Thursday, May 05, 2011

Last thoughts on AV and Nick Griffin

Although the unofficial YES to AV campaign has improved the quality of argument in the last couple of weeks, allowing me to warm to the idea of a YES vote somewhat (see Gary, Nan, Alan, Luke and Matt) the "You can't vote the same way as Nick Griffin" argument still persists despite being a) extremely insulting to label most of the nation fascists if they don't agree with you on AV and b) being a way of giving this figure of little public significance a central role in the election.

Child killer Jon Venables is voting YES today because he thinks it will boost the chances of the far right winning seats, but you wont see anyone telling YES people they must agree with a Nazi child killer though will you? No. Because it's a facile argument based on fear and loathing not political analysis.

Grown ups will be voting YES or NO today based on which system they prefer. However there have been some serious attempts to bully people into voting one way or the other or just appeal to people on tribal grounds.

Some Labour MPs have been arguing that there would be slightly less Labour MPs under AV (which is actually not a permanent fact, despite the case that it would have been true at the last election). That's not a great reason to postpone democracy though, is it? Nor is it an argument that's likely to persuade people who don't care how many MPs Labour has.

Likewise other Labour MPs have been arguing that people should vote YES because David Cameron is voting NO. As poor arguments go this has to be one of the worst. If the YES campaign wants to win the referendum it *has to* have a large proportion of Tory voters vote YES, but instead of trying to split away Tory voters from the official line it has actually spent time trying to cement them to their leader by touting the argument that YES to AV is an anti-Tory vote.

Seeing as the Tories won more votes than any other party at the last election that's a big demographic to deliberately alienate.While supporters of Greens, Lib Dems and Labour (marginally) will have a majority of YES voters the massive weight of NO votes from the Tories will almost certainly deliver a defeat for the referendum.It's not even true to say that AV is anti-Tory as AV in Australia has served the right very well indeed delivering a sterile two party system.

Whether the lessons will have been learned about how half measures can fail where real reform might have succeeded I don't know. I certainly do hope that the lesson that you don't put Lib Dems in charge of political campaigns has been learned as the insufferable whining, hectoring and dishonesty coming from the official YES campaign has done much to set back the chances of a YES vote.

Some notes from other places: Green Christian on how AV might effect politics, Stumbling and Mumbling on where AV could lead, Deborah Orr on how the Lib Dems are dolts, Left Foot Forward has a newspaper roundup and Tom Clark compares reform to playing cards.