Monthly Archives: September 2010

Laboured understanding of AV

Reading the comments on the 2010 Labour Leadership Election on the BBC Daily Politics message board I worry about the ability of some to understand AV (Alternative Vote).  And the continued press and media comment does not fill me with confidence that all will be clear by the time of the referendum. Continue reading

Oh dear, “It’s very complex”

From reporting of the results of the Labour Leadership election, I am forced to conclude that either the media is seriously lacking in intellectual capability, or they are trying to reflect an equally incompetent population.  I hope it is not the latter – but to conclude that the media is so lacking, is not a comfortable conclusion either.

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Other benefits of STV

STV (Single Transferable Voting) is often promoted as a means to get a more representative result.  There are, however, other significant benefits:

  1. Voters can choose between different candidates of the same party; this breaks the power of the selection committees.
  2. “Split votes” are almost impossible, so a disgruntled candidate can appeal over the heads of their party direct to the electorate.  Protest votes also become irrelevant – you can vote for what you want.
  3. Mini “one party states” are unlikely, so parties and candidates do not get complacent, and at every election, there is something to fight for, so with a bit of luck the electorate actually gets engaged. Continue reading

Boundaries: A better way

So what do we actually want from Parliamentary Boundaries?

  1. Geographically sensible areas – with which constituents can identify
  2. Reasonably stable areas – so that your constituency is not always changing
  3. Rough parity in terms of number of electors
  4. Not drawn up in such a way to favour or disfavour any particular party or interest

The current proposal for constituency equalisation (UK Autumn 2010) fails on (1) and (2) above, may achieve (3), but is contentious in respect of (4).  Personally I think it is a mess.

There is a better way – but it requires a conceptual jump.

Continue reading

Messing with the boundaries

Recently the four national (Parliamentary) Boundary Commissioners were being grilled by the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee (HC 437-i) about implementing the Coalition Government’s desire to:

  1. Reduce the number of UK Parliamentary constituencies (to 600)
  2. Make all constituencies roughly equal in size

Questioning seemed to revolve around maintaining “natural communities” and avoiding splitting electoral divisions (local government electoral units).

It is also rumoured that the Labour Party is about to start selecting prospective candidates for the existing 650 constituencies.  This will inevitable force the other parties to do the same (a sort of PPC-war).  Then if the constituencies change, there will have to be some frantic reshuffling – and no doubt internecine fighting as prospective candidates fight to keep a constituency – any constituency. (So much for loyalty to a constituency and the “constituency link”!)

It is a totally foreseeable mess – and totally unnecessary. Continue reading

AV: The foundling of British Electoral Reform

So who wants AV (Alternative Vote) – this pathetic unloved low-fat wilted fig-leaf attempting to cover the embarrassment that is our first-past-the-post voting system?

  • Not the Conservatives – they may be whipped to support the referendum bill as part of the coalition agreement but will campaign against change.
  • Not the Liberal Democrats – they want STV – proper full-fat reform.
  • Not the Labour Party – although it was in their manifesto.
  • Not the Nationalists – because they object to the timing!

Continue reading