Tuesday, 3 May 2011

You're still no to AV? You have got to be kidding...

Yes, dear reader, I have already published my obligatory blog post on electoral reform and whether or not I believe England should adopt the Alternative Vote. And yes, I have made it quite clear that I am very much for AV. And yet, I find myself here once again, writing another piece on exactly the same topic, even though my views on the matter haven't changed one bit.

Why? Because it is plainly evident that some people just aren't getting the message, and, with just two days to go, I am through with politeness. 

People have often said this is a boring issue that does not rouse much passionate debate. Forget that sentiment. In the last week, I've become more and more angry about AV as I've listened to people from the No camp on the radio and television, watched a few No broadcasts and even read some of their literature. I've often found myself incensed to the point of screaming by the sheer bollocks sprouting from the likes of Tom Harris MP, Blunkett, David Cameron et al.

I shan't reel of the list of plausible and convincing reasons why we should adopt AV; I and many, many others have already done that. However, if you are still voting No to AV simply to piss off Nick Clegg and spite the Lib Dems, you are either severely stupid or incredibly petty, or perhaps both. 

If you are a progressive and No to AV, can't you see that voting yes would end Tory hegemony? In the last century, the Conservatives dominated parliament, allowing the likes of Thatcher to do her worst, even though the majority of the electorate voted against them. FPTP favours the right - whose vote, unlike that of the left, is not disseminated amongst various groups, but instead focused on one, namely the Tories, thus allowing them to win majorities through the back door. The Alternative Vote would mean this consistently left-of-centre country would actually have left-of-centre governments. It would mean people's voices are heard, people's votes valued. 

If you are a fellow Labour member who's voting No simply because Labour is capable of winning majorities under FPTP, grow up and stop being so bloody tribal. Believe it or not, the Lib Dems and the Greens are not the spawn of the devil and it really wouldn't be such a terrible thing if we learned to work with them for a common cause - a progressive, fairer and more environmentally sustainable society. The left is traditionally a fractious and bickering lot, and this needs to stop or at least decrease in intensity if we want to fight the Tories. Of course, parties are separate in their own right and are bound to disagree, but we are all untied by shared fundamental values. 

Now for the even stupider argument of voting No to AV simply because it isn't full PR. I guarantee you, if the No to AV camp triumphs on Thursday, you can wave goodbye to any sort of electoral reform for a long time. AV is a crucial first step on the path to more wide-ranging change. A yes vote would usher in a new politics in this country, and would also begin the process of reform we so desperately need. 

Those saying AV would lead to instability and coalition governments, think again. In Australia, under AV, there have been only two coalition governments. In England, under FPTP, there have been five. Personally, I don't see a problem with coalitions - they are a way in which different parties can work together, offering a government that represents the majority of the population.  I also believe representation and proportion are far more important than clear cut majorities. But heigh-ho, some people are scared of co-operative politics, that's their problem. As for instability, AV is a small change; it isn't going to result in anarchy and political disorder. And after all, they operate under PR in Germany, a system that consistently creates coalitions, and they have been one of the most politically and economically secure countries for years. 

So, the referendum on Thursday is really asking quite a simple question: do you believe in progressive, fairer, more accountable politics that would end Tory rule and actually engage people in politics? Or do you like things the way they are, with a severely outdated, unrepresentative system? If you have an iota of sense, your answer to the former will be yes, and to the latter will be no. And guess what, you can say all that much more easily by simply putting an X in the box marked "Yes" on your voting sheet on Thursday. 

And if, after this post and all the multitudinous pieces out there far better than mine, you are a left-leaning progressive who is still voting no to AV, the only option left for you is professional help. 

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