The Back of the Net

I suppose there couldn't be a more appropriate time to question a widely used footballing term that doesn't make any sense. Think about it. Where is the front of the net?

For me, the front of the net has to be to side facing the pitch, with the back of the net facing the crowd. So the front of the net is where the ball actually ends up when you score.


So why am I sharing this great pearl of wisdom today? It's not just because of the World Cup, but because it seems to be time for a referendum on the alternative vote.


We all call the current electoral system for Westminster "first-past-the-post". But think about it. Where is the post?

If only one person can be elected, then the "post" is surely 50% of the votes, so that the winner needs 50% + 1 to get past the post. But what we actually have is a system where very few runners get past the post. Instead we usually award the race to the horse that manages to run four furlongs if all the others don't manage three.

So isn't "first-past-the-post" a more accurate way of describing what we all call the alternative vote?


Well, I've managed to confuse Nick ... though not half as much as the idea of holding the AV referendum on the same day as other votes is going to confuse others.

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Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

There are some who on grounds of (a) cost reduction, (b) increased turnout or (c) general bloody mindedness (select your favourite), want to have the Part 4, AV and Welsh Assembly votes on the same day.

Now, this strikes me as amazingly unfair on everyone involved in the political process in Wales - voters, campaigners and candidates. Not only would voters be presented with FOUR ballot papers on 5th May, but they UK media agenda would be focused almost entirely on the AV referendum.

More than that, can you just imagine the cacophony resulting in 3 simultaneous campaigns. I'll be going for a YES, a NO and a party. Others will be NO, YES, some YES, YES and I'm sure that the neanderthal NO, NOs will we out there somewhere, too.

And what's worse, Nick and Dave haven't even troubled themselves with a bit of consultation with Cardiff Bay and Holyrood.

Anonymous said...

I prefer to describe FPTP as 'most votes wins' because of the simplicity and accuracy of the description. FPTP has come to be defined by it's opponents as somehow an outdated relic. In practice it's just one system among others with pros and cons depending on what one's objectives are. Sure it's disproportionate between parties, but any system that retains a direct constituency link must by definition be disproportionate to a certain degree.

I'm agnostic about voting reform, and may indeed abstain on May5th, largely because I don't see where my second vote might go since the ConDem parties stitched up their deal. The Greens perhaps, but since I don't live in Brighton they'll presumably be gone already!

Only thing is sure, Welsh voters are going to be given the referendum runaround this spring. It is possible that at some point they will turn on the political class and deliver a kick in the teeth.

Anonymous said...


I would on balance have been inclined to accept on grounds of cost and participation a decision to hold the GoWA part4 vote on the same day as the WA elections to my mind the two issues are both about the way Wales is run and the arguments against seem to me to be more about the convenience for the parties than the voters.

Now however I have to concur that 4 ballots is going to constitute unacceptable overload. Hopefully our Welsh parties will be able to unamimously (because that's what it will require) demand the putting back of the Assembly elections until June - but it's possible that events in Wales could still be overshadowed by the traumas within the London coalition if the AV vote is lost ...

glynbeddau said...

I'm affraid you've lost me there. Lets keep the term First Past the Post for the current system. Now is not the time to confuse the electorate.

Unknown said...

This timing really is a deliberate slur on the devolved countries. There is no reason at all to hold the AV vote so soon, as it is unlikely there will be another General Election for at least a few more years.

I agree that this sly manoeuvring to make the UK agenda paramount during the assembly election might well be counter-productive to the unionist parties, especially if Plaid manage to make it a plank of their election campaign.

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