National politics

It’s first-past-the-post for me

Ten weeks from today we will be going to the polls to decide whether or not we want to keep our first-past-the-post voting system. I will be campaigning hard over that time against AV which I think is a fundamentally unfair system.

It is dangerous to patronise voters but AV is complex and too many people make mistakes with it. The voting for the London Mayor uses the AV system and I noted almost three years ago that 41,000 Londoners, 1.7% of the electorate lost their first vote as a result of the complexity of the system. I said back in 2008:

Anyone at the counts will know how many people wasted their votes as a result of being confused by this system. Some people put the numerals 1 and 2 in the left-hand column – both votes rejected. Many people put two crosses in the left hand column – both votes rejected. 41,000 or 1.7% of first preference votes were rejected. 412,000 or 17% of second preferences were rejected and 408,000 or 17% of voters didn’t bother with the second vote.

If 17% of second votes aren’t even counted you have to start asking some hard questions. This was the third time AV has been used for this election so it is no use arguing that voters were inexperienced.

The second reason I think it is unfair, as Carmeron says in the video, is that it gives a minority of voters two bites of the cherry. So, for instance, the left can appear to be much bigger than it is. The Marxist entryists in the Green Party can vote once for the Greens and then vote again for the Labour Party.

AV is complex and unfair. FPTP is a bit harsh but very transparent. Bit like me!

5 replies on “It’s first-past-the-post for me”


I wish this AV business was not so politicised because if we don’t like the Tories then we may see people voting in favour of AV just to spite them – even though Labour itself is not exactly keen on AV.

On the one hand this is a constitutional change which will affect us for ever. But on the other, some pundits say that it will affect results in only a small number of constituencies – so why be bothered?

According to the Times Italy has had this system for a long time and the ruling party has not changed- simply the minorities supporting it have changed. If so I do not support AV.

It might well be good to have the iniquities of hard right wing politics held in check by the Liberals but the only way the Liberals are going to be in power is by toadying to the Tories. The same will happen when there is a swing to Labour. And then we will see the Liberals giving up on some policies which they now support.

Brits just don’t like AH crawlers.

I am used to strong government and although there have been some terrible iniquities on both sides, at least the two main parties alternate and redress some of the worst policy decisions.

What I do find offensive is that – taking the present Coalition as an example – the Tories campaigned on Ticket A and the Liberals on Ticket B. But so soon as they formed a Coalition they tore up their tickets and created a third. I don’t feel comfortable with voting for A or B (or C) if their manifestos turn out to be worthless. I also want the option for swing voters being retained. I think AV will take that away.

FPTP may be harsher.

All politicians are about as delightfully transparent as a block of granite!


Poor arguments Phil.

1. AV is simple enough for Australia and their democracy functions fine.
2. Voters only get a second chance to vote if their first vote has been wasted.

AV is simple and fairer than anything except proportional representation. FPTP is a very harsh (on everyone but the Tories and Labour). FPTP transparently aids the status quo of polarised politics.


Just seen an article for AV by Ealing Liberal Councilor Gary Malcolm at

Two lies in two sentences :

“one Conservative MP, John Strafford, has been very out-spoken in favour of AV. AV is currently used to elect the Mayor of London so you may be familiar with the system.”

I don’t know who John Strafford is, but he’s not a Conservative MP. They use Supplementary Vote rather than AV for the Mayor of London – I’m no expert on systems, but I’ve seen the difference described as important on blog sites.

Just proves you can’t trust a Liberal to tell the truth.




It is not good to call people liers all of the time. I try to reserve this for people who know they are telling lies rather than people who make mistakes.

I think that Gary made a couple of mistakes. There is a pro-AV Tory activist called John Strafford who is not an MP. The supplementary vote looks very similar to AV. I have made the mistake myself. In the supplementary system if there is not a clear majority all the candidates except the biggest two are removed and their second votes counted. Under AV there may be many rounds of voting, eliminating just the smallest first.


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