First past the post has some advantages in some circumstances which we should all acknowledge, However, even some of the advantages laid out by the No to AV campaign are less than convincing.
There are two main arguments used by the NO campaign regarding the FPTP system and how good it is.
The First reason is one that has been used by the Prime Minister, David Cameron on a number of occasions as a dead cert reason for voting NO in the referendum. They assert that with FPTP the public can always throw out the incumbent government in a clean way and it is clear cut.
This sadly is not the case. The mathematical calculations that now goes into the results of a FPTP election in a multi-party system is quite mind boggling. If we take the last election, it was quite possible, and at one point looked likely, that the Labour Party could come third in the contest, with less than 29% of the vote and yet still remain in power, and have an overall majority in the House of Commons.
Not only that, but at several points in history, and the 1980’s may well be a good example of this, when a government is opposed by a majority of the population, but there is a split vote, or the population opposed to the government, even though a majority, cannot unite around one alternative, then the minority government stays in power by default, with a disproportionate amount of power.
As time goes on and the two main parties continue to get less and less of the overall vote, quirky outcomes to elections will become more and more common with FPTP.
The second often stated reason FPTP works well is that it provides STRONG government. In practice this means giving a disproportionate amount of power to a minority to wield power over the nation. However, strong government does not mean GOOD government. There are few that would argue we have had continued good governance over the past 65 years. It also ignores the fact that we have had weak government for many years under FPTP as well, like from 1974 to 1979; 1990 to 1997, as well as several periods of either no party having over all control in Parliament or coalitions governments. To completely debunk this myth we can also look at Australia who have had the AV system of voting form 80 years and have had fewer coalition governments than the United Kingdom.
The facts do not fit the rhetoric. Both of the main reasons people cling on to the old system of First Past The Post do not stand up to any close scrutiny at all.
We need a change to the AV voting system to make it that bit fairer, we need to vote yes to AV on Thursday 5th May.
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