I have taken more of an interest in politics over the past few years; I read manifestos, I pay attention to decisions and I have formed opinions, which I can back up with fairly comprehensive arguments based on facts and figures. Occasionally, mostly in the lead up to an election, I campaign my beliefs to my limited audience, i.e. people I see regularly every day, i.e. David. For the most recent election and the pending referendum I’ve got slightly more active – albeit through Twitter, Facebook and the occasional spouting of pro-AV arguments to my brother, his fiancee, my parents, boss, and David’s parents. That’s pretty much the extent of my political activity.
Where is this going? Well, it’s two-fold, it’s why I’m not overly political and, confusingly, why I’m thoroughly behind the YEStoAV compaign.
The other day a leaflet for the NO campaign came through the door, this wasn’t a surprise seeing as we’ve already had FOUR. I can’t remember the specifics of the leaflet, but it was basically just an A5 sheet with four or five statements on.
“AV will result in more hung parliaments”.
Erm, not necessarily. In fact, when Robert Winston made this point on a debate on BBC news one morning this week, the presenters swiftly pointed out that a recently published paper indicates that the likelihood of hung parliaments will increase whether we get AV or stick to FPTP.
This time, aside from irritating me immensly with the false information because, apparently, winning is more important than a) telling the truth and b) not scaring the beejus out of people by making them think that they won’t be able to understand the new voting system and the money being spent on it will result in babies dying in underfunded hospitals and troops being blown up because we haven’t bought them any more armour (what word am I looking for here?! Armour makes me think of knights!), this time it made me realise how thoroughly unsuited I am for politics. I like arguing carefully thought out points, I’ve always enjoyed a good debate, but I struggle with with the negativity, the lies and the ignorance of people. This referendum seems to have been marred by the negative campaigning demonstrated by the NO campaign, chucking around figures like £250 million which they’ve plucked out of thin air (here I can’t not mention the fact that £91 million of that HAS ALREADY BEEN SPENT ON THE REFERENDUM. Voting NO won’t get it spent on hospitals/armed forces you MUPPETS), using harrowing images, describing AV in THE MOST CONVOLUTED, COMPLICATED WAY POSSIBLE in order to purposely CONFUSE and MISLEAD voters and other such tactics. And frankly, I can’t cope, it just upsets me. Why are they playing on the likelihood that people who get these leaflets through the door won’t question the numbers, won’t try to find a simpler explanation of AV, will just believe that they are right? Because they are campaigning politicians, and that’s what they do. Politicians get on with it, they listen/interrupt, make their points with force and conviction and just CARRY ON. I get frustrated, subdued, discouraged, irritated, annoying and downright cross with the whole debacle.
Whatever you believe though, PLEASE VOTE TODAY. It IS important. And if you aren’t sure, or your mind isn’t made up, or you are sure but you’re interested anyway, please read why I believe that voting YES to AV is a really good thing.
- I believe that a system which ensures that the winner is the one who has recieved support from the majority, is the right and fair way to go. The current system which allows someone to win with just 34% of the vote, is not representative of the constituents and can result in someone being in power who MOST people did not choose and do not want.
- Ranking candidates gives you more choice, it allows you to vote for who you want as opposed to voting tactically to avoid “wasting” your vote, and to choose your second, third etc. choices. For me, this gives the chance to express my preference for ANYONE over the BNP, but if you just think one candidate can do the job, you only need to write a “1” = choice. The argument that it is confusing and that people don’t understand is patronising and unfounded. We are not stupid.
- I believe that candidates will have to work harder to win “second” votes, as opposed to relying on their core group of supporters.
- I also think that this gives us a better chance of shutting out extremist parties, who can currently win seats if just a third of people who turn out to vote choose them. If everyone who voted would rather see anyone in power than extremist parties, this would be much less likely.
- I am enthusiastic about the possibility of change. I think a lot of people are disheartened with politics, they are disappointed in the decisions that are being made and feel let down by the people chosen (by the minority) to represent them. I don’t think this can change easily, because I think that difficult decisions NEED to be made, and we aren’t going to like them, but I do think that the chance to change and progress our voting system could be the first step to reforming politics as it is and reducing the “what’s the point?” outlook which has engulfed our country.
If you want to read anything else, here is a really helpful guide to breaking down the myths surrounding AV/the NO campaigns arguments
Here is a look at the NO campaign leaflet from the YES perspective (if you’re voting YES, it will make you angry!)
And here is an entertaining video about AV for cats