Thursday, February 17, 2011

The NO2AV campaign lies about AV and is a front for the Conservative Party and big business

There is not one true claim about AV on the NO2AV website – see below for their four biggest lies about AV and to find out how AV works. While we know 95% of the ‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ campaign funding comes from the Electoral Reform Society and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, the NO2AV campaign refuse to say who funds them.

There are some pretty obvious clues though. The head of the NO2AV campaign Matthew Elliot, doubled as founder of the ‘Taxpayers’ Alliance (which he’ll probably return to after the AV referendum is over). The Taxpayers’ Alliance is funded by the same wealthy business-people who fund the Conservative party and has a director who doesn’t pay any tax in the UK. Just like the NO2AV Campaign, the Taxpayers’ Alliance ‘refuses to publish details of its income or a list of donors’. Liberal Conspiracy were told by a NO2AV press officer that the person who appointed Elliot was Baron Rodney Leach, a Conservative peer on the board of two large companies. No wonder NO2AV won’t say who funds them – it’ll be Conservative party donors just like the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

Electoral Reform : The Existing System, AV or PR?

I’ve been in two minds about AV, because I’d have preferred Proportional representation (in which everyone’s vote counts equally, whoever they vote for – and no votes ending up “wasted”) or AV plus (AV for constituency votes, with a minority of MPs elected on regional lists by PR). However the only choices we’re being given by the government for the moment are AV or the existing First Past the Post system, which allows some parties to get big majorities on a third to 40% of the votes. AV would be an improvement on the outdated and unfair First Past the Post. The constant lies told by the No2AV campaign have made my mind up for me – I’ll definitely vote for AV.

No2AV Lie One: AV will cost £250 million (and enough of the UK’s annual budget that schools or hospitals’ funding will have to be cut to fund it)

The No2AV campaign get their made up £250 million figure by taking the cost of holding the referendum on whether to switch to AV and publicising it (which is the same whether you vote yes, or no, or don’t vote in it at all) and adding the cost of electronic voting machines, which are not needed for AV and are a completely separate issue. Australia has had AV for elections for decades and doesn’t use electronic voting machines. The real figure is £26 million – one off (i.e not every year) to educate voters about it before the next election. This is out of a UK annual public spending budget of about £700 billion (700 thousand million), making the cost less than one hundredth of one per cent of the annual budget – for one year only. Yet the NO2AV campaigns claim we can’t afford this.

NO2AV Lie Two : AV is complicated and unfair (and how AV really works)

They claim that AV is complex and unfair. In fact it’s as simple as 1,2,3. You put a 1 beside the candidate you’d like most to win, 2 beside your second choice, 2 beside your third – instead of an X beside just your first preference in the existing First Past the Post System.

Under First Past the Past a candidate can be elected with less than half the votes – and in fact only a third of the winning candidates in most British elections get more than 50% of the votes in the constituency. The rest are usually elected on 30 to 40% of the vote. The votes for all the other candidates effectively go straight in the bin – they don’t count at all. So the majority of voters get no say under first-past-the-post – their votes are ignored - resulting in governments being elected with huge majorities of seats on a third of the total votes cast. For instance in the last election in 2010 the Conservatives got 307 seats (47% of the MPs) on just 36.1% of the vote, while in 2005 Labour got 356 of the 650 seats (more than 50% of the MPs) on just 37% of the votes. How exactly is either of these results fair, or even democratic?

Under AV, if one candidate has more than half the votes after all the first preference votes are counted, they’re elected. If no candidate has more than half the votes the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and the second preference votes of those who voted for them as their first preference are given to their second preference candidates. If this gives one candidate more than 50% of the votes, they’re elected. If not the candidate with the next fewest first preference votes is eliminated and their voters’ second preferences are given their votes – and so on, until a candidate has more than half the votes. This ensures that far more peoples’ votes count – and that no candidate can be elected without having the majority of votes in their constituency (i.e more than half, not just the biggest minority). So AV is simple, but much fairer.

By giving voters more than one preference when voting it means people can also vote for the smaller parties or independent candidates they may really want to vote for as their first preference, without having to worry that their vote will be wasted or let the party they dislike most in, because they can vote for a larger party with their second or third preference.

NO2AV Lie Three – AV ‘gives some people more votes than others’ and voters for fringe parties get more votes than voters for big parties do / only Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems will benefit from AV

The NO2AV campaign make up the ridiculous lie thatUnder AV, the great majority of voters (those who vote for either of the leading two candidates in a constituency) get only one vote, while those who back minority or fringe parties get several.”

See Lie Two above for how AV really works. Everyone’s gets only one vote under AV. Everyone can vote for one candidate as their first preference, one as their second, one as their third. If their first preference candidate is eliminated during counting due to having been one of the candidates with the fewest votes, their vote will be transferred to their second preference – and so on until one candidate has more than half the votes.

So they only have one vote, just as under the existing system, but, unlike in the existing system, there’s a good chance their vote won’t go in the bin if they’re first choice isn’t elected. It may be redistributed to their second or third preference.

AV is fairer and will give any candidate, of any party, who can get the votes of half or more of the voters in a constituency, the chance of being elected. This will help ensure racists like the BNP don’t get elected due to ‘coming through the middle’ with the largest minority of the vote if e.g the votes in a constituency are split three ways between them and two larger parties, because they’d need more than half the vote under AV to be elected.

I despise Nick Clegg for breaking key election pledges he made. I’ve never voted Lib Dem – and I probably never will. AV won’t only benefit the Lib Dems though – because it you have three preferences when you vote you can vote for a small party or independent as your first preference without worrying that it might be a “wasted vote”, as even if your first preference isn’t elected, you can vote for a larger party with your second or third preference. Minority parties still won’t be able to get elected unless they get more than 50% of the votes in a constituency though – under first past the post they can get elected on the largest minority of the vote.

The NO2AV campaign won’t tell you who funds them – because it’ll be the same Conservative donors who fund the Taxpayers’ Alliance

The Yes to fairer votes campaign campaigning for AV are open about who funds them – 95% of their funds come from the Electoral Reform Society and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

The NO2AV campaign won’t say who funds them – but their new head is Matthew Elliot, founder member of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The Guardian reported that TPA donors include ‘Sir Anthony Bamford, the owner of the JCB digger company, and Tony Gallagher, the owner of Gallagher Estates, both Conservative donors, who with 32 other businessmen have donated about £80,000 to the group through the Midlands Industrial Council.’ along with ‘Malcolm McAlpine, the chief executive of contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, said he had also funded the group.’ and ‘David Alberto, a property developer supplies office space to the group near Westminster worth an estimated £100,000 a year.’ All of these people also donate large amounts of money to the Conservative party

One of theTaxpayers’ Alliance’s directors – Alexander Heath – lives in France and pays not a penny in taxes in Britain.

You can find out more about AV and the campaign for a 'yes' vote in the referendum on it at the 'Yes to Fairer Votes' campaign site at


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