Category Archives: Electoral reform

Is there a real difference between AV and FPTP?

Why on earth do people think AV is better than FPTP? It will actually produce the same results as FPTP; the only diference being that you will get to list candidates in terms of preference. So the person with the most first preference votes wins…so how is that different? What if you happen to live in constituency (as I do) where the choice is between the three main parties, The Greens, UKIP and the BNP and you don’t like any of the choices? Hold my nose and vote for the least worst option or vote tactically as is the case presently?

I keep hearing how tactical voting will be eliminated with AV. How so?

Far from being a more democratic system, AV merely provides the illusion of choice. In many instances, it’s a choice between stools and faeces. In other words, it’s not a choice.

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Hypocrisy, AV and the illusion of proportional representation

The Lib Dems and their allies in the Take Back Parliament movement are a deluded bunch.  They continue to delude themselves that AV is a stage on the road to real proportional representation.  Of course we know that this isn’t true at all; it’s another illusion that has been designed to give the appearance of the possibility of a fair voting system. This Lib Dem blogger whines that Labour are now “hypocrites” because they no longer support the Yes camp on the forthcoming referendum on the Alternative Vote system (AV).

At the 2010 general election they supported immediate legislation to change the electoral system to AV. A few weeks later they now oppose it- on the grounds that the Lib Dems and the coalition are for it.

Actually, the coalition doesn’t support it;  the biggest support comes from the Lib Dems. This BBC article says,

The Lib Dems insisted on electoral reform as the price of forming a coalition with the Conservatives, even though most Tories, including party leader David Cameron, oppose it.

These naive folk believe that referendum will be “fun”.

The campaign to ditch Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system in favour of the Alternative Vote will be “fun,” its organisers have promised.

Of course the Yes to AV camp has been linked to the Lib Dems

He said the Yes to AV campaign was also keen to counter the impression that it will be a Liberal Democrat “front” organisation – stressing it will be a cross-party, non-partisan organisation and not run out of the Lib Dems’ Cowley Street headquarters as some bloggers have claimed.

Too late, the campaign is dominated by the Lib Dems because who else would be so hopelessly naive to support such a bad compromise? It was the Lib Dems who decided, somewhat naively to go into coalition with the Conservatives when they could have propped up the Tories with a confidence and supply arrangement instead.

In spite of what the Lib Dem blogger said, Ed Miliband is in favour of AV but offers a proviso,

EM: Yes. I am in favour of AV and will campaign for it if there is a referendum. But the Coalition is giving political reform a bad name by spatchcocking together with the AV referendum a naked attempt to gerrymander the parliamentary boundaries.

Miliband the Elder sings from the same hymn sheet,

DM: I strongly support political reform and I would support a system of AV but I do not support the Bill in its current form. I think it makes little sense to introduce reform for the Commons without introducing PR for the House of Lords. The Lib Dems are giving parliamentary reform a bad name.

The coalition have complained bitterly that Labour’s accusation of gerrymandering is a smear but as this Conservative blogger indicates, the fear of gerrymandering existed before the General Election,

Labour and the Lib Dems have completely lost touch with what the public want. They want a general election now to clean up Parliament by electing a new set of MPs. They do not want the existing lot to vote for a referendum on gerrymandering the voting system. Let us not forget that Labour and the Lib Dems were the parties who promised a refendum on the EU Constitution and reneged on that as they thought they might lose. These parties cannot be trusted.

Hypocrites, eh? You don’t know the meaning of the word.

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The voting reform bill: a good opportunity for some partisan mud-slinging

Next time you may have to list preferences.

It is amusing the way some Telegraph bloggers are dealing with the proposed referendum of AV and the Labour Party’s response to it; it’s an other opportunity to engage in a little mud-slinging.

A couple of days ago, the Honourable Tobes complained that Labour and, in particular, Jack Straw, was being “opportunistic” in its opposition to the referendum. Honestly, some people have nothing better to do.  Here Young claims that

Straw’s excuse is that the bill paving the way for the referendum is also going to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and redraw some constituency boundaries to equalise the number of people in each constituency. That’s bad news for Labour since Tory seats are, on average, more populus than Labour ones, meaning Labour candidates require a smaller number of votes to get elected than Conservatives.

Ah, but Straw may actually have a point. I guess neither Tobes nor any of the other supporters of this bill have considered this.  Instead they scream that Labour is being ‘unreasonable’ and that their worries are unfounded but how true is this?

Will Straw (Jack’s lad) notes the Electoral Commission’s investigation into under-registration earlier this year,

“The highest concentrations of under-registration are most likely to be found in metropolitan areas, smaller towns and cities with large student populations, and coastal areas with significant population turnover and high levels of social deprivation.”

So voters are an issue or, rather, the lack of them. I am also concerned with the coalition’s inference that they are being ‘impartial’. John Costello says,

By failing to factor them into his arithmetical review of constituency boundaries, Mr Clegg will be distorting the electoral map of Britain for good, and diluting the representation of people from poorer social groups in the process.

Poor people and people from minority ethnic groups are under-represented, yet this doesn’t seem to concern the coalition who bat the subject away with characteristic nonchalance. Labour are told to ‘go out and register some voters’. Costello continues,

The government’s boundary review promises to deliver the very antithesis of that objective. Now it’s true that over the past 13 years boundary reviews have been conducted on the basis of the existing, incomplete electoral registers. But not on the scale being proposed here (i.e. being used as the basis for chopping 50 seats), and the process was always balanced by the opportunity for public consultation.

So let me get this straight, there will be no public consultations? What happened to devolving power to the people? This article from the Independent says,

Cutting 65-80 seats by crudely equalising registered voters will simply reduce the number of seats in inner cities and areas that have devolved government (apart from London). In short, areas that never elect Tory MPs. This will be Florida-style gerrymandering of the electoral system, disenfranchising many of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Again, the coalition seems uninterested in this. Why? Is it political convenience? David Blackburn of The Spectator calls for Cameron to detach the boundary changes from the bill and notes that there is a sizeable number of Tory rebels. He also observes that “Bernard Jenkin, leader of the Tory rebellion, has the numbers to derail the bill”.

But AV is not PR and despite its supporters saying that “every vote will count”, it is little different to what we have already.

But the knives are out for Jack Straw but as this comment observes, the Lib Dems are rather fond of a little gerrymandering themselves.

The Liberal Democrats are the party for “Unequal Constituencies”. In the Scottish highlands and islands.

Hmmm… I wonder why that might be? It is a real puzzler.

The Lib Dems have handed the bill’s opponents an open goal with their H&I gerrymandering.

Ooops! Of course, an example of institutionalized gerrymandering exists across the Irish Sea where the Unionists have drawn and redrawn boundaries to preserve their majority and thus retain their grip on power in Northern Ireland. This was happening as recently as last year where unionists conspired to freeze out the SDLP from a committee.

Lisburn City Council breached its own equality agenda by excluding the SDLP from an important committee, the Equality Commission has found.

The party was not given a seat on the committee which is overseeing the council’s transition to a super council.

The truth of the matter is that any kind of voting reform must overseen and implemented by an outside body: this is normally the Electoral Commission. The redrawing of constituency boundaries is done by the Boundaries Commission. The Tories don’t want any change to the system and have done all they can to ensure that any bill is unpalatable to those who want change. The Lib Dems have clearly shot themselves in the foot on this issue: if the bill fails, they lose. If the bill succeeds they still lose. The only winners are the Conservatives and Labour.

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