03 May 2011

Who is telling the truth?

First an explanation:

Now one intepretation:

Now another:

Who is telling it as it is? Who is trying to mislead you? How will you vote?


A New Kind of GP said...

Strictly Come Dancing - although not exactly an AV voting system - had it been run along a first past the post system, it would have ended after the first programme with Ann Widdecombe as the clear winner.
No wonder the Tories like it.

Anonymouse said...

I am voting 'no', because I don't understand whether i would be allowed to leave some boxes blank or not if I don't like certain candidates and do not want to give them any chance at my vote! Can you for example tick one box and leave the rest blank if you so wish?

If so, what's the point then?! Might as well stay how we are - if it ain't broke ... :-)

R said...

Anonymouse - yes, of course you can choose only one candidate. In Dan's ‘going for drinks’ analogy you'd be saying that you'd quite like to go to the Red Lion, but if we're not going there, you don't really mind where else we end up.

That's fine. Your choice. But it seems unfair to withhold the option from those of us who would use it if we could!

Dr Grumble said...

The idea that with AV you could vote somebody in that you don't want is one of the falsehoods that has been peddled. AV gives you more control over whom you want by enabling you to rank the candidates - if that is what you want to do. You don't have to.

The second video is geared to portray AV as impossible to understand and bizarre which it definitely is not. It is unequivocally fairer which may be why the opponents focus on muddying the waters so as to confuse and frighten you.

Anonymouse said...

"it seems unfair to withhold the option from those of us who would use it if we could! "

But I am voting for 'me' not for 'you' Becca, isn't that the whole point of an election? Elections are perhaps the only permissible totally selfish act :-)

And I understand why you think it might be 'fairer' Dr G I don't think it is practical, specially for young age or uninformed groups who will probably see the names on that card for the first time when they are in the polling station, perhaps with some knowledge about a first or second choice but not the rest then just tick the rest haphazzardly on the spot. Will their 'choices' be 'fair' in this case?

It's good you started debating this here now. I hope many others will participate their views too so that we can all learn from each other then decide away from the influence of those inolved and their campaigns.

Dr Grumble said...

But you don't have to tick the rest haphazardly. You stop ranking them at the point that the order makes no difference to you - which might be because you do not know enough about the candidates or it could be because the order makes no difference to you - like going to the Black Lion pub or the Red Lion pub when you really wanted coffee.

Dr Grumble said...

To make my point clearer, if you really wanted coffee but prefer the Black Lion to the Red Lion because they have a garden and it is a sunny day then AV is a better system because you still have a say on which pub to go to even though you really wanted coffee.

The difference between AV and FPTP is very slight and the example above shows exactly what that difference is. I think that if you find yourself having to go to the pub even though you really wanted coffee you would want to have an input into which pub you all go to. That's all it is. Not a big difference at all but an important tweak that gives you some preference over something that was not your first choice.

Dr Grumble said...

Dr G

It seems your commenting system may be playing up again (as I know mine does). It accepted the comment below, and said it had been saved, but failed to display it in the post:


The very fact you are having this discussion here, with only a few days to go to the referendum, and still variously unclear not just about whether AV is better/fairer (the moral judgement) but, crucially, how the system works in practice, is yet more evidence of one of the key points in Dr No's
latest post: for some reason (and Dr No thinks lazy journalists have a lot to do with it) far too many people simply don't know how AV really works in practice. And if you don't understand it, how can you make a moral judgement on it?

As WSC said: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Anonymouse's remarks that some (many?) might indulge in casual/haphazard lower choice voting are pertinent here...we can't rely on all voters to be as considered, responsible and sensible as Dr G will undoubtedly be on election days.

At least with FPTP, just about everyone understand how the election works, because it is the most simple, the most basic, way of conducting an election. Changing over to Alternative Voodoo, on the other hand, might give new meaning to that old saw: be careful what you ask for.


Please feel free to add it to the post if so inclined!

Dr No

Dr Grumble said...

I couldn't post your contribution either, Dr No. I think it may have been the HTML as without it has appeared.

It is certainly true to say that if people do not understand it they cannot use AV to their best advantage.

But the same is true of FPTP. Mrs Grumble always used to vote for the third placed candidate in our constituency where it is really a two horse race. That is a wasted vote. Whatever system you have you need to understand it and I am not at all sure that Mrs G fully grasped FPTP - especially when we moved to a new constituency. You need to have knowledge of previous elections which is not necessary for AV. She also has a certain stubbornness which requires her to vote for a candidate with no chance of winning. You can do that with impunity with AV.

I agree absolutely that the journalists, as usual, have been very idle when it comes to explaining AV.

Dr Grumble said...

I actually I don't think you need to understand AV you just need to trust it. Even if you only want to vote for one candidate it works fine. You do need to understand FPTP and I think it is a myth that everybody does. My kids didn't until I explained tactical voting to them.

The difference between FPTP and AV are actually very slight though it may not seem that way given the misinformation.

Anonymous said...

I vote no, on the following grounds:

1. AV would not bring 'better' government. There was an excellent summary of voting systems on the BBC's 'More or Less' programme. Podcast might still be there . . .


2. It will cost a lot of money to change - and there will be 'unintended consequences' that will, again, cost the taxpayer yet more money.

3. It would make Neil Kinnock a very rich man. See back copies of Private Eye for more. I don't want him or his family to benefit by one more bean from the UK taxpayer.

4. The general standard of "debate"`has been appalling. Every day I have to drive past a 'YES' poster. It claims that, somehow, AV will make MPs "work harder". I'm not dure what it means, but there are better ways to do this - like sacking half of them & paying the residue by results. A formula based on real per capita disposable income might help focus their minds.


Dr Grumble said...

I agree the quality of the debate has been very poor.

Unfortunately advertising messages have to be simple and this has led to nonsense claims from both sides which has led to a general suspicion making a vote for change rather unlikely.

Julie said...

I'm voting yes to AV tomorrow.It isn't proportional representation, but it is a step in the right direction for England, which has become totally hidebound by FPTP. I've been pretty annoyed by the misrepresentation of AV, particularly in the case of the Tories who use it for the election of their party leader. If it's good enough to pick their own leader, why isn't it good enough for the electorate to pick theirs?

Old Codger said...

They are politicians so both sides spout bull. I have seen nothing from either side that would cause me to even think about the subject let alone persuade me to vote either way.

I liked the coffee/beer argument. Even if only one person wanted beer common sense says pub because you can get coffee, usually good, in pubs.

I agree Dr Grumble, you don't have to rank the candidates but all the propaganda so far has concentrated on ranking all the candidates. Thus I suspect many folk will do just that giving preference to candidates they would not actually vote for.

I will be voting against. A decision I made before the deliberate propaganda began.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Grumble, I agree with most or all your NHS posts and I find them cathartic and wise. But there is something niggling and worrying me about this AV system and your reassurances about it. It seems to me that the whole point is that it should give a result that most would be reasonably happy with. Because the 2nd choices of the higher ranking candidates are never consulted we would never know if the majority were actually more happy with the first ranked candidate (if the 2nd choices of the 2nd and 3rd ranked candidates were taken into account). A 3rd ranking candidate might win because the 2nd and 3rd votes were transferred to them from eliminated less popular candidates. But what if you had eliminated the 3rd candidate as well and revealed that their 2nd choices were transferred to the 1st, say and gave them 70% of 1st or 2nd choices versus 51% for the 3rd ranking candidate? But the system would have allowed the 3rd ranked candidate to win. I'm afraid I don't know enough of politics or maths but it worries me that this isn't as straightforward as it seems....

A New Kind of GP said...

One of the commonest arguments against AV is that it leads to coalition governments and that FPTP results in strong governement with working majorities.

A coalition government need not necessarily be weak and ineffective. Many countries in Europe have successful coalition governments.

The problem is that in the UK, our tradition of working majority governments has resulted in a deeply ingrained culture of an adversarial style of politics. There is no culture of collaboration. The current ConDem coalition with its early promise of the Lib Dems softening the harsher elements of the Conservative manifesto has dashed all hopes of a new collaborative politics because we just do not know how to do coalitions.

Sticking to FPTP will preserve this antiquated adversarial culture of politics that gives us such extreme government as that of Margaret Thatcher who had a huge majority despite 65% of the population voting against her party.

Voting "Yes" for AV will help us grow up.

Anonymouse said...

Julie "the Tories who use it for the election of their party leader. If it's good enough to pick their own leader, why isn't it good enough for the electorate to pick theirs?"

Because they are 'politicians' and it is part of their job to know, very well, how to do it. The electorate are not that lucky. You only need to read Anonymous @22.36 to know what I mean. Which takes me to;

Dr No
"At least with FPTP, just about everyone understand how the election works, because it is the most simple"

I like to simplify matters rather than complicate them, because complicate = problems = doubt = unfair = mess. then there is the cost to consider too! See how 'simple' makes more sense in every way?

Hence, it's still Dr no's camp for me

... and how are we voting tomorrow? The 'simple' FPTP way?


Anonymouse said...

Very impressive New Kind of GP!

now you made me think - and doubt!

Dr Grumble said...

The process of FPTP may be simpler but how you vote when the candidate you really want does not stand a chance is not a simple matter. You need to have a feel for your constituency. You need to know who the front runners are and if there is one you particularly don't want who looks like winning you may have to vote for the candidate most likely to topple him. That is not simple. None of this is necessary if you have AV which does all of this for you in a reliable way. Unfortunately people seem to find the AV process rather mysterious and complicated which it really isn't if they could only spend a little time to get their heads round it. The propaganda from both sides has only made matters worse.

Anonymouse said...

"Unfortunately people seem to find the AV process rather mysterious and complicated which it really isn't if they could only spend a little time to get their heads round it."

This may well be true Dr G, but the country is already going through so much at the moment, I do not think now is the right time to cause an upheavel to the voting system too. People already have enough to cope with. And there is the high cost to consider too.

Not the right time, No!

Dr Grumble said...

I think the cost is yet another myth.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr G,

You said "but how you vote when the candidate you really want does not stand a chance is not a simple matter."

Well this seems silly to me, all the Parties are competing for votes by givng a manifesto that they think would run the country best. If your party has the worst manifesto, ie the worst way of running the country, than they dont deserve a vote.

AV will lead to a mediocre government, who nobody voted for as a first choice. Just think that if we AV at the last general election we would probably still have old Gordon Brown in power.

And the analogy with the pub and coffee does not really work for me, each party is discreet whereas pubs may not be. If you vote for one party that may not mean that another would satisfy you.


Dr Grumble said...

In my constituency Labour always comes last. Effectively the choice is between Conservative and Liberal. We have had Labour governments when the Labour candidate has had no chance in the Grumble constituency. You can't say that Labour don't deserve a vote if the country as a whole elects them. In a constituency like mine, in practice, you have just the choice of two parties. It would be like that with AV too but you could at least put Labour number 1 if you were so minded.

Dr Grumble said...

They have now admitted that the cost was made up:


Julie said...

Well, I voted today. One was FPTP, one was single transferable vote and one was Yes/No for AV. I didn't find it confusing, but we've been doing PR for a while in Scotland and consensus government and we've benefited. If we can get our heads round it, then why not the English?

Dr Grumble said...

Earlier today I saw the results of an exit poll carried our on doctors who had voted in the referendum. It is illegal under the Representation of the People Act to tell you what it showed until after 10pm - but I was surprised.

Anonymouse said...

Dr G,

I didn't want to say this before, but there isn't much difference between parties now anyway ...

Why I also want to keep Cameron in place too, 'he started, and he'll finish' sort of thing and be accountable for same too, instead of changing midway only to end up in a spectacular mess and wonder who was responisible for what without ever finding out when it's too late.


Dr Grumble said...

I agree, Anonymouse. There is a big problem with our political parties in that they are really all the same. This used to be said years ago but now it is true. (Not, perhaps, helped by FPTP.)

I think it is now safe for me to reveal how the doctors voted in their exit poll. I have to do this from memory as, because of the law, the result was quickly taken offline. To my surprise, it was 2:1in favour of AV. Many doctors use AV already so that could be the reason.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Dr Grumble, I just have to say it! Steve Field's performance in this radio interview{from your shared list} was not only pathetic but despicable too, it made my blood boil! He has this effect on me anyway, but this one was just awful!


That the PM 'listens' to whatever he may say is very worrying indeed!

And, thank our lucky stars for Prof Dame Sally Davies!

Dr Grumble said...

Yes the poor man wants to say what the government want him to say but he is not quite sure what that is so he comes over very poorly. Of course, if he told the truth and spoke from the heart he wouldn't have a problem.

Anonymous said...

... hehehe! :-)