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Clear description of the Alternative Vote (AV) system for the UK

 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 7:12am MC wrote:
As the Tories and the press are doing their best to muddy the water surrounding the Alternative Vote (AV) system I thought it a reasonable idea to lift a clear description of thr system from a previous thread and post it here (correctly labelled) for the benefit of all forum visitors.

(Beware. The almost inevitable result of this will be that the forum's resident Tory stooge Paul Newman will jump in to deliberately confuse and obfuscate the issue, following the instructions isssued by the Conservatives to their activists. It is always best to ignore him.)

AV is a very simple system and much fairer than First Past The Post. (It should be understood that the AV system proposed for the UK is not the same as the one operated in Australia.) The power of the two major parties will inevitably be weakened and seats will not be so safe. Politicians will have to try harder. The gravy train will be slowed. Although not full PR it is an improvement on our existing First Past The Post system. The Tories and most of the powerful commercially led private press (Murdoch's especially) will tell you different, but this is due to naked self-interest, as the introduction of AV will reduce their power and increase the power of individual voters (us!). The system will afford a greater degree of representation, the numbers of politicans of each party more closely reflecting the numbers of voters who voted for them (although not as closely as a full PR system).

Here goes:

"The Alternative Vote (AV) is very much like First-Past-the-Post (FPTP). Like FPTP, it is used to elect representatives for single-member constituencies, except that rather than simply marking one solitary 'X' on the ballot paper, the voter has the chance to rank the candidates on offer.

The voter thus puts a '1' by their first-preference candidate, and can continue, if they wish, to put a '2' by their second-preference, and so on, until they don't care anymore or they run out of names. In some AV elections, such as most Australian elections, electors are required to rank all candidates.

If a candidate receives a majority of first-preference votes (more people put them as number one than all the rest combined), then they are elected.

If no candidate gains a majority on first preferences, then the second-preference votes of the candidate who finished last on the first count are redistributed. This process is repeated until someone gets over 50 per cent."
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 8:26am Taff wrote:
But if you vote for one person only and that person does not achieve the 51% then your vote no longer counts!
Please tell me I am wrong?
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 8:36am Twinky wrote:
Its OK, you are wrong...
If you vote for one person only, then your vote for that person is valid up to the point where that candidate either wins, or is eliminated as having the fewest votes of the remaining candidates.
So if you vote for Labour in a 3 way race, but Labour only get 35% of the vote, with the Tories 25% and the Liberals 40%, then the first party to get eliminated is the Tories.
Your vote will still be relevant at this stage, even though your party only got 35% of the vote. The second preferences of the Tory votes will then be added to the existing Liberal or Labour votes, so that one party will get more than 50% of the vote.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 9:20am Taff wrote:
I would rather my vote be counted for an outright winner or loser and Not be influenced by middle of the road attitude of people who do not make their minds up.
A contest should be fair and square, a winner and losers. Not also rans.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 10:33am MC wrote:
It is this "outright winner" you want and that the FPTP system provides which condemns the UK to a choice of being governed by only Labour or the Conservatives (99% of the time anyway). This in turn saddles us with the damaging and never-ending unproductive cycles of Labour spending and mismanagement of the economy and the Conservative predilection to cuts and anti-society self-interest.

I think our country would profit from a reduction in the dominance of these two old parties and would greatly benefit from a consistent long-term approach to governing based upon larger choice of candidates, accurate representation, and measured discussion and consensus between the people we elect. Unfortunately FPTP cannot provide this. AV goes some way. PR would be much better.

You are currently defending a system where the majority of the population do not have any representation in parliament and the choice as limited as it could be (the only system more limited would be a dictatorship or a one-party state, i.e. no choice). The FPTP system is just not very democratic.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 10:34am Taff wrote:
As voted for by the people is not democratic? Gadzooks!
It may not favour the middle of the road attitudes, I give you that. Then maybe the middle of roaders should be more direct.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 10:44am MC wrote:
One definition of a democracy:

"A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives"

Another

"Government by the people or by their elected representatives"

My point is that only a minority of voters in the UK are represented by their government. The FPTP system is not a representative system. But it's worse than that. Because it's not a representative system people don't bother to vote, either because they don't get represented if they do, or they don't have a decent choice of candidates to vote for.

PR would address this. AV is some way there.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:17am Paul Newman wrote:
MC I am not actually a member of the Conservative Party . I do wish you could restrain yourself from making personal and entirely ill founded remarks. I am entitled to express my views
If there are more than two candidates then it is always likely that the majority would prefer not to have the one who wins. AV makes precisely no difference to that fact it merely shifts the emphasis from the one who most people like to the one most people can tolerate . It does not assure that 50% of the electorate support the winner even in the tweedle dee or tweeedle dum sense as about 40% will not vote at all.
It is not like first past the Post at all . FPTP requires a decision not just a preference which is a difference of kind not degree.
There is no evidence whatsoever that corruption would be less under AV that is just ad hoc piggy backing onto a recent story.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:19am Paul Newman wrote:
On the various Australian systems the Queensland one is the same as that proposed whereas others are variations all of the provide evidence that can be applied in that in all case the importance and effect of second preferences can be measured. The tendency is quite clearly for there to be a smaller range of winners
You are quite right that both Labour and Conservative Parties would be hurt by the change the big winners being the Lib Dems . 84% of Lib Dems support AV anyway and as the second choice Party they would
The constituency which is split is Labour voters who are 50/50 for and against so I am quite happy with your analysis that they will be dis-empowered I agree those who want more coalition governments might support AV on those grounds
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:21am John Stockdale wrote:
AV allows you to vote for the candidate of your choice. At the same time it allows you to make a tactical vote as a backup with your second choice. It also allows you to vote against the candidate (or party) you like least. It will assist small parties like the Greens who are moderate. It will disadvantage small parties that are extreme like BNP since no one other than their core vote will place them anywhere other than last. I like the AV system because it keeps single member seats. That gives an elected MP a manageable area to represent and if you get a bad egg like Neil Hamilton whatever his party affiliation, all the electors can still combine to kick him out.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:21am Taff wrote:
So those who cannot be bothered to vote dont get a fair representation. Whats wrong with that? Typical of today, everyone wants the benefits but not many are prepared to stand up and be counted.
I am not convinced MC and doubt I ever will be. Been good bantering though.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:26am Paul Newman wrote:
For Labour the choice is between a Party chasing Liberal second preferences or a Party that aims to get the lost millions of C1s and C2s back voting. AV will tend to encourage the former , FPTP the latter.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:27am Paul Newman wrote:
Ah ...I see John Stockdale would prefer to chase Liberal second choices than re invigorate Labour`s lost voters. Many agree with him about 50% do not .
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:35am MC wrote:
I vote, but it's hardly worth the bother as under the FPTP system my vote almost never counts for anything. One day I may just give up. If I do it will largely be due to our unrepresentative system. Maybe I'm the stupid one for having bothered to vote for the last 25 years.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:42am MC wrote:
I'm interested to see someone defend the damaging ideological swings that the FPTP system imposes on this country.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:45am Grrr wrote:
If anyone changes their mind about AV from reading this forum, they shouldn't be allowed to vote! (Half-joking.)
The majority of views expressed on here seem to be nothing to do with the greater good, but are all motivated by personal gain and self-interest in some way.
It seems a lot of you have completely missed the point about democracy - and that is to allow people to make up THEIR OWN MIND'S about who they want in power, without being bullied or cajoled into it by self-interested, party-brainwashed, spin machines.
I urge everyone who is unsure about AV to READ THE FACTS as presented by (mostly) independent sources, and don't believe the hype spouted on forums like this by people trying desperately to protect their own interests.
(And before anyone says anything - yes, I believe that same thing about politics in general. It has become dominated by spin, self-interest, and winning at all costs. The general population seem to come second in the governing of their own country.)
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:47am Paul Newman wrote:
The often quoted "fact" that FPTP comes down to some small number of voters in swing constituencies is a fallacy. In any voting system the number of voters who decide between competing views is small . Everyone else decides which ones that small number will be.
John ,what do you make of the Blue Labour idea , it has been endlessly attacked in the Guardian New Statesman etc . Would you prefer Labour to be a Liberal Labour coalition Party?
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:49am Paul Newman wrote:
I do not share you opinion that you are less greedy and more concerned with the greater good Grrrr
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 11:59am MC wrote:
Grrr.
I do not have any political axe to grind and am not affiliated to any party. I want what is good for our society as a whole. I started this thread as people here seemed very confused about how the AV system proposed for the UK will work (which is odd as it's really very simple) so I posted the clearest description I could find (which happens to be from the Electoral Reform Society).

BTW. A forum is a good a place to discuss this issue as any. This forum is particularly good as it has received 12,596 Absolute Unique Visitors in the last 30 days, meaning a considerable number of people in the Lewes area read the posts (although I often wonder why).
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 12:20pm 'ere be monsters wrote:
It'll still end up with the same sh*t, just a different way of getting there
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 12:26pm Ed Can Do wrote:
It could just be a handful of people using dynamic IPs (And logging in and out of their router a lot).

I still don't get why people are anti coalition governments. I think making parties share power is a benefit to society as it stops the mosr extreme ideas ever getting enacted. Sure the Libdems have backed down on a lot of election pledges but then they're not in power, had they straight-up won the general election one likes to think they might have stuck to their guns. What they have done though is tempered the Tory axe to a degree and headed off some of the more ridiculous Conservative polices already.

I'd always favour a future of coalitions over a future of either Tories or Labour one at a time, ruining the country in their attempts to get re-elected every five years and secure their expenses accounts.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 12:33pm John Stockdale wrote:
Paul, I'm a bit lost here. I'm not aware of the Blue Labour idea, so I'm going to have to research it before I can give you an answer. Would I prefer a Lib-Lab Coalition? Well, yes, except that there weren't enough numbers to make it possible. What the country needed (and still needs) is a strong, moderate government to stabilise the economy with the greatest possible consent from the electorate. But I think whether we have FPTP or AV, coalition government is what we are going to have to get used to. The Tories are unelectable in the North and Celtic fringe; Labour in the South. With a significant Liberal and nationalist vote, the two largest parties will only get an overall majority in exceptional circumstances.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 12:51pm Judge wrote:
Can we just clear something up?
Does Mr Newman actually live in Lewes or Islington?
I, like many others are getting tired of his slack jawed stupidity and dogma.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 12:59pm John Stockdale wrote:
Blue Labour, interesting idea. Now that almost all the building societies have been pillaged it's better late than never to wake up to the values mutualisation, I suppose. The problem is that all oppositions espouse decentralisation, delegation, subsidiarity and localism but when they get into government they can't resist the tempation to get their hand on the tiller. Still, it's good to see some political thinking going on in a political party again.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 1:06pm MC wrote:
Ed.
I couldn't agree more. I'd like to see a permanent coalition of representative members. I think little could be worse than having policy dictated by one of two monolithic parties whose members are directed by party whips to vote not with their consciences but with the party ideological line. It is this state of affairs that produces confrontation and makes our House of Commons into a children's playground laughing stock.

If the House of Commons consisted of members of a larger number of political parties holding a greater breadth and variety of ideas and ideologies I'd hope that policy was achieved by way of discourse and discussion, mediation, consideration and ideally consensus. Something that the FPTP system so obviously discourages.

ere be monsters.
But the main point is (that with a PR system at least) we won't end up with the same old rubbish. The FPTP system is largely responsible for cycling us between two complacent dinosaur parties holding out-of-date ideological agendas that hang around the neck of our society like dead weights.

Paul Newman
If you want to change the topic of the dicussion please start your own thread. Your attempt to subvert this one and change the title only lends credence to my assertion at the start of the thread:

"The almost inevitable result of this will be that the forum's resident Tory stooge Paul Newman will jump in to deliberately confuse and obfuscate the issue"
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 1:33pm Taff wrote:
Just goes to show from this forum that healthy debate works quite well. Unless the other parties can convince one to change ones vote then their debate is not so convincing. I agree todays politics is more me me me from the politicians than it seems to be for national interest.
I cannot believe though that any good can come from the AV method, creating a government that is at best from most voters second choice.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 1:36pm expat two wrote:
Jesus, did he ever!
Also worthy of contempt is his "I am not actually a member of the Conservative Party . I do wish you could restrain yourself from making personal and entirely ill founded remarks"
Did you say he was a member of the Conservative party?
Besides which, does it make a difference?
And besides which, as an (ex) Conservative political candidate, does that assertion have any credibility at all? - Politicians are hardly well famous for telling truths.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 2:23pm huw wrote:
There's some good info here on AV:

Check it out here »
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 2:33pm Grrr wrote:
@MC: Sorry, I have no issue with you posting an independent, simple definition of how AV works. It wasn't really the spirit of the thread I was questioning, more how it gets hijacked by people with personal agendas who choose to suppress certain facts in favour of others.
@Paul Newman: that didn't really make sense, but I get the gist of what you were accusing me of. Can you please point out where, in my last post, I espoused an opinion about AV either way? So how can I be trying to influence people for my own interests? I quite obviously can't, and was merely trying to suggest that people not listen to drivel over facts (be that pro-AV drivel or anti-AV drivel).
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 3:24pm 'ere be monsters wrote:
MC, my point is we are still electing people to become MPs. Once in ALL MPs eventually turn their backs on the electorate to keep their jobs, they lie, they cheat, they steal, they will do anything to get their little niche in history. Same sh*t different name and colour.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 3:50pm Twinky wrote:
A vote for AV is an acceptance of a change in definition of "winner" essentially from "most liked" to "least disliked". I don't have a problem with this, I get it that some do. More people's opinion is consulted on the latter method than on the former, however.
For me the deciding factor is linked to MC's point - the current system is one where the number of people who don't bother to vote because they feel disenfranchised by the voting process is growing decade by decade. This seems to me a definition of "broken".
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 3:51pm Mystic Mog wrote:
'EBM. So what is your solution then? Perhaps you should be standing in an election or will you remain in your armchair moaning.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 4:27pm Taff wrote:
Twinky, can you rcomments be construed as anarchy by stealth? How can anyone feel disenfranchised by the voting process if they choose not to vote?
Surely the old adage of better to be in and p1ss out rather than out trying to p1ss in is the positive induvidual strategy.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 4:46pm Paul Newman wrote:
This thread seems to consist of Liberals telling eachother how much they agree with eachother . That is rather pointless of course they want to empower second choices they are a second choice Party currently on about 11%. A display of aggressive arrogance is unlikely to assist that . It is fairly pointless discussing it with Conservatives who have long since decided they loathe the idea with good reason
The only undecideds are Labour Party voters which is why I address myself to them. The key point iws this , if the Labour Party decides on a future of chasing centrist Lib Dem second choices it will not be the Labour Party which should try to get its lost C1 and C2 vote out . They currently vote for no-one
At the moment the Labour Party are evenly divided
MC what on earth makes you think that AV will lead to a larger number of poltical Parties ? All the evidence points the other way ? I cannot say I notice much concensus seeking from you . Your last comment was eeerm...inscrutable .
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 4:48pm 'ere be monsters wrote:
Moggie, the solution would be for everyone to vote for the same lot and they would run the country fairly and without prejudice in the best interests of us all. Tell me what that voting system is and I'll vote for it. I thought I was the only one on here that doesn't moan, just stating fact.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 4:58pm Mystic Mog wrote:
'EBM you mean voting in a benevolent dictatorhip. May be fine for a while, however if it turns nasty or does things you do not like then there is now way of stopping it apart from bloodshed.
 
 
On 21 Apr 2011 at 6:51pm Paul Newman wrote:
A system that reduces the accountability of the administration is more like a benevolent dictatorship ( at best ) than what we have.
In fact the liking of the the continent for PR was partly because the elite did not trust the popular will which , under PR can generally be ignored
Our experience has been quite different and democracy has emerged form a process of making monarch accountable . To throw away that democratic check now would seem perverse ..and all for the sake of a Party who cannot command more than about 10% of the voters ? Why should they govern because they consider themselves cleverer than anyone else ?
I see less than no evidence for that
 
 
On 22 Apr 2011 at 8:02am MC wrote:
Taff
You said "I cannot believe though that any good can come from the AV method, creating a government that is at best from most voters second choice."

I'm sorry but you've still not understood AV correctly. The government is most likely to be made up of peoples first choices (and by a long way). It's only when there is much doubt about what the first choice of the majority is that peoples second choice come into play. In this way you are much more likely to get the government (or member) that the majority want than if voting under FPTP where a member can be elected with less than 30% of voters having voted for them (70% of voters may hate them to death!).

AV is also more democratic as it recognises (to a degree) who you don't want. This is why the BNP are so against it. It will also be a large factor in why the Conservative are against it. They know that they are very disliked by a large number of people and garner a much larger negative emotional response than Labour (I'm guessing that this is because they are the party of self-interest).

Paul Newman.
You are so full of it. See the definitions of democracy I posted above. Democracy is based upon representation. The First Past the Post system is not representative and continually fails to represent the majority of the population.
AV, and especially PR are representative and much more democratic... the wishes of the majority of voters are not just totally ignored. Got that?

You always back up your point of view by asserting "facts". But the "facts" you state seem to be made up on the fly, products of your barely-hinged brain. Almost every statement you've made in the post above is complete rubbish yet you put them forward as givens.
 
 
On 22 Apr 2011 at 8:35am Paul Newman wrote:
Representation is your right to vote. You do not have a right to win duh..... .The right of losers to be represented in the "administration" is the issue not democracy itself.
On facts and evidence if you wish to challenge anything I have said you are very welcome.
In fact that would be somewhat less tedious.
 
 
On 22 Apr 2011 at 8:39am 'ere be monsters wrote:
Moggie, I posted what I posted, no deep hidden meanings. I simply stick by my two previous postings. If you think I'm saying something else then that's fine. You appear to agree that there is no voting system that will give us a government that isn't a bunch of self centered egomaniacs that are prepared to change their minds and allegiances to preserve their own status.
 
 
On 22 Apr 2011 at 9:45am MC wrote:
Read the definitions above Paul. Democracy is about the people being represented by their governors. This is facilitated by voting. The First Past The Post system is not representative and in fact, as things stand at the moment ensures that most people are hardly represented at all.

Democracy is not solely about being allowed to vote and you are mistaken to believe it is.
 
 
On 23 Apr 2011 at 1:21am Lewesian in exile wrote:
Paul Newman wrote: "On (sic) the various Australian systems the Queensland one is the same as that proposed"
If, as discussed above, the UK voter will not have to number all the candidates, this will make it different to the Queensland system, because you have to number ALL candidates here or your ballot paper is not counted.
I have voted in both Lewes and Queensland and and, for what it's worth, I would prefer AV anytime - I like the idea of NOT having to number all candidates, too.
 
 
On 23 Apr 2011 at 7:23am MC wrote:
As you vote in Queensland I guess you are the 'horses mouth' in which case this must be another example of Paul Newman's predilection to invent 'facts' to advance his argument.
The proposed UK AV system lets you decide how many candidates you want to rank. You can choose just one as you do currently with FPTP (and I am sure many will). With the Queensland version of AV you need to rank 'all' the candidates standing.

Disconcertingly the great article I've linked to below does not mention the difference between the two systems but it does give you a very clear flavour of how AV works in Oz.

Taff. Note the in the vast majority of cases AV will return the same candidate as FPTP. It is only when the winners majority is very slim 'and most people really do not expressly want this candidate' (i.e. don't put them as a second/third/fourth preference) that the results will differ. To me this is a good thing. The system worries the conservatives as they understand that after the BNP they are possibly the most disliked party in the UK.

This is a very clear and engaging round-up of a OZ voting day and its AV system:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13065069


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Lewes Twitten 89:132
Lewes Twitten

Polly as most of the responses don't seem to provide a complete answer to your question I can provide my experiences of the Lewes... more
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