The alternative vote was proposed as the electoral system for Westminster in 1918 and 1931, and both times it failed in the House of Lords. Since then it has also been rejected by Lord Jenkins (whose 1998 Report of The Independent Commission on the Voting System is available here)...
In 1997, the Conservative party won 30.7 per cent of the vote; under FPTP it won 25 per cent of the 659 seats. Under AV, Jenkins reported that the party would only have won 14-16 per cent of those seats. Jenkins concluded his findings on AV by stating that “it inhibits a Commission appointed by a Labour government… presided over by a Liberal Democrat from recommending a solution which [would] have left the Conservatives with less than half of their proportional entitlement”.
But this disproportional link isn’t a one-off. In 2010, when Labour scored only 29 per cent, it would have delivered it almost as many seats (248) as the Conservatives, who won 36.1 per cent of votes (ie 283 seats). In 2005, Blair was re-elected on 35 per cent of the vote – the lowest share of the vote ever won by any majority government (and which meant a majority of 66). Yet under simulations of this election under AV, Labour could have increased its already disproportional majority to 88...
Complexity and invalid votes are also a hidden danger of AV. The Australian parliament analysed 146 countries’ voting patterns to calculate the average number of invalid votes over the last 4 years. Australia was in 46th place, while the United Kingdom was best placed, with 0.2 per cent of votes cast being invalid, compared to Australia’s 3.2 per cent. Even Gambia (1 per cent) and Bangladesh (1.5 per cent) – both FPTP users and with half the literacy rate of Australia – suffered fewer invalid votes...
The alternative vote doesn’t eliminate the problem of safe seats. In Australia since 1945, 40 per cent of seats haven’t changed hands; inner city and rural seats are nearly all safe and it’s in the suburban marginals that elections are won. In the UK the equivalent figure is just 29 per cent of seats.
As a modern Conservative I support and understand the need to modernise our parliament and the electoral system (to the additional member system or AV-plus). FPTP may be flawed but AV ... does nothing to solve these problems – it adds to them.
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
TORY REFORMER SAYS NO TO AV
Conservative electoral reformer Phil Cane has a post on the Platform 10 blog that makes a pro-PR case against AV: