Being Right Isn’t Enough, Or Why Yes To AV Went Down In Flames

My friend Cory nurses his post-election hangover and analyses in painstaking detail why Britain’s best chance for electoral reform was crushed 61-39% in the referendum. I strongly advise my British and Anglophile followers to read this.

My two cents: the Yes to AV campaign pretty much exemplified everything that frustrates me about liberalism.  Insinuating that people who oppose what you believe in do so because they’re morally degenerate, not because they have principled and reasonable objections is not only exceedingly arrogant and insulting, it leads to a dangerous obtuseness where you believe that you are so obviously right, people can’t possibly disagree with you and will support you. Not the case, as we found out. And as someone with conservative parents who gave good, logical reasons for voting against it, I got very, very sick of my ideological teammates implying that there was something wrong with them.

The biggest mistake of all, of course, was bringing a knife to a gunfight. Yes 2 AV was effectively doomed from the start because it chose to deploy celebrities and ragtag groups against skilled, ruthless and experienced political operatives. A greater mismatch there has not been since the Light Brigade charged the Russian cannons in Crimea. What certainly didn’t help was the spectacle of Simon Hughes and Chris Huhne calling their coalition partners liars and raging in public, revealing once again the depth of the Lib Dems’ political naivety. While the Tories were certainly guilty of fearmongering and spreading lies about the AV system, they did so subtly, so that when the Lib Dems’ went on the very public warpath, they came across as unreasonable and bitter, which can only have helped harden attitudes against AV.

So, while might does not make right, right certainly needs some might, or least some brains behind it to triumph.


3 comments on “Being Right Isn’t Enough, Or Why Yes To AV Went Down In Flames

  1. Electoral reform won’t disappear because FPTP doesn’t work in a multiparty democracy.
    But we can’t expect to get it in one great bound. It is going to take time.

    Next time we should follow the New Zealand example. The referendum question should be a non binding question, simply, ‘Should we change the voting system?’
    There would be a much better chance of getting a YES result, because the referendum debate would be all about FPTP, which is difficult to defend.

    With a YES vote, in even a nonbinding referendum, we would be on the road to PR. This should be a system akin to AMS, preserving the single member constituency and simple voting and counting. We should abandon preferential systems such as STV.

    For an ‘AMS’ type PR system where all MPs are constituency MPs, that avoids the problems inherent in party lists, google ‘DPR Voting’

  2. Pingback: In Which I Tackle Clegg Derangement Syndrome « Sane In The Membrane

  3. My experience of this was that basically the No Campaign appeared (at least to me) to be implying that the General Public were stupid and that they ‘would not understand AV’ (I was told I was naive for being a defender of it by someone when I was dispelling the 250M cost lie ‘because you don’t know the costs involved in vote counting’, and any time I made a reasoned point in debate, the No side turned to insults), that it is ‘too complex’, that change would cost a lot (their figure was a LOT more than the actual cost) and other such lies. Neither campaign was particularly great, but if anything I felt the Yes campaign was less vicious and insulting. Sadly I fear the No campaign may have been correct in telling people they were stupid.

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