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'I'd like to have an argument please...'

Nick Robinson | 17:00 UK time, Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A day after his friend, mentor and former leader Paddy Ashdown turned his guns on David Cameron, Nick Clegg has called on all taking part in the Alternative Vote referendum campaign to "treat people like adults". When I spoke to him on the campaign trail he refused to comment on suggestions that the prime minister had broken his promise to keep a low profile in the campaign about changing Britain's voting system.

Nick Clegg

NR: Did David Cameron promise you that he would keep a low profile in this campaign?

NC: Look I don't want to go into conversations we have day in day out.

NR: You did - and I sense that he did- he's changed his mind.

NC: Look you're going to have to ask the Conservatives how they want to participate in the No campaign.

NR: To be fair, you see him every day and I don't - did he say to you.

NC: You ask the Conservatives, you ask David Cameron about that side of the story- as far as I am concerned, what I am not just me by the way- Ed Miliband, the leader of the Greens, the leader of the UK Independence Party - lots of people outside politics are all saying let's do something better - on the other side of the debate you have got the Conservatives, the BNP and the Communists - that speaks volumes about who is on either side of the debate.

I spoke to him after filming an extraordinary meeting in Abingdon near Oxford where the deputy prime minister spoke to local Lib Dems fighting to hold on to the council against a Tory challenge. One party activist expressed her concern that "I'm concerned, of course, like a lot of people about the public perception that you and David Cameron are coming closer and closer together and people can't see the difference between you." Another, a local Lib Dem councillor, told him that he was becoming "the butt of comedy" before asking him to widespread applause "Can you not have a slight argument with Mr Cameron?"

After the meeting I asked him whether there was a "phase two coming" for the coalition "where you think you can just take your jacket off and flex your muscles?" Yes, he told me, as the government carried on as "the manner of working together you know develops into a habit" then "of course people will start accentuating their differences just as much as you also need to decide on common policies for the national good".

NR: You said at the outset that it was responsible to work together and have your rows in private. Is there a phase two coming though where you think you can just take your jacket off and flex your muscles?

NC: Yes, I think inevitably as the government carries on, and sort of, the manner of working together you know develops into a habit if you like, clearly as you approach election times, and we're now in an election campaign period, people of course will start accentuating their differences just as much as you also need to decide on common policies for the national good.

Here are other extracts of what else he had to say:

Transcript extracts on AV:

NR: Paddy Ashdown has said to David Cameron - call the attack dogs off, do you agree?

NC: I think what we should do, what everyone should do on the Yes campaign and on the No campaign is at least treat people like adults. They don't want a mud slinging debate what they want to know is what is wrong with the present system - its deeply unfair, millions of people whose vote doesn't count and I think there is a strong case for AV particularly after the expenses scandal so politicians work harder for your vote - that is the simple decision to be made. Put it really simply if you want more MPs paying for duck houses then vote No, if you want a better politics vote Yes. That's my opinion and that's what I am going to be saying for the next few weeks.

NR: Your friend Paddy Ashdown, your friend, former leader says this is in danger of poisoning the mood in the coalition.

NC: I don't think for the remaining stages of this campaign it does anyone any good to replace simple, logical arguments about whether we actually improve the way we elect MPs so that MPs work harder for your vote with personal vitriol and mud slinging -I frankly don't think it will impress many people either. It is treating people like fools, people know they have to answer the simple question do you want the current system that produced the expenses scandal and all the rest of it, or do you want something better that's the question and frankly however much mud is slung that will remain the question until 5 May.

Transcript extracts on relations with Cameron and the Conservatives:

NR: Nick Clegg - there was one theme wasn't there (reference to filmed meeting) - they want you to have a row with David Cameron - these are your supporters...

NC: Yes well I think at election time it's inevitable isn't it. People want to get more tribal, they want to duff up the other side. It's a balance you need to strike in a coalition government, because clearly we are different parties, different leaders, different values. Always have been always will be, but you also need to work together in the national interest to thrash things out. So quite a lot of the differences and indeed arguments you have are necessarily arguments you have behind closed doors. But you know all my political life I've always believed you can have sincere differences with people, but still thrash out those differences in a civilized respectful manner rather than sort of mud slinging or hurling abuse at each other and that's kind of politics I am always going to try and stick to.

NR: Shouldn't you be a bit more like Vince Cable? I mean people know where he disagrees with David Cameron and they don't know where you do?

NC: I think they do actually. I think they do. You just need, you just have to look at the things I say week in week out where we clearly differ.

NR: Such as?

NC: If you look at things the Liberal Democrats have brought to this government, it wouldn't have happened without Liberal Democrats that we've now given a great tax break to 23 million base rate tax payers, that pensioners wouldn't have got a better deal that their pensions are now going up as of two weeks ago without Liberal Democrats. These are big big differences and we're not just making within the government but much more importantly we are making to people's everyday lives. But look, this is the first year in a five year Parliament. Where we are doing as a government really really difficulty things. Controversial things. Some downright unpopular things. If we don't do them, if we don't sort things out now we won't have a brighter better tomorrow that's why we're doing all this and I think it's right that in the coalition government we show, yes our differences, but that we remain capable of sorting out the country so it's better for future generations.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Clegg sounds quite annoyed with 'mortimax', doesn't he?

  • Comment number 2.

    'Did David Cameron promise you that he would keep a low profile in this campaign?'

    Yeah, but he probably only did so on condition that Nick Clegg kept a high profile in the campaign.

  • Comment number 3.

    "Where we are doing as a government really really difficulty things. Controversial things. Some downright unpopular things. If we don't do them, if we don't sort things out now we won't have a brighter better tomorrow" Those are wise words by Nick Clegg. If anyone doubts them, here's an extract from Miliband on immigration;

    "I do think we got it wrong"

    And here's an even more revealling extract from Brown on the banks:

    "We didn't understand how risk was spread across the system, we didn't understand the entanglements of different institutions with the other and we didn't understand even though we talked about it just how global things were, including a shadow banking system as well as a banking system."

    So there you have it, from 'Education, education, education" to "we didn't understand, we didn't understand, we didn't understand"

    So come on Nick, stop digging around trying to make a mountain out of petty differences with voting and get behind a government with a huge mess to clear up, which even Labour leaders and ex-leaders now accept, even if Saga doesn't.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm not sure that giving the Lib-Dems what they want is on many people's minds right now. Many people are still incandescent over the Tuition fees volte face.

  • Comment number 5.

    "we've now given a great tax break to 23 million base rate tax payers"

    Clegg clearly understands the inportance of tax breaks. I've more admiration for the guy now. Well done Nick!

  • Comment number 6.

    Cracking blog article Nick, it's great to get this kind of inside track, where we usually only get a sterilised and cut-down piece from the papers.

    Personally I think Nick is right about this - make the case and stand by it. I think it was unfair of Paddy Ashdown to accuse DC of mudslinging though, and I suspect people will read it as that he can't make the case for AV so he's complaining about the No campaign. If people sense that one side has played unfairly then they'll punish them, the electorate don't need Paddy to tell them what to think.

  • Comment number 7.

    AV is not going to sort our voting system out . PR is the system the Liberals want and AV is seen by them as a stepping stone to that. I will vote no on May 5th but would have considered a yes vote for PR . The best thing that this referendum bill has done equalise the size of constuincey (taking away the labour bias)

  • Comment number 8.

    David Cameron probably did say he would keep a low profile . However the tory party will have overuled this. Nick Clegg will have live with that and pehaps tell his new AV friends that he will stay out of the way

  • Comment number 9.

    His party see him as standing between them and their parliamentary seats. Those, apparently, few voters who did not vote for a coalition think he's burned their Socialistic-Democratic flag. Cameron, interestingly, seems to think he doesn't need him. The media have blood in their nostrils.
    So, who's going to replace him?

  • Comment number 10.

    A very interesting blog and an above average discussion on immigration yesterday, I thought. I was trying to join in to offer the vital and incisive perspective of a rational liberal who lived in Bradford for fifteen years, but none of my comments would post.
    Admittedly that probably helped to raise the average, but was very frustrating nonetheless.

  • Comment number 11.

    "on the other side of the debate you have got the Conservatives, the BNP and the Communists - that speaks volumes"

    This - said by Nick to Nick - is rather amusing when you think about it.

  • Comment number 12.

    Selective memory is vital for all politicians. Even more important now that we have coalition politics.

    Andy if you do have to rake over the past can you give me examples of when Cameron et al were complaining about the level of regulation of banks in 2007? AllI recall is something about the way they were organised. The purpose of any opposition is to question and challenge - act as devil's advocate.

  • Comment number 13.

    @11 - Saga

    Yes - I was so confused by that statement I couldn't think of anything to say about it.

  • Comment number 14.

    What Clegg has missed and what his supporters are saying in the "can't you have an argument please" is that for all the positives (as well as the negatives) gained by the LibDems they seem to have been obtained too easily, little fuss no arguments.
    People tend to assume that if something appeared easy to achieve then probably they got the wrong end of the deal i.e they got stitched up. A little show of the differences and that these are hard won deals would not go amiss.
    Where they have accepted Conservative policies they are seen to be more actively endorsing them than the Conservatives endorse the LD wins. Partly they were set up in the deal and missed that they were given ministeries where they could only be seen to be hypocrites if they pursued collective responsibility. Clever move by the Conservatives there.

    I like coalitions and consensus, however to there has to be some sense that from Clegg that the concessions or changes won are hard won from the senior partner and not some cozy stitch-up between friends. He missed the opportunity in this interview to say yes, Cameron has promised a low profile , which actually reinforces the view that he is rather weak and does get stitched up in negotiations.

  • Comment number 15.

    So I understand it now ... if you're English and want England to be English then you vote 'NO' to AV.











    A day after his friend, mentor and former leader Paddy Ashdown turned his guns on David Cameron, Nick Clegg has called on all taking part in the Alternative Vote referendum campaign to "treat people like adults".

    .....................

    Clegg and Cable and the rest of the Liberal Dummycrats should try treating people like humans beings first ... especially dealing with Prancing Goon Cable's pro immigration 'out-breed' the 'under-class' hidden agenda ... Goon Huhne's anti gutter politics jibe is real gem from him ... perhaps they should stop chasing the immigrant vote with their AV proposal ... as that is what AV is all about ... Liberal Dummycrats becoming permanent coalition power brokers with their pro immigraion rhetoric and policies.

    Only one vote in the referendum can save England and its safe Conservative seats that enabled the Labour party to be removed from office ... and protects England from further massive damage ... that is a resounding 'No' vote to the Liberal Dummycrats and their English working class and non working class ethnic cleansing agenda

    NO to AV!



  • Comment number 16.

    Can anything mooted by Cable, Ashdown and Huhne be taken seriously, two non achievers and an idiot given a government post as a fillip to the Lib/Dems and to keep him off Clegg's back. With this calibre of politician supporting AV , it is safer to vote no. As for Clegg himself, he still sounds like one of Sugar's potential apprentices, full of soundbite and willing to say anything to please and to hang on to his position.

  • Comment number 17.

    15 Nautonier.

    No, you obviously still don't understand it.

    AV is bad because it is not a proportionate reflection of the will of the people and not much less unfair than first past the post. It is our country (everyones) and we can wreck it if we want to (collectively) - I advise against it but that's democracy. FPTP (and AV) are not fit for purpose in our modern democracy.

    The LibDems and all their fore-runner parties have been proposing electoral reform for many decade, it has nothing to do with immigration, nothing whatsoever. You come across in your rant not as a Conservative but as a member of one of the other parties supporting FPTP ......... no not the communists , the other one.

  • Comment number 18.

    I personally am quite happy that Clegg and Cameron seem to be able to work together reasonably easily and some of the politics blown up by the media are I am sure not discouraged as they are in fact two separate parties. I know Cameron does not want av and Nick Clegg does so why is Nick encouraging mudslinging. The activists think it makes it easier to campaign if they were to be at each others throat but as a voter I want the government to get on with the job of running the country not trying to boost their electorate. Nick Clegg is right that we should be adult about this and look at the arguments.

    To be fair to the No campaign it is not just the conservatives and bnp but a large section of labour and some major historians also disagree with AV. I will vote No but not as a punishment for Nick Clegg but because I do not think it is fair that someone who votes Green or UKIP gets to have their vote counted at least twice because they are unlikely to get a seat while my vote which normally goes to a conservative mp will probably only get counted once. One person, one vote. I also would not want to risk making it harder to kick a government out as we did in 1997 and 2010. Under AV Brown could still be prime minister and that on its own is enough to make me vote NO.

  • Comment number 19.

    15 nautonier

    Is your post sarcastic? I know you post a lot on these blogs, and always thought you tended to provide reasoned arguement and sensible discussion. Here, instead of actually thinking about the issues you just make your mind up because you don't like lib dems! Sure, don't discuss the matter at hand, because that's not helpful at all - lets just stick it to Clegg regardless of the merits of the proposal!

    I am quite shocked by the general ignorance shown by many of the posters here, I often read the comments as they tend to provide debate from intelligent individuals. Why when it comes to a blog about the way our democracy works, something that the tribals shouldn't start spewing their drivel about, does it get worse than ever?

    I'm no fan of Clegg but he's right in this case; let's discuss the issue, no slinging mud and no silly party allegiances. The ONLY thing that should matter is which is better, AV or FPTP.

  • Comment number 20.

    Defeat on AV and local election massacre will ginger up the fragmenting coalition nicely. Not long to wait!

  • Comment number 21.

    'NC: I think what we should do, what everyone should do on the Yes campaign and on the No campaign is at least treat people like adults. They don't want a mud slinging debate ... Put it really simply if you want more MPs paying for duck houses then vote No, if you want a better politics vote Yes. That's my opinion and that's what I am going to be saying for the next few weeks.'

    So, no mud slinging from Nick C then? Might just as well say if you want an increased chance of voting for a party which will tell you one thing before the election and then after forming a coalition will do the exact opposite, then vote Yes to AV, if you want more honest politicians vote No. Dumb and dumber (or vice versa).

  • Comment number 22.

    This vain and silly main has really been stitched up,the awful thing is he doesn`t know it despite having suspicions.His colleague Vince Cable knows it,is doing his best to jump ship, but Mr.Cameron,a keen student of the higher immorality,is ignoring his insults.How humiliating.

    Mr.Cameron has the best motives for breaking his promise to Mr.Clegg.He also had the best motive for vetoing Mr.Blair as EEC commissioner and Mr.Brown as head of the IMF.Let`s include the war in Libya in our list of the best motive.The man`s a paragon of virtue,no-ome can touch him for judgement,flair,betrayal.Poor Mr.Clegg,eyes fixed on the distant prospect of the next election,deficit gone,private sector booming,his face on a postage stamp.

    It will end in tears,caught between a conservative party contemptuous of weakness and an unforgiving public he will go on being squeezed until he is discarded like the husk he has become.Mr.Huhne who shows signs of rebellion will take over,A tune from "Strictly" and a soft Fedora will be the new logo.

  • Comment number 23.

    Jizzlington`s 19

    "I'm no fan of Clegg but he's right in this case; let's discuss the issue, no slinging mud and no silly party allegiances. The ONLY thing that should matter is which is better, AV or FPTP"

    His difficulty in fronting the yes campaign is trust.Why should anyone believe him starting with own party? It`s not personal,it`s politics.

  • Comment number 24.

    18 Juliet50

    I will vote No but not as a punishment for Nick Clegg but because I do not think it is fair that someone who votes Green or UKIP gets to have their vote counted at least twice because they are unlikely to get a seat while my vote which normally goes to a conservative mp will probably only get counted once. One person, one vote. I also would not want to risk making it harder to kick a government out as we did in 1997 and 2010. Under AV Brown could still be prime minister and that on its own is enough to make me vote NO.
    ==========================

    You are ill informed on your vote only being counted once, under AV would be counted in every single round of counting.
    In round 1 : your vote would be 1 Conservative and 2 other peoples 1 Green or 1 UKIP.

    No Candidate reaches 50% so round two is counted and the Green candidate is eliminated.
    In round 2 your vote would be 1 Conservative and 2 same 2 others 1 LibDem and 1 UKIP.

    So in every single round your vote is counted just the same as every one elses.
    If there are 2 rounds your vote is counted twice, three rounds.. three times - same as for every other voter, only because your preferred candidate is not eliminated your 2nd preference isn't relevant - you are still getting to vote for your first choice, in each and every round.

    The purpose of AV is to generate the less objectionable candidate to the majority - it is not a good system but it is better than the winning candidate being the 1st preference of a minority of the voters, sometimes as low as 1/3rd of all the votes cast. It is a practical way to run a series of elections where the last candidate drops out - but instead of re-staging such an expensive affair as a general election you do it in one day.
    This is basically how Conservative leaders are chosen - whittled down to 2 candidates by MPs and then a FPTP between 2 people (where FPTP is the only system). Seems a bit rich for them to use a close variant to elect their leaders but object to the rest of us having the same choice when it comes to voting.

  • Comment number 25.

    16 kaybraes says: "With this calibre of politician supporting AV , it is safer to vote no."

    What?

    We have to make a decision based on the calibre of politicians who support a proposition?

    I prefer independent thought. I can make up my own mind on this thanks, I don't care who else supports AV or not.

  • Comment number 26.

    18 Juliet

    "To be fair to the No campaign it is not just the conservatives and bnp but a large section of labour and some major historians also disagree with AV. I will vote No but not as a punishment for Nick Clegg "

    Seems a good enough reason to me.It`s the smell of betrayal,and he did it to the kids.

  • Comment number 27.

    AV - you do not have to provide an alternative vote.

  • Comment number 28.

    In answer to your query,the higher immorality refers to causes which transcend morality,usually one`s own

  • Comment number 29.

    bryhers

    "His difficulty in fronting the yes campaign is trust.Why should anyone believe him starting with own party? It`s not personal,it`s politics."

    I meant that he's right in what he said here about discussing the proposal as adults. It's not about trust, in fact the last people we should be listening to about AV/FPTP are the politicians themselves - from either side of the fence. They all have vested interests. Yet on this blog, people are obsessed with which MPs are saying what. You just have to do a bit of reading and find out the facts for yourselves, but please don't throw away an opportunity because of which MPs you like.


    "Seems a good enough reason to me.It`s the smell of betrayal,and he did it to the kids."

    By not considering the proposal seriously the only people who are being betrayed are the voters, and worse, future generations of voters. Nick Clegg will be gone in a few years if that, we will have to live with the decision for generations. The fact that people are wlling to throw away a one time opportunity without real consideration is just plain disgraceful. Anyone voting for either Yes or No based on which politicians are in which camp should be utterly ashamed.


  • Comment number 30.

    Welcome back Nick. You have more holidays than MPs. I hope it's not at the license fee payers expense.
    Isn't the AV campaign wasting a lot of money that could be better used in the NHS?
    And while we are on wasting money, why does it take two people to read the news on the BBC. How can so much duplication be justified.

  • Comment number 31.

    "Paddy Ashdown has said to David Cameron - call the attack dogs off!


    What did the Lib-Dems 'think' Cameron was going to do? - Keep his head down and hope for the best? The political naivety of these Liberals is astonishing!

    He was never going to play ‘nice’ because he can’t afford to loose the vote. If he does loose it, the right wing will lynch him...maybe even provoke a challenge from David Davis?

    And, is it worth all the fuss in the first place? AV isn’t a stepping-stone to PR, it will merely confirm to the electorate, that the last thing we need is PR.

  • Comment number 32.

    "His difficulty in fronting the yes campaign is trust.Why should anyone believe him starting with own party? It`s not personal,it`s politics."

    "I meant that he's right in what he said here about discussing the proposal as adults. It's not about trust, in fact the last people we should be listening to about AV/FPTP are the politicians themselves - from either side of the fence. They all have vested interests. Yet on this blog, people are obsessed with which MPs are saying what. You just have to do a bit of reading and find out the facts for yourselves, but please don't throw away an opportunity because of which MPs you like."

    When I wrote it`s not personal it`s politics I meant it.

    Very few people vote on ideological grounds,they lack the contextual grasp of politics this demands. The majority give their vote on issues which affect them directly, and elites they can trust.The link with the first is obscure so they will vote on the second.

    In this important respect,Mr. Clegg``s presence is toxic.


  • Comment number 33.

    Couple of good points there Neil (24) - AV is how the main parties (and also the Conservatives) elect their leader, and no the system doesn't really mean that certain votes are counted more times than other votes. Me? I've had a mood swing and I think I'm going to vote 'Yes'. Still not got myself totally settled on the matter though. Will keep you guys informed.

  • Comment number 34.

    One thing I just dont get in all of this is why the LibDems didnt hold out for a true PR referendum in the coalition negotiations instead of this paltry compromise. The Tories presumably said no to that and now argue that AV isnt used anywhere and is undemocratic. The LibDems and particularly Nick Clegg look completely stupid for agreeing to thsi course of action (including the sneaking under the same bill of 5 year terms and boundary changes).

    Its a sad outcome that an important issue for Uk democracy has been totally hijacked by pure politics at the very point it became possible for it to be debated an potentially brought into law (ie under a coalition govt).

    PS- To John_Bull from yesterdays immigration blog - apologies if in my rant you thought I pointed the charge 'idiotic' at you - absolutely not - that was a general rant point on an issue that really gets me worked up. Sincere apologies if it came across the wrong way (as I freely admit I sometimes do).

  • Comment number 35.

    19. At 19:55pm 20th Apr 2011, jizzlingtons wrote:

    15 nautonier

    Is your post sarcastic? I know you post a lot on these blogs, and always thought you tended to provide reasoned arguement and sensible discussion. Here, instead of actually thinking about the issues you just make your mind up because you don't like lib dems! Sure, don't discuss the matter at hand, because that's not helpful at all - lets just stick it to Clegg regardless of the merits of the proposal!

    ................
    If anyone does not like my posting on here ... just privatise the BBC because as long as I have to keep buying a TV licence I'll be posting plenty ... on here or elsewhere.

    Otherwise, well actually I've thought about 'it' rather a lot ... and the UK voting system must not be changed unless the Constitution is reviewed at the same time and consideration given to an English Parliament.

    If England gets its own 'English Parliament' then of course ... that probably means the end of the British 'Union'. It seems odd that the 'glue' holding the Labour devolution mess together is the fact that England does not have its own Parliament while the other members of the Union have some measure of devolved government. I'd quite like to see free prescription and University tuition fees in England and stop subsidising the Celtic remainder ... as we can't afford it.

    What are the Liberal Democrats playing for here ... their best chance now of attracting more votes is in attracting the immigrant votes.

    AV or PR or any other system is no better than what we have ... the reason the present system does not work properly is that the different countries in the union have a bias towards one or two main parties that are quite different to each of the other countries ... that does not give a fair representation in Westminster.

    The referendum is flawed as it should contain several further questions beyond AV.

    As for 'gutter politics' ... the Lib Dums should stop chasing the immigrant votes ... I've recently seen a basket of Lib Dem leaflets to be delivered by hand to a list from the local list of voters ... and most of the names on the list are 'foreign' ... that is gutter politics ... Clegg, Cable and Huhne are stirring up a hornets’ nest on immigration and some of these people may not legally, be eligible to vote.

    We only have AV as a token offering national referendum when many other issues are higher priority than AV as for e.g. the major underlying constitutional and other reforms that are required based on national and cultural identities, many issues with the EU.

    AV is a distraction to Britain's other problems such as the 'EU mess' and rights and privileges of e.g. banks and financial institutions, vested interests, role of the state, role of the Church etc ... and fundamentally benefits no one really except the Lib Dummy rats who are experts at sitting on the fence and stabbing everyone else in the back.

    I think that the referendum is a farce ... we should really be voting on enhanced devolution for all members of the union ... and probably invite Irish Republic for economic reasons to form a new Anglo Celtic federation council to represent all members on issue such as defence, shipping, fishing, energy, commerce etc... and whether we should be represented individually in the EU as e.g. an Anglo Celtic Federation or as separate countries.

    AV is a farce and a very damaging and stupid distraction as valuable time is being wasted here and AV is and must be a definite 'NO' for English voters ... otherwise England we will be subsumed in the devolution/AV voting mess and England will just be a place on the map with no regional, national or cultural identity.

    I resent England now being regarded as a region of the UK ... it is a country with its own national identity ... the Lib Dummycrats do not seem to understand this.

  • Comment number 36.

    24. At 20:22pm 20th Apr 2011, Whistling Neil wrote:

    I do not believe you are correct in your analysis of how av works. In round 1 if no candidate achieves 50% of the vote, the last candidate is eliminated and their second and third preferences only are then redistributed in round 2 and so on. So in your example,if I was to vote for one of the popular parties my vote would only be counted the once and that remains so until all other candidates have either been eliminated or a candidate reaches the 50% mark. So, as I stated originally, people who vote for the least popular parties get to have another bite of the cherry so to speak.

    I realise that trade unions and political parties use a version of AV to select their leaders but in Camerons case it was not av but a series of mini elections where the last candidate was eliminated but then everyone voted again knowing who had been kicked out. This is not the AV system being proposed. We still only vote the once but as I said people voting for smaller parties can have their vote counted several times.

  • Comment number 37.

    A number of posters on here are showing they clearly do not understand the av voting method and it is incorrect to say that in every round your vote is counted - Please note sagamix and whistling neil.

    If the candidate receiving the most votes has not reached the 50% mark the last candidate is eliminated and THEIR SECOND PREFERENCE ONLY is distributed in round 2. If 50% still not reached then the last candidate again is eliminated and their second choices distributed ( some of these may have been from the candidate already eliminated in which case their third choice is then used).

    If you vote for a popular candidate who has the most votes initially in the first round your vote is only counted the once. This is a clear indication that there is a large selection of the British public who do not understand how it works.

    I do not believe it to be correct that it is more representational than FPTP, the only fair way for this is PR which is not on offer. I also do not agree with Nick Clegg when he says it will make mps work harder, all they will do is try to be the most appealing candidate to everyone and then ditch their manifestos when in coalition as undoubtedly this will be the result.

  • Comment number 38.

    More and more as this is debated on these blogs and in the wider population it is clear that AV is getting a kicking as not a worthwhile alternative to the current system.

    This is a damning indicment on both the Tories and the Libe Dems (not to mention Labour with their pathetic pre election mini bribe to LibDems on AV, although to be fair I think AV+, whatever that is, was potentially mentioned).

    The Tories have saddled us with this horrible compromise referendum that nobody really wants, other than those who see it as a stepping stone to real voting reform in the future. And they lecture to us on saving money!?!

    The LibDems bent over and made no concerted effort to get proper PR on the menu as part of coalition agreement - despite verifiable proof of success in Scottish and Welsh elections over last 10 years - pitiful politics all round.

  • Comment number 39.

    Whistling Neil

    Apologies as I think I have realised what you are saying in that my first choice gets counted in each round. I am still not sure it is fair though that if you vote for a smaller party you can effectively put second and third options in case your original choice loses. This would not happen in a race and how does this make it fairer? It just means that if say the second candidate eventually ends up with the most votes he may be 50% of peoples' second or third choices rather than 35% of people's first choice? This does not seem to be representative of the peoples choice any more than a candidate winning on 35% of the vote.

  • Comment number 40.

    36: Juliet50

    Nope, I am right unless you meant count as in someone physically touching your voting paper if you happened to vote for a popular candidate.

    Round 1: A 60 B 60 C 40 D 21 E 19 - result E eliminated and 2nd preferences counted.
    Round 2: A 65 B 65 C 48 D 22 - result D eliminated and 2nd preferences of 21 and 3rd preference of 1 redistributed.
    Round 3: A 65 B 87 C 48 - result C eliminate and now 2nd preferences of 40 and 3rd prefferences of 8 are redistributed.
    Round 4: A 89 B 111 - result B elected.

    Say you voted for A - in each and every round your 1 vote counted - just not physically touched - also every other voter did not get more than 1 vote in any round - exactly the same number of votes as you will have had.
    So the No campaign propaganda on this aspect is patent rubbish I am afraid (but in case you miss earlier posts, I still won't be voting Yes). However I structured the example to show specifically what the Conservatives are afraid of if you assumed A= Conservatives.

    Indeed you are correct about the Conservative leadership but I did not say it was, as I said the system was similar to AV not was, since it is run over multiple individual election - however, if you change your first preference because someone you didn't vote for anyway was eliminated, what was the thought put into making that original choice, how did they suddenly not become the person you think best for the job? However in a small electorate (MPs only vote) - it is simple to do and would not be practical for a general election (though eminently suitable for a presidential one e.g as in France).
    But if in a multi candidate election such as for the Conservative leader was not right to be run under FPTP then why do they think it is the right one for the our modern political system. Surely if they were consistent then they would use it themselves to elect the leader - in which case assuming 1st round intentions were the true belief of voters David Davies would be PM now would he not?
    AV is a way of doing something similar in a single occasion of voting which makes it more suited to high voter number elections.

  • Comment number 41.

    33. At 21:10pm 20th Apr 2011, sagamix wrote:
    "Couple of good points there Neil (24) - AV is how the main parties (and also the Conservatives) elect their leader, and no the system doesn't really mean that certain votes are counted more times than other votes. Me? I've had a mood swing and I think I'm going to vote 'Yes'. Still not got myself totally settled on the matter though. Will keep you guys informed."

    Saga,stop hawking your conscience around.You did it before the last election and it`s unseemly. You`re beginning to sound like Shirley Williams.

  • Comment number 42.

    All we know for sure is that the no campaign is morally bankrupt http://bit.ly/fFdlPs

  • Comment number 43.

    juliet50

    You have highlighted a flaw in the AV system in that in later rounds peoples 2nd, 3rd etc choices are worth the same as other people's first choices. Of course no one has said that AV was perfect and this is an example of that.

    But the real issue is whether it is more fair that FPTP, which I believe it is. For starters, in FPTP, many people already have the vote for their second or third choice for tactical reasons - so it's not like FPTP avoids the issue of certain people's 2nd choices being worth the same as some peoples 1st. The fact is it's impossible to gauge voters opinion on exactly how much they like the candidate (in either AV or FPTP).

    The real problem with FPTP is when two similar candidates stand (eg UKIP and Tory), they can end up splitting votes of similar voters between them, thus giving them both a disadvantage and losing against a different candidate (say labour). The unfairness of this is that if either candidate had stood against the labour one on their own then they would have won - surely you can see that this is perverse?

    To cite your example
    "This would not happen in a race and how does this make it fairer?"

    Imagine if you where in a race and whenever someone with a similar running style to you took part then it made you both slower!

    There where a few examples of UKIP not running in the last election for this very reason, now that's not what I'd call democratic.

    Also remember that elections shouldn't be about winners and losers, it should be about who best represents the voters - in that respect it is surely better that over half the voters are at least somewhat supportive of their candidate even if they are not everyones '1st choice'.

    It's also worth remembering that in order to survive long enough to aquire lots of 2nd and 3rd choice votes that they must have a fair amount of 1st choice votes to begin with - so it's not going to happen that people are elected by simply being everyone's second choice!

  • Comment number 44.

    Whoevers the victor it`s a win-win siuation for Labour.Cameron wins,Clegg holed below the waterline,Clegg wins,the Tories turn on Cameron.So sit back and enjoy.

    On personal grounds I shall vote no.

  • Comment number 45.

    39 Juliet50

    I typed 40 before your 39 appeared.

    AV is a system for picking the least objectionable candidate to a majority, rather than FPTP which picks the biggest minorities favourite. Neither are perfect nor do they fairly reflect the will of the people.

    AV is marginally fairer since it elects a representative who the majority are least unhappy with but it is a marginal difference and could in theory throw up unusual results, though these would be very rare, as they are rare in Australia where they have it.

    I can understand how the biggest minority might feel if despite being the preference of the biggest minority they ended up not being elected because they were the least worst option for the majority.

    I belive that an election is not a race - it is not a measure of physical prowess or sporting skill, the analogy is a false one. It is a method for electing representatives to provide a government which should be representative of the will of the people it governs. That is democracy - not the imposition of the will of a minority on the majority, we know what that looks like in extreme.

    All the winning candidates would have a number of 2nd preference votes to reach 50% (unless they passed it on 1st ones of course). However if the disparity between 1st and 2nd is large e.g. 1st = 49% and 2nd 30% : it would be extremely unlikely that 1st would not win. However we have many MPs where the difference is not that clear. So their mandate from coming FPTP is not clear. There are serving MPs voted for by 33/34% of the voters in their constituency and FPTP - how is them being elected when 2/3rd of the electorate didn't want them fair.

    Neither system is truly representative , I favour a PR approach as they have for example in Scotland (the irony seems lost on Cameron who was there today bigging up their campaign and achievements in securing things for Scottish voters - despite the fact that under FPTP rules they would have insufficient MSPs to have an election for leader were it not for PR being there to reflect their vote share better in the parliament).
    If you scored systems on fairness then i rate FPTP as 2 Av as 3 and PR as 9 - so I will not be voting yes either , but for other reasons.

  • Comment number 46.

    "..With this calibre of politician supporting AV , it is safer to vote no."


    What with John Reid, Prescott,Pickles, Beckett etc? as well as Cameron and the rest of the Conservative party. They're only saying "No" because their faces wont allow them to say "yes". Weird how this people are now seen as respectable politicians by the Conservative party and their followers. If you have Right wing leanings in scotland and you're ambitious like John Reid , you join the Labour party.
  • Comment number 47.

    Whistling Neil

    Thanks for example and having read your earlier posts I respect your opinion.

    I agree with the inconsistency in the conservative leadership but as a floating voter between conservatives and lib dems I am not a tribal conservative supporter. In fact given the choice between Davis and Cameron I personally would not have minded either one of them.

  • Comment number 48.

    correction to 45:

    I can understand how the biggest minority might feel if despite being the preference of the biggest minority they ended up not being elected because they were the WORST option for the majority.

  • Comment number 49.

    35. nautonier

    I didn't say I didn't like you posting, I said the content on that particular post seemed strangely out of character.

    I agree with a lot of what your post says, but I can't say I agree with your conclusions. From what I can gather you seem to think that the lib dems will make the situation worse (a fair assesment) but that because AV might help the lib dems therefore a No to AV is required.

    Re. the mess of the EU and devolved powers, I would take the view that this has come about because of the status quo which has allowed labour and torys to stay in power for so long. There is no doubt that FPTP maintains the labour/tory ping pong government set up we have. I would suggest that this is the root cause of the mess with the Union. Both parties have been obsessed with making everything london centric, alienating everyone outside London - then throwing a bit of cash towards the celtic nations so that their public sector is paid for but no real investment is made (this is neither good for no one). As a result the celtic nations unsurprisingly get upset, the voters fragment, SNP, plaid cymru etc get more power and devolution takes place. Then we end up in a situation like we are today, where the welsh, scots and NI have completely different parties to those in england and the english are the only ones without a parliament of their own.

    So the voters are fragmented, the Union is slowly dying, the english (myself included) are getting increasingly frustrated. All of this is happening because the status quo has been causing an increasing lack of representation, and lack of politicians that bother to listen to the real concerns.

    I'm certainly not advocating that AV will solve these problems, as I think that ship has sailed long since. But an increasing level of representation outside of the labour/tory game of ping pong may lead to being able to claw something back. Sure the lib dems are a risk (though I think they've not got a hope come next election even with AV), but I'd say it's worth the plunge over the slow death that the current system is giving us.

    Also it's worth remembering that with AV, minority parties with mainstream appeal get a much fairer chance - UKIP in particular, or even the rise of the english democrats would finally be in with at least an outside chance.

  • Comment number 50.

    Jizlingtons

    Good argument and I still have some pondering. Thanks to you and whistling Neil for the very valid points.

  • Comment number 51.

    47

    It's nice to have an exchange in reasonable tone rather than most which seem to degenerate into a slanging match for a change, thanks.

  • Comment number 52.

    Who cares what Cameron 'promised' Nick Clegg about keeping a 'low profile'? Clegg is not a man who keeps his own promises, so he is hardly in any position to complain. As for Paddy Ashdown 'turning his guns' on Cameron, this falls into the category of being savaged by a dead sheep.

    As for AV, if people like Clegg, Miliband and Baldrick are for it, that's a good enough reason for voting 'no'.

  • Comment number 53.

    The obvious flaw of AV is that people who support the most popular candidate only get one vote, but politically inept people who vote for the least popular candidate have two, three or more bites of the cherry. In other words, the final outcome may be decided by those people whose first choice was a raving loony. No thanks!

  • Comment number 54.

    Whistling Neil @ 45

    Yes, its bizarre that the Scottish Parliament PR system was overlooked in this rubbish compromise that the LibDems have sunk to. Scotland has coped absolutely fine over 12 years of either coalition or minority administration, looking after NHS, Education and other major policy areas.

  • Comment number 55.

    54 TheGingerF

    "Scotland has coped absolutely fine over 12 years of either coalition or minority administration, looking after NHS, Education and other major policy areas."

    By 'coping fine' perhaps you mean living beyond their means, subsidised by English tax payers? Labour's one-sided devolution for Scotland has been great for Scotland, but not quite so good for England.

  • Comment number 56.

    "I'd like to have an argument...."
    Ok, here's something that has only just occured to me and, as far as I am aware, has yet to be discussed.
    The proposed AV seems to be difficult to explain to the electorate, how will this affect turnout? This is already lower than in many countries and I can only imagine that a more complicated system will do nothing to encourage more people to vote. The idea that "with AV we will get someone who has received the support of more than 50% of the electorate" doesn't seem quite so persuasive when less than 50% of the electorate turn out to vote. How many countries who use AV or other preferential voting systems also have complusory voting, I know Australia does but am not sure how many others do.

  • Comment number 57.

    TheGingerF @34

    No apology required Ginger...I know where you were coming from and I know you don't take disagreement to a personal level. In hindsight, my reply to you should have reflected that...more than it did...

  • Comment number 58.

    DistantTraveller@53

    There is no flaw.
    If a person votes for the leading candidate in the first round (but who didn't get over 50% of the vote) then their vote is repeated in the next round. This 'one person, one vote' mudslinging is totally incorrect.

    Everyone's vote counts at every round of counting.

    If it takes 4 rounds of counting then your vote counts 4 times.

    If you don't understand this, I suggest you read up a bit about AV.

  • Comment number 59.

    53. At 23:18pm 20th Apr 2011, DistantTraveller wrote:

    "The obvious flaw of AV is that people who support the most popular candidate only get one vote, but politically inept people who vote for the least popular candidate have two, three or more bites of the cherry. In other words, the final outcome may be decided by those people whose first choice was a raving loony. No thanks!"

    The obvious flaw in your comments are that they are completely incorrect and you have obviously not bothered to even consider the benefits of the AV system or the flaws of the FPTP system, happy to eat up the propaganda you can get hold of.

    Your assertion that those who vote for minority parties are "politically inept" just shows that you have a complete distain for democracy, which is a very troubling sign of the state of 21st century britain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Bryhers @ 41

    :-)

    Oh god, not Shirl. I'll definitely put it away then - my conscience - if I'm coming over like that. Easier said than done though; when you've got one as big as mine it tends to end up popping out regardless.

  • Comment number 61.

    The obvious flaw of AV is that people who support the most popular candidate only get one vote.


    You'd think they'd get more votes for being so clever and picking the popular candidate. Its AV not first past the post. Its more like the rounds in a show like X-Factor except it is assumed those still running want to vote again for their highest preference. Candidates knocked out vote for their next preference. The third place candidate doesn't win because the third place isn't decided until someone reaches 50% or nearest. This picks the best representation for that constituency. Everyone gets only one vote in the end. The knocked out votes aren't counted. Anyone can go for a smaller party first preference but their is the risk that a party you don't like could reach 50% before the realistic second preference is counted. Not a Tory very few people like them. They only win because their vote isn't split into minor parties as much as votes on the left. AV will help with that. That's why the Cons don't want AV or PR(Proportianal Representation).
  • Comment number 62.

    distant @ 53

    No that's not really the case. Please see 24 and 45.

  • Comment number 63.

    #24 Whistling Neil

    you say "You are ill informed on your vote only being counted once, under AV would be counted in every single round of counting."

    No, you are missing the point. If no candidate gets more than half the vote, the least popular candidate is eliminated, and only those people who voted for him/her then have their second choices counted.

    Someone who votes for the most popular candidate only has their first choice counted. But someone who votes for the 'raving loony' candidate has two or more bites of the cherry.

  • Comment number 64.

    #58. edwardjecle wrote:

    "Everyone's vote counts at every round of counting.

    If it takes 4 rounds of counting then your vote counts 4 times."

    You are missing the point.

    If you vote for the most popular candidate, only your first choice is counted.
    If you vote for the least popular candidate, your 2nd, 3rd, 4th choice get counted and then come into play.

    But the voters who originally wanted the most popular candidate do not have their second choices counted - and it may be that their second choice would be very different to someone who originally voted for the 'raving loony' candidate.

    You say "If you don't understand this, I suggest you read up a bit about AV."

    If I may suggest, don't be so patronising.

  • Comment number 65.

    Mr Nick Robinson

    It is clear that you can only enhance your career by delivering 'entertaining' news reports. You don't give a damn about what is right or wrong or even just reporting the news. News has become an entertainment business and you can only enhance your career by making the news you report more entertaining and so increasing the viewing numbers.

    So that is why you concentrate on driving a wedge into the coalition (and drove a wedge even into the last majority government). Only because it gives you a better news story.

    Rather than the word coalition, I prefer the phrase a balanced government and what is wrong with that? Having a government where no party has an overall majority means that new legislation requires cross party support. What could be better than that? The last government turned out to be an elected dictatorship. Surely there can't be anything worse than that.

    So please can you stop trying to enhance your own career by focussing on negative entertaining news and instead look at the positive aspects of having a balanced government.

  • Comment number 66.

    #59. jizzlingtons wrote:

    "Your assertion that those who vote for minority parties are "politically inept" just shows that you have a complete distain for democracy"

    No, that's not correct. I only have partial distain for democracy.

    I just don't see why the people who originally back the least popular candidate could end up deciding the outcome.

  • Comment number 67.

    Possible variant we could look at is that everyone has two votes - you say who you most want and who you most don't want. Then score each seat along the same lines as goals for and against in a football match with the winner being the candidate with the biggest positive differential of 'wants' over 'don'ts' - they win on goal difference as it were. In the event of a tie, the person with the most 'wants' gets it.

  • Comment number 68.

    63.Distant Traveller

    No. No. No.

    You say "If no candidate gets more than half the vote, the least popular candidate is eliminated, and only those people who voted for him/her then have their second choices counted."

    This is incorrect.
    If no candidate gets more than half the vote, the votes for the most popular candidates are also counted again in the next round. EVERYONE'S vote is counted at every round of counting.

    Do you really think it is fairer if a candidate is elected even though 65% of the voters didn't want him/her?

    I really think you need to read up on how AV works.

  • Comment number 69.

    distant @ 64

    No you don't have it.

    Your 1st choice vote (if your guy leads but doesn't have 50%) gets counted again each round.

    Only 2nd choices from the people voting for the guy with the least 1st choices get counted - not their 3rd 4th 5th etc as you've said there.

    Lower than 2nds only come into play when your guy is eliminated but your 2nd choice has also been zapped - then drop to 3rd. And if they've gone too then 4th, and so on and so forth.

    But when 2nds and lower are counted, that person's 1st is NO LONGER counted - this is key - since they've been knocked out.

    It's good, it's good. More I get into it, the more it tickles my toes.

  • Comment number 70.

    64 DistantTraveller

    If you are voting for the leading candidate, why would you want your 2nd, 3rd or 4th choice to be taken into account?

    Are you suggesting that if your 1st choice didn't win over 50% of the vote in the first round of counting your would like to change your preference to a different candidate for the second round of counting?

    If your first preference vote is for anybody but the trailing candidate in the first round of counting then your first preference vote counts again in the next round of counting.

  • Comment number 71.

    @ 64 Distant Traveller

    Why would someone want their 2nd and 3rd preferences counted, when their 1st preference is still being counted.

    Every persons vote is counted at every stage, whether it's counting their first preference or fifth. As others have mentioned, this means that AV elects the person that most of the people want. In FPTP, the person that 2/3rds of the people DON'T want is frequently elected.

  • Comment number 72.

    66. At 00:08am 21st Apr 2011, DistantTraveller wrote:

    "No, that's not correct. I only have partial distain for democracy.

    I just don't see why the people who originally back the least popular candidate could end up deciding the outcome."

    Hard to take your views seriously in that case. Though I will repsond nevertheless. It isn't that the voters that back the least popular candidate will decide the outcome - they just add a few more votes to the piles. The first round voting will set the precedent, and the first round votes have a much larger impact than any subsequent redistributed votes.

    Put it this way - in practise, if a candidate is ahead after the first round by say 10% of the vote (though probably less is necessary) it would take an enourmous shift of redistributed votes to make them 'lose' - to the point where they would basically have to be hated by all the voters that didn't put them first (or 2nd, 3rd, 4th for that matter). In such a scenario I'm not sure how you can justify that this person should have 'won' considering how many people hate them.

    The basic principle is this:
    Do you believe that the largest minority should be represented absolutely irrespective of the fact that the majority may dislike that representation?

    Or do believe that the representation should be based on achieving an acceptable result for the majority, even though some of that majority are represented partially?

    It's not about winners and losers, bites of the cherry, or anything else except representing voters - and this is something that FPTP does attrociously.

    Like I said before, the only time when the candidate that comes 'First' and subsequently loses under AV is when most people hate that candidate. This is hardly a bad result in my eyes!

  • Comment number 73.

    #68 edwardjecle

    You still appear to be missing the point.

    Everyone's votes are counted in each round - we can agree on that.

    But if no-one crosses the 50 percent threshold, the least popular candidate is eliminated. People who voted for the least popular candidate then have their second choices counted (instead of their original first choice).

    However, people who voted for the most popular candidate still only have their first choice counted. But their second choices could be very different to the second choices of people who originally voted for the 'losing' candidate. But people who were 'unlucky' enough to vote for the most popular candidate do not have their second choice put into the equation.

    AV is far from straightforward - which is a good reason for voting 'no'

    I'm sorry if you don't understand the point I am making, but telling me to "read up on how AV works" is patronising and unnecessary.

  • Comment number 74.

    Don't the people who would rather PR than AV realise that a No vote is a vote FOR FPTP? Labour and the Conservatives would use that result to prevent electoral reform for a lifetime. Nothing would be gained. We would all still be oppressed under this terrible terrible system. Why not vote for the fairer system, then continue campaigning for PR? Sticking with FPTP won't help anyone, apart from safe seat MPs of course.

  • Comment number 75.

    It's also worth remembering that in practise, many people will only put 2 or less choices down. The idea of someone continously selecting the lowest ranking candidate and then being in the last round to effect the result having had many 'bites of the cherry' would be very rare.

    Sagamix-

    Like the two vote system idea, at least in theory. Though surely due to all the tribal antics we'd end up with both tory and labour with negative points (not necessarily a bad thing), but then constant lib dem majorities which would be a big problem.

    I suggest a system where we have 1 positive vote and 2 negative votes. That way tory, labour and lib dem will all be negative; leaving the goal open for those that are capable of independant thought to decide the result.

  • Comment number 76.

    71 Kinuvan wrote:

    "Why would someone want their 2nd and 3rd preferences counted, when their 1st preference is still being counted.

    Because AV only gives a second choice (or more) to people who vote for the most unpopular candidate.

    If I vote for the most popular candidate and you vote for the least popular, your second choice could decide the outcome. But my second choice (which is not counted) may have been different to yours.

    You say "this means that AV elects the person that most of the people want."

    No it definitely doesn't! At best, it means that people who vote for a 'no-hoper' candidate can have their other choices taken into account in reverse order of preference.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 73 DistantTraveller

    I'm sorry, it really is you that is not getting it. The system really is very simple. It's hard to see why you're not getting it.

    Everyone's votes are counted each round - we are now agreed on this, we weren't before.

    "However, people who voted for the most popular candidate still only have their first choice counted. But their second choices could be very different to the second choices of people who originally voted for the 'losing' candidate. But people who were 'unlucky' enough to vote for the most popular candidate do not have their second choice put into the equation."

    -- the reason their 2nd preference is not being counted is because their 1st preference is! *If* their 2nd preference was being counted whilst their 1st preference was then that would violate the principle of 1 person 1 vote!

  • Comment number 78.

    73
    The party that gets the most votes in the first round often is the least popular party overall is the point @68 is making..eg '65 against', '35 for' makes the party with 35% the least popular candidate but the 65 is split several ways. Its about being fair to the constituency not being fair to the Conservatives. The politicians are to obsessed with themselves on this issue and the media are too obsessed with political gossip. Voting is about what's fair for the voting public.

  • Comment number 79.

    72. jizzlingtons wrote:

    "Put it this way - in practise, if a candidate is ahead after the first round by say 10% of the vote (though probably less is necessary) it would take an enourmous shift of redistributed votes to make them 'lose' "

    No, I don't think that follows at all. People who vote for the least popular candidate are hardly likely to have given their second choice to the most popular.

    The most popular candidate who topped the poll in the first round could easily be defeated in the next round. (If that were not so, then what's the point of AV?)

    But only the people who voted for the least popular candidate have their second or third choices put into the equation. The second choice of everyone else is not taken into account.

  • Comment number 80.

    79
    If this was an ordinary run off election rather than an instant run off(AV) election you couldn't possibly have a problem with someone changing to their next available preference in the next round. So what's the problem? No 2 AV is deliberately trying to confuse the public. They hate the idea of the Conservatives having to really change to be more electable. That leaflet No2av sent out was insulting. Lies from beginning to end.

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 77. Kinuvan

    I can see we are going round in circles and I don't see much point in hurling accusations about who is 'not getting it'.

    The point I am making is that as votes are added up for each round, only those who vote for the least popular candidate (the loser) can in effect switch their votes through their alternative choices.

    It is therefore quite possible for an eventual winner to emerge, who would not be the second choice of the people who originally voted for the 'winner' of the first round. The idea that AV is a fairer system is simply not true.

    I'm sorry if you don't follow this..

  • Comment number 82.

    79. , DistantTraveller

    No you're confusing matters now. For starters, there's no reason why people who vote for the least popular candidate as 1st preference wouldn't vote for the most popular as 2nd (think BNP or UKIP going conservative, or greens going lib dem etc), unless someone has deliberately gone out to select all the minor parties first which is unlikely! Not that this is relevant to the overall picture anyway.

    "The most popular candidate who topped the poll in the first round could easily be defeated in the next round. (If that were not so, then what's the point of AV?)"

    Not sure where you get this from - the 'no hoper' as you put it, that gets elimated in the first round would have got very few votes so when these are added to the other piles it makes very little difference. That's the whole point. So if the leader is far out in front after the first round then it's unlikely that they will get toppled, because the accumulation of all the other 'minor parties' votes will not add up to very much.

    Therefore it takes a situation where almost everyone that didn't vote the 'winner' of the first round actually hates that candidate for them to be toppled if they were far out in front after round one.

    Like I said, the accumulation of the votes of earlier round are fairly insignificant compared to the votes that are still in play from the first round. Not sure how I can explain that any clearer.

    The other scenario is where for example 1st and 2nd place candidates after round one are close. And in a simplified way, the other preferences are used as 'the decider'. Which is perfectly fair in my opinion - why should an extra 1 or 2 % of first preference votes carry more weight than the majority opinion including first or second preferences.

    The whole system is designed around the idea of representing the majority of the voters to at least some degree. It's not there to steal majorities from popular candidates.

    Think about it like this - if a candidate has achieved 45% of the first round vote then it would be an enourmous surprise if they were able to lose the overall result, and you've got to wonder what they've done to alienate the other 55% of the people in order to not pick up another 5% of preferences further down the line.

    "But only the people who voted for the least popular candidate have their second or third choices put into the equation. The second choice of everyone else is not taken into account."

    No - people who voted for an eliminated candidate get

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 78 and 80 DH Wilko

    If you are saying FPTP can give an unrepresentative result in some circumstances, then you are correct. But the idea that AV is inherently 'fairer' is wrong. AV has its own flaws. Talking of 'insulting', Baldrick's assertion that under AV MPs would 'work harder' is absurd.

    No doubt Clegg thinks AV would be beneficial to the LibDems because Labour and Tory voters are highly unlikely to put each other as their second choice. This is probably why Clegg is now backing it so strongly, having previously described it as "miserable little compromise". Personally, I'd never trust someone who has so flagrantly broken their election promises. It's not just his hair that changes...

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 82 jizzlingtons

    In some cases where there is a clear leader way out in front, just below the half way mark, I'm sure you are right that the final outcome could be exactly the same under FPTP and AV.

    But where the (say) top three remaining candidates are close, the alternative votes of the people who originally voted for an eliminated candidate could make all the difference. For example, this could hand the victory to number 2 instead of number 1. But the people who voted for number 1 do not have an opportunity to say they would have preferred number 3 to number 2. Only people who voted for an eliminated candidate have their second choice taken into account.

    I realise it's complicated, which is another reason I am against AV. One person one vote is much fairer in my view.

  • Comment number 85.

    69 Saga

    "Only 2nd choices from the people voting for the guy with the least 1st choices get counted - not their 3rd 4th 5th etc as you've said there."

    Yes, obviously people's 3rd, 4th, 5th choices only come into play if their next preferences are eliminated as each round progresses. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

    I quite like your idea (67) of also saying who you don't want - but on balance I'd rather stick with FPTP. If there were any doubt, the fact that Clegg now wants AV is the clincher.

  • Comment number 86.

    There are only two types of voters:

    * people who are tribal and only want one sort of government, so only actively support one Party
    * people who are uncommitted and are prepared to shift their vote according to their own circumstances

    The tribal voter, usually from the Left or Right, is sometimes prepared to vote tactically to prevent the Party they actively oppose from winning the Seat or the Election, but don't agree with the Third Party's policies at all - (usually that is the LibDems) - so on occasions they will vote LibDem, but not out of any real preference FOR them -it is opposition to their "enemy" Party that motivates their voting behaviour.

    The uncommitted voter is often a "rate tart" - they will float around then vote for whichever Party most takes their fancy - often on the basis of "what's in it for me?" in terms of tax breaks, benefits or hobbyhorse politics, e.g. Greens/immigration etc.

    I therefore simply reject the premis of AV - "voters' preferences" completely. The commmitted voter isn't really expressing a preference FOR the LibDems at all, whilst the uncommitted voter's behaviour may reflect a degree of "preference", it's true, but if you then stand back and analyse it, AV builds in a tendency to redistribute the votes from the ends of the political spectrum into the centre of the political spectrum, as the extreme ends of the distribution of votes in the left & right "tails" of the distribution with the lowest votes cast are the ones to be eliminated and redistributed first.

    IMHO this hardwires a "soggy centre" into British politics - so it prevents conviction politics from winning out. It puts Tony Blair's concept of there being a "third way" deeply into the heart of our voting system - the idea that there is a compromise position that provides a sustainable choice between the free market libertarian model of privatisation, slashing welfare spending, deregulation and free market forces, as opposed to a socialist model of greater involvement of the state in the economy and welfare provision.

    I'd say that the credit crisis, the bank bailouts and the scale of public and private debt shows that the "light touch" regulation of the Blair/Brown era combined with their increases in NHS, education & welfare spending wasn't sustainable - so there is no "third way" - yet if we adopt AV it will force politics into a alice in wonderland world where everyone is vying to be even more centrist than eacdh other.

    The economic, environmental, population and natural resources probl

  • Comment number 87.

    What I want to know is - what is motivating Cameron?

    There are natural Conservative supporters who have taken the time to do their homework on voting systems - I know, because I am one. What they will see is a well-understood incremental improvement to an existing mechanism - something that should be in the best traditions of the Conservative party. So why is Cameron attacking it with arguments that prove nothing? Every time he does that he loses credibility in my eyes. How does he advise Conservative supporters in parts of Scotland supposed to vote under FPTP, where the Conservatives have no hope of winning? Vote Labour to preserve the union?

    Is this simply a bid for electoral advantage? I sorry, but I don't support that. I voted for a Conservative MP, but I wouldn't vote to make Cameron - or anybody else - President for life. I want a voting system that allows me - and everybody else - to express their preferences more clearly than they can under the current system.

  • Comment number 88.

    I shall be voting no, not because of some desire to "give Clegg a kicking" but because:

    We are not being given a proper choice, or a informed debate on reform. This was a deal hastily put together behind closed doors expressly designed to benefit both partners of the coalition. The LDs will probably get more seats (but are opposed to AV) and the Tories will get their boundary reforms upon which (whatever the result of the referendum) the introduction of AV is dependent (to which they are also opposed.)...not a sound basis for constitutional change IMO.

    AV does not solve the main problems associated with FPTP. It is by no means proportional and therefore will not prevent dominance by the two main parties. It will not stop the lazy MP in the safe seat scenario. It does not, despite claims from the "yes" camp guarantee MPs will be elected by 50% of the voters...that would only be possible if it was compulsory to indicate preferences, it is not.

    AV will in some instances distort results. For instance, analysis has shown that the 1997 election if run under AV would have meant an even bigger Labour landslide...whatever your politics this is not healthy.

    It may (and I stress may) lead to more coalition governments. Until some framework is set in place on how these will operate (opposed to the behind closed door dealing we had last year) IMO this is not a good thing. If coalitions are the future then we need to sort out some ground rules...or we will get the mess we have now again and again.

    Party politics don't enter into it. Whatever the result someone's in for a kicking...

  • Comment number 89.

    I think the Beeb are going to be facing a big argument! On Blog closures. Just as the debate on migration got a lot less heated, much more thoughtful, considered and worthwhile on SF's Blog and NR's previous post here - they get closed down!

    Auughhh!

  • Comment number 90.

    Peculiar Blog from you, Mr Robinson, and I'm left wondering at your motive for doing this particular one and in this way?

    Can't work it out, as the whole thing seems out of place.

    But reading the above posts, at least you've been rescued by your readers!

  • Comment number 91.

    Voting "no" simply allows the existing unfair system to continue and allows a party to win with marginally over a third of the votes.

    It also implies that there is no wish to go for Proportional Representation, the fairest alternative to the First Past The Post system, which is untrue.

    David Cameron was only prepared to agree to the Alternative Vote system being canvassed because had he offered PR more people would have voted for it.

    If the voters reject AV David Cameron will say there is no desire for change. The whole situation is being stage-managed to ensure that the First Past The Post System stays in place as it tends to support big budget parties like the Conservatives or Labour.

    If voters are angry at what the government is doing they can show their displeasure by voting "Yes" as AV is the last thing that David Cameron wants.

    Bear in mind that Labour actually want to support AV too, so the Lib-Dems are not alone in this.

    This is why all efforts are focusing on publicly embarrassing Nick Clegg so that voters vote "No" and why Nick Clegg has deliberately distanced himself from the campaign so that it is not tainted by Conservative efforts to discredit his view.

    AV is a better, fairer and less wasteful voting system and voters would be foolish to waste this opportunity to get rid of the First Past The Post system that automatically and wastefully brings in alternate Conservative and Labour Governments like it has done for at least the last 30 years. AV elects a government with greatest appeal to all voters not just hardline party supporters and activists.

    Any system that makes MPs work harder cannot be all bad. A "Yes" vote is a vote for a better, fairer future and that's why I am voting "yes".

  • Comment number 92.

    #87 on what is motivating Cameron? Well the short answer is short term expediency. He is just trying to appease some of his back benchers.

    The man has no principals. His opinions change with the wind. Whatever his friends in the media say there is not a cigarette paper's width between him and the other parties. Soft on immigration, soft on drugs, soft on prisons, pro Europe the list goes on and on. On many issues he is certainly left of Blair his idol.

    All it needed was a foreign war that has absolutely nothing to do with us. Oh, hang on.......

    As I inferred to RockRobin (he of the inane catchphrases) on another thread, true Tories such as myself are completely disenfranchised. Let's hope he does get lynched by the right wingers and we can start to rebuild a proper Conservative Party. This cosy coterie of left wing career politicians from all parties all essentially saying the same thing is not healthy for our democracy.

  • Comment number 93.

    41#

    Haha, ladies, ladies, please!!! Handbags at ten paces, is it??? Arf!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    17. At 19:31pm 20th Apr 2011, Whistling Neil wrote:

    15 Nautonier.

    No, you obviously still don't understand it.

    AV is bad because it is not a proportionate reflection of the will of the people and not much less unfair than first past the post. It is our country (everyones) and we can wreck it if we want to (collectively) - I advise against it but that's democracy. FPTP (and AV) are not fit for purpose in our modern democracy.

    The LibDems and all their fore-runner parties have been proposing electoral reform for many decade, it has nothing to do with immigration, nothing whatsoever. You come across in your rant not as a Conservative but as a member of one of the other parties supporting FPTP ......... no not the communists , the other one.

    ........................
    What the likes of your thinking does to the under-class/working class and now the English middle class, with your pro immigration policies ... is nasty

  • Comment number 95.

    91. At 08:02am 21st Apr 2011, newshounduk wrote:

    Voting "no" simply allows the existing unfair system to continue and allows a party to win with marginally over a third of the votes.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Maybe it does. But, if people got off their lazy butts and voted instead of being apathetic, they'd have less to complain about. Just because you dont live in an area where everyone else thinks the same as you do politically, doesnt make it unfair. It just means that at a national or local level, your chosen member of the political class has not made his or her case strongly enough to them to drag them off their sofa and away from the bag of doughnuts.

    If they dont vote, they cant complain. If you voted and your candidate lost fair and square, then tough. Get over it or move to an area where there are more like minds. Theres nothing "unfair" about the system itself.

    Boundaries and constituency sizes, now thats a different matter...

  • Comment number 96.

    86#

    I dont always agree with you Richard, but I think you've made an excellent point there. Well said.

  • Comment number 97.

    67#

    Now thats just plain daft. Not surprising, but plain daft.

  • Comment number 98.

    I think I've made my mind up. Thanks to all the different contributors here for their points. I was really struggling to come to a decision.
    In the end I've gone for a solution that I don't think anyone has mentioned much although it is similar to some of the ideas expressed by manningtreeimp @88. I've decided to answer the question on the ballot paper. Do I want to replace FPTP with AV. Not do I want to keep FPTP. Not do I think AV will lead to a better solution in the future. Or any other interpretation of the question.
    My answer to the question on the ballot has to be no (I think). AV is so similar to FPTP as to make little or no difference (Why was this question chosen?). Feels like being asked to chose between two very similar things when what I want is something different but which is not mentioned. If they wanted to know what we think they would have to have added a third choice, 'neither of the above'. The result of this referendum will tell us little about how people would like elections to be run since the choice offered will only be between two quite similar options.
    What did Henry Ford say? You can have any colour of Model T you like - as long as it's black.

  • Comment number 99.

    fubar @ 97

    It's not 'daft', it's shockingly creative.

  • Comment number 100.

    60. At 23:45pm 20th Apr 2011, sagamix wrote:
    Bryhers @ 41

    :-)

    Oh god, not Shirl. I'll definitely put it away then - my conscience - if I'm coming over like that. Easier said than done though; when you've got one as big as mine it tends to end up popping out regardless.

    Never heard it called that before!

 

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