06 September 2010

Would I vote for, or against

MPs are currently voting (actually, it just passed) on the electoral reform bill that will put forward a referendum on the AV system

I have a dilemma

Naturally I want to back reform, I want to rid us of the rotten boroughs and minority victories (2/3s of MPs do not have a majority)

I admit AV is a step in the right direction, majority verdicts are preferable in my view - and breaking down Labour's gerrymandered seats is a good thing

However, I have seen AV in action, in Australia - and I have two main worries

Firstly, if we adopt a modern, relatively 'fair' system, where it is harder to show blatant problems and inherent unfairness, as we can now, will we simply accept it? Reformers, for the most part, do not want this system, nor do the traditionalists - but if we pass this, I fear we may be stuck with it, as they are in Australia, where this relatively modern electoral system has little opposition and yet produces confusing results - it may well be that we are better off arguing with something far worse and waiting for something much better than taking what is effectively, a sticking plaster, right now

Secondly, as I mentioned - AV produces confusing results, while they may be more legitimate in theory, the weighting element adds a confusing layer of jargon to the electorate and encourages even more tactical voting, in Australia, parties can hand over preferences that aren't allocated, for example

As you can see with the argument over legitimacy between Abbott and Gillard down under, it's hard to see who has more votes, or is more preferred - and their two-party system is even more ingrained than ours, so AV doesn't seem to help dissenting voices, or provide better politicians

I don't want AV, and personally I think if were we to accept it it would badly damage the cause for reform

But then, if it's defeated....there's no public attitude for reform, is there?

The Tories have got this one wrapped up, I think - and I don't think they even know it, because a victory would both put the constituencies back in their favour, and set back proportional systems

methinks the wily Cameron may know that, even if the backbenchers don't

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