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AV, the anti-politicians choice? The opposite is true

According to Sunder Katwala of the Fabian Society, the Yes to AV campaign is stressing a ‘people against the politicians’ theme. AV is supposed to attract people who are anti-politician. Charles Kennedy said of AV on Daily Politicsit’s a politician’s issue and we’ve got to turn it into a public issue.” Too right. It is an issue the voters neither understand nor are especially interested in. Why else would the polls be predicting such varied results depending on how the question is asked or what was said beforehand.

And what would be the result of AV? More coalitions. More occasions where the government was chosen not by the public but by politicians, after the election, in private negotiations. More occasions when the programme of the government had not even been presented to the people, when politicians do the opposite of what they’d said they’d do in the election campaign. The function of the electorate will no longer be to choose the government, but simply to alter the power-relationship between parties in an almost random way — one that does not necessarily bear any relationship to how much more or less support each party has. As Oxford Professor Vernon Bogdanor argued in an excellent Guardian opinion, indirect elections would replace direct elections. Accountability to the people would be reduced.

And of course , the politician who will gain most from AV is the most unpopular politician in Britain. More than half of those who did vote him into third place have now abandoned his party. And yet he’s the one has the most to gain from the electoral system he called a “miserable little compromise,” in most seats and whenever AV delivers another hung parliament. By being in the right place — the centre — every time.

3 Comments

  1. Quint says:

    I never supported any form of PR even after 10 years of Thatcher, I thought that Labour would one day get the same kind of Commons majorities that she got on about 40% of the vote. Well, they did and we got Thatcher’s son, Blair and after that I don’t want `strong government’ delivering huge majorities from a minority of voters anymore. It simply elects a `dictator’ with carte blanche to do what they want, even illegal wars.

    As much as I detest this coalition I can’t support the FPTP voting anymore.

  2. Oz says:

    As someone who is from Australia, I’m getting tired of the falsehoods peddled by both sides of the AV debate, particularly the No 2 AV side.

    There’s no empirical evidence that AV leads to more coalitions.

  3. Gary Elsby says:

    Quint, the only way to get a majority of voters, voting, is to use the compulsory vote. That is, unless you have another way to get a majority of voters out. Therefore, I would suggest that you have an inbuilt self destruction of the AV system.
    AV is far from perfect, it may produce a result that no-one predicted, but it is a step in the right direction.
    A proper democracy would never invent FPTP and would never allow the privileged classes to install one either.

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