Thursday, 28 April 2011

An Alternative to Remember

Ever met a friend of yours a couple of days after a party and said to them: "What a great evening so and so's was. I had a lovely time." Only for them to tell you that it was a dreadful evening and recite a list of things you didn't think made any difference but clearly ruined it for them?

It's hard to imagine how you can both remember the same night so differently.

I imagine this must happen to Lib Dem President Tim Farron quite a lot. Not that I've ever been to a party with him or even had the pleasure of speaking to him but going by how he remembers his history I think it's a fair guess.

I had always reckoned that Britain's political system had played a key role in making her the first major nation to permanently abolish slavery. I say permanently because France re-introduced slavery after deciding egalite only goes so far.

Mr Farron remembers things a little differently.

He seems to think that the British electoral system hindered the process of abolition despite being the first to introduce it and then vote through colossal amounts of money to promote the cause throughout the world. I suppose his point is that if other countries had had AV they might have beaten us to it.

Perhaps when people seem to remember things differently they're just being dishonest. You know what I mean. The people who have to dislike everything to appear cool. A good way of spotting this is a general inconsistency in their opinions. Now that band has become popular they no longer like them, that sort of thing.

In the case of the Yes campaign this inconsistency is starting to show. I don't just mean Farron's strange interpretation of history but that now AV is being sold as a way of keeping the Tories out no matter what. So a system that was originally sold as representing all voters is revealed as nothing more than partisan opportunism. One that is now finding all sorts of excuses for why they're so far behind in the polls. Though you can always rely on Polly Toynbee to add to the bitterness of a campaign.

They seem to have given up on debating the issue of voter empowerment and are just hoping that turn out will be low and that enough Labour supporters will follow their party line.

As Robert Colvile points out in the Telegraph the Yes campaign has not been entirely honest in it's campaigning particularly how it tries to make out it has less funding that the No campaign. Colvile has a series of articles explaining why you should vote no. Along with an excellent Evening Standard piece by Matthew d'Ancona the argument against is outlined far better than I could ever hope to.

Byron once said that hope was the paint on the face of existence, the least touch of truth rubs it off. He could have been speaking about the Yes campaign.


  1. Those articles in the telegraph were interesting. If I were to summarise them, I would say "the current system is biased in favour of the Tories. AV would remove this bias and give the Lib Dems an advantage instead because no-one is going to put the Conservatives as a second vote. This is unfair on the Tories."

    The questions that spring to mind immediately are 1) why is it acceptable to have a system biased towards the right wing but not one biased towards the centre ground? 2) What is wrong with the Tory party that means that they cannot rely on anyone's second vote? Is this simply because they are not as popular with the electorate as the current system suggests? g) If the Lib Dems do well out of AV, is this actually a bad thing? - no one seems to have mentioned the simple possibility that overall, people may prefer them to the Tories or Labour.

  2. Winning by getting the most votes does not mean that a system is biased towards the right. Just ask all the Labour supporters that are voting no. Tories will receive plenty of 2nd choice votes. It's just a question of whether the tactical votes of people trying to make the most having more than one vote count. After all, you can't guarantee a second round of voting. If more people prefer the Lib Dems they should vote for them.