I shall vote against the change in voting to AV. Here’s why:

Changing the UK general election system to an “Alternative Vote” (AV) system from “First Past the Post” (FPTP) is a bad idea, in my view.

This is for a number of reasons, any one of which is enough to cast doubt on the wisdom of making the change, but which when taken as a whole make it impossible for me to do anything other than vote against the proposal when we get a chance:

1. Nobody gets what they want under AV

AV asks (but thankfully doesn’t require) that voters rank their candidates in order of preference. This is not how people think unless their sole objective when voting is to stop a particular party achieving power. Under the current system, people choose who they want. That’s it, end of story, nice and simple. They either get what they want or they don’t.

Under AV, they spend more time voting for who they don’t want. The outcome of an AV-driven voting system is almost certainly to be more coalition governments. Nobody votes for a coalition, so nobody gets what they want when they vote. At least under FPTP, some people get the result they hoped for.

2. Increased tendency for coalition governments

Much is made by countries like Australia and Germany who have AV systems and who tend to have coalition governments about the fairness of it all. About how they much better reflect the wishes of the voters.

This is absolute rubbish. Coalition governments are all inherently corrupt because from the moment they come into existence they are all concerned more about prolonging their unstable existence than doing what the voters wanted. The current, hopefully brief, UK experiment with coalition government has thrown up so many lies, u-turns, capitulatons and mass-dumpings of fundamental uncompromising principles that it borders on the embarrassing.

A country should be run on a foundation of solid principles, voted on by the people, not a series of cobbled-together back room deals arranged after the voters have gone home.

3. AV systems result in mandate-free government

Because of the increased likelihood of coalition governments and the resultant post-election bartering for power, no coalition government ever has a mandate from any of the voters for what it does. Not one voter in the last UK election voted for the policies being implemented by the current Coalition Of The Clueless. At least under FPTP a minority get exactly what they want and usually that minority is only just short of being a majority.

I would rather live under a government that I disapprove of but which has the mandate from only 40% of voters than live under a government I disapprove of that has a mandate from exactly 0% of voters.

4. Potential further reduction in voter interest

With all the back-room dealing, complete ignoring of voter wishes, dumped principles, corrupt compromises and power-broking that will go on under AV, there can really only be one end result as I see it: a further reduction in an already embarrassingly low voter interest in participation in elections.

Our voter turnouts are already pathetically low, and under this proposed system can only get lower.

5. AV voting systems give disproportionate power to minority parties

When AV systems produce their mandate-free coalitions, huge amounts of influence is given to small minority parties. This is because larger parties need to attract others to achieve critical mass and form a government. The problem with this is that the vast majority of voters have rejected the policies of these minority parties. Giving them more influence that the voters wanted corrupts the entire voting process and makes a mockery of any claim to democracy.

A much better system would be to ignore entirely smaller parties with minuscule support until one larger party achieves a majority. If only we could have a system like that it would be more representative of voter wishes. Oh yeah. We do. It’s our current system.

It would be ironic if people in countries in the Middle East and Africa are uprising and fighting for more democracy while here we let what little we have slip through our fingers.

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About Paul Harper
These posts represent the collected thought of Paul Harper. Usually rants, occasionally lucid, always easily ignored. Read, don't read, your call!

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