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October 29th, 2010


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04:31 pm - Changing my mind
I was just re-reading a post I made before the election:
I want to live in a healthy democracy where many different political views compete. Throughout the last decade, in which the other two parties have not pushed back very successfully, I have always known that it must change, while simultaneously dreading the return of Thatcherism (of some kind).

So, in some ways, the current surge of the Lib Dems is a positive push-back. If the push-back comes from Tories plus Lib Dems it is much less likely to be catastrophic than if the Tories were to win solo. It might also have good consequences, for example if the voting system is reformed from first past the post, and the political system is opened up. I hope that is the lasting consequence of these events.

And of course none of these hopes have come to fruition. The Lib Dems have been in my opinion such a disaster that I have changed my mind not only about ever voting for them, but about electoral reform itself. I've changed my mind about that because under FPTP I know what to do (never put an X against Tory or Lib Dem) but under more complex systems I don't know what to do. Oh, I've no doubt someone can explain to me for any particular system how to make it work for me (only pick one preference, choose Green plus Labour in one order or another) but these things can't be handled on a case by case basis for every voter.

So, two big ways I have changed my mind since April.

(46 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:gair
Date:October 29th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
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(1) (re Lib Dems) Oh, God, I know.

(2) these things can't be handled on a case by case basis for every voter

In Australia, they have what looks from my very scanty knowledge of it to be a good system, whereby you can vote 'above the line' (eg for Labour/Green, and then that party fills in the rest of your preferences for you on a tactical basis) or 'below the line', where you fill in all your preferences in order. So you can still do tactical voting in a simple way. Or I think so, anyway.

Edited at 2010-10-29 03:38 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 29th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
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I can see how that might work. I haven't seen that suggested here. That's part of the problem of course - there are so many different possibilities.
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:October 29th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
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Under AV you just place the candidates in the order you prefer. Seems simple enough to me.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 29th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
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No, it isn't simple. For instance I prefer Tory to BNP, but I would not wish to support either. So should I put numbers against them (let us say 5 and 6) or should I leave them both blank?

I am sure you can answer this question - I suspect the answer is different with different systems - but solving my problem does not make the overall system transparent.
[User Picture]
From:calapine
Date:October 29th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
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I still want to see voting change (the list system for Holyrood elections meant that the SNP got into government, which they could never have done with FPTP) but, yes, the Lib Dems in Govt have made sure I won't consider voting for them again, at least until there's a new generation in charge of the party.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 29th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
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I am also not sure whether it's good that a party gets into government who wouldn't make it under FPTP. No - let me be honest - I think I'd find it good or bad according to if it was a party I liked or not. And I suspect that a lot of people are the same as me (ie massively biased).
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[User Picture]
From:coalescent
Date:October 29th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
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Er, you just use your second preference for someone else, like the Greens. (Or, if we ever get proper FPTP, you rank them at the bottom of your ballot.) How on earth is that complex?
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 29th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
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See my answer to Andrew D above. Order of preference is not endorsement. Preference may include 'I like them both, maybe X a bit more than Y' to 'I love X but will tolerate Y' to 'I hate them both, but I hate Y more'.
[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:October 29th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
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If the push-back comes from Tories plus Lib Dems it is much less likely to be catastrophic than if the Tories were to win solo

And you were correct there. That the LD press machine is doing a godawful job of getting that across is really pissing me off, but it remains true.

Tories planned £6bn of straight cuts, instead we got those cuts, but £1bn was reinvested in other priorities, like building more social housing and repairing crumbling FE colleges. LDs didn't get anywhere close to enough seats to have a really strong influence, but they are holding back some of the worst of it.

Straight Tory cuts would be a real disaster, especially a small majority Tory administrataion, Cameron would have to be throwing so many bones to the Right to keep them voting it'd be scary, as it is they've moved a lot more to the centre than they even said they were going to be.

Under FPTP, how do you vote if you end up in, say Torbay, where I grew up? Help Labour keep their deposit? Help the Greens lose theirs less badly? Or choose between a Tory wingnut or a serial rebel left wing Lib Dem?

Under AV, you put Labour/Green 1st, the other 2nd, and then LD 3rd, thus showing clear support for your actual preference, but reducing substantially the chance of having a Tory MP.

Crucially, party funding for parliamentary party will come from first preference voting,so lots of Green first prefs will really help them with policy research (which, having read their manifesto, they really need).
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 29th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
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I am literally sickened by what the Lib Dem leadership has agreed to in the past few months. To think that in different circumstances, if I lived a few miles up the road in Warwickshire, I might have given them my vote, chills me. Now I know what to do, and I need a system which enables me to do it.
[User Picture]
From:dalmeny
Date:October 29th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
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I'm a dual UK and Australian citizen and I have to say I vastly prefer the Australian system. I can actually vote entirely according to my conscience, rather than tactical voting. It makes me happy.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 30th, 2010 06:17 am (UTC)
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I am wondering whether the risk is just for a handful of elections, until the public become crafty at using the new system to its best. However, that is a significant risk.
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From:several_bees
Date:October 30th, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
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Another Australian here - similarly I prefer the Australian system because it means I do not need to think about tactical voting nonsense. The ability to vote for the party you actually like without the fear that I'm wasting my vote is a really significant thing to me.

Your concern about "Cameron would claim my reluctant not-as-bad-as-Hitler vote as a mandate" doesn't really happen under the Australian system, because preferences stop being distributed as soon as there's enough for one candidate to win.

Obviously this may not be the system proposed in the UK, which I haven't looked into.

I do agree though that preferential voting feels more complicated than "just vote for one person you like, the one with the most votes wins", despite my having been brought up with it.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 30th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
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I don't know how it will pan out. Also, I'm not sure we'll know how election results will be used to justify policies until we've had a couple of goes. But we see what happens already with a minority party spinning itself a massive mandate out of thin air and favours.
From:srk1
Date:October 31st, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
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"Your concern about "Cameron would claim my reluctant not-as-bad-as-Hitler vote as a mandate" doesn't really happen under the Australian system, because preferences stop being distributed as soon as there's enough for one candidate to win."

That's not right - they keep distributing preferences until there are only two candidates left, in every seat, even if one candidate has over 50% on first preferences. This enables the Australian Electoral Commission to calculate the two party preferred vote for each seat (which is usually but not exclusively a Labor-Coalition preference)

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