Friday, 8 October 2010

Will a Yes or No vote on AV make a PR referendum more or less likely? Answer from the horses mouth!

A lot of people who support PR (proportional representation) are unhappy with the proposed AV (alternative vote) referendum.

AV is no more proportional than FPTP (first past the post), in fact, depending on circumstances it can be more or less proportional than FPTP. But as neither was designed to be proportional, this should not be surprising.

So should PR fans vote Yes or No to AV? Or maybe abstain?

Well, one of the arguments is whether the result of the AV vote will make a future referendum (on PR) more or less likely.

- Some say 'A No vote will show there is no appetite for electoral reform, so the issue will be settled for a generation'.

- Others say 'A No vote will show that AV was not acceptable, and we will be offered a wider choice instead  - including PR'.

- Others say 'A Yes vote will be a major reform, so there will be no appetite for further reform for a generation'.

- Yet others say 'A Yes vote will get the electoral reform ball rolling and show there is an appetite for it, so will rapidly lead to another referendum - including PR'

See the problem? It can be argued that any result will either rapidly lead to another referendum (on PR) or that any result will put it off for a generation!

So what is the truth? Would the outcome of the AV referendum change the likelihood of a later PR referendum? Well I decided to find out, by asking the person who will ultimately decide whether we have an other referendum (at least in this parliament). I wrote to the Prime Minister, David Cameron and asked him.

And just as soon as he replies, I will pass on the answer!


  1. The answer will be: regardless of the outcome, there won't be another referendum in this Parliament.

    I'm not sure how far this gets us.

  2. There won't be another referendum on this in our lifetime, look how long it took them to get round to this one!

  3. Many pro-PR people are are citing this argument as a reason to vote No To AV.

    So I am just chipping away at the No To AV 'fear uncertainty and doubt' lines of argument.

    I expect any answer to be 'it will not change the likelihood of a referendum on PR'.

    Then chip away at the next argument they raise...

  4. I think a win for the yes camp will make it more likely that we manage to get PR. A no vote will stuff it for good.

    Also, your assumption that AV is no more proportional than FPTP is wrong. AV like FPTP is not Proportional but to assess the proportionality we need to look at the environment. It is currently believed that AV could be slightly more proportional in some instances that FPTP which is a bonus. Under other situations (where a party would have a vast majority under FPTP) AV may be a little bit less proportional. My personal view is that went it is a little less proportional it does'nt really matter because both AV and FPTP would have produced a very strong government. When it is more proportional there is a distinct advantage. FPTP. the biggest advantages of AV though are it is fairer - everyone vote counts unlike FPTP when a lot of votes don't count. It also means MPs will have to work harder for us, they can't rely on a strong minority so they will have to try and appeal to the majority. The electorate can also vote out MPs who they don't like. Brilliant all around

  5. Also 'Many pro-PR people are are citing this argument as a reason to vote No To AV'

    TBP polled all people on their books. Of those that came back over 80% said they should focus on AV. I'm guessing that means even some of the 20% would be backing the reform which does only leave a minority that wouldn't

  6. >I think a win for the yes camp will make it more likely that we manage to get PR. A no vote will stuff it for good.

    I think you are right - but not because of what the PM thinks.

    With AV I think you'd see 1st preference votes of Greens=10%, UKIP=15% etc and no seats for them at all.

    In this situation,with maybe 30% of first preference votes for parties entirely unrepresented, the demand for further reform (probably PR) would be overwhelming.

    Note: Caroline Lucas, the Greens sole MP got in on about 30% of the (FPTP) vote. Her support for AV is very brave and honourable.

  7. I think part of the importance of the AV referendum is shaking up the status quo. Even if it does not have a major effect in the next election due to (e.g. the Lib Dems losing support which is a possibility), eventually (or even sooner), it will provide a more diverse commons which is then more likely to support further reform to PR.