Thursday, 17 February 2011

More on AV

On Tuesday I wrote how we would be hearing so much more about AV. Little did I know at the time that Newsnight would be debating the subject on last night's programme. We had Michael Crick telling us the basic details of how AV works. It isn't difficult to understand but this was a concern for one member of the audience later in the show. We had a lively interview with Paddy Ashdown and John Prescott and there was a debate between two teams of three politicians. I forecast on Tuesday that we would hear much more about AV and, call me reckless but I will stick my neck out again to say that we will be hearing more on the same subject.

The main point for me was made by a French commentator who compared British and French political systems. You just don't find debates that are black and white. You don't argue for or against single proposals but welcome the fact that there are many sides to a debate. I know that AV isn't proportional but with AV you can't ignore the feelings of those who would vote for other parties. It is centrist. Put another way it limits extremism which is bound to be a good thing if you don't like extremes.

On the other hand prior to the last election AV would not have changed the result of the previous six elections. It is not going to turn the world upside down. In fact the only recent change would have been that Labour could have formed a government with the Liberal Democrats.

First-past-the-post gave us a coalition but wouldn't it be nice to see all elections in which no seats were safe, in which you couldn't see a (metaphorical) pig with a rosette winning, and to have MPs who did not have a job for life but had to work hard for their constituents. You may be lucky and have a hard-working MP but it shouldn't be down to luck.

Change the world

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