Party Point – November 2012

John Clark writes…

First published: November 2012 – Gazette & Herald

The EU has a wonderful system of voting. A country holds a referendum on a recent treaty and people vote ‘yes, I agree with the EU’. This result is acceptable and the EU gravy train rolls on. If people vote ‘no, I disagree with the EU’ then this result is unacceptable and they have misunderstood the proposal. The original vote is ignored and another referendum is held. When eventually the referendum produces a ‘yes’ vote, the EU gravy train rolls on.

Ignoring the public and its voting is alive and well and living near you. Last year we had a referendum on ‘first past the post’ or Alternative Voting (AV). I’m in favour of proportional representation but AV is only a step in the right direction and would leave us without a proportional system for decades. So I, along with the overwhelming majority of the British people, voted against AV.

Now we are having elections for a Police and Crime Commissioner. The voting system is not ‘first past the post’; we are having the Supplementary Vote (SV) imposed on us. According to the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) SV is a shortened version of … yes, you’ve guessed, AV. According to the ERS some of the disadvantages of SV include:

  • Unlike AV, SV does not ensure that the winning candidate has the support of at least 50% of the electorate.
  • SV strongly promotes votes for only candidates from the three main parties.
  • If there are more than two strong candidates ……… it may even be possible for voters to defeat their preferred candidate.

Nick Clegg said ‘AV was a miserable little compromise’. This is worse.

London politicians complain about saving money and the apathy of the electorate. Three of the reasons given for a Police and Crime Commissioner:

  • Saving money
  • Increased democracy
  • Having a ‘peoples’ voice in policing

It’s going to fail on all three counts The NYCC council members on the Police Authority come up for re-election next May. The PCC election could be held next May with the County elections. The old system would end and the new one start. The cost would be a fraction of the present arrangement. The turnout in early May would be double the likely turnout in November. If the November turnout is less than 20% the winning candidate is likely to have less than 10% of the public voting for them. How can this figure produce a voice for the public?

This system appears to be designed to waste money, have a low turnout and ignores the democratic vote taken only last year. Is it any wonder that turnout at elections is going down? Why would people vote if their vote is completely ignored. My only decision is do I vote and add legitimacy to the process? Do I write ‘none of the above’ on the ballot paper or maybe I’ll attach this article on the hope that someone will listen.

As for a referendum on the EU, yes I think we should have one. Beware; they will almost certainly ignore the results – unless of course it’s the one they want.

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