Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Democracy, Theology and AV


Tomorrow the UK is holding its second national referendum in its history. And this one is even more flawed than the first. In 1975, we were asked whether or not we wished to remain a member of the EEC, which we had joined two years earlier. That referendum ought, of course, to have preceded the selling of our birthright and the ‘pooling’ of our sovereignty: the retrospective plebiscite was more about uniting a fractious and fractured Labour Party than genuinely seeking a democratic mandate for winding back a thousand years of history. At least this time we are being asked in advance whether or not we wish to adopt the AV electoral system.

But it is a referendum that nobody wants about a voting system which nobody favours to sustain a coalition which nobody voted for. Just as the 1975 referendum was about internal Labour politics, the 2011 referendum is about internal Coalition dynamics. It is never wise to barter constitutional change for political expediency.

His Grace is not concerned with how Jesus would vote: he’ll leave such insights to the very clever people at Ekklesia who have absurdly instructed believers to vote Yes2AV in order to atone for the sins of the Church. He does, however, look at those who favour AV, and instinctively recoils to oppose them. It is not likely that His Grace could ever agree with Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband or Chris Huhne on a matter. And when it comes to the luvvies and darlings, His Grace would trust the instincts of Labour-supporting Richard Wilson over the inclinations of Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard any day. Further, Richard Dawkins supports AV, and he is not the most rational or reasonable of people. It is not insignificant that AV is supported by the LibDems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, UKIP, Sinn Fein, and the SDLP. These are not concerned with enhancing democracy or with greater participation, but with the means of securing personal electoral and political advantage.

AV, we are told is ‘progressive’. And we are also told that the LibDems are progressive. And Ed Miliband’s Labour Party is progressive. And yet we discern no progress. Indeed, political progress these days appears to consist of an awful lot of moral regress. And how can the abandonment of the trusty, tried and tested First-Past-The-Post system – which enshrines and perpetuates the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ – be morally justified, unless it is to deliver a more proportionate system of electing a government?

FPTP versus PR would have been a referendum worth having: AV is a fudge which satisfies no-one. As Nick Clegg himself said, it's a 'grubby little compromise'.

We are talking here about the future of our democracy, and insofar as it is a fragile model of government, it would be theoretically foolish, politically fatal and theologically unsound to embrace any processes or procedures which might create greater inequalities or exacerbate alienation. By giving supporters of minority parties more than one vote, AV creates inequality. By providing politicians with an eternal excuse for not fulfilling their manifesto promises, AV alienates the people. Democracy requires the commitment and participation of all citizens if it is to work properly. This may be an ideal, but it is an ideal worth striving for. While FPTP is by no means without its faults and is certainly failing to deliver on participation, AV would make it worse as it would lead to almost-perpetual coalition in which the political class would decide among themselves what is best for us. How can politics be ‘progressive’ when it diminishes the likelihood of fulfilled promises? Is that not more likely to result in dashed hopes, increased cynicism, and an exasperated population declaring a plague on all their houses?

There is a theology here. But it has nothing to do with atoning for the Church’s opposition to the suffragettes. The Bible does not advocate any system of voting, principally because it does not talk about democracy. But it does talk about principles. Democracy depends ultimately upon the development of a spirituality in which human freedom, genuine community and a willingness to share under-gird political programmes and action. This is what David Cameron ultimately means when he talks of the ‘Big Society’. A universal franchise in which every person freely casts one vote is consistent with such a spirituality: it strengthens community because the minority are peaceably content to be governed by the majority. An electoral system which purports to give greater power to the people by permitting the preferences of minorities to be counted over and over again, but which actually results in greater power for politicians as they are absolved of the moral imperative to honour their promises, can only serve to diminish freedom and weaken community. And a system which prefers ‘broad church’ candidates with ‘moderate’ policies over candidates with conviction and reforming zeal can only exacerbate banality in Parliament and mediocrity in Government.

The parliamentary process is an agent of moral unity. His Grace holds to the Augustinian view that the state is a necessary evil: it exists to mitigate the effects of sin; the role of government is to restrain evil. It is a great blessing that we in the UK may choose those who represent us and who form a government. That process acts as a restraint, insofar as they are accountable and we may dismiss them. With FPTP, public opinion matters because promises unfulfilled are judged and sometimes harshly. With AV, public opinion matters far less because back-room deals and horse-trading supplant the manifesto pledge. When public opinion ceases to matter, democracy is not only diminished; it is denied.

140 Comments:

Blogger English Viking said...

Democracy is a thoroughly un-christian idea and also only works when the people who are governed under it consent to it.

That consent will be withdrawn in the not to distant future, if our 'leaders' don't do a bit more representing and a whole lot less dictating.

4 May 2011 at 09:58  
Blogger Rory the Tory said...

A well written blogpost with a fair representation of both sides.

4 May 2011 at 10:02  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Great post Cranny on the pros and cons before us.
I'm not so sure about the theological point - but leave the implications of Romans 13 aside for the moment.

May I amend your concluding paragraph?

"It is a great blessing that we in the UK may choose those who represent us and who form a government. That process acts as a restraint, insofar as they are accountable and we may dismiss them."

to:-

'It would be a great blessing if we in the UK could choose those who represent us and who form a government. But unfortunately this cannot be the case whilst we are ruled by our centralised government in Brussels.
That process would act as a restraint if it were possible to hold Brussels to account and to dismiss the EU Commission at a General Election. But regretably that option is not ours.'

I accept that you were not making a point about the EU - but I know you will agree with my slightly cynical revision of your words.
As many point out this fact makes a mockery of the whole AV v FPTP exercise.

4 May 2011 at 10:04  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

An article so full of errors & prejudice that I'm not sure where to start. I'll shall give it a good fisking in the comments.

But firstly I'll start by making a point you haven't covered at all. Your beloved CofE uses AV for Synod elections. A motion in support of it was passed in our deanery at least, and I presume many others. What a conflict of interests you must have Cranmer - whose edicts will demand your loyalties: the CofE or the Conservatives?!

4 May 2011 at 10:11  
Anonymous Shadow said...

Right on the ball as usual Your Grace. I could'nt agree more!

4 May 2011 at 10:15  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

On the point that AV is a fudge ... a grubby little compromise:

I presume therefore that if there were a referendum on reducing the time limit for abortions by 2 weeks, you'd urge your readers to vote NO on the same basis. After all, if it's not abolishing them altogether it's just a fudge ... a grubby compromise.

Those of us in favour of electoral reform are all in agreement: AV is an evolution rather than the revolution we'd like. But revolutions are rare, and far more 'bloody'. AV is an improvement and the conservative (small 'c') nature of our electorate means that this is a sensible compromise rather than a grubby one. But where there is no doubt - it is an undoubted improvement to FPTP.

4 May 2011 at 10:19  
Anonymous MrJ said...

"... concerned with ...securing personal electoral and political advantage."

Many thanks for the Ekklesia alert-- couldn't get beyond the first paragraph "...the Church gets a chance to atone for its sins...a golden opportunity to demonstrate that...it will back the campaign for a fairer electoral system" without thinking: this must be a brilliant parody, left over from April 1st. But no, it is being proposed to (or in the name of?) the Church of England by law established.

"...atoning for the Church’s opposition to the suffragettes...": preposterous humbug on stilts.

Deserving indeed of the Cranmerian counter-blast.

4 May 2011 at 10:19  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

"AV is supported by the LibDems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, UKIP, Sinn Fein, and the SDLP. These are not concerned with enhancing democracy or with greater participation, but with the means of securing personal electoral and political advantage"

Oh really Cranmer ... that's pathetic! Narrow interest parties are probably LESS likely to experience electoral success with AV than they are with FPTP.

And to suggest that the YES campaign alone have a vested interests is preposterous. Presumably the Conservative party and the Labour MP's in their safe seats are all driven by higher & purely altruistic motives?

4 May 2011 at 10:26  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

If AV produces more coalitions, we will notice little difference, as most legislation is dictated by the EU.

What it does reduce is the people's ability to "Turn out the old rogues and put in the new".

It is likely that there would be continuity in government by at least one party - rather in the way the electorally insignificant German Free Democrats have managed a disproportionately tight grasp on the Foreign Ministry, as their price of coalition.

Root and branch changes must be better for breaking established corrupt practices.

4 May 2011 at 10:38  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

"And how can the abandonment of the trusty, tried and tested First-Past-The-Post system – which enshrines and perpetuates the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ – be morally justified"

Tried & tested - agreed. But found severely wanting. Presumably the Kim Jong says the same about "trusty" Communism. And penny farthings - they were tried, tested and "trusty". If it's so tried & tested how come no new democracy ever chooses it any more? Why did Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine & Iraq not choose FPTP when they became democracies? And not forgetting the Welsh, the Scottish & the Irish Parliaments. Oh, and the political parties themselves - why do they not go with such a tried & trusty system?

And the One Person, One Vote argument is fallacious and you know it. It is a petty argument that hinges on semantics. Do the Conservative party say that the people who are forced to vote for a different candidate in the 2nd rounds of the run-offs are getting more than 1 vote? Preposterous.

4 May 2011 at 10:40  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

"The Bible does not advocate any system of voting, principally because it does not talk about democracy. But it does talk about principles""

Agreed. What are the Biblical principles that lend support to FPTP ... a system that makes people vote dishonestly; a system that is unfair; a system that embodies futility & mutes minority voices?

4 May 2011 at 10:45  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

"With AV, public opinion matters far less because back-room deals and horse-trading supplant the manifesto pledge"

Utter utter BS

What utopian dream world do you live in since you turned to ash?

So at the moment politicians honour their manifesto pledges, act with honesty, integrity and without background deals? And if we have AV all this will disappear?!

I hope the self-evident absurdity of this requires no further comment from me.

Has your passing into the ethereal world given you amazing prophetic insight? You know the outcome of all future elections under different electoral systems? You know that AV will produce perpetual coalitions despite the evidence from Australia. Presumably if the argument were on the other foot you'd be using the evidence from Canada to demonstrate how FPTP produces perpetual coalitions?

4 May 2011 at 10:54  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

If we could start our democracy all over again, would we choose FPTP?

No is the answer to that. And the evidence for that fact is utterly overwhelming by looking around the world (or even at our own more recent democratic institutions).

Would we choose AV - probably not.

But we would choose a preferential voting system.

Only one of the 2 options available to us is a preferential voting system.

Every Christian who is driven by the principles of fairness & justice rather than narrow political self-interest will be voting YES to AV.

4 May 2011 at 10:59  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

This sums it up for me:

‘With AV, public opinion matters far less because back-room deals and horse-trading supplant the manifesto pledge. When public opinion ceases to matter, democracy is not only diminished; it is denied.’

Refuse to commit national suicide!

Don’t bring this country to its knees!

Say No to AV!

4 May 2011 at 11:02  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

Is there going to be an option to reverse the Reforms Act(s) on the ballot? ;)

A particularly fine post Your Grace.

4 May 2011 at 11:11  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@D. Singh.

This country needs to brought to it's knees!

The hyperbole being used is not only pathetic, it is completely contemptible and very unbecoming of you and Cranmer.

AV (or FPTP) will not be the ruin of the nation or national suicide. That is being wrought by the completely undemocratic institution of the EU.

Do you seriously believe that governments currently adhere to their manifesto pledges? Do you think that lobbyists, wealthy donors & industrialists, the unions & 'think-tanks' aren't conducting back-room deals at the moment?

Who'd have thought Alistair would be so prescient?

4 May 2011 at 11:19  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'If we could start our democracy all over again, would we choose FPTP?'

But shouldn't that tell us something and make us look at our political history?

That history shows the 'founding fathers' of our system did not sit around trying to invent the sort of ideal, democratic and egalitarian system that the French revolutionaries did. They were men who had principles, in which respect for antiquity and references for their forefathers was key, but aimed to adjust to circumstances. Maybe they knew something about our national character and institutions that the AV crowd have ignored.

They, in general, also knew that the democratic or popular character of a government is a means and not an end. Democracy, or the democratic elements of a government, exist to foster good government not for their own sake and hence we should not simply always be trying to have a more 'democratic' polity. At moment AV seems to favour the LibDems and any more power for them would be a very, very bad thing for Britain. I'm not just talking about partisan politics but the very existence of traditional, historic Britain and England and so many of their institutions, values and customs. That is quite a reason not to vote for AV.

4 May 2011 at 11:29  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Cranmer said

Democracy depends ultimately upon the development of a spirituality in which human freedom, genuine community and a willingness to share under-gird political programmes and action. This is what David Cameron ultimately means when he talks of the ‘Big Society’. A universal franchise in which every person freely casts one vote is consistent with such a spirituality: it strengthens community because the minority are peaceably content to be governed by the majority.

What on earth has so called spirituality got to do with democracy? Democracy is about been able to vote out a government, that’s what they want in Syria and Libya. Human freedom is the result of rational progress; it is contingent upon maintaining and reinforcing democratic institutions, especially a legal system that is independent of government. This will not be much affected by changing the voting system as both have flaws but in the end both allow for a change in government.

When public opinion ceases to matter, democracy is not only diminished; it is denied.

Are you seriously claiming that FPTP ensures that public opinion matters? In common with a majority of seats mine is a safe one. There is no point in me voting (although I do) as the likelihood of uprooting the incumbent is zero. My opinion (vote) therefore doesn’t matter, there is no way other than a change in the voting system (preferably to PR) that people with my view can be represented.

4 May 2011 at 12:00  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Westcountryman

You're making the fundamental error that so many others seem to be making: namely practising a form of electoral eisegesis - starting with your conclusion then working backwards.

Whether AV favours the Libdems, the BNP, the Conservatives, UKIP or even (God forbid) the Liebour party is irrelevant.

It should favour the dêmos first & foremost.

Following your appeal to the principles of our 'founding fathers' leads to the logical conclusion that it is also a good reason not to have universal suffrage or votes for commoners, or indeed democracy at all.

Can I assume you were against the reformers translating the Word of God into the vernacular? Latin served us so well.

4 May 2011 at 12:10  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Rebel Saint: 'AV (or FPTP) will not be the ruin of the nation or national suicide. That is being wrought by the completely undemocratic institution of the EU.'

If AV comes in - government will be locked into coalition.

That is exactly what the Eurocrats want.

Do not imprison our country:

Reject AV!

Reject EU!

4 May 2011 at 12:14  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 May 2011 at 12:18  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@D Singh

You're just being an ass now (and stopping me getting my work done!)

Presumably you're not in favour of democracy in case it gives results you don't approve of?

Dictatorships guarantee the sort of outcome you seem to desire.

4 May 2011 at 12:19  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

But that is exactly what I denied Rebel Saint; that democracy is the most important thing. Good, free and moral government is most important, that is the end of politics. Democracy is a means to that end and not the end in itself. That means I do not simply have to accept all changes to our government that might be more 'democratic'.

'Following your appeal to the principles of our 'founding fathers' leads to the logical conclusion that it is also a good reason not to have universal suffrage or votes for commoners, or indeed democracy at all.

Can I assume you were against the reformers translating the Word of God into the vernacular? Latin served us so well.'

You may take it that I do not take these developments with the cliched, one-sided view of many today. But to simply say I simply reject them out of hand is not to take my comments to their logical conclusions. My comments included a reference to the balanced adaption to circumstance and living spirit o our great forefathers.

4 May 2011 at 12:19  
Blogger D. Singh said...

At the last election, I lost Hampstead & Kilburn to Glenda Jackson by the agonising margin of 42 votes. This was made all the more galling as Thrasher & Rallings suggested we started in a distant third place. But despite losing under FPTP, I’m campaigning hard for a No2AV vote – for national and local reasons.

Nationally, our voting system is our way of choosing and removing Governments. AV will lead to substantially more hung Parliaments – and hung Parliaments have three constitutionally damaging consequences:

1. The power to select and kick out Governments will pass from the people to just one person: the leader of the third party. The power to chose and remove the Government is the most precious thing in a democracy, and we must not give it up
2. Parties will make vote-grabbing manifesto promises they know they cannot actually keep – counting on the fact they can blame a future coalition for ditching these promises.
3. It will fatally undermine accountability with voters FPTP delivers Governments with a clear, unambiguous agenda. The public can then re-elect or kick out those Governments on the basis of their record. Simple, clear and fair.

Coalitions may work at a time of national crisis when a broad-based Government is needed. But not as a regular feature of our politics.

Locally, there is a simple question the Yes campaign cannot answer: Why should the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th and 5th preferences votes of fringe party candidates carry the same weight at the first preference votes of Conservative, Labour or even Lib Dem voters? In the Hampstead & Kilburn, there is a strong chance that the 4th or 5th preference votes of the 300 or so BNP voters could have determined the outcome under AV. This is simply unfair. Even if H&K under AV was decided by the 2nd preference voters of Lib Dem voters, that is still unfair. Why are their second preferences worth as much as a Labour or Conservative first preference?

We want the best candidates elected, with the positive backing of the electorate – not mere acquiescence to the least contentious candidate, which is what AV will deliver.

The Yes campaign says that a 50% vote in AV elections represents a more legitimate mandate. Firstly, unless every voter uses every preference, the mandate under AV will actually be well less than 50% of voters in most seats. The evidence from state elections in Queensland, Australia suggests that 60% of voters use just one preference – so under AV plenty of people will still win seats with around 40%-45% of the vote, and maybe less.

I may have lost under FPTP in Hampstead & Kilburn, but our country wins.

Chris Philp was the Conservative Candidate in Hampstead & Kilburn at the last election (losing by just 42 votes) and is the Conservative “No” Coordinator for London.

4 May 2011 at 12:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Down with Aston Villa!

Down with the Alternative Vote!

Down with the EU!

Down with AV!

4 May 2011 at 12:55  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@westcountryman

I have no idea what you're on about now tbh.

You seem to be suggesting that democracies ok, but it's gone far enough now! Presumably all the new democracies that choose Preferential Voting systems are doomed - national suicide as D Singh put it.

AV is fairer. That's it. That's the only argument I need.

4 May 2011 at 13:05  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Unless I misunderstood you, you seem to say that Richard Wilson supports the No campaign; but I am sure I heard him on the radio promoting the luvvie cause.

4 May 2011 at 13:23  
Blogger English Viking said...

I preferred it when whoever wanted to run the show pitched up on a big field with a couple of thousand suporters, bows, axes and billhooks at the ready. The guy with the biggest mouth led the charge against the other big mouth, and the best man won.

Cuts down on the need for a constantly changing government and ensures only those who are prepared to risk their own life for the nation get to risk others' in future conflicts if they win.

Does away with all women short-lists, too.

4 May 2011 at 13:29  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Rebel Saint

'Presumably all the new democracies that choose Preferential Voting systems are doomed - national suicide as D Singh put it.'

Papua New Guinea, Australia and Fiji use AV. Hardly a resounding endorsement.

Further, they are not subservient to the EU and therefore have no vision to free their countries from a fascist imperial power .

4 May 2011 at 13:30  
Anonymous obreption said...

I posted my NO to AV a few days ago. I heard a Liberal Australian, i.e. an Oz Tory saying that political parties had to provide guidance for the voters on the permutations and combinations. I could only think: god help us from another tsunami of psephologists. I had been reading a biography of Mr Gladstone, a Midlothian, and still can't work out what they are doing with boundaries, party lists, FPTP and that's only the Scottish Parliament. To cap it all, there are different returning officers. I can just imagine the scene: all the party tellers standing outside the polling centre asking if they could download all my electronic preferences. Perhaps we should hand over the Electoral Commission and the General Synod to Tesco Clubcard. NO to AV.

4 May 2011 at 13:32  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@D Singh

You too seem to be working backwards. You don't want a coalition (even though the latest coalition is the result of FPTP, as are all the coalitions in Canada) so you want to choose an electoral system that makes them less likely.

The other more effective way to stop coalitions is to ban all but 2 political parties. (Or my preferred option - ban all political parties and have a house of Independents)

I prefer to work from 1st principles: fairness, local accountability, representation. When you work from 1st principles you never arrive at FPTP (unless you restrict things to 2 parties).

Neither Hampstead & Kingston or our country won if more people would have preferred someone else to represent them.

You don't seem to realise that people already vote with their 3rd, 4th or 5th preferences under FPTP. The only difference is that they don't get to express their first choice. It's called tactical voting and it is the scourge against fairness or justice

4 May 2011 at 13:35  
Blogger D. Singh said...

obreption

‘… political parties had to provide guidance for the voters on the permutations and combinations.’

In other words the AV process itself could be used for ‘fraud’.

Like this: Labour party activists pretend before Mrs Miggins that they are Tory party activists; they then give Mrs Miggins a card with instructions on how to vote tactically.

Say No to AV!

Say No to ‘fraud’!

I say again: No, Nay, Never to AV.

4 May 2011 at 13:38  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@D Singh

I care not if 1 country, 3 countries, no countries or all countries use AV.

I only care about fairness. AV is a fairer system of determining who the constituents would rather have as their representative.

And of course, you are being disingenuous: more & more countries are using preferential voting systems. Less & less are using FPTP. And that is because it is not fit for purpose (unless, of course the purpose is to maintain the kind of government you personally like).

4 May 2011 at 13:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Rebel Saint

'It's called tactical voting and it is the scourge against fairness or justice'

I refer you to my post at 13.38.

Fairness and justice?

Poor Mrs Miggins!

4 May 2011 at 13:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it amazing how this blog always manages to align religous principles with those of the Tory party. Perhaps worth pointing out in passing that the Roman Catholic church manages to find a justification for AV in its election for the single member seat of Vatican Central

TBNGU

4 May 2011 at 13:42  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

"In other words the AV process itself could be used for ‘fraud’"

@D Singh

You are now just making yourself look ridiculous.

Like most of the NO campaign, rather than address the real issues you resort to scandalous hyperbole, downright lies, and groundless conjecture.

That is because when assessing the democratic merit of FPTP or AV based on evidence & facts, FPTP is revealed to be an anachronistic, embarrassing carbuncle. Like Latin & telex machines, it served it's purpose well. But it's time to face the facts - things have progressed.

Your frantic cries of,"the sky is falling" may get you the attention of the undiscerning. Alas others can see so many other countries where the sky hasn't fallen in and indeed, it is FPTP that leads to the fox's lair.

4 May 2011 at 13:54  
Anonymous PJ said...

Your Grace said

"AV would make it worse as it would lead to almost-perpetual coalition"
and Mr Singh seems to follow a similar argument.

Recent research by the New Economics Foundation on data from the the last few general elections has shown that this is not the case and that under AV only the most recent election would have been a hung parliament. For more finding please see:

http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/2011/05/03/busting-the-myths-of-the-alternative-vote

4 May 2011 at 13:58  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Rebel Saint: ‘You are now just making yourself look ridiculous.

‘Like most of the NO campaign, rather than address the real issues you resort to scandalous hyperbole, downright lies, and groundless conjecture.’

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/in-depth/labor-accused-of-sneaky-how-to-vote-cards/story-fn2sdwup-1225843162573

4 May 2011 at 14:03  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@D Singh

You just don't get it do you!

The fact that some people try to manipulate the result DOESN'T MAKE IT UNFAIR

There are cards and posters like that in Bradford right now ... showing people where to put there cross. Based on that do you think we should reject FPTP?

What are the democratic merits of FPTP? What are the first principles you are working from?

4 May 2011 at 14:11  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'You seem to be suggesting that democracies ok, but it's gone far enough now! Presumably all the new democracies that choose Preferential Voting systems are doomed - national suicide as D Singh put it.'

I know it is a taboo today but I'm simply making the startling, and yet quite traditional, point that democracy is a means and not an end. The end of politics and governance is to have good, moral and free government. The end of government is not necessarily to simply be as 'democratic' as possible. More democracy is not then to be an imperative on its own account but only insofar as it seems likely to make our government more moral, better and freer. In this case I do not think it is likely to do this.

4 May 2011 at 14:16  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

I never thought I would be on the same side as Rebel Saint. However your spirited defence of AV and demolition of most of the arguments put forward against it is nothing less than brilliant!

4 May 2011 at 14:23  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Rebel Saint: ‘What are the first principles you are working from?’

The principles our forefathers established and entrusted to our care; to be passed onto our sons and to those who are yet to be born: one man, one vote.

4 May 2011 at 14:24  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@westcountryman ... "More democracy is not then to be an imperative on its own account but only insofar as it seems likely to make our government more moral, better and freer."

I agree. But you seem to having a debate that no-one else is having!!

We're debating the relative merits (or at least I'm trying too!) of different electoral systems. The debate about the merits various types of government is completely different and irrelevant to the subject at hand.

AV is fairer than FPTP. True or False? That's the question on the ballot paper for me tomorrow. If you want to use your vote to answer a question that's not even being asked, so be it. But what a waste.

4 May 2011 at 14:26  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

"The Bible does not advocate any system of voting, principally because it does not talk about democracy. But it does talk about principles."

Theology and voting systems? I'm sure the Lord has no preference for AV or for FPTP!

Democracy is not mentyioned in the Bible. The Old Testament had a leaning towards prophets and priests leading the people of Israel. Wasn't Kingship, of the elected variety, initially a concession by God because the people grumbled? so there is some reference to 'democracy' if I'm right. Seem to recall this from previous studies.

Augustine did see the State as a necessary evil in a fallen world. Did he have a view about the link between Church and State? And I don't think he was a democrat either.

4 May 2011 at 14:29  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@D Singh

What are those principles please? Can you elucidate because the only principle I'm getting from you is : I don't want a coalition, I want an absolute Conservative majority.

The One Man, One Vote "argument" I've already dealt with very early on.

4 May 2011 at 14:30  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Letter to The Times 11 March from many of our country's intellectuals:

Dear Sir,

Our nation’s history is deeply rooted in our parliamentary democracy, a democracy in which, over centuries, men and women have fought for the right to vote.

That long fight for suffrage established the principle of one man or woman, one vote. The principle that each person’s vote is equal, regardless of wealth, gender, race, or creed, is a principle to which generations of reformers have dedicated their lives. It is a principle upon which reform of our parliamentary democracy still stands.

The referendum on 5th May which threatens to introduce a system of ‘Alternative Voting’ – a voting system which will allow MPs to be elected to Parliament even if they do not win the majority of constituents’ first preference votes – also threatens to break this principle.

For the first time since 1928 and the granting of universal suffrage, we face the possibility that one person’s casting ballot will be given greater weight than another. For the first time in centuries, we face the unfair idea that one citizen’s vote might be worth six times that of another. It will be a tragic consequence if those votes belong to supporters of extremist and non-serious parties.

Twice in our past, the nation has rejected any threat to the principle of one citizen, one vote. The last time, in 1931, Winston Churchill stood against the introduction of an Alternative Vote system. As he argued, AV would mean that elections would be determined by “the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”. He understood that it was simply too great a risk to take.

The cause of reform, so long fought for, cannot afford to have the fundamentally fair and historic principle of majority voting cast aside; nor should we sacrifice the principle which generations of men and women have sought: that each being equal, every member of our society should cast an equal vote.

For these reasons, we urge the British people to vote “No” on May 5th.

Yours faithfully,

Professor David Abulafia
Dr. John Adamson
Professor Antony Beevor
Professor Jeremy Black
Professor Michael Burleigh
Professor John Charmley
Professor Jonathan Clark
Dr Robert Crowcroft
Professor Richard J Evans
David Faber
Professor Niall Ferguson
Orlando Figes
Dr. Amanda Foreman
Dr. John Guy
Robert Lacey
Dr. Sheila Lawlor
Lord Lexden
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Professor Lord Norton of Louth
Dr. Richard Rex
Dr. Andrew Roberts
Professor Richard Shannon
Chris Skidmore MP
Dr David Starkey
Professor Norman Stone
D.R. Thorpe
Alison Weir
Philip Ziegler

4 May 2011 at 14:33  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 May 2011 at 14:37  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

Rebel yes, but your argument seems to be that AV is better because it is more 'democratic'. I'm saying so what to that. It will more than likely help the Libdems and Labour. As bad as the Tories are, these are even worse at this critical juncture.

The future of Britain and England, as we know them, as our forefathers have known them for centuries, is hanging in the balance. Our national sovereignty and most of the institutions, traditions and values that traditional conservatives, like myself, cherish seem to be close to being wiped out. As I do not hold democracy as an absolute end of government I can certainly say vote no on this ballot, for the above reason.

Your question of fairness seems to imply an absolute right to an individual having 'their vote'. I deny this. All good, free and even moral governments require a strong popular or 'democratic' side. I certainly accept this, apart from that I assign no abstract right to an individual to have any sort of vote, let alone the right to have the supposedly more democratic or 'fairer' vote of the AV rather than the FPTP system.

In short your whole argument draws you into a limited, but real, discussion of democracy and its place in our political system.

4 May 2011 at 14:42  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@D Singh

I agree, every persons vote should be equal.

Under FPTP most peoples votes count for nothing. They of zero value - utterly worthless - devoid of any meaning. That is why I - like millions already have chosen to do - shall not participate in another election conducted under FPTP, it's a waste of my time.

But with AV EVERYONE'S vote gets counted. Brilliant.

4 May 2011 at 14:46  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Westcountryman

Like I said ... you're having an argument on your own!

The God I serve is just. FPTP is unjust. AV is less unjust. It has my support.

You like FPTP because it's traditional. Great. So was Latin.

4 May 2011 at 14:49  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Saying yes to Alternative Vote (AV) = backing losers

Saying yes to First Past The Post (FPTP) = backing a winner

You don't back the losers when you go to the betting shop do you? So why back a bunch of losers with AV

Say NO to AV and choose the winner.

4 May 2011 at 14:49  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Rebel Saint, my dear brother, why such rash vows: ‘[I] shall not participate in another election conducted under FPTP, it's a waste of my time.’

I have been patient with you; I have borne all day long the insults you have hurled at me; this day I turned the other cheek.

If you and your ilk bring this country to its knees – there will be the Devil to pay.

Get out of my sight.

4 May 2011 at 14:53  
Blogger D. Singh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 May 2011 at 14:53  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

I don't think I am having my own argument, though.

Why is AV just and FPTP unjust? It is only the machinery of government, rather than its real purpose and as neither is immoral I don't think either can be said to be more unjust or just in the abstract. You're simply assigning an abstract, absolute right to an individual's vote. I only assign a value to the government operating morally. This requires a 'democratic' element but I don't see that it necessitates any particular voting system. That is a matter for circumstance.

My main defense of FPTP was not it is traditional but that it defends our traditions, our institutions, our values, our very national sovereignty and character. It does this simply by helping to keep the Libdems out. If AV were likely to swamp parliament in UKIP members I might be arguing the other way. I'm not then supporting it simply because it is traditional, though I might appeal to that to bolster my case.

I actually think that the vernacular translations of the Bible, despite the beauty of the KJV, have been a mixed blessing. It helped shatter the unity of Western Christendom and created a lot of nonsense and heresy, including the sheer bibolatry that some display even here, as well as allowing devout individuals who did not know Latin to have more spiritual sustenance.

4 May 2011 at 15:00  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Marie1797 ...

No, the debate is how you determine who the winner is.

In horse racing, the first horse past the post wins. That is fair. In the Eurovision song contest it's the one with the most points. In boxing it's the one who stands up the longest.

If we were to select our representatives by how fast they could run I would also choose FPTP.

However, in a democracy I would like the winner to be the one with the most support. How can someone who has only 25% of people choosing them claim to have the most support? That does not make them a winner.

4 May 2011 at 15:04  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'However, in a democracy I would like the winner to be the one with the most support.'

Surely as a Christian you want the government which is most moral and good and free?

Surely as an Englishmen you should at least want a significant advantage given for that which embodies our historic national character and institutions?

New Labour had the most support(I'm of course well aware in our system we couldn't simply keep them out, and I'd anyway be cautious in aiming for any alternative system anyway, and not expect severe problems, but we don't have to give them or similar unnecessary advantages.).

4 May 2011 at 15:08  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@D Singh

AV will not bring the country to it's knees anymore than preferential voting has brought most other nations to their knees.

I too have been extremely patient. You have stubbornly resisted the opportunity to explain the DEMOCRATIC MERIT of FPTP. That is because there is none. You want an absolute Conservative majority and will support whatever system gives that result regardless of any other principles you claim to have.

Kim Jung II has a similar outlook.

4 May 2011 at 15:09  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 May 2011 at 15:13  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'Kim Jung II has a similar outlook.'

This shows the extremely narrow modern view of politics. There are far more alternatives than pure, unthinking loyalty to Jacobin democracy and the North Korea.

4 May 2011 at 15:14  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Now entertain conjecture of a time
When creeping murmur and the poring dark
Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
From camp to camp through the foul womb of night
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fixed sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other's watch:
Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames
Each battle sees the other's umber'd face;
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night's dull ear, and from the tents
The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation:
The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,
And the third hour of drowsy morning name.

William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, Sc I

4 May 2011 at 15:14  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@ RebelSaint

“No, the debate is how you determine who the winner is.”
Yes I know and you wouldn't choose a system that will end up putting a load of losers in power.


“How can someone who has only 25% of people choosing them claim to have the most support? “
Because that's all the people that were bothered at the time to get of their backsides and vote for them. And if people are not that bothered about voting then how do you think they are going to be bothered about with the complexities of AV? It's a load of over complicated bunkham that serves nobody in the end but the politicians themselves. It does not support survival of the fittest and best.

4 May 2011 at 15:35  
Anonymous berserker-nkl said...

The Boundary Commissions (3 people!) deliberation will result in fewer constituencies for the 2015 GE. Will this favour FPTP?

Labour has had of late considerable advantage in the disproportionality of votes per constituency. If one party is strongest in places with small constituencies it will need less votes.

I am amazed so little has been said about constituency disproportionality. Sought this out and have more balanced constituencies and FPTP is your man.

4 May 2011 at 15:51  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Marie1797

This is very depressing. How can so many intelligent people not even grasp the simplest of concepts?

It will not end up putting "a load of losers in power" because they will in fact be winners!!

This whole debate is about what are the rules which determine the winners and the losers.

Since FPTP supporters love horse racing analogies the most maybe this one will help:
Imagine a competition to find the fittest horse. You could have a simple race and see which reaches the finish line first. However that measures which is the fastest not the fittest. You might also want to test it's endurance (how long it can run for), it's agility (how high can it jump), and it's strength (what weight can it pull). You then have a fairer measure of fitness.

Now imagine a competition where you want to know who best represents the views of the most people. FPTP is just one measure. It measures just one things - the fastest in the competition. AV takes everyones views into account. It is measuring the fittest in the competition.

I am sorry you find counting to 3 or 4 so complicated. In that case simply put an 'X' next to box #3. There are posters to help you.

Lots of people don't bother to vote because it's a waste of time. Their horse isn't the fastest.

4 May 2011 at 16:20  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@berserker-nkl

"Sorting out" the boundaries won't make FPTP any less unfair in elections with more than 2 candidates.

The problem is inherent to the system, not with the boundaries.

Neither FPTP or AV are immune to gerrymandering.

Is there anyone out there who can tell me what UNIQUE DEMOCRATIC MERIT FPTP has?

Anyone?

[I'll help you if you want. It's fast & easy to count. Yippee. That's the democratic principle that's most important to me ... the speed with which it can be counted!!]

4 May 2011 at 16:25  
Blogger William said...

Clegg had it right first time; a 'grubby little compromise'. Not only in the hustings where every candidate tries to be least objectionable to garner as many secondary votes as possible, but also with most of the coalitions that will follow. There is an argument for coalition when the country is in crisis e.g. during a major war or at the a*se end of a Labour administration, but ultimately coalitions are anti-democratic. Ditto AV.

No to AV

4 May 2011 at 16:26  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@William

How can coalitions be 'anti-democratic' if they reflect the outcome of the people's votes?

Political Parties are undemocratic since they determine how an MP votes, not the people.

Political Parties with outright majorities are anti-democratic.

Why are coalitions only good during national crisis ... the time when you most need strong, decisive leadership?

Are coalitions formed as a result of FPTP better or worse than coalitions determined by AV? Just wondering coz FPTP Canada has lots of coalitions (but seems to be doing ok!) and AV Australia has very few (but seems to be doing ok!)

4 May 2011 at 16:37  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

The Tory party and its funders are behind the 'No' campaign simply for electoral advantage. If they thought AV would benefit them they would be behind it. Why else would Cameron renege on his promise to Clegg to keep a low profile?
This should be about fairness, not party. Rebel Saint is far more balanced on this one
Check the facts and vote AV.

4 May 2011 at 17:00  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Can't comment much more ... still got 1,000 or so Yes2Av leaflets to deliver!

[Our leaflets are rubbish btw ... they don't explain the merits very well at all. We don't deserve to win on the basis of our literature. On the other hand, this video makes it plain & simple.]

4 May 2011 at 17:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until we come up with a way of eliciting strength of preference in an agreed way, the binary FPTP must be the only way.

Arrow's impossibility theorem is not called impossible for no reason.

AV violates more axioms than FPTP and any ordinal system of ranking in such an ad hoc way cannot possibly be an evidence based improvement.

How can any government truly reflect such a complex array of preferences - surely we should vote on their ability to govern and not their ability to pander to opinion?

P

4 May 2011 at 17:26  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Rebel saint says: How can someone who has only 25% of people choosing them claim to have the most support?

Hmmm...someone with a lot less can win with AV. In fact someone with 49% in the first round could end up losing even if the second highest had a tenth as many votes.

4 May 2011 at 17:37  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Rebel Saint

How can you be so ruthlessly logical when it comes to AV but utterly irrational when it comes to faith?

I fear the vote is lost largely due to it being associated with the now discredited LibDems who I expect to lose many council seats as well. Being in Government is tough and they are learning the hard way.

4 May 2011 at 17:47  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@ Rebel Saint
I vote for my candidate to win because I want to believe that he is honest, good and true as a person and will do his best for both country and constituency. I don't want to have to choose a 2nd 3rd 4th and even 5th Candidate, and from dodgy parties I don't support.
I don't want to see power being handed to any old Tom, Dick or Harry in a minority party that does dodgy and underhand deals that the Tax payers never get to hear about. In case you hadn't noticed we live now in an increasingly open and transparent society so AV is going against this current trend.
I also want the chance to be able to kick him/his party out if he fails in his tasks.

Lots of people don't vote because the choice of candidates and parties are crap and out of tune with the public in that the main three are all more or less the same up to now. But, If Mrs Thatcher could could change a solid Labour constituency in South Wales to a Tory one in the 80's why can't others after her? By installing a load of losers in to government on the pretext of them being the peoples choice you are diluting power to such an extent that nobody will ever be able to make a decision or get anything done.

4 May 2011 at 17:55  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Some good points in your graces article.

However today the disco glitterball of AV was given prime time media ,in the form of eddieizzard , and as much as one may count celebrity impact ,I can honestly say that his message of it being fair was a little more than a goat in sheeps clothing. Saying its as simple as 1,2,3 managed not to inform that public that if you place just 1 your vote will be void ,or for that matter what if there are several or more candiadates , does it then go 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 to fill a ballot paper correctly .
My own enquiries have found plenty angry at the expense when the voting system actually works , a further number who consider change mid way into a goverment decietful and quite a large chunk who not only dont understand the pamphlet ,but when they do consider the subsequent calculation very undemocratic ,they understand that one vote and the person with the most votes settles the matter much more decsively and in some was a more commonly understood fairness . None had given much thought to my fear of sordid and unnacountable electioneering ,with you being handed voting slips showing you how to vote to get a pre calculated result , but where none too pleased at how awful the canvassing could become .

There is famous saying that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time ,AV however seems to have the power to do just that ,particulary in failing governemnts .

The decisiveness of FPTP is what people want in a democracy ,the seat is for the election winner, the voters choice , not for a calculation done that they could not comprehend or to re include candidates they wouldnt even have a put a x next to in any case .AV is a fraud and so is PR it undermines manfestos ,hustings canvassing and public confidence and clarity.

I hope the polls are true but we shall not know until late on Friday the full result.

4 May 2011 at 17:56  
Blogger William said...

Rebel Saint

"How can coalitions be 'anti-democratic' if they reflect the outcome of the people's votes?"

Because most people vote for policies not parties. Coalitions give parties a "mandate" to change their policies after the election.

"Political Parties are undemocratic since they determine how an MP votes, not the people. Political Parties with outright majorities are anti-democratic."

I agree. Probably the most democratic approach would be a referendum for every act of parliament.

Why are coalitions only good during national crisis ... the time when you most need strong, decisive leadership?

Because they allow governments to focus on the one overriding crisis without having to deal so much with day-to-day politics or tiresome things such as election pledges. In a sense, it is their weakening of the democratic mandate that makes them advantagous in those situations.

Are coalitions formed as a result of FPTP better or worse than coalitions determined by AV?

Probably neither

"Just wondering coz FPTP Canada has lots of coalitions (but seems to be doing ok!) and AV Australia has very few (but seems to be doing ok!)"

They may well be. In this country we have had a serious erosion of democracy instigated by our membership of the EU. I believe that AV would worsen that situation.

4 May 2011 at 18:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether you have AV or FPTP, you will merely end up electing blue, red or yellow, or a combination of those as a government....ALL of whose politicians are pro-EU and NONE of those politicians have the slightest power to do anything against said corrupt EU parliament.
You will simply be electing a fresh rubber-stamp machine.

Few of you acknowledge the fact that the EU's grasp has become so tight that UK government has very little power. We can change the UK government but we have no effect whatsoever on the swines at the top of the EU pyramid.....it is THEY that we need to oust.

All this AV/FPTP thing is a huge distraction to keep the people arguing and fighting amongst themselves, while the "big boys" push on with their agendas. We are all barking up the wrong trees.

4 May 2011 at 18:15  
Anonymous malvoisin said...

FPTP is the only fair system, to choose AV will have a destructive effect on democracy in this country.
One only has to look at the parties supporting AV, anyone with commonsense will have alarm bells ringing.

If this was about democracy then surely proportional representation should also be on the menu? why is it not?

As I understand it,you can vote for as many candidates as you wish ranking them in order of preference. Now why, if I was Tory would I rank a Labour,SNP,BNP,UKIP,etc candidate?

You might say, you can vote for just one if you want to but isnt that the FPTP system? I am not even going to mention the amount of electoral fraud that AV will cause.

Do not touch it with a bargepole.

4 May 2011 at 18:21  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

It is far more important that we get rid of universal postal voting and returned to "One Man One Vote".
From what I've been told from reliable sources and my own experience, it would seem that most Asians are virtually forced to show their postal voting slips to the head of the household or to their "tribal/clan" leaders to ensure that they vote as decided by their "Head Man". I've been blogging about this at http://english-pensioner.blogspot.com/2011/05/to-hell-with-av-lets-return-to-one-man.html
Postal voting has ensured that we have a system equivalent to that in many third world countries, and whether we have AV or not is rapidly becoming irrelevant.
As an afterthought, I wonder whether our immigrants have decided whether they are for or against AV, as their vote, en-mass, will probably decide the issue.

4 May 2011 at 18:35  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

'Winners' and 'losers'?

Most Governments since the war have achieved less than 50% of the popular vote?

2010 Conservatives achieve 36% of vote and 307 seats in Commons - overall minority;
2005 Labour achieve 35% of vote and 356 seats in Commons - overall majority;
2001 Labour receive 40% of vote and 413 seats - a 'landslide';
1997 Labour get 43% of vote and 328seats in Commons;
1991 Conservatives get 336 seats with 42% of the vote.

Even the 'landslide' to Labour in 1945 of 393 Common's seats was based on 48% of the popular vote.

It is clear than some votes i.e. those in marginal constituencies, count more. These constituencies are also courted by the party in office.

I could go on.
Is this 'democracy'?

4 May 2011 at 19:21  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Right, leafleting plans cut short due to Mrs RebelSaints selfish social arrangements!

But that's good news for the rest of you since I can now fight the encroaching wave of ignorance, laziness & prejudice - one-by-one.

@Marie1797 ... is there really no hope for you? You really don't seem to understand the most basic points [e.g. You don't have to vote for any more than your 1st choice if you prefer ... narrow-interest parties/candidates are less likely to be elected under AV ... most people don't vote because their votes won't count towards anything anyway]. All the problems you highlight are actually more acute under FPTP than they are under AV. Don't judge by your prejudice's and the scaremongering - you can actually look at the real evidence that exists from all over the world.

4 May 2011 at 19:42  
Anonymous Old Blue Eyes said...

Anyone who votes YES to AV is either a Lib Dem or a nutter - probably both.

4 May 2011 at 19:42  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Dodo 14:29 "Augustine did see the State as a necessary evil in a fallen world. Did he have a view about the link between Church and State?"

There is a connection, which can be epitomised as: Roman Republic with Rex Sacrae, Pontifex Maximus etc.....Justinian's Code (Latin and Greek); in between the trial of Jesus before Pilate.

This is not (emphasis) to propose that the historical derivatives of Roman "jus" or "justitia" or "jurisprudentia" (civil, canon or any other) are now to be regarded as sacred or divinely sanctioned.

But it is worth considering that epitome in connection with the Hymns, Psalms or Canticles (appointed for Morning and Evening Prayer, BCP): Benedictus, Jubilate deo, Magnificat, Cantate domino, Nunc dimittis, Deus misereatur (which, of course, were taken from the sources of the then Latin Liturgical practice of the "unreformed" Church).

But this is not the place to discuss further.

(Some days ago I declared a firm NO to AV Etc., but can admire Rebel Saint's passionate conviction, while adhering to the Cranmerian position on this.)

4 May 2011 at 19:48  
Anonymous nimblehippo said...

@ rebel saint - calm down dear

and "fairness" is subjective - I don't think AV is any "fairer" than FPTP - i don't think the minor party voters deciding which of the two major parties vote tally to top up with their 2nd pref is "fair"

As for the votes not counting - of course that's the case if everyone feels that way - and if you are a minority, its only because you've lost the argument

4 May 2011 at 19:59  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Wickedness in high places.

4 May 2011 at 20:06  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Graham Davis

Thank you for the compliment (I think!). I do attempt to apply logical reasoning to all of my beliefs. The difference is this: I do not follow a religion or a set of teachings or a moral code as you presume, but I am in a relationship with a real, living Saviour. Logic does not always apply to relationships ... I do not love my wife & children because logic dictates I should, but simply because I do. In fact my love for them often makes me do things that are illogical. I didn't come to know Jesus by logic but by experiencing & understanding His loving kindness for me.

I agree with your prognosis of the referendum too. A win for the YES campaign would be remarkable. Though this is more to do with demographics than politics I suspect... older people just don't want change and they are most likely to turn out & vote. I think we will have to wait a for the current generation, who are far more used to making decisions & being empowered, to let their righteous dissatisfaction with the status quo manifest itself into revolutionary political action.

The voting system is largely irrelevant anyway ... a distracting sideshow whilst power is wielded behind closed doors and in corridors and on yachts around Europe by unelected & unaccountable oligarchs.

The local elections ... I've given up voting for the main political parties. They're never going to change whilst people keep voting for them. I shall vote for an Independent if there is one, or UKIP or BNP or Greens or anyone else that approximates to "none of the above". The definition of stupidity is doing the same things over & over again and expecting different results. Why do people keep voting for the same-old same-old?

4 May 2011 at 20:22  
Blogger Span Ows said...

No reply then? As expected, Rebel Saint is a busted flush.

4 May 2011 at 20:30  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

nimblehippo said... "'fairness' is subjective"

Not always. If you define what your goals are then it is easy to decide if one thing is fairer than another quite objectively. If the goal of electing a representative is to find someone who best represents the electorate - FPTP is utterly & objectively crap (if their are more than 2 candidates).

I don't think the minor party voters deciding which of the two major parties vote tally to top up with their 2nd pref is "fair"

Presumably you think people shouldn't be allowed to vote tactically then. Because this is EXACTLY what happens under FPTP right now - in fact it is the main ADVANTAGE of AV. You don't have to guess where to place your 2nd or even 3rd preference, you can do it explicitly, and honestly express your 1st preference.

If you are a minority, its only because you've lost the argument

You've obviously never done any political canvassing. Most people do not vote according to the arguments but according to tribal allegiances - as this poor sod discovered! Even the debate on this topic hasn't been based on merit or argument, but about tribal outcomes.

4 May 2011 at 20:39  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Span Ows

Give me time! You're as impatient as Dawkins was.

Just looked back at your argument anyway. It's rubbish.

Please give me an example of that scenario in practice. Actually, give me an example of it in theory even ... I think you're about to look very very silly.

4 May 2011 at 20:45  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Rebel Saint said...

Give me time! You're as impatient as Dawkins was

I was worried about queue jumpers". ;-)

An example: 12 candidates:
1st round:
A gets 49%
B gets 5%
C to L get 4.6%

In all the alternative boxes A is 12th and B is 11th.

B wins with 51%.

In your reply PLEASE do not say it's fair because the rest got 51%.

4 May 2011 at 20:54  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Span Ows


Like I said, you now look very very silly.

So if there is a constituency where there are 12 candidates (can you find me one please) and all but one of them get 5%, and all 10 of them give their 2nd prefs to just one of the others then that person wins!!!! I wouldn't play that as your trump card. :oP

And incidentally it would rather seem to indicate that the supporters of 11 other candidates would all rather have ANYONE win other than the FPTP winner, so in a sense it does demonstrate the strength of AV. [In the AV "pub versus coffee shop" scenario, it's as if there are 11 choices of pub and 1 choice of coffee shop, so yes, one of the pubs does deserve to win]

Now lets do the fictional constituency under FPTP.
Winning candidate gets 8.5% of the vote. 93.5% of the people don't want him. He gets elected to be their representative anyway.

Like I said. Think you might want to rethink that one a little.

4 May 2011 at 21:04  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Oh dear...you did ask for a theoretical example.

...and all 10 of them give their 2nd prefs to just one of the others then that person wins

NO! Read what I wrote.

"In all the alternative boxes A is 12th and B is 11th."

"they hate me less than him": hardly a headline grabber for the 51% winner.

And incidentally it would rather seem to indicate that the supporters of 11 other candidates would all rather have ANYONE win other than the FPTP winner

But it is the rather sad response that would be expected...candidate for one-legged, orange skinned, bondage lovers with beards (5%) over the FPTP candidate with 49%.


Now lets do the fictional constituency under FPTP.
Winning candidate gets 8.5% of the vote. 93.5% of the people don't want him. He gets elected to be their representative anyway.


Indeed but it only suggest that the other candidates got less than 8.5% so are worse thought of, no?

The 11th choice of 46% wins...

4 May 2011 at 21:13  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Span Owls

Your example doesn't work I'm afraid. Who did candidates C-L give their 2nd to 10th prefs too?!

"They hate me less than him":hardly a headline grabber for the 51% winner

Agreed. BUT THATS EXACTLY WHAT FPTP ACHIEVES!!! People are forced to vote tactically to overthrown the incumbent. They don't vote for the winner because they necessarily like him, but because they hate the other one more.

This is one of the most frustrating things about the FPTP brigade, all the arguments they use against AV already exist within FPTP but are often more acute.

"he other candidates got less than 8.5% so are worse thought of, no?"

No! It's called the spoiler effect. You have 2 candidates with quite similar positions and it divides the vote. It is perfectly feasible for the one with the largest single bloc vote to be the least popular.

But your fictional constituency is so farcical, and is only really serving to demonstrate the stupidity of FPTP so I'd drop it if I were you.

In real life data, only 5% of constituencies tend to go to the candidate who didn't achieve the largest number of 1st place preferences. AV really won't change the political landscape that much.

There really is a lot of hysterical hyperbole being bandied about.

4 May 2011 at 21:39  
Blogger Span Ows said...

There really is a lot of hysterical hyperbole being bandied about.

Indeed, hence my "farcical" but nonetheless possible example.

Agreed. BUT THATS EXACTLY WHAT FPTP ACHIEVES!!! People are forced to vote tactically to overthrown the incumbent.

NO! Tactical voting...so absurd and a very modern phenomenon.

No! It's called the spoiler effect. You have 2 candidates with quite similar positions and it divides the vote. It is perfectly feasible for the one with the largest single bloc vote to be the least popular.

look at the example gave, you think the the "2nd least popular" with 5% should get preference over the 2nd least popular with 49%? FFS!



Word verification mingsace: Ming's ace!

4 May 2011 at 22:03  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Span Ows

"look at the example gave, you think the the "2nd least popular" with 5% should get preference over the 2nd least popular with 49%? FFS!"

Your ludicrous example doesn't work. Who did candidates C, D, E,F, G, H, I, J, K & L give their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th & 10th preference votes to?!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whilst you persist in trying to squeeze every last bit of mileage out of this rather lame example, I'll stick to real life data which shows that AV produces common sense results, removes the need for tactical voting, and only changes outcomes FPTP outcomes in about 5% of constituencies.

I'm already bored of your silly example now.

4 May 2011 at 22:14  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

FPTP - Most popular candidate wins. MPs can be conviction or career as long as they are the most preferred candidate

AV - Least unpopular candidate wins. MPs cannot be conviction politicians, because they will always hold views that hamper their overall popularity.

Overall AV weeds out those that don't have 'broad appeal'. MPs are forced to be all things to all people and will promise things that they do not believe in. Essentially, all parties will have to be like the Lib Dems; promising everything, only to produce very little. The result is that, rather than giving us better MPs, it will produce more dishonest ones. A good politician under AV will compromise as many of his values as possible, but no man can compromise them all.

My other argument against AV is as follows.

Let's presume I am in a constituency where the Conservatives and Liberals fight for 1st place. After listening to what he has to say in a local debate and reading his voting record in Parliament, I decide that the fellow in the blue rosette is the best chap for the job. My vote is equal to that of the cannabis smoking hippy who votes green because he likes the idea of helping the environment (which is obviously a good thing). Now, this I can accept as all men were made equal in the eyes of the Lord and in the eyes of the law.

Now let's assume that we have AV. I still put my 1 against the top hat donning Tory and the other chap puts his against the sandal wearing Green. In reality, we know that the Greens are never going to get in (except in Brighton somehow). We also know he prefers the Libs to the Cons but his Lib vote might be 3 or 4. By some quirk of chance it might be that his least two favourite candidates are the Lib Dem and Conservative. Now is it fair that his penultimate choice is equal to my 1st?

I think that the charge that AV lets people vote more than once is a fair one, which has no reasonable answer. It says that if you vote for a losing candidate you may vote again until you vote on who comes first or second.

4 May 2011 at 22:18  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

English Viking said...
"Democracy is a thoroughly un-christian idea ..."

I agree English Viking.

Bring back the Holy Roman Empire and end all this silliness!

4 May 2011 at 22:25  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Your ludicrous example doesn't work. Who did candidates C, D, E,F, G, H, I, J, K & L give their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th & 10th preference votes to?!!!!!!!!!!!!

Work it out, it's only mathematics.
1st 49%
2nd 5%

I'm already bored of your silly example now.

Yes, people often say they are bored when they can't answer.

Word verification: distu (dissed you!)

4 May 2011 at 22:25  
Anonymous Jonas Quinn said...

I have to admit that Rebel Saint is giving better arguments than the no lot. Most impressive.

4 May 2011 at 22:39  
Blogger Phil Taylor said...

It is very rare for me to disagree with Your Grace, even rarer for me to disagree completely over an issue, but I'm afraid that I must do so here.
My views are very simply that AV is equally as simple as FPTP (although you do have to give a little bit more effort if you want your vote to be fully taken into account through the process), AV is a far more representative way of electing MPs and AV does NOT (in spite of what that No campaign continue to say) mean coalitions are more likely.

It is simple in that you only have to decide which party/candidate you prefer, then the next best, then the 3rd best and so on. It is not hard, just asking people to express views that they almost certainly have already. We have seen the method work in various arenas already, like the London mayor elections, and I don't remember anyone saying that people's brains would explode from using it! And it' not like some people's votes are being counted only once and then others are being counted more than once. All votes are being counted every time there's a count! Do people really think that if their first choice gets through to the second round of voting then they'd want to change to vote for someone else?

It is more representative because the electorate have the most preferred candidate, rather than one that has 70% of the voters against them but wins because all the other candidates have less than 30% of the vote individually. As far as I can see, it's better to have someone that you prefer rather than voting for your first choice and getting your least preferred option, which a majority may end up with under FPTP.
This does, however, point out the flaw in the Yes campaign claiming that it ends "safe seats". My previous constituency was Sevenoaks, where our Conservative MP had well over 50% of the vote. That's a safe seat and AV would definitely not stop this result from happening.

And the final issue over coalitions is just laughable, as was pointed out on Radio 5 earlier today. Australia has had AV as it's voting system and in the same time that it has used AV we have had more coalition governments than they have! AV simply means the lines of right and left wing politics will become more distinct as UKIP votes go to Tories, Green votes go to Labour and LibDem votes go anywhere (not a snide remark, simply an observation that their votes are not from 1 particular side of the divide). The argument is that smaller parties will gain, and in certain cases that might be true. Brighton, for example, might have had a Green MP an election or 2 sooner under AV. But generally it will be the larger parties that gain because they will tend to have the larger number of votes. And for those that don't wish to see BNP MPs this is surely the best way to vote as AV does the BNP no favours at all!

The only "downside" is that election night would no longer be the same, as the counting process would take longer. How much longer is open to debate, but just as people get annoyed at football bending over backwards for TV scheduling, I'm sure I would not be the only one to be annoyed if our voting system were to be decided by what made for the best programming!

So I say vote for AV, as it makes for a much fairer system, more representative of the will of the voters and means that politics is also less likely to be affected by extreme elements, which is surely a good thing for all!

4 May 2011 at 22:50  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Lakester

"My vote is equal to that of the cannabis smoking hippy who votes green"

Here we go again!

Your scenario already exists in FPTP. People often vote for their 3rd or 4th pref under FPTP in order to effect change (or fail to bother voting at all).

And whilst you complain that his 4th preference is explicitly taken into consideration, what FPTP does is make his 1st, 2nd & 3rd preferences worthless. That's far more lamentable.

"the charge that AV lets people vote more than once is a fair one, which has no reasonable answer"

No No NO NO it doesn't.

Each round is equivalent to a run-off system (like the conservative party use, or the way the hereditary peers were chosen). Every vote cast in each round is counted.

Your 1st preference vote is counted in every round. Do you therefore think you are getting more than 1 vote?

When the Conservative party have a 2nd round of voting in the run-offs, do you believe the people who voted for the eliminated candidate in the 1st round are getting an extra vote?!

4 May 2011 at 22:54  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

100 comments ... seems like a good place to sign off for the night.

Got to be up early to open the polliing station.

Thank you for allowing me to use/abuse your blog comments for a soap-box Cranmer. Though you brought it on yourself with such an imbalanced article!

4 May 2011 at 23:17  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

The biggest lie told by pro-AV is that there is such a thing as a wasted vote. One votes for a candidate; he either wins or he doesn't. If he does not win then your vote is not wasted; to think it is, is to misunderstand the very nature of democracy.

Your scenario already exists in FPTP. People often vote for their 3rd or 4th pref under FPTP in order to effect change

More fool them. If they put their 3rd or 4th preference as their first that is their own fault. I put my first preference as my first, whether I think he'll win or not. You've cleverly avoided the point though haven't you? In FPTP all votes are equal, you can't have your cake and eat it. In AV my vote can be equal to someone's 3rd or 4th or 7th.

You believe that AV will rid us of tactical voting. What is tactical voting other than to vote against a candidate by voting for his main opponent. AV is just institutionalised tactical voting. You vote for who you dislike least, rather than prefer most.

When the Conservative party have a 2nd round of voting in the run-offs, do you believe the people who voted for the eliminated candidate in the 1st round are getting an extra vote?!

No I didn't say that, you are twisting the meaning of my words. I said they get to vote again if their candidate loses. Tell me that's not true. How do you vote, Respect? No try again, Green? No have another go, Lib Dem? Ah there we go.

You have concentrated so eagerly on the minor footnote of my post whilst completely ignoring the main argument. I wonder why that is?

4 May 2011 at 23:24  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2011 at 00:32  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'How can you be so ruthlessly logical when it comes to AV but utterly irrational when it comes to faith?'

It pretty much avoided my points. His argument revolves around you thinking that individuals have an abstract right to a vote and indeed the most 'democratic' vote possible and that inded the end of politics is to be as democratic as possible. How has he logically dealt with any arguments that do not accept these premises?

5 May 2011 at 00:36  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Last Dodo, my boy.

"The Bible does not advocate any system of voting, principally because it does not talk about democracy. But it does talk about principles."

Hmm. I was thinking about one man, one vote and..

Acts 1;23-26

23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

One to be in, one not to be in..not discipleship sharing between the two!
It appears that they decided to choose one as a winner, to represent The Lord and His faithful..was this being unfair to other candidates who may have thought they could do a better job than just the two presented, Barsabas or Matthias.
Did they choose the two by AV from the disciples outside the 11

(15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

a) they chose by voting per disciple, one lot.
b) Peter's vote did not count as 5 or have a deciding vote.
c) AV was not used at offering multiple disciple/candidates, it was either one or t'other.

"Theology and voting systems? I'm sure the Lord has no preference for AV or for FPTP! "

24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,

Old Ernsty, my boy.

5 May 2011 at 01:08  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Thankyou Ernst ,what a wonderful find ,lots .

given Mr rebel saint has perhaps shot himself in his complex foot , and span owls was on target with post election quarrling that would occur,I think we can conclude that anything other than FPTP ,is boorish ,complex and not easy to explain , let alone any grumbling aftermath .

Mr Rebel Saint seemed very keen to steer clear of manefesto accountability or is that somthing that this debate has been doing in general.

5 May 2011 at 02:24  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Not a Machine 5 May 2011 02:24

Let's hope sanity reigns tomorrow and FPTP stays as our choice of electing and more importantly, removing those numpties once they start to mess things up.lol.

What is it with this word 'fairness'.
..State Comprehensive schools were a way of being fair, yet have let down generations of children with a poor education and fiddled exam gradings.

AV is a sop for libdems but can be used to push for full PR, once AV crashes and burns, as they would not revert back to FPTP..We would be completely stuffed!

It is the political parties that are the problem, NOT the voting system.

Such a corrupt political class now, I wouldn't trust them to run a bath.(Sorry Cranny, that's why Ernst is apolitical)

"Mr Rebel Saint seemed very keen to steer clear of manefesto accountability" THIS is the crux of the argument for keeping FPTP but AV's know this but keep blurting on about 'fairness' (Equality..look where that has put us, as some are MORE equal than others?).

Ernst, my lass.

5 May 2011 at 02:51  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I have been wondering too Ernst where this blind acceptence of fairness in voting has come from, and also its timing , as it does seem a little rash if not pre emptive ,possibly almost EU in desire.

I have found my foray into politcs quite a rollercoaster ride, but strangely satisfying, but I am still left puzzled at how parliament had become as it had. It wasnt so much the disconnection that had occured or indeed the Labour terror ,it was just this endemic corruption of both it and its surrounding and vital institutions. I first noticed it some years ago when enquiring on a green project , and queried the spin on its ecnomics, I politely got told I couldnt contribute ,despite one of its key arguments being so utterly wrong.
However in party politics similar gags often occure , which I have come to view as professionalism rather than service ,which as you say ersnt is a bit of let down , when you assume you are entering a house of good and reputation.
The hints of cronism and back door EU are of course matters of trust ,and being brutalised by undiluted cronism is more of a beating than ones argument being lite and inexperienced.
It is brutal profession or at least since the 70s.
Do I trust them ? them perhaps doesnt help those who still respect the institution in office. There is still a great deal of work to be done and a rather worrying lack of which ecnomic ideas should win through , for the country to stand on its own two feet ,once the debt starts to have less gravity. There are some good and worthy principals in the conservatives polices.The coalition agreement nulled the EU vote so many of us wanted , and with another £4bn of UK money required by Portugal,you wonder why we have put our hope in what was left of parliament and not just had a sort debt based nuremburg trail repleat with hangings ,for the farce that was Labour in power.

There is also Labours cultural legacy ,after giving the nation a whole load of uppers,downers,viagras and designer drugs ,that there is tired and perhaps derranged fabric left , so many moral things have become liberal amoral ,in truth the cultural changes have been so repressed, I get tired of being shocked when a 14yr old guns down another teenager with a machine gun (that youth was created under labour education)

I dont know if too much damage has been done ,but that is no reason not to try even if we are a little unsure about both the cause and effect on what has occured over the last 15yrs to make a nation in which we are no longer sure of the value of christ or even living with some moral fibre and respect ,with minimal goverment interfearence.

To put it mildly if this lot are another round of ,or even evolution of what we have just had , we will become servants to bondange and corruption.

5 May 2011 at 05:02  
Anonymous non mouse said...

ac se æglæca ehtende wæs,
deorc deaþscua, duguþe ond geogoþe,
seomade ond syrede; sinnihte heold
mistige moras; men ne cunnon,
hwyder helrunan hwyrftum scriþað.

Swa fela fyrena feond mancynnes,
atol angengea, oft gefremede,
herdra hynða; Heorot eardode,
sincfage sel sweartum nihtum;---
no he þone gifstol gretan moste,
maþðum for Metode, ne his myne wisse.---
("Beowulf" 159-169)

[[But that fierce, dark, death-shadow was continually persecuting the warriors, old and young. He lay in wait and ambushed them, he ruled the misty moors in endless night: Men know not whither those skilled in the mysteries of hell wander in their convolutions.

The enemy of mankind, the terrible lone-walker, repeatedly framed so many wicked deeds, severe injuries. He occupied Heorot, the richly decorated hall, during black nights. Nor was he at all compelled by God to respect (salute) the gift-stool; nor did he feel love of it.]]

***********************************
**More traditional: 'not at all was he permitted to approach the throne for treasure, on account of God; nor did he know His Love.'**

5 May 2011 at 06:28  
Anonymous greg tingey said...

I hvve just voted FOR AV
Mainly because of the torrent of deliberate lies put about ny the "NO" campaign.....

5 May 2011 at 08:31  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Before going along to put X for NO to AV Etc it has been a pleasure to find that in the earlier hours of this morning the best part of the discussion has emerged thanks to Blofeld aka Ernst 1:08 et seq.

5 May 2011 at 08:36  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Why Rebel Saint tempts Christians to immorality!

Many who post here are loyal to their parties.

We will be tempted to use our votes to help another party win under AV.

Rebel Saint wants to shove down our throats, whether we like it or not, second, third and fourth choices even if the other parties don’t represent our individual views.

That makes AV the wet dream of the Eurocrats of the EUSSR.

If we don’t exercise those choices out of party loyalty and moral conviction – others less morally scrupulous will.

Do your duty today in honour of your country: Vote NO.

5 May 2011 at 08:48  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Blofeld has done it! Thank you Mr J for pointing it out. He did it at 1.08.

Now with God’s good providence, assurance and blessing let us go out and defeat the evil of AV!

5 May 2011 at 08:54  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Perhaps we should give Ernest Hemingway the last word on this....

To av or av not

5 May 2011 at 08:57  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

The best recomendation for fptp is that it is entirely natural.

5 May 2011 at 09:00  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

ENGLISHMAN said...

The best recommendation for fptp is that it is entirely natural.

So are farts

5 May 2011 at 09:09  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Surely you are not all THAT dim

@Blofeld's... your scriptural example highlights the advantages of AV not FPTP.

The scriptural e.g.s both have 2 candidates only!!!

AV reduces multi-choice elections down to 2 candidates.

FPTP is the best system for duals.

AV takes a multiple choice questionnaires and - by a series of elimination - reduces them to a dual. That is when FPTP rightly kicks in.

That so many of you think this is "complex" is extremely worrying. AV is so simple that even an Australian can understand it!

@D.Singh ... AV doesn't shove anything down your throat. You are more than welcome to simply express a single opinion as you do under FPTP. What FPTP does is gag people who want to have a little bit more choice & nuance to their decision making.

As I have consistently requested someone - anyone - to point out the democratic merits of FPTP and no-one has, I assume that there aren't any. [It gives me a result I don't like isn't a democratic merit btw]

5 May 2011 at 09:18  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

Bottom line, AV will help the Lib dems most and then probably Labour. I cannot understand why one of the conservative side of British politics would therefore vote for it, unless they have a fetish for as pure a democracy(which is not a traditional conservative position.) as possible.

More left-leaning MPs at this critical juncture in our nation's history would be terrible.

5 May 2011 at 09:37  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Let's just remind ourselves of a few FACTS (i.e. not conjecture about likely outcomes, not fear-mongering, not prejudices)

>None of the political parties use FPTP for their elections. Labour & the Conservatives use systems almost identical to AV

>The CofE uses AV

>The selection to the House of Lords hereditary peers was conducted using a system almost identical to AV

>Australia (AV) has had less hung parliaments than the UK. And Canada (FPTP) has consistently had hung parliaments.

>Scripture does not endorse any particular voting system. However there helpful examples which show selections being reduced to 2 candidates - something that AV does but FPTP doesn't.

>No new democracy chooses FPTP (including those within our own national dominion - Wales, Scotland, London Mayor) but rather preferential voting systems

>The majority of our MP's now have less than 1/3rd of their constituents vote for them.

>There are plenty of examples of countries changing from FPTP to preferential voting systems. NO country ever chooses to abandon preferential voting for FPTP (one country did, but quickly swapped back again).

>In AV, everyone's can have their votes counted in every round, meaning everyone can have a say in the outcome. Under FPTP, 70% of the votes were futile and did affect the outcome of the election.

The no to AV campaign says that AV is as complicated as a rubics cube. I don't think it is. They say Britain can't afford this level of democracy, I think it can.

5 May 2011 at 09:41  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Westcountryman

There you go again ... working backwards! "I want this outcome, therefore I'll choose a system that gives me it".

Presumably you are against the House of COMMONS ... preferring that we'd simply kept voting to the gentry & aristocracy? After all, common people might not give the outcome you desire.

5 May 2011 at 09:45  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2011 at 10:11  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

It is only working backwards if one accepts your priorities, which in a sense proves my point; your argument is based the assumption that there is an abstract right to as 'democratic' or 'fair' a vote as possible and that democracy is a major end of government.

If one rejects these priorities. If one thinks the major ends of government are a good, free and moral society and that democracy and 'rights' to vote are means to achieve this and not an end or an absolute right in themselves, then your argument means little and my argument is the correct way of working.

Your second sentence is not well reasoned, despite Graham's praise of your arguments in this thread. I have not said I reject the need for democratic elements in government, simply that I only support them to the extent that create a good, moral and free society. If you look at my above comments there is then no reason to think I reject democracy or the house of commons, quite the contrary.

5 May 2011 at 10:16  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Westcountryman

You think we should be governed by those on the conservative side of British politics.

I think we should be governed by whoever the people choose.

I start from 1st principles, you work backwards from desired outcomes.

You are not answering the question that is being asked. You are answering the question, "Which of these voting systems do you think will give us a government on the conservative side of British politics" [even though it has just give us 13 years of socialism and has this time given us a coalition!!!]

5 May 2011 at 10:20  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2011 at 10:33  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Rebel Saint repeatedly tells us that he works from first principles.

Then let me indulge him. Here are two first and fundamental principles of AV:

1. If the people reject AV that means they want to be represented by parliamentary candidates that get the most votes.

2. If the people vote yes to AV it means that they want parliamentary candidates that are least DISLIKED by voters to get elected.

Let us see if the British people are wise or stupid.

5 May 2011 at 10:39  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

I think we should be governed by those who give us a government which will create and maintain a moral, good and free society. I'm not talking about anything so crude as simply mandating government by the Tories alone. Politics and government is very complex, they have many facets with many wills and views being expressed in many ways. One may arrange things so as best to create a more traditional conservative polity without anything so crude as mandating Tory government. Vote No on this ballot is an excellent example.

What is so special about the people's power? Why should we cherish it over morality, goodness and freedom?

I'm answering the question of whether one should vote for AV or not. It is you who is trying to conflate that question to a narrower question about whether it is a more 'democratic' and 'fairer' voting system than FPTP. You don't seem to want to grasp that this is only one part to the question of whether it is a better system.

Is not a free, moral and good society a first principle of politics? We have different first principles, that is the problem. You cherish democracy as a first principle of politics and I cherish free, good and moral gov't as one. I would say that for a Christian you are mistaken, a Christian should care more for morality and goodness than for democracy.

Your talk of outcomes is not good, reason argument. The abstract electoral outcomes, which you endow with a sense of lesser importance, are only secondary to the electoral system if one assumes the premises I have noted you are assuming; ie that democracy is a major end and not means of politics and that individuals have an abstract right to as 'fair' and 'democratic' vote as possible. From the perspective of my first principles of politics then the electoral system is more an 'outcome', in the sense you seem to be using of being less important or provisional, than the abstract and long-term governance of a system.

5 May 2011 at 10:42  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2011 at 11:13  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Westcountryman said

a Christian should care more for morality and goodness than for democracy.

The mullahs would agree with you, just substitute Christian with Muslim.

Democracy with its attendant checks and balances, equality before the law and freedom of speech may be flawed but it is the only system yet devised that allows us to be governed with majority consent.

I do not agree with your concepts of morality and goodness. Democracy whilst supporting the majority opinion by elections allows those with minority opinions to express them. It is therefore the only system in which your views and mine can coexist.

Universal goodness and shared moral values can only occur within a democratic framework, the alternative is Talibanisation.

5 May 2011 at 11:14  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2011 at 11:30  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'The mullahs would agree with you, just substitute Christian with Muslim.'

This is a crude and silly argument. It really renders your praises of the Saint's argument as an embarrassment to him.

'Democracy with its attendant checks and balances, equality before the law and freedom of speech may be flawed but it is the only system yet devised that allows us to be governed with majority consent.'

'Democracy' is not the same and need not carry with it the rest of those liberties you mention. Secondly you're talking about 'democracy' now in absolute terms. If you read my comments in this thread you will see I did not argue against 'democracy' as such or rather significant 'democratic' elements in a government. I argued against 'democracy' as being an end, to be pursued for its own sake and therefore always to be increased. A system likes our may deliver what you say but that does not mean more and more 'democracy' beyond this measure is what is needed, it doesn't even mean a little less 'democracy' might not be an improvement. 'Democracy' is an important part of government but as a means expressible in many ways and degrees.

To take your argument to the logical conclusion then we should be pursuing as much 'democracy' as possible and should want widespread referendum, direct democracy and probably even 'economic democracy' as similar such things.

'I do not agree with your concepts of morality and goodness. Democracy whilst supporting the majority opinion by elections allows those with minority opinions to express them. It is therefore the only system in which your views and mine can coexist.'

See above.

5 May 2011 at 11:32  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'Universal goodness and shared moral values can only occur within a democratic framework, the alternative is Talibanisation.'

Nonsense, you're implying there is but two, rigid forms of government possible.

5 May 2011 at 11:32  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@westcountryman ... "To take your argument to the logical conclusion then we should be pursuing as much 'democracy' as possible and should want widespread referendum, direct democracy and probably even 'economic democracy' as similar such things."

Bingo! You got it. That's what I want - Direct democracy. No "High Priest" intermediaries, just like the New Testament relationship between us & God.

And guess what - it works. Switzerland seems to have done ok (the best approximation we have to a national eg of Direct Democracy). And economic democracy has been a resounding success wherever it is introduced..

5 May 2011 at 11:37  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2011 at 11:48  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Westcountryman said

'The mullahs would agree with you, just substitute Christian with Muslim.'

This is a crude and silly argument.

Why silly; because you think that their religious belief is wrong and yours right?

Democracy is not a fundamentalist belief system where the more pure it is the better it is. Taken to that logical conclusion we could do away with representatives’ altogether and have direct democracy where we all vote on every issue. I did say although flawed it’s the best we have. This thread is about voting in governments so we are talking about parliamentary democracy and it is within that form that the checks and balances exist.

5 May 2011 at 11:49  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

The New Testament relationship between God and man is direct and yet mediated. We have a direct relationship to Christ and the Holy Spirit and through them to the Father. I don't think it is so simple as to conclude from this we should have only the direct political relationships of modern ideology. Traditional Christianity has tended to lean away from democracy in the pure sense, for good reason. Eastern, Roman Catholic and magisterial Protestantism have all tended towards forms of monarchism. One could alternatively take the Augustinian, and indeed general medieval, position that those who are good and godly have a right to rule those who are not, for the good of all.

My experience and knowledge of politics has tended to lead me away from worship of democracy for its own sake but towards reaffirmed my view that popular accountability, to some degree, is necessary and all good government works for the people as a whole(not just fleeting majorities though.). But such discussions cannot be had here, suffice to say we are dealing with differing first political principles.

When it comes to economics I actually do favour something not a million miles away from some of the more conservative ideas of economic democracy, in the sense I support the economic ideas o G.K Chesterton, Ruskin and the great British radical tradition stretching from Langland through Cobbett to Chesterton and Belloc. But crude, socialist style attempts at economic democracy I have no time for.

5 May 2011 at 11:52  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Dear Rebel Saint,

Having considered all the points you have been expressing, agreeing with much of them and admiring your principled conviction and unflagging stamina, the only reason for abandoning my decision to use the opportunity of today's referendum to place X in the NO to AV box would be sympathy for your exasperation. To my mind, the troubles lying ahead which are of concern to all of goodwill are liable to be aggravated if the referendum resulted in a majority of votes cast agreeing to the question as put in the manner in which it has come about.

5 May 2011 at 11:54  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'Why silly; because you think that their religious belief is wrong and yours right?'

No, it is silly for basically the same reason I described one of your other points in similar terms;

'Nonsense, you're implying there is but two, rigid forms of government possible.'

'Democracy is not a fundamentalist belief system where the more pure it is the better it is.'

Then why do you keep talking of democracy in absolute terms?

'This thread is about voting in governments so we are talking about parliamentary democracy and it is within that form that the checks and balances exist.'

As far as I'm concerned both forms of voting are broadly democratic. One may be slightly more democratic, but I do not take that alone as a reason to favour it.

5 May 2011 at 11:56  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Mr J ...

Thank you for your kind words.

You may be surprised to learn that (a) I expect the "Yes" campaign to lose (b) I don't really care that much ... it's not going to make a great deal of difference (I really support direct democracy).

However I am extremely exasperated and disappointed by people like Cranmer and D Singh who I thought were people of principle, actually abandoning all their principles for their own political expedience. Not once has anyone argued on PRINCIPLE for FPTP, only "I think it will produce this undesirable result" (even when all the actual evidence suggest it won't).

God help us if we ever get the chance for real reform if such a minor tweak meets such resistance.

5 May 2011 at 12:02  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2011 at 12:13  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

In fact surely government should be democratic, monarchical and aristocratic. Democratic to the extent it works for the people as a whole and not for any private interest, and is accountable to the people. Aristocratic to the extent the best people are occupying the right positions for them. Monarchical to the extent it possess moral, cultural and executive unity and strength.

5 May 2011 at 12:14  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Westcountryman said...

In fact surely government should be democratic, monarchical and aristocratic.

Sir you have been unmasked, you’re no ordinary westcountryman but the Duke of Cornwall aka Prince Charlie masquerading as a common blogger. Time for a Duchy original I think!

5 May 2011 at 12:52  

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