Feb
18

The AV Debate

posted on February 18th 2011 in Democracy & News with 0 Comments

It was no surprise to hear Radio Five cover the AV debate this morning (starts at 7:10 am – one hour in probably).  It was surprising to me though to hear what a poor, destructive and destroyable argument that Matthew Elliott of the No Campaign put forward. If my memory serves me right (and that is more important than what they actually said):-

The argument against:

  • Cost – the No campaign has built an estimate of £250 million
  • Clegg the Kingmaker – all elections will be decided by Nick Clegg
  • Gives BNP supporters two votes

The argument for:

  • Politics has become sterile because it is aimed at 150,000 undecided voters in marginal seats
  • 1/3 of all seats have not changed (party) hands since 1945
  • More democratic parliament with more vote counting for something

In addition the Yes campaigner destroyed the counter arguments:-

  • There is no additional cost (except maybe more pencils) associated with AV (Ed note: unless councils decide to invest in better counting facilities which I am sure will in order to make the overall election process more cost-effective). The No campaign is trying to make out that electronic counting is needed because of the Scottish example where two systems in concurrent operation make electronic counting the preferred option. Apparently Australia manage to use AV without electronic counting.
  • Clegg the Kingmaker – In Australia there have only been two hung parliaments under AV, compared to four in the UK in the same time under First Past The Post (FPTP). (Ed note: And Clegg’s hardly been the Kingmaker, most of the No campaign have portrayed him as a Tory puppet so far, can’t really have it both ways…)
  • Give BNP supporters two votes – I didn’t really catch the counter-argument to this but I don’t understand the problem. You could easily argue that those wanting to support the BNP can only give them half a vote or…  The vote that counts will be the one that tips a candidate over 50%.  If a 50% + 1 of a constituency happens to vote for BNP then that’s the democracy not working, but it is at least democracy.

I was genuinely surprised how Matthew Elliott, a seasoned campaigner who use to run the Taxpayers’ Alliance, had nothing constructive to use in his argument and how easily his arguments were countered.

Shortly after I saw Evan Harris challenge David Allen Green to a debate on AV. Hell, after hearing the No campaign’s argument even I would challenge him ;-).

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