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Friday, 6 May 2011

Vote Yes to AV (or not)

I don't think I've ever knowingly agreed with Peter Mandleson until today. Lord Mandleson was a supporter of the Yes to AV campaign, and so was I. In fact, I was able to get my vote in on time for this referendum, not that it did any good, as people overwhelmingly voted no in the elections. It's a real shame, because its a much better system that gives people a lot more choice. It gives people the chance to actually vote for the parties they like instead of possibly voting for people they don't like in order to stop someone else from winning. The problem is with such a decisive margin, we won't get much needed electoral reform for 30 years.

Here are some of the reasons as I see it.

1) There was not enough time between the announcement of the referendum and the referendum itself. When you're talking about changing the way we vote, there needs to be a lot of time to digest the info to make an informed decision. In reality, people didn't understand the changes and opted to vote no.

2) The no campaign did a good job of fearmongering (the BNP will get into power!!!) and lying about costs and effectiveness.

3) The yes campaign was backed by the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems took a huge hit and may have taken down the vote with them. The Tories, of course, voted no because it's in their interests not to change. The Labour party was undecided, because Labour more than any other party gets mileage out of the First Past the Post System.

In other election news. England and Scotland once again showed that their voters behave differently. Last year, the English voted for the Conservatives but the Scottish had a lot of support for Labour which denied David Cameron an outright victory. This year, the Labour vote is back up in England (they made large gains), but they got trounced in Scotland. However, we should consider a couple of points. The first is what is at stake. Last year, they Scottish voters did what was in their power to try and stop a Conservative government and that was to vote Labour for the best effect. This year, that issue is not on the table and so they are more free to express their displeasure at both Labour (who were in power when the economic crises went down) and the Lib Dems who are in the coalition with the Tories. They have the luxury of a fourth choice of party in the SNP, that's something that the English don't have. The Conservatives actually gained a share of the vote this year, which means that some people are pleased with the deficit reduction at least. I think the Labour gains were not got from the Tories but from the Lib Dems. In essence the left wing voters were just shifting allegiance from one party to the other. We should also note that the Labour gains essentially offset last year's huge losses, though 42% of the vote is very good for a three party system.

PS Happy Birthday Mark