Postaday2011 – AV

In May we have to vote on changing the way we elect our politicians. The choice we have is to continue with the current system of first past the post where the candidate with the most votes wins irrespective of what the percentage is or opt for an alternative arrangement that requires one candidate to have more than 50% of the votes.

In theory I’d like the winning candidate to have the confidence of at least half of the electorate in the ward. At the moment all that is required is a clear majority even if the turnout is very low. The problem with the alternative vote idea is that if any candidate fails to secure the magic 50% the lowest polling person is eliminated and their second choice preference comes into play. In practice this means that their vote will be allocated to another candidate. Now if you voted for the Labour or Conservatives candidate it is unlikely that your second choice will be the Liberal or vice versa. More likely you would place your unwanted cross in the box for a no hoper, but under this new method it is possible that the person who initially came fourth or worse might be elected.

I find it difficult to see how this would work in practice. The parties in the UK are so far apart politically that it is, in my opinion, unlikely that many people will tick a second or third choice. It is also very expensive. I can see that it could lead to more hung parliaments and more coalitions.

Because I want my vote to go to my choice of candidate and not some other person I will be voting against this when I place my cross on the ballot paper in the polling booth.

What we need to do is find a way of getting every person registered to vote. Perhaps you should be legally required to vote. Somehow we have to get the public interested in politics and the political process.

It is the same with strike ballots, if 90% of the total membership vote for something then you know they mean business. When it is 75% of the 35% of the members who bothered to vote then it is not a mandate for anything, it’s an indication of the lack of interest in the “cause”.

Apathy rules, more or less, in the UK. We need to get off our collective backsides and be counted otherwise you and I will have nothing to complain about when it all goes horribly wrong.

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3 thoughts on “Postaday2011 – AV

  1. Our political system is totally rubbish. I have always thought FPTP was shockingly undemocratic since learning about it in school. AV is the least good of all the PR options, but the stupid government wouldn’t allow other systems to be considered. I don’t favour AV, but I will vote yes to it because it can’t be any less democratic than the antiquated and corrupt system we have at the moment and maybe one day we might get a better system, whereas if no wins then it will most likely never be changed in my lifetime!

    I think hung parliaments and coalitions ought to be a good thing because they are weaker and therefore need to consult the public more. This one has been a disappointment, but then I’m used to that.

    I think more people would vote if there was something worth voting for. New Labour was too similar to the Tories. Most politicians seem corrupt and too short term in their policies, because all they have to consider is the next election and maybe the one after that, so nobody in power really seems to care what will happen in fifty years or even twenty. Party politics is a bad idea anyway, who has political ideas that are one size fits all? I can’t find a party that represents all my views. I would rather see consultation by referendum on issues or the general direction of policies.

    Apathy sometimes seems the only sensible response in the face of such a useless system! I would feel too guilty about the suffragettes to never vote, but I wish there was at least a ‘none of the above’ option! Soiling the ballot paper just sounds like you’re too thick to figure out how to use it! Not that I am apathetic, I sign online petitions and email my MP 🙂

    1. Yes I would agree with many of your points and sadly as you say party politics generally ignores the long term future requirements of our country. I do think you’re wrong about AV being better than nothing, my fear is that we could open the door to all kinds of fringe parties and end up with a coalition of such diverse interests that the country would be paralysed.
      Good topic though I hope you’ll agree.

  2. It is a good topic and an important one to debate at the moment! I don’t see what’s so wrong with fringe parties and coalitions though, most of Europe has them and it doesn’t seem paralysed by them. I prefer how things are in Europe than copying America too much as this country has a sad history of doing. America has two party politics, shockingly unequal and expensive health care, an inadequate and frustrating benefits system, longer working hours and more stress, whereas Europe has diversity and a more chilled out lifestyle. Oversimplifications of course, but still valid.

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