Monday, 29 November 2010

Standard #No2AV lies about AV debunked.

"AV allows supporters of smaller parties to have more votes"
(recently repeated by David Blunkett)
AV has multiple rounds of voting and all valid votes are counted in every round. If your most preferred candidate is still in the running then your vote for them will be counted, if your most preferred candidate has been knocked out then your highest preference who is still in is counted instead.

"Fiji abandoning AV shows that it is not a good system"
(recently repeated by Margret Beckett)
Fiji was subject to a military coup. The military government have abandoned all elections, it isn't AV that they had a problem with it was democracy!

"AV will result in permanent coalition government"
The last 28 Australian elections (under AV) have delivered 2 hung parliaments, the last 28 UK elections under FPTP have delivered 3 hung parliaments. So not only has AV not resulted in permanent coalition, it has actually resulted in fewer coalitions in Australia then FPTP has over here!

"AV will cement the existing parties in power forever"
No one can present a worked example of how this is supposed to happen! If I see an example I'll update this entry - but this claim seems to have been plucked entirely out of thin air.

I intend to add to this list over time, so it may be edited over time.

AV vs FPTP - which will deliver the best MP for YOU ?

Surely the answer to this question is the one that really matters?

1) FPTP (First Past The Post)
- You decide which candidate (or party) you like most and you vote for them by putting an X against them.
- You decide the most important thing is to keep a particular candidate (or party) out, so you decide who is most likely to be able to beat them and you vote for that candidate (or party) by putting an X against them (this is known as 'tactical voting').

Your job is done, the count is then done (you don't see this bit):
- The votes for each candidate are added up.
- The candidate with the most votes wins.

The result is announced:
The  candidate you voted for may have won and now be your MP or they may not have won and your MP will be whoever most other people voted for.

2) AV (Alternative Vote)
- You rank the acceptible candidates in the order you prefer them.

Your job is done, the count is then done (you don't see this bit):
- Votes (1st preferences) are counted.
- If any candidate gets more than half of the votes then they win.
- If no candidate gets more half the votes then the least popular candidate drops out and the votes are recounted. Anyone who voted for a candidate who has been knocked out has their next preference counted instead.
- If there is still no candidate with more than half the votes then this is repeated (drop out and recount) until there is!

The result is announced:
Your MP will be who ever you gave highest preference to and was not knocked out as the 'least popular' during the count.


I think it is apparent that under FPTP you will either get the MP you voted for. Or you will get one of the other candidates but you will have had no influence over which other one it is.

Also, under FPTP one in five people (20%) don't vote for the candidate they like most, they vote tactically to try to keep another candidate out - so even if their vote does help the winner, it isn't who they really wanted anyway.

Under AV your multiple preferences will have been taken into account - so even if more preferred candidates are knocked out (as least popular overall) you will still have had a say in which of the others eventually does become your MP. And that MP will have received over 50% of the votes counted, so will have most voters support.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Only say no to AV if you want FPTP for evermore.

This is about the May 2011 UK voting reform referendum. FPTP (first past the post) vs AV (alternative vote). Arguing that a vote for FPTP is a dead end, while a vote for AV is an end in itself and the only path to any future change too (skip to the end for the meat).

I haven't blogged that much on the electoral reform referendum, I've mainly been debating it on twitter (@pperrin). There are plenty of blogs putting great arguments in favour of AV (mind you, I have yet to see a case for FPTP that stands up to any scrutiny at all - I am genuinely surprised that there is nothing in its favour!). I don't see that much point in repeating exactly the same stuff. However I do seem to be coming up with a number of unique benefits that no one else has considered yet and this is one of them...

I was never particularly adverse to FPTP but after investigation I have came to like AV and consider it far better than FPTP. Over the past few months as I have considered it more and more and argued the case with others, I have discovered new angles and found opportunities and benefits that it will give the UK and UK voters and have come to like AV more and more and FPTP less and less.

This aimed at article is aimed at those who don't like FPTP or AV - and explains why I think they should say yes to AV as the most likely way of getting further reform.

Here we go...

Scenario 1:

So you are really #No2AV and #No2FPTP (maybe #Yes2STV or #Yes2AVPlus) what happens if the next general election is fought under FPTP?

This is simple to answer, it is what has happened at every election since FPTP was ever used. There is a tiny chance of a hung parliament with a pro-reform party holding the balance of power and calling for reform and a massive chance of either Labour or The Conservatives a party getting an overall majority and nothing happening on reform ever again...

Scenario 2:

So you are really #No2AV and #No2FPTP (maybe #Yes2STV or #Yes2AVPlus) what happens if the next general election is fought under AV?

Possible national totals for 1st preferences and number of seats in parliament
Party1st Prefs (% of total)Seats (total 600)
Lib Dem20%50
or (if you prefer)
Party1st Prefs (% of total)Seats (total 600)
Lib Dem20%50

AV will have delivered individual MPs that most constituents can support, but we will (most likely) have a single party majority government that less than one third of the peoples unreservedly support - people will not find this acceptible.


The illegitimacy of our governments (as set out above), an illegitimacy that FPTP hides, will be laid bare. This is not a 'fault' of the voting system, AV will just make plane what has been true all along.

If anything can lead to further reform, it will be this result at the next election following a resounding #Yes2AV win...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Voting Reform - AV ends safe seats for unpopular MPs.

Under FPTP bad and unpopular MPs can often be impossible to remove. This can occur when the bad MP represents a party who have overwhelming support in their constituency.

Despite voters not liking or wanting the MP, under FPTP the voters feel obliged to vote for the MP otherwise an unwanted party may win the seat!

You may think well why not put up another candidate that supports the same party as the sitting MP? Effectively two candidates for the same party, the unpopular sitting MP and a new untainted candidate?

Well under FPTP this just wouldn't work -- it risks splitting the parties votes between the two candidates this could (again) mean that an unwanted party winning the seat.

However, under AV, this would work just fine... Voters could give preferences to both candidates -- knowing that if one is knocked their vote will transfer to the other - they can choose which candidate of the two they prefer with no risk of their vote 'letting in' a different party.


Some people have said that they think this an unlikely scenario (unofficial/independent party candidates running against official party candidates), but it has been observed that this is what happened when Ken Livingstone failed to be selected as Labour candidate for London Mayor in 2000, and Frank Dobson won their nomination. Ken (for better or worse!) ran against him was expelled from the Labour party but went on to beat Frank and won the office of Mayor. While 'independent' and as Mayor Ken applied to rejoin the labour party in 2002 finally being readmitted in 2004 and going on to be the official Labour candidate that year.