AV: All rise for a representative parliament
We seek to remain as neutral as possible in matters of politics. Inevitably, we find ourselves campaigning against specific government policies (including legislation introduced by our previous government and now being carried, relay-style, by our current one). We do so without declaring allegiance to a particular party, however. In supporting AV, then, we want to make it clear that we’re not endorsing the parties most likely to benefit from its implementation. We’re speaking up instead for a representative parliament — a parliament that more closely approximates the wishes of the citizens of this country — whatever those may be.
This article by Johann Hari in The Independent sums up the ridiculous nature of the arguments against adopting AV beautifully. If we genuinely believe that the British populace is too stupid to understand a system of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd preferences, then what are we doing even pretending that we live in a democracy? We might as well do away with all the theatre and simply hand all our power to a small, ruling elite.
This argument is revealing, in fact, in that it seems to indicate the arrogance of some of the powerful figures in our political firmament. The voting system becomes a way of manouevring themselves into power, rather than a means through which we, the voters, decide who we wish to govern us. It seems to suggest that they are so frightened of the free expression of the public’s wishes that they would rather convince themselves (and, if they can, us), that we are too stupid to formulate and communicate those wishes clearly.
The other major ‘argument’ against AV is that it might give extremists a voice in parliament. Leaving aside the fact that slashing 25% of the public budget seems pretty extreme to us, there is little to no truth in this idea. In a system of true proportional representation, extremist parties might garner one or two per cent of the seats. Even if they did, would that be a problem? Once their ideas were brought to light, they’d be soon be rebuffed in a true democracy. Remember how ludicrous Nick Griffin looked when he appeared on Question Time?
Extremism feeds on repression, not representation. Starving extremist views of coverage only feeds the perception of injustice that draws the disenfranchised towards the margins. Under AV, a far-right party such as the BNP would depend upon at least half the voters in any given constituency to prefer it to any more moderate party. This is an outlandishly unlikely eventuality — far more unlikely than the possibility that voters in a depressed constituency, disillusioned with the wielding of the public sector axe, somehow elect a BNP candidate in a fit of anger and apathy.
As the wonderful video below mentions, all three of the main parties use AV in their internal elections, so to suggest that it is beyond the rest of us is to draw a clear distinction between those who are capable of political engagement and those who aren’t.
Be a smart kitty and vote ‘yes’ to AV on May 5th.