Home > General Politics > Why people who think the No2AV campaign is full of crap should vote No to AV, especially if they’re Labour

Why people who think the No2AV campaign is full of crap should vote No to AV, especially if they’re Labour

This is a guest post by Tim Flatman.

Now is probably too late to make a stunning intervention in the AV debate.

The Yes to Fairer Votes and No2AV campaigns seem determined to act as a metaphor for parliamentary politics by giving us a straight-up choice between the politics of increasingly aggressive personal attacks made from an ivory tower by patronising middle-class liberals who think they have a monopoly on nebulous terms like “fairness”, and the cynical politics of misdirection, contradictory lines of attack and the occasional flat-out lie.

Even political geeks have stopped listening and certain victory for #meh2av seems to have been denied only by its absence on the ballot paper.

It’s in this context I’m going to try and set out a case against AV that ignores all the No campaign’s talking points. The basic thrust of my argument, strangely enough for someone who is on the left of the Labour Party, is a conservative argument – conservative with a small “c”.

It’s that the limited advantages that AV offers are not worth the risks that change brings.

I know, it doesn’t challenge the impression the Yes campaign are trying their hardest to create, that all of us who oppose AV are unreconstructed dinosaurs and the Yes campaign are shining progressive knights of the 21st century round table ready to slay us so the people can be freed from our unfair tyranny.

I’m not going to argue the acceptable progressive anti-AV case that a yes vote on AV will stop us getting a vote on a more proportional system.

It might. It might not. If we got a vote on a more proportional system I’d probably vote against that, too. I fail to see what is so democratic about a proportional system. But that’s another post. Here I’ll go flat out for ultimate Dinosaur status and try to support my preference for First Past the Post over the Alternative Vote, i.e. the choice we’ve got in May.

Here goes.

AV makes us think about politics in the wrong way.

When we think about a voting system, we shouldn’t just think about the mathematics of how many people voted for whom, how the votes are counted and whether it’s fair, but also about what we’re asking people to do and whether it encourages a view of politics that is healthy for democracy.

Preferential voting encourages people to think about politics in terms of sending a message, rather than making a choice about who they want in government. AV supporters argue preferential voting means people get to vote for their true first choice first, knowing that their vote will still “count” if it turns out other voters think their first choice are a few bathplugs short of an expense claim, and that in turn means voting is more honest. I’m not convinced.

Aside from the fact that by this logic, only the votes for the winning party end up “counting”, what the shiny progressive knights fail to recognise is that people weigh up scores in competing metrics when they consider their vote. They don’t vote solely on what values each party has, they also weigh up how competent, or trustworthy, or otherwise each party seems to them and sometimes competency outweighs policy, or policy outweighs trustworthiness, or some other metric outweighs some other metric.

In other words, if you vote Small Socialist Organisation Whose Collective Membership Is Made Up Of Two Extended Families 1 and Labour 2 because you like SSOWCMIMUO2EF’s policies better, it might still not be an “honest” vote.

You might want a Labour government, but still preference another party first. Tribal Labourites and die-hard Tories will end up giving their first preference to fringe parties not necessarily because they want those parties to form a government but in order to send a message. AV will reduce voting to gestures.

If you doubt this will happen, consider the last Labour leadership election.

I gave Ed Balls my first preference. But everyone knew one of the Miliband brothers would win. I didn’t want David Miliband to win. So did I give Ed Miliband my second preference?

No. I gave Diane Abbott my second preference, so it was clear that the eventual transfer to Ed Miliband came from the left. I hated voting in this way, but the system incentivised me to send a message, rather than make a straight choice about who of the available candidates was the best leader.

Tory voters on the right will use AV to try and push Tory candidates further to the right by giving their first preferences to UKIP, and Labour voters on the left will use AV to try and push Labour candidates to the left by voting for SSOWCMIMUO2EF or the Greens. But it doesn’t mean they’d actually prefer those candidates.

Is this worse than First Past the Post’s own perverse incentives, encouraging people to choose between the two parties who did the best at the previous election?

After all, that incentivises people to vote for parties they may not wish to see elected, too. Actually I think it is worse. First Past The Post rewards solid organisation over a period of time.

There is nothing wrong with a system that encourages voters to make a realistic choice between parties that are the best at mobilising support. With patient mobilisation, different parties can work their way into second place and then first place within two or three elections. That has happened in a few seats where the Liberal Democrats have replaced the Tories or Labour and gone on to win the seat. So too, if a traditional party jettisons its support base, or a new section of society with new interests emerges, it may be possible for another party to build itself patiently.

I am not convinced that a system which, by encouraging voters to “send a message”, may reward the sudden emergence of parties based on zeitgeist issues, is better than one which requires parties to develop a solid support base and which therefore reflects the fundamental cleavages in our society.

Ultimately I disagree with a philosophy of electoral politics that is about each individual deriving the maximum value possible from their vote. In fact, electoral politics makes very little sense at all if you consider it from the viewpoint of an individual, whose vote is unlikely to make any difference in determining the outcome.

Elections should be about communities coming together to make a collective decision about who will represent them, anointing someone to act as their champion in parliament. They should be events, not opinion aggregators.

AV would reinforce a view of voting which is about what I get out of it, about me getting across my opinion. It would strengthen gesture politics. Perversely, in making electoral politics more about sending a message and less about consciously choosing who governs us, it would increase the distance between the public and politicians. Suddenly it doesn’t matter who gets in, it matters what message we send them. Having our say becomes more important than making a decision.

AV could reduce the power of the least-represented.

Maybe you don’t think I’m a dinosaur.  Maybe you just think I’m wrong. You’re a liberal. You believe that communities are simply collections of individuals, nothing more. We should encourage a market-based view of politics that is about individuals competing with each other to get their opinions across, there’s no more authentic form of democracy than a market.

Sorry, but I refuse to accept that I’m merely wrong. Here’s where I go flat out for unreconstructed dinosaur status, by raising the spectre of class.

We don’t know what the long-term effects of changing our voting system will be. But there has to be a chance that it will increase the numbers of people giving their first preferences to fringe parties, and that over time that will enable fringe parties to come to power.

If more people start voting for SSOWCMIMUO2EF, they will start getting taken more seriously, more people will join them, encourage others to vote for them, people who vote for the people they see as the “main” parties will consider voting for them and eventually a plethora of parties will get representation in parliament.

The more parties are represented in parliament, the higher the chance of perpetual coalition government and the less chance there is of the working class seizing power and making bold, radical reforms. As someone on the left of the Labour Party, that is what I want to see, and it seems less likely if we have a plethora of parties represented in parliament, some based on ideologies, some based on representing interest groups which span across classes (a Pensioners’ Party, perhaps?), some based on single issues.

AV may not lead to that outcome, but it may do, and I’m not prepared to take that risk for a system that delivers little in the way of improvement to our current FPTP system.

I said earlier that the current system reflects fundamental cleavages in our society. I was talking about class.

At the last election, a (literally, not metaphorically) toothless retiree told me the Tories were for the rich, Labour were for the working class and the Liberals were for those in the middle. It might be crude, I might want to refine his analysis slightly, but when it comes to the crunch I’m with Gums.

I’m glad we have an electoral system that reflects what I see as the most important cleavage in society. I’d like it if the Labour Party was a bit more radical, I’d like it if the British working class as a whole were a bit more radical, but changing the voting system isn’t going to fix that.

The immediate instrumental effects of AV could be bad for the working class, too. It is widely recognised that underprivileged groups are less likely to vote. Under FPTP, parties are incentivised to identify their potential vote and motivate them to turn out. The short campaign is structured around GOTV – Get Out The Vote, for any readers who aren’t political hacks. For Labour, that means especially motivating voters in deprived areas to get out and vote. Y

es, in most marginal constituencies that is not enough on its own, and we also have to persuade swing voters to vote Labour. But motivating voters who sometimes vote and who, when they do, always vote Labour, is a big part of our campaigns. And those people are usually amongst the poorest. They’re the people who Labour is there to represent, and who other mainstream parties couldn’t care less about.

Sometimes it seems like Labour governments couldn’t care less about them, either, but then the Tories get back in and we remember that compromised Labour governments are always better for the working class, and especially the worst-off, than governments of any other colour.

AV could change all that. It may turn out to be easier to get the second preference of someone who will definitely vote than it is to persuade someone who rarely votes that this is the election that really matters.

Suddenly we stop chasing the first preferences of the least-privileged and start chasing the second preferences of the already-privileged. We spend less time campaigning in our “core” areas. We spend less time listening to the most under-represented working class voters. We develop policies that are designed to win the second preferences of UKIP voters, Green voters, English Democrat or Liberal Democrat voters, rather than motivating the least-motivated to vote. We stop being the Labour Party and become something else. A pale imitation of the Liberal Democrats, perhaps.

So I think Labour supporters should vote No to AV.

Not because FPTP is better for Labour than AV. Labour supporters of AV argue it would keep the Tories out for a generation, those who oppose it say with the new alignments brought about by Nick Clegg’s election and personal coalition preferences, it could be Labour that would be kept out for a generation. I don’t think any of us can be sure about which of those is true. Probably it’s neither.

Labour supporters should oppose AV not because it could be bad for our party but because it could be bad for the people our party was set up to represent.

Labour supporters should oppose AV because it encourages a liberal individualist view of politics, rather than a collectivist view that better reflects our values. And while we’re at it, let’s reclaim the language that’s being used to demonise us.

I’m an Unreconstructed Dinosaur and proud of it.

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Categories: General Politics
  1. February 22, 2011 at 9:50 am | #1

    Interesting post. You raise some thought provoking points about potential long term consequences of preferential systems.

    However giving smaller parties such as UKIP and the Greens the long term possibility of realising their true level of support is to most who advocate reform a good thing. It’s actually one of the things I hope will happen and will lead to better representation in parliament. FPTP has a much too high barrier to entry. You point out that the Lib Dems have fought through to get a number of seats under this system but it has taken decades just to get to the point where the party can get around 9% of the seats on well over 20% of the vote (and at the last election the percentage seats slipped back a bit despite an increased share of the vote). In the meantime Labour and the Tories between them get around 85% of the seats on a combined share of 65%.

    FPTP was perhaps tolerable (although still not ideal) when there were only two parties that 98% of people voted for 60 years ago. Nowadays it has ceased to be fit for purpose.

    • alistair
      April 3, 2011 at 5:29 am | #2

      Do we vote for representation (like) or government (need)?
      Proportional/preferential voting systems are a corruption of the democratic process – it’s bit like saying you can kiss my girlfriend but you can’t fuck her!
      (Leave my girl alone I was there first?)
      Get it straight – 123/1234/12345/etc they’re all the quickest way to give power to those you wished had never existed.

  2. Mick
    February 22, 2011 at 10:09 am | #3

    Interesting post.

    The problem I see with it is that the working class are too small to ever win seats alone under FPTP in most constituencies.

    Perhaps in somewhere like Bootle or Sheffield Brightside or even Bethnal Green and Bow there is a traditional working class big enough to win the seat for Labour, but even in old working class towns this isn’t the case.

    Most seats require parties to chase votes outside their core support – Labour becomes the “vote for me because the Tories will wreck the NHS/Schools/buses/pensions/colleges/unions etc…” rather than “vote for me because I am a socialist”. Most people aren’t too bothered about class, even Labour voters, which is why Blair was so successful.

    FPTP just encourages leaders to be Blairs and Camerons, appealing to a wide audience without a core ideological message. Meanwhile for people like myself, a fairly fluffy soft centre-left type, the only way to make my vote count is to move to somewhere like Morley and Outwood.

  3. tim f
    February 22, 2011 at 11:10 am | #4

    Hi Mark

    I accept that some will see UKIP and the Greens having representation in parliament as a good thing.

    My argument is (I think!) coherent on its own terms but there are plenty of people who will simply disagree with my preferences. That’s ok. They can vote yes in the referendum.

    Of course, it’s one thing wanting UKIP to have representation in parliament to reflect their “true” level of support. But quite another to be willing to accept that your MP should be a UKIP member. I suspect, though I’m not certain, that your comments about “true” support reflect a preference for an ultimately more proportional system than AV? Accepting a UKIP member as your MP is quite different when you’ve got multi-member seats to doing it when you’ve got single-member seats. Although we’re drifting off-topic here, I’m a big fan of single-member seats. I think it’s good for MPs to represent a community small enough that it can cohere in some way, that the MP can know and be part of the community properly and has to represent the whole community, not just a section within it while leaving another section to another MP representing the same 3-seat area. I think single-member seats force MPs to take casework seriously, which itself grounds them in the real-life experience of ordinary people even while they are part of the Westminster bubble, with policy implications.

    As I mentioned, I don’t think exact proportionality is a necessary feature of democracy. I’m fine with having a high threshold for representation in parliament, which FPTP effectively provides. (In fact, as I said, I think a high threshold is good so parties represent fundamental cleavages in society rather than single issues relevant for a particular moment in time when an election happens to be held.) The vast majority of people in each and every seat do not want a UKIP representative. I don’t see why we should necessarily cater for the minority who do. It’s not a fundamental human right to have someone who agrees with you in parliament if few others do.

  4. tim f
    February 22, 2011 at 11:18 am | #5

    Thanks Mick. I agree that Labour already has to reach outside its core support to win in most seats. But that doesn’t mean we should support a system which, as I see it, would diminish Labour’s core support’s power further.

    I also disagree with you that the working class are now too small to win. Most of the working class may not work in industrial revolution-style factories any more. Some may be affluent, much of the British working class may be quite conservative, and a large proportion may not think of itself in class terms any more. But fundamental class structures remain. Working class people just do different jobs than they used to, often in harder-to-organise sectors. The working class may seem invisible at times (especially as social circles become more homogenous) but are still the largest class. Who knows? – the coalition cuts may repoliticise people along class lines as it becomes ever more apparent that we are not all in it together.

  5. February 22, 2011 at 11:29 am | #6

    Tim.

    You are right that I would ultimately prefer a proportional system. STV is my system of choice. Unlike you I think multi-member seats would be a good thing and the pros would outweigh the cons. In fact it would help address one of your own arguments in that where I live in the leafy South East there is no Labour (or other left wing) representation for miles around. Under STV there would be a fair chance that at least one of my MPs would be Labour, thus helping those in my area who are poorer to have more appropriate representation.

    Anyway, that is drifting off topic. Your point about getting a UKIP MP in practise rather than theory is an interesting one. Although it is a necessary function of single member seats that you end up with one and only one MP which will not be to everyone’s liking irrespective of what electoral system you have under single member. I don’t particularly like having a Tory MP but that’s just tough under FPTP in this area. The same argument could be made if in years to come somebody ended up with a UKIP MP under AV.

    On a broader point the threshold that FPTP imposes is in my view unreasonable. It forces our political system and discourse to become ossified into the “cleavages” that you refer to. In fact the very use of the word cleavage implies only two effective choices. Even under the broken FPTP system more than a third of people last year chose a party outside of the big two. There is clearly a hunger for wider representation and I am certain if the electoral system better allowed it, we would see that the big two actually have less than 65% of the (first choice) vote between them. Just look at what happens in European elections where, even though I dislike the form of PR used it does mean that there is rough proportionality (after a lower threshold).

  6. February 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm | #7

    This is a very interesting post Tim, but I have some reservations. Does it not boil down to three core elements: 1) It could incentivise, not reduce need for, tactical voting; 2) we might not understand it; and 3) smaller parties that we have grave concerns about on the left of Labour may grow in size and legitimacy?

    In the first, the problem – you might say – with understanding how anything works is that you could end up how to play that system. Electoral politics is only about sending messages and I fail to see how we’d ever get rid of that on the parliamentary road. Perhaps that’s ok with you, but I think it’s important to note that to some extent this will be present under any system, from FPTP to STV.

    Furthermore, the problem with the Labour leadership election was that too many people really supported one of the two brothers, and for those that voted one of them, but really supported Dianne, it was their choice to vote elsewhere sure, perhaps because they saw other ratings and realised the dream was over. I imagine the problem here is the hivemindedness of electoral politics, not necessarily that the system does little to mitigate against clear, out and out favourites at the top (i.e. the Milibands).

    2) I’ll keep this brief, if we don’t understand it then we should learn. That may sound churlish, but I’m going to stick by it – the dialectic may be difficult to understand, but I’m not going to dump it because it doesn’t make for good reading waiting for the kids to come out of school, or fit for lunchtime reading before the return to the shop floor. Fair enough if you don’t think it’s a fairer system, but whether it is understood is a different question surely, one that should be answered no doubt, but to the advantage of wider participation in politics, not to the disadvantage of AV.

    3)Smaller parties are already growing in size, they seem to be fielding more votes than ever, IMHO I don’t think we should be letting the Labour Party, for example, off the hook by suggesting that the growth of fringe left parties are to do with the electoral system, it has more to do with Labour taking the WC for granted – which it can’t expect to do anymore, and thus needs to pull its finger out to recapture the hearts and minds of.

    All things considered, it was an enjoyable post and did challenge some of my assumtpions on the need for voting reform, and I hope you post here again soon.

  7. tim f
    February 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm | #8

    Naturally I don’t think my elegant reasoning can be boiled down to three points quite so simply, however:

    1) yes, but I deliberately avoided using the term tactical voting because of disagreements over what tactical voting is, and the fact that tactical voting under AV would be of a different kind to that under FPTP. I disagree that electoral politics is only ever about sending messages. We make decisions about who we want to govern us in elections, and also the process of campaigning has an impact on what kind of MPs we get and what they do when they’re elected. For example, a system that brings prospective MPs into contact mainly with working class voters during the course of campaigning is better than a system that brings prospective MPs into contact mainly with upper class voters. You’re right that FPTP has an element of “sending a message”. I particularly dislike that many people choose to use local elections to do this, as I think they’re important in themselves. (Also, up until now, in the course of my adult lifetime sending a message tended to mean punishing local councillors, and by extension the people Labour councillors represent, for the ineptitude and moral cowardice of national government ;p)

    2) Unless I’ve misunderstood you that wasn’t what I was getting at. Maybe you got hung up on the word “unintended” in “unintended consequences”? Whether or not people realise they could happen (and I don’t think we can with confidence predict the long term consequences of AV, so in part my argument is just saying these might be the consequences and the risk that they are is not worth the slight benefits AV brings), I think they are bad consequences. So if it makes it easier, ignore the word “unintended”, and focus on the word “consequences”!

    3) I agree that small parties can grow under the current system, and that we shouldn’t let the Labour Party off the hook. But what I want is a system that reflects the structure of society as I see it along class lines. So if the Labour Party is seen as not representing the interests of the working class any more, I’d rather another party came along and became the party of the working class under a system which replicated the structure of our society in parliament, than we moved to a system which exaggerates the pace at which small parties can grow and results in lots of small parties with representation that work against each other, or across classes. (Of course, I’d much rather the LP just did its job properly.) In other words, it’s not about letting the Labour Party off the hook, it’s about making it more likely that there is a party around doing the job of the Labour Party, whether that happens to be the Labour Party or not!

    I almost confused myself writing that, does it make sense?

    • February 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm | #9

      Tim,

      Of course, apologies, saying you can be boiled down to three points (not you personally I’ll add) was my way of saying I prefer things simpler.

      1) Totally agree with this, I’m also worried about voters giving a kick-in to the national party by booting out the local guy. I can of course see why this would happen, and I can’t think of anything to say about it other than appealing to local candidates to make more of a song and dance about local issues (but they already do that, so perhaps this is one of those wicked issues).

      2) Accepted

      3) This point I still find slightly contentious; surely I gather if you want politics to run on class lines, this should be extra-parliamentary too. That will where this argument is fought and won. But bending the rules of the electoral system, or indeed not embracing an electoral system that is (marginally) more reflective of the majority of people who voted, to make this simpler for the party seems at odds with the principles of a fair voting system (however that may be interpreted).

      Though you talk down the progressiveness of a proportional system. Progressive is a dodgy word these days, but surely the more proportional, the more reflective a government is of those it seeks to serve. I can understand why people feel cheated by having MPs who field less than 50% of the vote.

      More coalitions, at this stage, may be a consequence, or an unintended consequence, of an AV system, but that is in itself a consequence of parties not winning the argument to the majority of people. My bugbear is really those who dismiss electoral reform on the grounds that it makes the job of getting elected harder. For example, when people felt that AV might give the BNP better representation in parliament, people were bending over backwards to say “don’t vote AV, it’s a vote for the BNP” (which I wrote about http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/07/15/the-unintended-consequences-of-av-and-the-bnp/ ) instead of saying, well this game is about to get harder lets get stuck in. FPTP I think has allowed us to be complacent of smaller parties and, by consequences, become complacent about a racist contingent who vote BNP, or if they bankrupt themselves, then the EDL (who rumour has it are thinking of fielding candidates in elections).

      In short, I’m not bothered by consequences if it means party politics becomes less about winning votes and more about winning the argument, which FPTP can often mitigate for.

      • tim f
        February 24, 2011 at 8:22 pm | #10

        on 3), first off “this should be extra-parliamentary too” – absolutely, not extra-parliamentary only but extra-parliamentary too.

        On the other stuff, you can make a case that my argument comes dangerously close to a crude false consciousness position. But I remain unconvinced that creating a structure that is more conducive to multiple parties means that people will get governments that are more reflective of their views. Annual parliaments, on the other hand…

  8. Alex
    February 22, 2011 at 10:50 pm | #11

    Erm so it’s ok if parties have to slowly gain support from non tactical voters, over a period of elections than for them to win when they should have?

    I don’t see Fringe parties coming to power in Australia, or Ireland where tactical voting is also unnecessary.

  9. Planeshift
    February 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm | #12

    Thanks Tim for actually focusing on the systems concerned and making an honest case, although I think you are innacurate about AV leading to perpetual coalition – the IIPR thinks that is more likely under FPTP with a growing 3rd party. I also think you are wrong about it leading to more parties that are represented in parliaments – that is because we already have 6 professional parties (in the sense of paid staff, elected representatives, head offices, a fairly decent membership base and the things you’d expect a full time political party to have) in the UK. (UKIP, Greens and the scot/welsh Nationalists are the other 3).

    Equally isn’t the phrase: “Preferential voting encourages people to think about politics in terms of sending a message, rather than making a choice about who they want in government.” merely making you sound like one of the patronising liberals you complain about in the first paragraph (The little people are incapable of voting for a government in this system, they won’t use it sensibly!)

    You also write:

    “We don’t know what the long-term effects of changing our voting system will be.”

    But this strikes me as one of its positives – it mixes things up a bit. You essentially want an electoral system to enable the party of the working class to ‘seize power’ and enact radical reforms. Just what is it about FPTP that makes you think this will happen if we keep it? Surely 60 odd years of the present arrangements have proved the opposite, that in order to win elections the labour party needs to ignore its power base and appeal to floating voters in marginal constituencies. I fail to see how another few decades (which is how long we’ll wait before the next change gets offered in the event of a no vote) of FPTP will provide the opportunity for labour to be truly radical.

    AV isn’t the miracle cure for our political system, and isn’t the device that will enable the left of the labour party to ‘sieze power’ either (if you want to sieze power then join the army…..). What it will do is allow for greater pluralism and the chance for voters to vote on principle for beliefs – no longer will any party take its core vote for granted, or be able to have unnacountable power based on 35% of the vote. It won’t allow you to ‘sieze power’ but it will stop the thatcherite right from doing the same.

  10. February 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm | #13

    Really great post Mark,

    I edit the Disraeli Room blog at ResPublica, and am wondering if you’d be willing to re-visit these arguments for our readers, looking at whether progressive/One Nation/Red Tories should vote No for similar reasons? I know that’s not your bent, but I thought your arguments were very relevant to the debates we’re having (as you point out, they may even be more relevant to small c conservatives than to the big L Left).

    If so, please drop me an email – my address is on our site, or Carl from TCF can pass it to you.

    Adam

    • February 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm | #14

      I’ve sent an email to you and Mark

      • tim f
        February 24, 2011 at 1:46 am | #15

        Unless I’m being narcissistic, I think although he addresses Mark he means my post.

  11. tim f
    February 24, 2011 at 1:49 am | #16

    And if so – interesting idea, I’d certainly consider it although it might be a few days before I get round to it.

    • February 25, 2011 at 10:18 am | #17

      Hi Tim,

      Yes, I did indeed mean you – my mistake, sorry to mis-attribute your work! Please do send something through if you have a chance (I think Carl has given you my email), would be happy to run it.

      Adam

  12. February 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm | #18

    Tim;

    You may, then, have to accept that you favour modifying parliament in a way that lends itself to the kind of politics we no doubt both agree on, rather than winning that argument (where perhaps the false conscioussness is elsewhere) or making more votes mean more. I know there is some contention about whether this is a progressive move or not, and hopefully I’ve made my own feelings clear, but do you think MPs should better reflect the voters’ choice? And one question you haven’t answered, do you prefer AV to FPTP? Are you PR man yourself, or even STV?

    • tim f
      February 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm | #19

      I prefer FPTP to AV and FPTP to PR/STV – I am keen to keep single-member seats, as above. I know FPTP is flawed, but I haven’t come across a better alternative yet.

  13. Mick
    February 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm | #20

    Trouble is, being of the left requires a switch of power from the few to the many, and this should extend beyond just economics.

    Currently only a few peoples’ votes decide who forms the government because most votes are wasted under FPTP.

    If you honestly believe in advantaging the many over the few, then surely a proportional system is a natural consequence?

    All FPTP gives us is a system where the Red Thatcherites and the Blue Thatcherites keep exchanging places, leaving most of us without a say whatsoever.

  14. alistair
    April 3, 2011 at 5:33 am | #21

    alistair :Do we vote for representation (like) or government (need)?Proportional/preferential voting systems are a corruption of the democratic process – it’s bit like saying you can kiss my girlfriend but you can’t #### her!(Leave my girl alone I was there first?)Get it straight – 123/1234/12345/etc they’re all the quickest way to give power to those you wished had never existed.

  1. February 22, 2011 at 11:27 am | #1

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