Ok, I have been writing rather a lot about the contradictions of certain arguments – such as pluralism and tribalism – and now another contradiction comes to mind. This time it is in regards to the electoral system. As we know, there is to be a referendum soon on AV (well if it actually passes the parliament stage, especially with the news that Tories and Labour will join to prevent the bill from happening – oh, how one-sided this coalition is increasingly becoming).
Whether to support AV or not is to be debated at the Green’s party conference. I am increasingly coming down on the side of anti-AV – we need PR, as for one – it isn’t proportional, and in some cases, less so than the current system. Furthermore, it is to be tied to self-interested boundary changes (even if it is not in name in terms of the question) – and this could even lead to our one MP losing her seat. Then there is the erroneous nature of arguments such as it will get rid of tactical voting. I mean, seriously? People I know in Labour are clearly thinking and promoting tactical voting in the leadership election, the election which uses AV.
Another argument that I came across the other day, promoted by a LibDem, is the view that AV would near remove the BNP. I mean, as if there is really any presence of them anyway (they failed to win an MP and their council seats was dramatically reduced). This argument also counteracts many of those who are pro electoral system changes – as what they are saying is that, well we only want electoral change to improve our own party ratings, we don’t want the electoral system to really reflect the voting, instead, we just want more seats for ourself.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the BNP, they are a vile party. However, people vote for them, and as we live in a democracy and they are (for the moment) a legal party, we shouldn’t be voting for electoral systems on the basis that it will eradicate the BNP. I mean, it rather undermines a strong argument for electoral change, that it would make the electoral system fairer and be a better reflection of popular voting.
The author of the argument above, believes that with the use of the AV: NO BNP argument, Labour couldn’t possibly front an opposition to AV as it would undermine their moral obligations. I seriously don’t see this. As I have said, this is a clearly mistaken argument, and actually undermines the need for electoral change. You can’t change an electoral system to stop parties you don’t like (even though most people don’t like the BNP), as then you are just replacing the FPTP system with another biased and undemocratic system.
But in truth, that is all AV would do anyway. It would do little to improve the electoral system we have, and it will hamper any future reform. Hopefully, parliament will listen to Caroline Lucas’ amendment to get PR options on the ballot paper – that will certainly put the Liberal Democrats in a difficult position. I think if people are going to fight for the AV system however, they shouldn’t be trying to pull on the heart-strings as the article I cited is – it isn’t helpful, and is actually counterproductive to the pro electoral reform arguments.
What this also does is reflect attention away from the reasons that people support the BNP. There is a real need for proper investment in jobs, capital spending and the like – these are the real reasons behind most people’s support for the BNP. So no wonder some LibDems would want to play this BNP card in an electoral vote, as it takes attention away from the hurtful spending cuts that they are initiating with the Tories.