11 May 2011

AV - what happened?

Well earlier this week I was at a meeting with Chris Owen, a Ruscombe resident who coordinated the local non-party political 'Yes' Campaign. Much of this blog is based on stuff he raised.....and as he noted this campaign was a victory for lies and mis-information over truth and reason. Indeed it does seem to be a testament to the power of Murdoch press to disseminate stuff that basically isn't right - and worse still have people believe them! The AV vote was very disappointing - for those who missed it the “Noes” had it, by 68% to 32%. In Stroud it was close to 65% 'No' and 35% 'yes'.

Photo: count last Friday

So what happened? Well it seems there may have been 4 main reasons for voting no:

  - party allegiance

  - protest against Lib Dems and Clegg in particular

  - conclusion that that would help minority parties

  - mis-understandings bolstered by "no" mis-information (in fact spoke this week with a woman who voted no because she thought it would cost millions more as all the ads claim yet a leaked Treasury report shows it would cost no more)

The votes does seem to show that the electorate has negative feelings towards people who vote for minority parties (equated with BNP).  Interesting regrading our Green Party position on PR: AV gives power to people who are inclined to vote for minority parties, without necessarily giving power to the parties themselves; whereas PR actually gives power to  minority parties.

So what are some of the points to take out of all this?
Click Read More for the rest of this blog.

Both yes and no campaigns treated people as idiots - worked well for 'no' but not for 'yes'.  As one person commented it is easy to mislead people as long as you pick a subject that they care little about and feed their existing predudices.

Examples of “yes” campaign problems include:

        - glib answer to the accusation of complexity (they were talking about the vote counting, not the voting)
        - failure to explain AV
        - references to expenses scandal / making your MP work harder were irrelevant and vague.

There was also a heated debate within the 'yes' campaign over whether to try to explain AV. Was the wrong approach taken? Some argue it went too far along negative route while others say it didn't go far enough keying into negative feelings about MPs.  There seemed to be a slight change of direction at the end with the Dan Snow broadcast, but too little too late. The mood of the moment was such that a positive message was probably never going to work - as some have said the electorate wanted to give someone a good kicking. Was Nick Clegg that hate figure?

The BBC certainly seemed to help the no campaign by implying AV was complicated and irrelevant - plus calling it “Nick Clegg’s referendum”.

People desperately needed an impartial source of information beyond the mechanistic explanation in the electoral commission leaflet which was disastrous for “yes” and making it sound very complicated. Locally the 'Yes' campaign were shocked that the 'yes' campaign didn’t do a national mailing. Indeed at times communication was very poor to the local campaign groups. The "yes" campaign also got “computers” wrong  - it seems the “no” lot had bought up Google slots etc.

Of course it is easy to criticise 'yes' campaign, but fundamental problem was not enough people cared enough to campaign or donate. On a more positive point it seems it may have engaged young people with the subject of electoral reform
. So perhaps there is hope in the future. We certainly need it.

See also Tom Clark in The Guardian with 10 reasons why vote was lost here.


Chris Owen said...

Actually the lie I was talking about was not the made-up cost figures, but the more pernicious lie that AV is less democratic or unfair.

People who understand AV (and I'm sure that includes Cameron) know that it is a simple matter of fact, not a matter of opinion, that AV better represents people's wishes.

Here's why: supposing you held an election 2 ways: first under FPTP then under AV. Supposing that these two elections gave different results for the winning candidate. Of these two prospective winning candidates, which would the electorate choose, in a one-on-one FPTP contest between just those two candidates?

The answer of course is the candidate that won under AV. That's the way AV is designed: it reduces the decision to a one-on-one FPTP contest between the two most popular candidates, and everybody gets to vote in this contest.

This means, ironically, that if you believe that FPTP is the fairest way to choose between 2 candidates, then you must by pure logic accept that AV is the fairest way to choose between more than two. Opposing AV in favour of FPTP, on grounds of fairness, is a logical contradiction.

Unfortunately this kind of argument is impossible to condense into a sound-byte!

Sally Cinnamon said...

People understood it.

People didn't vote for it

So why did you interpret it in your frankly bizarre four categories? It is clear you are doing the human thing of interpreting it in ways to support your position and your belief that it's somehow other people's fault for not 'getting it'

People simply do not want it. By a large margin. Move on.

Anonymous said...

Chris - agree with you. Sally - I have not come across many outside political activists who could explain AV in any way other than it will cost us more and let the BNP in - is that understanding?

This was nothing to do with improving voting and all to do with bashing Clegg.

Anonymous said...

Of course in Stroud we have a right wing Tory MP thanks in no little part to all the self indulgent middle class people who voted Green and helped the Tories. We now have a government hell bent on driving us back to victorian times- but of course la la land Green party is not concerned about that in Stroud...

Anonymous said...

It is the last comment who is in lala land! It is Greens who have fought and still do the social justice issues when Labour drifted evermore right...Labour privatised our health service, the gap between rich and poor widened....I can't waste anymore time with that comment....