It’s a funny old business, this referendum on the voting system. It’s become a bitter battle between those who don’t want a change in the system and those who don’t want the Alternative Vote ( AV) but see it as a sort of halfway house between First Past The Post (FPTP) and the real deal. That’s how simple it is. No one really wants AV but those who are running the Yes campaign aren’t honest enough to tell you that. They’re too wrapped up in their imaginations.
But those who support the No vote aren’t exactly covering themselves in glory either. Their campaign has relied on emotional blackmail and cheap tricks. The campaign has adopted an ad hominem tone to it. Nick Clegg has become the object of ridicule for a campaign that has been orchestrated from the Tory side of the argument. Clegg apparently thinks that AV is a”miserable little compromise”. But he accepted AV as part of the coalition deal; he wasn’t politically savvy enough to spot a lemon when it was presented to him as a roadworthy vehicle. Clegg loves the high of being in government. It’s intoxicating.
What has really developed is a phony war between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – both of them in power but engaging in a little mudslinging for the benefit of the cameras. “Look” say the Lib Dems, “We’re a separate party, with our own identity”. But no one wants to hear it. No one is interested hearing how the Lib Dems are playing nice cop to the Tories’ nasty cop. We’ve read the script, seen the film. One cop is kneeing you in the goolies, while the other is offering to get you a cup of tea. They’re the perfect pair.
I’m voting “No”. Not because I want to screw the Lib Dems (they’ve done that to themselves) but because I don’t believe that AV is any better than FPTP. Proportional Representation in the form of real PR, as exists in Ireland with Single Transferable Vote system (STV) or the Mixed Member Proportional voting system (MMP) as exists in Scotland, are the real ways forward. Even AV+ is a little better than this AV bollocks.
But do we really need a referendum on this issue NOW? My answer to that question is “no”.