Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Lies, damn lies, and the No2AV campaign.

As I pointed out in my last post on the Alternative Vote referendum, the last bastion of argument for the 'No' camp, namely that it produces strong government, has been quashed by the report from the ippr. But it would seem, this will be no walkover, and still No campaigners are using a mix of spin, half-truths, and outright lies to win over voters. Here's a quick sample.

Let's start with the new No2AV leaflet, which has already been thoroughly rebutted elsewhere, but I'll still have a quick glance over.

We start with something that I think will become a key tactic for the 'No' camp, turn it into a referendum on Nick Clegg. (Because let's face it, no-one likes him right now)

"Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats want Britain to change the way we vote to a method of voting called the ‘Alternative Vote’, sometimes called AV for short. A referendum is planned for May, when we all get to vote whether we agree with him or not."

Excellent, so its not whether you agree that our voting system is in need of reform, it's whether you want to support the nasty Lib Dems (Boo, hiss!) or whether you want to support the defenders of our nation. (Yay! Ticker tape all round) This kind of spin assumes voters are stupid, mindless drones, who will do your bidding so long as you give the right buzzwords.

The next big one, that surely has to be quashed sooner or later, is the outright and brazen lie that under AV, supporters of marginal parties get more than one vote. As they like to use in the scare tactic, 'Would you like BNP supporters to have more votes than you?'. It's a lie people.

 Everyone gets one vote in AV just as in FPTP. The difference being is that in AV, if your first preference candidate came last, your first vote is eliminated, then you can use your second preference. That's not two votes. That is one vote, then the first being eliminated before the second is counted. All this nonsense about multiple votes is the most infuriating thing about the whole No campaign.

And to finish this particular post, their old favourite, 'AV is only used in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Australia'.

Quite how that is an argument for us not changing to AV is beyond me. Yes, many more nations do use FPTP, mainly because there electoral system (like ours) was set up in very different times and they haven't got around to changing it. Indeed, many of the countries that use it do so because of there colonial links with the UK. Not so long ago many countries didn't allow women to vote, does that mean we were wrong to change that too?

What the No camp will not tell you, is that FPTP, our current system, has only been taken up by three democracies since 1945, and all of those subsequently changed to something else. Since 1945, not a single country has decided that FPTP is the right system for them to use.

In addition, all the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have decided that FPTP is not good enough for their elections, and so use different electoral systems. Why is FPTP not good enough for them but it'll do for us?

There is no logical argument for keeping First-Past-The-Post, and the No camp knows this. That is why they will turn to spin, to lies, and to brass attempts to turn this into a personality contest. If people are allowed to look at the facts, about what FPTP involves, and what AV involves, they will see that in one system you waste your vote and elect MPs with no mandate. And in the other, you can vote for your real preference, with no tactical voting, and every MP will enjoy the support of over 50% of their electorate.

Yes to fairer votes. Yes to AV.

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