Shedding Darkness on the AV Referendum

I caught up with the Politics Show on iPlayer, and was completely amazed by the level of ignorance shown by the so-called expert that the BBC interviewed on the Alternative Vote referendum. Professor Russell Deacon made one or two complete howlers; see if you can spot them:


AV is not "the weakest form of proportional representation" ... it is not proportional in any way at all. It is not designed to, as Aled ap Dafydd suggested, solve the problem of the LibDems—or the Greens or UKIP for that matter—not getting a share of seats in the Commons that more closely represents the proportion of the overall vote that they get.

Because AV is not proportional, it won't make the prospects of getting a government with an absolute majority in Westminster any more or less likely than under the present first-past-the-post system ... but both interviewer and interviewee were happy to give the impression that it was.

Finally, Professor Deakin suggested that the additional member system that we use in Wales for Assembly elections was a means of expressing a second preference ... equating it with the second vote in London Mayoral elections (which is like AV, but you are only allowed one other choice). The man quite simply doesn't know what he's talking about.


So what is the point of AV? It solves one big problem with the current system:

     It does away with the need for tactical voting

Voters who want to keep a candidate from a particular party out will no longer be put into the awkward position of voting for a second or third choice candidate instead of the candidate they really want to vote for. They can put a "1" against their first choice candidate, and a "2", "3" and "4" against any other candidates they prefer ... not voting at all for the candidates they want to keep out. This will make it almost impossible for candidates and parties that polarize public opinion to be elected. For example, virtually no-one will put the BNP second ... a few extremists will put parties like the BNP first, but almost everyone else will put every other party before them.

Because no vote will be wasted, it should also increase voter turnout at elections. This is because more parties will stand and those people who don't vote because they don't like the politics of the established parties might find an alternative that they think is worth getting out and voting for.

For these reasons I will be voting "Yes" in the AV referendum and I would urge others to do the same. Unlike the much more important referendum that will be held in Wales next March, the Yes Campaign for AV has already been set up.


Just in case anyone hasn't read what I've said before on electoral reform, I would much prefer to see STV because it has the same advantages as AV, but is also proportional. I think it is better to take one small step in the right direction now than continue with all the unfairness of the current first-past-the-post system indefinitely.

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Anonymous said...

So are you suggesting that Russell Deacon (sic), the Welsh LibDems leading intellectual, doesn't know what he's talking about??

Anonymous said...

"the Welsh LibDems leading intellectual"

Hope poor Alan Butt Phillip doesn't read that!

Anonymous said...

There is clearly hot competition for the honour....

MH said...

I don't know where the "sic" comes from, Anon. That's how he spells his name.

And neither am I "suggesting" it. I'm saying it plainly, and have presented the evidence to show it.

But the fault must lie equally with the BBC, for the idea of choosing him was to shed light on the subject. This interview did the exact opposite.

Anonymous said...

"Professor Russell Deacon made one or two complete howlers; see if you can spot them"

"Finally, Professor Deakin suggested that the additional member system that we use in Wales for Assembly elections was a means of expressing a second preference ..."

Sorry, I'll get my coat....

But you are of course correct on the wider points.

MH said...

You don't appear to understand what the additional member system is, Anon.

But hopefully going for a walk in the cold Norwegian air will help clear your head. Look it up when you've taken your coat off again ;-)

Anonymous said...

Haha. Oh well, we're clearly talking past each other. Not to worry. As I said, you're correct on the wider issues (both AV and AMS).. Let's leave it at that!

CornwallNews said...


1.UK Electoral Law - NOT 'fit for purpose'.
2.UK Electoral Registers - NOT 'fit for purpose'.
3.UK CERO cross constituency scrutiny powers - NOT 'fit for purpose'.


A GUARANTEED 'One Person-One Vote' AV v FPTP Referendum in May 2011 is NOT POSSIBLE.


With our compliments
The Editors

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