Tomorrow is the last chance for electoral reform in our lifetimes.
The choice is between AV, the Alternative Vote, and FPTP, First Past The Post, the current system. Other forms of voting exist, but tomorrow’s choice is simple:
- Yes: change the system to AV
- No: stick with the current system
Be assured: voting No is a vote for the status quo. You won’t get another choice for PR or MMP or anything else at a later date. In this respect, the referendum echoes the binary choice that is often forced on voters by FPTP.
If you believe the Conservative narrative, FPTP delivered three terms of a Labour government that left the country broken and destitute.
If you believe the Labour narrative, FPTP has delivered a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government that is going to destroy the NHS, education, and leave the poor and disabled to starve.
If you believe either (or, indeed, both!) of those narratives and still think that FPTP serves us well, I’d invite you to interrogate your internal assumptions very carefully.
Some of the arguments against AV are rather specious: in particular, I refer to the idea that some voters are counted multiple times. This is meaningless from a mathematical perspective, but it also misses the point, which is to return a candidate with broad support from the constituency. In this respect, the fact that the Monster Raving Loony candidate is eliminated early and his voters’ second preferences go to a more popular candidate does not give them multiple votes: rather, it results in the returning of a candidate with wide appeal and greater legitimacy.
AV will, for the first time, allow us simply to vote for the people whom we want to represent us. No longer will we be forced into a binary choice between the only two possible winners in a constituency. No longer will we have to second-guess our neighbours’ voting patterns in order to cast our own ballots. No longer will the ballot choice resemble a dilemma from a dissertation on game theory. No longer will the direction of government be determined by the votes of a few tens of thousands of swing voters in marginal seats.
I encourage you to read a couple of very good posts on the subject before you vote:
- Is AV better than FPTP?—a mathematician’s analysis of the subject that addresses many of the No to AV campaign’s arguments
- On AV—a discussion of the relative merits and demerits of AV, FPTP, and PR
Vote yes tomorrow. Vote for a better system. Vote for a change, because it’s your last chance in this lifetime.