Ballot Box

Ballot Box

I’ve always made it my policy not to tell people which way I’m going to vote on something (or which way I’ve voted for that matter) as I’m a big fan of not allowing myself to influence other people’s political decisions. I’m going to attempt to examine some of the arguments for tomorrow’s referendum without obviously supporting either camp – I will probably fail as will doubtless become apparent.

Incidentally if you didn’t know there is a referendum tomorrow this probably isn’t the post for you.

So I’ll examine what appear to be the main points being made by both sides based these websites (yes/no) – my basic premise in this analysis is that change is basically a good thing unless there are convincing arguements against it. So here we go….

No to AV

  • AV is Costly
    • Apparently AV will cost £250 million, and involve expensive machinery and campaigns. I guess I can see the machinery argument, although it’s totally possible to count votes under AV using piles of ballot papers (I’ve done it) it might become complicated on a constituency scale. As for voter education, “Rank your candidates in order of preference” – there you go, I’ve done it (if anyone wants to pay me £100 million or whatever for this I’m more than happy for you to do this!)
  • AV is Complex and Unfair
    • Complex? Really? it works in Student Union elections at Bath – and given the number of sports monkeys involved, this probably means rowers can understand it (I’m being deliberately provocative here, but the basics can be explained on a side of A4 so it really isn’t that hard).
    • Unfair? Well that depends on your analogy, if you compare it with a running race then yes it could be construed as unfair as the first person who crosses the line isn’t necessarily the one who gets the gold medal – but it isn’t a race at the end of the day it’s about representation – if the majority of people have been represented in the result (this isn’t always the case under First Past the Post) then it is fair. AV isn’t perfect but it means more votes count towards the end result.
  • AV is a Politicians Fix
    • Well, errr…. so basically this is the “Nick Clegg is a nasty man” point, fundamentally I don’t believe Coalitions are bad things, or Liberal Democrats for that matter and as such I believe this point is just trying to say “Don’t like the coalition and what they’re doing, don’t vote yes”, frankly I think this argument is missing the point, this is a referendum on the future not the present so really this is an attempt to mislead people on what they’re voting on. It’s not a vote of confidence in the coalition, it’s a referendum on the voting system.

Yes to AV

  • It makes MP’s work harder
    • So MP’s have to appeal to more than 50% of the electorate – I guess this has pro’s and con’s, it’ll temper some of the harder right/left elements in the middle of the road parties (strong lines on immigration, or nationalisation or whatever), but in turn it also has the potential to decrease the differential between the main parties with them all competing for the middle ground (and it’s already bad enough). I guess this depends on your views, personally I think there needs to be more difference between the main parties than tie colour, but I also don’t find myself agreeing with the more extreme policies of any of the major parties.
  • It gives the Voter a bigger say
    • Well this essentially has to be good doesn’t it (you could argue that sometimes the voter doesn’t know what’s good for them – but if so you don’t really believe in democracy, otherwise I find this a hard point to argue against). If you don’t get your favorite, there’s a good chance you’ll get your second choice – this seems a good idea. If I can’t get a Yorkie from the vending machine, I’d rather have a twix than a bloody topic.
  • It tackles the ‘Jobs for life’ Culture
    • Well, I guess safe seats can be blamed for a lot of voter apathy – after all why vote if you know candidate X will get in anyway. There’s not an easy argument against this, as the power rests with the electorate anyway, if they want to remove an MP they can by putting them as last choice, if not they can vote for them again (although I guess this is also true with FPTP, but it’s a lot easier to make this happen with AV).

So in summary, as I said at the beginning I’ll decide based on who makes the best arguments (it’s not impossible to work out who I think that is from the above) – but I’ll definitely be voting having made my decision, and whatever you think – I urge you to vote too.

For the record (as a preemptive attack on any provocative comments from either side of the debate):

Politically I describe myself as a ‘liberal conservative who knows his own mind and doesn’t totally align with any specific parties ideology. I think broadly the coalition is doing a reasonable job (although I don’t agree with all their policies, for example I love libraries and believe they have an important place in the modern world) and I think it’s really important to give the public a say directly on major issues such as this. This was also a quick post, so isn’t super-thorough either in writing or research, I don’t think I’ve quoted any facts, but if I have and they’re inaccurate I apologise.