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Is AV fair enough?

Larry Neild isn't won over by Nick Clegg's winning formula

Published on May 3rd 2011.

Is AV fair enough?

 THIS Thursday, we, the Great British Unwashed, will have our first ever say in the way we vote for our politicians.

Since Adam voted for Eve, we’ve plodded on with a first-past-the-post system. The man, and much later on in the electoral process, the woman, polling the most votes was declared winner. All that was needed was a majority of just one to win that prized seat in the Mother of Parliaments.

If the turn-out in the referendum is
less than 50 per cent, shouldn't
do the decent thing and scrap it?

This week’s National Referendum will determine whether we should abandon first past the post for a system known as AV or Alternative Vote.

This would mean instead of placing a cross against the name or our chosen political servant, we’d place the candidates in order of preference. Just to complicate things we can just put a numero uno against the one we want to win and ignore the rest.

The idea is if nobody gets at least 50 per cent of the vote on the first count, the person who came last is eliminated and his or her  second choices are distributed amongst those left in the count. If the addition of those votes takes somebody over the 50 per cent line we have a winner. If not the bottom name in the second count is eliminated and their second choice votes distributed.

Nobody seems to have raised this point, but if the turn-out in the referendum is less than 50 per cent shouldn’t they do the decent thing and scrap it?

We’re only having the referendum as a price for Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems joining the Coalition.

I can’t imagine a life-long Tory placing a number  1  against his or her choice and giving second choice to, say the Labour candidate.

Instead we’ll see the emergence of the anti-vote, giving your 2nd, 3rd, 4th choices to the person who will stop the main challenger from overtaking your number one choice.  I would even expect election managers in their leaflets to tell you exactly how to vote to maximise their own chances of winning.

If we look at last year’s General Election, virtually every MP in our neck of the woods would have waltzed home on the first round. Indeed Rookie MP Steve Rotheram scored the biggest percentage vote in the UK , a staggering  71.96 per cent.  Knowsley’s George Howarth was close behind with just under  71 per cent.

If  50 per cent is seen as the watermark, hundreds of MPs would have won first time around. If we add those scoring  40 per cent plus and were within shouting distance of winning,  getting on for 500 of the 650 MPs would have won. Even those in the thirtysomething bracket would, in the main have still won as their nearest rival had a lot of catching up to do.

20110305alisonmcgovern.jpgThe most intriguing battle in Merseyside would have been in Wirral South where Alison McGovern, against all odds, held on to the Labour seat previously held by retiring Ben Chapman. Alison, granddaughter of the man who wrote In My Liverpool Home, folk  singer Peter McGovern,  had 40.7 per cent of the vote and a majority of 531. Hot on her heels was the Conservative with 39.46 per cent of the vote.

Under AV the UKIP candidate would have been eliminated and those 1,274 second choice votes would have been distributed among Lab, Con and Lib Dem. If you consider UKIP to be the hiding place of disaffected Tories or Lib Dems, Alison could have been overtaken and lost the seat. The people of the UK will decide on Thursday whether such a thing is fair or unfair.

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getting a lifeMay 4th 2011.

Can't get excited about AV. I never bother voting in council elections and I am not going to turn up just to vote on this bollocks. Politicians are not worthy of my precious time.

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