About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Thoughts on AV

I wasn't sure whether to post this here, because it's totally outside the scope of this blog, but we don't get a referendum very often, so what the hell!

Reasons you might vote No to the Alternative Vote system
(and why I think they're wrong)

1. It's too expensive.

The No campaign made this up. Most of their 'cost' is for vote counting machines. There's no reason why AV should need machines - humans are far better at reading numbers on a bit of paper than machines are. Another big chunk of money was for the referendum itself, and we're not going to get that money back by voting No.

Another way of answering this is to say, "Isn't democracy worth paying for?" Arguing against a fairer voting system on the grounds of cost is a slippery slope to set out on. Perhaps we should abandon voting altogether - that would be cheaper!

2. It's hard to predict what effect your vote will have.

As opposed to the current system where anyone living in a safe seat (e.g. me for the last three elections, and those were three different safe Tory seats) can be pretty sure that their vote will have no effect whatsoever.

3. It's too complicated.

Oh, come on! How hard is it to rank your favourite candidates in order? Or the ones who are standing from least bad to worst? If your first choice has no chance of winning, then your second choice counts, and so on. That is all.

But you don't really think it's complicated, do you? That's just another myth put around by the No campaign.

4. We'd rather have Proportional Representation.

Well yes, but that's not the choice we're being offered. The gamble here is which outcome is more likely to give us another chance to vote on a change in the electoral system. On the one hand, we get AV and the politicians say, "Right, that's that then, we're not going through that upheavel again" and we're stuck with AV. On the other hand, we keep First Past the Post and the politicians say, "Clearly there's no public appetite to change the voting system" and we're stuck with FPTP. Personally, I think we're more likely to get further change in the future if we vote for change now, but that's just a guess. Either way, I'd rather be stuck with AV than stuck with FPTP.

I don't think AV is a particularly good system, just better than FPTP, and that's the question we're being asked tomorrow.

Note that this illustration works just as well if there are only two similar parties, let's call them 'left wing', getting two votes each, and one different party, perhaps 'right wing', getting three votes

Meanwhile, at the same time as voting in a referendum on AV vs. FPTP, here in Wales we get to vote for our representatives in the Assembly using PR! Yes, really! A partial, complicated version of PR, but PR nonetheless. Seems a bit ironic, somehow.


  1. just wanted to say - Yes! Great post, all the best

  2. I concur with dichotomyof - great post.

    I have a strong suspicion it'll go to no but I'm really hoping for Yes.

  3. Thanks for the comments :-)

    Shame we didn't manage to persuade the rest of the country.

    Oh well, whoever you vote for you still end up with politicians in charge!

  4. I was really quite gutted we didn't get a yes, not surprised but a little sad.


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