Unique cross-party letter printed in today’s EDP: Diverse Norfolk politicians backing #AV


 We are politicians from very different Parties and backgrounds, but we are strongly agreed on one thing: It is high time that the winds of change blew through British politics. If, like us, you think that our political system is broken, then we hope you will vote YES to fairer votes on May 5.

 Make no mistake about it: it is organisations such as the BNP and the Communist Party who are praying and campaigning for a NO vote, and desperately hoping that electoral reform is stopped in its tracks. If you think it is fine to let extremists win on a minority of the vote, then feel free to vote NO on May 5. But if you think that your MP should have a majority of the voters in their constituency behind them, then you should vote YES.

 Under our current system, most people have an MP that they didn’t vote for. More than 2/3 of MPs were elected with fewer than 50% of the vote.

 Too many MPs think that they have a job for life. Half of all seats have been in the same party’s control since 1970. This can breed arrogance and complacency. When MPs take their constituents for granted, abuses of the system are more likely.

 AV gives more power to individual voters. It’s not complicated. It’s as easy as 1,2,3…

 THIS is our chance for electoral and political reform.

   Yours faithfully,

 Stuart Agnew MEP (UKIP), Ian Gibson (former MP for Norwich North), Norman Lamb MP (LibDem, North Norfolk), C’llr. Adrian Ramsay (Deputy Leader, the Green Party of England and Wales), C’llr. Rupert Read (Co-ordinator, East of England Green Party), Simon Wright MP (LibDem, Norwich South).

‘Man and wife’?! – BBC takes us back to the 1950s…

A BBC reporter on 2pm news on Saturday Ap.30 [just now] on Radio 4 spoke of William and Kate as ‘Man and wife’. It’s official then: women are appendages. Feminism never happened. She promised to ‘obey’ him… Oh wait: she didn’t. This was BBC spin. Pure and simple.
This was an utterly inappropriate turn of phrase. I can barely believe that it occured.
Women and all decent-minded people living in the 21st century will know that the Beeb are even more conservative than the new Duchess of Cambridge – unless this gets apologised for.

Green, UKIP, Lab, Lib – the alternative #Yes2AV ‘coalition’

+++Nigel Farage and Caroline Lucas joins cross party #Yes2AV event+++

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage joined with Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP, Alan Johnson MP and Tim Farron yesterday morning at a press conference, calling for a Yes vote on May 5th.  Mr Farage and Ms. Lucas warned that the First Past the Post system was “alienating a whole generation of voters” and called on people to make the positive case for reform in the final week of the campaign.

Photos: http://bit.ly/hWrSP5

BBC – AV referendum: ‘Real dilemma’ for Labour says Johnson: http://bbc.in/e3CB6p

++News Links:

Labour Yes – Wipe the Smile off Cameron’s Face. Vote Yes: http://bit.ly/feC47C

BBC Newsnight AV Special: http://bbc.in/eElUrI

Guardian – Jonathan Freedland: AV: a crucial ‘baby step’ if we are to break Britain’s electoral reform taboo: http://bit.ly/gR3BbP

Guardian – Say yes to AV at referendum to hurt Tories, Labour tells supporters: http://bit.ly/i7Wu4e

Independent – Yes camp rules out use of costly counting machines: http://ind.pn/h9A8ws

Mirror – Vote Yes for AV: http://bit.ly/flw1li

Mirror – Lib Dems could demand AV re-run: http://bit.ly/gnuW89

Political Betting – Can the Labour YES poster help turn it round? http://bit.ly/fkfJuY

Amelia’s Magazine – Voting Reform: An interview with Amisha Ghadiali: http://bit.ly/h9F1yD

I don’t agree with Nick: So I’m voting #Yes2AV

My letter, printed in today’s INDY:


Andrew Grice (Inside Westminster, 23 April) recycles the conventional wisdom that the introduction of #AV will benefit the Lib Dems. But no one knows what effect AV will have on the Lib Dems.

This is because AV, by eliminating tactical voting attributed to the “wasted vote” argument, changes first-preference voting behaviour too. So it is entirely possible that, where Lib Dems currently win seats, they may do worse under AV, because voters who currently lend them their “tactical votes” will no longer do so.

One thing we know for sure about AV, from the Australian experience, is that AV is terrible news for extremist and racist parties, which probably explains why the BNP are vigorously arguing for a No vote on 5 May. This is because racists virtually never win a majority at the ballot box – and a majority, not merely a plurality, of the votes is what one needs to win, under AV.

So it is quite likely that the Lib Dems, quite widely disparaged now, would, under AV, suffer, just as the BNP would. It is quite possible that many angry voters would leave them off their preference lists altogether. If one wants not only to wipe the smile off Nick Griffin’s face, but also to punish Nick Clegg and his “betrayal” in a really clever way, the best way of doing so is to vote Yes, on 5 May.

Cllr Rupert Read




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The X-Factor analogy for #AV

Excerpt from a TIMES article: Bucks Fizz can help you make your mind up about AV
(By Dr. Alan Renwick, Reading University)

Unless you’re an election junkie like me, you’re probably either bamboozled or bored (or both) by the debate over AV. Most people get the basics that under AV you can rank the candidates. But then how are these preferences counted? Does AV give some voters extra votes? Is the weight that AV gives to lower preferences fair?

Thankfully, most of us know more about voting systems than we realise: we’re used to them from The Eurovision Song Contest, The X Factor, even figure skating and a host of other non-political contests.

To see the basic case for AV, look at the difference between Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor. BGT uses first-past-the-post, the current Westminster system. There are ten contestants in the final; whoever gets most votes wins. The trouble is that if votes are widely spread across the contestants, victory could be secured on little more than a tenth of the vote. Diversity beat Susan Boyle in 2009 even though the dance group won less than a quarter of the vote. Someone with a small but committed following could win, even if the rest of the country despises them.

The X Factor avoids this: after each round, the singer coming last is kicked out. Eventually only two remain and the winner has majority support. AV achieves basically the same without requiring us all to traipse back to the polls each week. With your first preference you say whom you want to win. Your second preference says whom you want to win if your top pick gets the boot and so on. You can’t change your mind under AV, as you can in The X Factor, but otherwise the logic is the same.

The anti-AV people claim that AV gives some voters extra votes. The X Factor shows why that’s wrong. Matt Cardle’s supporters got to vote for him each week. They had just as many votes as the people who switched from loser to loser to loser. In AV too, if your first preference stays in the race, your vote for him or her is counted once in each round, just as it is if your vote is transferred from your first to your second to your third preference.

What about the claim that AV gives too much weight to lower preferences? To get a handle on this, cast your mind forward to the glitterfest of Eurovision, coming a week after the referendum. In Eurovision, each country ranks its top ten acts. The first gets 12 points, the second 10 and so on. The winner is the act with most points. That means that preferences are weighted: lower preferences give fewer points than higher ones. But these always count, which means that you could scupper your favourite act’s chances by giving ten points to your second favourite.

In AV, by contrast, lower preferences have the same weight as higher preferences — but only if they are counted. Your second preference is counted only if your first choice has been excluded. It’s like first counting only the 12s. Only if no candidate has a majority of the 12s do you eliminate the act with fewest 12s and count instead the second preferences of their supporters.

Look at Britain’s great triumph of 1981, when Europe made its mind up for Bucks Fizz. Defenders of great British traditions should be aware that we would have lost under first-past- the-post: Bucks Fizz gained only two 12s, tying for fourth place behind Switzerland, France and Germany. They won because they secured lots of eights and tens and because Eurovision counts these lower preferences. But they would have lost under AV too: with so few first preferences, we would have been eliminated before our deep well of middling support could have been tapped. So AV does give special weight to first preferences: you need a decent number of them to stay in the game in the early rounds of counting.

Letter from a Japanese friend:

A terrible warning from the nuclear frontline. A call to act, to we who may yet sleepwalk into nuclear madness:
Thank you very much for your concern for our well being and lives after the
disaster in Japan one month ago.
The Tokyo area, where I live, has not been so much affected so far,
but, as you read in news articles or see on TV news in your countries, people
from the easternmost areas, in particular, those areas directly affected
by the tsunami and the nuclear power plant devastation, have been forced to
lead a very hard life.  (As of the 15th of April, the death toll has risen to
more than 13,000, and the missing to more than 15,000. Also,
about 130,000 people still continue to live at shelters.)
I also would like to draw your attention to what happened (due) to the nuclear
power plant in Fukushima.  The Japanese government and the Electric
Power Companies all over the country have been promoting nuclear power
for decades. (We now have 18 plants and 55 reactors in this very vulnerable
soil — and two more reactors are under construction, and still eleven more
are planned; they currently provide about 30 percent of  the electrical power in
Japan.)  The Japanese government and the Electric Power Companies have been
saying that nuclear power is clean and safe.  However, as you can see, it has turned
out that it is neither clean nor safe. Whether this magnitude of disaster was predictable
or unpredictable is not the point; it has happened.  As you also know, a substantial
amount of radioactive materials have been emitted into the atmosphere and the sea.
Furthermore, what we have been witnessing is the destruction of many
people’s ordinary lives.  A substantial number (presumably, tens of thousands) of
people were, and will be, forced to evacuate from the affected areas, because of the
air contamination (and it is reported that the soil there may also be contaminated),
and those people do not even know when they can return to their own homes.
Not only this; some people would not be able to evacuate because they need to
take care of a family member who cannot move, or domestic animals, their important
life resources.  Also, many workers remain in the extremely dangerous condition to
prevent the worst results for the surrounding area and our country.  I would
appreciate it if you would voice your thoughts about nuclear power in your countries,
in those dependent on nuclear power in particular.
I think we have some alternatives
to such a dangerous source, including changing our lifestyles a bit — from being too
dependent on electricity.
Please forward this message to anybody who may be interested.
Thank you very much again.
Very truly,
Aug Nishizaka

Why the BNP are voting NO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cluQTDWGd4&feature=player_embedded This vid debunking #No2AV lies about #FPTP, #AV and extremism is crucial! Do watch – and then share widely…
This video will help you to understand why the BNP want you to vote No to AV on May 5, while Operation Black Vote want you to vote Yes. It will explain why Simon Darby, Vice-Chair of the BNP, recently said that

“We are never going to get our feet under the table under the AV system.”

Please watch the video, and then forward the email to all your friends / share the link on Twitter or Facebook.

We’ve got just 2 weeks left now, to change our electoral system for the better – or to be shafted by the Tories, the BNP and the right-wing press, who will be the ones gloating if Britain votes NO on May 5.

Let’s make it YES, instead…

<a href=”http://www.yestofairervotes.org/“>Vote #Yes2AV </a>  | <a href=”http://www.yestofairervotes.org/“>Alternative Vote</a> | <a href=”http://www.yestofairervotes.org/“>Yes 2 AV</a>