Friday, April 08, 2011

The AV safe-o-meter

Someone pointed me towards the site Voter Power which purports to "demonstrate the increase in voter power that AV would bring." So I popped in the details for Lewisham Deptford, where less than year ago I spent a tough General Election.

This was the result;


Now, I'm grateful for the stats and all but I do think the the idea that my "voter power would increase by 33%" is slightly misleading as it goes from "fuck all influence" to "still fuck all influence". If you live in Lewisham Deptford your vote doesn't make any difference under either system. An increase of 33% makes it sound like there's be a meaningful change, when there hasn't.

This is the key problem with single constituency elections (and Presidential elections) in that it is a combination of winner takes all and a postcode lottery. Under both systems the votes of those who live in Lewisham Deptford simply do not give the people the same say as those who live in marginal constituencies - and even they, generally, are only getting a choice between two parties to misrepresent them.

Under proportional representation every voter's vote is of equal weight - no matter where they live. It also means that in Parliament every political position with significant minority backing has a voice. For me that's what democracy should be about, people's voices being heard - not one where only the biggest tribes are allowed to speak.

14 comments:

Strategist said...

Yes, Jim, that's why they call it a miserable little compromise.

But I fear the sorry truth is that we have to do what we can to get a Yes vote, because it is still (if only so very marginally) a better system than FPTP.

Under AV at least you can register your protest against the shithouses and charlatans of New Labour before casting your second preference vote for them to keep the Tories out. If we can over time build up a consistently visible 10-15% left-of-New Labour vote, then this will create its own dynamic for further electoral reform and legitimacy for civil disobedience, if necessary.

Strategist said...

Great brilliant website, by the way. Well done, NEF

Essex Womble said...

Jim - try living in Brentwood. My only vote that makes any significant difference is in the Euro-Elections. Perhaps the reason why I'm sympathetic to regional list systems.
When people tell me that FPTP and AV deliver a constituency MP, all I tell them is mine is Eric Pickles.

Essex Womble said...

Jim - try living in Brentwood. My only vote that makes any real difference is in the European Parliament elections. Not surprisingly I've grown to like the Regional list system. Ironically my old constituencies in London, were two of the most marginal.
This of course isn't addressed by FPTP or AV. When people say these systems give you a local MP who can represent you in Parliament, all I have to say is - how would you like it if you were represented by Eric Pickles !

Sean Thompson said...

Last night, the presenters of the Now Show on radio Four put the real choice we have really succinctly; do we vote No to piss off Clegg or Yes to piss off Cameron. Mmm...a tricky choice.

Mark said...

Hmm, I've tried where I live (up 30%), where i used to live (up 32%), where my mum lives (up 30%) and where my dad lives (up 30%) - wonder if there is any sort of pattern here...

Bob from Brockley said...

thanks for posting this Jim. Very helpful.

I just did a very crude exercise with Lewisham West and Penge, where Romayne Pheonix stood and got just 2.1% last time, which NEF says moves from very safe to fairly safe Labour under AV. Using the last results, and making the (flawed) assumptions that Christian People's Alliance and UKIP voters transfer preferences to Tories, that Greens transfer to Labour and that Tories transfer to Lib Dems, then I calculate the Tories (the third choice under FPTP, with just 25% support, get their MP elected. Do I not like that.

bob said...

I just did the same exercise for Lewisham East, where Priscella Cotterell got 1.5%. There, using the same sorts of assumptions (plus that English Dems transfer to Tory and that Community Needs Before Private Profit transfer to Labour), the Lib Dems (second with 28% under FPTP) manage to win.

In other words, it seems to me that the third party voters dictate the election, not the fringe party voters or the supporters of the most popular parties.

bob said...

Sorry, I got Lewisham West wrong. In both constituencies, the Lib Dems emerge as the winners (NOT the Tories in Lewisham W).

bob said...

Sorry, I just lost my comment. Which was also an apology, for getting my first comment wrong. Actually, in Lewisham West, according to my assumptions, the Lib Dems win. That is, in both safe Labour seats AV would give us Lib Dem MPs. Because they are the centre party, they get the anti votes from both right and left.

HOWEVER, that was based on 2010 votes, and of course the Lib Dems have so discredited themselves that far, far fewer people will give them first, second or any preference.

EXCEPT that someone like me, who would put Green first and Labour second, would probably still put Lib Dem third as a slightly lesser evil than Tory.

Jim Jepps said...

AStrategist - you say well done NEf but in Lewisham Dept. Labour got more than 50% of the vote and so there wouldn't have even been a second round to this vote under AV - so how they can say my vote power would have increased by a full third... it's not credible.

In fact the stat they should have used (even with their numbers) is;

You vote is .971 futile and it will be .961 futile. Your voting power has increased by 1%.

(Will come back to other later, my meeting's starting)

weggis said...

>50% with FPTP does not necessarily translate to >50% with AV.

weggis said...

...I should have said >50% First Preferences with AV.

The Snarkery said...

Try living here:
http://www.voterpower.org.uk/bootle
It used to be in a Lab/Tory marginal, but got put in with Bootle in the 2010 boundary changes.
No seat ahould be that safe.