Politics is not a game known for honesty but I am getting really fed up with the twisting of the facts being spouted by the No2AV campaigners in the run up to the referendum.
Think for a moment, if they had a good argument for voting against AV, why do they only use sniping and sneering? Why do they try to scare people with threats of “the BNP will be stronger” (far from true, ask the BNP)? It’s because they’re scared they’re going to lose their unfair advantage.
They don’t want the millions who voted against them in the last election to have an equal say. Despite this, if AV is so awful, why would so many Labour MPs be in favour of it when they know it’ll make their work harder? The reason is simple; they believe in democracy and AV will result in governments that are closer to what the WHOLE nation wants.
Here are a few No Voter myths exploded:
• “The Lib Dems would always be part of a coalition government” RUBBISH! – Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University has calculated that the 1997 election being run under AV would have given Tony Blair’s Labour Party an even bigger majority. In 2010, the LibDems would have only won about 20 more seats but that would have made a Labour/LibDem coalition more feasible, which probably better reflects what the 7 million LibDem voters and 9 million Labour voters would have preferred. In the 90 years that Australia has used AV, it has elected only one coalition, while Britain has had at least three and Canada’s provinces even more. Both of them use First Past The Post.
• “AV is unfair because supporters of fringe parties can end up having their vote counted five or six times.” TWISTING THE FACTS! What they’re actually scared of is that those voters have any say at all. Only one of your crosses on your ballot paper can actually affect the result. It might not be your first choice but it means your opinion is counted. For the first time, voters for party’s other that the main two are heard.
• “Only three other countries use AV” NOT TRUE. France and Ireland use similar systems. So do many British unions and the Conservative and Labour parties of Great Britain use it to choose their leaders. If it’s good enough for them, why not us?
• “It takes ages to count and it has to be done by machine” – NOT TRUE. The Australians have been counting their elections this way since before most of Australia had electricity. If they can do it, why can’t we?
• “The next election will cost £250 million under AV” – NOT TRUE. The only difference in cost is if we buy counting machines, which we don’t have to, and if we do the cost will be spread across several elections, so this is a CON.
• “First Past The Post is fair” – Only if you have a two party system. Remember the words of the Tory canvasser on your doorstep – under the First Past The Post, “a vote for anyone except us is wasted.” Very Fair I don’t think!
• “First Past The Post is the most widely used system in the world” – NOT TRUE. Various forms of proportional representation are much more widely used but the Conservative Party wouldn’t offer that option in the referendum. AV is the next best thing and far better that we vote for an improvement than stay with our tired old unfair First Past The Post system.
• “First Past The Post excludes extremist parties” – NOT TRUE. AV naturally gives a more balanced representation of a constituency’s electorate’s views because it takes everyone’s preferences into account. It is actually more likely to favour the parties towards the middle.
• “First Past The Post creates strong governments.” – Which is like saying we shouldn’t allow people who don’t vote for the main two parties to have their views heard. Why not go the whole hog and have a dictatorship?
• “AV would have no effect on safe seats” – NOT TRUE. It might not get rid of all of them but it will certainly reduce their numbers and it will definitely make all MPs work harder to prove their worth. It’s a good way of stopping them cheating on their expenses.
• “Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats want the change the way we vote” – So do UKip, the Green Party and much of the Labour Party, including its leader, who was chosen by AV, and many millions of others who are sick of being told that their vote is wasted.
• “Under coalitions, any promises they made during the campaign are thrown out of the window.” NOT TRUE! Of course, coalition means compromise because the parties involved will have different views and must negotiate to see which of their policies get enacted. Don’t just take my word for it. Read the Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestos from last year and compare to what they’ve done in coalition. You’ll find a surprising number of both parties’ policies succeeding, including over 60 Liberal Democrat policies. But under a one-party government, more than half the voters will never see the policies they voted for happening. Anyway, this coalition was elected under their precious First Past The Post system, so what has it got to do with this debate?
Remember this, in the last election, over 10 million people voted against both Labour and the Conservatives. That’s more than voted for Labour. Under our current system, over one third of the country’s votes would have been “wasted”. Under AV, those voters would have been heard! I’m voting for AV because I’m fed up with being told my vote is wasted. An honest politician would be willing to fight his or her campaign on a level playing field. Take Karen Buck MP, an honourable Labour MP who is voting for AV even though she knows it would have cost her her seat last year. She’s voting for it because she knows the importance of honest democracy. Anyone voting against AV clearly doesn’t want to lose their unfair advantage. That is anti-democratic and like the NO campaign, as dishonest as a Duck House.
I want British people to vote FOR the preferences they want not AGAINST the party they don’t want. That’s why I’m voting FOR AV on May 5th.