Thursday, April 28, 2011

Independent YES campaigners

While the official YES campaign has been piss poor from the beginning, others inclined towards voting yes but understandably frustrated by the official campaign have begun to produce their own materials, and who can blame them?

Take this wonderful example of cat / geeking / political propaganda combo. What could be finer?

In a similar vein the coffee / beer image doing the rounds is a thousand times more convincing as an explanation than anything the yes campaign has produced, relying on that tired combo of moaning about the other side whilst talking a load of bollocks.

It really takes some chutzpah to insinuate everyone thinking of voting no was somehow a bit like Nick Griffin or that tactical voting would be abolished or that a winning candidate has to get more than 50% of the votes cast to win (which doesn't attract me anyway even if it was true, which it isn't). But let's not pretend that no campaigners have been pure as the driven snow, as this Australian blogger points out, I'm juust a bit tired of hearing yessers claim the no side are always lying without ever acknowledging the yes camp has continually made factually untrue statements.

Incidentally, I really wish that both sides would stop exclusively using examples where someone who did not come first under the first preferences wins the final round. Although the purpose of AV is to introduce exactly such a possibility it is in fact normally the first placed candidate who wins. AV doesn't actually change that much and both camps have together created an impression that the second placed candidate (or even third placed, or lower) would win quite often, which a lot of people don't like the idea of.

It's exactly the exaggerated claims on both sides that have been such a turn off, as web of evil so brilliantly satirises. There are thoughtful things to say about AV (see for example Keith Flett, Hilary Wainwright, Gowers) or simply fun and funky things to say - but the Yes campaign just didn't want to say them.

The abolition of the dire Lib Dem bar charts would be a welcome advantage of AV but the Lib Dem staffed yes to AV campaign doesn't seem keen to highlight this advantage.

Personally one of the strongest arguments for AV is the undermining of tribalism in politics. I would love to see the end of the idea that if you like one party you must want all the others to expire. Only the most tedious party zealot thinks such things. If you don't have preferences between a specific Labour, Green, SNP, Lib Dem and Tory candidate in a constituency, for example, then I suspect your brain may have been replaced by a fossil and you're little use to anyone.

A politics without such firm borders between parties would, I think, be more honest, more thoughtful and more habitable for those people without the 'my way or the highway' instinct of many career activists. AV at least encourages us to think more in shades and nuance than the black and white of the us and them. That's partly why so many Labour people will be voting no trained as they are to regard their voters as their property by right.

At the end of the day there are good reasons to vote either way, and bad ones. A vote for or against because you think it might favour your party in the next election is a pretty vacuous and unprincipled reason to choose a system that we'll be using for decades to come, just as punishing either Clegg or Cameron when both care far more about how many of their party colleagues are elected on May 5th seems a bit pointless. A vote for or against because of how shit either campaign has been is also a pretty bad reason to decide when really the choice is between two, similar, electoral systems regardless of who their advocates are.

I'm glad to see more optimistic and fun messages coming out from the yes side, particularly after that dreadful TV ad where wankers with megaphones stood and hectored people about stuff AV would do fuck all about. I'm also glad the yes campaign have stopped their damn whining about the no camp having suddenly realised that it's the electorate they need to be thinking about, not their rivals.

At least the last week of campaigning might actually throw up some more laughs and real discussion, something that had been sadly lacking in the first months of the campaign. It's a shame most people will have gone to sleep on the subject by now.


weggis said...

My dear Jim.
The point you are missing on the Coffee/beer image is that you CAN get a coffee in a pub, but you CAN'T get a beer in a coffee shop.....

Jim Jepps said...

As with many analogies it doesn't bear too much literal interpretation.

I think it's a good image in that you could have, say, four progressive candidate and one reactionary one and they reactionary one gets in purely because there were many candidates to his/her left.

It gives a good flavour of that. I also think it gives a good flavour of what PR could achieve, but there you go.

Anyway, I'd rather have my coffee in a coffee shop, as I'm not keen on pubs, but that's by the by

cim said...

AV doesn't actually change that much

"Vote YES - it probably won't make any difference anyway, but what have you got to lose!"

It's strange how both sides have been staying well away from the actual advantages and disadvantages of the voting systems in question, in favour of lying and reckless extrapolation, and both end up missing powerful arguments as a result.

Strategist said...

Jim, agree with every word of your post, in orinciple. However, at the tribal level, for me the pic of Dav Cam & John Reid adjacent did rather undermine the text "Personally one of the strongest arguments for AV is the undermining of tribalism in politics. I would love to see the end of the idea that if you like one party you must want all the others to expire."

I take the point, but wouldn't it have been wonderful to watch John Reid expire Jock Stein-style from a Glaswegian heart attack live on stage with Cameron?