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


  1. It's true that all the claims mentioned can be proved wrong. However, it's important to consider the issue surrounding claim 1 a little further.

    Yes our version of AV wouldn't necessarily lead to a majority win due to voting not being compulsory - I don't know why this is the version we've been presented with. But a lack of preferences by the voters amounts to the same as a low turn out at the ballot box. This is surely the fault of the voter rather than the system.

    At least AV attempts to give us a result that the majority want - if the voters don't vote properly it's not AV's fault.

    Just something to consider.

  2. "At least AV attempts to give us a result that the majority want - if the voters don't vote properly it's not AV's fault."
    I believe this is why the yes campaign lost