I’m in a genuine quandary. I’m a big advocate of UK electoral reform (both houses), but I cannot see myself voting yes in the upcoming referendum, (same as I cannot see me supporting the idea of popular votes for the second house).
The AV system proposed remains a first-past-the-post system. There is weighted value for first, second, third preferences (*), but the winner takes all. No changes to constituencies of representation, no proportionality, no balance, no shared responsibility. Still open to gerrymandering of constituencies too. And by all accounts, the actual weightings proposed look like barely changing outcomes for any previous election scenarios. Most people still end up governed / represented by someone they didn’t vote for, so criticising “them” politicians remains the default stance for most of “us” citizens. Sigh. If anything I suspect it will increase tactical vote-splitting incentives too. At least it looks like a minimum turnout limit on the vote being valid – best thing maybe not to vote (can’t believe myself) or turning up and spoiling the paper in a no-confidence vote perhaps the best option.
And in the supreme irony, the referendum itself is a simplistic yes / no first-past-the-post vote itself, one choice. No “No, buts” or “No, because”, “My preference is” … no alternatives, nothing, nada. Like the latest census, a total waste of valuable public resources, eliciting minimal valuable information in return, at a time when we can least afford it.
Point missed; opportunity missed. What do you think ?
[Post Note : (*) I should be clear. The AV systems proposed – is indeed still a first past the post system – but the counting does not involve weighting of the preferences per se, rather reallocation of last place based on your preferences until the first place gets over 50% of those equally weighted votes cast – the winning post is 50% rather than a simple majority and the first past it wins – clear FPTP. In a sense the winner will in fact represent a greater number of people who voted for them – albeit with lower preferences – which is indeed a step in a progressive direction, but I’m guessing there can be no enforcement of people having to express additional preferences beyond their first choice, so the difference may be even more marginal and open to tactical considerations. This single referendum issue really depends on a holistic view of how people genuinely feel enfranchised (or not) by constituencies and parties at local and national levels, including both houses and head of state at the national level. The whole thing needs a plan or strategy longer than a single electoral cycle. The psychological (hence tactical / strategic game-play interaction) complexity is real, no matter how much Hurd and others rant the banal matra of the single vote FPTP being simplest and anything else requiring “higher maths”. Fixing the enfranchisement is the core issue. If people cast their single (simple) vote but still believe all politicians are “dickheads” they can disown when they disagree, then we have a problem that needs fixing. I don’t think we’d like the alternatives to democracy. What was it Churchill said ?]