The Thick of It


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

AV: We all dream of a team of Nick Cleggs

I've found the campaign for the alternative vote underwhelming. I really should care much more than I do. Growing up in the 1980s with a dominant Tory party governing on 40% of the vote like they had 100% I looked to a "fairer" voting system to stop that happening again. Labour wanted it, Labour won and no longer cared. I'm not caring that much. I probably should.

The vote presents us a with a critical juncture, to go with change and start to create a much vaunted "new politics" or stick with the status quo. In principle giving more people a little bit of what they want is a good thing. Making more parliamentary seats realistically contested is also a good thing.

On the downside, AV will mean Nick Clegg will always be in power even though he is the least popular of the three leaders Does he deserve to be kingmaker? Neither the Tories or Labour are likely to ever get more than 50% of the total vote ever again, which means the third party will always hold the balance of power. I don't like the idea of smaller parties holding others to ransom.

From a partisan political point of view I like the idea of the referendum failing because it will land a huge blow to the Lib Dems, who have staked their reputation on this single issue. Why do the Lib Dems care so much? Only because it suits their own partisan political ends. They would be the only winners from reform.

I'll vote no because I don't believe that Nick Clegg's desire for AV is one for genuine fairness. I believe it is for selfish political gain. We would be much better off with a full and proper review and the prospect of a truly fair voting system. AV isn't it. AV was a rushed compromise given to the Lib Dems by the Tories to bribe them into coalition.

Nick Clegg put it best himself when he dubbed AV a "miserable little compromise."

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