Is the alternative vote worth voting for?

This was the subject of a debate at UCL last night, where leading figures from the yes and no camps met alongside electoral experts and UCL students to argue the point.

For the yes side, Billy Bragg and Katie Ghose argued that the referendum provided an opportunity to offer greater choice to voters, to combat the sense of disenfranchisement among those who do not identify with the parties likely to win under first past the post, and to challenge MPs to target the wider population rather than swing voters.

For the no side, Jane Kennedy and Charlotte Vere called AV a timid reform, a shield for Liberal Democrat unpopularity, and a change that far from combating safe seats would just make different seats safe.

A third camp too emerged, of those who didn’t care for AV or FPTP, but wanted change of a different kind. For them different questions were important: if AV passes, will it be the start or the end of reform? Is AV a compromise worth making?

A quick poll at the end of the night indicated that the vast majority of those attending were in favour of the change to AV, but with a little under a month to go, it’s still all to play for. Last night showed how much we need this debate so, what do you think? Whether you think AV is progressive or regressive, a step towards or away from greater democracy, a political fix or a non-event, let us know…

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2 thoughts on “Is the alternative vote worth voting for?

  1. Pingback: Video: Robert Hazell on AV « constitutionunitdotcom

  2. Having read Michael White’s blog on this debate I find it disconcerting that not much has been done to remove this myth that under AV some peoples votes will be counted more than once. This is not the case – if your first PREFERENCE is unpopular then your one vote may be redistributed to your second PREFERENCE. This is in fact the whole beauty of this “miserable compromise” – you can vote for who you really want to, safe in the knowledge that should you not get your first choice, your one vote may still count until a candidate reaches a majority.

    And I think thats important, because democracy shouldn’t be about winning or losing – its about representation. Do you want a winner takes all game, or a representative democracy that enables as many peoples views as possible to be heard? Its why even conservatives elect their leaders in this way – David Cameron himself – and why the Oscars and a host of other institutions and votes around the planet use AV. Its just a little bit fairer!

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