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No to No to AV

So, like many others, I received my “No to AV” leaflet and, like many others, I found that it immediately tipped me over into the “Yes to AV” camp. Rarely have I been so powerfully persuaded of the rightness of an argument by the paucity of the case put by its detractors. Charlie Brooker is right to castigate the Yes campaign for its recent “war veteran” advert, but its timing rather suggests that it was produced as an incredulous kneejerk reaction to any credence at all having been given to the barrel of old pigs’ tits that the No camp is attempting to pass off as reasoned arguments.

Yes, the smears have been diverting, from the subtle (“None of your taxes have been used to print this leaflet”, which smartly implies that the other side is running on taxpayers’ money) to the blatant (George Osborne saying that the Electoral Reform Society supports the change only because it stands to make money out of vote-counting machines, which, if true, would be the world’s dullest ever scam). And it is quite entertaining to contemplate the damage that the coalition partners MIGHT face; since voting reform is what they appear to have abandoned many of their principles for, the Lib Dems would face total wipeout in the face of a no vote—but, while that would be amusing and quite gratifying, more meaningful in the long term (if less immediately apocalyptic) would be the damage done to the Tories by a yes.

But just shelve these considerations for a moment and chew on the basic question: should an MP have to aim to win the votes of more than 50 per cent of their constituency’s voters? If you think they probably should, then AV would be a fairer system than what we have now.

Some opponents of AV have used the analogy of an election being like a race—under first-past-the-post, the person who gets most votes wins, so it’s like a winner winning a race, and that’s the fairest system. I could get caught up in finer points of detail here—perhaps you could see the 50 per cent barrier as the winner’s tape, so the “race” is still “won”?—but ultimately there’s a broader objection, one that I haven’t seen expressed anywhere more concisely and effectively than in the words of my own dear mother:

“It’s not a fucking race.”
Indeed it isn’t; it’s meant to be about fairness of representation. I’m not aware of that being a critical aspect of racing, but then I don’t follow sport. Mind you, by the same token I wouldn't have expected rowing champion James Cracknell to have known a great deal about AV, but he has announced that “AV is so complicated it will put off voters”, although the No campaign might have cast a bit further afield to find a spokesman to argue that AV was difficult to understand who wasn’t hampered by (a) being a sports personality and (b) a colossal brain injury.

If you’re more bothered about how we are all represented in Parliament than by how much the new MP on election night feels like a “winner”, AV is the only option available right now that would address that. The reason why my mother is so exercised about this topic is that she has spent 30 years watching her vote fail to count for anything, as she lives in a seat that couldn’t be safer for a party she bitterly opposes. Brain-damaged sportsmen gargling on about “fairness” are advised to stay the hell away from her door.


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Apr. 26th, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
The most evil twist in the leaflet is that it conflates "popularity" with "votes", as in "under AV the least popular candidate can win", which is bollocks. Under AV, the least popular candidate is prevented from winning because the vote against them was split.
Apr. 26th, 2011 10:19 am (UTC)
Re: Yes!
It's also a lie because, as any explanation of AV tells you at the start, the candidate with the least first preferences (which is what no2av are concerned about!) is always eliminated in the very first round!
Apr. 26th, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
Yeah, I've been very confused about the pros and cons of the competing systems (the leaflets through the door have totally failed to explain it to me, thank heavens for the internet), but yes, what finally made up my mind that I was going to vote yes, has been the sheer overwhelming insanity of the no campaign.

I suspect the no vote is going to win though.
Apr. 26th, 2011 11:20 am (UTC)
This video is the best explanation I've seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtW3QkX8Xa0

We have one chance at getting actual democracy in this country. Find your local Yes group before the vote and go out to help bring in the votes.
(no subject) - fatpie42 - Apr. 26th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 26th, 2011 11:04 am (UTC)
Which is more evil? This leaflet, or the YES campaigner who compared someone on the other side to Goebbels?
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Apr. 26th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
Because having half the MPs being Lib Dems on 24% of first preferences is totally democratic ;-)
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(no subject) - theozzardofwiz - Apr. 27th, 2011 07:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 26th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC)
The craziest thing is that these leaflets you made make more sense then most the ones either party has made :P
Apr. 26th, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)
I feel a bit bad for James Cracknell
Suggesting he can't understand AV because of his brain injury was a bit harsh, maybe. I know people with brain injuries, I'm not too comfortable with making comic mileage out of it.

That said, I'm sure I do worse. And the rest of your piece is spot on and very funny. So maybe I'm just being a massive cissy.
Apr. 26th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
Re: I feel a bit bad for James Cracknell
A fair point. I mean, of course, no harm to anyone else who may have suffered such an injury, nor even particularly to James Cracknell himself—his unfortunate injury was just the icing on the tin lid. It’s his role as “sportsman commenting feebly on political affairs” that I was really gunning for.
Re: I feel a bit bad for James Cracknell - aligoestonz - Apr. 26th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 26th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
great post. Argh, the misinformation makes me so angry. This referendum has been such a pile of shit. People that moan the most about MPs are gonna vote NO and carry on moaning. Criking Heck. We must get the yes vote out. Tell everyone you know!
Apr. 26th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
The dick thing is that there are some respectable - albeit not, IMO, decisive - arguments against AV, but the No campaign doesn't bother with them. Except for the one about Nick Clegg, that is.
Apr. 26th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
> there are some respectable - albeit not, IMO, decisive - arguments against AV

Well, exactly, which is why I was previously undecided. Indeed, some supporters of the more proportional STV system fear that the halfway house of AV might mean that the public gets tired of the whole endeavour of voting reform and pulls the plug on any more, so oppose it for that reason.

But the campaign run against it was so insulting that it utterly overplayed its hand. The nonsense revealed the contempt held for the public by the vested interests ranged against any change, which in turn suggested that that change was actually quite important and desirable after all.
(no subject) - fatpie42 - Apr. 26th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - lowlowprices - Apr. 26th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Apr. 26th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fatpie42 - Apr. 26th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - beingjdc - Apr. 26th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dcncftw - Apr. 26th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beingjdc - Apr. 27th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 26th, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is brilliant. xD
Apr. 26th, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC)
I love the posters, unfortunately they won't help your mum's vote count whichever side wins - AV will have virtually no impact on safe seats.
Apr. 26th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
This may well be the case, but it's the principle of your vote at least counting for something that's proving to be the galvanising factor...

Edited at 2011-04-26 03:37 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - whiskeylover - Apr. 26th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dcncftw - Apr. 26th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
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AV and safe seats - (Anonymous) - Apr. 30th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 26th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)

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(no subject) - webofevil - Apr. 27th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - webofevil - Apr. 27th, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 26th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done :)
Apr. 27th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
Apr. 27th, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
Page Layout
For all the wonderful wit and wisdom on this page, I'm finding difficulty reading it because of the extreeeemely wide margins of your paragraphs. I'm having to scroll like an Egyptian here!
Is this a LiveJournal foible, or did you design it yourself?

It's only when I click the "Comment" link that the HTML get its act together and pulls its margins back to fit my screen.
See to it will you, or I'll report you to the internet authorities. :)
Apr. 27th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Page Layout
My HTML is pretty basic but it's not that bad. The problem here is LJ gamely trying to cope with the width of the "Seriously, let's not bother improving things" poster in the comments above. Anyone with a wide-mouthed monitor will have no difficulties, but anyone with a smaller screen (like, for example, me) will find the scrolling a mite inconvenient, sorry.
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