Thursday, 7 April 2011

No2AV

I think this poll has tipped me into the anti-AV camp.
Turning to the Liberal Democrats, their second preferences now split fairly evenly, but with the Conservatives just ahead: 31% to the Conservatives, 24% to the Greens and 24% to Labour. Again, looking at what would ultimately happen to Lib Dem votes if they had to be transfered to Con or Lab, 46% would end up in the Conservative pile, 39% in the Labour pile, 15% neither.
Why should we throw a lifeline (by voting for AV) to people who would use it to give the Tories second preference votes? The Lib Dems are morphing into the centre-right party their leadership and coalition partners want. And it's reciprocated by the Tories who would also largely give 2nd prefs to the LDs (much more than UKIP):
Conservative voters are now most likely to give second preferences to the Lib Dems (41%), followed by UKIP (27%). UKIP are, of course, unlikely to actually benefit from many Conservative second preferences – what will actually matter in the course of most election counts is how Conservative voters’ lower preferences divide between Labour and Liberal Democrats – here 29% of Conservative voters do not give Labour or the Liberal Democrats any preference, 8% put Labour higher on their ballot, 63% put the Liberal Democrats higher on their ballot.
Labour 2nd prefs would now largely go to the Greens (as mine would) but because they would get eliminated v early on that wouldn't really matter anyway. So Labour voters not wanting to support the Coalition can't even make the additinal vote count.

7 comments:

john b said...

Labour *supporters* can't make the extra vote count. Labour *voters* (in the sense of people who aren't very impressed with the Labour Party but prefer them to the other two) very much can, by first-preferencing the Greens, Real Socialists or whomever. This makes a difference - it's how the Green Party has become established in Australia.

CharlieMcMenamin said...

Polls are temporary. AV isn't perfect to put it mildly - I'm a STV man myself - but it's hugely better than the mockery of a system we currently have.

What AV does is emphasis the centre - at the moment mainly represented by the Lib Dems (though I suspect this may not be quite the same in Wales or Scotland.) At the moment the Lib Dems are mainly united and in govt in alliance with the Tories. This may not continue forever, and nor may they continue to be perceived as 'the centre' forever given their association with current economic policy. in some places, I'd have thought, the Greens might have a potential shout at claiming this mantle, at least in the medium term. & a split in the Lib Dems can't be ruled out as this parliament progresses.

I can relate to a lack of enthusiasm for AV, but I can't really get my head around basing any judgement on a long term electoral reform on the basis of inevitably temporary polling evidence.

skillz said...

I would be tempted to support AV for non-partisan reasons, rather than 'my side winning'. Surely that's the purpose of electoral reform?

Tom Powdrill said...

cheers for all the comments.

I'm generally ambivalent about electoral reform in any case. I'm not convinced that FPTP is that bad and I'd rather see Labour govern alone. But I also accept that the current system doesn't give people much of a choice (though I would also say smaller parties are quite unstable... but hey).

But in the current environment where we haven't seen the results of the Lib Dems going into Coalition with the Tories in terms of realignment of voting preferences this looks like the wrong time to make the change. Labour could always revisit this issue properly when in power and when, perhaps, there is another viable anti-Tory coalition partner (can we really describe the LDs as such currently, or again?).

I hold my hands up to reaching this decision on a purely partisan tactical basis, but I don't think it's particularly sensible to throw the LDs a lifeline when a) they have proven themselves to be far more interested in power for its own sake than living up to their left-of-centre history and b) losing this vote would put a lot more pressure on them and the Coalition.

Sasha said...

Dear Tom,
I'd like to make 4 points:

1) FAIRNESS

Regardless of who you support, do you agree with this? "In a democracy, everyone's vote should have the same power."

If you do, then you should be against FPTP, because under it, the % of votes is not directly related to the number of seats in the House of Commons.

You may not like the LibDems, Greens, or even BNP (I know I don't like the latter), but if we have a democracy, then all they should have as much say (seats) as they have backing from voters, otherwise what we have is a disproportional, undemocratic system.

All AV does is to reduce this disproportionality a bit, a (small but important) step in the right direction towards the STV.

2) BETTER GOVERNANCE

Your arguments focus on the concrete of what you want to happen in the elections: "I'd rather see Labour govern alone."

However, let me ask. What is so wrong with coalitions? The fact this one does not work is but a single example. Holland (to take an example) has them continually and they are one of the happiest and most stable countries in Europe.

The good thing about no party having a majority is that they have to learn to compromise, rather than use their majority to entirely dominate the government. I hope you'll agree this is something politicians are in dire need of.

3) REVISITING THE ISSUE LATER

You say: "Labour could always revisit this issue properly when in power". If Labour gets a majority they won't revisit the issue later to introduce STV, because the FPTP system tends to give them slightly more seats than their allotted share of the vote. It's only thanks to the eventuality of the "hung parliament" that a new (somewhat better) system may be put in place.

4) LIB DEMs

You mention "I don't think it's particularly sensible to throw the LDs a lifeline".

This is not about giving them a lifeline, nor about Nick Clegg. It's about people having a more proportional voting system. If they don't live up to their promises, they will become unpopular and not be voted for, but they still deserve to have the proportion of seats their proportion of votes should give them.

Voting no will not hurt the greater part of the coalition (since the Conservatives will get what they want). If you want to annoy the conservatives (your real, more permanent "enemy"), you should vote yes, since it remove part of their disproportionally large number of seats, and decrease their unfair influence.

I look forward to your answer!
Sasha

Tom Powdrill said...

Hi Sasha

I'm not sure that AV is a step towards PR really. It could have make results like 1997 more extreme for the winning party I think?

Also I'm not sure that it necessary ensures that everyone's vote gets equal weighting. What about people who don't want to put a 2nd/3rd/4th pref? To be honest now that the Lib Dems have put the Tories into power and it is unclear where they really stand I would struggle to put a 2nd pref (maybe Green). So what if no Green stands but there are both LDs and Tories in my seat? Right-wingers seem to get an unfair advantage (since their 2nd presf would go to each other).

And as much as it is a secondary consideration this vote DOES affect the Lib Dems deeply. If they lose there will be a big question mark over what they are actually getting out of the Coalition. Given that projections suggest that AV in the current environment gives the LDs more seats, taking them off Labour, and that we now know that LDs are happy to put Tories into power, it seems an odd thing to for any Labour supporter to get behind.

I don't see why we can't vote No this time and come back to electoral reform when a) we are in power and b) when it is clearer where the political parties actually stand.

Sasha said...

Hi Tom,
Thanks for your reply, I think this is an interesting discussion!

"It could have make results like 1997 more extreme for the winning party I think?"

But most of the other years it would have likely made results less extreme and might have stopped or hindered Thatcher back in the 80s.

"Also I'm not sure that it necessary ensures that everyone's vote gets equal weighting."

But it does provide a choice for equal weighting. Right now someone who votes for, say, the Greens in a constituency where they have no chance of winning has no say (or weighting) whatsoever.

"To be honest now that the Lib Dems have put the Tories into power"

Yes, but if they had not entered a coalition, the Tories would have gone into it alone, and would have likely tried to implement even worse, more extreme policies than they already have. The Lib Dems are not perfect, but they've softened the Tory rule, even if they get so much blame.

"Right-wingers seem to get an unfair advantage (since their 2nd presf would go to each other)."

The Lib Dems, as I understand them, tend to lean a bit more left than right (no to war, climate change, taxation issues), and would have backed Labour last time if they had not been so unpopular and far away from majority.

"AV in the current environment gives the LDs more seats, taking them off Labour"

It would take some seats from Labour but take more away from the Tories, in effect hurting the far right much more than the far left. So it's again a choice of who do you dislike most, the Tories (main Labour enemy) or the Lib Dems (a small, centre-leftish party).

"I don't see why we can't vote No this time and come back to electoral reform when a) we are in power and b) when it is clearer where the political parties actually stand."

When either Labour or the Conservatives are in power they won't want to do electoral reform because it abolishes the whole notion of safe seats (on which their balance of power rests). So it's now or in another generation's time.

Sasha