Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The British people to win and lose whatever the result of the AV referendum

There has been so much written about the AV campaigns.  6 weeks of soundbites, press releases, celebrity endorsements, mention of Nick, airbrushed documents of Nick and comments and counter comments galore.

But before we delve any deeper, let's recall the real reason we are having a referendum on the voting system.

Lipstick the pig as much as you like, but this is all because of Tweedleclegg.  This was his one haggle with no wriggle room for the Conservatives. 

This was the dealbreaker.

There had to be a debate and poll on the voting system and it had to happen in the first year of the coalition.

Tweedleclegg got his way.  The one area he hasn't buckled and in so doing shows the single reason he and his party and where they are.  A one off shot at changing the voting system to what he hopes and believes will give his party more seats in Parliament and therefore improve his parties chances of holding power alone.

The flip side of the coin.  Tweedlecam knows a change in voting system would most likely cut his parties number of seats.

So herein are the party lines.  The Tories fear change, the Lib Dems champion it.  It has nothing to do with fairness, it has nothing to do with any of the points hopefully floated forward on the off chance it would stick in British minds and provide a poll surge for Yes or No.

It's all about power.  And each party leader trying to manoeuvre for their most advantaged share.

So how would we win, as a populus and a society?  The most likely outcome is very little would change.  Whether yes or no, the likely statistical shift is negligible.

Many of the figures floated forward by "experts" and the insinuation from Tweedlecam that there would be more hung parliaments have two significant flaws.

1.  There is no evidence of how people would have actually voted under AV.  Only one cross was permitted and so any suggestion a result would be significantly affected is just hearsay and personal opinion.
2.  Even if figures were available to analyse the difference AV may have, the voter was voting based on the FPTP system and therefore voted how they voted, not with any hindsight that it would be benchmarked latterly against an  AV system.

When push comes to shove, the British people will vote how they vote to create what they perceive to be their preferred outcome.  That will take account of likeability, tactical votes, personality and all the usual factors that go into the voting mix.  That will happen under AV or FPTP.

The real win that will come about from this is the impact on the coalition.

If AV is outvoted what is the reason for the coalition?  Surely the Lib Dems will suddenly find being used as a shield for Tory spin much less pallatable and lose will for the fight.  It's clear the Lib Dem's have been lambasted more than their Conservative counterparts for the impact of the austerity cuts and even the most ardent (some may suggest naive) Lib Dem power monger will struggle to see continued merit in continuing such a public flogging that damages their popular vote.

Lets say AV wins out.  Is Tweedlecam going to enjoy a smug faction of Lib Dems in his cabinet growing more vocal and shifting naturally back to their position of opposition but this time from within?  Are the Tory backbenches and the 1922 committee going to enjoy, even allow, a cosy partnership after such a defeat?  Especially as the Conservatives have funded the No campaign?

The reality is that whether Yes or No is the actual result, the people will benefit as the facade of the ConDem coalition slips.  Even if it is only slip and not split, it will be much harder for controversial (NHS for example) policies to be pushed through.  And that has to benefit politics and the representation of the British public.

The headline of this Blog mentioned the British public losing though.

The coalition may be on shakier ground and a more natural balance restored to Government and opposition whatever the outcome... but what damage has been done through the 6 week campaigning period?

We were promised a new kind of politics, removal of Punch and Judy (and if Ed Balls is Punch, George Osborne is most certainly Judy!) which Tweedlecam has now confirmed he has failed to deliver (although after his bullying of female MP's in the Commons you may argue he is the chief architect of such a style).

The style of the campaigns has been decidely disappointing.  As voters watch on a disillusioned public can see the campaign for what it is.  An old politics style drenched in vendetta and venom.  Punch and counter punch.  Accusation and counter accusation.

Whichever way the vote sways, the damage to the perception of politics will be difficult to paper over.