Monday, 21 February 2011

Second-raters win with AV?

The Prime Minister came out strongly against Alternative Vote, the weak reform of Britain's electoral system. His main argument was that

It could mean a Parliament of second choices. 

Which is weird. Because if we look at his own party's rules, it's a slow-motion form of Alternative Vote: MPs vote in rounds, with the candidate lagging behind being eliminated each time, until only two are left. At this stage the remaining candidates are put before the wider Conservative Party membership.
In the first ballot of Conservative MPs, held on 18 October 2005, Cameron came second with 56 votes to David Davis' 62 (though Cameron gained more votes than expected and Davis fewer). Liam Fox came third with 42 votes, Ken Clarke last with 38 votes and was eliminated. 
In the second ballot (20 October 2005), Cameron came first with 90 votes to David Davis' 57, and Liam Fox was eliminated with 51 [4]. All 198 Conservative MPs voted in both ballots. The next stage was for the Conservative party membership across the country to be polled on whether Cameron or Davis should be Conservative leader.
And what happens if the Tories abandon AV? Why, Mr David Davis would have won the first round and become party leader because he got most votes. Cameron initially came second, then picked up the votes of the losers' supporters. In his own words:

It's not so much that the winner has half the electorate behind that by virtue of a weird counting system, they have crawled over the finishing line.

So is Cameron accepting that he's a second-rater? After all, the system does tend to select the candidate who appeals to the losers' supporters (an 'anybody but X' system). Or as Cameron puts it:
Supporters of unpopular parties end up having their votes counted a number of times…
Leading to a situation in which

…someone who's not really wanted by anyone winning an election because they were the least unliked… those who are boring and the least controversial limping to victory.

Like Cameron, who has used his narrow victory in his party and his non-victory in the general election to apply Pinochet economics to a country which voted for moderate reform.

He also claims that AV leads to marginal and unstable government, despite Australia having two coalitions in 90 years of AV and the UK having many, many more under the current system.

Finally, he argues that - despite his party using this system, you're too stupid.

It's not my job to tell you exactly how the system works - that's for the 'yes' campaign to explain. But even if it was my job, I'll be honest with you, I don't think I could.

So: he's clever enough to win a campaign using it (and a man with an Oxford First Class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics probably is bright enough to understand it really, but oiky voters are too dumb to list preferences 1 2 3). Makes you proud, doesn't it?

(Read the whole slippery and dishonest speech here). Though I doubt you'll have the intellectual resources to cope with his prose, you morons.

No comments: