Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The AV campaign videos

We now have both YES and NO to AV campaign videos and frankly my unimpressedness continues unabated. First we have the No camp making their case;

I'm slightly confused about the three films in one thing from the Noers here. While three separate short films is fine, splicing them into one reel feels rather clumsy and confused - a bit like their arguments I guess.

Certainly it's funny, although the concept that people can get in even though no one votes for them or that AV would lead to permanent coalition is utter tosh. The horse race part is clear and powerful, probably the strongest part of the broadcast and is all the more robust for relying on an honest preference for first past the post rather than simply attacking AV.

Having said that the final part, which we might as well label "AV is confusing" is also a pretty strong message. It relies on the gnawing doubt in many people's subconscious that voting is complicated. I find it slightly frustrating because it essentially makes out that the voters are going to have to conduct the count themselves, so the issue becomes whether it is simple to count (and it's obviously slightly more complicated to count than FPTP) rather than whether it is simple to vote, which of course it is. In fact it might even be simpler to vote in an AV election because you don't need to predict who the winners might be before marking your X.

Now to the Yes video

Sadly we have more tosh.

AV will make your MP work harder will it? There's absolutely no evidence for this at all. More than a third of seats at the last general election were elected with more than 50% of the vote. The handful of seats that would have changed hands at the last election had it been under AV were all marginal anyway - so it's hardly likely to solve the expenses problem (which is as bizarre a claim as any the No camp are making).

However, while the arguments are as weak as the No camp's the video itself is far, far weaker. It essentially paints Yes campaigners as hectoring twats. This may well be an accurate description of the Lib Dem cadre that make up the core team of the Yes campaign (which also explains why the campaign has managed to combine smugness, bullying, pathetic whinging and a host of mis-guided missiles) but it's hardly true of the majority of pro-AV people.

There are many good arguments you can make for AV and yet the Yes camp seems determined to paint the campaign in the Lib Dems' image - self-satisfied, dishonest bores whose idea of a conversation is dogmatically insisting that they have no choice but to vote the way they want you to. I believe this may well become a classic case of crash plus burn.

Currently the No camp appears to be seven points ahead in the polls but I can't believe that support for either side is on the basis of the official campaigns.


max said...

I also find the horse race part really what's more interesting, it's powerful but misleading.
People don't win elections in that way but more like in sports like diving or gymnastics, where a jury gives a verdict on a performance that includes many different arguments, and arguably AV goes towards a more sophisticated result.

If a horse racing analogy should be made it would be that FPTP is like someone distorting the odds by saying with authoirity that only that horse can win.

Adrian Windisch said...

At the moment many people dont vote for who they prefer, but tactically. Those 50% may well include many who would rather vote for a smaller party who they think has no chance under the current system.

Under AV they might go for a smaller party, knowing they there second choice would still count if they loose.

So big majorities may yet be reduced. The many feeling disenfranchised may yet find they are a part of the process.