Tuesday, 15 February 2011

£250 mil? Get real!

Apparently the next tactic on the No2AV list is to try and scare people with numbers. £250mil it'll cost us if we vote YES in May! How will we ever survive as a nation?

Well, quite easily really. £250million is equivalent to about £4 per person, not a huge amount. And that's before we even look in to the figures.

£250 million equates to an £82mil figure to run a referendum (the same cost as running an election, apparently), and another £9mil to educate people on what the options are.

OK, so the referendum will actually cost about £91mil then, not £250mil. More like £1.50 per person to have a say on which voting system we prefer. EDIT: Even this, by the way, is an over-estimate. With a referendum on the same day as local election the costs of venue hire, administration, security, etc are all saved...potentially driving the direct cost down by 50% to nearer £40mil or £50mil.

Where does the other part of the bill come from? Well, first more education at every election sourced from unsourced "experts", of about £26mil. Of course this isn't a referendum cost, but a cost of each election after that...assuming that we spend the same money every year on educating voters on what they're actually voting for (shock horror), and then £130mil on expensive counting machines.

Expensive counting machines? Where is the proof for these devices? Australia has run this system with much greater voter numbers than we ever have to deal with by HAND for around 8 decades! Why are we so special that we need machines to do it for us...again, where is the proof? Despite asking loyal No supporters, and official No campaign bods, we as yet have no answer to this curious question.

So I'm sorry, but I cannot count this highly presumptive and fantastical £130mil cost that appears to have been inserted in there, though I'll work with the £26mil. That cost works out at 40p per person...over 5 years. less than 10p per person each year to ensure that everyone knows how to vote properly... less than 1p a month!

Gaaaawd, that breaks the bank doesn't it!

Well the way that No2AV would prefer you look at it is the cost in real terms. 5000 police officers that £250mil could pay for! Well, we know now that it's more like £117mil, so maybe more like 2500 police officers. This assumes a police officer is worth around £50k each, which in all fairness isn't going to be far off the mark for one year (including admin, pension, equipment, salary).

But the referendum is a one time thing, so after one year the money for those police officers would be gone again, so not so much "5000 extra police without AV referendum", more "2500 extra police for one year only without AV referendum", yet even that would be disingenuous given how £26mil of that cost is only coming around once every 5 years if we vote Yes. straight away this means we're talking only about 1820 officers for one year only, with the remaining funding spread over 5 years.

What the No campaign should really be saying is that the avoidable cost of us saying "Yes" may be around £26million (due to the fact this referendum is happening and costing us around £90mil whether you say Yes or No), every 5 years, at the devastating cost of being unable to fund 104 extra police officers.

It's a pretty redundant argument in today's economic times. Maybe if NO2AV care so much about what money is being spent on, they should instead fight the cuts of 20% or so that will cost us 10,000 police officers over the next 4 years, rather than spend their money on trying to keep an out-dated, unfit for purpose, system that freezes a significant proportion of the voting public out of having their opinions heard?

Note: all "per person" figures can be roughly related to "per taxpayer" figures by doubling them.