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AV-ing a go at Clegg

Nick Robinson | 12:19 UK time, Monday, 18 April 2011

He wasn't there this morning. Not at the Yes or No event. Yet the shadow of Nick Clegg could be felt at today's battle of the political odd couples.

Nick Clegg

AV, the prime minister claimed, would make coalitions more likely and that would mean politicians would make manifesto pledges they knew they couldn't deliver. Who and what could he have been thinking of? His friend Nick and those tuition fee rises perchance?

David's new friend John Reid - the basis of a new Blairite alliance perhaps - suggested that any change in the voting system should be in the public interest and not the "narrow self interest" of "losing parties" which hope "to turn losers into winners" as if by magic. Who could Dr Reid have had in mind? He didn't say. He didn't need to.

Over at the Yes event the name Clegg could not be avoided so easily. Ed Miliband insisted that this was not and should not be a referendum on Nick Clegg - the man he refuses to share a platform with. Vince Cable - Clegg's AV understudy today - insisted that his leader was not a liability in this campaign.

The No campaign beg to differ - and plan to milk this liability for all it's worth. So damaging, they believe, is the spectre of Clegg to the Yes campaign that they don't even need to name him in order to ensure that the man who wasn't there today is the man very much there in voters minds when - if - they vote in the referendum.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I've been analysing all the arguments but I'm still confused.

    AV is a Good Thing because it will result in more women being elected to parliament (Woman's Hour - please don't ask).
    AV is a Very Bad Thing, because it will result in more coalition governments, which will then use the fact that they are members of a coalition to break their manifesto promises. (Michael Howard).
    AV is bad because Nick Clegg likes it. (Seemingly, everybody else except Vince Cable).

    Has there been any evidence at all that more women in parliament has made any difference, other than to cut the number of hours they work?
    Would anybody be more likely to stick to manifesto promises under FPTP? Well, call me a cynic, but I wonder if Michael's losing it.
    Nick Clegg... fair enough.

    It's all doing my head in.

  • Comment number 2.

    Clegg is now so toxic that to have him present at any event would only damage the campaign - even his own party's candidates in the local elections are removing him from their election materials.

    This is the price of allying himself with the tories.

    The liberals are about to be thrashed at the local elections - local party stalwarts who have not done anything wrong will lose their seats because of clegg's conduct.

    How much longer after that will it take for clegg to be turfed out as leader?

  • Comment number 3.

    AV, or even full PR would be unlikely to benefit the Lib-Dems much now. They are unpopular because they misled the voters. Given their pledges and the parliamentary arithmetic, their only honest option was to allow a minority Tory administration. Even with a rational voting system, parties can disappear. An example is the impending demise of Germany's Free Democrats.

    But let us have no illusions about what FPTP is about: it allows the largest minority to STEAL elections, even if getting on for two thirds of the electorate vote against them and their policies. Tony Blair won 55% of the seats in Parliament in 2005, based on 35% of the vote. Even the Tories don't use FPTP to elect their leader.

    FPTP plus an appointed second chamber would be enough to keep the Gadaffis in power for ever in Libya. It's hardly surprising that new democracies prefer other systems. Looking at the last 30 years or so, which country has been better governed, Britain or Germany? Ask the rest of the world!

    AV is merely an inadequate first step, but voting YES will put two fingers up to our discredited political elite. And no-doubt the voters of Hallam will use it to get rid of Clegg in due course.

  • Comment number 4.

    It seems to me that the AV argument is all wrong. Surely AV will actually benefit the main parties. If someone votes for UKIP it seems highly likely that their second choice vote would be for the Conservatives, and if someone voted Green there most likely second choice would be Lab or Lib. Given that 'others' polled under 12% at the last election I would guess that in most instances the 'other' vote would then go to second preference choices - reinforcing the main party vote thereby leading to the greater likeliehood of a majority parliament.

    Someone please correct me if I am wrong on this

  • Comment number 5.

    I don't think that AV will go through. Hoping that it does though, admiteddly I haven't followed this as thoroughly as I perhaps could have done. FPTP though, seems to be becoming more and more discredited by each election, the sooner it is changed the better.

  • Comment number 6.

    re #1
    Am not unsympathetic!
    Big question for me is "Does AV place more power in the hands of the Party, the Party leader and the Party Whips?"

  • Comment number 7.

    Lets be clear here, neither FPTP or AV are effective systems for a modern democracy. It's shameful that we've been forced into choosing one or the other.

    If FPTP wins, democratic reform will be set back another 25 years, and we'll be stuck with an unfair system that places the burden of choosing our Government on a few thousand people who happen to live in marginal constituencys.

    AV isn't any better. But if AV does win, at least democratic reform will remain an open issue. The chance to move to Proportional Representation would be left open. For that reason alone, I'll be voting for AV.

  • Comment number 8.

    'But let us have no illusions about what FPTP is about: it allows the largest minority to STEAL elections'

    But AV can produce even more distorted results. In 1987 and 1997 the respective Tory and Labour majorities would have been even greater under AV.

    '. It's hardly surprising that new democracies prefer other systems.'

    But hardly anyone prefers AV.

    'Looking at the last 30 years or so, which country has been better governed, Britain or Germany? Ask the rest of the world!'

    In the years leading up to 1997 the UK was being governed far better than Germany and had an economy that the Germans envied back then. The damage that was inflicted post 1997 would have happenend with or without AV.

    'And no-doubt the voters of Hallam will use it to get rid of Clegg in due course.'

    So why is Nick Clegg so keen on AV ? In fact Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are the only ones really keen on the idea and we all know why that is. A vote for AV is the best chance Nick Clegg has to remain as political king maker

  • Comment number 9.

    Tony Butcher

    'Someone please correct me if I am wrong on this'

    You're wrong. You can do analysis going back over the last few decades in this country and it shows that coalitions are more likely under AV which is of course why the Lib Dems are so keen on the idea. If you want Nick Clegg to be doing cart wheels after the referenduim vote then vote for AV.

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't think that it's sensible to vote against AV to give Nick Clegg a kicking. Let's face it, any voting system that requires actual votes is going to be pretty tough for the LibDems from now on. The best way to give Clegg a kicking is to vote "Yes" and then vote out every LibDem councillor in the country. These activists can be put to better use reclaiming the Party from its Tory entryist leader.

  • Comment number 11.

    re #1 again
    It could be said that when you combine the NR Blog with jon112dk's post we might as all well vote NO and keep FPTP as there will only be two significant parties fighting future elections.

    However, if N.Labour were to split and a significant number of Conservative MPs jumped ship in a variety of directions, things could get quite complicated.

    More brain ache!

  • Comment number 12.

    Forget the arithmetic,focus on the politics.Whichever way the AV vote goes it`s a lose-lose situation for the coalition.Get AV,Tory party furious for costing a permanent increase in Lib Dem MPs,for their help in a single parliament.Lose AV and Mr.Clegg is further discredited in the eyes of his party.Sit back and enjoy.

    As for AV, I shall vote no through personal prejudice.

    Still preoccupied with the Harriers,lack of Arab involvement,a mad bad policy.

  • Comment number 13.

    That's just what this debate needs, you know - focus on one individual person. As opposed to, say, focus on the actual issue in question.

    Just a thought for future blogs, Nick. How about discussing AV in blogs about AV, and saving discussion of Clegg for blogs about, as one example, the Lib Dems? Maybe?

  • Comment number 14.

    It takes a strange sort of fellow to believe that sharing a platform with Vince Cable is better than sharing it with Nick Clegg.

    If ever there was a politician who had been promoted beyond his abilities it is the self regarding Cable. The man who wanted to rename his department to give it more levity and got himself booted off the News International enquiry for his indiscretions is the most wounded libdem by far. If this is an early illustration of Ed Miliband's political nouse then it bodes rather well for the tories.

    AV is a waste of time and money and all those newlabour apologists coming up with countries who use it need seem to have forgotten one thing. This country has the mother of all parliaments and we don't need advice from others about how to vote in our governments. The country got the govt the country voted for.. 60% of votes cast went to the current coalition governing parties. Every other sentiment expressed about this state of affairs is a nonsense.

    Perhaps the fedora sporting Mr Cable can keep up his mealy mouthed support for this turkey a bit longer so the public can see just what a waste of time it is.

    Clearing up labour's mess... (still)

  • Comment number 15.

    #4
    I agree with you here.

    I believe that most seats will go to the main parties as now, but the preferences of their voters will be clearer - no need to guess how much tactical voting has taken place. If a conservative MP gets most support from people who prefer UKIP or BNP, or if a lib dem MP gets most support from people who prefer Green, then for better or worse, those MPs know more about the people they are representing.

    If Elwyn Watkins had won Oldham and Saddleworth, would he be indebted to Conservative support or a resurgent Lib Dem vote. Without the facts politicians would have spun the apparent result to suit themselves.

    In time, AV might encourage people to vote for parties that they want to see winning, not the lesser of two evils. How can this be a bad thing?

  • Comment number 16.

    The Status Quo needs to be challenged AV does that.

  • Comment number 17.

    1#

    Fair point, Outrage.

    4#

    Nope, I think you've got it about right there.

    3/5#

    The main thing that pre-loads FPTP is the uneven constituency sizes, which is why Labour are squealing about it the loudest. Theres nothing inherently wrong with FPTP, so long as you have - as much as is possible in somewhere such as the UK (there will always be exceptions, such as the Isle Of Wight, for instance) - uniformity of constituency sizes.

    Put plain and simple, its the will of the majority. The fact that more people may have voted in your constituency for someone you dont like is neither here nor there. It doesnt mean your vote didnt count, it doesnt mean you were robbed. It merely means that enough people in the same area as you were not of a like mind. Get over it.

    PR is an entirely different matter altogether. What is happening now with the coalition is a microcosm of what would happen under PR. Alliances regularly being formed and broken, unstable political landscapes and decisions that require vision and courage being compromised and watered down to the point of ineffectual tokenism.

    If thats what you all want, fine. Go try it somewhere and see what it is like living under such a system.

    As it happens at the moment, AV is a compromise that no-one really truly believes in. The only reason this referendum is taking place at all is because it was a precondition of the LD's before entry into the Coalition. It was a demand of pure self interest which, after the events of the last 8-10 months will end up being a damp squib.

  • Comment number 18.

    #7

    Exactly. If FPTP wins, the result will be spun by anti-democratic dinosaurs at the Labour and Conservative parties into an endorsement of the status quo. They can then use it as an excuse to remove electoral reform from the political debate for a generation.

  • Comment number 19.

    jobsagoodin

    How do you analyse what would have happened under AV in the past? It is unlikely any polls would have been conducted at the time of previous elections on how people would have voted under an AV system that has only been talked about since the coalition was formed.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think that first-past-the-post is the ideal system for English (British ?) voters: it means that at any given time a clear majority are represented by the Opposition. We can whinge about the country being ruined by a government we don't want and not have to take responsibility for doing anything about it.

    Sadly the system means that every once in a while it is our turn to be in charge, but we can rest assured that opposed by most of the country, things will get worse and we can return to the comfort of being able to complain impotently again.

    We English don't want representative government, good weather, fine food or a competent football team - or what would we have left to moan about?

  • Comment number 21.

    av was not in the tory manifesto.and in these days of austerity should not be a priority. it shows that it is a piece of cobbled up legislation,to reward the lib dems
    for acting as human shields, while they push through there controversial legilation.

    cameron and co have a good idea to suspect it wont go through as does clegg after
    calling it a miserable little piece of legilation!

  • Comment number 22.

    For many people who would instinctively support electoral reform, the name "Clegg" is a Red (or do I mean Orange?) Flag to a bull.

    We now know that he deliberately allowed hundreds of thousands of people like me to tactically vote LibDem in Tory seats thinking that the LibDem Manifesto was acceptable to us, whilst we now know from leaks from within the LibDem party that Clegg was already planning on doing a full 180 degrees on issues like student fees and deep and rapid, deep spending cuts BEFORE POLLING DAY!

    This is the dictionary definition of untrustworthy and deceitful and it did not end there.

    Because there was a hung Parliament, Clegg went into negotiations on the Coalition Agreement which allowed him to put a lot of the LibDem manifesto in the bin and retrieve his "Orange Book" policies from it, where his Party had put it when they overwhelmingly rejected these right wing libertarian politics.

    So through the procedural device of the Coalition Agreement, Clegg in effect staged a bureaucratic coup to impose the policies of a small minority group from within the smallest of the three political parties on the country against the policies of his own Party and the will of the electorate, cosing up to his fellow libertarians in the Tory Party.

    What would we think if in the 1980s a Labour Government was elected then the Militant Tendency had got control of the PLP and implemented their policies and junked the official manifesto?

    THAT IS PRECISELY WHAT HAS HAPPENED with the Clegg Orange Book Cabal.

    So NO to Clegg - NO to AV or anything else he supports.

    The LibDem Party will suffer massive collateral damage,I'm afraid and face another generation or two in the political wilderness. My advice is get rid of Clegg ASAP, distance yourselves from his deceits and work to regain the trust of the electorate - but this may take quite some time.... as those around when Jeremy Thorpe ran the shop.

    This is the reality of the "new politics" that Mr Clegg promised us - stitch up deals behind closed doors whilst deliberately hoodwinking the electorate - and he now expects us to vote for AV which he described as a "dirty little compromise".

    The dirt has now firmly stuck to Mr Clegg and hell will freeze over before he is forgiven.

    The data from the YOUGOV poll yesterday is interpreted by Plymouth University to result in 1000 Tory and 800 LibDem seats being lost to Labour, an overall majority for Labour in the Welsh Assembly and a meltdown in the LibDem vote for the Scottish Parliament, whilst the NO to AV vote is overtaking its supporters.

    Nick Clegg will have managed in a single year to end for a generation any hope of electoral reform, to decimate his own Party and to pave the way for a Labour government to return to power with a mandate to take on the City, whilst ditching the "New" Labour mantle of Brown and Blair, with all the really difficult decisions on cuts already in place.

    In that respect he will have been the very worst LibDem leader is living memory and his Party will be right to feel comprehensively betrayed and stitched up by him - like the rest of us that were suckered into voting for him..

  • Comment number 23.

    As I understand it, your MP is not elected under FPTP. FPTP only applies to government because to get a majority the winning party has to get more than 50% of the seats in the House of Commons. That's the post they have to get past.
    Your MP is voted in on the fact that they got more votes than each individual standing against them. So the winner can get 100 votes, the person second can get 90 votes but the combined opposition to the winner could be 120 votes.
    So ultimately your preferred method to choose your MP is that they got the most votes out of the those who voted on the day or they got more votes than the person who came second.
    The governing party will still be decided by the FPTP method because when they count all the elected MP's the winning party still has to get 50% of the seats in the House of Commons.

  • Comment number 24.

    A quick question that I cannot find an answer for;

    Let's say AV gets voted in and I'm in the voting booth at the next general election, would I HAVE to rank every party in order, or could I put any number of the above?

    Eg; I really like candidates A and B, but don't like C,D or E. Could I just put say A and B as 1 and 2 preference, then leave the rest blank? Or does this count as a voided ballot?

    (Yes, I am aware that I would be missing out on fundamental democratic rights etc by not putting all the preferences in, I am just curious as to the fine print of AV.)

  • Comment number 25.

    Fubar I agree completely that noone really believes in AV. I do think though, it would be a step towards a more open and democratic soceity. I also completelly agree with #15s last sentence. In the last two elections it has been a vote for the lesser of two evils, with AV, it may still be the lesser of two evils, but at least you can do more with a protest vote. However scary the possible consequences of those may be...

  • Comment number 26.

    #19
    "How do you analyse what would have happened under AV in the past?"

    Good question, but I would say you could gauge some idea of what happened by looking to see if elected MP's in the past got more than 50% of the vote. As there have always been safe seats, it would be fair to surmise that under AV they would have got over the 50% mark in the first round, therefore negating all the other preferences.

  • Comment number 27.

    20. At 14:26pm 18th Apr 2011, winker2009

    Probably the most sensible argument in support of FPTP I have seen in the entire debate.

  • Comment number 28.

    The biggest factor against A.V. is the people in favour of it. Milliband and Cable, Clegg and the never quite made it Ashdown. All of them the most untrustworthy and untruthful acolytes of a political system riddled with deceit and misinformation. If these dreadful men are in favour, then it is because they see advantage in it for themselves ; and it doesn't take brain of Britain to realise that anything that suits them is extremely likely to be decidedly bad for the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 29.

    24 Spike Milligan

    As I understand it you are free to leave second third choices etc blank but this exposes a fundamental weakness of AV which was amply demontrated a few days ago when Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire show held a mock election with about 2000 voters. The winning candiadte is supposed to have a result where he/she gains over 50 percent of the vote.

    In this instance the winner only gained 49 percent of the vote as a majority of the voters only selected a first choice. I suspect that this would happen in real life such is the distrust and outright hatred most of us have with troughing MPs and a general disconnect with the political elites. If we have to reform the voting system at the very least opt for full proportional representation not some fourth rate mish mash - the chimps in London Zoo could come up with a better system.

  • Comment number 30.

    If it is true, as it seems to be, that a party that comes second or worse can end up winning, any system that allows such an eventuality is not just to be avoided like the plague but is barking mad and that's apart from the business of manifesto pledges being meaningless.

    To think that our wonderful Constitution is being changed right and left solely at the behest of and for the benefit of the ridiculous loser Liberals makes me want to cry for our country.

    How can we possibly be considering this?

  • Comment number 31.

    Spike Milligan 24

    You can vote for only one candiate if you want. In fact many people do so which is why it is possible for an MP to get elected on fewer than 50% of the vote under AV (despite what AV devotees keep claiming).

  • Comment number 32.

    We like St Vincent and want to butter him up.Not just a case of heart over head.He`s the swing person for this ludicrous coalition,`The nuclear option`as he tactlessly put it.He`s dared them to do it twice,they`ve funked it. Privately we know Mr.Osborne is fuming but helpless.He has said that the backing of the Electoral reform society for AV “Stinks”

    Mr.Cameron has stood by his Chancellor`s remarks,does he think Mr.Clegg by association also “stinks.”

    If the Conservatives were still a political party Cleggers and Cable would be kicked out.As it is they are hostage to the Lib-Dems with their 55 seats.To a foreign policy crisis on our doorstep purely of their own making,to Saint Vincent of Strictly and the soft Fedora.

  • Comment number 33.

    #3 Sasha Clarkson wrote:
    "AV, or even full PR would be unlikely to benefit the Lib-Dems much now. They are unpopular because they misled the voters. Given their pledges and the parliamentary arithmetic, their only honest option was to allow a minority Tory administration. Even with a rational voting system, parties can disappear."

    Yes, I think that's correct (and I for one hope the LibDems disappear completely).

    However, taking a step away from the choice of electoral system and the events leading up to the formation of the coalition, I cannot see any particular value system or economic interests that the LibDems could conceivably represent. They stand for nothing and represent nothing.

    If we had a PR system (i.e. not AV) I can imagine the parties in England (nationalists elsewhere) dividing:

    Left: Green
    Centre Left: Labour
    Centre Right: Conservative
    Right: UKIP
    on the edge of the horseshoe: BNP

    But I can see no place for the LibDems.

    So although I will vote 'no' in the hope that this vote will hurt the LibDems I suspect that they are fatally damaged anyway.

  • Comment number 34.

    With AV, are we likely, after a while, to see more candidates running? And, is that a good thing, or does it simply dilute the vote? It seems to me that one of the biggest winners from AV would be the Greens, who seem to have bio-degraded somewhat over the past few years, but they've always benefitted greatly from the protest vote.
    On the other hand, are the Greens are likely to receive fewer votes if people consider that there's a greater possibility of them actually being elected?

    I think I've decided that, over time, and as people become more familiar with it, they will begin to learn how to use it to better effect. Like a breadmaker.
    Also it will set a precedent. If AV is rejected this, the first time, that's it. But if it's passed it might open the door to a vote on PR (which I'm actually against, but I think it's so important that it should be debated).

    So I'm probably going to vote 'Yes'.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm against AV, I think when you add AV to fixed term parliaments and state funding of political parties, which will be the next thing on the list, you have the perfect recipe for a true political elite totally disconnected from the voters.
    It gives them the chance to promise you the earth during an election campaign, safe in the knowledge that when the doors to No 10 are bolted shut for another 5 years it can all be dropped under the guise of 'coalition compromise'.
    Can you remember before the last election, when they were all asked what their plans were if they won? None of them could tell you...
    Is that because if they had we would all have rumbled they are all the same?
    Cuts to housing benefit, welfare reform, increases in tuition fees and more private sector involvement in our public services....All in the Labour manifesto!
    Chris Huhne was on 5live a few weeks ago saying that the NHS reforms being introduced at the moment were more or less what was in the Lib-Dem's manifesto....They weren't saying that during the campaign were they?
    AV gives the three main parties the chance to pretend there are real differences between them for the 2 weeks every 5 years when they want your vote.
    Politicians operate through patronage and influence, if you water down the connection between politicians and the people they represent it leaves the way clear for the lobbiests, special interest groups, the rich and the powerful to have everything their own way.

    AV isn't PR, if it was they wouldn't be going anywhere near it.

  • Comment number 36.

    Well, I am a member of the Lib Dems but I have abstained on the AV referendum. Why? because, firstly, I believe that the "No" campaign are right when they say that under AV (which is not a proportional system) the voters who choose the least popular candidate will effectively have more than one vote as their 2nd or 3rd choices are recounted. Secondly, I don't buy the argument that AV is better than nothing because it can be seen as the first step towards a truly proportional system. If the voters go for AV on 5 May, I can't see any party seriously arguing for another change to our voting system for many years. And, thirdly - and for me this is decisive - there appears to be no minimum turnout requirement for a "Yes" vote to be valid. Or for a stipulated majority of voters choosing AV, on whatever turnout.

    Unless I have got this wrong, we could have a situation in which, say, 40% of the electorate voted in the referendum and 60% did not vote. Of that 40%, say 60% were to vote yes. So only 24% of the total electorate voted for change. 76% could not be bothered to turn out, or voted no. What kind of mandate would that be? How would the politicians handle that kind of result?

    No deal. Sorry guys. But I don't defend the "first past the post" system - What we need is the Single Transferable Vote and have a properly proportional voting system. Not AV!

  • Comment number 37.

    28 Kaybraes..


    Well said.

  • Comment number 38.

    RB

    Good analysis of pre and post election power plays by Mr.Clegg.Next time rely more on your instinct.It was clear to some of us where his sympathies lay,he walked,looked and sounded like a Tory and has proved to be one.

    Vanity took him to a small party where he could hope to quickly achieve more than his talent merited.You must have met numbers like him,bright but not too bright, and calculatingly ambitious,using the old boy network like his Tory mentor for an effortless rise.

    We have been in the hands of an unelected oligarchy since the 1980s, but no-one told us.They have also done enormous damage to the economic and social fabric here.Let`s have done with them.

  • Comment number 39.

    14. At 13:54pm 18th Apr 2011, rockRobin7 wrote:

    "The country got the govt the country voted for.. 60% of votes cast went to the current coalition governing parties. Every other sentiment expressed about this state of affairs is a nonsense."


    Ummmm, no, wrong. Sorry. Utilising the FPTP method, NO-ONE won the last election. The coalition was cobbled together in the aftermath after much negotiation, and it could have gone the other way! The current PM has nearly as little real right to govern as the last incumbent, so I find it surprising that he's still so keen on FPTP, as it did nothing for him but prove that he couldn't beat bonkers Brown.

    I'll be voting for AV on general principle, as anything that might make our political elite work just a little bit harder for their place at the trough cannot be a bad thing.

    I also have a sneaking suspicion that under AV more people might actually believe their vote counts, even in the safe seats, and so turn out may actually improve, thus reversing a decline/ apathy that currently does our political masters no harm at all.

    I also truly TRULY believe we should have a "none of the above" box on our ballot forms, as I feel that the voice of those who don't actually believe in any of the self serving claptrap that is current UK politics also have a right to be heard.

  • Comment number 40.

    I agree with all those who say it's nothing to do with personalities and everything to do with changing (or not) the voting system. Leave Clegg out of it. He may possibly not be around for long in any case, tho' I think he has learnt to ride the bad headlines and may have developed enough inner strength for the long haul, we'll see.

    In his #19 Tonybutcher made the point about not coming to conclusions as to what may have happened in previous elections under AV.

    If AV wins the day, people will vote in different ways. Some will carry on putting an X against one name as they always have done, others may just go for a 1st & 2nd choice, others again may number their preferences all the way down the line.

    It's hard to say what the effect would be but in many constituencies the same old warhorses will be elected and many people will wonder what all the fuss was about. Just as before, the main attention would be on the marginals and here we may see some interesting results, but if the nation has decided firmly to retain the Tories, or swing back right across to Labour, that will be reflected by the very strong results that AV can produce.

    If the nation is undecided between the two largest parties then that's democracy and will be reflected in a result that with AV could bring in more LibDems / other parties and result in a hung parliament again. We have to accept the fact that in the last decade or more, increasing numbers of people have voted for other parties than the usual two; if that's the national choice then so be it. I'm not a great enthusiast for AV but anything is better than FPTP with all the nonsense of tactical voting and governments elected by 35% of the electorate.

  • Comment number 41.

    PR is used in Scotland fairly successfully why then did someone think that AV would be a fairer system. I can think of three scenarios which shows AV is actually less fair than the current FPTP system;

    1. A candidate gets 49% of the vote in 1st preference but is beaten by a candidate who was originally in third/fourth/fifth place thanks to 2nd/3rd/4th choice votes.

    2. Candidate A polls 49%, two other candiates B & C poll 26% and 25%. A voters picked C as their choice, B voters picked A and C voters picked B. All C votes then go to B and they win by virtue of sneaking into 2nd place. If C had polled slightly more than B then it would have been a landslide for A

    3. We have the bizarre scenario that some is elected by virtue of the fact that they were 5th choice is some people lists. So once again A scores 49% B 26% C 12% D 6% E 4% F 3%. B is 5th choice in everyone who voted for C, D, E & F.
    B ends up elected by virtue of being a 5th choice with many voters.

  • Comment number 42.

    The country seems to have woken up on this one, at last. The first thing to say is that no electoral system is perfect. Plurality systems such as the one we have for Westminster will often give us an imperfect less-than-50% for the winner in constituencies, but at least we have a direct link with the MP. The most proportionate system is the List but this does away with the direct link. Our MEPs, for example, are voted in on the closed List system and there is therefore no local association choice for the candidates. But at least it is proportional (although this does allow some of the more controversial parties to gain seats).

    AV is certainly not perfect, and many PR advocates think it is little better than what we have now. In the real world, however, Cameron would have never gone for a referendum on AMS or STV (again, not perfectly proportional but likely to be better than FPTP in this respect) as this would have certainly meant that the Tories would never have formed a government again on their own.So Clegg got the best he could have got out of it.

    24 - Spike, you can vote for as many candidates as you like.

    What does bug me, and I suppose it is not surprising, is the scare-mongering being used by certain elements of the reactionary right. By all means vote against AV on its merits, or lack of them, but for Baroness Warsi to say that it will allow the BNP to gain seats through some sort of back door is absolute hogwash. It is also certainly no less democratic than our current system which does allow candidates to win seats with the most votes, but not a majority. Cameron has sullied himself with the undemocratic argument. I chuckle when I see Robin (14) spew forth on 'newlabour apologists' and saying that the country got what it voted for i.e. coalition, so why fix what ain't broken? He dissembles, however, as very few people voted specifically for a coalition; I doubt very much that he did, for example. Our current system clealrly does not represent what the people want. Surely we should be looking for something a little more modern?

    I agree wholeheartedly with Fubar regarding equality of constituency sizes. This is also an insult to the voters.

    The result is still in the balance, I suspect. Clegg is certainly a brush with which to tar AV, and there is certainly a case for saying that the hemp and sandal hordes of the Lib Dems are unhappy with PR-lite, but I wonder how many people will turnout, especially in areas where there are no other elections? We could see AV get through due to much higher turnouts%

  • Comment number 43.

    FPTP is only supported by those with vested interests and their apologists.
    Those voting against AV because they don't like Clegg are playing into the hands of those who are simply playing the game for their own ends.
    With regard to people (jobsagoodin) posting claims that AV somehow is worse than the current system, it is interesting that absolutely no evidence is offered to support this assertation.
    The no campaign is playing the fear of change card for all it's worth and Camerons "gut feeling" comment is laughable, nothing like basing major decisions on hard evidence and thoughtful reasoning eh davey.
    The political elite (familiies) who have maintained their positions for years will happily dupe the poor electorate into giving them a mandate to continue doing so by over simplifying and refusing to actually debate the issues, it is far easier to play to the populist imagination than actually have to work.

  • Comment number 44.

    #30 Truebluechap

    Our constitution does have its strong points but it is certainly far from wonderful as any A-level student could tell you. Unlimited parliamentary and executive power (even factoring in EU membership which can be repealed if so desired) is just one unsatisfactory aspect of our uncodified and unentrenched constitution.

    Maybe it's time for a root and branch reordering of our entire system.

  • Comment number 45.

    does any one else find the Yes/No TV ads infuriating?

    if they continue to be so patronising I'll.....be quietly miffed (wouldnt want to be arrested for a sarcastic/threatening/joking/militant post or tweet

  • Comment number 46.

    Well, the Prime Minister, David Cameron doesn't want AV - nor do most major unions. That's curious in itself, don't you think?

    Having voted for Lib Dems in the hope of Proportional Representation - it would appear that we have all been ConDemed.

    Nevertheless, this historic opportunity will make some inroads to legislative and more equality and genuine democratic change for the electorate rather than for the present and incumbent lazy MPs tied to the Party Line.

    This will be us, the electorates' first and last opportunity to change/improve our voting system. There is nothing to fear for voting YES to AV.
    For the future of potential PR it's worth voting YES to AV as progress to genuine PR that will truly represent your concerns and your elected representatives duty to abide by your wishes, needs and true representation on all matters for you, the people.

    There is more to gain for voting yes to AV, however imperfect - AV is progress for you and me - and will give all politicians a reminder that the electorate are ultimately in charge - and we want changes in the electoral system and changes in ancient and Parliamentary behaviour and their holidays and expenses too.

    Vote YES to AV - an historic vote for more progress of representation and a resounding discontent of Parliamentary behavior too.

  • Comment number 47.

    @22 Seems to me that you, and probably many more, are taking this whole thing far too personally.
    It's as if you think that the politicans actually give (or should give) a rats tail about you as a person. Rather a naive standpoint if i may be allowed to say so.
    Frankly it amazes me that anybody could feel "hoodwinked" whether it is deliberate or not, what exactly do people think goes on in the world to make things happen?!?
    If the British electorate truly feel the way you appear to about this it is rather a sad reflection on their level of comprehension, understanding and general knowledge of the World. Too much x faxtor and big brother perhaps? Not enough fact based stuff that makes people actually employ their minds rather than their emotions?

  • Comment number 48.

    should or can i abstain on a piece of legislation that has little merit and should never been presented to the people in it,s present state.

  • Comment number 49.

    In spite of the Clegg factor, anything that breaks the political mould of the existing system is a good thing. To me, democracy means the majority carries the day. With FPTP it’s the minority of a constituency that are represented not the majority.
    AV does not go far enough but it’s the only proposed change on the table.
    We must have change to regain any trust in the system (ignore MP’s expenses at your peril).
    I would like to see an end to party politics, get rid of the “Whip”. When ever the house sits there is always a division, regardless if a proposed policy/law is the right one.
    Decisions within the house should not be based on loyalties to an archaic party principle but should be made on the basis of what is the common sense and right thing to do. Many an MP has to vote against what he or she feels is right because they are told to toe the line by the Whips.
    Vote Yes!!!! We must have change! …………Come the revolution…….

  • Comment number 50.

    #36 Phil

    I understand your reticence re a referendum with a low turnout, but there is no cutoff point in an election so I don't see why there should be one here. If the public can't be bothered to get off of its collective rear end to cast a vote to determine something as momentous as our electoral system then all I can say is they deserve what they get.

  • Comment number 51.

    AV is another political fudge of the sort that was so frustrating under Blair when by his own admittance he wasn't radical enough. Personally, I want a government that is decisive and produces a programme for government that I will or won't support, if they deliver great they will keep my support if they don't then I can vote for someone else. FPTP delivers exactly this.

    I can see the logic of PR but after only a year am horrified by more coalitions something that must be more likely.

    AV seems to be the worst possible system. An MP will not have the support of 50% of the population he will be the 1st, 2nd, 3rd..... choice of 50% of the population, which is not the same thing at all and a recipe for mediocrity.

    To replace a system that has pretty much worked for centuries with one that seems to be everyone's 2nd choice is a bizarre proposition.

    The whole debate has been ruined by party political motivations:

    Conservatives - Don't want to be in permanent coalition
    Lib Dems - Desperate to be in permanent coalition
    Labour - Don't want to be in permanent coalition but would quite like the support of the Lib Dems witness Blair and Brown's vague promises over the last 15 years.
    The population - Confused but currently anti Clegg so many will vote No on this basis.

    Somehow I feel the real issues are being lost.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm finding this debate fascinating in th waythat random thoughts are put together and spun as a rational arguement for the the yes or the no campaign.

    For me the arguement is simple.
    Do I believe in democracy? -yes
    Do I want every votes in every constituency to count not just marginals? -yes
    Do I think its right that elections are won on less than 40% of the vote? no
    Which method between AV or FPTP is more in line with what I want? The answer is AV therefore I'll vote yes. AV is not perfect but FPTP is even less perfect.

    I think DC is kidding himself if he thinks FPTP is better for him -he didn't do too well last May when he had an open goal to score in!

  • Comment number 53.

    I see that my post #42 was guillotined. My last point was that we could get AV through a low turnout in places like London, with no other elections, but a much higher turnout in Scotland and Wales due to the devolved elections. This would have the Tories spitting blood, I suspect, and who knows where that would lead? The coalition could be hanging by a thread...

    It's a great time to be a Tory (unless you're Andrew Lansley).

  • Comment number 54.

    We all want Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister to be tougher and more vocal against the Conservatives on over-rapid cuts on jobs and their rise of VAT to 20% instigated by Lib-Dem Danny Alexander for George Osborne.

    There are open Conservatives in the ConDem Government - and there are LibDem Con-sertatives?

  • Comment number 55.

    @41
    Any system can produce bonkers results, especially first-past-the-post.
    Consider an election where 1 candidate wants to close the local hospital and gets 10% of the votes. His 10 opponents want to keep it open and get 9% of the votes each. That hospital's a gonner even though most people wanted it.

    FPTP can easily hand victory to the least popular individual if the opposition is overwhelming but split, and unfortunately it often is.

    Middle Eastern history shows us years of Roman rule under FPTP because voters could not decide between the Judaean People's Front, the People's Front of Judaea, and the Campaign for a Free Galilee. Or something like that.

  • Comment number 56.

    I object to being asked to give a pro-vote to candidates that I specifically want to vote against.
    When I vote for "Mr X" to be my MP, then by definition my 2nd/3rd/4th choices are saying "I don't want these people to be my MP" yet those choices end up actually having a higher weighting/effect than my first vote did (should it come to a second round).
    The AV system is completely absurd.
    I would like to be able to say "Mr X is my 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choice, and I want that vote to be counted in each round, I don't want my vote to be discarded once round 1 has finished and all the losers add-up their "how many people didn't vote for me as their 1st preference?" votes.
    Whenever a candidate doesn't get 50% or more of the vote, you'll get a situation where for the most part the person who the least amount of people voted for (as their first preference) wins.
    ie in AV, the person who got the most votes doesn't win. Instead, the person who got the most amount of "not this person for my first choice" votes wins. And to me that's not "reform", that's just a way to skew the voting result as far away from what people wanted as possible.
    How is it fair that the person that more people voted for than anyone else actually ends up losing?
    It's a mad system, and I hope it never gets to see the light of day.

    Can you imagine what an outcry there would be if the X Factor phone poll results said "well, Fred got 50million votes, which was almost 10 times more than anyone else got, but as we have 10 candidates then Fred obviously hasn't got more than 50% of the phone vote, so instead Burt has won as he got 1million votes compared to Fred's 50million, but 60million people voted to say that they didn't want Burt to win so we're treating those 60million people who voted against Burt to Burt and pretending they were "for" him instead of "against" him" ?

    It's quite bonkers, and there's no way that kind of logic can be defended.

    The FPTP system's not perfect, but at least the person with the most votes wins, which is the exact opposite of what happens under AV.

  • Comment number 57.

    A fascinating debate. And one where I find myself agreeing with some of the tory and labour voters on here.
    1. I don’t think there should be a vote on AV at the moment. Its a hotchpotch. It certainly should not be held at the same time as local elections and something this important needs much more time and discussion. If there is going to be a national debate about our electoral system then full Pr should be discussed (and there are different forms of it) and not this AV botch.
    2. However hard they try, the lib dems cannot change the fact that many people voted for them on the basis of their policies, which could be argued were more left wing than labours. Now after so many U-turns and broken promises, the lib dems are left without credibility and many people are very angry about them. They even sent out leaflets in many areas before the election stating they were the only ones who could stop the tories. And they are still doing similar things locally now.
    This is a shame as there are some decent liberal democrat politicians. The only way the lib dems can recover is to get rid of clegg and reform the party. This will take many years. They will get annihilated on may 5th and that is what happens when it appears that a party has so blatantly lied to get into power and broken a multitude of promises afterwards.

    So in 2011 after this debacle which has seen the lib dems (who are only where they are because of the anti-tory vote they got) prop up and facilitate a conservative govt, it is not the time to vote in a voting system that will benefit them and save their skin.

    Just for you fubar.
    http://order-order.com/2010/07/05/monday-morning-cartoon-4/

  • Comment number 58.

    Well Cleggy’s done so many U-turns, can we trust that we will actually get AV if we vote for it?

    He’s become so toxic, nobody wants to be seen with him which is quite sad because I can see the whole AV debate becoming a vote on Clegg rather than the wider issue of changing our voting system.

    The choice is simple; either you are happy with the way things are & don’t want change, or you despise the whole Westminster set up & want to have your say to change it – albeit a little rather than a lot.

    Make no mistake, a vote for the status quo will give a big thumbs up to Politicians to carry on exactly the way they are, so if you vote NO, don’t start whining when they start their shenanigans again.

    Trouble is I can’t get Clegg out of my mind when people mention about AV.


  • Comment number 59.

    A few comments suggesting Nick should keep clegg out of it - the issue is AV, not any individual.

    At one level I accept this - reform of the voting system is an issue in it's self.

    But I think Nick is making another point.

    We have both the referendum and the local elections coming up. The degree to which clegg has gone from britains most trusted politician to britains most toxic politician is remarkable. His party is now likely to get trashed at the local elections and lots of local liberal workers who have actually done a good job locally will lose their seats. People will be voting on cleggs lies, the ConDem coalition, the economic meltdown being caused by the cuts, the fragmentation/privatisation of the NHS & other services - national, not local issues.

    What happens after the vote?

    How much longer can clegg last as leader? How much longer can the liberals stay as part of the coalition if they want to rehabilitate themselves before the next general election?

    The local elections and the referendum are our first opportunity to start the processe of bringing down the coalition of evil.

  • Comment number 60.

    46. corum-populo-2010 wrote:

    Well, the Prime Minister, David Cameron doesn't want AV - nor do most major unions. That's curious in itself, don't you think?

    Having voted for Lib Dems in the hope of Proportional Representation - it would appear that we have all been ConDemed.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    And there you have it; Clegg couldn't even keep that promise.
    Nope, he bottled out of the one thing that he could have upheld to get his little slice of fame as Cameron's Wing Man.

    What do the LibDem's stand for now anyway; I think we should be told?

  • Comment number 61.

    I have listened to both arguments but cannot see how AV will make voting fairer as surely giving two votes to someone who supports the Greens, UKIP or Lib Dems gives unfair weight as their vote will be counted at least twice compared to someone who supports one of the two main parties. I do think it will give the Lib Dems more clout which is why I think they want it.

    I would take issue with the Yes camp saying David Cameron was elected under AV. His leadership was achieved through a series of mini elections, whereby the least popular candidate was eliminated after the first round but then everyone got to vote again so this is not AV where there is only one round of voting. Ed Miliband was however voted in under AV and he did not win until the last round of vote counting so obviously he was more people's second third or fourth choice. That seems extraordinary to me.

    The level of turnout in elections is getting lower and lower but this will not address the problem. Maybe we should have compulsory voting as in Australia who apparently brought this in after AV was introduced as voting numbers reduced even further? The power to remove an mp would address the problem of them not working hard enough.

  • Comment number 62.

    #49 f1nut
    you your post seems to be sending out mixed messages.

    on the one hand on av we have to be content with little.
    and vote yes!!!! we must have have change! .........come the revolution .........

    voting yes on av is,nt earth shattering radicalism!

  • Comment number 63.

    47

    Some issues of cause and effect here...

    My reaction to what Mr Clegg has done in no way changes WHAT HE HAS ACTUALLY DONE.

    I do not have the same reaction to David Cameron - I know exactly where I am with his politics - I disagree with them, but I respect his views and the way he expresses them.

    I profoundly object to the way that Nick Clegg has subverted and abused the electorate. The democratic process is that those seeking our support explain what their policies would be if we voted them into power - we then decide how to vote on the basis of what is in black and white in their manifestos.

    That is the democratic process - people who knowingly mislead voters by publishing a manifesto that lists a set of policies when they have the intention of doing precisely the opposite are to be despised because they have only got into power on false pretences.

    The pro AV campaign is effectively asking me to accept that Nick Clegg as the leader of the third party in British politics should be given a potentially bigger say in our democratic process both by giving the LibDem leadership the ability to suggest to their supporters who the preferred second choice vote should go to, as well as who to side with in a hung parliament.

    Clegg has displayed a cynicism about the democratic process that I find unacceptable and on the basis of his actions, along with hundreds of thousands of other people, I will use any and every opportunity to vote against anything he supports on principle.

    As to "taking it all too personally", democracy is THE fundamental freedom we all enjoy today. My mother lost four brothers in the Battle of Britain to keep this country a democracy - but I suppose following your argument that they took people that threaten our democracy too personally as well, did they?

  • Comment number 64.

    45. At 16:16pm 18th Apr 2011, Daniel_Archer wrote:
    does any one else find the Yes/No TV ads infuriating?

    ==========================

    Yes, I found both of them frankly so pathetic I wondered if they were actually part of a worst TV ads programme rather than an attempt to promote a serious political debate.

    We may have dumbed down as a society but I never thought things had got quite that bad. GCSE students would have been embarrassed with the content and production values.

  • Comment number 65.

    @56
    Interesting that you hold up X-Factor as a shining example of a good democratic voting system.

    Obviously X Factor is nothing like a General Election. The more money you have the more your vote matters, the choice is between a bunch of photogenic talentless non-entities with no individuality or originality, sinister puppet masters spin and manipulate the whole process in the media, ... I forget which one I started talking about now.

    Anyway, in X Factor, and all reality TV competitions, the least popular person goes out first and their supporters have the opportunity to vote for someone else if they want. Much like AV. I don't hear TV viewers complaining to Ofcom that ITV should use first-past-the-post, but if it got that rubbish off the telly after a single vote at the end of the first week then I'd support it.

  • Comment number 66.

    #56 labourbankruptedusall (well, not me as of today)

    I can see that AV does not float your boat but is there any reason to become quite so hysterical? Your X-Factor example is asinine in the extreme.

    Every vote is equal under AV. If your first vote is for the candidate with most votes but less than the requisite number then your vote gets counted again in the next round. Those who voted first for the last-placed candidate then have their second preferences allocated. How on earth does this mean that the last-placed candidate will win? With all due respect there is no logic here - you are either misreading the system or are deliberately creating confusion.

    If a candidate wins on the first vote then there is no difference to the current system. The differences occur when a candidate does not get at least 50% of the vote, and how can anybody say that it is fair if a candidate wins by a handful of votes under FPTP and yet the majority of the electorate votes against that candidate?

    I can respect anybody who argues against anything providing they base it on the facts. I am afraid that you do not here. And before you accuse me of being an AV apologist, I have yet to decide which way I will vote.

  • Comment number 67.

    Problem with FPTP: Most of the time the winner does not get more than 50% of the votes, and some parties (er party) always end up with a smaller proportion of MP's than they would if we had a system with PR (as opposed to AV)

    Problem with AV: Most of the time the winner does not get more than 50% of the first preferences. Whoever gets most first preferences (the FPTP winner) will almost certainly not get many second preferences as they will come essentially from a polar-opposite party. Even third preferences are more likely not to go with the FPTP winner.

    So what will happen under AV? The most un-disliked candidate will win. What a fantastic way to choose a leader - let's see who we all dislike the least.

    A case study is the Labour Leadership election. The people who decided that Ed Milliband should win - rather than David Milliband - were people who had voted for the outright losers (Diane Abbot, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls). I really don't see how this is supposed to be any fairer than FPTP.

  • Comment number 68.

    57 Lefty

    It wasn't just the anti Tory voters like RB@22 and myseld it was I remember a few Labour supporters as well. Didn't you lend the Lib/Dems a vote Lefty?

  • Comment number 69.

    When I order a pair of walking boots I don't want to open the box and find that I have been sent a pair of trainers or a pair of wellington boots. Trainers and wellington boots have their uses but hiking is not one of them. With AV individuals will vote for what they want and get what they don't want But that is not my only concern. AV is the first step towards a system in which prospective MPs are on lists drwn up by the leadership of each party - it will then be them and not you who chooses who will represnt you in Parliament.

  • Comment number 70.

    One of the big conundrums of full PR (ie NOT AV) is that in the UK, the only mainstream party seriously proposing it have been the LibDems over the last few decades. Its a conundrum because they were only going to be able to implement it if they won a very unlikely parliamentary majority under the FPTP system, so just at the point they didnt actually need it.

    So then they get into partial power with a coalition and end up with this poxy referendum on AV - a system that can barely be argued as marginally better/fairer than the current system. Its all a bit rubbish and shines further light on the paltry return the LibDems received in the coalition agreement for their 23% of the vote (compared to the Tory massively higher 36%).

    One advantage I can see with AV is where an MP/political party solely seeks to meet the needs of 30-40% of the electorate, who may comfortably win under the current system, may now be under pressure. Additionally under AV it would be very difficult for extremists to obtain a fluke result, as 50% becomes a high theshold.

    In the end though it really is sad to watch the demise of the LibDems and one of their key policies (to obtain PR) into what will be electoral disaster come 5th may, and likely that voting reform is kicked into touch for at least another couple of terms.

  • Comment number 71.

    With regard to getting more female MPs why not introduce the rule that wherever a female stands for election all the other candidates standing in that particular constituancy also have to be female? Once 50% of MPs are female the rule could be relaxed.

  • Comment number 72.

    #69 George

    People don't get what they want with FPTP - what's the difference?

  • Comment number 73.

    56. At 16:44pm 18th Apr 2011, labourbankruptedusall

    You clearly haven't read the booklet or if you have you have failed to understand it. The only deficit of logic is in your examples and explanations of whatever fantasy version of AV you imagined.

    Amongst other things you invented was this.
    "Whenever a candidate doesn't get 50% or more of the vote, you'll get a situation where for the most part the person who the least amount of people voted for (as their first preference) wins."

    Wrong - under AV this person who the least amount of people voted for 1st preference would be the person eliminated in the first round. Therefore they could not win - ever under any circumstances.

    You also managed this:
    "When I vote for "Mr X" to be my MP, then by definition my 2nd/3rd/4th choices are saying "I don't want these people to be my MP" yet those choices end up actually having a higher weighting/effect than my first vote did (should it come to a second round)."

    Then under the system you do not have to put more than one preference , then so long as your choice remains in the running until they reach the 50% or are eliminated your vote is counted each and every round. Your vote however is not counted if your choice is eliminated, which would mean they were not in contention anyway so you had your protest vote.

    What you are objecting to is that under AV your candidate could not be elected with only 35 or 40% of the votes cast - whilst all other candidates had 60-65% of votes - i.e. more people did not want your chosen candidate to represent their interests - in the same way you do not want any candidate other than that first choice.
    Under AV everyone compromises to select the least objectionable candidate to the majority.

    I understand why FPTP appeals to ideologically driven people , after all , not many platforms where you will be standing side by side with the BNP. It allows a minority to impose their will upon the majority, reinforces the sense of entitlement to rule.

    p.s. lest you think I am some raving AV fan, I'm not and won't be voting for it. However following some of the drivel the No campaign has been spouting I am not going to vote for them, I shall write in my preferred alternative STV.

    FPTP is the only system where a large number of people are faced with the choice of voting for someone they don't really want to be their MP to try to prevent someone else they want even less becoming their MP. It is madness in a modern world knowing in adv

  • Comment number 74.

    "So what will happen under AV? The most un-disliked candidate will win. What a fantastic way to choose a leader - let's see who we all dislike the least"


    You are describing what happens now, Tactical voting under first past the post. Voters often need to vote for who they dislike the least because their prefered option is seen as unlikely to win. AV allows you to vote for what you want then tactictically vote with your second preference if your first choice is out of the contest. "undisliked"(or the mp the constituency is most content with as a whole) is better than "Disliked" by the majority of voters under FPTP and others not turning out because they don't see the point. Where is this democracy Dave "Fighting for you against Them(points at the Commons)." Cameron, wants to defend? Looks like he's fighting for himself(and his masters) against us. what happened to that anger? Was it artificial?
  • Comment number 75.

    56. labourbankruptedusall

    Quite amusing that you mention X factor as an example when the X factor voting system is very similar to the AV on offer.

    A number of rounds, one contestant eliminated each round, voters are then free to vote again in later rounds. The only difference is that in the AV system it is assumed that if your candidate (or X factor contestant) is still in then you will vote for them in the next round.

    If FPTP was used in X factor then the 'winner' of week 1 would be selected, which would be very strange indeed considering they would win by having the largest minority!

    I find it distasteful when people talk about who the 'winner' should be, it's not about who wins or loses, it's about (or at least it should be about) who best represents the people!

    A good example I heard today was:

    Question - What is your favourite colour?

    Results - 30% Red, 20% Dark Blue, 20% Navy blue, 20% Light blue, 10% Royal blue

    In first past the post the 'winner' would be red, when from the results it's quite obvious that the winner should be blue.

  • Comment number 76.

    Post 56 sums it up.
    Effectively I will be disenfranchised under AV. I will almost always want to vote for one candidate - not some dumbing down liberal lets give everybody a chance where the lowest common denominator rules (had enough of that in education , sport and society in general - lot to do with where we are now as a nation - no I'm not a mail reader). So if my choice wins only 49% and I cannot allocate my other votes 2,3,4 (depending on the number of candidates) to my first choice in the subsequent rounds which should in theory (but not practically) be a new vote until a clear winner emerges (could argue weakest drop out) then I am disenfranchised in subsequent rounds.
    The elephants in the room are constituency size and to an extent for the "English" the influence of the Scots and Welsh who have their own parliaments(assemblies to fudge the issue) but perhaps we had better not cloud the issue with that one.

    Basically AV is a fudge to sort issues that can be addressed properly in other ways - after centuries if it ain't really broken why fix it.

  • Comment number 77.

    The concept that I find hardest to grasp is the 'Yes' campaign's insistance that AV will return MPs with 50% of the vote. They are under illusion that a fourth preference vote is equivalent to a first preference vote. Suppose I vote Green then UKIP, then Tory then Lib Dem, and the Lib Dems are elected after four rounds. In such context, the 'Yes' campaign considers my contribution to be a vote in favour of the Lib Dems. In fact, quite the reverse is true.

    They have compared this scenario to the purchase of chocolate bars (If I can't have a Mars then I'll have a Twix). I am sorry to shatter their illusions but it's just not the same. The difference being that there are multiple chocolate bars with which I would be content wheras there are at most two political parties with whom I would be satisfied.

    AV simply massages the voting statistics to make it appear as if the elected candidate secured a majority. This is as farcical as it is unfair and I sincerely hope that the electorate dismiss this inequitable and discredited voting system.

  • Comment number 78.

    One last thing... some people are under an illusion that AV is one step towards PR - this is the most ludicrous argument I have ever heard. It bears no resemblance to PR, and has nothing to do with it. I hope the electorate will realise that this is a referendum on the use of AV against FPTP.

  • Comment number 79.

    #76 Huncher

    I think that maybe you are a little too to the right for even the Mail! Nice to see that you are not making generalisations about those darn do-gooding liberals, by the way.

    As a dumbing-down teacher in a private school (not sure why I said that, maybe I had a premonition that you were going to accuse me of something to do with comprehensives) all I would say is that you need to be somewhat more in control of the facts before you let rip. Your first vote gets used again in the second round and so on. Hope this helps to calm you down.

    I need to get back to working out how to spell VA...

  • Comment number 80.

    68. Mr N

    Indeed I did Mr N. And what an incredibly stupid thing it was, that thing that I did. But then again, as the saying goes “its ok to make a mistake as long as you learn something from it and don’t make the same mistake again”. Rest assured I wont be making that mistake again :-)

  • Comment number 81.

    @56
    Huh?
    In subsequent rounds you are automatically recasting your first vote: it counts in every round.
    If you vote conservative in the first round you'll be automatically voting conservative in every round until that candidate is in last place or wins.
    I agree that AV is a fudge, but we have a voting system which at every election returns a majority government that the majority don't want: it is broken.

  • Comment number 82.

    Office Term Limitation

    By the way, what we really need is a Office Term Limitation for all politicians and senior civil servants - two, three years terms in a lifetime is more than enough! (and that should also exclude any relative too!)

    Almost anybody can and could do their 'jobs' with just about as much efficiency and effectiveness!

    No that would be really worth voting for!

  • Comment number 83.


    #62 rouser

    In response to your cynical comments, there are two obvious messages, firstly I urge people to vote in favour of AV for the sake of democracy and the second message is to strive for further change.
    For example, perhaps we should be advocating full PR (that's Proportional Representation if you're unfamiliar with the term).
    A further change would be to reduce the number of MP’s to 500.
    Another would be to have an elected second house.
    I could go on but this is not the forum for other radical ideas....
    ......is this radical enough for you?

  • Comment number 84.

    js05327z@77

    To be fair on AV - if you dont want to provide any vote to LibDems you simply dont rank them at all. That way they will not get any benefit from your voting paper.

    Huncher@76 - you seem to think that because you wouldnt want to take advantage of a given voting system then it shouldnt happen. I think you need to recognise that its perfectly valid to have a 1-2-3 preference in political terms, just as it is to simply have a single preference (AV allows both approaches, the current system doesnt). Whatever voting system we have, other than true pure PR, risks disenfranchising someone.

    Its a shame that for all the talk of voting reform since I started voting 20 or so years ago, we end up with this rubbishy referendum.

    It is very very strange that much purer PR is deemed OK for Scottish, Welsh (NI?) and European elections, but for Westminster it is portrayed as appealing as a room full of Nick Cleggs.

  • Comment number 85.

    I believe that AV will be at worst, a small improvement over first-past-the-post.

    Safe seats will always be safe.

    Three way marginals will become much more representative. I won't have to swap principle for gambling by guessing whether Lib Dem or Conservative is the best way to keep out a Labour MP: vote for them both as first and second choices and job's done.

    In any seat I can vote for my first choice with my conscience, whether that's Green, UKIP, BNP or Monster Raving Loony. Because of the transparency of the alternative voting system, the final winner will know exactly where their support has come from. They will need to gain our support to get elected; they will need to keep us happy to get re-elected.

    And who knows, if enough people vote for their first choice, they might actually get what they want, not the least worst alternative.

  • Comment number 86.

    Current polls show that the Yes vote is ahead by a whisker, which will be unsettling for Cameron. If he loses the AV campaign then his own party will likely turn on him with knives drawn.

    As toxic as Clegg may be, he's not nearly as poisonous as the BNP, who are being quite pubic in their support of the No campaign. So both sides have their share of toxicity.

    The fact is, if the toxicity of Clegg is to play a part in the AV vote, then that would suggest that people are using the AV vote as more than just a referendum on our voting system. If that's the case, then the big question isn't about people's opinion on AV - a battle which seems to be along the lines of "it's too complicated and expensive" vs "it's time to make politics more accountable".

    Instead, the battle lines seem to be drawn on who is the least popular in the public eye: Clegg or Cameron? Because they would appear to be the 'faces' of each campaign.

    I doubt that even the most 'betrayed' of former Lib Dem voters could bring themselves to vote Cameron. So the toxicity of Clegg might not actually prove as influential as people think. For many voters, he's still the lesser of two evils.

    For instance: there must surely be plenty of people who are voting Yes purely in protest against the Tories. "Dave doesn't like AV, ergo it must be a good thing". I'm personally voting Yes because I genuinely believe it's a better system.

    Either way, if I were Dave, I'd be worried: Yes to AV means even lesser chance of a Tory majority come the next election. And given they couldn't even win the last one convincingly, the vehemence of the No campaign seems understandable.

  • Comment number 87.

    76. At 19:01pm 18th Apr 2011, Huncher wrote:
    Post 56 sums it up.
    Effectively I will be disenfranchised under AV.

    =============================

    Then you would understand how millions of people who live in safe constituencies where they do not support the perennially incumbent party feel like now under the current system. Knowing that so long as you remain living there your MP will not listen to your views and actively, in your name, vote against them repeatedly because you count for nothing to them.

  • Comment number 88.

    Bass
    I'm not really right of Attila the Hun - point I am making is to maintain my franchise I am being forced to make other choices which I would probably not wish to make. You made the point re private school vis a vis dumbing down - clearly a different experience .

    Cheers
    Huncher

  • Comment number 89.

    Difficult to weigh this one up, in one respect AV keeps the constituency link, which full PR does not. Also AV as opposed to PR is unlikely to elect the likes of the BNP.

    The downside is that the main beneficiaries of this could be the third placed party, who potentially would decide each election. Statistically I don't know how often AV would throw up a clear result or would we always be in hung parliament territory?

    I am not against coalitions as such, being fairly disillusioned by party politics, but wonder whether the media and electorate are ready for consensual government - the cut and thrust of the adversarial system can be addictive.

    I saw one of the Tory rags was questioning whether Cameron was a Tory because of the concessions he has made - can we get over the mentality of regarding consensus as weakness?

  • Comment number 90.

    Fascinating posts, one and all. Thanks.

    [Better than the Blog! ;-)]

  • Comment number 91.

    Having now received some bumf from the No campaign + seen their posters,I've no doubt about voting Yes. I'm afraid when any campaign resorts to barefaced lies to get my support, they've lost my vote utterly & completely

  • Comment number 92.

    #67: I wrote:
    "So what will happen under AV? The most un-disliked candidate will win. What a fantastic way to choose a leader - let's see who we all dislike the least"


    #74. At 18:58pm 18th Apr 2011, DH Wilko wrote:
    You are describing what happens now, Tactical voting under first past the post.


    I don't disagree with you - I was trying to be fair about it. The point I was making was that there will be issues with AV - different issues, mind - that will cause a bunch of people to think that the vote was somehow unfair which is exactly the same as the criticism of FPTP.

    After the first round of AV, the second-placed candidate is much more likely to get the second-preference votes of the **least** popular candidate than the first-placed candidate.

    Why? Because the the first-place candidate is likely to be on the opposite political wing than the last-place candidate.

    All we could be doing is upgrading the less popular candidates until they overtake the most popular candidate.

    I can't see why this system is any more democratic than FPTP.

  • Comment number 93.

    9. At 13:36pm 18th Apr 2011, jobsagoodin wrote:

    Tony Butcher

    'Someone please correct me if I am wrong on this'

    You're wrong. You can do analysis going back over the last few decades in this country and it shows that coalitions are more likely under AV which is of course why the Lib Dems are so keen on the idea.
    =================================================================
    9. At 13:36pm 18th Apr 2011, jobsagoodin wrote:

    Tony Butcher

    'Someone please correct me if I am wrong on this'

    You're wrong. You can do analysis going back over the last few decades in this country and it shows that coalitions are more likely under AV which is of course why the Lib Dems are so keen on the idea. If you want Nick Clegg to be doing cart wheels after the referenduim vote then vote for AV.
    =================================================================
    You should read:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8506306.stm
    I find the idea of looking over the "past few decades" as politics has radicaly changed. If we did use AV ever since the Liberal Democrats were created no coalitions would have been formed. Apart from perhaps this one - maybe if exaggerated results against Labour would have formed a majority? So confused - would be thankful if someone could give a link to see how the 2010 general election would have worked under AV please.

  • Comment number 94.

    The latest opinion poll by You Gov shows there is nothing between yes and no intentions so both sides have everything to play for.Those wanting AV are more likely to vote, so differential turnout could seal the deal for Mr.Clegg,infuriating his conservative colleagues.All the more reason for Mr.Cameron to hug him close as local government elections give them both a kicking.

    Ambiguous messages are coming from local Lib-Dem headquarters.There are few mugshots of the previously ubiquitous leader,even Sheffield Hallam are feeling the shame.The leader of Liverpool CC advised Mr.Clegg to abandon the coalition," two millions were spent on policing the Lib-Dem conference in Sheffield when Mr.Clegg was due to speak,in Birmingham he said disagreements in the coalition were`Healthy` after the Vince Cable outburst on immigration.As usual they`re all over the place ,reflecting the sponginess of their electoral support.

    Like earlier versions of the Liberal party, and the Labour party in the eighties, they will fracture under stress and redistribute their support elsewhere. Like the centre parties in Weimar Germany,you will be surprised at their destinations.



  • Comment number 95.

    I think I get AV now. Come the referendum I'll tick 'No' as my first preference and 'Yes' as my second.

    I know that means that there is a chance that even if the 'No' votes score higher on the first count, if the 'No's' don't reach the 50% + 1 hurdle the second preferences kick in and the 'Yes' vote may win, or if there are no spoilt ballots it could be a dead heat.

    But hey, that's democracy for you.

    Isn't it?

  • Comment number 96.

    A better debate than normal but still going round in a few of the familiar circles.

    One issue which lots of people skirt over is whether we are certain we want to retain single member constituencies or not? Basically, do you want to there to be a single LOCAL MP to represent you or a number of 'AREA MPs' which is a pre-requisite for every possible system of PR.

    Democracy in the UK has been built over centuries based on the concept of a single MP for each constituency. Moving away from that is nothing less than tearing down every vestige of democracy as we currently know it and starting again from a blank sheet of paper. Whether that is the right or wrong approach is debatable but what is certain is that PR would be the death of British democracy as we know it and the birth of something completely different.

    However, whether or not you support PR or not is actually irrelevant to the current debate is it is purely about single member constituencies; namely what is the 'BEST' method to elect them.

    Self-evidently is it 'best' if the constituencies are the same size and thankfully this has now been addressed.

    When it comes to the method of election, lots of theorists and mathematicians a lot clever than anyone here have spend decades studying voting systems and there are several keys facts it is worth reminding people of:
    - NO perfect voting method can ever exist (Gibbard–Satterthwaite theorem and Condorcet's paradox).
    - By any rational criteria FPTP is a pretty dreadful system where there are more than two candidates.
    - AV is only one of a myriad of preferential voting systems using a ballet paper where you rank candidates.
    - The other preferential voting systems are generally even more complicated than AV and like AV they all still have some flaws.
    - AV is already in widespread use in various assorted elections in the UK so AV is the most logical and sensible option to put forward as a replacement for FPTP.

    The main thing you can take away is that the referendum is asking an important and well considered question. It is certainly neither trivial nor a waste of money if you value democracy.

    - On an a political basis the question is so distorted by self-interest, current issues and historical baggage that the arguments are as spurious and weak as they are myriad.
    - On an emotional or ideological basis people vote for all sorts things for the oddest of reasons.
    - On a mathematical or statistical basis you would vote YES for AV as it is generally a less flawed system; a logically robust if completely unsatisfying argument.
    - On a practical basis it won't effect more than perhaps 2-3 elections out of a 100.

    So in summary; mentioning PR is a red herring; the referendum asks worthwhile question; AV is less flawed than FPTP (but we are all well used to the flaws in FPTP); 98% of the arguments and debate are utter rubbish and even if we vote YES it will only ever effect perhaps twenty constituencies.

  • Comment number 97.

    There seems to be a lot of odd complaints about the AV system

    1) Backroom deals
    Not really backroom when you publish something like the Coalition Agreement which set out the deal that was made, it's simply a matter of looking at election manifestos and seeing which parties policy is being used, the bigger party will undoubtedly get their way in more policy areas than the junior partner, lib dems problem is that their ministers are mainly involved in finance

    2) Coalitions are more likely
    and? Wales, Scotland, northern ireland, the Republic of Ireland and a load of other countries operate perfectly fine with coalition governments (the Boom years of the ROI's celtic tiger economy were attributed to the Progressive democrats in the Dail, they had about 5 seats while their partner, Fianna Fail had 70 odd) Coalitions will only come about if the UK as a whole backs nobody with a majority of seats, then the parties have to mix using the arithmetic we as the electorate have given them.

    3) It benefits the smaller parties
    Only if people like them more. This complaint really boils my blood when made by politicians, it's like they're saying 'Oh no you can't use AV or people won't feel forced to vote for me anymore'. It wont benefit the BNP they come above last and every other small party decides to transfer to them..which is unlikely.

    4) It's too complicated
    Yes writing up to 10 is incredibly complex, and how will we grapple with the incredible difficult concept of 'the loser gets eliminated'. I shall have to attedn oxford to get to grips with it

    yes AV isn't really the system that any of the politicians want, which some might argue is the perfect reason to use it, No Individual party stands to benefit from it. The big problem the main parties have with AV is that it removes the idea of a Two horse race between Labour and the Tories with Protests votes going to the Lib Dems, now the first count should give us an idea of actual support any given party enjoys with the number of counts it take to get to 50% giving us a true idea of how 'safe' a constituency is.

    Oh btw

    1) It won't lead to more women being elected
    Women will still have to convince their party then the electorate just like they do now

    2) There will still be wasted votes
    Anyone who didn't vote for the eventual winner can still be said to be 'wasted'

    3) Politicians will have to reach out
    No they won't, those with huge bases won't need to do anything more than they already do, it's only those who will be desperate for votes who will try to reach out and they will still be bound by their election manifestos.

    Frankly i'm getting a bit tired of all the lies both campaign are sprouting

  • Comment number 98.

    93. At 20:16pm 18th Apr 2011, Jono wrote:

    could give a link to see how the 2010 general election would have worked under AV please.

    =========================

    Having issue with links, tap UK general election 2010 AV into your search engine, should throw up a link to the Guardian which has extensive coverage on the possible effects.

    The fright factor for the Conservatives is that under AV the last election would still have resulted in a coalition however the LibDems would have had the choice of both Labour and Conservatives to deal with and still produce a majority coalition government.

  • Comment number 99.

    16. At 14:01pm 18th Apr 2011, Roger wrote:
    "The Status Quo needs to be challenged AV does that."

    No it doesn`t.Not if it gets Mr.Clegg re-elected.

  • Comment number 100.

    Inquisitor

    Good analysis

    How many people actually believe what parties say in their manifesto? - as soon as they get into government they are rarely in charge of events. It is like planning a journey they know where they want to go but events dictate the route - all they decide is the general direction.

    Elections are generally lost not won - manifesto specifics just represent general intentions.

 

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