The other day I was invited to take part in a YouGov survey which contained, amongst others, a question about AV.
They vote for AV ... the mark of Satan is upon them. They must hang.
I don’t think AV is the answer to the democratic deficit in England as I have already said but I do support the change to the voting system because it’s better than First Past the Post.
Last week the increasingly desperate “no” campaign claimed spun one of their own pieces of “research” into a claim that “extremists” like the BNP will get into positions of power. The desperation of the “no” campaign is evident in their use of Witchfinder General Warsi – a woman I wouldn’t believe if she told me water was wet – as a spokesperson.
So back to this YouGov survey and the question on AV:
Which of these would you prefer?
- A voting system in which extremist parties have a good chance of winning seats in a general or local election if they have the support of around one-third of local voters
- A voting system which makes it very hard for extremist parties to win seats in a general or local election unless they have majority local support
I said last week that it did no favours to the “no” campaign to misrepresent their opinion as fact and equally it YouGov no favours to accept what is so obviously a blatant piece of propaganda. The question is worded so that it’s impossible to give the “wrong” answer – you either want to make it easy for “extremists” or hard for them. No mention of the fact that it’s actually all small, unrepresented parties that will benefit and “extremists” only by virtue of the fact that they’re small and unrepresented.
No2AV have produced some “research” claiming that changing to the Alternative Vote system will mean the BNP getting into power. Well, that’s how some in the No2AV camp (such as Witchfinder General Warsi and Guido) are painting it but that’s not what their “research” says.
The “research” says that in 35 seats, the votes of “extremists” would decide the outcome of the election. Or to use their words, “35 seats could be in the gift of extremists under AV”.
So what do they mean when they say the seats could be in the gift of extremists? Reading the three and a half pages of “research” which contains no verifiable facts, no numbers and no explanation of how they did their research, what they are saying is that the second preference votes of people whose first preference is the BNP or National Front could make the difference between a win or loss for the candidate that would have won if those people were disenfranchised.
My first question is how do they know what BNP and National Front voters’ second preferences are going to be? We’ve never had an election under AV so nobody knows what second preferences would look like. It’s pure guesswork.
My second question is how do define an extremist? Is an 80 year old woman casting a protest vote for the BNP because the housing estate she’s live in all her life has been taken over my immigrants an extremist? What about an 18 year old student voting for the BNP because his parents do? What about the thousands of ordinary people who don’t hate foreigners and don’t want to “send the darkies home” but vote BNP in the mistaken belief that their protest vote will force the LibLabCon to change their ways? Are they extremists?
My third and final question is why are the second preference votes of anyone who puts a tick in the BNP box automatically “wrong”? Why should their choices be ignored because they vote for the “wrong” party? No2AV’s “research” makes it clear that a candidate winning because of the votes of an “extremist or fringe” voter is wrong, the implication being that the candidate that gets their second preference votes must automatically be unsuitable. I vote UKIP so I presumably fit into the “fringe” category because I don’t vote for the LibLabCon so why is my vote worth less than someone who votes for one of the establishment parties that are full of liars, crooks and warmongers?
A “no” vote in the AV referendum will be deemed to be a “no” to any form of electoral reform. AV isn’t the answer to the current system of unrepresentative and unaccountable government but it’s better than First Past the Post which ignores the votes of most of the electorate. The answer is AV+ or STV but that’s not on offer so we have to set the ball rolling with plain old AV.
It does no credit to the No2AV campaign when they so obviously misrepresent facts and misrepresent opinion as fact. They don’t have a clue what AV will mean at elections so they have to resort to trying to scare people about the non-existent threat of the BNP getting into power. The simple fact of the matter is that under AV, the votes of more people will matter than under First Past the Post and the fact that elections will be more unpredictable under AV is no reason not to try it. Far from it – the LibLabCon will have to start doing something about the issues that drive people to vote for “extremist and fringe” parties if they want to win elections and anything that makes politicians listen to voters can’t be a bad thing.