Sunday, May 01, 2011

Lies, damn lies and referendums

The UK referendum on voting reform is almost here. I find myself increasingly annoyed with various advocates of the ‘No’ and the ‘Yes’ campaigns, who are being so conspicuously economical with the actualité. Some of the campaigning literature posted through my letterbox in the last couple of weeks has been risible.

Electing a government is not the proof of democracy. Democracy is proved when a government is dismissed – without the use of guns. This separation of authority from physical coercion ranks among humanity’s greatest triumphs. It deserves to be taken seriously.

Perhaps that is why I find myself getting so annoyed when people misrepresent the different options before us. They are disrespecting the very democracy they claim to want to uphold.
So here is my summary of the voting options:

• The present system simply returns the candidate who receives the most votes - even if that person is intensely disliked by the majority of voters.

• The AV system tends to return candidates who are not so widely hated, though they might not be the ones with the most first votes.

Either system would be fine. They just lead to slightly different flavours of representation.

Governments tend to accumulate unpopularity over time. Therefore, the AV system would probably make three-term governments less likely. If you think governments are able to do more good through a longer term in power, then you probably want to vote to keep the present system. But if you think that governments are better for having shorter periods in power, then you probably want to vote for a change to AV.

I still haven’t decided.


Maria said...

Like you, I still haven't decided. However, I have decided, I am sickened by the money spent on this campaign, when there are so many causes around where money could be better utilised.

Mosher said...

Maria - the leaflet I got through the door (can't remember if it was Yes or No) stated that my taxes hadn't been used to fund the printing. This leads me to wonder what did. Someone must have paid for it, presumably whoever has the most to gain.

Rod - the little bit I gathered was that AV would help minority/smaller parties gain a foothold and increase their chance of getting a share of the electorate. This includes the likes of the BNP. I voted No.

At the end of the day, it makes no difference. Whoever gets in, they will still be self-serving. They will still not represent *my* views fully, and I will disagree violently with some of their policies and they'll do a crap job. They always do.

Terms of government and the lengths thereof make no difference. Every government makes harsh decisions at the beginning then starts to be Mr Nice Guy in the year leading up to election. Every single time.

I'm bored of it now.

Rod Duncan said...

Thanks for the comments.

My reading of it is slightly different, Mosher. Some minority parties would probably do well out of AV. But small parties that are actively disliked by a significant proportion of voters would do spectacularly badly.

Mosher said...

And I guess therein lies the problem - all the information available is contradictory, untested and therefore useless. The single daftest argument I've seen for it is "Australia uses it".

Have you *seen* the government they've ended up with?

Max said...

Mosher - The BNP will not get more seats since they have never won a seat with more that 50% of the vote.

How many voters (of any other party) do you think will put the BNP as their second choice?

Mosher said...

Max - honest answer, I don't know. In places like Bradford (usual place where they get some support and there is racial tension) it would worry me.

Essentially it comes down to the fact that we just don't know how AV will affect the voting. I still maintain that the issue isn't the voting *system*. It's the people/parties that we have available to vote for. Regardless of how you count the votes, I just don't like/trust the available candidates.

Rod Duncan said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Some of the statements made on the subject in the media, on posters etc have been quite extraordinary. I have been deeply shocked that people would stoop so low. It is hard to respect those who lie in this way, hoping the general public will be too stupid to realise.

However, putting all that aside, I have now decided which way to vote.

Whatever you feel - Yes or No, I'd encourage everyone to go along and participate in the referendum.

Mosher said...

Rod - please don't tell me you're genuinely surprised by politicians lying? ;)

Rod Duncan said...

LOL Mosher.

I'm probably terribly nieve, but I tend to think most UK politicians are motivated by a desire to make the world a better place.

Best not comment on this. I am happy in my innocence.

Anonymous said...

The leaflet I got from the Lib Dems about the local election informed me that the only option of curbing the Tories enthusiasm for cuts was to vote for them a vote for Labour would not count as they have no chance of winning in a safe tory area. This may be democracy but not as I know it. :(

Rod Duncan said...

Well, I eventually made my mind up and voted. Thanks everyone for all your comments on this.