularly difficult this time. UKIP supports AV, the BNP prefers to stick to first past the post. Half the Labour party wants change, the other half doesn’t. Clegg wants it, Cameron doesn’t. Both sides have uncomfortable bedfellows.

There is one group, however, which is completely united and that is the Tory press. All are hysterical in their insistence that changing the voting system would mean an end to democratic life as we know it.

The Mail, the Express, the Sun and the Telegraph are as one in pouring out bile towards the Yes lobby and screaming at their readers to save the nation from AV. Magna Carta, universal suffrage and human rights are as nothing compared with the sanctity of FPTP.

What’s their panic? The reality is that a) first past the post is an unfair system which results in millions of people in hundreds of constituencies rarely if ever having a vote that counts; and b) the difference which AV would make is marginal – only full PR will properly modernise our electoral system.

It is true that a Yes vote on May 5 will create problems for Cameron, but the Tory papers dislike him anyway, so they ought to be pleased if that happens. Yet they have worked themselves into a lather at the prospect of “losing” the referendum.

It isn’t as if the vast majority of their readers care. In the real world there are genuine political crises which are causing turmoil in people’s lives, though the papers don’t like to accept that. They continue to insist that all public spending is profligate and all public-sector employees are lazy, over-paid lead-swingers.

Perhaps the referendum is a surrogate issue for them to get their fangs into. But that doesn’t explain the passion and fury with which they are pursuing it.

Their arguments are laughable. They say AV is complicated. Not for anyone who can count it isn’t. They say it will cost millions. Why? They say it is unfair when it patently isn’t less fair than the current system.

They claim it will be a historic deviation from the great British electoral tradition. By that measure, we should take the vote away from women and anyone who isn’t a property-owner. (Incidentally, did you know the president of the Tea party thinks people who don’t own property shouldn’t have the right to vote)?

It is being increasingly recognised that the answer nowadays to the question “Who rules Britain”? is: the media. Particularly the Mail and Sun.

If they succeed in getting a No result on May 5, they will be smugly confirming their conviction in their divine right to rule.

But if we can get a Yes vote, just imagine the tantrums, the screaming, the carnage in newsrooms on May 6. It will make the Dacres even more furious and desperate, but we will have won a crucial battle for freedom against the Fleet Street tyranny and the wind will be with us for the really big wars ahead.

David Seymour was group political editor of Mirror Group Newspapers for 15 years.

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AV is a small change – but it could have a big impact

01/02/2011, 07:00:51 AM

by Richard Burden

For me, securing a yes vote in the referendum is about helping to create a more open and participatory politics. A lot of people in this country find politics a really big turn-off – and I can understand why. They want to see a change in the way politics is done. I do too.

Introducing AV is a small change – but it could have a big impact.

It is hardly earth-shattering to suggest that if we MPs are going to claim the right to speak for our constituents, we should each secure the support of 50% of those who voted. Preference voting systems – such as AV – are already used up and down the country in the internal elections of membership organisations, businesses and unions. Labour and other political parties use them to elect their own leaders.

That preference voting for the House of Commons is sometimes regarded as an outlandish suggestion says a lot about the narrow culture of the existing political system. It will take more than a new voting system to change that culture. But it will certainly help. (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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