I’ve written a piece on Our Kingdom about the debate currently bubbling under in reformist circles about whether or not the campaign for fair votes should be abandoned in favour of a “compromise” in the form of the Alternative Vote system. In my article I seek to show how AV is not a compromise but a wholesale surrender, will not be any easier to get introduced than full electoral reform and won’t do what a lot of its supporters think it will do:
I would summarise the push for AV as a call for a lot of pain in exchange for very little gain. Pushing through this reform will mean facing down the combined might of every single minority party, the Conservatives, the media and a large proportion of the Labour Party. Even if the Lib Dem leadership were convinced of this strategy (which I doubt), a lot of the grassroots will be in uproar. It will mean convincing the potential activist base to curb their enthusiasm and compromise on almost everything that they believe in – that tends not to work as much of a motivator. For every supporter of first past the post who might be prepared to compromise on AV there will be a supporter of proportional representation who would not. The whole thing reeks of stalemate and Whitehall farce.
This is a particularly pertinent discussion to be having at the moment because, on Saturday, the Electoral Reform Society will be having the same debate. I should point out in the interest of political balance that not all Labour people think AV is the only way to go; the alternative “compromise” – 3-member STV – which I write favourable things about in my article is going to be advocated on Saturday by one Recess Monkey.
You can read the full article here.