|The Great Alternative Vote Debate
||[Apr. 12th, 2011|10:48 pm]
I see a lot of heat, but very little light.|
Let's start with a disclaimer. I'm an anarchist. As such, the mechanism by which the parties divvie up power is primarily of academic interest to me. That said, I'll launch into the debate of "what colour do you think the wheel should be?" and ignore the shape. Why not?
The fundamental argument about AV seems to be, is it fairer? "Fair" is always a popular word word with politicians. It means virtually nothing, but if you can portray your policies as "fair", you can get away with murder. Sometimes literally. So, make your choice (which we'll simplify by keeping the entirity of the system - single-member constituencies, House of Lords, whips, party lists, the old boys' network an' all - intact):
Is it fairer that the most popular single party gets their guy in?
Is it fairer that the least unpopular single party gets their guy in?
(... and they probably are guys.)
Take your pick. I'd lean toward the former though. "First past the post" is a fairly well established way of deciding the results of races, and generally more satisfying than all the runners disappearing into a room for a few days whilst they share out their times in return for favours and promises.
The next thing I hear is along the lines of well, it's not perfect, but it's a step toward a better system. Is it? Is it? I remember hearing that in the last "big" constitutional reform; of the House of Lords under the last lot. Ended up with them turfing out a load of hereditary peers (some of whom were so many generations on from the original appointment that they were beginning to resemble a random cross-section of society ... only some, and only beginning, but still...) ... and replacing them with their own (and the other party leaders' own) personal appointments. Not just peers leaning toward one party line or another, but the personal appointments of the current party leadership. Now, it may just be me, but I didn't see that "step in the right direction" do anything other than make a bad system worse, then settle down under its own weight. I don't see anything to suggest that a "yes" vote in the AV referendum will be a first step to anywhere else either.
Ah, but, it's the Liberal Democrats. You know, the nice fluffy party of the people, and democracy.
Again, maybe it's me, but I don't trust the name. It's trying too hard, like it's over-compensating for something: cf "People's Democratic Republic," "Freedom Party," "Simplified Chinese," "Ministry of Defence," and "Ford Probe".
It's a simple question: do the Lib Dems support AV because they see it, selflessly, as a more democratic system; or do they support it, selfishly, as a way of getting more MPs?
The "democracy/fairness" issue I've already touched on, and we'll leave it as undecided for the purpose of this question. You may, of course, disagree one way or the other.
As to "self interest"...
AV is largely irrelevant in fundamentally safe, or two-way split, constituencies. Somebody gets 50%+ without it going to the second round.
If you have a three-way split, however, the odds are it's going to be Labour/Conservative/Lib Dem. And it seems self-evident that Labour voters are likely to prefer the Lib Dem candidate as an alternative rather than the Conservative, and that Conservative voters are likely to prefer the Lib Dem candidate as an alternative rather than the Labour. So the Lib Dems are the most likely beneficiaries - hoorah!
Once upon a time, we may have given those nice Liberal Democrats the benefit of the doubt: "yes, they may benefit from it, but it's the democratic principle which is driving them". But, if there's anyone who still doubts that they have the same fundamental objective of every political party - to acquire and maintain power - I'd advise them to switch to a better quality news source now.