Tag Archives: referenda

Thoughts on the EU referendum

With the date for the referendum announced and campaigning underway, I wanted to try to enunciate my thoughts on the subject. I’ve written before on my desire to have a referendum. 3 years ago I said that I “would likely vote to remain in Europe”.

Likely, but not certainly. I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument from either side. So I wanted here to think aloud, as it were, and hopefully either prompt you in some questions you may not have thought of, though I’d rather like to start a reasonable discussion.

By ‘reasonable’ I have in mind cutting out a lot of unnecessary bickering, demonisation of the other and acknowledgement that there may be good reasons on both sides. I’m fine for someone to have made up their mind, but not for them to become belligerent in putting forward their case at the denigration of the opposite view.

The idea of “project fear” has been touted quite a lot. There’s a problem with it, though. It is right for the Remain campaign to point out the risks that are associated with leaving the EU and to ask questions about how those risks would be mitigated. Some of that has been worded a bit too strongly, possibly with the intention of trying to scare people into sticking with the status quo, but it is wrong for every legitimate concern raised and question to be dismissed as part of this “project fear”. Thus far, the Leave campaign has used this as a means of not answering questions which I, and others like me, want to hear the answers to.

An interesting thought I had regarding the referendum centred on the Scottish National Party (and, by inference, other nationalists around the UK). On the Andrew Marr Show, Nicola Sturgeon said that she would be on the side of the Remain campaign but that were the UK to vote Leave, then that would likely trigger a 2nd Scottish independence referendum (you remember, the “once in a lifetime” referendum that we had about 18 months ago).

So it would make a kind of sense if the SNP were to not be too persuasive in their case for remaining in the EU. i.e. be seen to be supporting the Remain case, but don’t actually try to win (rather like Manchester City’s team selection in the FA Cup). That way they get a second bite at the independence cherry, even though it would then be their intention to apply for membership to the EU.

I say “a kind of sense” because I must admit I don’t understand the view of some nationalists who want to be independent of the UK but not independent of the EU. If anyone can explain that one to me, I’d be most grateful.

Finally, I wanted to look at the theological perspective. Which of Leave or Remain better fits the maxim: Love your neighbour as yourself.

My issue with the Leave and Remain campaigns is that both have, thus far, put a large amount of stock in the idea of which makes Britain “better off”. But no one’s saying at what cost. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the UK is better off leaving. Does that mean also that our neighbours in France, Greece, Hungary  or Ireland will be better off? Or is it a case of making ourselves better off and choosing to not care about others?

When you try to dig into the matter, what does “better off” mean anyway? Is it purely a cold measure of macroeconomics, or are we factoring in the cultural and the spiritual? If it is purely economic, then one must be careful that the “better off” argument isn’t merely a form of prosperity gospel.

Possibly the strongest argument the Leave campaign has (in terms of appeal to the general public) would be that it would signal the end of UKIP. They would have achieved their aim and then all could see whether or not their myth of withdrawal from the EU being the panacea to all our ills would bear out in reality.

The strongest argument for the Remain campaign has actually come from one of the cheerleaders of the Leave side: Michael Gove. He claimed that the Conservatives have been stymied in pushing through some of their punitive measures because of the European legislation. In my book, anything that helps to tie the hands of Tories from hurting citizens is a good thing.

For now, I lean slightly inwards, but that lean is ever so slight. Those who promise than a UK outside of the EU will be a land flowing with milk and honey are not people to be taken seriously. Neither are those who speak as though withdrawal from the EU will be the end of civilisation. It’s a choice between two different shades of beige.

Persuade me, entice me, allure me to your point of view. Just don’t beat me about the head and call me an idiot. Such tactics rarely work in evangelism, whether religious or political.

A Friday thought: Scottish independence

For a long time, I’ve chosen to stay quiet on the subject of the Scottish independence referendum. That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, even though I do not get a vote, here are a few thoughts and observations as the campaign reaches its climax.

The democratic process

The wording of the question was a problem to begin with. You may recall that the initial question was posed as “Do you agree that…” which was deemed illegal as it was too leading. So that wasn’t a great start.

This was counteracted by the decision to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds. In my opinion, this was a very good move and I would be keen to see it extended to other elections and referendums. I recall being annoyed that there was a general election called in 2001 as I was a few months off turning 18 and hence I couldn’t vote. Yet while my views continue to evolve, even as a 16 year old it seemed wrong to deny my age group the vote. The argument has been that we lacked enough life experience or political understanding to be able to make an informed decision. I didn’t buy it then and I still don’t. If we denied the vote simply on the grounds of not being well enough informed then that would cut out a great many adults.

However, the democratic process wasn’t all that well designed. The issue here is that the vote was given to those resident in Scotland but the outcome would be to affect those who were born in Scotland. In effect, those who were born there but do not currently live there would have a change of nationality enforced on them by a vote which they were not capable of taking part in. Also one has the issue of non Scots who live there voting, though I am not opposed to that. While they wouldn’t have their nationality changed, it is a significant enough change to warrant them having the vote. Others may disagree with me on that.

The question of the economy

Much of the debate has revolved around the economy and so the debate has been shifted from whether Scotland should be independent to whether Scotland would be better off as an independent country rather than part of a union. This was always going to be a big issue, as emphasised by one of the names of the ‘No’ campaign – better together. Though I couldn’t help but think about it in a utilitarian way: what result gives the greatest good to the greatest number of people? Was it a case that Scotland was being held back by the rest of the UK and would prosper alone, leaving the rest of the UK unaffected or was it a case of “we’re off, screw you”? I think the answer is the former, even if it has been portrayed as the latter by some in the ‘No’ camp. But then comes the crucial question: is it actually true? This is a question I don’t know the answer to and haven’t found either side convincing on.

When the polls started to narrow and the markets had the jitters, I saw some comments from market fundamentalists to the effect that this proved independence was bad for business. For some businesses, I don’t doubt that independence will have an adverse effect. But how bad it might be and for how long, will vary from business to business. Personally, I think most will be largely unaffected. If a small number of big employers were to signal their intention to move south as a result of a yes vote, then I would anticipate something akin to a ‘corporate tax war’ whereby the Scottish government would seek to keep (and even attract business) by undercutting the UK corporate tax rates. Though, of course, this would mean they’d have less in their treasury to spend on the social welfare state. Which brings us onto the currency.

The currency issue has ended up playing a much bigger part than it probably should have done. The reason I say that is that it could have been avoided if the ‘Yes’ campaign had had the courage to plan for a new Scottish currency. As it is, their presumption of a currency union backfired. If they had a firm and workable plan in place, then as part of the wider economic question, the ‘Yes’ campaign would have been far stronger. Though as one parody site put it, Alex Salmond’s plan was akin to someone choosing to rescind their gym membership but insist that they can continue to use the equipment afterwards.

It is my belief that the it was the failure to adequately sort out the currency issue that soured the rest of the debate, which has only gotten worse as the date of the referendum has drawn closer. Having failed to come up with an alternative currency, the team behind the ‘Yes’ vote were unwilling to reveal a plan B, which was seized upon by the ‘No’ team who were unwilling to say that negotiations could be entered into. Stubbornness on both sides did neither of them any credit.

The bitter campaigns

All this set us up for an ever more divisive campaign. Given the nature of the referendum that shouldn’t be a bad thing. But it was worse than divisive. It got tribalistic. As is often the sad case with politics, the desire to hold the higher ground often leads to a refusal to acknowledge a good point made by one’s opponents. There have also been cases of demonising the other side and accusations of foul play.

In my view, the onus should have been on the ‘Yes’ campaign to make the case for independence. By and large, this has been what they’ve been aiming for, though of late a few below the belt aims seems to have had more effect. The job of the ‘No’ campaign should have been to critique the proposals. Starting with the currency issue, though, the flat denialism of the ‘Yes’ campaign, jointly with the scaremongering of the ‘No’ campaign, stoked the fires that meant reason and evidence were drowned out by rhetoric and emotionalism.

The fact that the ‘No’ campaign did resort to near-threats and scaremongering did them no favours at all. It also played into the hands of the ‘Yes’ campaign by giving them room to dismiss any fair and reasonable critique as similar scaremongering. As such, the noise from both sides made it more and more difficult to assess the truthfulness of each side.

Both sides have been guilty of saying some pretty stupid things. Alex Salmond saying that Scottish independence was like ending apartheid was monumentally crass. That was matched by some comments I saw on social media likening the SNP to the BNP. They may be one letter different but their ideologies are a world apart.

The ‘No’ campaign really shot themselves in the foot when the 3 main party leaders abandoned Prime Minister’s Questions and went to Scotland in a moment of panic after one opinion poll said the referendum was closer than ever, even if the ‘Yes’ campaign did celebrate it like a landslide victory. I alluded to demonisation earlier, which was most evident here in Salmond’s cry of “Team Westminster”.

I would not deny the ‘Yes’ campaign’s claim that consecutive Westminster governments have been out of touch. I knew a similar sentiment when I lived in the north-east of England. Yet to imagine that the further away you are from Westminster, the less they care is, I believe, wrong. Having lived in London for a year, I know areas 3.5 miles from Westminster that are just as neglected by Parliament as those 350 miles away. Yet that’s not a reason to vote ‘No’. If anything, it is a reason for greater reform in our politics.

If anything, the greatest reason the ‘Yes’ campaign has is one of principle; that it is inherently correct that they should have self-determination.  But self-determination is not a guarantee of prosperity, which is why the promise of economic benefits of independence ring hollow. If there was a promise of “it is right that we should govern ourselves, and it may be tough” then that may be more honest than the vision of independence that has been sold to the Scottish people.

Yet credence has been given to the ‘Yes’ campaign by the sheer panic and late promises from the ‘No’ campaign. The mixed messages of stick and carrot have done the unionists no favours and so it is understandable that people will vote ‘Yes’ on a promise given currency (pun intended) by the flustered nature of the response.

It has been interesting how ‘left’ v ‘right’ has played out. I’ve read some comments from the ‘Yes’ campaign that to vote ‘No’ is an act of selling out to the establishment. Yet the SNP’s socialist credentials were dealt a blow when they didn’t bother to turn up to vote on the latest bill going through to abolish the bedroom tax. There’s a very good analysis on that particular bill here.

Conclusion

Ultimately, there are some very good reasons for voting ‘Yes’ and there are some equally good reasons for voting ‘No’. No one can know for certain what the result of independence might be, all we can do is guess. As highlighted above, some of those guesses are questionable. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, all we have is democracy on a subjective matter. If the opinion polls are to be believed, it will be a very tight vote. It may be interesting to see if a reasonable estimate could be made to see if the enfranchised 16 & 17 year olds make a difference.

Whichever way the vote goes, it will be interesting. I know that for saying that both sides have behaved badly that I have received some flak from ‘Yes’ campaigners and been accused of advocating a ‘No’ vote. I don’t advocate either side. If you are reading this and you have a vote, my only wish is that you exercise it.

Would I like a referendum on Europe? Yes

Last week, David Cameron announced that the next Conservative manifesto will contain a pledge to have a referendum on whether Britain ought to remain in Europe or to withdraw. His intention is that the Conservatives will win an outright majority at the next general election, thus giving them a proper mandate to govern; something they lack at the moment.

I’ll give Cameron some credit, given how much of the current government’s actions were in neither manifesto of the two coalition parties, he has had the decency to delay any European referendum until after the next general election. Though I do wonder if Cameron’s promises are worth any more than Nick Clegg’s promise was when he vowed not to vote for an increase in university tuition fees.

Those who know me, and other regular readers, will be aware that I am no friend of the Conservatives or the values they stand for. I value fairness, equality and community above prejudice, capitalism and individualism. So it is through slightly gritted teeth that I say I would favour having a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. I’ll explain why:

When the first referendum was held in 1975 my parents were younger than I am now. All 4 of my grandparents were eligible to vote. My generation was just in the process of being planned, conceived, born, etc. So firstly, the population has largely changed since then. Anyone who voted in 1975 (if they were 18) will be 60 by the time of the next referendum. My grandparents’ generation have largely gone, my parents’ generation has aged and my generation has been born, grown up and become fully fledged members of a British society that, as far as our living memory goes, has always been part of the EU.

Though that last sentence is not quite true, is it? The 1975 vote was on membership of the EEC, not the EU. A small difference in the acronym, maybe, but it is indicative that what we have now is not what was envisioned back in 1975. The very nature of what is referred to as ‘Europe’ (meaning the politics of the union thereof, not just the geographical nature) has evolved in time, with more member states now than at the beginning and a sense of government that is stronger than economic friendliness between near neighbours.

Given that politics, parties and economies change so quickly, it is right that we get to vote for a new government at least once every 5 years. I might even argue for a 4 year term, though not here. Given how different Europe is now from what it was in the mid-1970s, it seems only reasonable to offer the British people a choice.

On top of this, anyone aged 18-59 (allowing some flexibility for months of the year, depending on when precisely such a referendum may take place) would be having their first say. Although ‘Britain’ may sometimes be personified, the question isn’t really being asked to the same group of people. Those that have the opportunity to vote in both referenda will be a small minority indeed.

The odd thing about last week’s politics was the position of the Labour party. I cannot help but think that Ed Milliband has painted himself into a corner by saying that he would not support holding a referendum. Had he done so, he would surely have taken some flak from the Conservatives for not bringing about a referendum during Labour’s time in office. But any such accusations wouldn’t have stuck, given that Milliband wasn’t leader of the party then. Nor would it likely still be an issue by the time of the next general election. As it is, however, the next Conservative manifesto will contain one attractive promise that the Labour manifesto will not.

It may be reasonably argued that those who wish for a referendum are those who are wanting to withdraw. In that case, I am in the minority who would want a referendum for the sake of following through on principles of democracy, but who would likely vote to remain in Europe.

Though I do wonder, given the current governments deplorable attacks on the poor, disabled and unemployed and their total and utter lack of credibility on the economy (not that Labour’s reputation, if not their actual record, is all that better in this last respect) whether or not the referendum is going to be the Conservative’s biggest selling point at the next general election. Are they just going to be the Referendum Party in the emperor’s new clothes? I would be fearful if they are, as they may well campaign on a referendum and then claim they have a mandate to inflict much more harm than they have done so in the last 3 years. That is, if they win. I shall be voting strategically to do my best to ensure they don’t.

Political whips

This should be a fairly short post, hopefully. I’m working on a few others where my lack of brevity is causing a significant delay, particularly as they have been promised for many months now.

The news was abuzz over the weekend and Monday with the news of a vote that was to take place in the House of Commons. The proposition was to hold a referendum on whether or not to remain part of Europe. At the time of writing (Monday evening) this vote has not yet taken place. This should change by the time this goes live on the web.

I have my own opinions on Europe, but that is not the point of this post. I wish to concentrate more on the relation between referenda, democracy and party whips. The Conservative party said they would impose a “3-line whip” on MPs to ensure that they opposed the bill. It was estimated that up to 70 Conservative MPs may rebel and vote for the motion. It seems unlikely that the motion will pass, due in part to this whip. The meaning of “3-line” as I understand it (as ever, please correct me if my facts are wrong) is that if an MP holds a ministerial post, that they will either be expected to resign from that post, or be sacked, should they choose to go against the party line.

The job of a Member of Parliament is to provide representation in the House of Commons on behalf of their constituents. The job of a party whip is to ensure that an MP of a given party follows that party’s policy, regardless of whether or not it was in a manifesto on which it was elected. It is easily conceivable that the interests of the party to which they belong are different from the interests of the constituents they represent. So the MP is left with a fundamental quandary. In such a situation, they have to choose between two mutually incompatible choices.

If they value democracy, and consider it to be the heart of our system of government, then there can be only one choice: to represent the constituents. If they think it is more important to toe that party line than it is to provide the people of this country a voice in government, then they should obey the party whip. This clearly demonstrates that party whips are inherently opposed to democracy. It is shame on our Parliamentary system that this anachronistic post is allowed to continue to existence.

If party whips were banned then we would lose nothing of value. What we would gain would be MPs who are more accountable to their electorate than they are to their party. This is what democracy should look like. It doesn’t fix everything. There are other problems we have in our system. But this would be one change that would improve the status quo. I am not a revolutionary; I believe most progress comes gradually, but this would be an easy improvement to make that would pave the way for further improvements.

I know that referenda are expensive and it is simply impractical to use them for every decision. Personally, I would welcome a referendum on Europe, given how wide-ranging it is. The question of EU membership is no less relevant today than it was when we last had a referendum in 1975. I wasn’t even born then. My grandparents who had the vote then have all since passed on. Though I am not certain of the statistics (if anyone can provide a source for the numbers, please do!) I think it is reasonable to suppose that those who were eligible to vote in 1975 now form the minority of the electorate today. 36 years of life in Europe may also have changed some opinions. I am not saying what way I would necessarily vote, I merely point out my belief that having the opportunity to have a democratic vote on the matter is more welcome than a dictatorial stance of “this should not be talked about.”

Update: It is now early in the morning and the news is that the motion was defeated as expected. A full list of the rebelling MPs (which, I am glad to say, includes my own representative) may be found here.

Why I will be supporting AV on the 5th of May

I am writing this to explain why I will be voting FOR the Alternative Vote (AV) system at the referendum on the 5th of May. This is not to be an holistic account on the reasons why AV is better than First Past The Post (FPTP), though at the end I shall include a number of links which you may follow up which contain far more than I have here (and which are probably better written). To my mind, there are two main issues: one of principle and one of pragmatism.

To cut straight to the chase, I’ll go for the principle issue first. It will allow me to vote for who I want to vote for. In the last election, I lived in the smallest Labour majority in the whole country. The Labour MP was stepping down and the 2nd place party, the Conservatives, had the leader of the local council as their candidate, who was also the guy who narrowly lost the previous election. Taking this into account, along with the national swing in opinion, it seemed likely that the Conservatives would win here and the only realistic opposition in the constituency was the Labour party. Now I had no desire to see either of the candidates from these parties elected to represent me.

But, having one party very clearly the lesser of the two evils, the only way I could vote to keep out the greater of the two evils, I was effectively forced to vote for a candidate I didn’t want. This is the heart of tactical voting, which would be completely unnecessary under AV. I am not the only one to do this. Under the present system, many people are forced to either vote tactically or to waste their vote by sticking to who they want to vote for knowing that it will have no effect on the outcome, since their candidate doesn’t stand a chance of winning. So by allowing more people to vote for who they want to vote for, the AV system is inherently more democratic than FPTP.

All I do with AV is number the candidates in order of preference. That’s all. Instead of an X in the box, the only added complication is being able to count 1,2,3,4,5….n where n is the total number of candidates – rarely more than 10 and frequently closer to 5. So any scaremongering you’ve heard about it being complicated are unfounded; either that or they have been proposed by people whose intelligence is severely impaired.

So had AV been in place at the last election, I would not have had need to put my only X in the box against the candidate who was not my first choice. I would have been able to have them down the list, probably at number 3 or 4. My first choice would get the vote they rightly deserved which I had been forced to rob them of under FPTP. I would not have been the only one, either. AV would allow the votes in all constituencies to properly show the balance of where people’s priorities lie, and that is what democracy is all about.

Let’s take an example to show how AV is better than FPTP. Let’s take a simple constituency where there are 3 candidates. One candidate has a set of policies which are largely going down route A. They have 40% of the vote of share of the vote. Then we have 2 other candidates, which share similar ground and broadly go down route B. They each have about 30% of the share of the vote (let’s say it’s 35/25 for simplicity). Under FPTP, the minority view wins. The majority is ignored and we have an undemocratic imbalance. With AV, those supporters of route B would likely prefer the other candidate who is similar to theirs as a second choice, so when one is eliminated, the votes from the losing candidate are transferred and the majority 60% gets their views elected.

OK, onto the practical side of the discussion. One of the things that has tarnished the elections have been the lies; they have come from both sides of the argument, though most vociferously from the No campaign. Here, I will address only 2 of them. The first of these is cost.

The No campaign claim it will cost £250m to implement AV. They break this down as follows: £91m for staging the referendum, £130m on electronic vote counting machines and £26m on explaining the system.

Now the £91m is a sunk cost, incurred anyway. So it would be equally valid (invalid) to say that £91m is the cost of keeping FPTP. To claim that this is variable cost is fraudulant, misleading and should be refuted by anyone with a modicum of sense.

The £130m on coutning machines is a fabrication. There would be no counting machines under AV. Counting would still take place as it always has done. Anyone peddling this as a variable cost is either lacking in understanding or is lying to you. Please correct them appropriately. The only hint of truth in this is that AV counts will take slightly longer if there are multiple rounds of voting. In the vote count process, you must first separate the votes and then count them, so in the event of a second round, those of the candidate who has been eliminated must be re-distributed before all the votes are added again. So I would anticipate that an all-night count (as we have presently) might either be delayed until the morning or else results would start to come through some 2 or 3 hours later than they are the moment.

Finally, the £26m to explain to voters. This is a fictional amount, as information on AV is already widely available and there is no need to incur a large expense explaining it. Again, if you hear anyone proposing this as a reason not to vote for AV, they are wrong and please do your best to show them reason.

The other point I’d like to note (and thanks to one of my friends for highlighting this objection) is that AV revokes the notion of “one person, one vote” by allowing one person to have more than one vote. i.e. a small number of people have an undue influence of the election.

First of all, it needs to be remarked that as we stand at the moment, only a minute minority have any effect on the outcome of the election, given the existence of safe seats. If you are a conservative supporter in the City of Durham, then your candidate currently stands no chance. On the flip side, a place like Horsham is somewhere my dad describes as “blue ribbon on a pig country.” AV doesn’t put an end to safe seats. Indeed about a third of the seats in parliament would be completely unaffected as they have a majority in their own constituencies. It is the two-thirds where the candidate gets elected having failed to obtain the majority of the votes cast that are likely to be affected. Also, not all of these will necessarily have their results changed by AV. A lot of examples used (see example above and the one below) tend to assume that all of the second preferences for one candidate go exactly the same way. In reality, this is unlikely to happen, and there will be a spread. So while AV is inherently more democratic, that doesn’t mean it will always produce a different result to FPTP; it simply takes a more careful look at the marginal seats and sorts these out more fairly.

The particular example that my friend used was as follows: at first preference, candidate A obtains 46% of the vote. Candidate B obtains 44% of the vote and candidate C obtains 10% of the vote. After the first round, candidate C is eliminated and then the second preferences are distributed among the remaining candidates. In this instance, similar to my example above, all of candidate C’s second preferences go to candidate B. They then threw in an extra fact: all of A & B’s second preferences went to C. Their argument was that the supporters of candidate C had their votes counted twice while the supporters of A & B only had theirs counted once; whereas had the second choices been counted that C would have won. The fallacy here is that on the second round of votes, only the second preferences of the eliminated candidates are taken into account. This is plainly not true, as all the first preferences from the remaining candidates are consisdered again. In this example, it seems clear that those who prefer C would much rather have candidate B has their MP than candidate A. So the fact that under AV, candidate B would win is totally democratic. Candidate B will have obtained the majority of the votes, which candidate A never would have, thus meaning that the majority of people would like candidate B to represent them. If you think that the majority of the people should be ignored (i.e. not a democratic solution)then by all means vote ‘No.’ But this example again shows that of the two, AV is fundamentally more democratic than FPTP.

The point of AV is that the most number of first preferences are considered. So the fact that those who supported A had C as their second choice is totally irrelevant so long as A is still in with a chance of winning. If you are supporting Arsenal, would you really want Chelsea to win the Premiership just to stop Man U winning it while Arsenal still have a chance?

It needs be noted that first past the post is a bit of a misnomer, as there is no post to get past. In that respect, AV is far better described as having a post, as you need a majority to win. One of the photos on the no campaign leaflet I got was of the finishing line of a sprint race, where it stated the first person won under FPTP while pointing to the guy who finished last and said that he was the winner under AV. This is deliberately misleading, as a race has a set mark that you need get past. So if we stick with the analogy, it is more accurate to state that FPTP stops a 100m after an arbitrary time period (which would be different for every constituency); say, stopping the race after 8 seconds and declaring the winner to be whoever happens to be in the lead at the time. It doesn’t take into account runners who fade away at the end, nor those who have a strong finish. AV would take these into account and the first past the 50% threshold (in the analogy, the 100m mark) would be the winner.

Now AV is not the be all and end all of political reform. There are plenty more other things which need to be sorted out. My personal bug-bear is the fact the members of the cabinet are appointed by the prime minister, rather than democratically elected on their own merit. However, referenda are so rare in this country, and so binding when they take place, that we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to make a small improvement. As an example, during the last couple of years of the last Tory government in the mid-90s, when Euroscepticism was at its peak, there was a lot of talk about holding a referendum about whether Britain ought to stay in the EU or to withdraw. This referendum never took place, with the one of the main reasons put forward being that “we” voted for it in the 1970s. Now, many of the more elderly electorate who voted it in had died since then and many of the contemporary electorate had been ineligible to vote in the 70s due to their age (or having not been born at all). If a “no” vote wins on Thursday, then it likely be the last chance this generation will get to make an improvement to our electoral system. Some have some said this is an opportunity to give David Cameron a political black eye, but I disagree with this. The vote is an investment for the future. While it is true that the Conservatives will likely lose seats at the next general election if AV is adopted, but then that will be the chance for us to end Cameron’s time as prime minister, not now.

No voting system is perfect, but when we compare the two options we are given, AV is by far more democratic than FPTP. So please, listen to reason, to good sense and vote yes to AV on Thursday.

Links:

The Independent
The Guardian
New Scientist
Mathematics Professor from Cambridge University
Economics Professor from Warwick University