18 February 2011

Laughable attack on AV from Cameron

Looks like Desperate Dave - increasingly so, given that polls show the Yes campaign moving into a widening lead - is clutching at straws with ludicrous claims like this:

AV system would have left Brown in Downing Street, claims Cameron

The Tory leader will say that, although he considers the Coalition to be a success, the current system of first past the post is preferable because it usually delivers strong outcomes. Under the alternative vote (AV) system, smaller parties are more likely to take votes from large ones because they can benefit from second or third preferences. As a result, Mr Cameron will say, Mr Brown’s “second rate” government could have stayed in power after May 2010.
He will also argue there is nothing more powerful than when people see their vote leading to the removal vans driving down Downing Street.
“That’s real accountability. Real democracy. Real people power. The problem with AV is that it makes this all the more unlikely. Hung parliaments could become commonplace.”

Here we have the ludicrous situation of a man only in Downing Street because of a coalition - formed after a First Past the Post election, which is (according to its supporters) immune to this sort of thing - saying to voters "don't vote for AV because it encourages coalitions (although actually I think the current coalition is really good."

A confused message? Just slightly.

Dave's argument is wrong even in its basic premise that FTTP delivers strong majority governments most of the time - see Guy Lodge and Glenn Gottfried's ippr paper Worst of Both Worlds for some very good evidence on why FTTP isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Dave's argument that small parties benefit from AV is also not necessarily true. It all depends on the distribution of preferences. For example, George Galloway won for Respect in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005 with only 37% of the vote. If that election had been held under AV it's quite likely that Tory or Lib Dem votes would have been redistributed to Labour's Oona King and Galloway would have never got in. AV is actually least favourable towards candidates who are highly popular with a minority of the electorate but disliked by a majority.

The only good thing about this is that it's good that Dave thinks that the removal van coming down Downing St is a good thing for democracy. Because the van will be coming for him in 2015 - or quite possibly sooner - and it will be interesting to see what he thinks then, AV or no AV.

By the way I have a good slogan for the Yes campaign: "AV it!" Accompanied by a video from Peter Kay.

No comments: