Thursday, 14 April 2011

That dumb referendum part II

Talk about underwhelming. Now both sides have pissed me off, I have come up with what I expect to be my official position:

Spoiling the ballot; scrawling something about the hated EU and what happened to that referendum?

As before, contrary thinkers are welcome to debate me. There's still time to change my mind. Every vote counts, after all.


Angry Exile said...

I won't ask what both sides have done, and since my mind was already made up I don't need to know. I have a lot of time for ballot spoiling though. Doesn't achieve much but bloody satisfying and less likely to attract the attention of the law than other even more satisfying options involving lampposts or bonfires. Seriously though, AV is only evolutionary rather than revolutionary. I've blogged at length at what I'd like to see in an electoral system but to condense it for a comment it would be: AV (or OPV - tomayto tomahto), a recall procedure, a none of the above or similar option on all ballot papers, rejection of all candidates and a by election triggered if 'none of the above' gets most votes, rejection of all candidates and seat unoccupied for parliamentary term if turnout is less than 50%. Between them these would allow transparent protest votes and tactical votes, neuter the anti-democratic effects of safe seats and party favouritism deciding candidates, and give those dissatisfied with all candidates a reason to go to the polls rather than stay at home and moan. The last measure would also ensure that constituencies with an apathetic majority get exactly the representative they've 'voted' for (you should have a look and see the names of some of the MPs elected on less than 50% turnover - you'll probably chuckle more than once). They'll probably make sure they vote in larger numbers next time, though it's not beyond the realm of possibility that they'll actually prefer it that way and even more will stay at home rather than elect another dropkick politician.

I'd also like to see the Lords go. It was worth hanging on to once but Blair ruined and corrupted it. I'd turn it into a Senate of less than 100 elected by some form of PR, ban its members from government positions (they can stand for a Commons seat if that's what they want) or from initiating legislation, and give them the responsibility of scrutinising every last comma on whatever the Commons produces with the instruction to block anything that doesn't make obvious sense.

Yeah, yeah, I know. But a man can dream, right?

Trooper Thompson said...

It's their lame adverts, and the fact that it's a minor change being trumpeted as either a once in a lifetime opportunity, or pushing open the gates of hell, when all it deserves is a minor gallic shrug.

Besides, AE, LPUK is endorsing a yes vote, but we'll say no more about that until the inquiry finishes!

Trooper Thompson said...

BTW, thanks for the detailed response.

Angry Exile said...

Y'welcome. Have to say that there might be something in the once in a lifetime angle. If we say no now it's likely that it'll be treated not as 'no, we're not happy to settle with just this relatively minor tweak' but 'no, we're happy to stay with the current system for ever and ever and ever'. Some certainly will be but as with the last referendum here (on becoming a republic) many people voted no not because they were not republicans but because they were against the form of republic - a president appointed by parliament - being offered. How many is anyone's guess since it's impossible to distinguish between no votes, but I personally know a couple of people who are keen to be a republic but voted no. Of course there's no suggestion at all that the PM at the time, a monarchist, was boosting the no vote by putting up an unwanted form of republic as the alternative to the status quo. No, of course not, how could anyone suggest such a thing. ;-)

This AV vote is kind of similar. Unlike the one here (some years before I migrated) I do think it's a step in the right direction, but only a tiny step and probably the least important of the things that I'd like to see changed. They'd achieve more by keeping FPTP but adding a recall procedure for example. Like Howard here with the republic referendum they're carefully asking the wrong question. It should not be 'should we change the electoral system to AV' but 'should we change the electoral system', and then if the answer is yes then have a decent debate and put all the options out there. What's going on now is a recipe for either staying the same or staying almost the same, though admittedly part of the reason for that is that the whole thing has come about as part of a compromise anyway.

I wouldn't knock it because of what's going on with LPUK. Whatever Andrew Withers may or may not be, representing the party isn't the same as being representative of party members. Some in the Labour party are keen on AV too but that shouldn't put us off.

Trooper Thompson said...

Will you stop with the rational arguments! You're making me have to think about it. I'm joking, of course, as I specifically sollicited such responses. Once in a lifetime, maybe not. Once in a generation, most likely. I'll keep thinking about it until polling day.

It's almost always the case that a referendum is based on Hobson's Choice: this, or nothing, such as with the one you mention on Australia becoming a republic.

The Boiling Frog said...

Personally, I'm not voting. The whole thing seems deeply patronising - if it were a serious attempt to reform the system then all options would be on the table - and that's before mentioning the EU referemdum that we keep being promised.

I rather hope that the turnout is so low it's embarrasing and I'll be doing my bit to help with that.

Angry Exile said...

Boiling Frog, as the old cliché goes, if voting changed anything they wouldn't allow it. Same thing applies here.

Coincidentally I've just seen an article in The Aussie about the AV referendum in Britain (where it's translated into Strine by being continually referred to as Optional Preference Voting) and gives a link to a Channel 4 page claiming that LibDem second preferences will go to the Tories more often than anyone thought, which would mean the main party who'd gain most from it is the one campaigning hardest against it. Will further surveys find the same thing and if so will the Yes and No campaigns meet up and swap all their campaign material?

China Diapers said...

Hi mate, I finally found your blog via Anna Racoon. It's the loudmouth South African from the LPUK meeting, man that was an enlightening evening. Will see you at another one in the future, hopefully they survive the turmoil.

Liking the blog, I'll be back.

Trooper Thompson said...


man I definitely plan to be at the next meeting, it just got a whole lot more interesting!

Cheers for the compliment.