I just happened to catch the ‘No to AV’ campaign’s telly advert yesterday. It was very entertaining, even humourous in parts, but I wasn’t laughing. Never mind next month’s referendum: that a political message containing so many blatant untruths can be broadcast at all speaks volumes about the ills of our society.
The advert contained many of the No campaign’s mistruths, wrapped up in emotive packaging deliberately designed to avoid the facts and instil in the unwary viewer a bad gut feeling about AV.
Assumed: AV will lead to more coalition governments
NO, it won’t.
The Electoral Reform Society has determined that hung parliaments (and therefore coalitions) are no more likely with the alternative vote (AV) than with first past the post (FPTP). While drawing on the general ill-feeling that the existing Tory-LibDem coalition has engendered, the No campaign conveniently ignores that it was FPTP that allowed the current coalition to arise in the first place.
Britain has experienced hung parliaments in the 1920s, 1970s, and in 2010, and had periods in the 1950s, 1960s and 1990s where when (sic) a single party has been unable to effectively govern alone.
Canada, which also uses First-Past-the-Post, has permanent hung parliaments.
Australia, which uses AV, has returned its first hung parliament in 28 elections.
Assumed: AV will let in idiots like Alan B’Stard.
NO, it won’t.
On the contrary, under AV such idiots will be unable to gain the majority support needed. It’s under FPTP that the electoral system can be gamed to allow extremists in.
With AV, no-one can get elected unless most people back them. Therefore the risk of extremist parties getting in by the back door is eliminated.
Assumed: AV is too complicated (for our ignorant voters).
NO, it’s not.
I do hope that Britain’s voters aren’t as simple as the naysayers imply — although that they seem to be relying on such blatant false advertising suggests that they themselves believe that the general public is stupid enough to fall for lies, as long as they’re packaged correctly.
AV is a tried-and-tested system. In Britain millions of people in businesses, unions and charities already use it. Political parties use it to elect their leaders. MPs themselves use it to elect their Speaker and their officials.
If AV is good enough for MPs to use, why is it not good enough for us?
Although the mechanics of AV are simple enough, there is one aspect that may well be more complicated. Since AV almost eliminates tactical voting, the ones scratching their heads will be the political parties trying to figure out how to rig elections to win seats they don’t deserve!
Assumed: only FPTP offers ‘one man, one vote’.
NO, it doesn’t.
There are many different types of democratic voting system; FPTP is just one of them. Our political system has seen many changes; the secret ballot, votes for women, votes for working people — these were all innovations once, and they too were met with opposition by the die-hards.
AV is a small improvement over FPTP, a change that gives people votes that count.
Voters aren’t looking for a revolution. They’re looking for a simple change that preserves and improves on what’s come before.
First past the post encourages negative campaigning. It’s no surprise to me to find that those so anxious to defend it have used the same negative tactics that turns voters away from the polling booth.
Too many important decisions are made in our society by misinformation spun to gain support where it’s not deserved; I just hope that this referendum doesn’t fall foul of the same problem.
I’ll be voting yes to change on May 5th. I just hope that the naysayers’ glitzy sham of a campaign doesn’t succeed.