Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Firstly, the usual call for voting. I don't go in for partisan calls to vote: just vote. On this point, I don't care how you intend to vote. And if you haven't thought about it, think about it and then vote.To that end, I would like now to try and persuade you that the Alternative Vote system is an improvement on the existing system by putting forward two absolutely true facts which, for me at least, clinch it.Fact the first: You can get the existing system back from AV.This is the kicker. If you fill in your ballot with a '1' against your preferred candidate and no other, then it contributes to the poll in exactly the way that it would under the existing system. (Don't believe me? Think about it!) If everyone did that, then we would have first-past-the-post back: the bottom candidate drops out, no preferences exist to be redistributed so the next one drops out and so on, until the candidate with the most votes wins. So by opting for AV, we don't have to be opting against FPTP! In other words, supporters of FPTP can vote for AV and still have a first-past-the-post ballot, while permitting those of us with more than one preference to express ourselves more clearly.Fact the second: AV means more choice without radical change.Nick Clegg made this argument very briefly but very well yesterday morning when he said that it baffled him how the Conservatives, so long the champions (and I would add, rightly) of choice and competition in public services, are opposing a voting system which gives voters more choice. Instead of having to vote for a single candidate, I can list as many as I like in preference order. This reduces the need to think tactically, and it pretty much destroys vote-splitting effects. In sum, this is a point about free expression: FPTP needlessly restricts the amount of expression I have; AV is a refinement which increases that freedom.As a sentiment additional to that second fact, I would point out that it is, curiously, the fissiparous and anti-consumerist 'left' which offers more choice than the supposedly pro-consumer 'right'. I am hopeful that AV will encourage a little more amicable break-up on the 'right', allowing especially those of us with more distinctive political tastes to vote for an Orange Booker, a liberal Conservative and maybe even a Blairite without needing to run the risk of getting John Reid, David 'Top Cat' Davies, or Simon Hughes.So, the two killer facts which drive me to vote for AV tomorrow: AV contains FPTP as a simple, mathematical restriction; and AV allows us to express our preferences and choices more fully.
AV: tell them what you really think!