Friday, 18 February 2011

"on May 5th they want their second preference to come first."

"And, as so often happens in elections using the AV system… …on May 5th they want their second preference to come first."

Cameron's witty quip at the end of his press conference. But, does it really prove the lack of integrity of AV supporters, or why the system is a good one?

When we go to the ballot in May we only have two options, Yes or No to the question of "Should we change to AV?"

Now this is a FPTP election, we don't know anyone's preferences or reasons, we just have the options on the table. If AV wins it's because more people want AV than want our current FPTP system.

If this same type of situation happened in a constituency for the General Election, like happens every election, do we look back at those who are voting for Labour, Tories or Lib Dems and say that their vote doesn't count because we believe they'd rather support the Greens or BNP?

Of course not, because making crass assumptions about people's wishes is childish.

But what if AV really is our second preference? If the question was "Which system shall we use: FPTP, AV or STV?"

If that was held under an AV vote (for irony!) and it was clear that most Labour and Tory supporters didn't want STV, STV would be eliminated first as having only a small percentage of the votes. The question then returns to "AV or FPTP?", just like this referendum question we have now.

Second choice or not, if AV wins in May it's because it's preferred to FPTP, and thus more popular than FPTP is. That kind of result is the fairest of all. And it's that kind of fair result a "Yes" win in May will ensure up and down the country at the next General Election.

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