Sunday 1 May 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Asda

I saw my MP campaigning in the local High Street today for the 'yes to AV' campaign. In light of the fact that the man's transparent purpose in life has always been solely to ensure he is elected every five years - and that in doing so he has never knowingly made a decision or vote of which I could remotely approve - I think witnessing his handing out purple balloons is a big red cherry on the top of a cake which has battered me into a choice for this Thursday.

The campaigns on both sides have been rather uninspiring up to now**, and I'd been mulling the idea of not bothering with a process which is little more than a sop to the Lib Dems for their coalition acquiescence. But the piss poor - and arguably desperate - nature of the yes lot has become dramatically more objectionable to me over the last 24 hours or so.

And that is really saying something since they already deserve to lose for repeatedly asserting that the no campaign is "relying on the stupid vote to win". Insults are not an approach for which I have even the remotest respect, as you well know. In fact, such tactics are usually guaranteed to see me enthusiastically lining up in the opposition camp. When you've already been denormalised, the 'stupid' insult is somewhat tired. It's like water off a duck's back, along with filthy, stinking, disgusting and murderer. It does, however, say quite a lot about the nature of those who choose to conduct a debate in such a manner.

Oh yeah, I've been called a tabloid conspiracy theorist before, too, so grubby 'consensus denialist' type barbs set alarm bells ringing too.

My MP's (amateurish and rather pitiful, it has to be said) posturing outside Dorothy Perkins today was on top of the Observer's frantic reframing of the debate earlier. Faced with polls which are looking decidedly dodgy, they dropped all pretence of caring for the country and defaulted to all-out lefty, can't bear-to-lose, me-me-me mode.

In particular, a short-sighted notion has taken hold among many Labour supporters that AV should be opposed for no other reason than the fact that Nick Clegg supports it. The Liberal Democrats, according to this view, betrayed the progressive cause by joining forces with the Tories last May. Sabotaging electoral reform would, it is then conjectured, undermine Mr Clegg, weaken the coalition and hasten its demise.

That analysis is wrong. Given their low poll ratings, the Lib Dems are in no position to quit the government and trigger an election. By contrast, a yes vote would send the right wing of the Conservative party into apoplexy. Tory hardliners think that David Cameron has already conceded too much to the Lib Dems already; some mutter that he is not an authentic Tory. They would turn downright rebellious if AV were passed. That is by far the greater threat to coalition stability.
Oh, I see. It's about how best to destabilise the government and get back to more progressive nonsense, is it? Or, put more bluntly ...

AV referendum: why progressives must unite to vote yes

John Denham, Chris Huhne and Caroline Lucas explain why Labour, Lib Dem and Green voters must put aside party differences to change British politics
Hmm, not me, then. Thanks for the tip, chumps.

Listen, I've heard the point made - time and again - by yes campaigners that (not verbatim, obviously) "yes, we know AV isn't perfect, but once we've got it we can then move to STV/PR/other" {delete as applicable}, and I'm sorry but it's far from convincing. Referenda are rarer than ends of a rainbow in this country, as any EU-sceptic can attest to, so we're not going to see another to fine tune the electoral choice if we vote yes - that is, of course, if a further referendum is what is being suggested here. If the future will be AV being replaced with something better only after being chosen by politicians, then that's infinitely worse.

As for the constituency link which we're all apparently desperate to keep, I can't help feeling that we're being sold a mangy pup. I'd do anything to sever my ties with a profoundly self-serving MP of 14 years' standing, ta very much. He's not so much an avenue of democracy as a barricaded cul-de-sac, and the system as it stands means that writing to other MPs invites the 'you're not my constituent so bugger off' response.

Getting rid of this link and moving to party lists would truly give a lesser party like UKIP, for example, the chance for deserved representation in parliament and would really mean that every vote counted, and that everyone could vote with their conscience and not just in a negative, tactical, manner.

That's why it's not an option, and probably never will be.

Nope, AV is not for me, however flawed FPTP may be. They'll have to try harder to make me believe, I'm afraid.

And in case you are one who still thinks the yes campaigners are salt of the earth, decent, consistent, altruistic sorts who just want us to have our say. Consider the names above (including my MP) who are all wildly enthusiastic about a certain law passed in 2006 which walks all over freedom of choice, personal liberty, and property rights.

Then watch this.

They've got some nerve.

**Mark Wadsworth excepted.


Anonymous said...

I would only support any change to the electoral system if it delivered 'real' PR.

That means, for a 600 seat Parliament, that one-sixth of a percent of the total vote gets one seat, and one percent, gets six seats, etc.

That, of course, will never be allowed to happen, as parties such as UKIP, BNP and English Democrats (yes, and the Monster Raving Loony party too) would all get seats in exact proportion to their votes. And the big parties just daren't let that happen.

So, until they do, it's a big, big NO on Thursday.

Curmudgeon said...

Agreed, the Yes to AV campaign has that smack of righteous, politically correct consensus about it.

Personally I would prefer the STV system as used in the Irish Republic, which preserves a local link and allows voters to choose between representatives of the same party.

IMV closed party lists decided by Head Office are anathema.

Pat Nurse MA said...

Well said. My thoughts exactly. Progressives = fascists so I'll stick to what we've got until a real alternative is offered.

Anonymous said...

But the No lot are relying on the stupid vote to win. I watched the broadcast they put out about a month ago and it essentially said "You're too dim to understand AV. Keep it simple or you'll find yourself utterly confused forever. Thicko!"

Christopher Snowdon said...

Interesting that the AV yes campaign is made up of MPs who have done their utmost to destroy the British pub but who are now invoking the glory of going for a pint as a reason to vote for AV:

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of nonsense being spoken and thought about this matter.

The reality is this:

If a person wishes to gain a seat in Parliament, he must gain support in a constituency. If his ideas are good enough and he works hard enough, he might well do it. If he succeeds and gains a seat, he can then form a Parliamentary Party. Political Parties are a penny a dozen - they mean nothing without seats in Parliament. UKIP, BNP, Greens, etc mean nothing at all without seats.

If UKIP (for example) wants to have influence, it must gain support in a constituency and get a member elected.

AV does not change that, and is therefore worse than useless. It is a red herring. The real problem is that MPs are useless since they are just rubber stamps.

Mr A said...

I agree with Dick in some ways - I've never quite understood this desperate desire to have a local MP. To be honest, I'd rather my MP was spending their time actually reading some of the ludicrous legislation they were passing through than dealing with some idiot's complaint about their neighbour's hedge being too big - that's what the Police, Council, Citizen's Advice, their solicitor etc etc are for. But what I don't get is why does PR have to lose that link? The Euro elections are PR yet we still have MEPs for certain areas, so how does that work?

This whole process just shows the contempt they have for us though. No-one actually wants AV - the choice is straight ahead FPTP or PR, yet they won't give us that choice. Yet again.

Personally, I'm torn. A vote for No IS a vote for the status quo. I get a feeling that once a few major by-elections have been lost because of it that both main parties will want to get rid, hastening the way for PR (a decade or two down the line). But then I see how the mock-ups show that PR would have benefitted Labour in the last election, and I see the scum supporting the Yes campaign and I just wince. Similarly, I can't see how it would be good for the smaller parties as they are still unlikely to win so, let's face it, most of UKIP's votes (for example) would go to the second or third on the list which would eventually be one of the big 2, probably the Tories. Why shore up the LibLabCon?

I keep wavering between the two and still have no idea how I'll vote. Hardly a ringing endorsement for change, is it? Now give me a referendum on PR, the EU or the smoking ban and I'd be camped out overnight like a Xmas shopper. But this? I really don't know....

Mark Wadsworth said...

"Getting rid of this [constituency] link and moving to party lists would truly give a lesser party like UKIP, for example, the chance for deserved representation in parliament and would really mean that every vote counted, and that everyone could vote with their conscience and not just in a negative, tactical, manner."

It's FPTP which forces people to vote tactically and there'd be a lot less of it under AV. I fail to see why you urge to vote FPTP to get one over Nick Clegg outweighs your urge to vote AV and get a much larger one over the much larger Tories - and it's precisely UKIP which the Tories are scared of.

Curmudgeon said...

AV is dead in the water now, anyway. But arguably it could encourage much more, not less, tactical voting, with unpredictable results. "I'm basically Labour, but think they could do with a bit more of a Green tinge, so I'll vote Green first and Labour second. Can't do any harm." But if that means the Greens beat Labour in first preferences, all bets are off. If anything, AV allows you to vote tactically with impunity (or less perceived risk).

Dick Puddlecote said...

MW: Hey, I don't want to 'get one over' on anyone. Personally, I think the referendum is a re-arrangement of deck chairs. Pointless.

The yes campaign haven't convinced me of any significant difference in outcome, but those in the Guardian article above (and my MP) are appalling individuals who have actively derogated the lives of millions. I wouldn't trust them if they told me grass was green.

So, on balance, their lobbying has left me less enamoured with AV than I was before it all kicked off. Considering I was in the middle before, that leaves me only one logical option. ;)

Ian R Thorpe said...

I've ben a supporter of PR since further back than I care to remember but AV is not PR, it replaces FTPT with LPTP (last past the post)

Anyway what does it matter how we vote when all the decisions will soon be made by unelceted bureaucrats in Brussels.

I voted yes but only because the conservatives hate the idea.