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Vote yes to AV tomorrow – A small change is better than none at all

By Dark Politricks

The people of the UK are going to be asked tomorrow to vote on whether they would like a new voting system. This is the first UK wide referendum we have had since the farcical vote in 1975 to remain in the then called European Common Market.

I was too young to vote back then but I know from many people who did that they feel very betrayed by that vote. They believed that they were voting to aid the economy by increasing trade with our neighbours through an economical community and 67% of voters chose to remain within the European Community.

What they didn’t vote for however was a political union and a supra national government which the EEC has morphed into over time.

I suspect that if many of the voters had known how their vote would have turned our country into just another “region” within the European Union and that the EU court would be overruling our own judgements  and that most or our laws would come from Brussels rather than Westminster then they would probably think again.

Anyhow that is a totally different matter. Tomorrow we are being asked to vote on a compromise that neither side really wants which revolves around our method of voting our parliamentarians.

We currently have a first past the post system which opponents claim leads to a number of problems that include:

  • Politicians gaining seats for life.
  • Leaving a large percentage, often the majority within a district, having a politician they haven’t actually voted for.
  • Leaves smaller parties out of government as they have to work extra hard to gain a seat even if they have a large percentage of support across the whole country. For example the Liberal Democrats regularly get a quarter to a third of all votes across the UK but have a tiny percentage of actual seats in parliament and the Tories have hardly any seats in Scotland even though many people vote for them.

The new choice we are being offered to replace this is called AV (Alternative Vote). Whilst the NO campaign like to claim that this method is too complicated for us plebs to compute and would cost millions to introduce in reality it is a rather small change that we should grab with open arms.

For those people still unclear on what Alternative Vote involves it is pretty simple and just means that instead of putting a cross next to the candidate of choice the voter can choose to rank their candidates in order of preference from one (their favourite) to X. If there are 12 candidates you could rank all 12 in order from 1 to 12 or you could just rank your top 3 or even if you really wanted to just put a 1 next to your preferred candidate and leave it at that without ranking any of the others.

During the counting of votes if one candidate does not manage to get 50% of the vote out right then the bottom candidate is dropped out and their second choice votes are redistributed amongst the remaining candidates. This continues until a candidate reaches 50% of the vote or there are no more second place votes to redistribute.

Whilst the NO to AV campaign is mainly comprised of Tories and a few Labour MP’s the YES to AV campaign is being pushed by the Lib Dem’s, the Labour leadership, the SNP, the Green party and other smaller parties who see a YES vote as being beneficial in a number of a ways.

The first past the post system was fit for purpose when their were only two parties to vote for, Labour and the Conservatives, but now that our political system is full of smaller parties from UKIP to the Greens a large majority of voters either waste their votes when living in districts like I do that have been controlled by one party for time memorial or decide to vote tactically just to show their dislike for the current incumbent.

Some districts are being run by politicians who have a third or less of the vote and because the rest of the vote is split so much they basically have a seat for life. AV proponents believe that by making candidates knock on doors they wouldn’t usually have to trying to obtain voters second choices it would make them work a lot harder for their job.

Whilst it is true that the smaller parties would benefit a lot more if the voting system was changed to a proper proportional one this choice isn’t on the table and rather than use AV to vote on a voting system that included AV, first past the post and full proportional representation we only have the choice between the compromise offered to Nick Clegg during coalition talks and the existing system.

The move to AV would keep the link between our local MP and the constituent they represent which proportional representation wouldn’t and which first past the posters love but it would also give smaller parties a greater say.

Hopefully a YES vote would mean that our parliament gets some more independent minded politicians and would mix it up a bit from the current status quo. Caroline Lucas from the Green party has been a breath of fresh air and I would love to see Nigel Farage become UKIP’s first MP giving both Tories, Liberals and Labour politicians grief as well as he has managed to in the EU Parliament.

Current polls seems to show the NO campaign is leading by a good 16 points or so and it isn’t looking good for the reformists who will most certainly not look too far for the cause of their defeat in the broken promises of Lib Dem MP’s and the drastic fall from grace that Nick Clegg has had since the student fees backtrack fiasco.

Whilst I agree with the sentiments of many people who voted Lib Dem at the last election and feel betrayed by their actions since joining up with the Tories I think tomorrows vote on AV is the wrong occasion to show this contempt.

Yes Nick Clegg broke some promises and the Tories are using the Lib Dem’s as the public punchbag it can hide it’s ideological public sector cuts behind but please don’t bite off your nose to spite your face tomorrow when you cast your vote on voting reform.

It is very rare in this country that we are even asked what we feel on matters of importance such as the way we vote and finally it seems we have a governing party prepared to allow the public to vote on a matter it might not like the answer to.

Therefore no matter how much you may hate the idea of the Lib Dem Tory coalition, how fast the government is cutting public services or our involvement in another war in Libya we should grab this opportunity with both hands and help change our political system for the better.

Don’t let the Tories NO campaign trick you into believing that the change to AV will cost millions and there are more important things to worry about.

If they actually gave a damn about our tax money they spend they wouldn’t spend half a million quid per Tomahawk missile fired into Libya or Afghanistan or hand over billions of pounds to help bail out Ireland and Portugal.

Tomorrows vote is not about the cost of changing it or the complexity of it all it is about helping remove some of those fat entitled politicians from their safe seats and making them work a little harder for their fat expense accounts which end up being spent on moats, porn and flipped houses.

It is about ensuring that your representative at Westminster has at least 50% of the support of his constituents and works to get your vote. I want to see those blue haired old ladies walk down my nearest council estate knocking on doors interupting people from their daily dose of Jeremy Kyle and I want my local MP to dread election night knowing that he might be kicked out at any minute.

Most of all I want to see more independents and small party politicians in the House of Commons mixing it up with the establishment and causing havoc by speaking their mind (God forbid) knowing that no party whip is keeping them inline.

These are the reasons why I will be voting YES tomorrow for the Alternative Voting system and I sincerley hope people will look beyond any current contempt they might feel towards Nick Clegg or his party and hold off punishment to the local or general election vote when it really matters.

I might not be able to change many peoples mind’s with my own personal point of view but please let me know what you feel on the matter and why you voted one way or the other.

Please check out my other article on this subject which discusses why we need to be talking about a new governing system rather than just the way the government is chosen.

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