Thursday, 13 May 2010

What is the Alternative Vote?

So there we go, they cobbled together some sort of agreement. Let's see how long this lasts...

The first coalition government in 65 years, of course the last one was during the war. Adverse times we are living through, but I don't think it's quite the same as fighting the Germans... Unity is necessary in such times, I'm not sure it will work out the same way now. But then Nick Clegg does seem desperate to grasp hold of his chance at government. Who knows what he'll endure...

Nick takes one last look at his 'supporters'

Forgive me...

"We got you now Cleggo!"

A journalist asks Nick Clegg a particularly testing question

"So are you now David Cameron's b*tch?"

Oh yeah, never forget who's in charge. B*tch...

Later that day

Obama congratulates Cameron but is quick to explain the World Order

"You're my b*tch now"

It all sinks in...

In truth is it does seem that the Conservatives have conceded a reasonable amount to the LibDems.
They're both desperate for power. Is the cynical view. Or they both want to maintain a stable government to steer the country through these tough economic times. Is the bull***t view... They're all power crazed lunatics

Yes, lunatics.

Why would any normal rational person want to do such a s*** and invariably thankless job..?

There does appear to have been a reasonable level of compromise. The Tories have given five cabinet posts (even Ken Clarke pushed aside from Business secretary, but they had to get Vince Cable in somewhere), however token, they will need to have some sort of voice otherwise they will leave the coalition.

In terms of policies, the Tories were always going to keep Trident (though a massive part of Lib Dem spending cuts), the same goes for nuclear power with the Tories' 'Green' side.
The Lib Dem stance on immigration was never likely to get far with the Tories. The issue of Europe is one will just have to see develop.
On civil liberties they had common ground and no matter what anyone thinks of the new government, I don't think many will mourn the passing of ID cards, which had become something of a white elephant.
In terms of the economy they seemed to agree on the urgent need for cuts to deal with the deficit, though apparently the perceptions of the scale of the urgency varied slightly. They also have common ground on banking reform.
The Lib Dems have got agreement on the £10,000 tax threshold which did surprise me. And no matter what Labour might argue about how that could affect the books, how can anyone of a Left wing leaning argue against that? (Unless a rabid communist...) A huge financial boost given directly to the lower earning working class, of any circumstance, not just credits given to those who are eligible. It's a well intentioned tax cut and it puts Labour to shame as far as I'm concerned.
The Tories have also conceded their Inheritance Tax change, which is a good step in a similar direction. It's possible the overall tax burden will shift (VAT rise) and we will pay in some manner, but I would hope the balance could not be redressed completely for low earners.

The major condition was always going to be electoral reform, the LibDems know that they have to come away with something. This is their first major opportunity at power in 35 years, they can't waste the chance to change the system to give themselves better prospects at future elections and of course allow all of the electorate to have their votes count.

Just imagine the scenario where they do not get reform and the Tories manage to increase their popularity. That could potentially consolidate First Past The Post for any number of years. Though that is of course a worse case scenario, but not impossible for one reason I will mention below.

The Tories knew for the coalition to be serious they had to offer something, so the Alternative Vote (AV) system is on the cards for a referendum.

It's certainly not Proportional Representation. It really is just a token gesture, one that was first made by a desperate Labour party earlier this year. Simply to curry favour, when they knew full well they were heading to defeat. I therefore took an instant dislike to it.

It is basically an extension of the FPTP system, the constituency aspect will remain and be the basis for the allocation of Parliamentary seats. There is just a greater aspect of preference and choice in the casting of ballots.

But there are a couple of Pros, as far as I'm concerned:

- It could lead to a better correlation between the overall votes and seats and could give some smaller parties a chance.
- It could be a stepping stone to PR, if successful.

The Cons I can see are speculative. The system is in use elsewhere, but not on the scale it would be used in a General Election here.
Obviously as I mentioned that essentially it is just a form of FPTP and does not necessarily reflect the overall wishes of the electorate.

- A large percentage of the voters in any one constituency will still not have their interests represented by the selection of the winning candidate.
- In safe seats where there is a strong Labour or Conservative bias it is unlikely to have any affect and will only really affect marginals. So effectively just a slight expansion of competition in the FPTP system.
- Tactical voting is still likely, but would be more complex. Someone could easily mark their own party down and another up, in an attempt to prevent a party winning.
- As it is, many people find it difficult enough to decide on one party. A lot of voters' rankings will not necessarily reflect any considered preference.
- Like it or not, accept it or not, it is more complicated and could put off voters. Although it appears you can rank any number of parties, but then as the point above implies, if people vote for fewer parties or only one, it takes the system back towards normal FPTP.

Despite the negatives I envisage, I would vote for it, in the hope that it could lead to acceptance of a further change.

The only issue I see, as I alluded to above, is that a referendum on AV could work in favour of the Tories and their instinctive desire to keep FPTP. It might be why the Tories were willing to offer AV. They could risk it because he system is not too different to FPTP and in a referendum, if the Conservative vote combines with a vote determined to get some form of PR, perhaps in a low turnout, then it could go against AV. The Tories could then use that against any further moves for reform.

The Tories will want some electoral change whatever happens to even up FPTP, currently weighted in favour of Labour.

The LibDems push for fixed terms does seem to be an attempt to prevent the Tories from ceasing the opportunity to consolidate power and in turn halting reform. It'll be interesting to see how that works out.

Anyway the old argument for FPTP, ensuring strong government was clearly weak. It's possible but look at the mess now. There is a confrontational political culture and that would have to change in a proportional system.

The ironic thing about our system is that the parties are instinctively opposed, even though they have converged on the middle ground. They now just fight it out over very similar policies, from similar perspectives.

There is some common ground between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as I have mentioned, however, the similarities do seem to be greater at the higher echelons; those hoping to consolidate power. MPs and particularly grassroots on both sides do not seem anywhere near as keen and that could topple the coalition quite quickly.
But who would sabotage this opportunity in Government, without giving it a chance? Not the average Tory surely?

A Lib/Lab pact would not have worked and the negotiations appeared half-hearted. Dark Lord Mandelson's powers were apparently ineffective and the talks broke down quickly with each side grumbling about the other, again half heartedly.

How could it have worked? Even with Brown gone, it wouldn't have lasted.

And Brown couldn't have last.

A defeated man

Brown resigns as Prime Minister

I do hope he doesn't break down on me, he looks awful..! Where's Phillip when you need him? Oh no, I remember, Mr Brown made his opinions quite clear during the election...

A bit more like it

"Ah yes, you're one of us"

I thought Nick Clegg looked he was fighting his conscience, trying to keep down those nagging doubts that he's selling out.
But maybe not. I mean he's a public school boy too. Of good European breeding. So maybe... Maybe all is not as it seems.

He offered choice, but look what we got!

One and the same. A coalition of Toffs!

It was all a game during the debates and even Cameron's joke, about Clegg being a joke, all of it a sham! A clear conspiracy...

Well Cameron has almost got what he wanted. He is Prime Minister, the youngest Prime Minister in 200 years. But has he bitten off more than he can chew?
I don't think many would deny that it is a Poisoned Chalice. The economic situation is dire, whichever way you look at it, and there are tough times ahead. The deficit is huge and dealing with it will be difficult, while Labour can snipe from the sidelines at the solutions to the problem they in part caused.

I don't think Labour should be allowed to get away with anything like that. They need to have a good look at themselves, though I'm not sure they will.

But I won't let it lie whoever is in power. They're all the same...

The three party Leaders at last Sunday's VE Day remembrance service

What are these men thinking?

Well it seems more apparent here.

Clegg: Thanks Dave. No-one about, I'll just slip this massive 'sweetener' in here. No-one suspects a thing...
Cameron: Why don't you just quit, you old goat?!
Brown: Is that a bigot I can hear?!

More to come on Labour, they may be in opposition now, but that won't stop them. Plenty of parting shots from them and they're as patronising as ever, they just can't help themselves!

Their Leadership race will gain pace and that should be amusing. And Gordon Brown needs a proper Goodbye of course...

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