When I wrote about voting reform four days ago, I said “this is the first time I’ve ever written about politics on this blog, and I hope it will be the last.” True to my word, I then wrote about politics again yesterday, and now I’m doing it again. But this is the last time, honest. You know, unless something comes up.
Tomorrow is the big day for how we do democracy in the UK. Please vote.
Of course, when I say “please vote”, what I really mean is “please vote yes”.
I’m not going to pretend to be neutral on this. Our current voting system is broken, it’s that simple. In our current parliament, LESS THAN ONE THIRD of MPs were elected with actual majorities. Some were elected with only a quarter of the votes cast in their constituencies. The so-called First Past The Post system doesn’t actually require anyone to get to the post, nor half way to the post — nor even a third of the way. It polarises votes between each constituency’s two most popular parties, and marginalises any other voice that tries to be heard. It’s a simple system devised for a simpler time, and it just doesn’t work any more. It’s the eight-characters-plus-three-for-the-extension-case-insensitive filesystem of voting systems, and it’s time we upgraded. Maybe we can’t have ext4, but we can at least have FAT32.
Last time around, Paul Benjamin commented that “The liberal democrats would like to have PR but they realized voting for PR was hopeless […] AV is a halfway measure”. As it happens, I like the AV system more than True PR because it preserves the MP-constituency link, but that’s not the point. The point, as Chris Purcell rightly responded, is that “What different politicians were or were not thinking when the AV referendum was agreed is irrelevant. What’s important is whether it is better or worse than FPTP.” In another comment, Osvaldo Doederlein pointed out that Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem shows no election system can be perfect. But I don’t care about that: I care about improving what we have now, by accepting the upgrade that’s on the table. If I’ve been eating dogfood all my life and someone offers me steak, I am not going to reject it because it has a bit of gristle around the edges.
Mmm … Steak …
Oh, sorry … Drifted off for a moment there. Where was I?
Oh yes. Opposition to AV is primarily from the Conservative Party, who stand to lose the most seats if it’s accepted. On the other hand, support for AV is primarily from the Liberal Democrat, who (get ready for a huge shock) stand to gain the most seats if it’s accepted. So in a sense, we can ignore both of their arguments as based on self-interest.
Please, folks. Ignore the campaigning, and just ask yourself this. At the moment, you vote against the popular candidate who you most dislike. Wouldn’t you rather vote for the candidate you do like? In short, would you prefer not to have to lie on your ballot?
If so, vote Yes to AV tomorrow!