Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

#NoToAV – please don’t insult my intelligence

AV could cost up to £250 Million

Do they really expect us to swallow this rubbish ?

I just got the #NoToAV leaflet through my door. I’m not committed either way on this – so here’s an opportunity for them to gain a vote.

I pick up the leaflet with the back cover towards me.

“The Alternative Vote system could cost the country £250 Million” – which is about a fiver each for a voting system that is intended to last a century or more. Not bad I think.

They go on : “£91 Million on the referendum.”

That much ? I don’t know – but aren’t we having local elections anyway ? So it shouldn’t cost too much – the polling stations will already be up, etc etc.

Oh and it will cost us that anyway – whether or not you vote AV

Oh and it was an election promise for both Lib-Dems and Labour and a condition of Coalition for Conservatives. So I think we can say that there’s a bit of a mandate for the referendum.

“£26 Million explaining how people should vote”

Really ? I thought you just put numbers in the ballot box.
Anyway ten bob per head of population sounds pretty cheap to me.

“Up to £130 Million on electronic vote counting machines.”
Except that you don’t need them, and there are no plans to buy any.

So it’s just a load of rubbish.

There are some very powerful arguments against the AV system. None of them are contained in this leaflet.

April 18, 2011 Posted by | politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sayeeda Warsi does have a point about AV

Vote for me

Does AV give more say to minority parties ?

I read today two related articles published earlier last week. One in The Sun by Baroness Sayeeda WarsiWhy a vote for AV is a vote for BNP and a response to that on Left Foot Forward –  Warsi makes hypocritical claim on BNP pandering

The first featuring said Sayeeda Warsi having her statements misrepresented by The Sun – she doesn’t say that a vote for AV is a vote for the BNP at all – no, she says that under AV, there is a side effect that minority parties, such as the BNP, are more likely to have their lower preferences recounted if no outright winner is elected, and this situation is likely to lead to candidates ‘pandering’ to the BNP vote in order to pick up second preference votes. Warsi concludes from this that it’s better to stick with the tried and tested approach of ‘first past the post’

I disagree with the reasoning which she uses to reach her conclusions – flaws in AV do not excuse the flaws in FPTP – which are many.

She does make an important point though – one which Will Straw’s article on Left Forward doesn’t seem to have grasped. Will appears to assume that Sayeeda is repeating the oft quoted myth which says that minority parties are more likely to win under AV than FPTP – Will’s right to challenge this – it’s spurious at best, and probably inaccurate – but it’s not what she’s saying.

Dewsbury Market

I also feel that highlighting her courting of the potential BNP vote in her previous campaign in Dewsbury, using what he tags  as “dog whistle”  literature, further misses the point. It also fails to contextualise her tactic – I know Dewsbury very well, and my feeling is that a female Asian candidate in Dewsbury, speaking directly to people planning to vote BNP, and telling them not to, is a brave strategy indeed – I don’t support her, but I do respect her for that.

To explain Sayeeda Warsi’s point, which I feel illustrates a fundamental failing of the Alternative Vote system, consider this :-

Suppose there was an election under AV which had 4 candidates – Labour,  Conservative, Liberal Democrat and BNP.

Let’s suppose for the sake of argument, that the first choice results were : Lab 21,000; Con 16,000, Lib Dem 7,000, and BNP, 4,000

After the first round of voting the BNP are eliminated – no change for them : under  First Past the Post – they wouldn’t win, and they certainly don’t win now.

So on to second preferences – but whose second preferences count ?

Most of the Labour and Conservative second preferences would be likely to be for the Lib-Dems – and most Lib Dems’ second preferences would presumably be for Conservative or Labour.

Only their second preferences don’t count – they haven’t been eliminated – so don’t get redistributed !

No !  The only second preferences cast at this point would be the BNP votes – and they have it within their power to either see Labour home and dry, or to force a third count, and the uncertainty of a redistribution of Lib-Dem votes.

So the party that comes last – the party that fewer people want to win than any other – is effectively the party whose voters get to decide the outcome of the election – which in the run up to the election, means that politicians will feel under pressure to appease minority parties to pick up second preferences.

Surely this is unfair ?

How can the least popular party be given the first opportunity to select their second choice ?

Please explain it to me – have I made a mistake with my interpretation of AV ?

I really hope I have – let me know.

So far in this campaign issues like this seem to be left un-addressed by either side. I’ve no fondness for FPTP – but from where I stand AV appears to be just as deeply flawed – I really don’t know how to vote. It’s like heads you lose, tails you don’t win.

Point me to the persuasive arguments please – not the four legs good-two legs bad bickering.

PS : Interesting how WordPress applied automatic links to Lib Dems, but not Labour, Conservative or BNP – You know where to look for them !

April 3, 2011 Posted by | news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Con-Dem’s 55% rule would do Hitler proud

Have a look at the text of the coalition deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats :Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition deal: full text | Politics |

I could probably do a blog on every line of this, but scroll to the bit about Political Reform (No. 6) – which starts by naming the date of the next election as “The first Thursday of May 2015”. Which is of course the longest it can legally be under our current system.

If you think like I do you’ll probably have reacted to that by thinking that the coalition is unlikely to last that long – it will doubtless suffer splits and defeats and ultimately a vote of no confidence precipitating an election long before then – or perhaps the Tories sensing a surge in the opinion polls might go to the nation to try to secure a more workable majority.

Not so, according to what comes next in the coalition agreement :

“legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed-term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.”

Let’s just dissect that a little.

That means that this parliament (not a future one – THIS one) will be able to be brought down by a vote of no confidence – but only if 55% of the MPs vote to do that. Note that this is not 55% of those who vote, but 55% of all MPs. And not just a simple majority of 51% – but 55% – OK not much difference I hear you say, and it introduces a little more stability by discouraging interminable series of confidence votes designed to sabotage the Government of the day.

But how much is 55% – Well it’s 357.5 seats – so as it needs to be more than 55% it would need to be 358 – no half seats. So that would need (typically) : All 258 Labour votes; all 57 Lib Dem Votes; & all 28 of the “other” votes – totalling 343 – so it would also need a further 15 Conservative votes. Actually not quite true – it would also need a further 5 votes – because Sinn Fein would be likely not to vote at all – not to mention anyone who was ill or otherwise engaged on the day of the vote.

So the Conservative Party, with help from the Liberal Democrat party are planning to enact binding legislation –  enacted with a simple majority of those MP’s who turn up to vote – which would ensure that the Conservative Party remained in office for the next 5 years in all circumstances save that when at least 20 of their own number decided to vote against. So actually they could sell the Lib Dems down the river without a second thought – they wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it.

The Conservatives lets remember hold just 306 of the 650 seats – a mere 47% – which they gained with 36.1% of the popular vote, on a turn out of 65.1%  – this represents just 23.5% of the total electorate.

This is the kind of immunity from accountability that is the hallmark of dictators and despots. It is a manoeuvre of which Adolf Hitler would have been proud – effectively preventing opposition to the ruling party.

This is dangerous totalitarianism. It must not be allowed to take it’s place in law. (See this article in the Times Online
Plans for fixed-term Parliaments “not credible” and “dangerous” – says law expert – Law Central – Times Online – WBLG

I’m shocked that the Conservative Party could sink so low.

Astounded that the Liberal democrat party could be so stupid as to be taken in by such a proposal.

Please make people aware of this – it’s a very big issue, which could potentially threaten the liberty of all of us.

As a postscript it seems somewhat laughable that the same section of the Coalition text contains the much vaunted “Power of Recall” – intended to deal with wayward MP’s

“The parties will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.”

Why laughable ?

Well because this occurs only when an MP has been found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing. Which presumably means breaking the law.

And how many of the MPs involved in the expenses scandal have been found guilty of breaking the law ?  Well none yet. There are three on the way though, who may well be, and under the new legislation it would only take a mere 7,000 signatures or so to force a by election. Except that by then they’d probably have been expelled from their parties, and may well already have been replaced (as these three have). In other words a meaningless piece of legislation, which is presumably designed only to deflect attention from the draconian self-protective law making outlined above.

See the Moments of Clarity Blog for more on this : What a fix!! «

or here at 21st Century Fix Cameron apes Berlusconi’s Italy by making it impossible to vote him out

May 12, 2010 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , , | 20 Comments


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