William Hague’s bizarre letter to No2AV camp


10:28 am - February 20th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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William Hague sent out this bizarre letter to No2AV supporters. (via @debsalini)

It is riddled with so many inaccuracies its difficult to know where to start.

* * * * * *

Dear [name],

Without your help, Britain’s traditional voting system could be ditched for something that is unfair, expensive and allows candidates that finish third to win elections.

On May 5th, there’s a n…ationwide referendum on whether to replace the system of First Past the Post with the ‘Alternative Vote’ – or AV. The Liberal Democrats demanded this referendum as part of the Coalition agreement – but the Conservative Party are actively campaigning for a ‘No’ vote. Here’s why:

* AV is unfair. With First Past the Post, everybody gets one vote. But under AV, supporters of extreme parties like the BNP would get their vote counted many times, while other people’s vote would only be counted once.

* AV doesn’t work. Rather than the candidate with the most votes winning, the person who finishes third could be declared the winner.

* AV is expensive. Calculating the results is a long, complicated process, which would cost the taxpayer millions.

* No-one wants AV. Even the ‘Yes’ campaigners don’t actually want AV – they see it as a convenient stepping stone to yet more changes to how we vote.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1. Go to the No to AV website and sign up to receive emails
2. Ask your local Conservative Association how you can help their campaign against AV
3. Join the NO to AV group on Facebook or follow them on Twitter
4. Forward this email on to 5 friends.

* * * * * * * * *

Interestingly, he doesn’t repeat the discredited £250m cost claim in his email. Probably a wise move.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


There’s an informative website here that I’ve found lays out a convincing argument against AV — which appears to a dead end rather than a step to a fairer PR.
http://avisnotpr.blogspot.com/

Without av, Cameron wouldn’t be Tory leader.

3. Chaise Guevara

Wow. Three blatant lies and a bit of financial conjecture.

This is asinine but not much worse than “yes” camapign’s claims last week that the royal wedding would give people a sense of optimism — and Hague has been much more articulate and sophisticated in other public pronouncements. The key problem with this campaign is that the issues are technical and complex. Populist bollocks from either side does no good at all.

Tories dishonest.

Film at 11.

“would get their vote counted many times, while other people’s vote would only be counted once”

embarresingly silly deliberate misleading BS properganda

“COUNTED”

conflates/confuses two different contexts/meanng of word
confuse process with result

(eg On the occasion of 2 travellers on a train journey. Ones ticket being checked two times in a row by a ticket inspecter ,does not give any advantage over a person whos ticket checked once!)

Illogical & insulting

Is it really untrue?

* AV is unfair. With First Past the Post, everybody gets one vote. But under AV, supporters of extreme parties like the BNP would get their vote counted many times, while other people’s vote would only be counted once.

That’s a statement of opinion – and his illustration is true. Using the worst illustration to rally support is common.

* AV doesn’t work. Rather than the candidate with the most votes winning, the person who finishes third could be declared the winner.

Thats’s a statement of opinion that this constitutes not working and that first preference votes should mean more than second, third and fourth choice votes – but it is true the person who gets the third most first votes can win on the votes of people who preferred to vote for some one else.

* AV is expensive. Calculating the results is a long, complicated process, which would cost the taxpayer millions.

Again it is a statement of opinion to claim the process takes a long time and is complicated (define long time and complicated?) – but it does cost more and is more complicated that FPTP.

* No-one wants AV. Even the ‘Yes’ campaigners don’t actually want AV – they see it as a convenient stepping stone to yet more changes to how we vote.

Technically this is probably untrue. I don’t know anyone who wants AV – and I know a lot of Yes campaigners. But some one is bound to I guess, in a population of 60million. A little hyperbole is hardly nefarious though.

7. margin4error
“Is it really untrue?

* AV is unfair. With First Past the Post, everybody gets one vote. But under AV, supporters of extreme parties like the BNP would get their vote counted many times, while other people’s vote would only be counted once.”

Yes this is untrue.Totally untrue, it’s utter rubbish, and Hague is either a liar or a cretin – I suspect he’s a cretin.

Small parties do not get their vote counted many times. To suggest that is to be totally ignorant about how AV actually works. Everyone gets their vote counted the exact same number of times, ONCE per turn.

AV is also known as Instant Runoff Voting. Because it is supposed to be a Run-off election held in one go.

It works this way
1) everyone’s votes are counted, someone is eliminated
2) everyone’s votes are counted again as if the eliminated hadn’t stood
3) repeat until a winner found

At no point are smaller parties votes counted more than other peoples.

Look at the example of a run off election of a French president:

Chirac 40%
Penne 35%
Royal 25%

First vote 100% of peoples votes are counted and only counted once!

Royal is eliminated and next month we have the second election

Chirac 60%
Penne 40%

Penne is eliminated and Chirac wins

Second vote, everyone’s vote is counted, and counted once and only once!

At no point are Royal’s votes counted twice and other peoples votes counted once, we do not set everyone else’s votes aside so we can count her’s more.

No one complains that in a runoff election small parties get their vote counted more times because they don’t, it would be an absurd display of ignorance about how a run-off works.

AV is simply a cheaper way of doing it because you don’t have to hold multiple elections on successive months.

Idiots have tried to argue in court multiple times that AV counts some peoples votes more, they have – rightly- been laughed at by the judges. Hague apparently is not familiar with the cases.

William, that’s not how AV works. Let’s say you have the following under FPTP:

Labour 36%
Conservative 34%
Lib Dem 15%
Green 10%
BNP 5%

Under AV the first round would be just the same. But in the second round the second choices of the BNP candidate’s supporters AND ONLY HIS would be counted again. It would then go to a third round, in which the Green would be eliminated AND ONLY HIS supporters’ second preferences get counted (or third preference, if for some reason anyone voted Green 1, BNP 2).

It’s true to say that everyone gets to fill in a second preference, but it’s not true to say that all second preferences are counted. Only people whose candidates get eliminated are able to vote twice.

I started a blog at http://djmarsay.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/the-new-mathematics-of-voting/ . Unfortunately neither campaign seems particularly strong on reason. The No campaign seems particularly patronising.

11. Robin Levett

@Peter #9:

“Under AV the first round would be just the same. But in the second round the second choices of the BNP candidate’s supporters AND ONLY HIS would be counted again. It would then go to a third round, in which the Green would be eliminated AND ONLY HIS supporters’ second preferences get counted (or third preference, if for some reason anyone voted Green 1, BNP 2).”

Untrue. If you were right, the election would be decided by who won most of the second preferences of those whose first preference was cast for the BNP candidate; but that doesn’t happen. Those second preferences are instead added to the first preference votes of the relevant candidates, and only after all those votes are counted can a result be declared or, if no-one has hit the threshold yet, another candidate eliminated. At every stage of the election, all votes cast count toward the result. Tye only reason why no-one actually physically re-counts the first preference votes, as oppiosed to taking them into account, is because there is no need to do so to find out how many there are – that was done in the first round.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    William Hague's bizarre letter to No2AV camp http://bit.ly/g5z5UB

  2. zoetyndall

    RT @libcon: William Hague's bizarre letter to No2AV camp http://bit.ly/g5z5UB

  3. Watching You

    Typical Tories – RT @libcon: William Hague's bizarre letter to No2AV camp http://bit.ly/g5z5UB

  4. wmd-gnome

    Even thought Ian is out of touch I agree with him RT @libcon: William Hague's bizarre letter to No2AV camp http://bit.ly/g5z5UB

  5. Steve Glover

    More #IroncladIgnorance from #WilliamHague http://t.co/95jA1Yl (via @libcon) #Yes2AV

  6. William Hague's bizarre letter to No2AV camp | Liberal Conspiracy | Not Quiet

    […] William Hague's bizarre letter to No2AV camp | Liberal Conspiracy This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. ← Mark Levin puzzled by Ann Coulter's bizarre endorsement of Chris … […]





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