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Blog Archive

Cameron (elected by AV) opposes AV

Submitted by editor on Fri, 18/02/2011 – 23:08


The BBC reported today that David Cameron had said that AV would be “bad for our democracy” – leading to unfair results and an unaccountable political system.

As David Cameron was elected Conservative Leader by a kind of AV, was his victory an unfair result and is he unaccountable?

He also said some votes would count for more than others, as those who voted for less popular parties would see their second, third or fourth preferences counting towards the result.

He benefited in the Conservative leadership election from the second and third preferences of members who voted for less popular candidates (Ken Clarke and Liam Fox) and why not? Why should their supporters be disenfranchised just because their first choices were unpopular?

“If you vote for a mainstream candidate who is top of the ballot in the first round, your other preferences will never be counted,” he said.

This isn’t necessarily true but, when it happens, it is because the votes have stayed with voters’ first preference, just as his and David Davis’s original supporters’ votes did in the Conservative leadership election. In that election, the two Davids were the top two candidates in the first round and they stayed in the election right through to the last round, so their supporters didn’t need 2nd or 3rd preferences.

“I don’t see why voters of the BNP or Monster Raving Loony Party should get their votes counted more times than supporters of the Conservatives or for that matter, Labour or the Liberal Democrats.”

Votes for minor candidates aren’t counted any more times than votes for major parties. In the Conservative leadership election, votes for Ken Clarke and Liam Fox weren’t counted any more often than votes for the final two – the two Davids, Cameron and Davis.

Referendum definitely on 5 May

Submitted by editor on Thu, 17/02/2011 – 15:30


The Bill finally received Royal Assent just before midnight yesterday, despite wrecking amendments by some Peers and MPs.

This means the referendum on improving the way we elect MPs will definitely take place on 5 May. Now the people can decide – not the unelected Peers and not MPs, most of whom were elected by fewer than half the voters in their constituencies.

So now our campaign has started officially and so, of course, has our opponents’ campaign, but I have yet to hear them even try to defend FPTP. All they seem to do is criticize AV and even those criticisms are mainly a mixture of half-truths and untruths.

Many people are still unaware that there will be a referendum but that will change over the next couple of months as both sides step up their campaigns, the Electoral Commission educates the public and the media take more interest.

I find on the streets that the more people know about AV, the more they like it so I believe our current lead in opinion polls will increase. However, that will depend on enough of us taking the message to them by phonebanks and on the streets.

Why vote “No”, 3 – “AV is expensive.”

Submitted by editor on Wed, 16/02/2011 – 22:27


They say AV would be expensive. According to them, it would cost about £250 million, mainly for electronic counting machines but –

• AV elections can be counted by hand.

• Australians have been counting AV elections by hand for over 80 years.

• No-one in the UK outside the “No” campaign has suggested counting by machine.

The “No” campaign tells us that the USA uses machines for counting AV elections, but that’s not because the elections are by AV; the USA usually uses machines for counting elections by any system, including First Past The Post.

Opponent puts case for reform

Submitted by editor on Thu, 03/02/2011 – 22:34


Baroness McDonagh (Labour) in the House of Lords, 26.1.11:

“We have a representative, democratic electoral system in the United Kingdom. It is not proportional, nor is it meant to be. In 1979, for example, the Conservative Party gained 42 per cent of the popular vote and 61 per cent of the seats. Fast forward to 1997 and the position was reversed, with Labour gaining 43 per cent of the vote and 63 per cent of the seats. The first election in which I was active was that of 1979, when 58 per cent of the vote was cast for parties other than the Conservatives. Therefore, it was surely not intended that the Conservatives should win. However, it was very clear to me at the time that the electorate wanted the Labour Government out and the Conservative Party in power.”

Well, it’s not at all clear to me that the electorate wanted the Conservative Party in power when 58% had voted against it! Nor is it clear to me that voters wanted Labour in power when 57% voted against that party. Baroness McDonagh puts the case for reform very well. It’s a pity she doesn’t support it.

FPTP exaggerates swing

Submitted by editor on Wed, 02/02/2011 – 21:37


Alexander Redpath, a Unionist political activist in Northern Ireland:

“ In the UK [with FPTP] a small swing in support can lead to a massive loss of seats and result in your party being repelled out of government.”

Mr Redpath posted this on the No campaign’s website so he actually supports FPTP but, for most people, this is a reason to get rid of it.

AV is as easy as 1,2,3!

Submitted by editor on Sun, 30/01/2011 – 23:37


… despite our opponents’ totally unjustified claim that it’s complicated!

But don’t just take our word for it. Simply click on this and see for yourself. Follow the simple directions and vote yourself in a demonstration AV election. It really is as easy as 1,2,3! So tell all your friends.

AV helps choose pizza toppings

Submitted by Peter Morley – … on Wed, 02/02/2011 – 16:31.

Here are the results of an informal election to see what toppings the 22 people at a social event would like.

Imagine ordering Pizzas for everyone but being able to have only one topping from the list below. Toppings 2 and 3 have usually proved popular.

First electing with First Past the Post (FPTP) with voters showing their preference by placing an X against the topping of their choice of topping

1. Extra Cheese and Tomato 4
2. Pepperoni 7
3. Ham and Pineapple 5
4. Ham and Mushroom 4
5. Tuna and Sweetcorn 2

Pepperoni wins the day with 7 people wanting it, whereas 15 people would prefer a different topping.

Now electing the topping with the the Alternative Vote (AV) by people ranking the toppings in order of their preference by placing 1, 2, and 3 against them.

First Choices (those marked with number 1)
1. Extra Cheese and Tomato 3
2. Pepperoni 8
3. Ham and Pineapple 4
4. Ham and Mushroom 4
5. Tuna and Sweetcorn 3

Although 8 wanted pepperoni, 14 did not. And with AV, they could show with their second and other choices if they were prepared to have pepperoni or not.

The two least liked toppings (1&5)are removed from the list and the votes for them transferred to other choices.

2. Pepperoni 10
3. Ham and Pineapple 4
4. Ham and Mushroom 7

* One person wanted only 5 or 1 and was not interested in choosing from the other toppings – they did not want to eat meat. So they effectively dropped out of the election.

The least-liked topping now is number 3 and the four people who wanted that topping preferred number 4 to number 2.

2. Pepperoni 10
4. Ham and Mushroom 11

In other words, with AV, those who didn’t want Pepperoni were able to group together to choose Ham and Mushroom as the winner.

Which result do you think was the fairest and would satisfy most people?

AV is as easy as 1,2,3!

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 02/02/2011 – 16:00.

Isn’t it fascinating that all MPs use AV to elect the Speaker of the House of Commons and most also use AV to elect their Party Leaders. Not too complicated for them then!

Why vote “No”, 2 – “AV isn’t proportional.”

Submitted by editor on Sat, 15/01/2011 – 19:08


Neither AV nor FPTP (the only two options available in the referendum) is proportional, so that’s not an issue in the referendum. Each of us must decide on other issues and AV is better than FPTP in all respects.

Although AV is not as good as proportional representation (PR) by STV, that is hardly a reason for voting for FPTP. That attitude is rather like choosing to go naked if you can’t afford designer clothes.

If you want STV or any other form of PR, you certainly wouldn’t get it from a “No” victory. Whatever your reason for voting No, it would be a vote to keep FPTP and would be interpreted as a vote against change. It would delay all progress – not only towards PR for the Commons but also towards PR for other elected bodies.

STV election

Submitted by editor on Fri, 14/01/2011 – 22:55


The Icelandic constitutional assembly was elected by STV in November.

Labour support for AV

Submitted by editor on Fri, 14/01/2011 – 19:34


Credit where it’s due! Although some Labour MPs have broken their 2010 manifesto commitment to support AV, many haven’t and, indeed, are campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum. They include:

Ed Milliband
Alan Johnson
Peter Hain
John Dernham
Tessa Jowell
Hilary Benn
Douglas Alexander
Sadiq Khan
Liam Byrne.

They also include ex-minister Ben Bradshaw, who said AV would give voters “more power”. Another prominent Labour politician, who supports AV, is Lord Mandelson.

If you have a Labour MP, ask them whether they support or oppose AV. If they say they oppose it, please urge them to switch to supporting it and ask them why they are breaking one of the promises in the manifesto by which they were elected last year.

Labour promised to have a

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 14/01/2011 – 23:21.

Labour promised to have a referendum on AV in their manifesto, but did not say that they would campaign in favour of it.

Besides, talking about broken manifesto promises when the Yes campaign is full of Lib Dem’s is a bit rich!

I’m in a local Yes group,

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 31/01/2011 – 12:11.

I’m in a local Yes group, there are a lot of Lib Dems but there are even more Labour members. Non-aligned voters outnumber either party.

Why vote “No”, 1 – “AV gives too much power to supporters of minority parties; gives them more than one vote.”

Submitted by editor on Sat, 08/01/2011 – 15:00


If you ask for plaice and the shop doesn’t have any, you may ask for cod instead. If they don’t have that either, you may choose haddock but, at the end of the day, you get only one piece of fish – an alternative piece. You have only one vote with AV – an Alternative Vote – but you have a much better chance that your vote can count than with first past the post.

Diarmid Weir explained it well on 6 January 2011:

“I think the easiest way to understand AV is to think of it as a multi-round elimination election, in which you specify in advance on one ballot paper how you would vote in each round.

In the first round of counting, instead of the candidate with the least ‘X’s being eliminated, the one with the least ‘1’s is. Then instead of asking everyone to vote again, the ‘2’s of those giving the eliminated candidate their ‘1’s are appropriately transferred to the remaining candidates. The bottom candidate is again eliminated and the same process carried out with their ‘3’s. And so on until one candidate has 50% of the ballots.

The last round is equivalent to a round in which, while some candidates have been eliminated, everyone has a vote between those remaining and the one getting an absolute majority of those votes is elected. So there’s no reason to say that second or third etc preferences should somehow have less value.”

Please visit… to read his full article.

David Cameron, Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg were all elected by AV or its close relative, a multi-round elimination election (aka exhaustive ballot). Don’t they represent their parties better than someone elected by, say, only a third of voters as some MPs are? Did the supporters of some of their rivals have too much power? I think not!



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