Sunday, 3 April 2011

It's no to AV for me

Here is a letter that I had published in the Batley News on the 24th February 2011:

Regarding the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum, May 2011, I would recommend that everyone looks closely at both systems, as I believe AV is being sold as something it isn’t.
First Past the Post (FPTP) is criticised for not being proportionate, but AV can be much worse. Using AV, in 1997 and 2005 Labour would have got even bigger majorities than under FPTP. In 1997 the majority would have been 245, not 179, 68 per cent of the seats with 43.2 per cent of the vote. In 2005 the majority would have been 108, not 66, 59 per cent of the seats with 35.2 per cent of the vote.
AV does not help small parties. The parties with fewest first preferences are eliminated first, so they have no more chance of winning seats than under FPTP. In addition, if for example, the Conservatives lose a seat because 2000 people voted UKIP, that is the sharpest political lesson. Under AV, the UKIP vote would probably go to the Conservatives as a later preference. Therefore, the effect of the UKIP first preference would be entirely wasted.
I support electoral reform - genuinely proportionate systems such as STV, AV plus or AMS could be really be transformative. However, we are not being offered a proportionate system.
AV does not solve any of the issues encountered with FPTP, but loses its key benefit - a clear simplicity. My tag line would be ‘AV - What is the point?’


  1. You are right about 97 cos the county was pissed off with the tories, but i voted labour in 97, if it had been AV i would have voted lib 1st and labour 2nd. So i don't know for sure how it would have turned out but the tories would have got killed

    2005 you are way out, it would have been a hung parliment with libs as largest party, not one liked labour then, they just thought the tories were even worse. It really was the low point of FPTP, the party the voters wanted had no chance so they voted against the worst option. How depressing

  2. Richard,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Have you a link regarding 2005? I have seen no research that said the Lib Dems would have been the largest party.

    I would interested to read it.

    Here is a link some research on AV if it was in place for the last 6 elections (up to 2005)

  3. Hi Garry. I quite agree that, at the parliamentary level, AV has little more going for it than FPAP. If there is any point to it, then, it has to arise at the constituency level; i.e., as an improvement on the way the voting system assesses the collective preference of the voters in a constituency and selects a representative accordingly. In this respect, I think that the superiority of the Instant Runoff technique employed by AV to the current system is clear cut, for the simple fact that it permits the voter to convey more of his/her feelings on the matter, and can take these into account in its assessment.

    I certainly don't believe that the Instant Runoff technique is anywhere near perfect in this respect, but it's still simple, practicable and, in my belief, more discerning than the crude FPAP technique. I find it much more difficult to concoct hypothetical examples of constituency elections where the latter method acts as a better judge of the collective will than the former.