#no2AV myths busted 1 #yes2av

One thing the No2AV Campaign Against Democracy (principal funders the Taxpayers’ Allowance, political parties in favour – Tories, DUP and BNP) keep saying about the upcoming Fair Votes referendum is that ‘nobody really wants’ AV.

Now, like all myths, there is a tiny grain of truth here, in that some supporters of a Yes vote in the referendum would prefer a different system. The Greens would prefer AMS, the Lib Dems STV (AV with multi-member seats), some of Labour AV+ (AV with a top-up) and so on.

Of course, there are also plenty of people in the campaign – probably a plurality – who prefer AV to all other systems. But even ignoring that, let’s assume that *all* the people in the campaign prefer a different system.

If that’s ‘not really wanting’ AV then I’d love to be the No2AV people’s boss:

Boss Ah, Noddy, do come in. I’ve asked you to come and talk with me about your next pay-rise
Noddy No-Vote Wow! Great!
Boss Yes. What would you say if I asked you if you’d like a ten thousand pound raise?
Noddy I’d say yes, obviously! That’s fantastic!
Boss Ah. Oh dear. That’s a shame.
Noddy Why?
Boss Well, you see, you said you’d like a ten thousand pound raise. But I’ve only got five thousand pounds to offer you. Unfortunately, if you want a ten thousand pound raise, you can’t really want a five thousand pound raise. That leaves you with the only other option, which is a punch in the teeth.
Noddy That is entirely logical and fair.
Boss punches Noddy very hard in the mouth
Noddy Thank you, that is much better than giving me something I didn’t really want.

Of course, this is the basic difference between supporters of the status quo and those of us who want a more democratic system. First Past The Post, the current system, gives a plurality (sometimes as low as 17% of registered voters) exactly what they say they really want (assuming none of them are lying, or ‘tactical voting’ as it’s known), and the rest get absolutely nothing. It’s not surprising, then, that the people supporting it are unable to understand nuance, and degrees of preference. (This is, after all, a campaign whose supporters are Tories, fundamentalists, fascists, and a handful of New Labour dinosaurs like Blunkett).

AV, on the other hand, finds a compromise that’s acceptable to as many people as possible – not everyone gets their first choice, but most people will work out happier than they otherwise would. It’s not surprising that the people supporting AV would be flexible and work together for a goal that might not be everyone’s favourite system but is a hell of a lot better than what we’ve got now. The whole point of AV is that a lot of people getting something they can be happy with is better than a small number getting something they love while the rest lose out.

It might not be my very favourite system, but I wouldn’t be giving up weekends to go and stand in the wind and rain to try to persuade people to vote for it if I didn’t actually want it. It might not be my all-time dream favourite best thing ever, but the choice between AV and FPTP *is* as simple and clear-cut a choice as between a five grand pay-rise and a punch in the mouth. I know which one of those I’d vote for, how about you?

We have three upcoming street stalls in Manchester, incidentally. All are on Saturdays, between 11AM and 2PM:
Saturday 19th February, Saturday 19th March and Saturday 16th April in St Ann’s Square. I’ll be there – feel free to come along and help out.

For those who don’t fully understand AV, I explained it here.

This entry was posted in politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to #no2AV myths busted 1 #yes2av

  1. DBirkin says:

    Well not only will the winner not always be the first choice of everyone, the winner is likely to be the first preference of less people than with fptp.

    I am guessing the 10k is PR, 5k is AV and punch in the face is Fptp?

    You do know that studies have shown that in the last 4 elections AV would have made it LESS proportional than Fptp in three of them?

    Seems to me a more accurate analogy would be if Noddy was on 5k , he asked for 10k but was offered the choice of staying on 5k or ‘opening a box’ where 3 of the boxes have nothing in it so Noddy loses everything and 1 box has 10k. Is it worth the risk?

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      “Well not only will the winner not always be the first choice of everyone, the winner is likely to be the first preference of less people than with fptp.”
      That’s odd, your friend below says “In most cases AV will deliver the same result as FPTP”. Anyway, personally, I’d *far* rather have someone who was second preference of 60% of people than someone who was first preference of 20%.

      “You do know that studies have shown that in the last 4 elections AV would have made it LESS proportional than Fptp in three of them?”
      Where did I say anything at all about proportionality? Neither AV nor FPTP is a proportional system, and neither pretends to be. Those studies are, however, based on incredibly flawed premises (such as all voters putting as first preference the party they voted for). Now please stop with your derailing nonsense.

      “Seems to me a more accurate analogy would be if Noddy was on 5k , he asked for 10k but was offered the choice of staying on 5k or ‘opening a box’ where 3 of the boxes have nothing in it so Noddy loses everything and 1 box has 10k. Is it worth the risk?”
      Seems to me you misunderstand either the art of analogy or what AV actually is, as that bears absolutely no relation to reality.

  2. Matthew says:

    I’ve been lured here from Twitter under false pretences. There are no AV myths here and no myth busting either.

    What we do have is a repeat of the #yes2av myth that low preference votes are the same as support. In most cases AV will deliver the same result as FPTP but, somehow, the AV addicts claim that the result is better. Madness.

  3. pillock says:

    I LOVE that “in most cases the result will be the same, so what’s the difference” thing. Sure, why change something that only makes a difference part of the time? How would that be any different?

  4. DBirkin says:

    So my analogy doesn’t work because it doesn’t support your claim? Interesting logic.
    In 3 out of 4 results you get worse than Fptp (5k) so if you are aiming to get PR (10k) it is a 1/4 bet. Didn’t think it was that hard to follow.

    I agree with you on one thing, I would rather have a candidate win that had 60% second pref vs 20% first pref…
    That said if candidate A had 45% 1st pref and candidate B had 26% 1st pref 14% 2nd pref and 6% 3rd pref, who would you want?
    I would say candidate A…AV would say candidate B. What about you?

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      No, your analogy doesn’t work because nobody on the yes side is ‘aiming to get PR’, just for starters. If proportionality were the only concern, we’d be supporting the ‘no’ side, but it isn’t. Which is the whole point of my piece. The fact that you can’t actually understand that, and thus come into the comments making claims about our motivations *that are refuted by the post on which you are commenting*, is your problem, not mine.

      AV would only put candidate B in the lead if *no* second or third preference votes transferred to A (and 9% of first-preference voters didn’t have transferrable preferences). In that case, a clear majority of those who expressed a preference preferred candidate B to candidate A, so of course I’d rather see candidate B get in. Your question is *exactly* equivalent to “If only two candidates stood, A and B, and 1% more people voted for B, who should get in?”

    • pillock says:

      What happened to the other 9%?

      • Andrew Hickey says:

        I’m assuming they didn’t have enough transferrable preferences (they all refused to give a preference to either A or B).

      • pillock says:

        I ask that because if you add them on, somebody in that example actually gets over 50%, obviously…so it’s to say that without somebody getting over 50% why shouldn’t first and second and third preferences be counted alike?

        To say they shouldn’t is basically question-begging: dude doesn’t like AV because it counts votes that aren’t first preference, is as much to say dude doesn’t like AV because it isn’t FPTP. And that isn’t an argument.

        • pillock says:

          Unless he wants preferences weighted differently, but then if he does then he doesn’t want FPTP in the first place…does he?

          • Andrew Hickey says:

            This is the problem when you try to argue with anti-democracy campaigners. They don’t actually have any coherent arguments for their position – because none actually exist, as far as I’m aware (and I have looked). Note that he actually admits to the validity of the pro-AV argument when he says “I would rather have a candidate win that had 60% second pref vs 20% first pref” . Right there, he’s conceded – because it’s impossible to argue for FPTP on any reasonable grounds.

            So they try to argue two opposing, but equally flawed, positions. The first is “it’s bad because it’s not FPTP”, as you say. Just question-begging. The second is “it’s bad because it’s not PR”, which firstly is beside the point as FPTP is not proportional either and secondly is to assume that everyone supporting AV ‘really’ wants something called ‘PR’, which is what I’ve already shown to be nonsense in this post.

            Note that they never define what this ‘PR’ actually is, because there are a *ton* of different proportional systems out there, almost all of which are worse by far than AV in every way that matters. There are even a couple of proportional systems I consider worse than FPTP – the d’Hondt system we use for European elections, for example.

            Their argument boils down to “it’s not FPTP, so it’s not what *we* want (though we’re not going to tell you *why* we want it), and it’s not ‘PR’, so it’s not what *you* want either”. And it fails if they actually get through their heads that we’re not supporting this in the deluded belief that it’s something else called ‘PR’, but actually on its own merits.

  5. DBirkin says:

    Well this is where we disagree then , to me a first preference is worth more than a third.
    I think A in my example would be more inline with the amounts of support for each candidate. (from the limited info AV publishes, after all we dont know the second preferences of even half the voters)

    You are correct about the 9%, thought that was a reasonable amount to not transfer to either.

    Also if candidate A didn’t stand, maybe candidate C would win under AV so it doesn’t eliminate split voting either.

    For the record
    I am a fan of the borda count, with a bucklin cross.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      That’s it, you’re just a troll. Every criticism you’ve applied to AV also applies to Borda counting. So either you’re pulling words out of the air in the hope I won’t understand them, to try to make you look like you’re offering something other than pure negativism, or you’re so confused you’re not actually worth talking to, or you’re just after a reaction.

      For the record, even though Borda counting isn’t ‘PR’ as you keep referring to a whole swathe of different systems, and even though in my opinion it’s worse (because your lower preferences can actively harm your higher ones) than AV, I would gladly go out and campaign for it if it was a choice between that or FPTP, and be very glad for the change, because any preferential system is better than FPTP. But it isn’t an option in the referendum, and I doubt it ever will be, seeing as as far as I am aware the only legislature in the world that uses it is Slovenia’s, and then only for the two-person ethnic minority top-up.

      Now do fuck off, troll.

  6. Pingback: No2AV Objections Answered #yes2av #no2av « Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

Comments are closed.