In Horse 1170 I argued that the "No 2 AV" campaign is a silly proposal because it is seemingly based on falsehoods.
Over the past few days though and as the impending referendum draws closer, it would appear that the Tories are stepping up their campaign backing "No 2 AV".
I found two snippets from the media most interesting. Both of the people in question appear to be blissfully ignorant of the circumstances which placed them into the positions which they now hold.
Firstly the UK's PM, David Cameron:
David Cameron has branded the alternative vote system "undemocratic" and "unfair" and urged people to oppose it in next month's referendum.
"It's a system - AV - so undemocratic that you can vote for a mainstream party just once, whereas someone can vote for a fringe party like the BNP and it's counted three times... It's so unfair that the candidates who come second or third can end up winning."
I don't think that Mr Cameron is in any sort of position to be arguing over what is and isn't "democratic" considering the method which he came to be the Prime Minister in the first place.
During the General Election of 2010, only 65.1% of the population bothered to show up at the polls. If you look at just the numbers of raw votes across the country, the Tories achieved 36.1% of the total vote. This means that of the total population of the UK, the Prime Minister was installed on just 23½% of the population's votes. This means that more than three quarters of the population either didn't vote for a Tory government or didn't vote at all. How "democratic" is that I ask you?
Of course it could be argued that when a coalition was formed with the LibDems, that their proportion of the vote should be included. On those figues including the 23% of the total which the LibDems gained, you still only get about 38½% of the vote which is still less than a majority of elligible voters.
Actually if you look on a seat by seat basis, then more than two-thirds of all sitting members actually came to occupy their seat on less than a third of the vote. Again I ask, "how democratic" is that?
The other worrying thing I find with Mr Cameron's statement is that somehow he seems to be perfectly fine with ignoring or deliberately trampling on the voices of 12% of the electorate.
It is true that I might not particularly like the BNP, UKIP or the National Front but I still don't think that their voices should not be heard; in fact I endorse their rights under the Bill of Rights Act 1689 etc, to their right to have a say in the political discussion of the nation (and be judged on what they say). Moreover, there are all sorts of voices which under the current system don't even shape the political discussion of the nation. There are plenty of Social Democrat, Socialist, Unionist, Green and otherwise smaller parties which I imagine which Mr Cameron would consider to be "the fringe". Does Mr Cameron that their voices should also be trampled or extinguished?
By including those parties on the ballot paper and giving people a preference, people can go to the polls and actively vote for parties which they know will lose. However, because primary votes are counted and published, the dialogue which the ballot papers actually tell the major political parties is of far wider scope than the FPTP system can ever allow. Besides which, in a democracy all voices no matter how "looney" they are have the right to be heard. Considering the horrendous parliamentary expenses scandals which had occurred in 2009, quite frankly both Labor and the Tories need a swift kick up the backside.
As for the AV system being "undemocratic", perhaps Mr Cameron should take a look at the data complied by the Economist Intelligence Unit of The Economist Group:
If the Australian system is so "undemocratic" then how is it that Australia which uses a form preferential voting system, is able to outscore the UK on the EIU's "Democracy Index" by 13 places? We are only behind Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand.
The absolute prize piece of idiocy which I found, I came acrooss via a link from of Antony Green from the ABC
The link provided was from Michael Ashcroft or rather Lord Ashcroft KCMG.
Proponents of AV would say that a majority of voters did not want Mountford. But it is also clear that many more wanted Mountford than any other candidate. What kind of mandate did the MP have, being the first choice of barely one-sixth of the electorate? I leave it to others to decide whether the outcome was "fairer" than would have been the case if only first preferences had counted.
In answer to Lord Ashcroft's comment, then yes the outcome was fairer because an AV system was been in place. If the majority of voters don't want a candidate, then how is that possibly fairer? If the majority of people vote against something as might have been the case of the 2010 General Election and an underlying reason why people voted for the LibDems, then that should have said something very profound indeed.
Also, this whole piece is bit rich coming from a member of the House of Lords. The House of Lords is an unelected body of which the sitting members are appointed rather than elected. How many people voted for Lord Ashcroft I ask you? ZERO.
Not a single person voted to put Lord Ashcroft into the House of Lords and yet he is charged with the responsibility of voting on legislation in the upper house what supposedly is a more democractic system than one voted by the preferential vote, on his logic.
As this campaign wears on, the more I am convinced that living in Australia, we happen to have what is probably the best and most robust parliamentary democracy in the world. I think a great deal of that is because that more voices are heard through the ballot box, and parties tend to adjust their policies for a wider audience. I'm sure that the preferential voting system we have is a great contributor in that.