Yes to AV

May. 4th, 2011 06:49 pm
denny: (Warning - Group intellect)
A friend asked me to explain the issues in the AV referendum - I figured I'd repost it here in case anyone else was interested...

Okay, my bias is obvious, but I'll try to be fair :)

For FPTP, in theory you just put an X in the box of the candidate you hope will win.

For AV, in theory you just number the candidates in order of who you'd like to win the most (skipping any that you don't care about).

In practise, FPTP leads to a lot of tactical voting. So, say you'd like Labour to win, but in your area Labour are well down in third place and it's a toss-up between Tories or Lib Dems, then you might vote Lib Dem instead, to try to make sure the Tories don't win.

AV reduces tactical voting a lot, because you can vote Labour 1, Lib Dem 2, and that way you've voted with your conscience AND voted to keep the Tory out. It doesn't completely get rid of tactical voting, there are some weird edge-cases where you might be able to vote tactically, but they're so hard to work out correctly that most people won't bother.

So, with AV, instead of most people voting tactically, you get most people voting honestly. Could lead to some interesting results, and in my opinion will just be much more satisfying - I hate tactical voting, it's like choosing between being punched in the face and kicked in the face - I'd really rather have neither, you know? :)

As far as I can work out, AV won't make much difference to how the main three parties do at present... most likely analysis is that Lib Dems gain a few seats, Tories lose a few seats, and Labour stay about the same. Over time it might lead to different results though, as people start to see how much support they have in their first choices. For instance, I would guess a lot of Tory voters will actually put UKIP as their first preference, and I'll be interested to see how many Labour voters put the Greens as a first choice. So over time that might lead to some more seats for the smaller parties, as people realise that they can actually win in certain areas. Bit hard to say though.

The biggest reason I'm voting 'yes' is that I believe our political system is very resistant to being changed in any way - the people who have the power want to keep the power - and I think that's a bad thing. It's a really old system, and a lot of its older traditions aren't really doing us any huge favours these days - if you've ever watched Parliament in session you'll know what I mean, it's very archaic. I think if we vote for this change now, then that opens the door to more changes being considered in future - whereas if we vote 'no' to this one change now, that'll be seen as a vote for everything staying the same.

Overall, AV is a pretty small change - it's not going to shake up our politics a huge amount - but it has some interesting potential implications, and it's certainly not going to make matters worse, so I think it's worth voting for just to get the change ball rolling.

Hope that helps :)

I'll just mention a few of the claims the 'no' side have been making which are particularly untrue, so you can ignore them if you see them:

1. "The BNP will win under AV"
- Actually, the BNP are campaigning against AV, because they've got far more chance of winning (in a few areas) under FPTP, and no chance of winning anywhere under AV, because they won't get anyone's second-preference votes.

2. "AV will cost £250 million pounds"
- This one is really outrageous. The figure is made up of £81 million to hold the referendum (which we're doing anyway, no matter which side wins), £39 million to educate voters on how AV works (which we've already partly done, so people know how to vote in the referendum), and (the biggest part of it) £130 million on vote-counting machines - which we don't need. Australia have been using AV for decades, and they don't use vote-counting machines.

3. "Voting for AV supports the current government and all their cuts etc"
- Well, no. Voting for AV supports the Lib Dems a bit, and everyone is really annoyed at them. But voting for FPTP supports the Tories a lot, and I dunno about you, but I'm bloody furious with them.

4. "Electoral reform is un-British"
- Yeah, the Tories probably are still annoyed about having to give women the vote in 1928. Not really a good argument!

5. "AV is too complicated"
- I dunno about you, but I can count to 3 just fine.
denny: Photo of me wearing my beloved silly hat.  It's wuzzy! (Default)
This comment on [ profile] steerpikelet's recent New Statesmen blogpost about the Dec 9th protests is amazing. I wish I were this eloquent, but as I'm not, I reproduce it here for your reading pleasure - because I don't think there's a word in it I wouldn't be happy to have written myself:

Joe Chapman
10 December 2010 at 17:59

I think many people in these comments do not appear to understand the politics of this country or its history.

The previous Labour Government was not socialist. Like the Tory governments before it, it was neo-liberal.

Since the times of Thatcher the people of this country have had their aspirations preyed upon in order that the minority of people with a disproportionate amount of the wealth and power can gain more wealth and more power.

We have been pacified by being given the idea that we can acheive our aspirations by getting into debt and living beyond our means.

This has had a knock on effect right the way through society both nationally and globally. The imbalance and divide between rich and poor has increased and most of us have not realised this because we have lived our lives on credit. Our relative wealth (relative to how things were before the 1980s) has been an illusion.

We have allowed our society, our country and our government to be ruled by big business and making a profit.

Read more... )
denny: (Trust the fuckhead)
A friend and I have been discussing the failings of the benefits system today (from somewhat opposed viewpoints). One idea that does intrigue both of us is the Citizen's Income - a non-means-tested 'benefit' that everyone in the country receives.

There are a number of interesting side-effects, the clearest one probably being that it removes the current disincentive for people to do 'a little bit of work' (part time, or temporary), because under this system they don't lose all (or any) of their benefits for doing so.

There's a 16-page PDF here with a 'bullet-points and graphs' summary of the idea - I'd be interested to hear what other people think of it: (PDF file)

To answer one common question/concern - there have been some actual scientific research studies done into real-world implementations of this kind of thing (in the US and Canada, in the 60s and 70s), and they found that the anticipated 'loss of labour' effect (from people deciding not to work so much) was less than you might expect (between 5% and 15% in various studies). Interestingly it seems to be balanced out (socially speaking) by gains in education scores/attendance, all the way through from primary school to adult education.
denny: (Outraged! Must blog!)
rant rant rant )

Failure to base legislative policy on scientific evidence (where such evidence exists) really pisses me off.
denny: (Trust the fuckhead)
The review is the biggest independent inquiry into primary education in four decades, based on 28 research surveys, 1,052 written submissions and 250 focus groups. It was undertaken by 14 authors, 66 research consultants and a 20-strong advisory committee at Cambridge University, led by Professor Robin Alexander, one of the most experienced educational academics in the country.

Last night the review's conclusions were backed by every education union in England, but rejected by ministers ...

Dear government. When you hire a team of experts to look into something, and they make recommendations, based on actual facts, would it not be an idea just once to actually follow those recommendations, instead of completely ignoring them because they don't agree with your personal prejudices or your stupid populist desperate vote-grabbing agenda?

denny: (Warning - Self-improving software)
The guy who built this map showing election results is apparently looking for somebody to take the project over and do it again for 2010 elections, as he doesn't have time himself. Not sure what the codebase is, but I'm sure he'd reply to email enquiries.
denny: Photo of me wearing my beloved silly hat.  It's wuzzy! (Default)

Meg Hillier MP
Hackney South and Shoreditch

Read more... )
denny: (Politics)
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

. . . is an anagram of . . .

I, George W. Bush, an evil Republican fascist, used God to inflict
pain on the world, end life, facilitate death, create militant
jihad rebels, and to let youths die for nothing.
denny: (Politics)

Note there is some debate in the comments about whether this is a poorly worded paragraph that otherwise has a legitimate place in the legislation, or a cunningly worded paragraph that's being sneaked into it. Hanlon's Razor may well apply.
denny: (Politics)
"[On December 5, 2007] The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000.

That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection."
denny: (Politics)
Brown under fire over secrecy on ID costs
Written in 2003, before the project was given the green light, the so-called 'gateway' reviews outline whether experts believe the scheme will be successful and how much it will cost.

The Information Tribunal, the body that hears appeals against freedom of information decisions, ruled that the Treasury must publish [the gateway review reports] this month. It reached the decision after receiving freedom of information requests from the Liberal Democrats and the anti-ID card campaign group, No2ID. Despite the tribunal's decision, the Treasury is refusing to hand over the documents. Instead it has lodged an appeal - kicking the issue into the long grass for months.

In related news, there is of course this ongoing situation:
denny: (This way up)
All fingerprints collected for ID cards will be cross-checked against prints from 900,000 unsolved crimes.

To quote a Tory spokesman: "With the vast number of crimes involved, it is guaranteed there are going to be miscarriages of justice if the government goes down this route."
denny: (Politics)
The Government has been urged to ensure that taxpayers are not left with a huge bill if Labour loses the next election and identity cards are scrapped.

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, wrote to the Cabinet Secretary that he was putting him “formally on notice” of the Conservative plan to drop the project, and also warned the companies involved. Ministers have suggested that the scheme, whose introduction begins this year, will cost £5.4 billion over ten years and are signing contracts with companies supplying the technology.

( - 9th item)

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