May 05, 2011

Yes to AV: Vote for change

I don’t normally get overtly behind any particular politics on this blog, preferring instead just to snipe from the sidelines and call out any hypocrisy I spot. But today’s referendum vote is something I actually care about and so I’m going to have one last shot at convincing anyone reading this to vote ‘yes’ today.

What I’m not going to do, is explain why AV is better or First Past the Post (FPtP) is worse. I encourage you to look at some of the many explanations elsewhere on the net. The one with the kittens is particularly good.

Chances are that once you get a full understanding of how things work, your response will be “well AV seems slightly fairer but it’s so tiny it’s hardly going to make any difference is it?”

And you’ll be right.

It’s impossible to know for sure, but there’s a good chance that having AV wouldn’t have changed the result of any recent election. Nick Clegg called AV ‘a miserable little compromise’, a statement he’s now backed away from. Which is a shame, as he was right. AV does bugger all to reform anything in any meaningful way. It’s only minutely fairer and minutely more representative than FPtP. So why vote ‘yes’, hell, why vote at all?

The thing about things that are only minutely fairer than other things, is that they’re still fairer than the other thing. If I gave you the choice between being punched in the face 100 times, and being punched in the face 99 times, you’d choose the latter every time.

It’s a tiny, tiny step on the road to a better politics. There’s a few overwhelming sentiment from the media and the public these days when it comes to politics. Disdain. Apathy. Anger. Annoyance. Everyone on every side of the debate seems to hate politicians. Thinks that they’re out for just themselves, that they don’t represent them. From the student to the teacher to the factory worker to the doctor to the fascist to the anarchist to the hippy to the office worker… no-one actually respects politicians any more. The only ones that even like them are the rich city types and the bankers. And even then, it’s not respect but rather a patronising sort of appreciation.

AV is something the Tories are against. It’s something half of Labour are against. This is something that the vast majority of the people that have ruled us for the past fifty years do not want and we, the British public, have a chance to take it. That to me, is fucking awesome. That to me, is a good enough argument to vote ‘Yes’ right there. I’m genuinely baffled by people that have gone on and on about how much they hate politicians and politics and how they’re all the same and they’re all corrupt, and then happily inform me that they’re voting ‘No’.

I was going to say “it’s like a beaten wife crawling back to her husband and doing whatever he tells her to” but it’s not. Because in that scenario, she inevitably ‘still loves him’. No-one loves the Tories or Labour, but we want to go along with them because… I honestly don’t know. It’s one thing in a general election, because there really is ‘no other option’ – it’s group of twats A, or group of twats B. But here, for once, we actually get to choose the option neither of them want.

It’s unfortunate that Obama already bagged the slogan ‘Vote for Change’ because that’s what the Yes To AV camp needed. Voting ‘Yes’ is a vote for change. It’s a vote to reject the status quo. It won’t make much practical difference, but it sends a message: ‘enough of this shit, you don’t always get to have your way’.

It’s only a first step. Actual reform will take a long, long time. But it can happen. And if you don’t vote Yes, you give the politicians the statistics they need to deny us that change for another 20 years at least. Do not let that happen.


I know some people actually want reform, they want a proper, proportional representation system. I’m in that group. But some people think the way to get that is by voting ‘No’. These people are delusional enough to believe that the media and the politicians will actually give equal weight to the idea that someone voted ‘No’ because they wanted greater reform than was offered, as they’ll give to the idea that they voted ‘No’ as they didn’t want any reform.

I won’t pass further judgement, other than to say that most of the small parties also want a proportional system as it benefits them directly, so they should know what they’re talking about.

Here are the ones that are backing the Yes campaign, as they think it’s the best way to get that reform in the future: Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SNP, Greens, UKIP, English Democrats, Christian People’s Alliance.

And the ones backing the No campaign as they think that will get them the best chance of proportional representation in the future: BNP, Respect.

Your call

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Democrat

    After convincing me that AV is the bestest system my duaghter had a slight change of heart(or maybe that was only my perception) and said that it was only slightly better than the current system. Whereas my partner explained that it takes into account the opinion of at least 50 percent of the voters whereas the first past the post system somebody could be elected taking into account the opinion of much less of the voters. So I was saved at the very last minuute by this explanation as I do think that my vote counts. Anything that is fairer is worth voting for. Some ‘NO’ pamphlets have compared AV

    to a running race which is a spurious argument. They say that in the AV sysem arunner coming second in arace could win but voting is not like a running race. In a running race it is clear who has won but with voting this is the opinions of the voters and there is no definite winner. The best way of deciding the winner is to take account of all the wishes of the voters. The system that would truly take account of all the wishes of the voters is proportional representation. AV is the next best thing.

    05 May 2011, 21:55

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