Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Twitter Vs Strawman / Dorries

It is rare that I find myself in agreement with the majority of Twitterettes and Twitterinos, so was not unsurprised that I found myself on the wrong side of the herd view, what did surprise me was the ratio.

In a very unscientific analysis of the hashtag, I found only one other poster that agreed with me.

The subject of course is Nadine #Dorries and her proposed amendments in reference to abortion.

Now I understand that many people dislike Dorries so even taking this into account, (That people will say the sky is pink if she says it is blue) I am surprised by the opposition on a couple of parts of what she says.

Opinion One, that any organisation that benefits financially from a particular outcome, should not be classed as independent, when it comes to whether that outcome is taken or not.

That is common sense, isn’t it?

Someone tried comparing it to the RSPCA somehow, saying that ‘Stopes’ having a vested interest in abortion is the same as the RSPCA having a vested interest in cruelty.

That is a bit of a strange comparison on a couple of fronts. 

Firstly, the RSPCA would make more money by NOT treating animals; just sending them away, would be easier than operating etc.

Secondly, it is suggesting that the choice between abortion or not abortion is similar in context to animal suffering or non-suffering.

There is an automatic assumption that the only people allowed to give advice will be religious fundamentalists though Ms Dorries has said “This won’t be offered by any religion-affiliated groups, but by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy”1

So unless the BACP have suddenly become religious zealots, I am a bit unsure what the cause of this ‘Straw-man’ nonsense is.

As an atheist and anti-theist I have no enthusiasm for practical decisions to be made in relation to mythological belief, but this is not the only alternative so it is misleading for it to be framed in such an either/or way.

Her second opinion which has upset people, but has been less (a little less) vilified is her opinion that the upper timescale limit of 6 lunar months should be reduced to 5. i.e. 24 weeks to 20.

This apparently makes her ‘evil’.

When I asked why this would be the case I am often ignored.

Her is my research on the subject, and please keep in mind I have no axe to grind, I am pro-choice, I have no moral objection to the idea of pregnancy termination.

According to meta-analysis cited by, up to 70% of pre-mature births at 24 weeks can survive; published articles in medical journals put this figure more conservatively at 39%-50%.

These figures alone are quit worrying, now consider that these are where pre-mature birth is caused for a whole range of different reasons, a lot of them to do with the health of the mother and/or baby which would increase the chance of mortality, and you can imagine the levels of survival from babies about to be aborted at a much higher level.

I am all for personal freedoms, I am a libertarian and consider personal liberty paramount but with one very big exception. The acts of a person should never take away someone else’s freedom or life and it is quite evident that life is indeed being taken away in some of these late term pregnancies.

Again, I feel I need to stress that I am NOT an anti-abortionist, but for me what happens to fetuses is abortion, what happens to babies is murder and when something is alive in its own right, it is a baby not a fetus.

Let the vitriol attacks begin 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

-Interruption to normal service- Rape being rape is rape, but not all rapes are the same

Hello people,
                    Slight change of pace and subject I know, but this subject has sucked so much of my time because I cannot bare uninformed or over-zealous arguments to beat down intelligent, rational comments.
Firstly, let's start with Slut Walk.
I have devoted a bit of my time trying to figure this out. I have spoken to many different women in support of it, some fanatically, some more sensibly.
My conclusion is that it is a misguided and pointless march.
Interestingly, unlike most causes that start with good and intelligent intentions but run the risk of being hi-jacked by irrational forces, Slutwalk has been the opposite.

Slutwalk was sparked by a Policeman in Canada making some rather blunt and politically incorrect comments. The exact wording changes depending on who you speak to and to what degree they are trying to use the policeman as a reason for the march, but the jist is 'girls should avoid dressing like sluts to help avoid being victimised'.
At it's heart, this is a sad but probably true comment on society.
The biggest obstacle we come up against is information, as so many rapes are unreported also a great number of rapes reported are found not guilty and a great number of rapes that are both reported and convicted (so count towards the figures) are committed by relatives or people where the target is not randomly selected, so 'stranger' rape is quite rare to have statistics on it either way.
However, this is where common sense comes into play.
Most people will say that if you walk through a bad neighbourhood alone with a Rolex on and draw attention to it, you will increase your chance of robbery. This is quite accepted, it is not shifting blame, it's not saying that the victim deserved it, it is purely a statement on statistics.

I have asked a more relevant question to the debate, which woman is more likely to be attacked, Woman A or Woman B where Woman A is with a group of friends and relatively sober and Woman B is lying passed out in an alley with her skirt pulled up.
Chances are statistically small that either woman will be attacked, but in comparison to each other, there would be, I imagine, a hugely increased risk to Woman B. Again, this is not talking about blame as fault is not implied with statistical analysis.
To bring it closer to the offending statement. A woman that has gone to the effort of making themselves attractive and sexual will likely increase the chance of people being attracted to her sexually and with increased attention, the likelihood of a bad type of attention from verbal harassment, pinching of girls bums also increases.

The choice of words may well have been objectionable, but this was, by the sounds of  most accounts, an off the record,throw away comment by someone that is probably a lot more familiar with the subject, seeing as he has to deal with it on a day to day basis, than most of us (thankfully) that is probably logically true even if it is a terrible truth.
This is not a basis for a international march.

Other reasons given

Reclaiming the word slut (slut is an insult and will always be one..used just as much by women to describe other women than by men. There is no need to reclaim it..just don't use it)

Highlighting 'Rape is wrong' (now to me the fact that rape carries a custody sentence as a minimum in most cases and can be 'life' ..I am quite sure rape is acknowledged to be wrong already..except perhaps by rapists, but let's be honest, a group of angry women are unlikely to change their mind)

Combat victim blaming (this is the reason I said was the sensible cause that is trying to hi-jack the irrational core. Victim blaming is wrong and nearly everyone except the really foul fringes of our communities agree. Let's be clear here, there is a HUGE gulf between saying refraining from certain actions can statistically lower risk and saying that if you don't refrain from certain actions you DESERVE the outcome. One is statistical analysis, the other is victim blaming and is unacceptable)

The problem is, this last idea, the hastily added extra by women who want to get angry about something and go on a march but require rational reasoning, for me is too far removed from the core and often leads to the mistake I clarified above between talking about likelihood and how much someone deserves actions against them.

 The second part of the article deals with the comments of Ken Clarke.

A similar over-reaction to sensible comments on a controversial subject. He said nothing that isn't understood by anyone working in the law profession or in fact any other objective person.

Let's firstly deal with the definition of rape in the UK's court process, which is a lot stricter than many country's.

Rape is the non-consensual act of sex performed on an unwilling participant.

The concept of consent is quite blurry in UK law too. For example, a 15 year old is below the age of consent, but if it is mutually agreed, it doesn't class as rape, it is unlawful sexual intercourse or U.S.I. Only at 12 yrs or younger is mutually agreed but non-consensual (due to not being seen as fit to consent) sex considered rape, even if committed by someone of the same age..or younger in the case of a male.

Other countries don't have this complication and consider statutory rape (sex below the age of consent at any age) as rape.

Mutually agreed sex can also be considered rape in the case of adults if one of the parties later decides they weren't fit to consent, even if they initiated and carried out the act.

Say for example we have a Boy -B and a Girl - G.

B and G meet at a party, both are drunk, perhaps B even a little more so.
As the evening draws on, things become sexual and G asks B to go somewhere private with her. B obliges.
G performs a sex act on A and initiates intercourse with B.
After the deed, they lay together in bed, and after a while leave the party to go to their respective homes.

In the morning G wakes up and decides that if she was sober she wouldn't have gone all the way with B on the first 'date'. In other words G has decided due to alcohol, she was unfit to consent. At this point the exchange above becomes rape by law.

I am not here to argue the wrongs or rights of that. However if you look at this objectively, you can see how this crime does not deserve life imprisonment for B, which is the possible sentence he could have faced had he abducted G, threatened her with a weapon and violently had forceful sex with her.

I'd like to think that anyone thinking about this objectively will see this. This is what Ken Clarke said, he also said the first example of rape , i.e. date rape as we would understand can be as serious as the second example in some instances, for example had B specifically medicated G in order to have sex with her that he knew G would not consent to.

The whole 'Rape is rape' argument is misleading because it can mean any different things to different people. Logically rape is of course rape otherwise it wouldn't be called rape, but it is often meant to suggest that there are no differences in the severity of rape. This I hope we have dis-spelled but further evidence is the amount of trauma that the victims go through.

Now I am quite sure the number of people that regret a drunken fumble is quite high and the amount of times this can involve penetration is almost equally high, but I doubt many people would claim their trauma caused from this is equal to that of a forcefully raped victim. It would be interesting to pair the latter with the former and ask the latter's opinion.

Key Points
Blame never lies with the victim in any crime
Rape is rape but not all rapes are equal in severity or seriousness evidenced by trauma caused and circumstances.
Political capital can often be made to try to twist words of sensible people

Hopefully this will be the last time I need to deal with this terrible subject, but I think it's important we don't let the highly emotional subject matter to lead to us losing our rationality.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Rally Day!

Hello Dearest Chums,
                            Just sitting down after getting back from the 'Rally Against Debt'.
Must say it has had quite a bit of attention on the news as well as the social networking sites and despite the less than ideal travel, I had a really good time.

From suits to sweats, ordinary people from all walks of life attending 'Rally Against Debt'

I decided to use my time wisely there, I met a number of fellow twitter users, I kept an eye on the treatment of the Parody protesters, which rather predictably are being touted by their own as examples of the 'Craziness' of our movement (pushing the straw man argument to it's very extreme by actually being it's own straw man). I spoke to a couple of the policemen (think I counted 14 odd)  who I asked if they had been especially called in to police the rally, and I must admit he had a slight smile on his face when he said no, they were all on duty anyway but instead of being on call driving around, they were on call from there.

Steward finding controlling the radical's are self-regulating (spot the twitter user)

At 12'O Clock the speeches began..which considering we were standing pretty much next to Big Ben were almost instantly drowned out by the bells. My highlights were Mr Durkin and Mr Farage..which shows you how bi-partisan it felt as there WAS a Tory for me to pick too .

Some of the speakers..
Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes), political blogger  (Order-Order)
Mark Littlewood, Director of the IEA (Institute of Economic Affairs)
Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance
Martin Durkin, documentary film maker and activist

I think an important organisational note should be the need for a bigger PA system next time (oh yes, this is only the beginning!) as the excessive noise of London traffic made some of the more eloquent speakers hard to hear, it's a lot easier to hear innane guttural screams of "F*ck the Cuts!" than it is to hear excellently delivered criticisms of the slavery called debt.
Still, I'm sure we all appreciated the toots and thumbs up from passing traffic.

A lot was said about the demographics likely to be at the rally and I think it prudent for me to honest and as objective as I can be. The numbers, firstly ( quite fittingly considering the subject matter) weren't as good as I had hoped for, I would say that there were somewhere between 350-400 people with perhaps 15-20 of those seeming to be press of some type or the other.

  ...Sorry Neville, you will insist on blinking

Now while this initially made me sigh, as soon as I started talking to the attendants all was forgotten, and as was pointed out by one of the speakers, our placards weren't in the same mood as the TUC march..there were no "F**k off Socialist scum" or "Labour Pr*cks" placards that would have been the mirror of the TUC march placards. In fact a lot of the TUC banners "Capitalism isn't working" for example would have been more fitting at this rally but corrected to actually critique the system that failed us. "Socialism isn't working"...perhaps  there was a double entendre joke there we could have used (I was myself wearing a "The problem with Socialism, is that you eventually run out of other people's money" Thatcher T-Shirt).
PS My favourite placard "Go stimulate yourself!"

Hayek' splosive Interview (sorry)

The people were from all over the country, some would look quite at home with a shotgun screaming at you to get off their land, some of them looked like they normally wore berets, there were different accents from all over the UK and a lot of people that travelled a lot further than I did!
In short, this was no rich person's rally, it was no young person's rally, it was no middle class rally, it was a rally from and of the people, who have nothing to gain from a successful outcome except the chance to pay their own bill, and have a bit of say in what was put on the shopping list.

All pleasant people, very friendly..and even Old Holborn was smiling...I think..though he was towering over a burning Euro flag...enough to make most smile.

We don't want poor people to get poorer, economic interference does that and that is what we are campaigning against.
We want all working people to benefit from what they do and to reintroduce supply and demand. At the moment we are supplied what the government deems is right for us and have the cost added to the bill.

We do not need diversity co-ordinators, we as a species, have been diverse for long enough without needing it co-ordinating. We do not need the thick layer of bureaucracy feeding off the hard working people of the country.What we do need is to stand up to the politicians bribing us with our own (and our children's) money and tell them enough is enough.

Today we made a start. This is just the beginning and eventually the majority of people who pride themselves on paying their own way will be with us. Then the politicians will finally have to learn that our freedom, and that of our children and our children's children cannot be bought.We will not surrender ourselves for the circuses and bread being offered.

*The scandal that is publicly funded union representatives was also brought up, this isn't anything new but will be brought before parliament soon, so if you can spare the time, write to your MP and tell them that Nurses should be Nurses, Firemen should be Firemen and unions who are very well funded as it is, should be unions.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Where's the sense in paying more for less UKuncut?

A report from the IFS looked at public spending between 1997 and 2010 pre election last year.

In it, as you can imagine, it shows that the growth of spend on public services, rose tremendously under the Labour government. This shouldn’t surprise anyone that has looked at the figures, but I think it best we look at it in more detail and quantify it before moving on.

In 1997 when Labour was elected, as a percent of national income, spending on public services was 39.9%, when Labour left office it was 48.1%.

The growth in real terms of this spend is 4.4% year on year. Under the Conservatives between 1979 and 1997 the figure was 0.7%.

 So we can safely say that we are spending a lot more on services than we were.

Out of the 28 countries that we have comparable figures from we went from 7th lowest spend on percent of National income to the 6th, in 2010. This represents the biggest % jump out of all the 28 countries,

“… BUT” I hear you cry “we had to bail out the banks”. Yes, we did. So if you like, we’ll look at the figures from 1997 to 2007, a year before the recession. Our % increase spend was the 2nd largest out of the 28.

I think we can safely say we have established that we have spent more, however this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I spend more at the supermarket sometimes too, especially if there is an offer, because although my weekly spend has gone up, I normally walk away with a bigger increase of value to money spent, or ‘Bang for buck’ as the calculator jockies call it.

So, did things get better proportionally to our increased spend?
Well, our public services have got better, the social security funds and eligibility for them have grown almost every year since the end of the war, this is a good thing, but has it got 8.2% better?

The ONS aimed to calculate this based on output figures and input figures from 1997 to 2007. They found that the ‘bang for buck’ had actually gone down by 13.4%.
In other words if efficiency and productivity had remained at the levels in 1997, for the extra money injected into the system, we should have had a 15.5% bigger output.

Philip Hammond doing a similar comparison, this time in ‘bang for buck’ growth in the Private Sector VS Public Sector concluded that the same services, if 1997 levels of efficiency were kept, should have cost £60 billion less than it actually did (if you compare it strictly Public Sector VS Public Sector we would have benefitted from the same output but for £42.5 billion less).
ONS Graph

So I think it is very important we keep this in mind before we go barrelling off to stand still in front of a shop we believe should pay more tax than it has to by law and the like UKuncut style. What really is the point in protesting over a few 10’s of £million’s when we have a £60 billion a year short fall on services as it is?

Surely all that is doing is throwing more money at an obviously failing system.
Firstly, let us address all the reasons why £1’s worth of spending on public services does not equal £1 of ‘bang’. Until then all we are doing is becoming ‘busy fools’ with a lot of input and not much more to show for it.

Somewhere in the public purse, there is a hole, no matter how much money you throw at it, even if you ignored the huge risk in scaring away the top 1% who pay for 25% of all tax, the extra money doesn’t give you the correct value.

We need to cut this out of the public services system, if that means jobs, then I am afraid that is what is needed. The public sector is not a charity and cannot afford to keep them bloated for the sake of it.

We need to get our house in order before we invite extra guests.

When we achieve that, you may find me calling for Tesco’s to pay an extra £60 million a year on top of the billions paid already, until then those actions seem quite pointless.

I would encourage UKuncut to treat each waste of our money on a level playing field instead of cherry picking which bit of lost money is a good loss and which is bad loss.

Anyone striving for a better, efficient country should be at the Rally Against Debt on the 14th of May.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Why I support 'Rally against Debt'

For most of you that are on Twitter or Facebook you may have come across #RallyagainstDebt before.

This post will be used to introduce it to you if you haven't already and will be a brief explanation of why it has my 100% support.

On the 26th of March, I like many in the UK was sat at home, little did I know that while most people were at home, at work, at the zoo or booking a day out to a pirate exhibition, we were apparently also supporting the 'March for The Alternative'.

I found this out when reading lefter-than-Lenin's-left-sock newspapers and news reports telling me that it was a view held by the majority of Britons...and good ole Red Ed Miliband told me that if I opposed the march that I, supported apartheid? Hmm..this went too far for even the action loving press.

I could not reconcile this, however with the fact that most people that I tutted to about the march didn't even seem aware of it's existence.

The newspaper reports were  'proved' by a poll by YouGov.

Total sample size was 2,720 adults and was asked online.

         Liberal Democrat
Don't know

The first thing you will notice is that you are only likely to support the March if you're a Labour supporter..if you look at the General Election '10 results you will see that you are statistically not likely to be a Labour supporter.

Not a surprise that a lot of Labour people were supporting the March, officially it is a TUC march and secondly it is a march against the actions that were taken to fix the problems inherited by Labour. It would be political suicide to NOT back it if you're the Labour leader because you would pretty much be saying "Yes, sorry guys, all these things that are being cut...that is to pay for OUR faults".

Anyway, enough back story. It was at this point that Rally Against Debt was dreamt up I believe. With the simple premise that yes, of course if there was a way to fix everything without every having to take responsibility that would be the most popular order of the day (this is why the the March for the Alternative was well attended, promoting new taxes like the Robin Hood tax, which even if it went well has no scope for fixing any problems even by its own advocate's figures and a clamp down on Tax planning methods..all ways by the public that can help them escape any need for austerity).

Coincidentally (smirk), a lot of the marchers had financial interest in the public sector not being cut. From the workers who benefit from a bigger salary and better pensions on average than their private sector brethren and the unions themselves that feed off of them. However, it did seem to have escape people's minds. I doubt that this would be allowed to go unmentioned if the banking sector ripped through London on a  'Bankers against the Banking Levy' march...but that is the mentality I guess, it's only greed when other people do it.

One thing should be noted and I think should be widely agreed before we continue. The public sector is too big. That is a fact. 'Whether we should cut it now, instead of keeping it too big in order to try and kick start growth' is the question, not 'is it too big?'.
That is mathematical, not ideological.

The amount of people in interviews who started by saying that the public sector wasn't too big had me sighing deeply, they don't even know why they are there. Even their beloved Labour party were going to cut back the public sector and when Labour are planning on cutting the public sector, that is a good indication that it has ballooned FAR beyond what is efficient.

I will not mention blame for this problem by Party from this point on, because it doesn't really change what our options are. It doesn't make a blind bit of difference which party ran up the debt or presided over the problems, the problems are here and we need to fix them.

Let's start off our thought process slightly differently.
What is economic growth? and is it always a good thing?
Growth is the expansion of GDP, is the common answer..however I do not see that as an accurate way to describe it. This doesn't take into account the reason for a higher GDP.

To bring it into loose terms that could be understood easier. GDP is like the value of all your possessions, your home, car, bank balance and furnishings. It is presumed that that any growth in the value of these things is a good thing.
What we do not consider though is the difference in growth because you spent wages ...or borrowed to buy goods.

This makes a crucial difference.
If we use our wages for it, it is sustainable, yes, we may have cash flow troubles sometimes, but as we are not committed to future liabilities, we are safe.

If, on the other hand, we use all our wages, but in an attempt to 'grow' our assets decide to get a loan using our friends as guarantors on the loan, this is very different. Firstly, our assets value will never grow by the amount we spend, that is the nature of commodities, there will always be value lost in the process of manufacturing them in labour costs and profit, meaning in affect, our £500 TV is made up of £250 worth of assets.

This is not normally a problem if spending your own money, but if its borrowed, it means that the value of your item is less than the loan, PLUS you will need to pay interest on the loan.*

*Real World- It has been shown that for every £1 borrowed and spent to encourage growth, it succeeds in growing the economy by 30p, and as that pound is borrowed, we pay back closer £1.05 to get 30p worth of growth.

The best option in our analogy would be to A) increase our REAL income or B) make efficiency savings (or both, which is what the current government are trying to do)
Neither of these options increase our asset value as much as borrowing but it is real and not tampered with.

However, what we had before the crash was a high growth, powered by the dynamo of credit. Sooner or later this had to stop and it caused just as much trouble as the boom had caused success. Economics has a way of balancing itself like that.

I would suggest that, excluding an event of Industrial revolution scope, we should ALWAYS fear the line on the graph steeply going up just as much as the steep decline, the later is caused by the former in most cases.

To suggest that we should start this cycle off again after we are still struggling from the last is ludicrous, but that is what is being demanded. Yes, they suggest sources for this money, but as discussed briefly, they are very unrealistic and even when achievable are so ineffective that the nature of the game doesn't change.
They are asking the country to take on debt to pay for the current spending, with the add-on line of "So it kick starts the economy".

This brings together their two reasons for fighting the cuts, they don't want to suffer cuts themselves and they do not see the problem with artificial growth. Not the strongest position.

What I believe in is real organic growth, based on more produce at same cost / same produce at less cost and/or new markets. The other concept I believe in is self-responsibility. By suggesting we borrow against our future tax income, we are getting something for nothing. The future generations that have to pay it off will be getting nothing for something ( a something bigger than what we received too!).

I cannot do this in good conscience, I cannot sit back and let the overly optomistic, who benefit in the short term on the gamble that over-spending might solve our problems, go unopposed.

I strongly agree with the sentiment of the following quote

"we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children"

This may not be our mess (another article is to come on the cause of our current situation), but either we clean it up, or our children do. That is the only choice..and the cleaning method has to work!

Support 'Rally against Debt', a fair, honest and most importantly, realistic alternative to pretending 'boom and bust' do not exist.

Tell us why YOU support Rally against Debt by emailing the organisers here

Visit the website at and Facebook page to get more info on the first Rally on the 14th of May in London (say hi if you see me).
Alternatively, follow the #rallyagainstdebt or #rad hashtag and @debtrally.

And me, obviously @DBirkin

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Well that is how we do that.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, we did it.

We as a nation not only voted against AV, we absolutely trounced it into oblivion.

There will of course be a few small minded* 'Yes to AV' campaigners that wish to complain, but besides that very small minority, most seem to accept the democratic will of the people of the UK.

*If you're wondering why I called them small minded, it is because they believe the main reason 'Yes' lost was that the UK public are stupid and must have been influenced by the 'lies' from the no campaign and were too stupid to realise it.

However, good hussle guys. Thanks for reading my Blog which has been up until now 100% AV related...It will now become a RALLYAGAINSTDEBT blog.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The wisest cat of them all...

AV Oddity Part 2

Let's say that we have three candidates
10,000 people turn out for the vote

A has 34% of the Vote
B has 33%+1 of the vote
C has 33-1 of the vote..

All C second preference A.

A wins with 6699 votes 3400 first and 3299 second preferences. =67%
A Majority of 1699 votes

Let's re-run that election but this time two people change their mind from B to C

A has 34% of the Vote
B has 33%-1 of the vote
C has 33+1 of the vote..

All of B second preference C

C Wins on 6600 votes 3301 first and 3299 second preferences. =66%
A Majority of 1100 votes.

So we go from a majority for A to a majority for C from just two votes...thats a 2799 vote swing!

AV is not logical, is "disturbingly unpredictable" and "unacceptably unfair"

Due to it's elimination process, it turns the competition from a 'winner takes all' to a 'loser takes all' where the will of whoever loses being the deciding factor

NB. this example is not likely to happen on this scale, but is only a magnification of the unfairness and inequality that exists in every AV election

Part two ...

A has 34% of the Vote
B has 33%-1 of the vote
C has 33+1 of the vote..

Perhaps, lets say in the second example, after the two voters have changed their mind, that only 1%of the total vote (100 votes) belonging to B transfers to C and the rest are exhausted..

We now have A on 3400 votes and C on 3401

C wins the election on 34%+1 of the total vote (or 50%+1 of final round votes)

In this example just two votes had a swing of 3299 votes..

and because of those two votes instead of getting a winner that had 66% of the total vote...who happens to be the FPTP winner (don't ever let someone tell you AV is only better than FPTP) we have an AV winner that is on 34% of the total vote...about half!

Vote No to AV on May 5th

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Two Cheers and some beers for AV

I was directed to this article "Two Cheers for AV" by @Hens4Freedom.

I will start off by saying that this article is very good in selling AV, it admits some faults of AV and makes the case that it isn't such a simple choice...but of course, he has picked AV so there are bound to be a few things we disagree on.

Claim One
Av requires a majority.

This isn't true in our version of AV, as votes are not compulsory and preferences are not compulsory the chances of a majority are middling, normally around 40% of the time according to most research, the MP elected will not feature at any preference level on the ballots of a majority of the voters.

Of course you can say this under FPTP but with 60% I believe at the last election. However the two do not compare that well, one is not preferencing a candidate at any level ..say from 1st- 8th is infact a vote against, whereas the other is simply not selecting them as a first choice, with nothing said about the other 7 possible preference levels.

Claim Two
Under AV a winner cannot be disliked by a majority

As with the first claim and for the reasons discussed, this is simply not true.

Claim Three
Fptp lets extremists in

We have not had an extremist MP at WestMinster for a very long time.

Claim Four
The Chirac claim..

Here is an odd one, firstly he criticises the system for allowing Le Pen to appear as a top two candidate..well yes, I can see how that can be annoying, but let's remember that the French know their system and they know they are likely to have a second vote before Le Pen could possibly become President..he then goes on to make a rather strange claim....

"The result was an apparent 80 per cent landslide win for Chirac. But Jospin, who was probably preferred to any other candidate by a majority of voters, and therefore would have been a democratic choice"

Well, ACTUALLY, luckily there were numerous studies on this particular election, as there are on most single winner elections.
So, we know that Chirac would still win under both approval voting AND range voting.
I am hoping the original author was unaware of these studies..but he should probably have checked if he was going to write about the subject.

Source is LSE and

Claim Five

"AV will not lead to a gain for the compromise party."
Yes, a lot of seats are Labour vs Conservative and in this case it will not change..BUT there are many seats when one of the main parties are Lib Dem.
In these seats, I am sure the author will agree, the Lib Dems will benefit hugely from transfers from the other main party. Also, one of the main claims from the Yes campaign is that many Lib Dems in Labour/Tory marginals vote tactically. Under Av this would not happen so I think it is a particularly bankrupt point to try and make.

The Author then speaks about two points that he believes make AV better than PR

1) That FPTP leads to extremist winners and AV prevents that.
2) That AV will mean no tactical votes

And lastly the author says that he hopes AV will lead to PR.

So 1) we have already dismissed, we do not have extremist MPs under FPTP..the good things about claims about FPTP is we have working examples..

2) This one is a yes and no..Yes, our first preferences will be more honest and NO more of our votes will end up with parties that we do not consider to be the best candidate.

So we are being HONEST about it, but it is doing what tactical voting does on a much wider scale than ever happened with FPTP.

His last point is an interesting one, as half of the article is based on how AV is better than other systems at keeping out extremists ...he then says he wants PR ..which is the single system that does allow these in to power. I am not making a comment on whether this is right or wrong, simply pointing out the clashing logic.

I think it is time for us , on both sides, to start being honest with each other, arguments like those above belong to people that have not researched what they are talking about...and I am not sure if this is BECAUSE the author doesn't know what he is talking about...or knows and is misleading the reader on purpose.

Vote No to Av

Is politics just a choice between A or B?

The Yes To Fairer Votes, Debate

I have just returned from the Yes to Fairer Votes event/rally/debate at Canterbury Christ Church University.

When I first turned up to the venue, I was treated to tables covered in Yes Campaign paraphernalia. I was kicking myself for not bringing any No2AV leaflets, but due to not living in Canterbury for four years I had stupidly forgotten the traffic situation and was therefore slightly out of breath, I probably wouldn't have had time to prepare anyway.

The debate kicked off with Daniel Hamilton for the 'No' side and John Ault for the 'Yes' side giving their opening bit.

The usual issues were called upon, for the Yes side John opened up by saying he wouldn't pick AV if he had a choice, but
*AV would make MPs work harder
*AV would prevent MPs from only targeting safe voters
*AV would end safe seat and jobs for life
*That the No campaign think you're stupid

He informed us that 64% of people that didn't vote in the GE10 would be voting for them and that AV would prevent MPs from only targeting marginal areas..........

At this point, I must say his buddying up to the audience was still making me smile, "Who here has a job for life?" ... but as the evening went on this general quiet amusement turned into a rather uncomfortable feeling..similar to how you feel when your parents tried to relate to you as a teenager.

It became very clear from the off that the Yes speakers argument was very much 'Aren't politicians bastards!'. He made several comments likening the 'Yes to Fairer votes' campaign to the suffragettes and the fight for universal emancipation and continued to tout the claim that AV gives power back to the people (Which the main funder for YTFV, The ERS, disagrees with).

Daniel Hamilton then stepped up to the plate. He spoke about

*FPTP producing stable government
*FPTP produced a more proportional result in 3/4 of the last elections than AV
*FPTP produces safe seats because the people vote for them
*That under AV 4/10 of all elected will get less than 50% of the total vote
*That while AV is easy to vote with ( Any one can rank 1-2-3-4 after all) that it produces some weird results, like when it can benefit your candidate more if you vote against them sometimes.
*Av would cost £250 million (I disagree on this>)
*That AV IS tactical voting in all but name built into a system
*Fringe votes would decide some of the seats

I know that looks like I have written more of the No points than I did the Yes. This is only because that is all that was said.. but in many different ways.

Then we came to the questions.

Q. Will the referendum be the only one seen in our life times if we vote no?
John - Yes
Daniel - Don't know

Well obviously 'Don't know' is the honest answer there. I wouldn't have guessed that I would have to defend FPTP against AV this year if asked a year ago. We cannot really know what will happen. The electoral system we use wasn't really spoken about until now so as long as the pressure is kept after the 'No' vote, I see no reason why we won't see STV or something similar on the manifesto of one of the main parties...though of course, I don't know.

Q. Would having Primaries be better than a change to AV?
John. Maybe, but that is up to the party to decide
Daniel. (same)

Q. Will AV see the end to short term change in policy
John. No
Daniel. No

This question seemed to be a bit of a strange one as it has nothing to do with AV or FPTP.... the only way to not have a change in policy is to not have a change in government.

At this point I must admit my note taking takes a turn for the worse so will go through the rest of the points I remember as I do.

The issue of cost came up and in a different question the 'right' cost.

Now as a No supporter I cringe when I hear the £250 million price tag..even if we use the counting machines, which I don't think we will especially not with the fuss that has been made, the largest part of the remaining money is on the referendum..with the remaining money being on education.

The cost argument only works if, like me, you would consider AV a waste even if it were free....

Both sides made the point that elections should be as cheap as they can be without limiting effectiveness.

Another question was about whether the debate had been made worse by it being made political...

The Yes campaign attacked the No campaign for using the imagine of Nick Clegg...then it was deathly silent as no-one mentioned the Dinosaur/Nick Griffin campaign from the Yes side.

The issue of Fringe groups was brought up and as a No supporter who doesn't go along with the 'AV will lead to BNP' nonsense, I was happy to find out that Daniel would match my view on this.

We then were treated to an over passionate promise from John that he "wouldn't let the BNP get a seat"...which I thought was nice of him...except of course that as he said he was an advocate of PR ...which would let the BNP get at least a few seats....
Another logical fallacy. Not due to AV but because of a rather over passionate speaker.

Then we got on to coalitions..

Coalitions are tricky. They can in some circumstances others not, but my concern is that I believe coalitions will lead to unaccountability..
Example, in the last half of the 20th century in West Germany the Free Democrats had on average 9% of the vote.
However due to the wonders of coalitions they were in Government 86% of the time...with 19% of the cabinet posts....

No... coalitions aren't for me.

John claimed that coalitions aren't more likely under AV...even though I have never seen an independent analysis that agrees with him.
He goes on to point out that in Australia they have had less hung parliaments and less coalitions.


Firstly, out of the 44 elections held since their introduction of AV, 22 of them were coalition governments! Secondly, because of the permanent coalition, Australia is effectively a two party state (which was also denied by the 'neutral' host..but not by any other commentator I have ever heard from) in order to get a hung parliament, you have to, in effect, do the equivalent of flipping a coin and have it land on neither heads nor tails....which funnily enough, they did at the last election. (72/72).

The usual nonsense was rolled out

"All the parties use AV to select their leaders"
...the survey says...EH EERR!
Only Labour (that brought us Ed Miliband instead of David Miliband) and Lib Dems (Nick Clegg) were elected by AV. Cameron was elected by a hybrid Exhaustive run off MP nomination with a FPTP member vote..(for those that want to compare it to FPTP, Cameron won 65% of the total vote at first pref..meaning he would have won under FPTP and if it was under AV, it wouldn't have gone further than first round).

"No longer will we have an MP that most people are against"

Nope, in fact I have seen elections where the winner got 37% of the TOTAL vote under AV. (NSW NEWCASTLE 2007).. that means that 63% of people not only not wanting them as a first choice..they didn't want them as a 1st,2nd,3rd,4th,5th,6th,7th and 8th choice (it went to 8 rounds). In fact 40% of all elections, like we have said , are likely to have a MP with less than a yes 60% at the moment have less than a majority now..but that is just from the first have everyone have to choose between you or nothing ..and a majority still don't pick you..well, that is bad.

To Sum Up...

Nothing new happened at this debate, the same arguments, the same nonsense and the same lies, mixed in with what , to me at least, a very non-independent independent host. This was reflected in the before and after poll hardly changing.

I know this will sound biased but Daniel, to me, was by far the better speaker and stuck to the issues instead of going off into utopian rants, unlike John, Daniel was respectful of his opponent and neither pulled silly faces at everything being said by the other speaker or started conversations with the host instead of listening to his opponent.

A rather disappointing night really, though it was nice that people were getting engaged with the issues.

For an alternative Yes To Fairer Votes Version of the same night, I would encourage you to read this blog

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Is AV better than FPTP ...revisited

I was recently pointed towards Gowers' Weblog by @lipscombe1 (James Lipscombe) be honest it was something I have come across in my AV saga before, read a few lines of, chuckled to myself about, and then left.

It does seem however, like the 'Voting Power index' and the 'the Jungle Animals had an election video' that the Yes campaign..or at least it's campaigners are taking it quite seriously.

So let's get in to it.

I will not be copying over all the text and then reviewing it as I believe his post is far too long and would only make it worse. I may however copy over bullet points which in combination with the link to the original post here you can see for yourself to check I haven't used anything thing out of context. It isn't my aim to do so and as always my comments box will be unmoderated (except for when I am attacked with foul language rather than my posts of course..and perhaps even then I might let it slide if it makes me laugh).

Ok, the post opens with a brief background of the referendum, past referendum's etc and informs the reader that we will be treated to a more mathematical slant of Blog, which I am always in favour of (maths is a lot easier to debate).

A Little History is where we hit our first snag.
It becomes very obvious that this is going to be a FPTP is not PR section..which is a valid point..however in the context of FPTP vs AV it isn't.

The second point is comparing NATIONAL % of votes when we do not have a national based system but a constituency based system, this is pretty misleading for two reasons. You can have two areas where a seat is hard fought and won under fptp, compared to a safe seat. This will throw the national results..secondly and most importantly, the constituencies are not all the same size.
You can have two constituencies where 90% of the population vote for someone, but because the constituencies are different sizes it would appear that a seat for A needs X votes, where a seat for B only needs Y votes.

This is a valid criticism none the less but that has nothing to do with FPTP and is just as likely to happen under AV. What is good though is that the other part of the act that brought us the referendum will also aim to fix this problem.

The usual suspects are called upon, Thatcher and Blair. I personally think this is a hook to get anti thatcherites and anti blairites into the debate in a kind of "FPTP was the reason we had X" fashion.

What he has conspicuously left out of course is the poll results from the time that could be useful when comparing both systems historically.

To save time, I'll concentrate on the last election mentioned in this section, 1997.

Labour, 43.2% of the vote, 418 seats 64% of the seats

Conservatives, 30.7% of the vote, 165 seats 25% of the seats

Liberal Democrats, 16.8% of the vote, 46 seats 7% of the seats

Now, that looks quite damning doesn't it and I can see why a Yes campaigner might like to use that.

However, let's look at the same thing again, but with AV seat % according to research.

Labour, 43.2% of the vote, 418 seats 64% of the seats Under AV 471 seats 68% of Seats

Conservatives, 30.7% of the vote, 165 seats 25% of the seats under AV 70 seats 10% of seats

Liberal Democrats, 16.8% of the vote, 46 seats 7% of the seats Under AV 115 seats 18% of seats

Source being BBC findings which Roy Jenkins also backs up

So instead of giving Labour 21% too many seats, it gives them 25% too many.
Instead of giving the Conservatives 6% less of the seats, its gives them 21% less.
Instead of Giving the Lib Dems 10% less seats it gives them 1% more.

If you add all the results together, this election is 10% less proportional under AV than under FPTP.

I feel I should make it clear here that I am not saying one system will be more or less proportional, they are not proportional systems and some of the elections he mentioned will be more proportional under AV, some less.

The point I am trying to make is that this argument belongs to those promoting STV, (even though it would still produce some disproportionate results) or national lists.

This point is also missed by him in his section
Does FPTP reflect the will of the voters?> in which he ironically says about the election we have just looked at , the 1997 election of Tony Blair "However, it is not reasonable to say that the size of Blair’s majority — he had almost two thirds of all seats — reflected the national mood."

He then makes a similarly flawed comment on the party with the most seats not getting the most votes, this statement suffers from the same problems we have discussed.

To be honest with you readers, it was at this point I chuckled and clicked the X in the corner of my page. I have seen many of these arguments in the last 8 months and I have replied to so many. I have not read the rest of the article, so I will read through it now and post some more :)
OK, he has admitted that AV is not proportional so the top bit of his blog is irrelevant..interesting tactic "..there is no obvious reason to expect AV to be proportional."

Ah, the wasted vote/tactical vote argument.
Here, is another Yes campaign line. That if you don't vote for the winner, your vote is wasted.
However I feel that a vote is NEVER wasted. If I want to vote for a party, that is my democratic right, if i lose, it's not wasted, calling it wasted is very cynical.

The phrase "It's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts" should be the motto of any democracy lover.

He then talks about monotonicity with AV, i.e that sometimes it is possible for you to benefit your candidate of choice by voting against them.
He judges that this is unlikely to catch on..well I can agree with that, but it's likely to go on as you will see here

Very importantly we have to think about what people gain from voting tactically under both FPTP and AV and the cost of doing it.

Under FPTP, people tend to vote tactically when they are beyond reasonable doubt their candidate of choice will lose. So they vote for someone else, the cost is your favoured candidate is even less likely to win. You have made a compromise.
Under AV, when you vote tactically you risk causing your candidate to lose but you only do it if you are beyond reasonable doubt your candidate of choice will lose, if it pays off, you candidate of choice will win. The cost is much more worth it. No compromise has to be made.

This is why, although less likely, I believe tactical voting to be worse under AV.

Of course, depending on what definition of 'tactical voting' we use, if it was for example "having your vote go to a party that isn't the best standing, in your opinion, in order to stop another that you dislike from winning" we could describe AV as a whole as institutionalised tactical voting.

The FPTP name is brought up. I can answer this, the winning post is when your votes are X+≥1 where X is the number of votes of the second place.
It is not a fixed post in the terms of votes needed, but nor is 50% of final round votes+1 so there is no real change or advantage with AV..

Boy, this blog is long...

I will skim through some bits "It was the FPTP system that allowed Mrs Thatcher to rule for eleven years with large majorities and well under half the votes" above, in some circumstances it would have got 'worse' under AV with Thatcher so another slightly misleading statement there.

"Under AV there is a real chance that Labour would have won the 1983 election", not according to the suggests Labour would have lost 20 more seats...

"it is unlikely that John Major would have had his shock victory in 1992, for instance" again not according to the research

"Probably in 2005 it would have left Blair a little more punished for the Iraq war" not according to the research

We then get on to the counters to No2av arguments..
1. the horse race, i know where he is coming from on this one, though i will say there are races like what he has described as silly, where you see how far you can run in a set time (or set amount of votes) and the racer that has run the more laps or distance is the winner.

2. Av being unfair.
This is a tricky one, i am not exactly sure what no2av mean by unfair..what I mean when I say unfair is this...not all ballots are treated the same, you can have some ballots where every preference is used towards the result and you can have people that only have their first preference used. Kind of like this video

3.this leads on from the 2nd nicely. Think of a system, where instead of preferences, you have X ballots, but multiple rounds...every time you vote, the least popular candidate is eliminated and everyone that voted for that candidate gets another vote to use on adding to the remaining candidates vote total
This system quite clearly gives some people more votes than others.

It is what I have referred to as DB voting, named after myself ;) ...It will produce the same results AV every time, because it is the same thing but worded differently. We have got into the realm of semantics here. Clearly though, having your second preference ignored if you first doesn't win while other people have their 2nd, 3rd 4th and 5th preference influence the result is not equal or fairer.

4.This works if you don't believe people's first choice should, if we are being objective, be more valuable than a 4th preference. I do believe that, so I see an unfair advantage.

5. I agree in part with this one, Av doesn't help the BNP but where I disagree is that it will not help the extreme issues become mainstream.

Yes, I am sure many extremist people vote for mainstream parties, but there WILL be more of these votes up for grabs (SEE George Foreman Grill analogy)

6. The cost i am not going to comment on, I do not think no2av are lying, i do think they are wrong...and especially now all the fuss has been made, counting machines will not be needed...there will be a cost in education but this point only really counts if we do not consider AV better than FPTP, so is more of a reason to back up someone already voting no then to convince people who think AV is the best system.

7. Av is not simple..ranking is.

"Labour, A
Conservative, B
Lib Dems, C

where and (let us suppose)

Those lucky BNP supporters now get their second-choice votes counted. Let’s suppose that and that and are the percentages of votes transferred to Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, respectively. So after the first elimination the position is

Labour, A+E
Conservatives, B+F
Lib Dems, C+G

Suppose now that the Lib Dems are third. Now we have and and the standings are

Labour A+E+H+K
Conservatives B+F+J+L

Let us think carefully what and stand for. is the number (expressed as a percentage of the total number of voters) of Lib Dem voters who transfer to Labour, which means Lib Dems who either put Labour as their second choice or put the BNP as their second choice and Labour as their third choice. is the same thing but with “the Conservatives” replacing “Labour”. is the number of BNP supporters who put the Lib Dems second and Labour third, and is the number of BNP supporters who put the Lib Dems second and the Conservatives third."

Put your hands up if that is simple?

We may think it is simple, I think playing piano or guitar is simple...but not everyone will..i would go so far to say, most people won't like it.. hence the increase in spoiled ballots even in OPV in Australia.

8. It is fair to say that some politicians will become more extreme, others will become more safe..depending on what is needed.
He also makes a point that under FPTP you can elect someone that most people dislike, I agree..this can of course happen under Av, as long as they aren't the MOST disliked. I doubt very often the condorcet loser does win under FPTP though, not with the likes of the BNP and other such "healthy grill waste" parties.

9.This is an odd one, hung parliaments are believed to be more likely with AV, most independent sources will say this, from 4 Fact Check, BBC, etc.. they will become more likely anyway but will get more so with AV. That is not the odd bit though, the author argues my point..that in 1997 AV could have led to a bigger swing to Labour..even though he criticised FPTP for the swing being too much already.

10. Is true, but will change over time, like who benefits under AV in Oz has, but at the moment the lib dems would benefit from AV.

11. I agree with the author here, you shouldn't vote not to hurt should, in my opinion, vote no because it is fairer.

12. Not too swayed either way here, only way to dislodge a government is to take away it's MPs, only way for a MP to lose in FPTP is for someone to get more votes than them, under AV someone can get more votes than them, but because the new party is a polar opposite to the other non-elected party, they second preference the incumbent.

An example would be say a Lib Dem MP.. he is unpopular, so labour over takes him in the first round, but the tory voters, while unhappy with the lib dem are unlikely to preference Labour fact they may see another Labour Mp as a threat to a possible Tory government, so they tactically preference Lib Dems, meaning that the Lib Dem is safe even though unpopular because at least they're not tory/labour..this would be unlikely under FPTP.

13.Ahh, this is pretty much the Voter Power Index argument. The more marginal your constituency the more value your vote has as it has an increased chance of changing the result.

This is only true of course if you view your vote in isolation of everyone else's.

To say for example that in a game result that ended A 20 vs B 21 ..the last score for B was worth the most, is completely in accurate.
If you took away any of B's goals, that last goal would crash in its perceived value.

It should be plain to see that every goal is important and every goal counted as 1 goal.

The same can be said of votes.

Every vote is worth one vote for one person under FPTP. Everyone can change the result by '1'

A nice way to demonstrate this is to go to the GE2010 results page and look at you constituency and look at your chosen party's result. Everyone changed that number by '1'. That is all ..and that is every voter.

14. I also don't go for the "it's been done this way for ages so let's keep it" but i also don't go for the "it's been done this way for ages so let's get rid of it" argument.
I want to keep FPTP because it is, in my opinion better than AV.

I liked this post, I feel no need to change my mind, but at least they're arguments.

I hold many of the authors views on what is wrong, but most of the time completely disagree with the cause or remedy.

I would hate to think that we sleep walked into a Yes vote because "anything must be better".
Yes, sometimes FPTP is crap, I have many blog posts where I make this clear, but AV doesn't fix these problems and can make some worse.

I'd encourage everyone to vote NO in May, AV is not a step in the right direction, it is a step to split the reformer vote.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The reply to the reply to the No 2 AV reply

I came across a post from "Raggedy-Man" asking questions to the No2AV campaign about the leaflet. He then got a reply and decided to comment on it. I thought it fair that I reply back to flesh out some of the points No2AV made.

1) The funding part. It was mentioned probably for the reason that many times when I am campaigning I am asked how much money we are wasting...the answer in my opinion is a lot...but not on this leaflet..It's true that no tax was spent on the Yes to Av's campaign either...but anyone who gets both and assumes because it doesn't say it on the 'Yes' flier that it MUST be funded by taxes is going to be in the extreme minority.

2)They should have answered your Voting Index query better...
The short answer is that the voting index is nonsense. The only way for everyone to get "1" is to have a single part system.
Infact before they manipulated the formula to make the 'Yes' campaign look better, their results would have made interesting reading.

Let's look at the results from the old site shall we...

Where your vote is worth the most was Arfon where you get 1.308 votes each... the winning MP got 33.88% of the, let's look at the WORST place according to the Index..Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough where your vote is only worth 0.002 votes. The winning MP got 69.59% of the vote.
Now, as a Yes to AV supporter, shouldn't this prevent them from using the Voting index? I mean considering that they think that the MP should get more than 50% of the vote..but the voting index says you have less of a vote the higher the % the winning MP gets??

3)Not really much to add to their reply, with finite money, money saved will be spent on something else more worthy or to reduce how much we have to borrow so less interest to pay..

4)Again, not much to add besides the fact that AV doesn't find the most supported candidate all the time...I have blogged on this too.

5)This one is strentching it a bit, they talk about fptp and then say but under AV someone lesser can win.

6)Well he has nicely dodged the logic here. Under AV coalitions ARE more likely, in coalitions promises are less likely to be kept. This is true.
No claim was ever made that all FPTP policies are enacted..but normally they have to explain why and have credible reasons. Under coalitions they can just say, "Sorry, not our call".

7)There is obviously a huge difference in how complicated both systems one you cast a vote, you walk out of the booth knowing who you have voted for and if they get more votes then anyone else, they win.

Under AV you rank all the preferences you want, you do not know when you leave the booth who you have voted for (after all according to the YES to AV campaign, you only have one vote), then there is the counting method which goes on for a bit at the very least the same length as FPTP but sometimes much more...Also consider in amongst that, that you can actually be better sometimes voting for your opponent under AV as sometimes this ca cause your favorite candidate win whereas if you voted for the person you really wanted, they may lose. ...But pointing this out I guess shows that I must think everyone is stupid..not that AV IS complicated.

8)Under FPTP and AV we do not vote for governments..we vote for MPs.

9)You have used a run off analogy to counteract a FPTP position.
There ARE no rounds 'or heats' with AV, that is nonsense.
In heats or rounds, everyone gets to run again..if in some heats they only let the loser run again to see if they could beat the fastest persons time without letting the fastest person run more than'd think it unfair right? As these do not constitute 'heats'.

The better analogy would be a single round (as thats what both AV and FPTP is)...
..Everyone runs a race to see how far they can get in 10 minutes...but because the winner doesn't run further than all the other people put together, the loser gets to choose where he wants to donate his distance to...if someone hasn't got more than everyone else's distance put together, the next slowest person gets to decide who he wants to donate is distance too...

Does this sound like a good way to decide who is the winner? This is AV.

10)I have never got this argument, the BNP will undoubtedly get more votes but will still count for nothing to them as smaller parties have less chance of winning under AV..what WILL increase though is the need for people in the mainstream to take on these more radical elements in order to try and get second preferences..

I would rather the fringe vote be left in the fringe.

11)The point they made was that coalitions lead to broken promises and coalitions are more likely under AV..

12) You answer your own point, this isn't about PR. People vote for MPs, AV which is basically losers ganging up to take down winners, isn't going to lead to 'fairer' wins for MPs.

13) Canada is rather a different country to the UK, made up of a lot of regional politics..this is why there have been more hung parliaments.
..and see my reply for 6..

14) Nick Clegg is the leader of the party that will often decide who gets into coalition under AV. Maybe we'll have another Lib Dem leader decide in the future but the sentiment doesn't really change, the policies will still be decided in coalition deals, not manifestos

One final point, the original E-Mail was written to No2AV to help him 'make up his mind'.. is anyone thinking that really he may have made up his mind already? ;)