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Probably my last ever AV post - The Ex-Communicator

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April 26th, 2011


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07:06 am - Probably my last ever AV post
I was going to post on AV again, but Charlie Brooker has said what I wanted to say in a more elegant way ('The stupidity whirlpool').
Political ads have rarely been subtle in the past, but this current slew could insult the intelligence of a silverfish. It's not so much that they think we're stupid, but that their attempts to appeal to that perceived stupidity are so stupid in themselves; they've created a sort of self-perpetuating stupidity whirlpool.
One influence on my opinion to date has been the insulting behaviour of the 'Yes' campaigners - both personally insulting and insulting my intelligence with strawman arguments. But now the 'No' campaign have started insulting my intelligence as well. I am being insulted by the people I was inclined to vote for!

At the weekend we had a large family get-together. There is disagreement amongst us on the AV issue, and it was good to hear respectful and measured discussion. Furthermore, after a lot of essays which in my opinion were biased and dishonest, nwhyte has linked to this article on the pros and cons of AV from the Political Studies Association, which is also respectful and measured. There's no swearing at anyone, no 'it's simple', no 'only an ignorant bitch could fail to agree with me' or anything like that.

Anyway, despite having found some intellectual high ground I am coming round to the idea of abstaining, because either result will be presented as some kind of gutter endorsement by horrible people who I do not want to be associated with.

(23 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:huskyscotsman
Date:April 26th, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the link! That's a terrific paper.

I'm strongly in favour of a change, but I have been a little worried that the change we're allowed to vote on might actually be counter-productive. It doesn't seem like it will cause any big problems, though.
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From:communicator
Date:April 26th, 2011 01:07 pm (UTC)
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I think there is a basic issue of disagreement, which is the scope in the reformed system for conflation of slight preference with full on endorsement. Some people - like me - will consider that a significant problem. I don't think that is a topic that has an objective answer because is is a reflection of personal values. The reformed system relies on a different kind of consent to government, in my mind a weaker one. For other people it is sufficient, or better than lack of endorsement. In any case I think it quite wrong for people (not you, I hasten to add) to talk as if it were a matter of stupidity or malice to disagree.
From:huskyscotsman
Date:April 26th, 2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
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Oh, absolutely. I do think the "no" side have been much worse, but the "yes" campaign isn't great either.
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From:altariel
Date:April 26th, 2011 11:54 am (UTC)
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Thanks for linking to this, confirmed much of what I already thought, and clarified some further issues. I'd still like to read some thoughtful non-partisan research about voter experiences of AV ballots in Scotland.

I'm tempted to toss a coin: I'll probably work out as the coin is coming down which side to vote for. Both campaigns have been awful. Narcissism of small differences. Either we take the plunge to proportionality and accept that one consequence is that people we don't like will get parliamentary seats, or else we stay pretty much where we are.
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From:communicator
Date:April 26th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
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I think it is often on issues where personal certainty is wobbly that people become most vicious and intolerant of dissent.
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From:mraltariel
Date:April 26th, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)
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As I said before, I started out inclined to abstain, because I don't think either side make a decent case. You made a good case for No, and I wandered gently towards No.

The No campaign is feeble, but doesn't seem nearly as bad as the Yes campaign make out with their frothing hyperbole, poorly evidenced counter-claims (too many rebuttals take the form of an assertion of general untruthfulness, when there are real concerns behind many of the obviously-overcooked headlines) and threats of legal action.

The Yes campaign seems utterly incapable of making an argument for change, largely, I suspect, because they don't really want AV.

Mandelson's intervention today doesn't endear me to Yes, in the same way that stupid right-wingers around the No campaign trying to make it about Nick Clegg didn't endear me to No.

So I've made it all the way back to my original position.
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From:happytune
Date:April 26th, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
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I had the same journey, and then read Tim Gowers' /very/ long post on the matter on his blog, and then returned to Yes. It isn't unbiased. But it is mathematical, and doesn't trivialise the issues.
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From:atreic
Date:April 26th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
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Yes, Gowers' post is awesome. If only they'd put him in charge of the Yes to AV campaign. Only mathematicians would have understood it, but at least there wouldn't have been these silly lies.

Edited at 2011-04-26 03:46 pm (UTC)
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From:espresso_addict
Date:April 26th, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
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I wish he could have been a little less biased.
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From:mraltariel
Date:April 26th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
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Ditto. In fact, I think it is a pretty terrible case he's making. Some spurious historical hand-waving, a ghastly bit in the middle about self-interest, and then a long rambling discursion on the demerits of the No case. I'm still abstaining :-)
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From:espresso_addict
Date:April 26th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
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I get the impression that some of the first past the post supporters feel that it's a very intuitive system that's been used since the dawn of English elections. To me, as a PR supporter (tho' not particularly the AV system), FPTP seems highly sensitive to where the constituency boundaries have historically been drawn. I realised the other day that as, historically, most constituencies elected two MPs, each voter had two votes and could choose to split them.
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From:mraltariel
Date:April 26th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
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I can see the case for various forms of PR (AV not being a PR system) - they fix the "fairness" problem, and they are mostly pretty good fixes. You only have to sell me on the need for that kind of "fairness", then - which might be harder than selling me on AV!
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From:espresso_addict
Date:April 26th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
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You only have to sell me on the need for that kind of "fairness"

'That kind of "fairness"' seems to me to be obviously desirable, though never having supported either of the major parties might have skewed my view of what's equitable. Would you care to explain why it isn't for you?
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From:mraltariel
Date:April 26th, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
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Aha! Well, I think that in general I probably prefer majoritarian government (even when I disagree with the party with the majority), and I'd prefer to make it unlikely that extremists get any kind of representation, so, at the very least, I'd want that 'fairness' to have a limit.

I recognize that this makes it difficult for "fringe" parties to get positions of (relative) power by direct means, but over the long term, I think it makes mainstream parties adapt and adopt to fringe ideas that grow in support, rather than marginalize them into "special interest" buckets.

But again, I don't feel that strongly about it, and could be persuaded to vote Yes in a PR referendum, too.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:April 26th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
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Thanks.

over the long term, I think it makes mainstream parties adapt and adopt to fringe ideas that grow in support, rather than marginalize them into "special interest" buckets.

Interesting point. I wonder if at least sometimes what happens is that the mainstream parties mainly adapt by paying lip service to popular 'fringe' ideas around election times, but my political cynicism is currently set to 'max'.
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From:mraltariel
Date:April 26th, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
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I think it is inevitable that both processes occur! (Whatever the electoral system.)
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From:communicator
Date:April 26th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
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It's a spiralling - well, as Brooker says, a whirlpool of stupidity. People reacting stupidly and insincerely to stupid insincerity. I think there's a massive amount of unacknowledged bad faith flying about.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:April 26th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
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The No campaign leaflet we got with a photo of Cameron was pretty awful.
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From:mraltariel
Date:April 26th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
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I don't disagree with you there. Rubbish, I'd call it.
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From:sheenaghpugh
Date:April 26th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
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My default position is pretty much: if the Tories don't want it, as they don't, or if it makes it harder for them to get elected, as I'm told it does, then it'll do me. The mere fact that Cameron doesn't want me to vote for it is pretty much all the incentive I need to do so. But I wish there had been a proper method of PR on offer.
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From:communicator
Date:April 26th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
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I can hardly think who is nastier between Cameron and Clegg, though one is a way more competent operator.
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From:gfk88
Date:April 27th, 2011 07:21 am (UTC)
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What a great article. Plus, they use the word "majoritarian" on page 1. What more can you ask ?


I don't understand why the Yes campaign hasn't tried to explain that it's all really just like the X factor, but with doing all your phone calls in one go.


And: horrible people we don't want to be associated with ? Could that be why most of the country has abstained from politics completely...
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From:communicator
Date:April 27th, 2011 07:54 am (UTC)
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I believe that in America and Britain there is a large group of instinctive lefties who simply don't relate to mainstream politics at all, don't even perceive that politics could represent their interests or values.

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