Wednesday, 27 April 2011


I hope to find time for a detailed review of AV vs FPTP at some point before the referendum. It's a referendum that nobody really wanted, and I haven't been impressed by either of the official campaigns.

The dodgy characters at Power 2010, true to their Lib Dem roots, are enthusiastically supporting the "Yes" side. The "No" team, meanwhile, come up with gems like this:
AV ensures that the BNP will get more protest votes, giving them more legitimacy, but won't help legitimate small parties like the Greens win more seats (the British Election Study, for example, showed that the Greens would not have won any additional seats under AV)
I have found myself wondering, though, how UKIP would fare under AV. Here is their official position, which seems pretty sensible to me:

UKIP’s policy is to support the ‘Yes to AV’ campaign in the forthcoming referendum on reform of the voting system.

However, we believe we are being offered the wrong referendum. We are being asked our opinion on the election of a chamber which has a diminishing influence on our lives, while being denied the widely promised referendum on who actually governs Britain.

While we are not at all happy with the Alternative Vote (AV) system proposed, and believe it could dis-proportionately favour the Liberal Democrats, we nonetheless take the view that some electoral reform is better than none.

The First Past The Post (FPTP) system no longer has any legitimate claim to represent the will of the people. In 1955, 96% of voters voted for the main two parties, Labour and Conservative. In 2010, only 65% did. In 1955, 9 out of 10 MPs were elected with majorities of 50% or more; in 2010, it was one in three.

It is clear that a more proportional system of voting is required to represent the many people – many more than the third of the electorate who did not vote Labour or Conservative in 2010 – whose views are not directly represented in Parliament.

We strongly believe that a system which includes an element of actual proportional representation should be adopted. The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for proportional representation for a generation, yet are now promoting a non-proportional system simply because they believe that it favours them electorally.

Nonetheless, we recognise that AV does enable all voters to register their first preference vote with the candidate of their conscience, and so demolishes the ‘wasted vote’ issue. Under AV, UKIP could potentially achieve a much higher share of the vote through ‘honest’ first preferences.

Our campaign

UKIP formally supports the Yes to AV campaign, a decision made by its National Executive Committee on 10 January and confirmed on 7 February. Its principal spokesmen on the campaign will be William Dartmouth MEP, and the party leader, Nigel Farage MEP.

The National Executive also resolved that UKIP members who do not agree with this position are entitled to express their personal views. However, it reiterated at its meeting on 7 February that UKIP members are expected not to actively campaign against the party’s policy, to seek publicity for the contrary view or, in particular, to be involved in any direct opposition to UKIP’s spokesmen and representatives in the course of the campaign.

Steve Crowther, Executive Chairman,
16 February 2011

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