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May 4th, 2011

AV Referendum: Reasons to Vote

By Cian O'Donovan

Last week a 38 Degrees member summarised the positive arguments made by each side in the AV referendum. The blog and Facebook post unleashed an avalanche of debate and presented more reasons for and against the proposed change. These have been incorporated into the updated table.

Reform voting system to “Alternative vote”.
Stick with “First Past The Post” voting system.
Rank candidates in order of preference:
1, 2, 3
Put a cross by chosen candidate:
Currently used in the UK:
By political parties to elect their leader. By MPs to elect their Speaker and committee members.
Currently used in the UK:
To elect MPs to Westminster parliament.
Supported by:
Most of the Labour Party, Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP, a few Conservatives.
Supported by:
Almost all Conservatives, the BNP, some of Labour.
Leading arguments: 

  • Will encourage MPs to listen to voters who don’t usually support their party because they will have to think about second and third preference votes as well.
  • Will reduce the number of ‘safe seats’ and ‘jobs for life’ among MPs – potentially reducing the kind of complacency that led to the expenses scandal.
  • Will give each voter a say in who their MP is even if their first choice does not win.
  • Will make it harder for “extremist” parties to get elected as they would need to get 50% of voters to rank them highly.
Leading arguments: 

  • It is tried and tested – it’s been our voting system for a very long time.
  • This is the system under which all our previous Westminster governments have been elected, and tends to produce a clear result.
  • It is cheaper than AV (NB this claim is controversial, the YES campaign have described it as a “lie”).
  • It is less complicated than AV and is therefore easy for everyone to understand: the candidate who gets the most votes wins.

Do you agree? Are there any big issues missing? Add a comment below.

You might find these articles by the BBC helpful. Or you could have a look at what the yes and no campaigns for the referendum have to say.

Here’s what a few 38 Degrees members have said about the referendum:

Stuart is voting Yes: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people requires the involvement of the people and the conviction of the people that their involvement counts, whoever they support. AV is a small step in the right direction in bringing power out of the boardrooms and down to our level. It isn’t the whole journey, but it is a first step.

Cathy is voting No: “Either go whole hog proportional, or keep it as it is rather than spending resources on a system that is pretty much as good as, if not only marginally better or worse than, the status quo.”

Lauren is voting Yes: “If George Osborne, the BNP, the Murdoch Empire, and David Blunkett all want me to vote no to AV, then I’m going to vote yes!

Joe is voting No: “AV isn’t really any more democratic though. In a way it’s worse because in many cases some votes are worth more than others because you’re mixing first preference votes with second preference votes.

Grant is voting Yes: “Living in Scotland I have found AV/STV to be an opportunity to change our voting system for the better so we are not stuck with same old parties winning the vote.

Jon is voting No: “I should be a supporter of AV because I support UKIP / English Democrats or ANY civilised bunch who will get us out of Europe. BUT it’s no good getting us out of Europe if we are left with a bunch of ‘all things to all men’ apparachnikim at home.

It could be decades before we get another chance to vote on reforming the voting system, particularly if there is a No vote. So let’s make sure everyone has a chance to have their say!

Please send this blog post to your friends and remind them to vote.

If you use Facebook, you can post a status reminder here. If you use Twitter, you can tweet a reminder here.

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