LDV readers say: yes to Alternative Vote over first-past-the-post

by Stephen Tall on June 20, 2009

Cast your minds back 10 days, and there was a flurry of excitement at the prospect of Gordon Brown deciding to do something radical, and reform the voting system. It wasn’t long before the Prime Minister was back-tracking to make clear that he was simply in favour of reviewing the situation. But still the prospect of voting reform prompted LDV to ask the forced question: “Should Lib Dems back the Alternative Vote in a referendum if it’s the only option for voting reform?”

Here’s what you told us:

51% (175 votes): Yes, it’s better than first-past-the-post
35% (122): No, we should hold out for a truly proportional system
9% (32): No, we should stick with first-past-the-post
5% (16): Other
Total Votes: 345. Poll ran: 10th-17th June 2009

So, there you have it – though it may not be a proportional voting system, a bare majority of LDV readers would rather opt for the Alternative Vote over first-past-the-post.

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Curious. Why do they like AV? Why do LDV readers support a system that would yield a larger Tory or Labour majority (whichever screwed up least recently), at the expense of Lib Dem seats?

Is this some kind of “well someday we’ll be in power and then have the strong majority” thing?

by Andrew Suffield on June 20, 2009 at 11:16 am. Reply #

I’ve said it before – there are some Liberal Democrats who are desperate for any sort of influence they can get. They are too prepared to take ‘baby steps’ (if you can even consider AV as a baby step) in the ‘right’ direction.

As Liberals we want power to the people and STV goes some way in a democracy to achieve this. Liberals of all persuasion be they classical or social should stick to our guns and back unreservedly STV. No compromise.

I for one will not be arguing for AV, AV+ or any other system than STV with the public. The argument for STV is a clear one – if you as a voter want to have your votes count, and you want to choose the candidates you want, from the Parties you want, then support STV.

If you want the Parties and political elites tell you who you can vote for, support the current system or AV or AV+.

By the way, I’ve created a Facebook Group entitled ‘Liberal Democrats for the Single Transferable Vote’: http://www.facebook.com/gavinwebb#/group.php?gid=90890500998. Why not sign up to show your support for STV?

I’m still relatively new to Facebook so if not only want to sign up but also want to help with the Group (and give me some pointers 😀 ) don’t hesitate to get in touch – gavinwebb@eaststaffslibdems.com.

by Gavin Webb on June 20, 2009 at 11:29 am. Reply #

@Andrew: I’d hope it’s more of a “If you merge adjacent AV constituencies together you’d have STV so it’s a step in the right direction” thing. Misguided, in my view.

by Paul Griffiths on June 20, 2009 at 11:36 am. Reply #

This is a difficult call. I am usually not keen on ‘stepping stones’ as each move needs another push and can become a barrier to progress. But I do think that introducing preferential voting is a worthwile prize by itself. It depends on how much influence/clout we have. It does not have to lead to AV +, it could lead to the bouundary commision introducing multi member seats=STV

by Iain BB on June 20, 2009 at 11:37 am. Reply #

“Why do LDV readers support a system that would yield a larger Tory or Labour majority (whichever screwed up least recently), at the expense of Lib Dem seats?”

Possibly because not all LDV readers are Liberal Democrats.

by Andrew Duffield on June 20, 2009 at 11:51 am. Reply #

Andrew Suffield wrote: “Curious. Why do they like AV?”

After switching to the AV all you have to do is unite the current single-member constituencies to multi-member constituencies, and voilà! You’ll have STV. So you could see the AV as a step to the STV.

by Hmmm on June 20, 2009 at 12:13 pm. Reply #

“Curious. Why do they like AV? Why do LDV readers support a system that would yield a larger Tory or Labour majority”

There’s a world of difference between supporting AV, and preferring AV to FPTP if that is the option presented.

by Lee Griffin on June 20, 2009 at 1:18 pm. Reply #

You have also lost me as ro why AV would lead to bigger Tory or Labour majorities, surely we would pick upo a hell of a lot of second preference votes as generally labour voters won’t vote tory and vice versa

by Peter1919 on June 20, 2009 at 11:09 pm. Reply #

AV is stepping stone to nowhere. If Gordon Brown is in favour of it, it must be a bad idea. I can’t believe so many LDVers would vote for it.

by Robert C on June 21, 2009 at 7:11 pm. Reply #

It ought to be obvious that STV is not going to happen overnight. Blimey, AV not going to happen as we’ve missed the bus on that one.

AV is a stepping stone. It introduces the principle of preferential voting, which the voters ought to like.

Anything else, like a list PR system would be far worse. The chances of moving from AV+ to proper STV must be remote.

there are some Liberal Democrats who are desperate for NO sort of influence they’d rather spend another ineffective 90 years than live in the real world.

by Mouse on June 22, 2009 at 8:08 pm. Reply #

I get why LDs support AV: it’s preference voting, so it looks like it’s better than what we’ve got. And as a method of choosing someone for a single office (a Speaker or a mayor, say) it has some merit (though I think exhaustive ballots are better). But as a way of selecting MPs it’s no improvement in respect of the important issues: majority governments elected on minority votes; effective disenfranchisement of vast swathes of the electorate; untouchable MPs in safe seats.

by Malcolm Todd on June 23, 2009 at 7:46 am. Reply #

It’s not true that AV would result in less LD seats. Almost all predictions and vote shares would lead to more LD seats, and on average AV is more proportional than FPTP.

by Mark Wright on June 23, 2009 at 9:10 am. Reply #

Of course, more LD seats would be pretty irrelevant if accompanied by increased majorities for the largest party. (Whether that would happen under AV is unclear, but is said to have been likely in 1997,and may be again in 2010.) We would have (quite legitimately) more influence with 30 MPs in a hung parliament than with 60 MPs facing a secure parliamentary majority, as now.

by Malcolm Todd on June 23, 2009 at 9:24 am. Reply #

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