10 Mar 2011

AV: Why we need a new voting system

Remember duck houses and second homes? Two years ago the country was up in arms about corruption in parliament. MPs seemed to have no respect for the system or the voters that put them there. Today, after half-hearted apologies, fines and even some MPs in prison, people are looking for ways to make our MPs behave better.

One idea is to change the way we vote for our MPs. The current system creates safe seats where MPs don’t have to bother. It means most MPs (including Anne Main in St Albans) get elected even though most of the voters voted against them. And it forces people to vote tactically for their second or third choice just to keep someone else out. No wonder so many people think their opinion doesn’t count.

On May 5th there’s a chance to get something better, with a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) system.

Under AV, every MP has to win the approval of at least half the voters. So they have to work harder for you. And you get to say what you think of all the candidates, not just pick one. So there’s no need for tactical voting. And you get a greater say in who ends up being your MP.

When it comes to actually voting with AV, you simply number the candidates in the order you like them, 1, 2, 3 etc. If your number 1 choice gets knocked out then your number 2 choice gets counted instead. So you can happily put your favourite first because you know you’re not ‘wasting’ your vote.

People really like voting like this because it puts them in control. It’s actually very similar to how TV competitions like X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing work: you vote for your favourite and if they get knocked out you get to vote on who’s left. At the end of the series, everyone chooses between the last two. So you know the winner is truly the people’s choice. And that candidate has had to work really hard to win.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The AV system is really a bad voting system.

An important claim of the supporters of the AV is that “It penalises extremist parties, who are unlikely to gain many second-preference votes.” Well, yes, if you assume the following:


You are a Labour voter. Therefore, you are not in any way going to vote for Tories. So you are left with the option of voting for the LIB-Dem, or any other party – all of which are extreme in one way or the other – may it be the Greens, the BNP or the Loonies.

So, if you decide that voting for the Lib-Dem is not your wish, you will be voting for a party that have one major theme engraved in it’s manifesto that is close to your heart. That will also be the epitome of Tactical Voting – You will be trying to pass your party a message that this or that issue is important for you.

That will put to shame the other claims of the yes campaigners for AV: “It eliminates the need for tactical voting.”

Now, how stupid can the UK voters be! You are lead into the best laid down trap: The Lib-Dem said that the AV is a compromise instead of having the proportional voting system.

This is not true. The AV is a lot better for them than the proportional voting system – as many UK voters will indeed avoid voting for a small extremists party – so they will vote for the Lb-Dem – they will think that they really do not have another choice for the second preference. The Lib-Dem will than be piggy carried to victory in many constitutes with the combined second choice of the two main party’s voters.

And at the same time, we will have some small and extremist parties in our Parliament – just like in the proportional voting system.


With two thirds of the MP’s lacked majority in their areas, one should not be blame to think that the Lib-Dem will become the biggest party in the Parliament. Now, that may not be a bad thing, you might say. Well, the fact is that if that happens, it means that the Lib-Dem won because they where the forced ‘there is nothing better to vote for as second choice’ for most voters.

Well. ‘nothing better’ is not really a political endorsement.

The Lib-Dem went to government for the AV and the AV alone – and not for the ministerial jobs at the current government, as James O’Brian from LBC claims. That calculation is the long term motivation. It promises all the current Lib-Dem MP’s government jobs in the future.

That is nothing less than the biggest political fraud ever. It is only one step down from a military putsch by the Lib-Dem, with the same effect of a revolution.