UK Politics

Has the No To AV campaign made a serious misstep with launch campaign?

I’m loathe to agree with Toby Young, but he makes a fair point this morning regarding the launch of the campaign against the Alternative Vote. In its marketing material the campaign is focusing on the fact that it is costing tax payers £250 million rather than the AV is the wrong system.

“Good grief. Looking at the website the NoToAV campaign unveiled yesterday, I reckon defenders of our first past the post voting system might as well throw in the towel.

“Instead of presenting any of the serious arguments – AV is more likely to lead to hung Parliaments, it will give small, extremist parties the whip hand in coalition negotiations, it will lead to the end of our two-party system in which voters have a clear choice between two alternatives, etc – it instead urges us to reject AV on the sole basis that it will cost £250 million,” Young writes in the Telegraph.

I should own up at this stage and say that I did tweet yesterday about the £250m asking if it was money well spent. This was quickly pointed out by return of tweet that the money was not the issue and it is something of a desperate tactic.

Desperate is maybe harsh, but what I am convinced is true is that this isn’t about the money. Money isn’t the issue. Money is the last throw of the dice and what the campaign needs to do initially is win the battle of ideas.The point is that the Alternative Vote is not proportional representation.

It is a half baked reform of the voting system that is being rushed through without any alternatives or options being looked at or discussed. If ever there were a need for a royal commission it is on this issue. It is not a better system. Look at Australia. As Progress points out “anyone who has observed Australian politics will laugh at the idea that AV makes for better or cleaner politics or connects voters better to parliament”. Isn’t that what Nick Clegg promised? Well he promised a lot of things.

Back on the image of the cash it is in no way a strong enough base on which to build a campaign. Besides while to you and me £250m is a lot of cash it isn’t so much in the scheme of things. It is also easy to counter. “A Change worth investing in?” Something like that. Maybe I’m wrong maybe some/many out there who support the No To AV campaign are convinced this is a winning idea. What do you think?