Wednesday, 4 May 2011

What happens if No wins?

With a poll out that shows something like a 20 point lead for the No campaign there is a part of me that has to prepare for the possibility of people voting against a fairer voting system, and for a continuation of the terrible topsy-turvy system we've currently got. But what will the No campaign have achieved if they win?

PR?

One argument being peddled is that a No vote will enable a much quicker move to a PR system for the commons. This is despite all reality that the Tories and Labour do not want a PR system. The Tories will never vote for anything other than FPTP, and Labour will stretch at most to AV+, which isn't PR but addresses a small part of the problem of single member constituencies.

How we will get to the PR system that most want, STV, when both of the biggest parties in the country do not want it and consistently talk it down (after all, why would they want a system where they both have to give up seats for MPs that people really want?), after a result which is a resounding "No reform" statement, I will never know.

No more coalitions?

Polling is all over the place, and it may well be that we move away from the three party system that we currently reside under. However if this did happen it would also mean no coalitions under AV as well as FPTP. However if the Lib Dems turn things around (as they appear to be doing in some local election polling) then we're still looking at another coalition (or at least Hung Parliament) in 2015.

Given Labour and the Tories don't want to work together, this only leaves the Lib Dems to prop one or the other up. So voting no doesn't stop coalitions, and it actually makes it harder and slower to get out of the hung parliament territory we're in right now (AV is much better for making large changes where the public wants it).

Fair winners?

The main reason I've supporter AV is because of this one fact... FPTP does not deliver fair winners in seats where opinion is split. FPTP, in fact, PENALISES popular opinion if more than one candidate falls under that area of support. If your constituency is heavily environmentally minded, with a Lib Dem and a Green being the two "greenest" in the constituency, people that want a Green focus actually can cause themselves to lose out.

It's ridiculous, but a No vote helps to ensure that someone who is TRULY "third place" in the local area wins ahead of one of two candidates that are pushing policy the majority of the constituency want.

Money saved?

I've written here before, but we'll be spending near to £50-60mil on this referendum even if it is lost. And after that, we barely save any money as the cost of counting extra rounds is miniscule compared to the costs that are already incurred for an election.

----

So when it comes down to it, if we do vote No tomorrow then the only thing we've proved is that as a nation we'd rather cut off our nose to spite our face, that short term personal politics is actually more important than meaningful reform (and thus politicians will be enthused to know that focusing on talking down their opponents rather than talking up their own policy is the way forward in the future), that we'd rather that vocal minorities win against loose majorities every time, and that reform of the house of commons is not something that we're interested in.

The only thing that keeps me positive about the possibility of a No win tomorrow, given that my faith in the public to not shoot themselves in the foot will be destroyed, is that the possibility of a parliament only evolution of how the Lords is formed can mitigate all of the terrible elements of our democracy this referendum will have enforced, and ensure that even if we're too stupid to vote for it, we still have an opportunity to have our voices better represented.