AV In Flames – A vanity project that will taste of ashes.

This blog is amused by the latest polls for the AV referendum, especially as aggregated by political betting. We have been regaled with tales of dogs and cats, along with wonderful explanations of why it is not a good idea to let representative government to fall to the former. Its all very entertaining but it is a fantastic example of exactly why the “yes” vote is destined to lose; because it panders to the idea of a progressive-majority and ignores the fact that their are multiple ‘dog’ candidates too.

This presumption of ‘virtue’ has prevented the “yes” campaign from communicating with, and persuading, those people for whom the principle of proportionality or ‘vote-power’ simply is not a significant priority.

The same can be said about the argument in favour of grown-up and consensual politics; does the “yes” vote actually understand that their are people who like the benefits that an adversarial electoral system brings?

It is difficult to bring people round to your way of thinking when you are not interested in debating the merits of alternative views because it is apparently mere propaganda mouthed by useful idiots on behalf of scoundrels.

If we can accept that the conservatism is an attitude whose ambition is not to oppose all change but to resist and balance the volatility of current political fads and ideology, then we must likewise accept that there are people of a progressive bent too, and that it is beneficial for society to have a balance of the two.

This blog is wholly in agreement with the old saw that conservatives fight to protect the systems they fought to reject a generation earlier………….. but:

How did the “yes” campaign try to appeal to the small “c” conservatives in Britain?

The answer is they did not, the presumption of virtue, a failing for which their cause will pay.

If the “yes” campaign was truly serious about persuading the country at large about the merits of electoral reform why then was UKIP marginalised from the their campaign?

The electorate is allegedly composed of adults of legally sound mind, so any argument that the referendum was lost because the “no” campaign didn’t play fair is really a confession that people cannot be trusted with representative democracy. Why not be honest about the implications of that confession? Stop pussy-footing around with electoral tinkering and just advocate the benign governance of technocrats, like the EU or perhaps the PRC……..

This blog does not think that AV is significantly worse than FPTP, but the “yes” campaign has failed to demonstrate to the real majority that AV will be any kind of an improvement, or that the affair was worth their time and effort.

Update – 2011.05.08 – How the “no” campaign won:

They won because the worked tirelessly to appeal across the left-right spectrum, a totally integrated and bipartisan effort.

Update – 2011.05.09 – How the “yes” campaign lost:

They lost because their campaign was designed and run by people who think we all read the Guardian Arts supplement.

15 responses to “AV In Flames – A vanity project that will taste of ashes.

  1. I was repeatedly struck, in following the newspaper comment blogs, how those most favouring AV never really had a concern that this ‘progressive’ component, this re-distribution of subsequent preferences, would always be at the expense of their brothers and sisters primary vote.

    • i don’t believe that it occurred to them, they were too involved in mathematical displays of how one element of Britain’s representative governance functions to even contemplate any other.

      • No, they didn’t want to, and they had absolutely no desire to. Progressive means ‘suck-all’ for me alone.

  2. the yes campaign suffered two fatal flaws.
    Its arguements were flawed
    it made no attempt to talk to the average voter, just politicaly minded westminster luvvie.

    The two main arguements were split vote and tactical voting.
    My mp runs on a dual labour/co-op ticket, so thats split vote handled.
    Av enforces tactical voting.
    I’m standing today, i’ll either win, or come second.
    It would be madness to vote for me first, i’d be far better bnp, to hammer local labours left, then ukip, to put pressure on David nationaly and only then vote for me

  3. “How did the “yes” campaign try to appeal to the small “c” conservatives in Britain?

    The answer is they did not”

    I totally agree. The entire Yes argument was based on partisan lines from the outset, making enemies of at least half of the voting public before they even opened their mouths.

    No doubt they’ll use their impending defeat as another excuse to wail and gnash their teeth as they complain about tory conspiracies and the ignorant masses – all while ignoring their own dramatic failures.

    • agreed, sadly i can already picture the howls of “snot-fair, the nasty tories didn’t play nice”.

      and never will they have the self-awareness to realise that the public really didn’t care.

      the public interest in new politics died with the student riots in january.

  4. I wonder if many felt affronted by the Yes campaign’s inference that a no vote equalled rank stupidity.

    Further I bet if we had compulsory voting (something I fervently believe in) I bet the yes vote wouldn’t have been much larger.

    The Lib Dems are contrary beasts. They speak of consensus politics yet cry like infants when they don’t get their own way.

    Surely the essence of coalition consensus politics is that different parties work together on some issues but are free to campaign for their own position on others?

    Last May the country was held hostage by the 69,000 thousand members of the LibDems. 69,000!

    It is interesting to consider that there are more attending CofE services this morning by several hundred thousand than the combined active membership of three main UK parties. Yet apparently going to a CofE service is a minority interest. #

    This blog has got very political all of a sudden…….

  5. The victors get to write history but I never saw or read any rational arguments for FPTP other than babies will die, it helps the BNP , AV is not British and a wilful mixup between one man one vote and counting rounds. (Actually I tell a lie – I think I saw you argue for it somewhere else in the context that politics should be kept to a single government and single opposition tasked with coming up with an appealing alternative.)

    • there was a lot of guff generated by the “no” side, no doubt.

      and i have no particular loathing for AV itself, it is a plurality system that generates majority government.

      i don’t value proportionality, quite the opposite, but i do value the role of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, and it appeared that AV with its preferential voting system had a significant potential to overcompensate in landslide conditions, wiping out the new opposition and thus its useful function post election.

      i also was not keen on preferential voting itself, as i feel it trivialises that which should remain fundamental; who you authorise to act in your name.

      talking with Matthew Huntbach on LDV, fine chap that he is, it often appears that he accuses FPTP supporters of wanting the Lib-Dem’s locked out of government. not true says I, I merely demand that parties of government hold an ideology and policy platform that can appeal to a ‘majority’, and it is by no means written in stone that the Cons and Lab will always remain the big two.

      labour in particular is in a vulnerable position in the long-term, and the Lib-Dems’s are quite capable of reversing the fortunes inflicted on them a century earlier…… provided they remember that they are a party of the people rather than an advocacy platform for social liberalism well in advance of that tolerated by the wider electorate.

      personally speaking, i would like to see the Lib-Dem’s win their place as the left-of-centre alternative to Conservatism, and that means burying Labour under FPTP.

      i could set an easier bar to hurdle, but then i wouldn’t value the outcome so much.

      as to the benefits of majoritarian electoral system………… yes, i have no love consensus politics.

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