Alternative Voting System


Do you believe in Universal Suffrage, the principle of one man, one vote? To anyone living in a democratic country this principle is not only something to be treasured it is also something that many have given their lives striving to attain. However in the United Kingdom, attempts are now underway to dramatically distort even this long cherished right. The present voting system in the UK is quite beautiful in its simplicity and understanding. Often known as the first-past-the-post system it means that whichever candidate attains the most votes from the electorate is the person to be elected.

Although this seems a pretty fair and just voting system, there are political parties that either never get elected or achieve too few candidates to ever hope forming a national government. I suspect most people would reason that more voters preferred the policies of the winning candidate than those of the losing candidates. However after years in the national government political wilderness, the party that always comes third  in national elections  is proposing through smoke and mirror arguments to introduce a voting system to ensure that the correct political candidates are elected. Somehow the last paragraph conjures up thoughts of George Orwell’s nightmare visions.

Now that it cleared the parliamentary process, a referendum is to be held in May 2011 to decide if people would prefer a new voting system under the grandiose title of Alternative Voting. Under this system, voters will be required to number all candidates in order of their personal preference. It is not yet clear whether it will be mandatory to list candidates in a preferential order or risk having ones vote disqualified. Any candidate not securing at least 51% of the electorates votes even though they may have secured the majority of votes will have their name thrown back into the ring and the candidate who was at the bottom of the preferential list will be removed. As I understand it, the votes of the removed candidate will be added to the next lowest candidate on the list. This process will continue until one candidate attains more of these second, third, fourth votes etc than the remaining candidates. This is the person that will be elected. Does this seem confusing to you, it’s certainly confusing to me?

Although there are numbers of political parties in the UK, there are effectively three main parties and I will call them parties A, B and C in a thinly disguised attempt to avoid showing political bias.

To me the logic and consequences of this nonsensical system seem clear. There are people who will always vote for party A but never for party B. If the voter is required to cast a secondary vote the only other realistic alternative they have is Party C. Likewise there are people who will always vote for party B but never for party A. Again these voters will only have the effective alternative of casting a secondary vote for party C. If candidates representing parties A or B fail to secure 51% of the cast votes, then the secondary votes are counted. It will come as no surprise that candidate C who perhaps the majority of electors did not vote for has more secondary votes than anyone else and is therefore the person elected.

Has anyone guessed who Party C is yet?

If this system were applied to the Olympic games, there would be no guarantee that the winner of an event would be the person standing on the top step of the winners rostrum receiving a gold medal.

I find the current UK government to be a weak one as it is a coalition government with consequential internal opposing views on many subjects. I for one do not like weak governments. Each week the Government announces a plethora of new proposed policies only for them to be either drastically watered down, or abandoned the following week using insipid political arguments to justify their position. One thing that does not seem to figure highly in governmental policies is national defence with essential military equipment being taken out of service and military personnel being made redundant.  Expensive AWAK aircraft destroyed before they ever flew and aircraft carriers without aircraft but to mention a few. It makes one wonder if the Government has ever considered that the laws they make are only effective while they are in government and not some hostile aggressor being in charge instead. Perhaps they do and pray harder each night to get through the next 24 hours. Churchill must be turning in his grave.

No one would ever call me a fan of Margaret Thatcher but this would be because I disagreed with her policies rather than anything on a personal level. As a leader of the government and her political party I can only admire her dogged determination. The majority of the electorate clearly recognised this dogged determination appealed to them too and not only voted her party into power once, but also again in the following election. To me this indicates one of things the electorate seek is strong leadership irrespective of the political party.

Alternative voting is more likely to produce a string of coalition and consequentially weak governments. I do hope the electorate can see through all the spoof arguments and reject it in the forthcoming referendum.


Quote: Sir Winston Churchill 

 “AV allows democracy ‘to be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”

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