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People may or may not prefer AV. What they care about is something else.

It’s a myth that “nobody wants AV“, says Fabian General Secretary, Sunder Katwala, today. “It’s as popular a first choice as FPTP,” he says, quoting polling evidence which supports his contention. He’s right, of course, but the truth about electoral reform is rather different.

Quite a few people want AV, or at least want it more than FTFP, and they’re very well represented in the blogosphere. The important question, however, is how interested is the public in electoral systems or electoral reform. Because “want” means quite a bit more than expressing a preference between options listed by a pollster. I preferred Tony Blair to each and every Tory leader he faced. Did I want him as my Prime Minister? No I didn’t. And it was his near-destruction of the two party system by denying the British public any real political choice, by eliminating the possibility of dissent within his party and undermining the accountability of government to parliament, that brought us to this debate.

But New Labour is history. There’s clear yellow water between the red and the blue-and-orange. The public have a choice again, and they don’t exactly like what they didn’t exactly vote for but got anyway, once the politicians had finished their meetings.

What I suspect the public most wants is the ability to kick a government out of office. That certainly seems to motivate people in the streets of Cairo and Tripoli. It isn’t something which follows from proportional representation. The people of Italy, not for the first time, can’t seem to get rid of their corrupt and sleazy regime. And AV will make it harder in Britain.

One Comment

  1. Steve Kelly says:

    Completely correct on all points, which is why I will vote against. I’m not averse to AV I just think there are more important issues to worry about at the moment – like cuts, NHS, unemployment, fear. And the inability to get rid of this shameful, discredited and disreputable coalition.

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