Thursday, February 04, 2010

Could Gordon Lose the AV Vote on Tuesday?

I hear Labour whips are very worried about losing Tuesday's vote on changing the voting system to the Alternative Vote system. With a majority of more than 60, they ought to win the vote comfortably, but doubts are being expressed about how a significant number of Labour MPs will vote. Very few are AV enthusiasts and there are plenty who reject any hint of any kind of electoral reform. Others, especially those who are standing down, may well just decide not to bother turning up.

In addition, the LibDems have published their own amendment to the motion. They hate AV. They don't regard it as in any way proportional. It is therefore likely they will abstain, but if their amendment is treated with contempt, they could join the Tories in the no lobby. The Tories are on a three line whip, with dire warnings being issued to those who think they might have an evening off.

Another Gordon Brown idea that seemed like a good wheeze at the time?

31 comments:

Oliver Drew said...

They'll win in the end - the only thing worse than voting for an AV referendum when they don't want it is seeing the Tories in power (even for the MPs who are retiring).

Therefore I think they'll manage to scrape home the vote...otherwise it'll damage the government too much.

Englishman said...

Will Broon's fellow Scottish MP's be voting?, (it's not like they have anything else to do) if so their votes will probably get it rammed through, even though it wont really affect their own Region or Scottish EU Regional Assembly, only in a so called "UK" context where Scots help vote to elect McLabour as 'British' Government to continue to(mis)rule England and to keep the subsidy rolling up North via the Barnett formula.

The only reason Broon wants to introduce this, apart from his impending electoral DOOM, is that this is the way they do it in EUrope! and he is merely converting and finalising England for foreign rule/absorption on behalf of his employers in Brussels.

charles hercock said...

e we cannot have constitutional change for electoral whim

Duncan Stott said...

On Newsnight, Chris Huhne said that they would back AV over FPTP. So if they fail to get the bill amended to include PR, they'll probably vote for the AV referendum anyway. They certainly won't vote against.

Hawkeye said...

It would be rather a hoot if Gordon lost. I might have an extra beer to celebrate

Andy said...

The AV system rewards the opinions of minority groups (extremists).
For example, if there are two moderate parties with mass appeal, and the extremists from one party form a third, and the votes go:
Party A 40% 2nd choice B 30% 3rd C 10%
Party B 35% 2nd choice A 8% 3rd C 27%
Party C 25% 2nd A 15% 3rd B 10%.
Add the 3rd choice of C voters (the smallest party)to A and get 55% producing a win.
Yet add the second choice of A voters (the largest party) to B and you get 65%!
Gordon thinks he can get Liberal 2nd choicers, but he's more likely to get BNP.

survivor said...

Under an AV voting system, proposed by the Prime Minister, voters will be allowed to vote in preferred order for all the candidates at an election.
Let us assume there are 4 candidates, representing Conservative, Labour, BNP and Green Parties and that, for simplicity's sake, there are 200 votes cast.
Let us assume the number of votes cast is 96 for each of the major party candidates with 6 and 2 for the minor party candidates respectively.
Assume also that all those voting Con or Lab as first preference place its counterpart as their 4th choice in the poll, their 2nd preference votes being equally shared by BNP and Green.
The next assumption is that BNP and Green 1st choice voters split their 2nd choice votes equally between the major parties.
The upshot of this would be, after 2nd preferences are taken into account, the BNP receives 102 votes, Con and Lab 100 votes each and Greens 98 votes.
Thus the BNP would both lose its deposit and win the election!!
Even if this is no more than a statistical possibility, how can we consider a system that gives any chance at all to such a ludicrous potential outcome?

survivor said...

Under an AV voting system, proposed by the Prime Minister,as I understand it, voters will be allowed to vote in preferred order for all the candidates at an election.
Let us assume there are 4 candidates, representing Conservative, Labour, BNP and Green Parties and that, for simplicity's sake, there are 200 votes cast.
Let us assume the number of votes cast is 96 for each of the major party candidates with 6 and 2 for the minor party candidates respectively.
Assume also that all those voting Con or Lab as first preference place its counterpart as their 4th choice in the poll, their 2nd preference votes being equally shared by BNP and Green.
The next assumption is that BNP and Green 1st choice voters split their 2nd choice votes equally between the major parties.
The upshot of this would be, after 2nd preferences are taken into account, the BNP receives 102 votes, Con and Lab 100 votes each and Greens 98 votes.
Thus the BNP would both lose its deposit and win the election!!
Even if this is no more than a statistical possibility, how can we consider a system that gives any chance at all to such a ludicrous potential outcome?

Jimmy said...

Survivor,

That is not how it works. The candidates are eliminated in reverse order of first preference vote. In your scenario, and on the not unreasonable assumption that BNP voters generally prefer tories to labour, the tory would be elected.

Labour = Liberal Democrat said...

No doubt Barry Sheerman MP will be sending pictures of Gordon Brown in Brown Paper envelopes to wavering Labour MPs! It was reported that Sheerman sent pictures of michael Howard to Labour MPs in a close vote pre-Brown!!! lol

Well Barry does not want Brown as Labour leader this side of an election, why on earth would he want him the otherside of an election if Brown gerrymanders the electoral system to enable Lib Dem and Labour to block Democracy?

Max Atkinson said...

The most profound discussion of alternative voting systems is to be found in the classic sequence from Auf Wiedersehen Pet in which Barry's solution to the problem of what colour to paint the hut produces a result that no one wanted: http://bit.ly/a2OolX

javelin said...

They'll vote for Christmas - like all good Turkeys do.

Adrian said...

I've been shaking my head in disbelief ever since I heard about Gordon's sudden decision to do this. It reminds me of the doomed (and costly) attempt to start up regional assemblies. I've been reading William Norton's entertaining book ("White Elephant") about that fiasco and I imagine something similar happening with this. Even if Labour gets a referendum, there aren't enough AV supporters around to get any momentum for a yes vote.

Frugal Dougal said...

For one thing, younger Labour members will be thinking about thieir career in politics long-term: AV will make this even more uncertain than it is right now.

javelin said...

The markets have given some EU Governments a NO vote today.

Equity sell off today.

Markets are telling the Governments that their policies will hurt the Corporates.

iCowboy said...

Any chance the Conservatives will be telling us how they plan to make Parliament more representative of the voting patterns, or, could they explain why they're happy with a system where many seats are effectively uncompetitive?

wild said...

Because the BNP is a Nationalist Socialist party it targets voters on the Left who might otherwise vote Labour.

DiscoveredJoys said...

The really cunning plan would be for the Conservatives to vote for the referendum.

After all, they could easily change the terms of the referendum after the election (say to keep the Lib Dems on board), and in the mean time they could say that this was the first time that Gordon Brown got anything right...

Cynical? Moi?

Christopher said...

LDs don't regard it as proportional because it ISN'T proportional in any way whatsoever. You cannot have proportionality with single member seats.

DocRichard said...

Gord forbid that Parliament should in any way represent the will of the people. AV does mean that every MP will have been elected by the majority of the constituency, but the results can sometimes be less proportional than FPTP.

Mulligan said...

"In your scenario, and on the not unreasonable assumption that BNP voters generally prefer tories to labour, the tory would be elected."

Since BNP only do well in Labour constituencies I'd say this assumption was not only entirely unreasonable but completely opposite to the reality. But then you knew that already didn't you Jimmy???????

Penddu said...

In Wales we can not make constitutional changes unless we jump through hoops and achieve a 66% majority vote before any referendum.

Why is this imposed on Wales but Westminster can just make it up as they go along???

VotR said...

Labour MPs may use this vote to indicate their personal feelings towards Brown.

With the lacklustre promise of more powers to backbenchers yet to appear, an axe or two could be grinding against Gordon by his own side.

Gerry57 said...

PR, STV and now AV.
In the 2009 Euro elections we had STV. I had no idea who my MEP was so I just now looked it up and apparently I have seven from four different parties (for what use they are, if any). Originally I had one MEP John Marshall as he had won the most votes (clear and simple). With AV I gather you don't HAVE to make a second, third choice. Let's just keep it simple for the people, with good old FPTP.

N A Berry said...

I just don't see how AV could possibly benefit minority parties as some have claimed.

In almost all cases the BNP wouldn't make the top three and thus be immediately eliminated. Even if they did come second and got through to the next round I would imagine that all of those who would have contemplated voting for them would already have done so and that their second preference share would be minimal.

AV is a crap system neither properly majoritarian nor properly proportional. Pick one or the other

Jules said...

scorched earth policy anyone?

Alex Gilmore, said...

N A Berry

Like so many others on this blog, you fail to understand at all how the AV system works. It is not a top 3, or a run-off, ala:

“In almost all cases the BNP wouldn't make the top three and thus be immediately eliminated. Even if they did come second and got through to the next round I would imagine that all of those who would have contemplated voting for them would already have done so and that their second preference share would be minimal.

AV is a crap system neither properly majoritarian nor properly proportional. Pick one or the other”

To anyone unsure how this works:

• Voters rank candidates from 1 up to a maximum of how many candidates there are (but are not compelled to vote more than once, or even once if that is their fancy)
• All first preference votes are totalled up.
• If no candidate reaches 50% +1, the bottom candidate on 1st pref gets eliminated and his or her 2nd preferences go to the other remaining candidates.(if the pref is for a candidate already eliminated (see below) the third pref and so on till a legitimate vote or a spoiled ballot is created).
• This goes on, either till one candidate reaches 50%+1 or there are two remaining candidates, both with <50% (this can happen if enough voters don’t rank candidates past #1, or rank for candidates who have already been eliminated).

Thus, ‘every’ MP will in almost every case get at least 50% of the vote (though it could happen otherwise, but V unlikely), and contrary to some posts, it is really bad for the more extremist parties are they are unlikely to gain preferences from others.

All in all, I don’t particularly like the AV (am a labour supporter who thinks STV is a much better idea with 4 or 5 members constituencies, but that is for another day), but it is better than the system we have which can (and does) lead to MP’s (and councillors) being elected with as little as 25-30% of the votes cast (never mind the non voters).

And as for those complaining that this is a shot out of the blue. If you followed politics you would understand that this has been talked about for well over 6 months, but it has looked like it was not going to happen for the last couple.

And btw, to all those who have no idea what the AV actually is, but still shout their mouths off, ignorance is no justification for stupidity.

Andy said...

Alex Gilmore's comment backs up my original point:

" If no candidate reaches 50% +1, the bottom candidate on 1st pref gets eliminated and his or her 2nd preferences go to the other remaining candidates.(if the pref is for a candidate already eliminated (see below) the third pref and so on till a legitimate vote or a spoiled ballot is created).
• This goes on, either till one candidate reaches 50%+1 or there are two remaining candidates, both with <50% (this can happen if enough voters don’t rank candidates past #1, or rank for candidates who have already been eliminated)."

In other words, the 2nd preference of the voters who vote for the least favourite candidate get preference over the 2nd choice of everyone else.

So if the BNP come last, then THEIR supporters 2nd choices get extra votes.

It is not democratic in the slightest, but will support Labour candidates in previously safe seats that now have a BNP presence.

Alex Gilmore, said...

Andy

“In other words, the 2nd preference of the voters who vote for the least favourite candidate get preference over the 2nd choice of everyone else.

So if the BNP come last, then THEIR supporters 2nd choices get extra votes.”

In some way that might be true, but in the real world,

1. often the BNP will not come last
2. the parties who first lose out (ie with least votes), do not have enough votes to make a considerable difference. (even in STV you get slippage so candidate A might only get 70% or so of candidate B’s second pref’s, even though they are the same party). Often the preferences will only make a difference when the ‘bigger’ of the minor parties get involved, ie when UKIP get eliminated (this will help the tories as people can vote UKIP-CON and not waste votes), the Greens or maybe the BNP.

Someone would need to have a close look at all uk seats and see where a candidate gets near 50% to have a case where a minority party really makes a difference. In reality, the majority of seats in Britain elect members with around 40% of the vote, so it will take a sizable amount of extra preferences to get over the winning post (quite a lot of the time even one of the ‘big three’ dropping out.

Ben said...

How characteristically courageous of Gordon Brown to set out plans to promise the British people a referendum on the voting system.

In view of the high risk that they will all remember the last referendum on the EU constitution his party promised but never delivered, you have to admire his bravery.

(Or is he just desperately dim?)

John said...

This off http://www1.politicalbetting.com/

There’s a new poll out tonight from Angus Reid on voter’s attitudes towards electoral reform - particularly the planned alternative vote system on which a referendum is planned and which MPs will decide upon this month.

The survey took place amongst a sample of 2,010 people on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week while Labour’s plans were making the news.

What strikes you immediately from the numbers above is how contradictory the response it. That the first question sees the current first past the post approach being supported by 51% 62% to 30% doesn’t quite fit with the findings on how people would vote if such a referendum took place.



February 5th, 2010