Monday, 18 April 2011

Who says politicians aren't honest...

Last week on BBC Question Time it was Michael Howard; the week before it was Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt; both these stalwarts of the Conservative party showed truly admirable honesty when asked about the impending referendum on electoral reform. Both said they were against AV and wanted to stick with FPTP, and both - when asked about their reasons - brazenly said that it was the best thing for their party!

That's right... the best thing for their party.

Not one iota of thought for what's best for the electorate.

Not one morsel of consideration for what's best for the country.

Just what's best for their party.

Howard even had the temerity to sneer at AV for not even being proportionally representative. A tacit but blatant admission that he's well aware of the iniquities of the current voting system and how it fails to elect a parliament representing the true views of the electorate. Indeed with all the tactical voting spurred by the FPTP system, we can't even tell what the balance of views really is... But for Howard all that matters is what's best for his party.

There is a big smear operation currently underway from the no2av campaign spreading lies and fear about AV. What's undeniable however is just who stands to gain by keeping the current FPTP system: it isn't you or I, it's the old guard MPs incumbent in safe seats with a job for life whose only motive is to put their self-interest ahead of real fairness.

This referendum is the best opportunity in a lifetime for getting the ball rolling for putting real power back in the hands of the electorate. I would urge every voter from every political persuasion to go out and vote for AV in May and seize this chance...

As Thomas Jefferson said: "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty."

Let's take back our parliament...

Andy |:-)


  1. Andy,

    An intersting post that I just could not resist the urge to comment on. I have followed the AV debate with great interst, infact I welcomed the debate from the word go. It has been a largely dissapointing campaign. The no side have as you suggest ran a poor campaign, that has contributed little to the debate in honesty. I fear that is about the extent of what we agree on.

    You seem horrified that politicians would propose a voting system that their party gain from. I find your horror at this surprising. After all, why do the lib dems want AV, not to benefit the people, but to benefit them. It would be insane for a political party not to look after their own intersts, not to mention political suicide.

    Your comment that AV offers the best opportunity in a lifetime to put real power back into te hands of the electorate made me smile. I have followed the AV debate and listened to the yes campaigns arguments and I have to say, I do not see AV as anything like you claim. It is a different voting system, but does it really give power back to the electorate? Is power even not within the hands of the electorate? I suggest that the only real place power is, is within the hands of the electorate. The Yes campaign have failed to convince me that AV is anything other than just another way of electing.

    Again, the ascertion that MP's in safe seats will somehow sudddenly be no longer in safe seats further confuses me. A safe seat under AV may not be the same safe seat as under FPTP, but surely there will still be safe seats?

    Lib dems have campaigned for voting reform for a long time, why? Because they do not fair well in the FPTP system. The last election saw a great deal of momentum build behing Clegg and the Lib dems and once the results came in, mass disappointment from lib dem supporters as they failed to gain the number of seats they anticipated. So momentum was gained for voting reform.

    I was neither for nor against voting reform at the start of the campaign, but I wanted the Yes campaign to show me that AV was a better system. All they have done is show me that it is a different system. All systems have unfairness, all will have tactical voting, all will have parties in favour and against.

    I for one have strong political beliefs, I would find it impossible to vote for anyone but the party I am a member of. I would not place a second or third preference. Many people will be like me. People who support one of the two main parties would rarely benefit from placing a second or third vote, as it would rarely count. People who vote for the lesser parties, may now vote for the party they want and also vote for a party they are pretty indifferent about and this vote might count. So all AV does is add indifferent votes to the pot. I fail to see how this is the voting revolution you suggest in your piece.

    Sorry if I have rambled on, but I enjoyed reading your post and I have enjoyed the AV debate. I believe debates are what politics should be about more and more. But I will be voting no to AV in May and I have a feeling that more than 50% of the population will also vote no. I can say however, that if I had the opportunity, yes would be my second vote :)


  2. Hi Danny! Thanks you so much for your comments :-)

    Maybe I *am* a little idealistic in feeling that publically-elected politicians should put fairness to the public ahead of their personal interests. :-\

    I have a somewhat less cynical view of the attempts of the LibDems (and before them the SLDs, and before them the Liberals) to get electoral reform. I look at it not so much as getting what's best for their party, so much as trying to get a decent level of representation for their supporters in parliament. You may argue that that's semantically the same thing, but it seems to me to be rather different somehow to Labour and the Tories hogging a system that already unfairly benefits them, and who are a bit like two big kids nicking a little kid's lunch in the school playground.

    Regarding the advantages of AV, I confess I'm not overly mathematically persuaded by them myself, although I do think it will reduce tactical voting - at least for 1st choices where I think people will be more inclined to give their honest opinion. I also think there will be a strong underrated psychological advantage to AV in at least giving the impression of greater involvement in the electoral process.

    I say that on the basis of my own experience of my vote having never counted in any one of the 6 general elections I've voted in (despite at least two changes of winning party in my constituency). I can assure you it's a very alienating and disenfranchising experience. Like a permanent vegetative state, except that it's the world that's vegetating ;-)

    I remain optimistic that society will continue to move slowly towards fairer and more liberal ideals and that one day we'll look back at our time of using the iniquitous FPTP system with the same embarrassment as we do today when we think of women not having the vote, or of slavery.

    If the result is a "No" in May, don't worry: I won't be downhearted. I'm well used to being in a minority of people who are right. The argument may be lost this time, but I'll still be in the moral high-ground even if it gets a bit more lonely up here... :-p

    Andy ;-)