Some thoughts on AV, mostly culled from the BBC’s Vote 2011 liveblog/twitterfeed/thing.
No to AV means PR is dead, say opponents of PR, who know how to make hay while the sun shines:
2050: No campaign director Matthew Elliott gets a massive cheer as he address supporters at the official count in London. He says the result is “emphatic” and will “settle the debate” on voting change for the “next generation”.
No to AV means PR is dead, say supporters of PR, who apparently don’t:
2130: New Statesman journalist George Eaton tweets: “Those who said “No to AV, Yes to PR” couldn’t look more foolish tonight. Electoral reform dead for a generation.”
1858: Labour’s Tessa Jowell, an AV supporter, says the issue is now closed and there should be no more talk of changing the voting system. The “chance has gone”, she tells Sky News.
You’re all thick, says Prof:
2115: Elections expert Prof John Curtice says the No campaign has apparently won the referendum by securing the support of older people, Conservatives and those who have not enjoyed a university education.
Steady on, say punters:
1920: David Pybus in Whitby writes: “I resent the implication that I’ve been swayed by a dirty No campaign or an inadequate Yes campaign. I haven’t listened to either of them as I had a view before the campaigns started – I voted No because I didn’t want a system introduced that allowed floating voters to have as many votes as there are candidates instead of casting one vote honestly for their preferred candidate”.
2036: Bashir Shah in Blackburn writes: “We were promised PR – we got sold down the river by Clegg and the Lib Dems with AV – a costly, unworkable system that would have caused more confusion and even less participation. The UK has answered in the only way it knew how and the only way it could – NO to AV and NO to the Lib Dems”
2136: Simon Reid in Slough, writes: “Dismayed at the condescending attitude of some Yes supporters. However the essence of democracy is the election of the most supported, not the least unsupported, and so I feel it was doomed to failure. PR would be a different matter, with a genuine alternative”
And it could all have been so different!
2112: It is scant consolation but Yes voters have prevailed in Oxford. There’s a certain irony here as their varsity rivals Cambridge were among only a handful of other areas to support change
Cambridge Yes vote: 54.3%. Oxford Yes vote: 54.1%. Seriously, there is no need to overthink this. Of the minority who bothered to vote, nearly 70% voted No. If seven people vote one way and three vote the other, it’s not generally the seven whose behaviour needs explaining – least of all by invoking their deficient education or creeping senility. The Yes camp scraped a majority in a handful of highly atypical urban districts (they don’t come much more atypical than Oxford and Cambridge), and even there the vote was hardly a thumping majority. (Manchester: 44.5% Yes. Even in Brighton the Yes vote got stuck below 50% – 49.9%, to be precise.)
All that’s just happened is that a big and unpredictable change was proposed, and it was rejected. It wasn’t an outstandingly good change (there were plenty of good arguments against it, and almost all of its main proponents had been in favour of something else a year ago); its effects weren’t explained very well; and the campaign in its favour was spectacularly bad. The entirely unsurprising result was that only 30% of the people bought it. (If we’re talking about campaigns, I have to admit that the No campaign was even worse, but they didn’t have to convince anyone; voting No just meant that you didn’t want the Yes campaign to win.)
A horrible Tory gloats horribly:
The idea that anyone would see Tony Robinson or Eddie Izzard as anything other than a paid-up member of the metropolitan elite was risible. The “Yes” campaign made no attempt to deploy any arguments, or any personnel, with appeal beyond a narrow slice of the soft Left – the one constituency whose support was guaranteed in any case.
The liberal Left was, with pleasing karma, undone by its own narcissism. “Yes” campaigners seemed genuinely not to understand that Caroline Lucas, Ed Miliband and Benjamin Zephaniah do not, among them, cover the entire political spectrum.
(Don’t tell me you didn’t just wince, hypocrite lecteur.)
Another Tory tells it like it is:
Most Liberal Democrats loathe being in coalition with the Conservatives – not least because they know they are now loathed in turn by the ex-Labour supporters who have been lending them their votes since the Iraq War. This is a divided and unhappy party which was never keen on AV in the first place and was neither inclined nor able to win over a sceptical public; any energy it had left was devoted to its traditional pursuits of bellyaching and character assassination. I’m sorry if I’m labouring the point, but there was a reason that the Yes to AV campaign turned so nasty, and that was because it was dominated by Liberal Democrats.
And the fat lady sings:
2015: Actor Stephen Fry tweets: “We AV yessers got our botties spanked. Hey ho. Such is democracy.”