How should I vote on AV?

Politics is about power. “Democracy” loosely refers to citizens having a stake in who gets to excercise that power. The electoral system is but one aspect of democracy which is but one aspect of politics in this country. I don’t think first past the post is a good electoral system in a triparty system like the UK currently has. I don’t think AV is much better, but I do think it is a bit better, but not as good as STV.

Under STV, I imagine, there would be more political parties and my favourite fluffy lefties would get together with my adorable tolerant liberals and all would have ponies, a land value tax, a citizens basic income, nominal GDP targeting, and worker managed firms.

However, the more I realise how politics actually works in the long run, the less I think electoral systems are the way to make the above happen. Electoral systems seem to allow us to choose between elites, and no system removes that element from liberal democracy. The zeitgeist that ushers in or follows an election seems far more important, and far easier to affect, than the result of that election.

If I want things I like to happen, I have to convince others that they are good things to happen. The right electoral system might merely bring these good ideas forward a decade or so. So the marginal effects are pretty slim.

Given that I think Duncan is correct and the Tories are driving the economy into the floor and I think Sunny is correct and the Tories are not “listening” but are “pressign ahead” with really really stupid top down reform of the NHS doing everything I can to wreck the coalition should be number one priority.

If there is a chance a “No” vote in this referendum could force the Lib Dems out of coalition I should seriously consider focussing on stopping AV, and possibly forcing an election where something important might change.

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6 thoughts on “How should I vote on AV?

  1. A “no” vote will not wreck the coalition; if anything it’ll pull the Orange Bookers closer to the Tories while further disenfranchising left-liberals who find the likes of John Reid just as disgusting as George Osborne. Also, do you think the secretive Tory backers of the No campaign give two hoots about the NHS?

    AV isn’t great, but it’s fairer than what we have. Also, it weakens the Tories. Forget voting no just to kick Clegg in the pants; the upshot of that will be a Tory hegemony, and anyway Little Nicky is a no-mark who will be long gone by 2015. This isn’t a contest where a short-term solution is needed.

    1. It probably won’t lead to the coalition coming apart, but only within similar bounds of chance of it leading to STV. Of the two, I think bringing down the coalition is more important.

      Its a way of thinking about politics that is less issue specific and more about where we want to be in the future. I’m not sure which way to vote, or even if AV being noed, will bring down the coalition or strengthen in. But if theres a chance it will knock them down, then its a small sacrifice

  2. Your logic is flawed, to say the least. whatever the result, It won’t lead to the coalition breaking up or STV; the Liberals have no choice but to stay in with the coalition or they’ll face electoral ruin. However the Tory right have far more appetite for bringing down the coalition; they love the electoral wilderness, it’s been their comfort zone since 1997. A yes vote will infuriate them no end.

    A yes vote will also be the country admitting that FPTP needs to go, and opens the door to AV far, far sooner than a no vote opens the door to STV

  3. Sorry that should say AVplus in the last para.

    A bit more: you’re right that no electoral system can be higher-minded than the people voting in it, but there’s a lot to be said for fighting the battle that’s in front of you, not the ones down the line.

  4. Let’s look at this from the perspective of a Lib Dem MP:

    ‘Crap! We lost the AV vote! We’re so unpopular that we can lose even an obvious positive step forward! If we leave the coalition now I’ll lose my seat. My best chance is to hang on for the five years and hope that things magically get better.’

  5. The vast majority of people will always find a way to convince themselves that whichever option results in them at least maintaining their current social status and power really is the best option for all concerned. For the subset of people who go into professional politics, this tendency is even more pronounced. Therefore, the Lib Dems will almost certainly stick with the coalition no matter what happens, even if the Tories start feeding orphans into woodchippers. Hell, they’ll stick with it even if the Tories make them feed orphans into woodchippers.

    Ask yourself this: what would the bastards be like if they actually had an outright majority? And which electoral system is most likely to deliver that outcome?

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