Sunday, April 17, 2011


AV Debate Subsides into Partisan Rowing

I note Paddy Ashdown has a rant against George Osborne in today's Observer. Osborne has claimed that the fact that the Electoral Reform Society has backed the 'Yes' campaign 'stinks' as that body stands to make money out of a voting change. Yes campaigners claim this is nonsense as ERS does not envisage any use of voting machines under AV and is only one of six companies manufacturing ballot papers for a possible AV election. Ashdown condemns this smear as symptomatic of the 'old politics' he hopes AV will help to remove. Some hope.

Such an explosion of ire from the good captain would not cause such concern were it not for an article by the highly respected Economist columnist Bagehot, which accuses both sides in the debate of staging 'a mud-pie fight of spurious, partisan claims and counter-claims.' Both sides have eschewed patient explanation 'plumping for cartoonish exaggeration' instead.

Bagehot concludes:

"The Yes and No camps bellow and roar about the marvellous or horrible consequences of AV....Nobody dares predict a result: the opinion polls are close and turnout risks being very low, especially in London where no other elections are being held on May 5th. One question has already been answered, however. Offered a chance to engage seriously with voters, Britain’s political leaders rejected it. It seems that distrust between electors and the elected runs both ways."

Expect much more of this as 5th May approaches. I am giving a talk on the AV debate 3rd May in the Liverpool Hope University Creative Centre at 7.0pm but you can rad my briefing here.

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