Saturday, May 07, 2011

AV is rejected, but 71 per cent of the electorate do not actively support FPTP

It’s virtually all over (as ever, bar the count in Northern Ireland). The AV referendum has been an expensive exploit and discursive distraction from the raison d’être of the Coalition. When two parties come together ‘in the national interest’ to address urgent economic problems like unprecedented debt and ever-burgeoning fiscal deficit, with a promise to reform core provisions in welfare and education, is it any wonder that the British people rejected the soap opera side-show?

It was, of course, the cost of coalition: the price the Conservative Party had to pay to entice the Liberal Democrats into forming a partnership in the first place. The promise of voting reform has been their long-cherished hope and ultimate political objective for decades. To be finally in a position to demand it must have felt like all their Christmases coming at once. The promised policy was theirs to shape, advocate and legislate for: it was the glue that not only appended them prosthetically to the majority party of government; it united them internally and bound them together: what’s a little electoral unpopularity compared to the holy grail of voting reform?

And so they debated, legislated, and toured the country to sell it. So important was this constitutional proposal that they gave the United Kingdom its second nationwide referendum in its long political history. And they lost (and they are bad losers). The country has rejected AV by an unequivocal 2:1. Only a few areas came out with a majority for a Yes vote, including Cambridge, Glasgow Kelvin, and the London boroughs of Camden, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth and Southwark. But every single region of the UK delivered a No. On a 42 per cent turnout, the rejection of the LibDem dream is beyond dispute: the people ultimately agreed with Nick Clegg that AV is a ‘miserable little compromise’.

But David Cameron is wise to forbid a champagne celebration. His Grace would like to point out that this result was not an endorsement of First-Past-The-Post, as some are claiming, since that wasn't the referendum question. It simply means that, given the particular choice between AV and FPTP, the British people prefer the status quo.

His Grace would also like to point out that a 42 per cent turnout is not anything to boast about: it quite obviously means that the vast majority of the electorate – some 58 per cent – couldn’t be bothered to be engaged. In fact, if 32 per cent of 42 per cent prefer AV, it means that 71 per cent of the entire electorate either actively reject or passively can’t be bothered to defend FPTP. This is hardly a ringing endorsement of the status quo, and by no means suggests that the issue of electoral reform has now been kicked into the long grass for a generation. In fact, without wishing to rain on the Conservative Party’s muted celebrations, it remains an argument for a FPTP / PR referendum.

But, please God, not before an In-Out referendum on our membership of the EU. For to ask us twice about something as trivial as how we vote before asking us once about something as crucial as by whom we are governed would be patronising, insulting, frustrating and infuriating.


Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

It simply means that 58% of the electorate just couldn't be arsed.

Pretty much par for the course.

To try and read more into it is false.

7 May 2011 at 11:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Putting it in perspective: the Conservatives got 36.1% of the vote in the General Election, so they are 4% more popular than AV...

7 May 2011 at 11:18  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Those who vote with their feet are the largest bloc in pretty much every election. And their share is growing. They should win every time.

You can add myself to their number from now on. Thursdays was the last election I shall take part in unless their is an EU In/Out referendum.

The AV side are not bad losers. We lost fair & square. Our campaign was fundamentally flawed since from the outset it was decided not to explain how AV works, but rather to focus on emotive themes. BIG mistake. Everybody I spoke to who received our literature said, "But it doesn't actually say what it is". We left that to the NO campaign who did so with outright, & completely deliberate, lies. [Sorry if that makes me a bad loser].

The NO campaign for their part, have never, not once - including in the arguments I had within the comments section over the past few days - explained why FPTP is better on democratic principle.

Still, good job it wasn't anything about anything too important God help us if we ever want to introduce real reform and not just a minor tweak.

7 May 2011 at 11:20  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

Your last sentence is spot on YG.

7 May 2011 at 11:34  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

I am sure it was my vote that secured the yes to AV for Cambridge!

I didn’t think 42% was a bad turnout considering that for many, myself included, there was no council election, just the referendum.

Once again I am in unlikely agreement with Rebel Saint in his assessment that it would have been a minor tweak not a massive change.

A referendum on our membership of the EU is unlikely but one on Scottish Independence is a certainty. I would be interested to know the constitutional position (if anyone can help me) should the Scottish vote opt for leaving the UK. Presumably the rest of the UK would have to agree to it as well?

7 May 2011 at 11:55  
Anonymous Charlie said...

And 58% 'do not actively support' AV either!

7 May 2011 at 12:37  
Blogger Elizabeth Close said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 May 2011 at 12:42  
Anonymous Yorky said...

Matters of the constitution and nationality are not devolved to the Scottish Parliament, so there isn't any legal basis for an independence referendum: it would be little more than a demi-official opinion poll. Having said that, however, this is a democracy so it would be difficult to ignore a clear result with a decent turnout.

7 May 2011 at 12:45  
Anonymous Caedmon's Cat said...

...And a hearty number of people have come to realise that whichever method of voting is adopted (or foisted upon us) - we'll continue be betrayed by the same cabal of self-serving red/blue/yellow EU-loving apparatchiks...

7 May 2011 at 12:45  
Anonymous Hereward said...

Sorry, Mr Davis, but my no vote cancelled out you yes.

7 May 2011 at 13:14  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Caedmon's Cat - summed up very nicely.

7 May 2011 at 13:17  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

Scottish independance? Isn't it an accepted principle that once a majority of the people in a 'nation' previously part of the British Empire vote for independance then it will be granted?

Same too for Northern Ireland and for Wales.

The Scots don't actually want independance and the wiley old Salmond knows this. SNP are strong in Scottish elections because they are the party with talented leaders unlike the other main parties whose assets are concentrated in Westminster.

Come a referendum or general election and they'll revert to preserving the union and voting Labour.

7 May 2011 at 13:48  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Graham Davis said...

A referendum on our membership of the EU is unlikely but one on Scottish Independence is a certainty. I would be interested to know the constitutional position (if anyone can help me) should the Scottish vote opt for leaving the UK. Presumably the rest of the UK would have to agree to it as well?

7 May 2011 11:55

IMO all this talk of Scottish independence is nonsense, and for many reasons.

After all how can a slave be free, when he does not know that he is a slave, locked in a cell he can not see, while being owned by masters he knows nothing about.

The UK is not independent of its own establishment, which is the exact same establishment that the Scottish people have long since been under the utter control of. Therefore the Scottish people will never be allowed to be independent even if they no longer send representatives to Westminster.

The Scottish people should be given independence anyway, and whether they vote for it or not, simply so they could more assure themselves of this fact, instead of blaming the equally enslaved English people for all of their problems.

The establishment has a problem with Scotland. They have always wished to promote as much division as possible in this and any other nation they have got their filthy mitts on, however at the same time they wish to ultimately destroy all forms of real nationalism.

IMO, this means that if The Scottish people get in anyway carried away with this idea of freedom and independence they will swiftly seek to smash the place into ever more tiny pieces.

This may well be done using the old tried and tested method of turning Protestant against Catholic and visa-versa, (we have already seen the first signs of this) or they may choose to cause even more economic and social chaos in Scotland then they already have, or both, or both and worse.

Either way the establishment will continue to play the Scottish people, and their entire nation, like a finely tuned fiddle, until they get what they want, whatever the Scottish people may or far more likely will NOT vote for.

7 May 2011 at 14:01  
Blogger mongoose said...

42%, YG, is a pretty fancy, and statistically valid with knobs on, sample.

7 May 2011 at 14:09  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

If the Scottish left the union then we would need a referendum on our membership of the EU, as the United Kingdom would no longer exist. We would also stop paying them obscene amounts from the English taxpayer for benefits they provide to everyone except us (university tuition fees are free to everyone in the EU except the English, Welsh and N. Irish)

If they stayed, then it would put an end to the myth of Scottish nationalism and we would stay a strong healthy country. This would provide us with a good reason to take their benefits away as we no longer need to bribe them to stay.

Whatever happens, the English will win. Bring it on (I do hope they stay though. It'd be a shame to lose them).

7 May 2011 at 14:17  
Blogger Graham Davis said...




You have the solution, as you say bring it on.

Atlas shrugged

Cheer up

7 May 2011 at 15:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

If the Scots have a referendum on their membership of the United Kingdom then the rest of us should have a say in that too. If the majority in the UK do not want Scotland as part of it then that should provide a mandate for severing the union there whether the majority of Scots want to remain or not. It would be one way to solve the West Lothian Question.

7 May 2011 at 16:15  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

Lakester said ...
Graham Davis said ...
Danjo said ...

Not terribly unionist in spirit are you? And I thought you were British, dear chaps!

7 May 2011 at 16:23  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Not terribly unionist in spirit are you? And I thought you were British, dear chaps!"

Scotland has a distinct and separate cultural identity which sits a bit uneasily with the British one. Having worked with some Scots who had an enormous chip on their shoulders about 'the' English, I know there are some Scots who would very much welcome a split.

I don't much care one way or the other, I just think the English electorate ought to have a say too. That said, there are advantages to breaking up the union. It would mean we would reassess who we are, including how European we are, and redraft our constitution accordingly. If we do that then of course we might also want to consider whether we want an established religion. ;)

7 May 2011 at 17:45  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Not terribly unionist in spirit are you? And I thought you were British, dear chaps!

I want them to stay, I'd want them to want to stay. A unionist result would allow us to concentrate on more important matters. However we shouldn't fear if they do leave, because there is a silver lining in a forced EU referendum.

7 May 2011 at 19:10  
Blogger Manfarang said...

A referendum on Scottish independence! I can see the no slogan. "Vote Yes to achieve what the Nazis failed to achieve."
(the real Nazis that is)

WV shnessar

9 May 2011 at 13:35  

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