AV: things are hotting up!

N0449531299958527516AThe alternative vote argument was always going to be contentious but I don’t think many of us in the UK could have realised just how much.

On Saturday former leader of the Lib Dems, Paddy Ashdown, attacked chancellor George Osborne, accusing him “cheap mud-slinging and scaremongering” in an article in the Observer.

PM David Cameron came out on Sunday in defence of his chancellor’s comments that “there was something improper about the way the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign has been funded by the Electoral Reform Society”.

It’s getting tense out there

There can be little doubt that, whatever may be said in public, things are getting tense between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. And it may get even worse after Business Secretary Vince Cable takes the platform with Labour leader Ed Miliband in support of the “yes” vote.

The basis of George Osborne’s claims is the fact the Electoral Reform society (ERS) donated £1.1m to the “yes” campaign and that it would benefit from AV through its  subsidiary, Electoral Reform Services Ltd (ERSL).  This has been denied by the ERS, whose lawyers issued a statement saying that “A change in the voting system would have absolutely no impact on any revenue earned by the ERSL”.

The fact that the PM has defended Osborne isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise is that on Sunday he more or less repeated the allegation in an interview with Sky News, saying “The point George Osborne made, that the Electoral Reform Society is a big funder of the yes campaign, that it has an organisation that could make money out of it, that’s a fact, and I think there’s nothing wrong with bringing that fact out.”

Mr Osborne’s statement brought Mr Ashdown to write that “Osborne’s approach is a prime example of why British politics needs radical reform”.  He also makes the very good point that the “no” campaign seems to be operating with a brief of confusion and non-discussion of the facts.

Then we had current Lib Dem leader (and deputy PM) Nick Clegg throw in his tuppance-worth when he condemned the use of smear campaigns, and attempted to distance himself from Tory policies. “The no campaign is getting increasingly desperate. That’s why they are using ludicrous false claims to try to scare people into keeping things the way they are.”

Then things got really nasty with former Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, Lord Oakeshott, urging Labour supporters to ignore the no campaign and vote yes to “stuff the Tories”.

Yep.  Things must indeed be tense in the coalition at the moment and they’ll be better people than myself if they really can carry on with other stuff without it affecting them, even in the smallest way.

My thoughts

I mentioned in my previous post on the subject that I felt their public information film was deliberately confusing – seems I was right!  It certainly seems to me that the only people not wanting AV to come in are those with the most to lose.

Indeed, the point was made on one of the news channels that an AV system is used to select the conservative leader, so if it’s good enough for that why is the PM so against it for the country?

This website is an ideal example of the misinformation you can find.  They say that the winner should be the person who comes first … er, well that’s all very well but what about cases where there is a low turnout?  Is it fair that someone should come first and not have a majority of votes – after all you could win with 1 vote! Surely the majority winner is more representative of those people that turned out to vote.

As for the argument that AV will help the minority parties, well that’s more-or-less been argued out of the water by others and I think most people now know that AV will diminish their chances rather than aid them.  Why else would the BNP be on the side of the “no” vote?

Unfortunately for democracy the “no” vote is winning at the moment.  The latest poll shows them with 43% as opposed to the “yes” on 37%; however, this can only be a result of the recent negative campaigning because if you look at a previous poll before the campaigns began in earnest “yes” were winning with 45% against 33% for “no”.

So I’m trying my best to get the message out there (again).  Don’t take my word for it and certainly don’t take the politicians’ words!  Get online and find out as much as you can to make your own informed decision.  At least then, if the “no” vote wins, it will a result of research rather than a dirty tricks campaign.