Does AV mean Another View?

Urban myth has it that every London cabbie is the oracle of all knowledge. We are often asked on how the trade is going; bankers it would seem regard us as a barometer of London’s business.

Now I don’t for a moment think that after a short chat with a cabbie our customers take an option on Russian wheat or buy shares in Acme mousetraps, but the question is still asked.

[S]imilarly politicians want to test the water on their latest madcap proposals on cab drivers. Tony Benn famously asks of cabbies “What were you BEFORE you became cab driver?” the replies presumably are then entered into his famous daily diary.

So it was recently that on a short journey to the South Bank, my passenger asked of me: “How are you voting on next month’s referendum?” We were heading, he explained to me, to the campaign headquarters of the YES to AV.

“Will the referendum be conducted under the Alternative Voting system or First Past the Post”, I enquired. He patiently explained to me that at the present time, Britain uses the first past the Post so in a Referendum the same rules would apply.

“So if you win, would future referenda on, say, capital punishment or leaving the EU be run under AV auspices?” With a shake of the head and a rather irritated countenance he replied “No it will be still First Past the Post of course” as he got out of the cab – and no I didn’t get a tip.

I don’t understand that if AV is as fair and its advocates suggest, why is it they intend to keep the old system for when it suits them? After all there is a third choice on any referendum and that is – I couldn’t care less – which might be voter’s 2nd, 3rd or even 8th choice.

I’ve read the explanatory booklet twice; for First Past the Post, 59 words and one illustration were required for setting out in detail how it’s conducted; for the Alternative Vote, 351 words and three illustrations still couldn’t convey to me the principal behind the AV voting system.

If somebody knows, could they explain to me, so as an oracle of all knowledge, I can tell my customers when they ask.

5 thoughts on “Does AV mean Another View?”

  1. Look at who’s vociferously campaigning against AV (and telling lies about it in their desperation to kill it). If you feel any sympathy with that bunch, then vote No and good luck to you.

    If you are prepared to wonder why they are so dead set against it (here’s clue: it will interfere with what they consider the god-given bias in their favour under the present system), then you might consider an alternative.

    If Britain votes No, then that means the death, for at least a generation, of any hopes of reforming our present system which keeps the old lags (red or blue, it doesn’t matter) in power. If Britain votes Yes, then there’s a chance that this will support efforts to introduce an even better and fairer system – the one we really want.

    If, as I suspect, cabbies vote conservative, then they (and you) will no doubt vote No. Imagination never was the strong suit of a conservative mind and a little imagination is needed to see that it is high time we stirred things up.

    And, by the way, when they tell you that AV will result in a hung Parliament (as they have been telling you), ask yourself what happened this time around under the old system. Yes, that’s right, a hung Parliament.


    1. As I understand it a candidate has to achieve 50 per cent of the votes with AV to get elected.
      If, as in PR most voters only cast one vote, would that mean that if none of the candidates achieve the magical number no one is elected?


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