Small Change ... Big Difference

With a hat tip to Peter Black, here is a rather good video that explains how the Alternative Vote works:


I'm certainly going to vote Yes to AV, and I'd urge others to do the same. For me, the big difference is that it does away with the need for tactical voting; but apparently the "selling point" that seems to resonate with most voters is that MPs will have to work harder to secure support from a broad majority of voters, rather than just rely on their narrower core vote.

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Anonymous said...

Won't it kick real PR into the long grass though?

Anonymous said...

Won't it make the UK system fairer? Isn't it this unfairness which in the past fuelled calls for devolution? Maybe it would be good to have the unfairness continue.....another good few years of Tory rule from London. Just a thought.

MH said...

In short, 20:39, No. Look at how much resistance there is among both Labour and Tory supporters to any move away from FPTP. That's because FPTP encourages a two party system. If we don't take this opportunity to change things a little, do you think we'll ever be given an opportunity to get an even better voting system?


It's an intriguing thought, 20:55. But no, let's move forward on the positive rather than the negative. We should try and change unfairness wherever we find it.

Anonymous said...

If unfairness ultimately brings positive change ie more devolution then I'm all for the continuation of the present system. Besides, I don't think I've ever supported anything which Kinnock has supported to date.....if he supports it, then it can't be that good.

Anonymous said...

Fairer? However unfair a system which incidentally plays out to favour two parties might seem to you, all this will do is increase scope for a centralist party system, where the three main parties, will be pressured to resemble each other as closely as possible to secure secondary & tertiary votes from beyond their primary voters. If a 3rd party makes headway, it may come to render manifestos redundant - with coalition deals shaping ultimate policy outcomes.

Also Plaid Cymru will struggle greatly to secure the good will of the (Unionist) majority. It will most likely lose all but one of its MPs.

I really can't be compelled care for some bland system, tipped in the interests of the establishmentarian, political middle ground. In the interests of radical and clean-cut politics, a system which requires a simple plurality of the vote like FPTP seems just fine to me - and there's nothing fairer than a straight race, if we're forced to keep single seat constituencies. Your endorsements of AV as 'fair' are plainly subjective, and rests upon shredding what a vote, as a mandate for representation, means.

MH said...

The fairness of requiring a candidate to get broad support is hardly subjective, 01:09.

And as for a "straight race", why should a candidate "win" under FPTP when s/he might only get, say, 30% of the vote? It's rather like Usain Bolt being declared the winner when he's still 40 metres short of the line.

Remember too that AV isn't proportional, and therefore isn't likely to result in either more or fewer coalition governments.

Finally, I couldn't help but smile at someone who thinks the dividing line in politics is independence or unionism. Aren't left and right, centralism and decentralism, public and private, liberalism and authoritarianism equally important political issues?

glynbeddau said...

I still feel we should write a S instead of an X on the Voting Paper. This would show our preference for STV but it should still be counted.

Unknown said...

I too will probably vote for it, but then I reflect on the last example we have had of the system in action in the UK. The Labour Party Deputy Leader was elected by AV, and Harriet Harman, who came 5th out of 7 in the first round, went on to wind it. I am a little uneasy about how democratic, exactly, that is.

Also, I am concerned - will you be compelled to place a preference against EVERY candidate?

I for one would find it impossible to give any preference at all, however low, to a BNP or UKIP candidate (for instance).

glynbeddau said...

Siônnyn No you can in fact "Plunb" for just one candidate. Or any number on the Paper in preference. Bit its still nor PR though.

MH said...

I'd think twice about writing "S", Glyn. How such a vote would be counted would be up to individual Returning Officers, who might well decide that the "S" is a distinguishing mark, or think of some other reason to consider it void. It probably would be counted, but I wouldn't take the risk. This is likely to be a tight vote, and I'm not at all confident about it being won, especially because the majority of Labour party politicians have done a U-Turn on the issue because they think it might bring the ConDem government down. Labour don't do principle, so we must do it instead.

With regard to Siônnyn's question, you are completely right about not having to rank every candidate. People can number just one, all, or any number in between. Even I would go down as far as UKIP if the BNP was also on the ballot paper, because they are a tiny bit better than the BNP. However I'm sure that nearly everyone who puts the BNP first would put UKIP second.

glynbeddau said...

I think the rules on spolt ballot papers are quite clear although you are requested to make a preference with a X if it it is clear that you have made a preference that is a legitimate vote . So a S will be counted.

Plaid Panteg said...


I am very sorry, but we have very big difference of opinion here.

I contend that only a proportional system is fit for more than two party politics. AV does nothing to solve the main issue people have with FPTP - that it is nowhere near fair or delivers any equity of vote across the electorate.

I have yet to hear a real argument that makes the case that getting AV make it more likely for further reform in the future. I will vote yes for PR, so I will vote no to AV.

Anonymous said...

MH said - "Aren't left and right, centralism and decentralism, public and private, liberalism and authoritarianism equally important political issues?"

They would be if there was a blind bit of differences between the 3 "main" parties. I can see AV stacking the odds against radical parties as candidates try to become all things to all people.

MH said...

I know we disagree on this, Marcus [PP]. I can only repeat what I've said before: that if we don't make this change now, while we have the chance to, we will be stuck with FPTP for the foreseeable future. It was only because of the electoral quirk or having a hung parliament at Westminster that this change is on the agenda at all.

I also think this change now does provide a stepping stone towards STV – because STV is exactly the same as AV, but in multimember constituencies. It will be very easy to group constituencies to see how STV would actually work in practice ... and with the constant boundary changes that will be the inevitable result of trying to keep uniform constituency sizes, it will be an attractive option.

But even on it's own, it is an improvement on FPTP because it does away with the need for tactical voting.


To Anon 20;36, I would say that AV does increase the likelihood of other parties standing, because there will no longer be any danger of splitting the vote. This will increase the range of options open to voters rather than diminish it.

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