For anyone wondering, I don’t intend to only write about AV.
The NO2AV campaign offer some interesting reasons for opposing AV. One of them is that it might help the BNP’s election performance. They say “A no vote stops minority party voters – like BNP supporters – getting more than one vote when the votes are counted”.
Why that might be the case? As a small party with less chance of being elected they might suffer from the bandwagon effect I’ve previously mentioned. Those who might wish to vote for them may not because they think it will be a wasted vote and instead vote for one of the larger parties.
The problem comes when you consider that the same “benefit” of FPTP would also affect other small parties. The Greens, UKIP, the Pirate Party, the English Democrats Party, or the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. These are all examples of smaller parties which I don’t support but should our voting system be effectively rigged to protect society from those that may do?
What the NO2AV campaign are effectively saying is that the voting public can’t be trusted to not vote for the wrong party and we need protecting from ourselves by FPTP. NO2AV want to insult us whilst telling us how we should vote in the referendum.
This does rather call into question some of the other statements from NO2AV, such as their suggestion that “A no vote will defend fair votes and is a call for real reform”. Reading that one might think NO2AV want us to vote no to signal that we want something better than AV, STV perhaps? However, if NO2AV don’t trust us to vote for the right people under AV, why would they support proportional representation?
NO2AV talk about defending democracy, people power, and real reform. It is hard to see how that fits with their opposition to having an AV referendum at all and their fear of the public voting incorrectly in elections.
They say a ‘no’ vote “is a call for real reform” but it is difficult to imagine what real reform they might support which would be an improvement on AV. If the public do vote ‘no’ then are we realistically going to see other proposals for voting reform brought forward? Then, if we did, would the NO2AV camp be prepared to accept spending more money on another referendum? The choice might either be changing the voting system without a referendum or just sticking with FPTP. So much for democracy, people power, and real reform.
A vote ‘no’ is not a call for “real reform”, it is a vote for the status quo and would probably just sweep voting reform under the carpet for years to come. In a truly fair and democratic society we must accept there will be some minority elements we will despise but trust our fellow citizens to make the right decisions.
As for NO2AV’s declaration that it “is not a party-political campaign”, they don’t seem to have got off to a particularly good start. Their campaign director Matthew Elliott has received the rather interestingly named “Conservative Way Forward’s One of Us” award, chairman Rodney Leach is a Tory peer, and Charlotte Vere, said to be the national campaign organiser, was the Tory candidate for Brighton Pavilion in the general election. Rather ironically, Brighton Pavilion is the same constituency which elected the only Green Party MP. No surprise then perhaps that Vere doesn’t want the potential of smaller parties getting any more votes.
Whilst NO2AV say their “fight for fair votes enjoys support across the political spectrum”, their current team does seem to be somewhat biased towards one end.