The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Stick Your AV Up Your Arse

Posted by The Futility Monster on February 2, 2010 @ 09:45

Thanks, Wikipedia!

Yesterday, rumours emerged via BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson that the government is planning to slip an amendment into a current bill to give MPs the chance to vote for a referendum to bring in the Alternative Vote (AV).

Later on today, Gordon Brown will back up this proposal with a speech telling the world why he thinks now is a good time for some voting reform.

There are a few problems with this approach.

Number one is the obvious: why now? There is some doubt as to whether this bill will actually make it through Parliament in time for the dissolution. In which case, this is nothing other than spin.

But even if it did, its effect will not be felt till after the election. And, with the Tories so opposed to it, it’s entirely possible that an incoming Tory government could immediately re-legislate to get rid of the referendum. They could fly the populist flags of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “it would lead to weak coalition government” and, of course, “scrapping this referendum will save the country money in these tough fiscal times”.

Number two, however, is my real problem with this; and, in truth, probably the reason why we’ll never get any electoral reform in this country.

AV is a waste of time. It is only marginally better than what we currently have now, in the sense that it will ensure the elected MP has a majority of support. But in terms of delivering genuine reform involving better proportionality and fairness, it fails the test. I recall surveys suggesting that it would have magnified Labour’s landslides in 1997 and 2001. I think we’ve got enough problems already with our present system exaggerating the number of MPs for the “winner”.

The problem is that this is purely a gimmick, done purely to ask questions of the Lib Dems. Brown has no history of interest in electoral reform, and there is only weak support on the Labour benches. It is only us Lib Dems who have made a big deal of it over the years. Consequently, Nick Clegg may be in a slight bind, because if he opposes this he’ll look like an opportunist, being a member of a party that has supported voting reform for so long.

So the message has to be simple. Brown’s proposals are not reform in the slightest. They will make the system even more unfair than it is now. And they are being done right now in a desperate and cynical attempt to make him look like a reformer with a vision for change.

Finally, let’s remind him of the fact that Labour first considered this idea 12 years ago and rejected it. What’s changed?

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3 Responses to “Stick Your AV Up Your Arse”

  1. […] Futility Monster took the subtle, understated approach with the headline “Stick Your AV Up Your Arse” The problem is that this is purely a gimmick, done purely to ask questions of the Lib Dems. […]

  2. […] The change most of us Lib Dems would like to see above all is a proportional electoral system. Party policy is to push for Single Transferable Vote. It also seems that it’s party policy to accept the Alternative Vote as a step in the right direction (when it is anything but). […]

  3. […] years before this opportunity arrives again. Don’t for a second believe a Labour Party whose deathbed conversion to fake-PR is fleeting, skin deep, and designed to ensnare Liberal Democrat sympathisers into thinking […]

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