1) AV abolishes tactical voting. Have you ever voted for someone you didn’t like in order to keep someone you liked even less out? If you haven’t, I’m sure lots of people you know have. This is, surely, bad for democracy. Under AV, you can vote for whoever you want, safe in the knowledge your vote will transfer on to the less bad candidate if they are the only person who can beat the person you hate.
2) No more leaflets saying “It’s a two horse race!”. Elections are supposed to be about how we run out country. Yet so many campaigns are dominated by parties claiming they are the only people with a chance of beating their main opponent. Let’s use this time to talk about the things that matter to us, please.
3) Fewer safe seats. In seats where there is a majority who really don’t like the incumbent, but their votes are split between more than one party, MPs will have to work harder to protect their seats.
4) More lefty co-operation: Famously, the left is more divided than the right. We need to get better at working together. AV means that our parties will need transfers from each other, so maybe it will encourage us to stop slamming each other quite as hard as we slam the right.
5) The No to AV campaign has basically been dominated by lies, half truths and smears. If it wins, what message will that send to campaigners in any future referendums?
6) AV means more constituents will have an MP they can work with. People who argue for first past the post over proportional representation say they like to have an MP they can go to. But the truth is that, in lots of constituencies, most people didn’t vote for their MP and their MP doesn’t really agree with them on anything much. With AV, more people will at least have given their MP one of their top preferences, meaning the person elected will be someone that more people will be represented by, at least to some extent. So AV means better constituency MPs.
7) The only significant party leaders to oppose AV are David Cameron, quasi-fascist DUP leader Peter Robinson, and actually fascist Nick Griffin. Meanwhile Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Caroline Lucas, Alex Salmond, Ieuan Wyn Jones, Nigel Farage, and the leaders of the SDLP and Sinn Fein and the Alliance Party all back AV. Which of those groups would you rather be in?
8 ) It will really screw with David Cameron. Ok, this is a terrible reason to change a voting system we may end up with for more than a century (we’ve had our current system since 1885 – do you know who the Prime Minister was then?). But some seem to be voting ‘no’ to mess with Nick Clegg. Equally, Cameron is vulnerable to a split in his party. The Tory right are livid with him for failing to win a majority in the election. Losing this referendum too would cause him real problems, and so damage the government significantly. If you are voting no to mess with the coalition, then there is just as much of a case to vote yes for the same reason.
9) Change begets change. I don’t believe the arguments from either side about momentum. However, as James Golden has pointed out, the history of the 19th century shows that small changes lead to more small changes, which add up to big changes. It seems to me that once people have got the idea that our democratic systems are not permanent, that they can be improved, then they do it more and more. This is a good thing, because we need lots of changes!
10) It will help small but not extremist parties. While it isn’t proportional, it wouldn’t have to be. In proportional elections, like Euros, Greens get many more votes. Greens came first across Oxford in 2009, for example. Once people aren’t voting tactically, it turns out that lots do want MPs from smaller parties, they just don’t want to risk ‘wasting’ their vote. More voices in Parliament means that it is much harder for vested interests to hold sway, as Labour (for example) don’t have the luxury of knowing that they are the only choice for lefty voters, and so have to continue to appeal to those voters. This means we, people, gain much more power over politicians. It means more different ideas in Parliament and in our political debate. And so it means our democracy becomes richer and our country therefore better.
11) It delivers MPs who better represent what constituents want. As the beer/coffee picture above illustrates beautifully.