25 Sep 2010

Campaigning for Fairer Votes: An Abbreviated Consultation

Having spent the day at a family wedding, I used it as the perfect opportunity to test out the public response to the AV referendum in May 2011.

I am personally hundred percent behind the coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Democratic government we currently have for the next five years.

People's initial response is one of disdain, but when you point out to them that a Conservative Majority would be significantly worse, they are inclined to agree.

The dark days of the 1980s still hang over people's heads and in spite of the proposed public sector cuts, there is a genuine belief that the Lib Dems are sanding the edges off Tory austerity.

However, with media squeeze from right wing papers, such as the delightful "Cameron to Cut Middle Class Taxes" on the front page of The Telegraph today, in direct correlation with pejorative "coalition" messages, we have an upward battle to convince people that the coalition government is a good thing.

So I was genuinely delighted to get a 100% return on people willing to support the AV referendum in May.

Please note, this was not a Liberal Democrat wedding, it was a long line of traditional Labour supporters and a long line of traditional Tory supporters uniting with me in the middle!

Most people resent the idea of "safe seats", no matter which constituency they are living, whether on the margin or true-blue. People genuinely believe in democracy, and are open to the idea that their vote should count.

While a lot of traditional Labour supporters are not happy to support the AV referendum (and don't get me on how incomprehensible that is after Brown's announcement is pre-election), when you point out that halfway towards democracy is better than no democracy at all, most people are willing to sign up with a view that it will come on to another government mandate in the future to introduce STV.

And if in doubt, always use the Green Party as an example. Under the Proportional European system, people's votes will represented by electing a Green MEP. If one in six people in the UK vote for the Green party, they now feel that their views are represented in the European Parliament. However, it is taken far longer to elect a Green MP under the FTP system.

This implies to me that the chances are reasonably high of succeeding in the AV referendum in May I will be campaigning to that effect over the next eight months.


  1. Just to say that the system in the EU elections isn't STV (which is a wonderful system), but the D'Hondt system (possibly the worst possible proportional system you could have). Especially important to make that clear now there are BNP MEPs - they wouldn't get in under either STV or AV, and would in fact find it harder than under FPTP...

  2. Thanks Andrew, that's the downside of blogging late at night without too much research!


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