Tuesday, 26 April 2011

AV: A Tactical Question for England ?

I'm in the 'Oh alright then, if that's the only thing on offer' camp on AV.

That's simply because, on balance, I think it is just a tinsey bit more sensible that FPTP. But proportional and fair it sure ain't. Not that any electoral system can necessarily guarantee those aims: you pick a electoral system to fit the underlying political sociology in my view, not to change it. Therefore a system which allows (it doesn't guarantee this of course) the two major parties to be cut down to something closer to their declining linkages to the political outlook(s) of the mass of us is probably preferable. That's as far I as tend to think about it before giving up with a yawn.

Up to now, I've been a bit dismissive of folk who think about this choice in purely tactical terms. I distrust those who tell me they'll be voting this way or that because of some predicted short term political effect. In general, I simply don't think people - even practiced spinners from the no-longer-smoke-filled backrooms - can predict that sort of thing. Life is just too messy. But this poll has concentrated my thoughts: it appears that pro independence parties - the SNP and Scottish Greens - may, for the first time, win a majority in Holyrood.

Now, this might not happen of course. & even if it does it's a long way from Salmond having a majority in his parliament to him actually wining a referendum on Scottish Independence. But it does focus the leftwing English mind on how FPTP elections might be expected to go in the future without the Caledonian contribution. We'd be looking at more or less permanent Tory government.

So I've changed my view. There is a tactical question involved here, but it's not about giving Cameron or Clegg a black eye, or encouraging the 'left' LibDems to jump ship or whatever. It's about an insurance policy against the possible day when the Scots leave us.


  1. Shouldn't it be about which system provides/results in a government most representative of the people it represents? Deciding one way or the other based on whether it fits our political outlook tends to push me the opposite way - and I've heard it on both sides.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Phil.

    A 'representative' govt can mean lots of things, few of them straightforward. There has been a certain amount of chatter on this interwebby thingamajig about Arrow's Theorem and the like. That's why I said, intending to be cautious,
    "..you pick a electoral system to fit the underlying political sociology in my view, not to change it."

  3. It's not much a choice, is it? FPTP or AV. There something very British about a referendum on the voting system which narrows debate and choice on such a crucial issue to two thoroughly uninspiring choices. God forbid that you should give the public a genuine chance to think about and have its say on the constitution.

    I've just voted yes, for no other reason than a change is as good as a rest and I'm just curious to see what (if anything) happens differently under AV. That makes me very shallow, I know. But if the politicos are going to treat me like a child, they I'm going to act like one.