The AV referendum will be lost

Five reasons why the AV referendum will be lost

Yes to Fairer Votes launched their formal campaign for the AV referendum on 2 April.  Electoral reformers fondly suppose that if only the public were offered a better alternative to first past the post, people would be bound to vote Yes.  This piece does not go into the respective merits of AV and first past the post.  It simply forecasts that AV will be defeated, for the following reasons:

  • The public know nothing about electoral systems, and care even less.  The Constitution Unit did detailed research on public attitudes to different voting systems for the Independent Commission on the Voting System, and we found we were plumbing deep wells of ignorance.  The Yes campaign have a huge mountain of ignorance and indifference to overcome.  The government have given them very little time.
  • Even if the Yes campaign manage to engage people’s interest, they will find it hard to explain the difference between AV and FPTP.  AV is not a proportional system.  The overall result will not be that different from FPTP.  In the 2010 election it is estimated that the Conservatives might have gained 30 seats less, the Lib Dems 20 seats more, and Labour about the same.
  • The public will be confused by the arguments in the referendum, some technical, some contested, some misleading.  Research shows that when the public find political issues difficult or confusing, they look to political leaders that they trust to give them a lead on how to vote.  But the AV referendum offers no easy cues.  The Conservatives will campaign against, the Lib Dems for, and Labour are divided.
  • Clear signals from political leaders will be masked by the elections also being held on 5 May.  There are devolved assembly elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and local government elections in 80% of England.  The political parties will put their time and energies into campaigning in the elections, and not the referendum.
  • This is what happened in Canada, where they held referendums on electoral reform at the same time as provincial elections in Ontario (2007) and British Columbia (2009).  The political parties were silent about the referendum issues, and electoral reform was defeated in both cases.  The same is likely to happen in the UK.

One thought on “The AV referendum will be lost

  1. Spot on analysis of why the Yes vote would lose.

    The Lib Dems should have known not to have the referendum at the same time as the local elections and the Devolved Govt elections in Scotland and Wales

    and should have realized as they understand Mathematics unlike most of the electorate that 60 to 70 % of the electorate do not want a Conservative led Govt and they would be punished heavily for forming a coalition with the Conservatives
    and for allowing them to rule over us
    which 60 to 70 per cent of the electorate did not want at the general election. Also the reason Labour did not make as big a gain as they’d have liked in England or Wales
    and were heavily punished too in Scotland is also mainly because of their betrayal to 60 to 70 per cent of electorate in that they did not try hard enough to form a cosalition with the Lib Dems last year

    and have played a large part in the vast maj of us being betrayed and having a Conservative Govt in power which most of us don’t want. So the main reason for the collapse of the Lib Dem vote and Labour not doing as well is that both betrayed the vast maj in allowing the Conservatives into power.

    The AV referendum should obviously have been held at a different time to avoid it being used to punish both Labour and the Lib Dems for that horrendous betrayal and the tactics of the Yes campaign (although we are good people)
    we should understand we had to fight nasty too knowing that the public would be so easily led by the No’s lies as we know most public are so easily led by propaganda/lies in the press or indeed through much of the TV news which recently TV and papers have been controlled mainly by Conservatives.

    Through all this runs ignorance and apart from realizing the referendum should have been held at different times and used nastier or harder hitting tactics to argue why FPTP is so wrong and why the No’s are such corrupt nasty liars

    it was obvious the public needed educating before making such an important decision. It was obvious there should have been a few TV debates on the issue
    say one a week running for about a month before vote
    so three or four TV debates on large viewership channels like BBC or ITV and as close to peak time as poss so as public would be educated
    and realize how important it was not to use it as an extra attack on the Lib Dems and Labour
    for last years betrayal (apart from their attack on local election and devolved govt elections)
    so as we got an educated ,fairer
    and more sensible result whoever won.

    To not have these TV debates
    together with the poor timing
    and poor tactics has allowed the No campaigns lies
    and ignorance to rule the day.

    To not have these TV debates o0n such an important thing
    (like the live debates we had between party leaders before General Election is disgraceful
    and in mind highly undemocratic.

    To have these debates
    even though timing
    and tactics were wrong
    and should be thought about for any other try at such a vote in future
    if we’d had these debates on TV it may have made a big difference to the vote.

    Because these TV debates were obvious that they should have happened
    but didn’t
    and because the day has been won by lies
    and ignorance
    we should not accept having to wait another generation
    at least for another vote
    we should demand another vote soon
    seperate from any other elections
    and only after a programme of educational debates on TV
    which can educate public about how unrepresentative FPTP is
    and show evidence to prove how nasty and lying the No campaign people are.

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