It seems AV referendum celebrity endorsements have suddenly become more interesting than Professor Robert Winston (Baron Winston to you) and Colin Firth. While yesterday saw Peter Stringfellow come out for the ‘No’ camp, PoliticsHome report a rather, erm, pithy remark from Steve Coogan as to why he wants to change the voting system:

“Cos those who want to say ‘No’ are a bunch of dicks.”

For his own safety, Coogan should probably steer clear of Glasgow South.

  1. At the risk of coming across like I’ve had a sense of humour by-pass, I do think this illustrates much that is wrong with the Yes2AV campaign. It’s not as offensive as implying No voters are in league with the BNP; although the Yes campaign can’t really believe that AV will help the Greens, but not the BNP.

    No2AV has been similarly confused and shambolic, but hey!

    AV is less proportionate than FPTP and so is not a stepping stone to PR. It will only favour the Lib Dems (parties who come outside the top three are most likely to be eliminated early, rather leapfrog to no.1). AV will not stop corruption (look at how UKIP MEPs, elected by PR, have behaved) and it will not make MPs work harder, give anyone a greater say or end jobs for life.

    The cause of electoral reform has been set back 20 years, whatever the outcome of the referendum, so join the Yes2PR No2AV campaign and start working for real change.

  2. Daniel B Lee says:

    As much as this is pointless.

    AV COULD help the Greens and not the BNP as the Greens have a more accessible agenda and can achieve broader support. At the moment the BNP are likely to be at a maximal level of support where they run candidates as people will vote for them whatever their chances. The Green’s have probably suffered at lot more from tactical voting losing them votes.

    Secondly, while that may be the case historically, under AV smaller parties will be able to build their votes up as people will have more confidence in voting for them as they can still have the reassurance of keeping out “party X” as well as voting how they want. Over time, their votes will start to resemble their actual receptiveness from the public.

    As for corruption, you can’t use UKIP as an example… they represent corrupt interests. AV won’t do much for corruption, but it will make it a little bit easier to excerpt pressure on some MPs.

    AV is not a great system. But it’s a trip forward from the mire of FPTP anyway.

  3. Stephen, NO2AV is full of Tories and Labour ‘safeseaters’ where PR is ‘over their dead body’ yet they fund the YES2PR, NO2AV campaign. Why do you think that is? Because they know that defeat for AV will take PR off the agenda for a generation at least.

    Think of women’s suffrage, women only got the vote for over 30s first, then 10 years later full parity with men. Without the first concession, it would have delayed full parity with men for at least a generation. The same will happen with AV. Win this referendum and the campaign for PR has momentum. For a start, because council wards elect 2-3 councillors, it will make logical sense to change local elections to STV (which is a lot more proportional system) rather than leave them as a FPtP anomoly. Plus, despite what you say, AV IS generally more proportional and there are more marginals. Smaller parties with broad support (not extremists) will increase their first preferences and over time win more seats. This will bring more coalitions and more pressure for a change to PR.

  4. @Daniel Are you so sure the BNP would get no second prefs from UKIP, the English Democrats or the National Front? The simple truth is that you need to get in the top three on first preferences to win, something all smaller parties (whether they are nice or nasty) will struggle with. So it will only help Lib Dems.

    @Neil The No2AV campaign is full of Tories and has been confused and shambolic, but so what? PR is off the agenda for a generation whatever the outcome of the referendum. Referenda are rare and we won’t get another one on the same subject so soon, especially after a close result. (Unless AV is seen to go wrong, in which case there will be a strong move to go back to FPTP; nobody says ‘that reform was a disaster, let’s be more radical’.)

    The women’s suffrage analogy doesn’t work. Giving women over 30 the vote was a step in the right direction. But AV is a step in the wrong direction as it is less proportional. Introducing AV in local councils would be quick and easy and a very good thing, but so what?

  5. Sorry @Neil, I should have responded on your assertion that AV is more proportional. You should check out the Jenkins Report and the Electoral Reform Society page on AV pre-Orwellian make-over.

    The reason is relatively simple. Where nobody has more than 50% of the vote in a single constituency, AV produces a compromise that seems fairer in that single seat (e.g. second placed Lib Dem backed by third place Lab or Tory gets in). But when the compromise is repeated over and over, the final result is less proportional than it would otherwise be. And it’s the make-up of parliament that’s most important.

  6. Well, Steve, it strikes me that the yes people are also a bunch of dicks, but that hardly a convincing argument is it? It seems that the Lib Dems are the likeliest bunch of dicks to benefit from a yes vote and that’s a very good reason for voting no!

  7. There is no evidence whatsoever that AV is ever less proportional than FPTP.

    NO2AV keep repeating these lies because, as the man said, they are a “bunch of dicks”.

    Fact is, the dodgy polls these assertions are based on were done by the same dodgy pollsters who predicted Labour would win in 1992 and get an even bigger majority in 1997 under our current system. Massive overestimation of Labour vote didn’t stop until 2001, which funnily enough is the first election no-one is claiming would be more disproportional.

    It’s pretty hard to have a system where everyone acknowledges the smaller parties do better and have it be be more disproportional. It’s frankly illogical unless a particular party manages to piss off the electorate to such an even greater degree than Blair or Thatcher.

    Fact is, FPTP is a hopeless system that shouldn’t even be considered democratic. AV is a small change (the only one allowed by Cameron and notice how worried the Tories are by it) that fixes the main flaw. FPTP 2.0 you might say.

  8. There is a very simple reason why AV will help the Greens but not the BNP. BNP is the bottom preference for most folks except their supporters. So counting preferences does not help them, the wieght of preferences will count against them. The Greens feature highly in many voters’ preferences, hence are helped by counting them. In many left voting seats they won’t struggle at all to come in the top 3, they will get there naturally. AV also takes away the BNP’s chance to win seats in the same way they have won council seats, by winning on minority support e.g. 27% in Coalville, by the vote against them being split between several candidates.

    The cause of electoral reform will be set back by 20 years if No wins. You won’t then get a quick chance at PR, Cameron will claim the country does not want reform. Anyone who votes No to anything on the offer of a better deal to follow, is catastrophically naive about politicians against the evidence of history. 1979 Alec Home claimed to sympathise in principle with Scottish home rule but said vote No to it in Callaghan’s referendum on the promise that a Thatcher government would then offer a better deal. That was plainly ludicrous, Thatcher was eager to bury home rule and it took 20 years to climb back out of that hole.

    Neil exactly right on who is behind such a con. But not right about STV. You can have multiple member AV where that is what we should have in the council wards, retaining as many votes as there are members for our ward: it is an unfair regression in STV that you lose that and get rubbishly only 1 vote in a multi member seat. In Scotland the result was the parties shared out the vote by each standing only 1 candidate, mostly the preferences were never counted because they all won their seats on “quota” on the first count, and all that had happened was a degraded version of FPTP. STV does not count prefeences from the bottom up as AV does, the supporters of low polling candidates actually remain excluded in STV exactly as they don’t in AV. STV actually involves a human rights violation when physical chance of when a vote is counted alters how it is counted, whether it goes to make up your first pref’s quota or is included in the surplus over quota that gets redistributed to other prefs.

    Vote Yes to AV in order to win the preferential principle in its own right, it is not only a sterp to something else, it is an invaluable principle in its own right, to stop split vote minoirty wins and tactical voting and small party squeezing. Vote Yes to AV actually to save us from STV, for STV would then be a clear backwards step from AV and full preferentiality. Instead, AV Plus, a preferential version of Additional Member, will become the PR system most logically in line to progress to.

  9. @Stephen,

    There is no referendum on ‘Yes2PR No2AV’. The choice is yes to AV or no.

    If you want to vote the same way as David Cameron, George Osborne, Jack Straw, John Reid, Margaret Beckett, David Blunkett, Nick Griffin, that’s up to you. But they’re company that personally I want to steer well clear of.

  10. I would love a proper referendum but sadly this is the best NC could screw out of DC. Nonetheless, despite all the flaws, a vote for AV will be a step towards a better future. If any of the undoubtedly intelligent and erudite academics really believe that a NO vote will help PR then they are deluding themselves. I can assure you that David Cameron will tout a NO result as ‘proof’ that the British electorate are happy with the present system and any hope of meaningful reform will be set back thirty years. I for one would like to see some sort of reform before I die, having had forty years of wasted votes.

  11. Matthew Waddington says:

    @Stephen Newton:

    You said, “the Yes campaign can’t really believe that AV will help the Greens, but not the BNP”.

    Why not? Smaller parties (e.g. the greens) are likely to benefit from their supporters being able to vote for them without feeling that they’ve wasted their opportunity to keep out Party X. People will be able to vote Green and still register a preference between labour and tory.

    As for the BNP – they’re a much more divisive party. People either love them or hate them. They are very unlikely to gain many (if any) second preference votes.

    “Are you so sure the BNP would get no second prefs from UKIP, the English Democrats or the National Front?”

    The National Front gained less than 0.1% of the vote. English Democrats – 0.2% of the vote. I would expect NF voters to give the BNP their 2nd preference votes – almost exclusively. That’s around 0.0003% of the electorate giving out 2nd preferences to the BNP. As for the English Democrats – they’re certainly nationalist, but their focus is on having anEnglish Parliament that’s devolved from the rest of the UK. They are nationalist, though – so I can see similarities and a few 2nd preferences going there. Still – only a tiny proportion of the electorate there.

    As for UKIP voters – if the only issue they care about is leaving the EU, and there are no other Eurosceptic candidates about, then they might put the BNP as their 2nd preferences. Most people care about more issues than just that though.

    @ Jim Barr – The likeliest bunch of dicks to benefit from a NO vote are labour, the tories and the BNP.

    As for the LibDems: you don’t like them – fine. But are you willing to have elections continually fixed in favour of parties that alienate large sections of the public, rather than take the views of more of the electorate into account?

    Besides – I’m not convinced the LibDems would benefit so much now from AV. Maybe in previous elections they would have, but now they divide opinion more than they ever did before. I doubt whether they’d get so many 2nd preference votes from labour’s supporters – do you?

  12. Re, Tern: The way Australia elects its senators, votes for a candidate who meets the quota are transferred fractionally. So if I vote for a candidate who gets 125% of the quota, then my second preference will get 0.2 votes. And then if that eventually candidate gets 120% of the quota, then my third preference will basically get 0.033 votes, and so on.

  13. Middle class lefties have no clue about the BNP!

    Actually the BNP are far more likely to pick up second preference votes from white working class labour supporters in the tiny over-represented Northern constituencies, where the BNP are recognised as a left wing socialist party demanding British jobs for British workers and the renationalisation of industry and the utilities.

    BNP stole more votes from labour than the tories or UKIP at the last election and there were loads of voters in those tiny Northern constituencies who only voted labour to keep out the tories, but who would very happily give their first or second preference to the BNP. Those tiny northern urban constituencies will not need many votes to give the BNP a huge boost.

    FPTP prevents that. AV will not!

    The ‘Southern Guardian reading PC multiculturalist climate alarmist middle class’ left may hate the BNP. the ‘Northern white working class’ left feel very much at home with them.

  14. @Misterned: What a load of tripe.

    Pollster Peter Kellner has described AV as “the most extremist-proof of all electoral systems” and a bunch of other studies by academics have backed this up. If, as you claim, the BNP will receive a “huge boost” then why is Nick Griffin voting no? BNP Deputy Chairman Simon Darby told Channel Four News that “We are never going to get our feet under the table under the AV system.”

    As for “Guardianistas don’t understand those racist northern lefties”, I am a middle class Northerner who has campaigned against extremists in areas of my home town which have previously been represented by BNP councillors. How does that fit in with your demographic analysis?

  15. Aren’t we all missing the point?

    We seem to be adopting the view that people shouldn’t be allowed to vote BNP, or any other small party come to that.
    The BNP exist, we shouldn’t be focusing on that when it comes to voting reform, that isn’t the point.

    With any extremist organisation we all should be questioning how and why they are able to form, without resorting to the easy ‘brush-off’ answer “their will always be ____ism!”

    Voting reform shouldn’t be dictated by the likes of the BNP, voting REASONS should be, not reform.

    More of us need to be politically active, even if it’s merely tweeting something our party has said, every little helps as one very wealthy organisation puts it.
    We need to back the party that best represents us, then we should look for the voters of such extremist party’s and EDUCATE them that they wrong.

    To get to that point we need to understand what made them reach for the extremists in the first place, where was OUR party when they needed them, and that’s not the remit of voting reform, that’s the remit of all of us that feel strongly about any part of politics, thats the remit of the party’s themselves.

    If there was no reason to vote BNP they wouldn’t exist.

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