Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Vote Yes Or Vote No, Just Make Sure You Vote

I hope anyone in England who reads this goes out and votes tomorrow. Obviously there's things and parties i'd rather you did or did not vote for but in the end the most important thing is that you vote. I found this advert i remembered from last summer and it's still very relevant now:

If you don't get involved in politics, at least on election days, through apathy or laziness, then you're missing out on a big piece of what being a citizen is about and to a certain extent it limits how much you should really complain when things in this country don't go your way.

Now as for the AV referendum i posted a few of my views on the tactics used by the 'No' campaign and in writing it i realised to an extent where i stood on the matter. I'm going to vote Yes tomorrow, for a whole variety of reasons. I feel this is the best, and possibly the only opportunity we are going to get as a country to reform a voting system that i simply don't believe works. AV isn't the system i'd have chosen but compared to First Past The Post i believe it's a massive improvement; a No vote will inevitably seen and used as a vote for FPTP and a vote against change. Maybe it shouldn't be that way but you only have to have a look at the way both sides have conducted their campaigns to know that whatever the outcome of tomorrow's referendum, the result will be used as a justification in arguments that have little if anything to do with the Alternative Vote system.

A victory for the NO campaign will be seen as a criticism of Clegg, Milliband and both their parties, it will as i said be seen as an endorsement of FPTP and to dampen any other campaigns for political reform. A victory for the YES campaign will be used as a criticism of Cameron and his party, it's importance will be over-stated as a indictment of the current political systems and participators.

So basically, whichever way you vote tomorrow, be prepared to hear your vote being used to justify a whole lot of stuff you never intended it to mean when you put an X in a box about which voting system you wanted, because that's just politics.

Three points relating to that original post i wrote; firstly i want to repost this video:

I feel it sums up how the AV system works quite simply and effectively; a counter-point to all those claims by the NO campaign that AV is too complicated. I can't help but feel a lot of the media from both sides of the vote has been really quite patronising.

The second point is that in the original article i argued that the sports metaphor the NO campaign used in that leaflet was inappropriate as sport and politics are hugely different and shouldn't be compared. To a degree i still agree with that but i'll offer a sports metaphor of my own.

It's beginning of the season and two football fans are talking in a pub. The first fan asks the second, "So who do you want to win the league this season?" The second fan is a Manchester United fan, he replies, "Well obviously i'd like United, but i guess if they don't i'd rather Chelsea or Arsenal win it than Man City or Liverpool."

Now if this fan got to vote on the outcome under AV, and votes counted as points in the League table he could put a 1 by Man U, a 2 by Chelsea and a 3 by Arsenal, leaving the City and Liverpool boxes blank. So if Man U got the least points, they would be eliminated and the Man U fan's vote would be transferred to Chelsea's tally. If that brought Chelsea up to the point where they had a majority of points then they would have won and the Man U fan would have his second favourite option as champion.

Now that's a crass over simplification and a painfully poor metaphor, but so is this race one:

The third point i want to make is not a point for or against AV as a system but a comment on how this whole referendum debate has been handled. The tone of much of the discussion has been depressing; it's been patronising, petty and at times vile. A decision about which vote system should be used as our central electoral process for quite possibly the next century has been hijacked by party political bickering. I had a discussion with another student on the same course as me, who is planning to vote NO tomorrow and we both agreed that though neither campaign has dealt with the debate well, the key difference is that for the most part the YES campaign has been inept whereas the NO campaign has been malicious.

AV has been described as a "miserable little compromise", by one of the leading figures in the YES campaign, Nick Clegg, no less, but i am of the opinion that a compromise, even a miserable one, is better than a system that doesn't work.

So to round off i'm probably going to vote YES tomorrow but i will definitely vote and i hope you will too.

The song today is the first song off the new Frank Turner album, to be released this summer, and i definitely like it. Anyone who knows me will know that i'm more than a little fond of Frank Turner and his music so it's hardly a surprise i'm excited by the prospect of new music from him.

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