Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ed Miliband wins - a damning indictment of AV


When His Grace tweeted this at midday, some five hours before the result of the Labour leadership contest was known, he had no idea that his prophetic skills were as accurate as those of YouGov and as well developed as those of Mike Smithson.

It needs saying, and doubtless it will be said over and over again. But Ed Miliband was not ahead in any of the first three AV rounds. In the first ballot, David led him by a margin of 3.5 per cent; in the second ballot, David led by a margin of 1.4 per cent; and in the third ballot, David led by a further margin of 1.4 per cent... but then went on to lose in the fourth ballot by a margin of 1.2 per cent.

Ed Miliband did not win the majority of support from Labour MPs; he did not win the majority of support from Labour MEPs; he did not even win the majority of support from Labour Party members. All of those went to his brother, David.

Ed Miliband only won majority support from the trade unions and affiliates.

And these trumped MPs, MEPs and the rank and file members.

David Miliband lost this election not because he was less popular amongst his political colleagues or ordinary party members, but because of Labour's grossly distorted electoral college and the vicissitudes of AV.

If such a photo-finish outcome were inflicted on the country after a general election, as we waited days and even weeks for the second-preference votes of hundreds of candidates to be redistributed, who then could possibly argue the merits of the Alternative Vote electoral system?

20 Comments:

Blogger Heffernan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

25 September 2010 at 18:29  
Blogger Heffernan said...

The labour party choose the way they elect their leader and they chose to have a complicated electoral college system.

The process is undemocratic because an ordinary MP has a vote many times more influential than an ordinary member of the party. An individual union member has even less influence than that.

We must remember that the union vote is not a block vote but a huge number of individuals who have a choice of who to vote for. As such, a vote from the unions means that Ed has support of ordinary working people - surely an advantage to someone who will lead a national party in the 2015 election.

As for your attack on the Alternative vote, the Labour leadership contest is not the best example to use against a fairer voting system due to the odd nature of the electoral college in Labour.

I am, you may have guessed, a supporter of the change to AV. The new system will ensure that an MP has the backing of 50% of the electorate, meaning that safe seats where an MP can be returned with a minority of a vote will disappear. The fights in constituencies will be more civil as candidates will be fighting more second preference votes. And, finally, people will be able to vote FOR the candidate they actually want as their first choice rather than voting tactically AGAINST someone they don't.

I would also debate whether counting votes in elections under AV will drag on for "days and even weeks."

AV will make British elections fairer. I will be voting yes and I hope that the yes campaign is successful.

25 September 2010 at 18:30  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

Unless someone can explain to me in very simple terms, why I should choose AV in the referendum on voting changes, then on the basis of the labour leader election, I shall be voting to retain FPTP.

25 September 2010 at 18:57  
Anonymous JB said...

A damning indictment of a majority voting system that the candidate with more votes than his brother won?

I don't get it. So sure, David M was ahead when where were five candidates, four candidate and three candidates -- but no one was close to a majority. So when it was one on one, David M vs. Ed M, Ed was the majority winner (factoring in votes as they were weighted -- a separate issue than the AV algorithm).

You can fool some people with such rhetoric, but you can't fool anyone who thinks!

25 September 2010 at 18:58  
Anonymous not a machine said...

AV will force politics to left of centre , and note the subsequent vaccuum and immediate stresses through running bland and empty campaigns where the candiates have to consider a wieghted majority vote rather than a straight one .

It is not helpfull to politics once the first wave of people have been elected

25 September 2010 at 20:33  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace's comments about AV are entirely accurate.

Look at the situation in Australia where it has taken six weeks to determine that the Australian Labor Party can form a government with a majority of one. The Australian Greens hold the balance of power and their political agenda is couched in terms of 'progressive', 'social justice' and 'equality'. Not a word about the environment but a great deal about same-sex marriage, same sex adoption and euthanasia. The great majority of the Australian electorate are Christian parents, to whom these policies are anathema. Your Grace's blog provides invaluable arguments in fighting this scourge.

The UK ventures down the path of AV at its peril, It is a measure that the EU would love to see implemented because it would potentially empower a raft of nationalist parties as never before. Such a development would hasten the break-up of the UK, which as we know is a key objective of the EU.

In fact Australia is now facing a separatist movement in Western Australia, something that flared up in the 1930s before being doused by the Second World War.

25 September 2010 at 21:32  
Blogger Andrew Curry said...

The Labour leadership vote was not Alternative Vote, it is a Single Transferable Vote: the bottom candidate in each round in eliminated and their votes re-distributed to obther candidates on the basis of their next preferences. It is the electoral system which most ensures that the preferences of the whole electorate are most fully reflected in the final decision. If you don't understand the voting system, perhaps you shouldn't write about it.

The Labour party chooses to complicate this by its electoral college system, which privileges the votes and opinions of MEPs and MPs over party members and those individual members of trades unions who choose to pay the political levy. That's where the lack of democracy creeps in.

25 September 2010 at 22:55  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Dr Cranmer,

I love your blog for most of the time. I find your writing to be refreshingly clear and robust when you blog about Christianity and the history of the faith. However, I find most of your political views to be elitist and exclusive, not to mention repulsive.

After much thought, and having listened to Ed Milliband, I have this evening joined the Labour Party.

I look forward to a progressive future which will be fair for all.

God bless and keep up the good work.

25 September 2010 at 23:13  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Curry,

The mistake is yours.

AV is like FPTP, used to elect representatives for single-member constituencies, except that rather than simply marking one solitary 'X' on the ballot paper, the voter has the chance to rank the candidates on offer.
The voter thus puts a '1' by their first-preference candidate, and can continue, if they wish, to put a '2' by their second-preference, and so on, until they don't care anymore or they run out of names. In some AV elections, such as most Australian elections, electors are required to rank all candidates.
If a candidate receives a majority of first-preference votes (more people put them as number one than all the rest combined), then they are elected. If no candidate gains a majority on first preferences, then the second-preference votes of the candidate who finished last on the first count are redistributed. This process is repeated until someone gets over 50 per cent.

This is precisely the process used to elect the Labour leader: Ed Miliband needed 50%+1.

STV, on the other hand, uses preferential voting in multi-member constituencies. Each voter gets one vote, which can transfer from their first-preference to their second-preference and so on, as necessary. Candidates don't need a majority of votes to be elected, just a known 'quota', or share of the votes, determined by the size of the electorate and the number of positions to be filled.
If your preferred candidate has no chance of being elected or has enough votes already, your vote is transferred to another candidate in accordance with your instructions.

Be pompously dismissive, by all means. But at least do a little GCSE-level research before you set foot upon His Grace's blog again.

25 September 2010 at 23:14  
Anonymous Nicholas Bennett said...

Your Grace - would you care to comment on the subject of Brotherly love?

26 September 2010 at 01:26  
Blogger Gnostic said...

So the leader of the Labour Party is now thoroughly beholden to the unions and the massive self interest of the rent seeking public sector. Isn't that progressing backwards?

26 September 2010 at 08:05  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Bennet,

Yes.

It is a fine and noble thing.

26 September 2010 at 10:26  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr Jared Gailes said, 'After much thought, and having listened to Ed Milliband, I have this evening joined the Labour Party.'

And so it seems have 31999 others in reponse to the Miliband melodrama. One struggles to think of something polite to say.

Do you not feel obliged to make a pre-emptive act of contrition in the form of a personal donation to HM Treasury equivalent to the debt incurred in your name during the Blair-Brown years?

If not, perhaps you should.

Call that taking responsibility for your own actions.

26 September 2010 at 11:52  
Anonymous non mouse said...

So here are the Brits divided and conquered, yet again: and, willy nilly, united under foreign leadership. Just as in football really; I guess they're happy with the results there.

Funny, too, this business of choosing masters from between foreign brothers --- the commies have eliminated the last lot of aristocrats who (long ago) played that game, and now... Oh, wait; what was that about the communist dialectic?

26 September 2010 at 16:11  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

As I said in my own blog, just imagine the comments from Labour if the Conservative Party had a similar election and you substituted "Big Business" for "Trade Unions". Also what would be said if the only black, the only female candidate, came bottom of the poll!

26 September 2010 at 16:12  
Anonymous Trampolineman said...

So, its a complecated system, but thats becasue they have many groups who want to feel their voice is heard loudest.
Its the same for all of them and if Ed went for the Union vote on purpose then good luck to him, smart move.

26 September 2010 at 22:28  
Anonymous Gregg said...

The electoral college and AV voting are two seperate things, and I don't believe for a second that you are stupid enough to actually confuse them, Cranmer.

This leadership contest would only be relevant to the issue of AV in general elections, if the proposal was for the electorate to be split into three groups - let's say, the working class, the middle class and the aristocracy - and for those three groups to each be give an equal third of the weight in the final count regardless of how many members of each class actually vote. I'm fairly sure nobody is proposing that, although I'm sure it would be music to many Tory ears.

The problem with Labour's leadership selection is not AV, but the weighting within the college. The actual result in terms of total votes cast was 147,220 votes for David Miliband and 175,519 for Ed Miliband in the final round - a clear, 9 point victory for Ed (and Ed was ahead of his brother by 10,000 votes in the first round too - so Ed Miliband would have won in an FPTP contest, if all votes were counted equally). But because both the very small number of MPs and the very large number of trade unionists voting were each given one third weighting, the result was a very slim victory. Worse than that, if just 6 MPs had voted for David instead of Ed, David would have won even though Ed got almost 30,000 more votes than him.

27 September 2010 at 00:07  
Anonymous Douglas McLellan said...

"But at least do a little GCSE-level research before you set foot upon His Grace's blog again."

Whilst of course you are entitled to allow comments from whomever you wish I would urge to learn a little GCSE-level research in comparing like with like and the key skill of articulating differences.

The electoral college is some kind of holy trinity in the Labour Party and no matter what system is used (from back-room agreed block vote to FPTP to AV to STV) the problem of having one part of the party support on person and another part supporting another is still possible. Even under FPTP Ed won the union vote.

AV as a system is a separate system and with one person one vote that is used for general elections this problem will not arise. The winner will be the one with most votes from across a constituency.

27 September 2010 at 02:00  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Whatever the method chosen the result would have been the same; two of the three leaders of our main political parties are atheists.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/politics/article-23872359-ed-miliband-reveals-agenda-for-power-with-labour-and-a-personal-insight.do

Currently neither is willing to take on the unjustified privileges that the church of England enjoys but I am sure that along with DC they will withstand the clamour for them to be increased, particularly with regard to exemptions from human rights legislation on the grounds of “conscience”. The exception is of course faith schools where no party has policies that address their divisive nature, potential for religious indoctrination or there discriminatory entry system.

“God” maybe holding on for now but rest assured in the decades to come his grip will gradually be loosened as politics align to the views of the majority of the electorate who don’t do god or religion.

27 September 2010 at 09:21  
Anonymous len said...

Graham Davis,
God will ( if the public so desire)retire in respect of the free will He gave to man)

Where would this leave us ,In an Atheistic paradise? No moral absolutes,every man following his own desires,his own reasoning,man deciding his own moral law? To the Atheist in his total ignorance of the spiritual dimension this would unleash a Pandora`s box on Humanity.


What would happen (and the process has probably already started)is that the god of this world would have unrestricted access to mankind.

If this is what the majority of the people demand then God would give it to them.

27 September 2010 at 13:47  

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