Historians wade in on the AV referendum debate: Shouldn’t they know better?

It is remarkable how apparently intelligent people seem to be unable to grasp the very essence of how voting systems work.

If you look at a previous post here, http://bit.ly/gX6GFf in which I reply to my MP Dawn Primarolo, she gave reasons for supporting the First Past The Post System of voting (FPTP), and I answered her in detail as to why she was mistaken.  She included things like simplicity, value for money and the concerns over one person one vote.  I am still awaiting a reply to this!

David Cameron at Prime Ministers Questions this week remarked that the FPTP system was better because it was “simple”, and that because Papua new Guinea, Fiji and Australia uses it then somehow it can’t be good enough for the UK.

Patronising to the UK people, as the poor dears couldn’t understand the complexities of any other type of voting system could they?  While at the same time being patronising to those 3 countries who have the AV voting system as they are countries and cultures far below our own.

Should the Yes campaign say that we wouldn’t want to use FPTP because Bangladesh and Ethiopia use it??

He of course failed to mention that a majority of countries throughout the world do not use FPTP, and indeed no country in Europe uses it.  It is also ironic that many countries who started their democracies with FPTP have reverted to a different system later, except Ireland who changed to FPTP and then changed back again.

Now of course we have these historians wading in, and their main argument is??? Well that AV would destroy the notion of one woman or man one vote.

So lets analyse this shall we.

In an AV election we would number the candidates according to preference, but ONLY if you want to, you can just vote for one person if you want to.  In the end of course, regardless of the outcome, only one vote actually counts.

Whereas in FPTP, if the candidate you vote for does not win, then your vote does not count toward either your representative in parliament of to the make up of parliament itself and thus the government.  With AV however, it insures that each candidate has to at least have the approval of 50% of the popular vote.

No one actually has more than one vote, if your first vote is for the first party to be eliminated, you can have a 2nd preference that goes to another candidate who is still in the round.  This is to prevent the vote from being wasted, not to create ANOTHER VOTE.

I am not sure it is the public that cannot understand the system, but the historians. They also mention that not since 1928 do –  “we face the possibility that one person’s casting ballot will be given greater weight than another”.  This is actually historically untrue as plural voting was not abolished until 1948, but hey ho, you wouldn’t expect a historian to know that.

They also keep mentioning the idea of people having 6 votes.  6 votes?? Why 6 votes, why not 4, or 10, or 20.  Another author here can explain an Australian perspective on this  http://bit.ly/fF1po1

These rather hysterical objections, quoting Winston Churchill for historical back up, are rather pathetic.

With the vast majority of these objections, I would have more sympathy if they were advocating other concrete proposals to change the constitution and electoral system, to make it more representative and to accommodate a pluralist system rather than a 2 party state.  Sadly, most on the No campaign will do nothing of the kind, including the Prime Minister.

There is little edifying in the behaviour of those in an esteemed profession, sullying their reputations for the sake of their political prejudices.  Its all very sad.


2 responses to “Historians wade in on the AV referendum debate: Shouldn’t they know better?

  1. .V can only work if EVERYONE is registerd to vote. The way that A.V. works under our current system of voting still allows a candidate who wins to actually win less than 30% of the possible wvotes available . Therefore as in Australia it would be neccessary and fairer if All adults were to vote. At least that way we would know that no one is elected on a minorty of possible votes

    • Thanks for your comment. I disagree that you can ONLY have a fairer voting system if everyone votes. In this country there is a tradition and a liberalism that allows people to cast their vote or not. AV makes the system of elections fairer regardless of whether this changes. Personally I would like a box on the ballot paper to say “non of the above” so that those who feel they do not agree with any of the candidates can also express a view. The question is not is AV the fairest possible system but is it better/fairer than the current FPTP which it undoubtedly is.

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