Tomorrow, you have the privilege of deciding whether we continue to elect MPs using the traditional First Past The Post (FPTP) system, or change to the Alternative Vote (AV)
David Cameron and his bedfellows within the Tory Party, certain parts of the Labour Party, and even the trade unions have been busily soiling the debate on this issue since campaigning began, peddling half truths, lies and misconceptions about why AV should not be used.
But how does it work?
AV at its simplest works as follows;
* Voters rank the candidates standing in the election in order of preference, marking ‘1’ ‘2’ and ‘3’ next to the candidate’s name instead of an ‘X’
* In order to win the election, a candidate needs to secure more than 50% of the votes.
* In the event that no candidate secures 50% of the vote, your votes for second and third preference are taken into account, and distributed to the candidates, with each candidate who is in last place after subsequent counts being eliminated.
* The counts continue until a candidate secures 50% of the votes.
The largest advantage of AV is that it will bring to an end the days where tired and crusty MPs can renew their season tickets for the parliamentary gravy train by pandering to their core vote and ignoring the needs of everybody else, because the candidate who wins the election will have to have support from a majority of constituents.
So now I have explained the basic tenets of AV, let’s look at some of the lies and misinformation that the ‘No’ campaign have been spreading in an attempt to prevent you from receiving the representation you deserve!
AV will allow the BNP a foothold in parliament;
Not true. Even Nick Griffin doesn’t want AV. He has said himself that the BNP could never get an MP under that system.
When you look at the way people tend to vote, I am sure that if they had to list a second choice now, most Labour voters would choose a party or candidate of similar ideals to their first choice. The same can be said of traditional Tory voters. In stronghold Labour areas, you would see votes going to Greens, Local candidates, other left wing parties, and in the regions to the nationalist parties. In strong Tory areas you would see more going to UKIP and other right of centre candidates, as well as independents and nationalists.
A very small minority of people who vote Labour may vote BNP as a second choice. This, I believe would be more out of frustration with the failure of the main parties to represent their views pr engage with the electorate. Therefore, if people turn to extremist parties like the BNP, we should not be tying their hands so as to prevent them doing so, we should be taking notice when they tell us they are not happy. We should then be acting so as to stop them WANTING to vote for extremists.
Every Vote for the Facist BNP Scum is a defeat for mainstream political parties, and NOT a reason to deny the electors of this great nation a fairer system of choosing their representatives and advocates.
AV is too complicated;
What a bucket of drivel! Is the Prime Minister seriously saying to you that a voting system whereby you mark a ‘1’ next to your first choice, a ‘2’ next to your second choice, and a ‘3’ next to your third choice is too complicated for you to understand????
Apparently our multi millionaire, public schoolboy PM and his Eton chum Boris also think that you cannot fathom the principle that, when a candidate secures more than 50% of the vote they win, and if nobody secures more than 50%, the votes are recounted, and redistributed using 2nd and 3rd choice votes, with candidates gaining the lowest vote dropping out until one candidate passes the 50% threshold!!
It really is quite simple, and their arrogance toward the British public is staggering.
Then again, so is their hypocrisy!
Not only was Boris elected on a kind of AV in the London Mayoral election, so was David Cameron when he beat David Davis to become the Leader of the Conservative Party!
These are also the same two who are quietly making moves to force trade unions by law into the position where they can only withdraw their labour if more than 50% of the workers balloted turnout and agree! This despite the UK having some of the most restrictive trade union laws in Western Europe and the developed world!
So a democratic benchmark laid down in electoral procedure is good enough to stop the plebes fighting for fair working conditions, but it’s not adequate for us plebes to use in order to elect our representatives!
AV is unfair because a candidate coming 3rd, 4th, 5th, or even 8th could get elected.
This really is a misrepresentation of the whole system!
Gutter press right wing rags like The Sun would have you believe that this is true, but really it isn’t!
Whilst technically possible, it is far, far more likely that you as a voter will get the MP that you truly want!
These candidates have to attract votes, be there first or second choices. That means that they have to make sure that they appeal to more than just their party’s core support, as opposed to the current system where political parties parachute their chosen apparatchiks into safe seats, safe in the knowledge that they are safe from scrutiny or risk of failure.
Surely, this is better for democracy, better for justice, and better for you as a voter!!
I cannot understand why it is that trade unions are opposing this measure. It gives people more of a chance to hold their MP to account, bringing to an end the age of lazy MPs who know they are untouchable. (This is true of both Labour and Tory)
The trade unions champion the ideals of fairer representation, improved justice, and the right to redress for their members. Why should it be different when talking about parliament?
Sure, AV is not the ideal solution. Proportional Representation (PR) would be the best bet for us all. At the last election, we had the situation where a party received 23% of votes cast, but only received 8.8% of parliamentary seats!
But whilst PR is surely the goal that as progressives we should aim for, AV is a first step on that journey. Change in our country has hardly ever been by revolution, as evolution has always been the dominant taste on the menu. Is it a surprise that this is no different?
I cannot understand why the Labour Party oppose this either, other than the fact that they know that it will bring to an end the dominance of politics that they enjoy with the Tories.
What they fail to understand, is that bringing an end to the FPTP system will likely being an end to the insane situation where the conservatives can govern, despite hardly ever having enjoyed a democratic majority, thus ensuring that progressive politics is the ruling force in British Politics.
As a bonus, in the event that the vote goes against David Cameron, his standing amongst his fellow millionaires in the cabinet would be heavily damaged, and the coalition will be struck a huge blow!
People may be tempted to vote 'No' as a slap in the face to serial U-Turner Nick Clegg. Resist the urge! The fact that he agrees with AV does not make it wrong, it merely will make it more satisfying to give him an electoral beating under a fairer system!
The Tory party have always been a force for the status quo.
They are not interested in making things fairer. They do not believe in progressive change. So I am not surprised that they are going full force to oppose AV. If they had their way, unions would have no power, workers would have no rights, and only the privileged would have the right to any influence.
So I would respectfully advise against believing anything The Sun, or The Daily Mail tell you. They are opposed to change because they are in business to do the bidding of the rich and powerful.
Look at the arguments, digest the logic, have a think about whether you truly believe it is fairer for our parliamentary make up to be decided in a handful of seats, with every voter living elsewhere being irrelevant, and with political parties abusing the loyalty of voters by using safe seats to give jobs to their chosen protégés..
Or whether you think it’s only right and fair to expect a candidate to receive the support of 50% of voters in that constituency, thus making them listen to you more, and work for you harder?
If you agree with me that parliamentary elections should be fair, and MPs should serve us, and not their own narrow interests, VOTE YES TO AV ON MAY 5TH