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.
They won because the worked tirelessly to appeal across the left-right spectrum, a totally integrated and bipartisan effort.
They lost because their campaign was designed and run by people who think we all read the Guardian Arts supplement.