News commentary and predictions of political trends and what the future holds

The Vote

March 6, 2011

Cameron is going to have to come up with some better arguments about the alternative vote if he wants to win the argument. In his speech he used this analogy:

Imagine it’s the Olympics, London 2012. We’re all watching the 100 metres. Usain Bolt powers home over the line. But then he gets to the podium, it’s the guy who came third who gets the gold. We wouldn’t put up with this in the Olympics. We shouldn’t put up with it in our democracy.

If Cameron carries on like this, he’s going to have to hand back that Oxford PPE first. An Olympic final is designed to establish who can run the fastest. An election is designed to establish who can govern with consent.

from The Guardian

The UK is about to vote between First Past the Post and AV (the system used in Australia).

AV? Alternative Vote means that you do not vote for one candidate but exercise a sort of “internal democracy” apportioning a diminishing vote from your first to last choice of candidates. In this way, a tie can be broken by a third vote that is marginally larger, who receives a large majority of second votes. By allowing the preference vote to cover more than just the first three or five selections, it becomes an exercise in democratic ignorance for most, most of us are not familiar with every point of view on offer nor should be be over concerned for the opinions of those we find philosophically untenable to be significant.

The attraction of FPP is that history can be blamed on the proportionality of the sub legislature, by which is meant that constituencies are not “equal” in that they may encompass populations that have no chance in overturning a local majority due to the established conservatism of the very wealthy (who in turn consider that social immobility is of value), or where the enterprising have no chance for a political voice because of a dominance of the more frequently occupied seats of economic fortune in the council estates of cities.

The constituency system has its illusion of traditional democratic choice. But it is more likely to express a government that slowly swings harshly to the left or right. A coalition government where significant minority voices are at least able to express policy options does not seek to divide peoples only by where they live.

A real democracy is enriched by the input of many voices. Nick Clegg has not a shit show of selling AV over Cameron backing the more decisive and “intelligent choice” or whatever soapsuds he will manage to briefly enchant the voter with until they wake up.

More ideas for progress are available if no regard to artificial “original” values are ascribed to them. Egalitarian societies would be a fortunate but unlikely result of Cameron’s philosophy. What he hopes to foster is unfortunately coloured by an increased perceived imbalance, a widening so sharp one can not help but view this Big Society as something very unpleasant that can also be subject to whitewash as well as swallow it as necessary punishment.

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