The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it’s awful


1:26 pm - April 2nd 2011

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contribution by Matt Wootton

How do you make a slogan? It might surprise you the key rule of slogans is the public need to already like your slogan even before they’ve heard it.

Unfortunately, that cannot be said for “Make it 50”, the cryptic slogan unveiled today by Yes to Fairer Votes.

The boring technical reason that “Make it 50” is problematic is that it’s not necessarily true. And that’s assuming you know what it means.

“Make it 50” refers – we think – to the hope that AV will make MPs work harder by needing to win 50% of their constituency’s support.

If you needed to be told that of course, as most of Britain will, it means it’s not a very good slogan.

But the problem is that, as the impartial Electoral Commission leaflet that you’ll be getting through your door says, “Because voters don’t have to rank all of the candidates, an election can be won under the AV system with less than half the total votes cast”. Oh dear.

This is of course, in the grand scheme of things, a relative technicality that shouldn’t detract from the general gist.

Unfortunately since most Yes activists so far have veritably built their campaign on scrupulously-researched rationalist benefits to the voter and technical explanations of how AV works, that rather leaves them in a delicate position, which the aggressive and shrill No2AV campaign will surely waste no time in exploiting.

But mainly, the problem with a slogan like “Make it 50” is it’s just simply dull.

Compare the blandness of the slogan to what was said on the stage beneath it this morning. By Eddie Izzard: “Don’t wake up on the 6th of May and go back to business as usual in Westminster. Seize this opportunity”. By Emily Wilkie: “I’ve been inspired by people through history who have fought for democracy. When did we become so complacent?”.

At the moment AV still can’t be summed up by most people, and that’s where it’s the job of the official campaign to frame it for them.

We can only hope that the politicians themselves – not exactly the most popular of people of course – can inject more life into the campaign before postal votes start hitting people’s doormats in less than a fortnight.


Matt Wootton studies “cognitive policy” with colleague Rupert Read at the Green Words Workshop. In 2004 he rebranded the Green Party as the party of “Real Progress”

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Reader comments


some first-reaction comments from Twitter:

@jimkillock Make it 50? 50 what?

@sunny_hundal I’m hearing from @mattwootton the Yes2AV campaign may end up coming out with the worst slogan possible, today. Let’s see.

@_BrownEyedGirl seriously? Seriously?! Thats it? ‘Make it 50’ Jeez it sounds like ur asking for ur big mac& fries to b supersized

@sianberry are they also doing a star trek gag? Wail!

@_BrownEyedGirl well that’s that fucked then

I duplicated posts by mistake – the earlier one has now been deleted. Also, will sort out the formatting here when I get a chance. Doing this all on my phone…

3. Mr S. Pill

let’s AV it.

4. Simon Gardner

I think MPs work too hard already. Please advise how I should vote in the referendum.

That’s bollocks! How about a picture of the infant Christ with the Virgin, staring up and saying “AV, Maria”?

“since most Yes activists so far have veritably built their campaign on scrupulously-researched rationalist benefits to the voter”

April Fools’ Day is over, you know! 😀

7. Mr S. Pill

This is very disheartening. The no2av campaign has been such a poor mixture of lies, untruths, and spin that the yes2av lot should be looking at an open goal. How they’ve managed to come up with something so awful beggers belief.

8. LondonStatto

“The no2av campaign has been such a poor mixture of lies, untruths, and spin”

So has the yes campaign…

where did the quote from Kriss Akabusi go….? I thought “let’s get jiggy” was an extremely important contribution to the debate!

10. Mr S. Pill

@8

Not by half as much as the no2av campaign. Unless yes2av are also using images of babies in incubators to win their campaign, or telling complete bullshit about how AV will help fascism.

They’ve been telling me to vote Yes to “make my MP work harder”, even though AV would effectively turn his 10% majority into a 30% majority… easy street.

12. Mr S. Pill

@11

Well it’d be easier to kick them out if they don’t pull their weight. But you know that already & have a vested interest in the old order staying, no matter how unfair or undemocratic… (your comments on other threads say as much).

There is a poll where you can vote (using AV!) on what you think of “Make it 50” amongst other Yes slogans… http://tinyurl.com/4rvuceq/V119.php

They already don’t pull their weight. They don’t answer casework, they don’t turn up to surgeries, they cancel events when they fear protests.

If the current system stays, Labour will win the constituency next time by about 5 to 10%. If not, then the 20% who vote Tory and who don’t care whether an MP pulls their weight, because they don’t need, or really believe in, public services, will put him back in based on national political considerations and using the veto power of AV to stop Labour, however rubbish said MP’s actual performance.

You can’t polish a turd. If this was for PR, it would matter, but it ain’t, so it doesn’t. You can’t expect the YES people to be enthusiastic, when most of them don’t want it either. It’s a bloody shame, really.

16. Mr S. Pill

@15

Fair point Trooper. IMO the Lib Dems should’ve demanded a referendum on full PR or nothing when forming the coalition.

17. Mr S. Pill

@14

I want an MP to be elected on the merits of their arguments, not on whether a certain system is weighted in favour of them or not. Much as I hate the Conservatives, if they are making better arguments & winning voters that way then I can hardly complain that they have MPs elected – it’s how democracy work, and simply means I need to make better arguments for alternatives/against Conservatives.

AV isn’t perfect. But it’s better than FPTP at getting people’s voices heard, and that in my opinion is a good thing no matter who it benefits. The arguments can have a level playing field, for once.

Good piece, Matt. (Though I think the word ‘awful’ slightly unnecessary.)

A reason to be passionate about AV – its the best democratic way of stopping fascist parties. Check out me on ITV the other night arguing this: [from 8 mins in]: http://www.itv.com/anglia/anglia-late-edition-thursday40134/

Actually Rupert, I didn’t use the word “awful” – that was Sunny’s title. Although the slogan is really pretty bad. The full original post is at http://www.greenwordsworkshop.org/node/26

“I want an MP to be elected on the merits of their arguments, not on whether a certain system is weighted in favour of them or not.”

But you’re proposing a system which is weighted in favour of centre parties, in the place of one which, whatever its flaws, has an absolutely level playing field. The Conservatives will come third here. They aren’t going to win.

The question is whether the result should be decided by who appeals most to the 80% who vote Labour or Lib Dem in this constituency, or by which of those parties appeals most to the 20% who vote Conservative.

One system shifts debate in the constituency to the left, one drags it back to the right.

21. Mr S. Pill

@18 Rupert

The way to stop fascist parties – as Sunny pointed out in a different article – isn’t to choose one system or another, it’s to debate them and win, and engage with the issues that lead people to vote BNP. (see here, 4th paragraph) It’s not that difficult a concept, fascism has so many flaws as a political philosophy and such a lightweight presence in this country* it’s like swatting flies for fun (the BNP vote declined at the last election, by the way).

*Compared to pretty much every other European country.

22. Hodge Podge

My immediate thought was “Oooh is Patrick Stewart backing the campaign?”

On a serious note, I have a horrible feeling a lot of people don’t know what they’re being told to say “Yes” to…

23. Martin McGrath

“Make it 50”? – I didn’t realise 50 Cent was standing for Mayor of London

24. Martin McGrath

“Make it 50”? – What Paul Simon’s mate said when he hummed the line “Something something ways to leave your lover”?

25. Martin McGrath

“Make it 50”? – Stolen from the Hawaii for Statehood campaign?

26. Martin McGrath

“Make it 50” – Could mean anything. Does mean nothing. It’s like the Yes and No campaigns are in a competition to run the worst campaigns in the history of British politics. Come back Labour 1983, all is forgiven.

@ 26:

“It’s like the Yes and No campaigns are in a competition to run the worst campaigns in the history of British politics.”

Totally agree with this sentiment. Frankly, I’m getting rather worried: changing the voting system is rather important, and it looks like large numbers of people aren’t going to know what it is they’re being asked to vote on, which cannot be good.

“Britain United: The Time Has Come” – that was the SDP/Lib slogan in 1983 – even more vacuous than most slogans – why didn’t they add “the walrus said, to talk of many things” etc. In October 1974 the dear old Libs under Jeremy Thorpe (still living) had something like “One more heave” (they’d got 14 seats for 19% of the vote – over 6 million – in the February). But “Make it 50” – oh dear. I’ll have to keep a piece of carpet by the computer to chew on in moments of screaming rage – better than gnashing my teeth. AV: makes votes go further – the vote that really counts – the vote that works for you – there’s endless good possibilities – e.g. see:
Yes! Postcards… Let’s change the way Britain votes
http://www.yes.greenwordsworkshop.org
So why something so meaningless grrr perhaps I will gnash my teeth.

Dearie me. What would have been wrong with a simple “Make every vote count” (or something)? This is a simple case of trying too hard to come up with something snappy.

On the plus side, we may be the only people to know anything about this slogan. I can’t see it on the Yes website, and if you type “Make it 50” into Google the top result is a recipe for tacos.

I’d also like to say I don’t much like this ubiquitous rhetoric about candidates needing more than 50% of votes, or the support of more than 50% of constituents, to win under AV. If I express a preference for the Lib Dems over the Tories, the Tories over UKIP and UKIP over the BNP, say, that does not mean I “support” or have “voted for” the Lib Dems, the Tories or UKIP. It just means “if I had to choose…”.

20. oldpolitics – Yeah – but I don’t see why Con supporters who know their cand can’t win (hurrah!) should be denied the opportunity of participating in the final choice of MP – after all, he/she has to represent everyone, not just Lab and LD supporters.

Would AV favour centrist groups? Not if they don’t win loads of 1st and 2nd places in the initial tally. All the Big Two have to do is moderate their language a bit, and perhaps drop a few of their more obviously insane proposals, and there’d be no room for a centrist party. AV might tend to favour coalescence (see Lib/Nat in Australia) or vote-swapping among the supporters of two entirely separate parties which have aims in common (cf. Fine Gael and Labour in Ireland) – but neither necessarily leads to centralism.

In the past it might have seem that vote-swapping between Lab and LD supporters (formalising the widespread tactical voting of 1997 and 2001) would keep the Tories out of power for generations (hurrah!) BUT the LDs’ political suicide has changed things – left voters would be unlikely to give the LDs second prefs in any future election. And anyway the Tories won repeatedly back in the ’50s when the anti-Tory vote was completely united – and if they ever regain their sanity they will be able to do so again, however the left vote lines up.

26/Martin McGrath: It’s like the Yes and No campaigns are in a competition to run the worst campaigns in the history of British politics.

I think Yes is winning. But it’s close.

The problem is that they’re bad in completely different ways. “No” are using a mix of irrelevancies and outright lies, which any half-decent opponent would walk over. “Yes” are campaigning on obscure technical points … and then getting them wrong.

Neither side appears to actually understand what AV is or what it does. I’ve seen ERS spokespeople, professors of politics, and the official publicity of both sides making errors about the properties of AV that even the Wikipedia article – never mind any more accurate or comprehensive source – gets right.

“Would AV favour centrist groups? Not if they don’t win loads of 1st and 2nd places in the initial tally. All the Big Two have to do is moderate their language a bit, and perhaps drop a few of their more obviously insane proposals, and there’d be no room for a centrist party.”

Yep, that’s been the big problem with British politics over recent years. There’s been too big a difference between the two pain parties, and not enough fighting over the centre ground.

No, wait, the other thing.

33. Mr S. Pill

@cim

What kind of errors? Genuine question – I like to think I understand AV but wouldn’t want to be making mistakes when explaining it to my non-political geek friends…

29. G.O. You’re right about the language – “backing of a genuine majority”, “consent of most voters”, that of sort thing, would be better – but remember that under FPTP parties claim that they have the “support” of all those who voted for them, when in many cases it’s no more than the grudging consent of people who hate someone else even more.

It would be irrational to vote as you suggest – there’s no point in marking as your alternative preferences parties that are quite certain to do much less well than the one(s) you really support. See http://bit.ly/fgHxR0.

The “50%” is unhelpful, because it applies only to the decision made after the initial tally: if a cand has 50% they’re in straight away. Not every ballot paper will show preferences for cands who are still in contention after the first elimination, so the voters concerned have effectively abstained from further participation in the election. But AV does hand victory to the candidate who “has the consent” (or some such) of most voters, whereas FPTP can easily give it to the least popular, i.e. one who would have been beaten in a straight fight by any of his/her opponents and got in just because the opposing vote was split.

29/G.O.: “Vote yes and get tacos” would probably be a significant improvement on most of the slogans. And agreed on the 50% support rhetoric. (Not only is it misleading, it’s actively harmful, because it encourages people to not give preferences between candidates they don’t support, and so reduces the effectiveness of their votes)

30/Jonathan Phillips: And, of course, there’s no AV result which couldn’t be achieved under FPTP if the right candidates stepped aside. Actually, that would probably be even more effective: if there’s no Conservative candidate, most of their voters would probably vote for someone else under FPTP – which might well be the Lib Dems – while under AV they might vote “Conservative; blank” or “Conservative; UKIP; blank” because of the rubbish that’s been talked about “50% support”.

Hence the several seats which were swung by the second preferences of BNP voters in the 2010 election.

33. Mr S. Pill
You’re right about the errors. It’s ok (I think) to gloss over one or two of the complexities (e.g. you don’t have to have half of the initial total to win). But even “voters mark candidates in order of preference” is quite wrong – they can, but they don’t have to.

The worst gap in the Yes explanation is any indication of why/when people might feel the need to indicate an alternative, and what effect it would have. In rock-solid seats there’s no point anyone marking an alternative, and in seats where it’s clear that only two parties are in contention there’s no point in their supporters marking an alternative.

It’s only voters who think/know their party probably isn’t in contention that need to mark alternatives. Use ONE to show who you like, and TWO (+ THREE in some seats) to help defeat the party you hate – but only if you think it looks like winning! There’s no point lining up preferences to keep out the BNP if you’re sure it’s got no chance anyway – they’ll never be counted.

33/S Pill: I think I’ve written about most of them in various posts on my blog. Look in the “false arguments” section of the “arguments for” and “arguments against” pages for most of them.

The really big one is misunderstandings of 50% – either mistaking an expression of relative support for an expression of absolute support, or mistaking AV for Condorcet (or perhaps Approval) voting.

The only one I can think of that I haven’t written about yet is the argument that coalition forming will be easier because party leaders will be able to look at where their voters’ second preferences went, and negotiate accordingly, which is based on a misunderstanding of how much data you actually get from an AV count declaration. (You could get the information you needed by analysing all ballot papers far more thoroughly than an AV count requires, but then, you could also get that information by holding the election under FPTP and paying ICM or YouGov or someone to do a quick second-preference poll of your voters)

As a slogan this neatly illustrates why AV is NOT a step towards PR. One of the principles behind PR is that minority opinions ought to be represented in Parliament. AV, in effectively ensuring that nobody can be elected to parliament without getting the support of 50% in an area of c. 100,000 people does the opposite.

@ Jonathan

“It would be irrational to vote as you suggest – there’s no point in marking as your alternative preferences parties that are quite certain to do much less well than the one(s) you really support.”

Personally I would feel obliged to vote *against* any fascist candidate by expressing a preference for every other candidate on the ballot paper.

In any case: what if I lived in a constituency where those parties *weren’t* certain to do less well than the ones I really support (e.g. a Tory/Lib Dem marginal with a strong UKIP vote)? It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which my 1st and 2nd preference parties (Labour and Greens) would get eliminated early on and my 3rd or 4th preference vote would end up being counted.

38. Reuben – AV isn’t in the least proportional – but it is definitely a step towards a more proportional system. Once we’ve learned to indicate preferences, it is but a small step to introducing a few additional members (and as Jenkins showed in relation to AV+, you don’t need many to get a far more proportional result) or going all the way to STV (at least in local elections, as in Scotland and NI). And there’s the more general point: No will be interpreted by the anti-camp as Yes to the status quo, Yes, we’re perfectly happy with what we’ve got now. Can’t you imagine how insufferably smug Cameron, Prescott and the rest of them will be if they win?

39. G.O. Mmm – you might feel obliged to do so, but it would serve no purpose unless one of your later preferences was actually needed to knock the fascist out.

In the situation you describe you would not be sure that either of your favoured parties would do well, and you would therefore need to mark at least a third preference (LD to keep the Tory out, presumably). Would there be any point then in marking the Tory 4 in order to keep out Ukip? Or Ukip 5 to keep out the BNP? Can you envisage any circumstances in which Ukip and BNP candidates would not already have been eliminated long before that stage had been reached?

There was a debate and vote on Radio Five Live the other day as an experiment at the different outcomes between FPTP and AV.

The result was the winner still had less than 50%.

http://orderorder.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/beebav.jpg

There are good arguments for AV, but this 50% thing has been repeated over and over again and it has simply never been true.

@Jonathan

“In the situation you describe you would not be sure that either of your favoured parties would do well, and you would therefore need to mark at least a third preference (LD to keep the Tory out, presumably). Would there be any point then in marking the Tory 4 in order to keep out Ukip?”

Sure; you’d just need early eliminations to go against the Lib Dems.

e.g.

Round One:

Tory 10
Lib Dem 9
UKIP 8
Labour 6
Green 4
BNP 4

Round Two:

Tory 10
Lib Dem 9
UKIP 12
Labour 6
Green 4

Round Three:

Tory 10
Lib Dem 9
UKIP 12
Labour 10

Round Four:

Tory 14
UKIP 12
Labour 11

…at that stage everything turns on whether the votes in the Labour pile get transferred to UKIP or the Tories.

@G.O.
Yep! Thanks for the explanation.

If it was clear before the election that the Ukippers were making big advances, then even I might be tempted to give a late preference to the Cons. Cf. what happened in France a few years back when the Socialists failed to get their vote out in the first round of the presidentials. NF got 20% in both rounds, Chirac got 80% in the second – socialist voters said they had to hold their noses and vote for the iffy M. Chirac.

Btw this Rawnsley article http://bit.ly/fXANYk gives the best explanation I’ve seen of why AV doesn’t imply multiple votes for the supporters of smaller parties. Pass it on?

Jonathan Phillips: While you’re right that the chances – most of the time – of later preferences being used are really quite small, it’s not as if it costs more than a couple of seconds of time and a tiny bit of the government’s pencil to mark them down anyway, and there’s no disadvantage to doing so.

(That is, if one has a preference between lower candidates – if that’s not the case, leaving blank is correct)

@21: Err, nothing I said excluded that. Of course we should fight the fascists in every way possible. But it would be handy to have an electoral system that enabled people to oppose them, rather than one (FPTP) that stupidly gets in the way of people opposing them, forcing people to guess who is best placed to beat them, to ‘tactically vote’, etc.
If one is serious about fighting fascists at the ballot box then it is a no-brainer: You have to vote Yes2AV

@42: Jim Jay, your point is technically correct of course; but actually the vast majority of AV elections DO involve the winner having more than 50% of the vote; whereas a minority of FPTP elections do.
So really the guts of this pro-AV argument IS right. There is a huge difference between nearly always and not that often.

@32 Absolutely right: The big unquestioned mostly assumption of the AV debate is that AV will benefit the LibDems. See my arguments to the contrary here http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2011/02/why-vote-no2av-to-spite-nick-clegg-meme.html or here http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/18/two-reasons-why-libdems-might-not-benefit-from-av/

The deepest problem with ‘Make it 50’, I think, is this: We can’t. Or at least, it doesn’t feel as if we can; or we are very unlikely to.
A slogan needs to involve the listener, to make them think that there is a way that they can really be part of what is being called for. So, for instance, a slogan like “AV: The system to stop extremists” gives one the feeling that one can be part of the stopping of extremists by voting for AV. And one can, in the sense that if the AV referendum is passed then it will be easier to stop the BNP at the ballot box. But ‘Make it 50’ HIGHLIGHTS as central the actual numerical mechanism by means of which AV works. Not only is this cryptic and vague, it is techy/nerdy, and it focuses the listener’s attention directly on the need to get to 50%. Which will for many hearers immediately lead on to the thought, “But my vote never makes the difference between whether someone gets to 50% or not” – especially in a nationwide referendum! So the slogan hardly inspires participation in the referendum, and, by focussing attention on what it takes for a candidate to win, rather than on WHY one should be voting for that candidate (or for that option in the referendum), it fails the most elementary tests imposed by Lakoff or Westen. It doesn’t inspire, it doesn’t have a values-component. It summons up futility, disempowerment, and perhaps even hopelessness – presumably, the diammetric opposite of what was intended by it.
What a missed opportunity.

Fortunately for the Yes2AV campaign, the No2AV campaign has chosen “don’t let extremists decide the election” on the grounds that BNP second preferences could decide the winners.

Strange isn’t it? In a referendum nobody wanted, it seems neither side wants to win.

@50: Thanks, Mark M. Quite extraordinary. They are running a terrible risk with that Goebbelsian choice. I think that No2AV may have just fatally wounded themselves: because they are forcing the debate onto terrain where it will become clearer and clearer that Cameron and Warsi and Elliot are lieing and dissembling, and (above all) they will end up with more and more people knowing and understanding that the BNP are part of the No campaign.

http://playpolitical.typepad.com/other_uk_parties/2011/04/no-to-av-campaign-says-dont-let-extremist-voters-decide-elections.html It can only be an April Fool, surely…

52. Chaise Guevara

@ 50 Mark M

“Fortunately for the Yes2AV campaign, the No2AV campaign has chosen “don’t let extremists decide the election” on the grounds that BNP second preferences could decide the winners.”

Interesting. Have they released their official list of who is and isn’t entitled to democratic representation?

53. Mr S. Pill

@46

Agreed, but I dislike the argument that we should change the voting system to stop particular parties from getting in. AV is better because it is more representative than FPTP, should focus on that rather than get sidelined about BNP votes floating around.

54. Mr S. Pill

oh and thanks cim, I’ll have a look through your blog 😀

@45 cim – Thanks – I sit corrected. I tend vaguely to think that most people are aware of results and trends in their area, when in fact many do not know their MP’s name or even party – or am I being unjust?

Voters need to see the point of marking alternative preferences – the fundamental notion is that 1 is a vote FOR, 2 means “at a pinch” and later preferences are essentially votes AGAINST. But people must also see how it works – very easily shown in an animation, but it can be expressed in a dialogue (http://bit.ly/fgHxR0).

As for slogans: AV, the vote that
– really counts
– works for all of us
– really works
– goes (that bit) further
– goes the extra mile
– says so much more
– says more than X ever can
– tells the truth
– shows what we really think
– empowers

We can all devise loads of reasonably punchy, clear and actually truthful slogans. I await with trepidation the Yes PPBs.

We must all hope that some of the No gang will discover their consciences and defect just out of shame at the lies the antis continue to repeat. How can that Warsi women sleep at night?

56. Chaise Guevara

@ 55 Jonathan

Good list, but I’d advise against this one: “goes (that bit) further”. It’s too easy to twist (“goes that bit further – to somewhere you don’t want to be”).

57. Chaise Guevara

@ 20 oldpolitics

“But you’re proposing a system which is weighted in favour of centre parties, in the place of one which, whatever its flaws, has an absolutely level playing field”

Which system would this be? The only one I can think of with a level playing field is PR. FPTP is hideously biased in favour of large parties.

“FPTP is hideously biased in favour of large parties.”

Until voting day, no party is large. Treating a General Election as a constituency exercise, as the “Yes” campaign have chosen to do in their arguments, means that every constituency starts with a level playing field. You have no votes, and your objective is to get more than anyone else. It is biased in favour of the person who succeeds in doing that.

59. Chaise Guevara

@ 58

You’re completely ignoring the fact that there is more than one consideration at work. It’s not just a case of deciding who you would prefer to be your MP, you also have to take into account their chances of winning. AV fixes that.

FPTP only looks like a level playing field if you misrepresent the details of the situation. You’re making a very dishonest argument.

@58 @59 Candidates vie to get most Xs, but the one that gets most votes could be the least rather than the most popular. If Ms Rat is up against Miss Cuddly she loses, if she’s up against Mr Huggy she loses, but if they both stand against her the anti-Rat vote is split and she wins. The playing field is NOT level – it’s slope depends on the number of candidates standing on it and the positions they take up.

Don’t we need to take account of voters’ decisions to change from one election to the next? In this ward we have all LD councillors. This year I intend switching LD to Green. The effect will be to facilitate the election not of a Green but of a Tory. This is a perverse effect of FPTP; AV eliminates it.

@60

“This year I intend switching LD to Green. The effect will be to facilitate the election not of a Green but of a Tory. This is a perverse effect of FPTP; AV eliminates it.”

Understood, but what would you do under AV? Put Green first and LD second? If so, under both systems you’re going to vote LD, the only loss is the self-righteous pleasure of voting Green to no effect.

@61
Sorry, your argument stinks. I don’t support the LDs (any more) – but I still prefer them to the Tories. I do support the Greens, and under AV my vote would show up in the initial count as a vote for them, before ending up in the LD pile, helping to defeat the Tory. Under FPTP I can choose either to show my Green colours and see my vote go to waste, or vote tactically and be counted as a Lib Dem supporter (which I’m not). AV lets me vote both truthfully for the party I support and tactically against the party I like least. AV – the vote that really counts, the vote that lets me show what I really think!

63. Chaise Guevara

@ 61 Trooper Thompson

“If so, under both systems you’re going to vote LD, the only loss is the self-righteous pleasure of voting Green to no effect.”

You’re being short-termist. It is my hope that, under AV, smaller parties would get seats because their support would be more obvious.

Say the Greens (or UKIP, or whoever) have been getting 5% of the vote in a constituency. Under the first AV election this rises to, say, 20% of first-prefs, showing that many people in the area like their policies but previously were worried about wasting their vote. By the next election, people have become more familiar with AV, and are showing more interest in the Greens locally due to their relatively good result in the previous election. The Greens also put more resources into this constituency. As a result, they win.

It’s my theory that AV would see small parties take seats within 2-3 elections, and this might happen even faster because of the current perceived lack of left-wing options. Of course, I may be wrong – we won’t know unless the Yes camp win.

@63. Chaise Guevara

AV is a psephologist’s dream because it brings out the true level of support for each party – and shows where the supporters of each party would go if no candidate of their own were available. And it’s not only Lib Dems that get in on tactical (or grudging) votes.

I suspect some politicians in the No camp would rather not have this information.

Andrew Rawnsley, in today’s OBSERVER: “If AV really would be such a boost to fascists you’d expect the BNP to be enthusiasts for it. They are actually campaigning on the No side. It is our current electoral system which increases the risk that extremist parties will prosper because first past the post allows fascists to be elected on a minority of the vote. Under AV, by contrast, successful candidates must seek the backing of a majority of voters, which makes it harder, not easier, for extremist parties to thrive because few supporters of other parties will make the BNP their second choice. AV is, in fact, the most extremist-resistant electoral system.”

@63 Chaise,

I take your point. I’m undecided at the moment.

Both the pro and anti campaigns seem pretty rubbish.

@65 But do you believe, like a majority of the Yes campaign, that AV is a step on the road to PR, or do you believe that AV is an end in itself? If the former, then your disagreement with the BNP (on this issue only, I’m not calling you a Nazi) is one of tactics, not principle.

69. Chaise Guevara

@ 63 Trooper Thompson

Fair enough as there are some unknowns. My view is that AV has some potential benefits and no major downsides that I can see. Anything that helps to open up politics and remove the Tory/Labour stranglehold on Parliament is good as far as I’m concerned, and I believe that AV will do that to an extent.

@ 68. oldpolitics

Who dragged the BNP into the argument? The No campaign, with their assertion that AV opened the way to the election of “odd or extreme” candidates (K. Clarke, who should be ashamed of himself). As Rupert says, this turns the truth on its head. Then they said that AV would lead parties to pander to the views of extremists – as if that wasn’t happening already (Woolas, Warsi). On this and on every other matter the No campaign has been nothing but a series of attempts to muddy the waters.

AV is a significant improvement on FPTP and well worth having for its own sake (a more honest and effective vote for each, and more genuinely representative MPs for all). But as for leading on to even limited PR (AV+, say) for the Commons? Keep a lookout for flying pigs!

(STV for local elections is another matter. Under FPT it can happen that one party takes all the seats or that there is no effective opposition for generation after generation – and this really does cry out for reform.)

It seems the Electoral Commission don’t know the difference between votes and ballots. It is impossible to win an AV election with less than 50% of the vote; it is possible to win it without 50% of the ballot. How? Because just like under the current FPTP system the percentages are taken from the sum of votes not the sum of those who voted (ballot).

Those who don’t use their full preference votes are exactly the same as those who spoilt their papers.

In terms of the Radio 5 programme mentioned @42 If you treat each 0.1% as a single vote the final result was Labour 490 Green 417 NoVote/Spoilt 93; which means a Labour win with 54% of the *vote* exactly the same figure as would have been given had it been conducted as a FPTP system.

72. Derek Young

A good slogan gets to the heart of the matter in as few words as possible (and never more than eight), so I can see what the Yes2AV lot were trying, but I agree that if it needs to be explained, it fails miserably.

A good slogan cannot therefore explain what the AV system is or its benefits. It can, however, neatly get to the point of what’s wrong with FPTP and which AV would overcome. So my version is:

END MINORITY RULE

Three words, and it gets the point across. You can quibble about rule meaning the government rather your local MP but, constitutionally speaking, the Monarch chooses a government, not the people. Even raising this quibble gets people talking about what’s clearly wrong with FPTP and helps to spread the realisation that although AV isn’t perfect, it is an improvement.

73. Jonathan Phillips

@72

I LIKE IT!

Though you would need to add something like “Say Yes to AV!” or “Vote Yes on 5 May.” But it would make a good talking point, and a point from which to start in any discussion. END MINORITY RULE! Make it YES on 5 May!

@72 Until the opposition claim you’re racist because ‘you’re against minorities’

75. Derek Young

@74

That would be a deliberate misrepresentation of minority vs minorities, but I acknowledge that this tactic would not be beneath the No2AV camp.

76. Jonathan Phillips

71. FlipC

“Those who don’t use their full preference votes are exactly the same as those who spoilt their papers.”

Also exactly the same as those who abstain altogether. If you vote for the lowest-placed candidate in the first round and mark no alternative preference, then you have abstained from further participation in the election. Those who don’t turn up at all have abstained from all participation. The eventual winner under AV always has at least half of all the votes accumulated by the candidates still in contention at that point.

@76 Jonathan Phillips

I’m having a similar ‘discussion’ at my local paper with someone who’s complaining that AV means that some people get “more votes” than others. In both that case and this the answer is the same – It’s not one election it’s multiple simultaneous elections.

View it that way and no-one gets more than one vote and the winner has to have more than 50% of it.

78. Jonathan Phillips

@77. FlipC

Yep. They fail to distinguish between counting a piece of paper twice and allowing a vote to count double. See Rawnsley’s excellent piece http://bit.ly/fXANYk.

The No lot seem to think that if you subtract a piece of paper from one pile and add it to another it somehow turns into two pieces of paper.

I suspect that this is the point that needs hammering hardest of all, because it’s the least implausible of the No camp’s arguments.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://bit.ly/hOflWa

  2. Steven Fielding

    RT @libcon: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://bit.ly/hOflWa

  3. sunny hundal

    The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://t.co/LV1Hx7e says @mattwootton – I agree

  4. Jonathan Davis

    RT @sunny_hundal: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://t.co/LV1Hx7e says @mattwootton – I agree

  5. Kieron Merrett

    .@mattwootton says #Yes2AV campaign is rational whilst #No2AV "aggressive and shrill". In reality they're both as bad… http://ves.cat/aAkX

  6. Gareth Hughes

    RT @libcon: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://bit.ly/hOflWa

  7. James Hellyer

    RT @sunny_hundal: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://t.co/LV1Hx7e says @mattwootton – I agree

  8. Chris Paul

    RT @sunny_hundal: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://t.co/LV1Hx7e says @mattwootton – I agree

  9. Mat Beal

    RT @libcon: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://bit.ly/hOflWa

  10. Hal Berstram

    RT @sunny_hundal: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://t.co/LV1Hx7e says @mattwootton – I agree

  11. Paul Wood

    I support AV & "Make it 50" is terrible “@libcon: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://t.co/ZBOJiV0”

  12. Jonathan Taylor

    It's a pathetic slogan – and it's not even true! RT @libcon: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://bit.ly/hOflWa

  13. Don Collier

    @Mark_Scott looks like your going to get your own personal copy. Have a look at this http://t.co/sqt8beg hope ur hungry loads of word to eat

  14. Tom Corfield

    RT @sunny_hundal: The shiny new Yes2AV slogan has been unveiled: it's awful http://t.co/LV1Hx7e says @mattwootton – I agree

  15. ‘Make it 50′ and the Janus-faced Yes Campaign…. | Left Futures

    […] new Yes to AV slogan ‘Make it 50′ is dreadful on so many levels. It’s obscure and people who are not immediately aware of the […]

  16. Charlotte Vere

    Is 'Make it 50' really the new slogan for #yes2av? How bizarre. Was it Izzard's idea? http://bit.ly/fWTuFZ #no2av





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