Tuesday, 18 January 2011

How are you going to vote in the great AV referendum?

The Liberal Democrats, when they were a real political party - one with stabilisers on mind - spent all their time declaring that we needed Proportional Representation to produce parliaments in which the number of MPs matched the preferences of the voters.

They agreed to prop up the most malicious Tory government in decades if they were allowed to hold a referendum on the Alternative Vote - a weak version of the voting system which allows us to rank candidates in order of preference and transfer votes until one reaches 50%. It's not proportional but it's better than the First Past The Post system.

So the referendum may or may not be in three months. The Lib Dems didn't want AV. The Tories don't want it. Labour doesn't want it (some want FPTP, some PR). I think it's better than the current system but not good enough. I also think an easily lost referendum on something you don't support is an insultingly cheap thing for which to sell your soul. It's like the Tories have tossed their spare change on a girl's bedside table: they should either pay their prostitutes properly or treat the coalition like a mutual encounter with benefits on both sides. Buying them so cheaply is simply an insult, but clearly one the Lib Dems were happy to take.

So. Do I vote for AV because it's a mild improvement? Or do I vote against it because it might help bring down a disgraceful and damaging government? I have my doubts that it will, actually: the Lib Dems are going to be punished massively at the next election, so won't want to bring down the wrath of the people 4 years earlier than they have to. Their current strategy is to support everything the Tories do - however evil - in the hope that the financial situation will improve by 2015 and claim some of the credit. They're politicians: they crave power above all things.

What are your thoughts?


neal said...

I agree, AV seems like a slightly better system, so I’d probably vote in favour, although is it correct that the Tories have tagged on something about reducing the number of MPs particularly in inner city areas, therefore favouring themselves (I should look this up for myself but am too lazy). This seems like a really bad idea; surely it would be better to have a larger ratio of MPs to constituents and therefore better access. If they want to save money get rid of half the Lords.

Recalling your MP could be quite fun though, particularly if used on LibDems with University constituencies.

The Plashing Vole said...

The problem is that they've bundled all these things together in Parliament, which is a low-down dirty trick.

I don't think Britain can be called a democracy when they've bumped the number of unelected Lords up past the 800 mark while reducing the unelected ones to 600. Time for a small, elected Senate: the US one manages with two Senators for each state.