Thursday 10 June 2010

We are not alone.

In his comment to an earlier post scarier takes me to task for suggesting that we should have "banged on" about different forms of PR during the election campaign. I take his point. Until recently I spent my leisure hours trying to brush up my schoolboy French. I would ask one of my colleagues in the French department a simple question and he would pin me to the wall and try to teach me three new tenses. We STV advocates tend to be susceptible to the same vice: so enthusiastic about the virtues of this wonderful system that we go into far too much detail when we get or take the chance to talk about it. There are suggestions to how to put the essentials over simply and clearly and we should use them.

One advantage of the attention PR received during the election campaign is that at least some of the serious press, and presumably their readers, now understand that AV is not proportional, and may be even less proportional than FPTP. Nevertheless, as a result of Liberal Democrat timidity, AV is the system for which we must now struggle.

Well, AV is better than nothing, and we shall need all the allies we can get in the referendum campaign. The Labour Party pressure group Compass is running a campaign to urge PR on the leadership candidates. What version of PR they mean, or whether simply AV, I don't know, but I urge you to sign their
petition. You don't have to be a labour Party member. In the words of Tesco, "every little helps."


  1. While it is hard to dispute that STV is the fairest PR system retaining a constituency link, is such 'fairness' all that matters? It seems to me that an electoral system should also aggregate rather than fragment political groupings and encourage stable majorities. FPTP takes this to a wild extreme of course. AV would be a more moderate method (the French achieve similar results with their system of two ballots which gives the voters more control).
    Witnessing the political situation in Belgium (leading to disintegration of the state?) I am not sure that strict representation of every shade of opinion should override all other considerations.

  2. I seem to remember, Jaime, that as an undergraduate you managed to correct David Butler on some obscure point of psychology, so you probably know more than I do about the advantages and disadvantages of the various forms PR. However, to rehearse some of them briefly, most of us agree that the worst form of PR is the national party closed list, which gives strict proportionality but puts the order of preference of candidates in the hands of the of the parties and can give disproportionate influence to parties with very little support. Regional lists are better and regional open lists, where individual voters need not accept the parties' orders of preference, better still. It is generally agreed that STV in multi member constituencies gives reasonable proportionality,retains a link with the locality and, most of all, places choice of candidate within the party in the hands of the voter rather than the party. QED?

    A recent article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian seemed to assume that the electoral system for the reformed House of Lords would be closed party lists. I haven't heard any details of that. Have you?