‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ campaign launches


9:00 am - September 11th 2010

by Newswire    


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The Yes to Fairer Votes campaign has announced the first appointments to the team that will lead the call for a ‘Yes’ vote on the Alternative Vote (AV) in next year’s referendum.

The campaign is currently building the grass roots organisation that will take the message to the country ahead of next May.

The campaign decided early on to avoid calling itself the ‘Yes to AV Campaign’ and focus on language people would relate to.

The people leading the campaign will be:

Pam Giddy, Chair
John Sharkey, Vice Chair
Neal Lawson, Compass
Peter Facey, Unlock Democracy
Willie Sullivan, Electoral Reform Society
Carina Trimingham, Electoral Reform Society

Pam Giddy said:

You can be an MP today with less than one in three voters on your side. It’s not how any normal job interview would work, but we hire and fire our MPs using a voting system that gives candidates the edge over us, their employers. The system has produced safe seats where many MPs are set for life, and that’s bred complacency and allowed voters to be taken for granted.

For millions of us there is precious little point in voting for what you really believe in, a view politicians actively encourage. Next year we’re out to win a stronger voice, and the chance to cast an honest vote.

Voters aren’t looking for a revolution. By voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum we can take what works with the current system and improve on it, and give politics a long-overdue upgrade.

The campaign’s website is at: www.yestofairervotes.org

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Reader comments


Yes to fairer constituency sizes?

Clunky name but it makes sense to give a “does what it says on the tin” name. 0.01% of the population knows what AV refers to, so it’s clever.

Carina Trimmingham – attracting attention to the campaign for the wrong reasons, I fear….

Good – some good capable people there.

Let battle commence 🙂

4. Sunder Katwala

Everybody on the group will bring something important- but it is far too narrow in several ways.

In particular, I think it is strange that a steering committee of six for a Yes campaign on AV doesn’t contain anybody who actually supports AV, and hope that doesn’t point at a confusing “stepping stone” argument which makes the campaign about PR.

http://www.nextleft.org/2010/09/yes-for-fairer-votes-and-missing-voices.html

Calling the campaign “Yes to Fairer Votes” is an admission of defeat before you’ve even started. If nobody on the Yes side is seen to actually like or want AV, then you’ve lost.

@Sunder Katwala

Neal Lawson and Willie Sullivan are both Labour men through and through.

Perhaps if you want more representation for Labour, you should contact the PLP and ask why not a single Labour MP voted for changing the system to AV? Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, voted for the AV bill despite disagreeing with the boundary changes and being in favour of PR rather than AV, because a) she understands there is a wider issue of not sacrificing even a small step in the right direction, and b) she is not a blinkered, pathetic tribalist, unlike every single Labour MP (according to how they voted).

7. Sunder Katwala

@6 blanco

It was a constructive post. I am among those who are going to be trying hard to mobilise Labour opinion, which is going to be very important, so the blinkered tribalism stuff isn’t going to help to that.

My point is that they are all six strong pro-PR voices with no AV supporter.

If you read my post, it says those two have strong Labour grassroots links – but the group has enormously strong high-level LibDem links and weaker Labour links. Compass appeals to one important part of the Labour party, but is not influential across all sections of the party, including traditionally strong pro-reform strands on the centre-right of the party. Compass often reaches similar territory to the pro-PR non-party campaigners – we need that, but there are important missing groups.

“traditionally strong pro-reform strands on the centre-right of the party”

Can you elaborate which strands those are, Sunder, who are not only pro-reform but not paralysed with “ConDem”-style attacks?

Dear blanco, please give the ranting a miss? The pro AV campaign needs a broad, inclusive campaign. Above all it needs to dissociate itself from politics as usual. Come on, be positive, dim the negative.

@Sunder Katwala

“I think it is strange that a steering committee of six for a Yes campaign on AV doesn’t contain anybody who actually supports AV”

Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Leaving aside some MPs who support it out of self-interest (because they think it would benefit their party, or because AV would enable them to claim majority support from their constituents – Peter Hain is an obvious example) hardly anyone would actually pick AV as the best system if they had a free choice in the matter. You seem to have struggled to find examples yourself: of the three non-MPs you mention in your article, only Peter Kellner is a genuine supporter of AV. John Rentoul prefers the two-ballot system and Philip Blond wants a multi-option referendum with AV+ in the mix as well.

If you make the referendum purely about FPTP vs AV (rather than AV-as-a-possible-first-step-to-PR), how are you going to persuade people to turn out to vote for it? Granted, on paper AV is a better and fairer system than FPTP, but for most people there is no practical difference between the two, because most people live in seats that will be safe under either system.

Look at Pam Giddy’s attempt to make a case specifically for AV. “Voters aren’t looking for a revolution. By voting ‘yes’ in the referendum we can take what works in the current system and improve on it”. It’s not much of a rallying cry, is it? ‘Forward to a slightly better electoral system!’ Meanwhile she bases her critique of FPTP on the safe seats issue – a real problem, but one that AV would do very little to address (the Electoral Reform Society’s own report on AV admits that “There will be relatively few constituencies which are currently uncompetitive under FPTP but would be put into play by AV.”)

Granted, the ‘AV as a stepping stone’ argument has its weaknesses also. Perhaps that’s why the ‘yes’ campaign seems to be resorting to threats: “if you don’t vote for AV, you will kill all chance of electoral reform for a generation” and suchlike. But even that doesn’t really follow: if the AV referendum loses, there’s nothing stopping us from having another referendum on PR at some point. Well, nothing except the fact that both main parties will do almost anything to avoid holding one – and that will still apply if we get AV.

How to campaign for a reform that hardly anyone really believes in? It’s a tricky one.

Brilliant news. A formidable line-up because of the commitment these guys are going to bring. I love the name as well. I was thinking it would be called yes to av (like the notoav opposite) but this name is far better because it describes the result rather than the method – brilliant idea. Lets go and get ourselves a fairer system and lets not fight ourselves with tribal arguments. We are all on the same side. There is an us vs them component here – us (the general population of all political swings) vs them (those in power than want to keep it for their own selfish means). It don’t matter the political colouring of our side, we just need to stick together for this cause which will change our country for the better.

As slogans go I personally think “Let’s AV it” has a certain charm.

@Paul – fair enough, mate. I just don’t see Labour doing anything to help the referendum pass. In fact I can see them finding contrived reasons to come out against the referendum, or more likely, to damn it with faint praise and thus trying to ensure no one cares about voting either way.

@Harrison: “if the AV referendum loses, there’s nothing stopping us from having another referendum on PR at some point.”

The reason we’re having a referendum at all is because the Lib Dems are part of the government. Given that everyone is predicting their annihilation at the next election, it might be a while until they’re back in government and before we get another referendum. AV is a good basis for either AV+ or STV

@Harrison – you make an important point when you highlight how the Yes campaign is focusing on the issue of safe seats. Besides the fact that AV doesn’t do much to stop this (in the safest seats, MPs tend to get big percentages of the vote anyway), it’s another continuation of the idea that we can get reforms passed on the back of public anger towards MPs over the expenses scandal.

That is a tactical and tonal mistake. By the time of the referendum, the expenses scandal will already be two years old. The idea that it would lead to any kind of positive reform or an increase in the vote of pro-reform parties was shown to not follow through. Trying to get people angry enough about expenses to go out and vote Yes won’t work. We have to get them positively encouraged about the benefits of AV itself, which are easily explained.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  10. Dave Thawley

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  11. Matthew Barrett

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  12. Robert Sprigge

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  13. clive 1066

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  14. blogs of the world

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