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

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.

Not only do they want to see us grovel to the Liberal Democrats again, they want grovelling enshrined, for perpetuity, in the British constitution. They want to ensure that every television debate, in every general election to come, will be guaranteed to include cringe-making comments along the lines of, “I agree with Nick”, even though we all know that Nick is a liar. Can’t they see why some of us don’t agree with this policy?

Just imagine the sheer disruption it would cause. We already have David Cameron promising to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 585. Imagine how few constituencies there would be if we also added a whole bunch of “list” MPs not connected to any constituency, as would be required by Nick Clegg’s preferred AV+. We would probably have to reduce the number of constituencies by at least a third, and it would be the Tories deciding what the ground rules would be for those new boundaries.

Every single MP would have to stand for reselection, while a tiny sub-committee of the NEC would choose who gets to be on the list, with all the consequent axes to grind. Yet rather than be supportive of our MPs, Luke Akehurst, in his Progress article, seem to relish that disruption. Which is surely inappropriate because Luke sits on that sub-committee.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The simple fact is that every election I’ve ever known, since the 1980s, has always been won by the party with the best campaign. Even if we agree that John Major’s government was unsuccessful, we must agree that he ran the better campaign.

Sometimes the Tories win through having massively more money than us. Anyone remember the “Labour Isn’t Working” poster? That image slaughtered us. Or maybe I should say Saatchi & Saatchi slaughtered us? The pro-AV campaign argues that FPTP causes the election to be fought out in a few key constituencies rather than every constituency in the country, but that’s the reason why it’s better.

Unlike the Tories, we don’t have huge amounts of money to hire advertising agencies and put up posters across the country. We win elections by knocking on doors and speaking to people. We manage this by concentrating on the key marginals. How is it possibly to our advantage that we should spread ourselves so thin?

Dan McCurry blogs here

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9 Responses to “No to AV – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

  1. cassandra says:

    Oh Dan – it is great to see in one post all that is wrong with the Labour Party.

    1. Sniping at those on our side and taking a position to undermine the leader – check

    2. Disown a policy clearly set out in our manifesto without any debate within the party – check

    3. A political view based on looking backwards. – check

    4. No thought to what is right in principle – check

    5. An unthinking and strategically naive attack on the LibDems – check

    It is people like you who will consign us to 10 years in opposition. And what is even worse is that you think you understand politics and can provide useful insight. The best thing you could do to help the Labour Party is to take up a new hobby – what about stamp collecting.

  2. Owen says:

    …And here we see a perfect example of why I’m not a member of the Labour party. A two-party system is the ‘natural state’ for British politics? Total and utter rubbish. Not to mention undemocratic – it’s amazing how the idea that a government should have to enjoy the support of a majority of the population to govern is such a terrifying idea to some Labour members. Given how pathetically little internal democracy there is in either Labour or the Tory party, this is a recipe for political stagnation; a stagnation which would only be made worse by the continued existence of safe seats (which AV would massively reduce). And it would cause ‘disruption’? Oh heavens to Betsy, how terrible. Good thing that minimum wage was never brought in – imagine the disruption it would have caused to employers. And renovating schools and hospitals? Well, you can imagine the consequences of all the extra traffic caused by the building work. No, you’ve convinced me. Total inertia is clearly the way to go. Being a progressive, if it means anything, means never, ever trying to change things for the better.

    For crying out loud.

  3. Josh says:

    “to destroy the Liberal Democrats and get British politics back to its natural balance of a two party democracy”

    You lost me right there. What utter tribalistic nonsense.

  4. Rich G says:

    Wow. This may be the first time anyone in the Labour Party has argued that writing off 90% of the electorate is a good thing. Labour movement? Mass mobilisation? The power of people triumphing over the power of capital? What’s all that then?

    A truly terrible, ill-informed, hackish article. This is the problem with the no to AVers- every time they open their mouth, nothing but narrow, sectional interest and bile flows out.

  5. Praguetory says:

    ” That policy was in the manifesto for the benefit of the Lib Dems… ”

    Cheers for that. Does the public get to know in advance next time which campaigning pledges you actually mean?

    Your flapping about AV+ is a red herring as it’s not on the table and your moaning about Labour selection is pathetic. Overhauling your selection processes so you get a PLP with a less narrow breadth of experience has nothing to do with how national elections are run.

  6. G. Tingey says:

    NO to AV – let’s keep the corrupt system we are happy with, and bugger the voters …

  7. john reid says:

    if it ain’t broken, Labour won the last election with 35.2% of the electorate, the tories don’t win this time with 36%, it is broken

  8. derek barker says:


    To be fair, the analyst from the 2010 election sugggest that under AV labour would have gained another 9 MP’s and the Tories would have lost 15 Mp’s.

    It’s a bit like X-Factor politics AV, a process of elimination, preference voting that kills the chances of minor parties.

    The most recent election, “Oldham East Saddleworth” didn’t give any candidate a 50% share of the vote, labour got 42% and the turnout was 48%, so would you consider the notion that 52% of the electorate deemed no candidate suitable too vote for ?

    Cassandra, the electorate consigned labour too opposition, labour lost 200,000th members because it simply lost touch with it’s core principles.

    Coalition government has been a disaster and the trust that the public so wanted from politicians has sank to an even greater low, giving that the lib/dems have recanted on every promise and before you refer too the lib/dems holding their vote in Oldham, can i point out that 30% of a 48% turnout hardly constitutes an endorsement of anything.

    AV, is nothing more than a political mishap, it wont bring better schools hospitals jobs and so on and in many ways is even more unfair than the now FPTP system.

    I growing increasingly tried of the new labour leaders shout of progressiveness already, the idea that the labour should should take the “five years” of this coalition is a sad reflection that this new leader is lacking the bottle and ability to make a case for the millions who face the threat from this new admin.

    Flowery prose is good but it doesn’t quite fit in with the reality of the situation.

    Tell me Cassandra, will Miliband support any strike action to save jobs?

  9. Jay says:

    Proves some elements of the Labour Party are not progressive in their politics and thinking. Unfortunately. For shame.

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