Opponents of AV have a strong progressive case…
The Yes to AV camp was quick today to remove certain images from its Facebook page. It pointed out that apparently that the images which branded anti-AV politicians ‘Jurassic’ and included, for extra shock-value, Nick Griffin, were ‘fan art’ and not ‘officially sanctioned. This may well be the case but the fact is the language used in the ‘fan art’ has actually been used by the Yes campaign on numerous occasions.
Constantly, the implication is that the supporters of the No Camp are ‘old reactionaries’ and the supporters of the Yes Camp are the new and true ‘progressives’. It would be nice, if this truly was the case, if somebody would explain the presence of Nick Clegg and his cronies in the Yes Camp. Sometimes this leads to bald-faced lies – Labour Yes on its website falsely claims that it is only the Conservatives which oppose AV. Implicitly, anybody who sides with the No camp according to Labour Yes is siding with the Conservatives. Nowhere does it care to discuss what for it is an inconvenient truth; the fact that two of Britain’s three biggest unions are also opposed to the introduction of AV.
Of course, it suits the Yes camp to brand this as a battle between the forces of progress and reaction. The truth however, is alot more complicated. Nick Griffin may well be firmly in the No Camp but that’s because he knows it reduces the chances for small parties to acquire representation. Nonetheless, AV will give the second preferences of BNP and UKIP voters much more weight when it comes to deciding marginal seats because they almost certainly be eliminated and therefore have these preferences counted. So, the incentive for politicians from all three of the major parties to pander to the agenda of these two parties will be much greater. Therefore while AV will not get Griffin anywhere in terms of more BNP MP’s elected it will dramatically increase the potency of the BNP’s agenda in certain seats.
The fact that smaller parties only way to increase their influence under AV is not through directly accountable representation but through unaccountable pressure brought to bear through their voters second preferences is a serious democratic black mark against AV. This forms part of the progressive case against AV – it’s effect on democracy is going to be damaging and its effect on future reform is going to be the same. The only hope for this is if the emerging anti-government movement adopts electoral reform as a democratic demand.
The responsibility for ensuring a progressive case for a no vote is now made falls in my mind on the shoulders on the GMB and Unite. They must join together and, in conjunction with the official No Campaign, directly combat Labour Yes especially within the labour movement.