Well its election season up here in Scotland and I need to decide who to vote for…probably today, as Ill be using a postal vote this time (so you could say I’m about to go postal :DD). Im inclined, I have to say, towards SNP….no, Im not a raving loony Independence supporter, nor am going to start giving out about the Highland Clearances, or Queen Mary, or Culloden, or William Wallace :##, etc. The fact is the SNP aint doing too bad a job, so why break up a good think?……Although every time I hear Alex Salmond talk Im often reminded of the dog in that Churchill ad ;D. Bottom line, you can still vote SNP and tell Alex to play the Scotland the Brave in his own time if and when an independence referendum comes up.
What worries me about voting Labour or Lib dem is that both of these parties Scottish wings seem to need permission from London to tie their own shoelaces. This undermines the whole point of devolved government. Neither of these parties seem to have worked out that whole the point of the Scottish parliament is that the party in Scotland makes the decisions, rather than waiting on Milbank tower (or downing street) to tell them what to do. The SNP, Greens and (oddly enough) the Scottish Conservatives 8| seem to have worked this one out, hence why Id be only interested in voting for one of these candidates (while the many socialist candidates up here have also worked this one out, they spend too much time fighting each other to waste ones time with :lalala:). None of the three parties Ive mentioned above, but the SNP, has any chance of getting elected in my constituency (this is Glasgow, every night after an election we form into gangs to hunt down anyone who voted conservative, any found, who arent an Orangeman…or Rangers fan, are tarred, feathered and left at the outskirts of Edinburgh :>>). So given that Im inclined to vote for the SNP anyway, I may as well. Ill probably put the Green down for the party list, as I dont want to give all my support to SNP (like I said, Im not some raving loony Braveheart watching independence supporter)…but Im thinking that one over right now.
Which brings us to the AV referendum. Obviously Ill be voting yes, really its a no brainer. The current first past the post (FPtP) system is unfair and has numerous potential flaws. FPtP makes it harder to unseat sitting MPs, particularly those in safe seats like Glasgow (for Labour). The MPs know that they can pretty much get away with doing anything (or indeed doing nothing) as it would take a massive swing in support to unseat them under FPtP. This leads to a lot of political complacency, something that always needs to be combated in any democracy. Take America, also run under a FPtP system. Its been warped by this system into a dull two party system :yawn:, where you could barely squeeze a loo roll between the two partys policies. Many Congressmen in America actually run unopposed, as theres little point in the Democrats, or anyone else for that matter, challenging a Republican incumbent in Texas, or challenging a Democrat in a work class ward of San Francisco.
Also, FPtP leads to negative voting and negative campaigning. The truth is that under FPtP many of us vote against someone, rather than for the candidate we want. For example, imagine youre a Labour supporter on the left of the party, but youre local labour candidate is basically an incompetent Yes-man whose little more than a Tory with a red tie on. However, theres little point in voting for anyone else (well say for sake of argument you like the local lib dem candidate) as youd be just throwing away your vote. The labour guy is the only one who has half a chance of beating the conservative candidate, who well assume for sake of argument, is some Tory Tosser eurosceptic whom the Daily mail is always complimenting. Obviously in this scenario, youd probably just have to hold your nose and vote labour 😳 (i.e against the Torys) as opposed to voting for someone you liked (the lib dem). And of course we could easily reverse this situation as well (i.e youre a eurosceptic, but youre local Tory is pro-eu, but you vote for him anyway just to stop the lib dems or labour).
This negative voting behaviour also encourages negative campaigning, as its easier to just spread scare stories about your opponent as opposed to presuade people to vote for you because they like your policies. In the American election recently the vast majority of campaign ads tend to be negative ones. And the candidates often spend more time complaining about the other guy than explaining why voting for them was such a good idea. This seems to be spreading to the UK. We had a pretty quiet campaign up here in Glasgow last election (because the local labour guys were so safe they didnt even bother campaigning nor did anyone bother trying to unseat them) but more of the election literature I saw was negative than positive (interesting aside, last time, the BNP literature came in the letterbox at the same time as the Tory party stuff .this time the BNP and lib dem stuff came thro at the same time ..am I reading a little too much into this :crazy:). The AV system will dampen down such trends and encourage more competition for seats. It will ensure MPs have to sing for their supper.
But AV will lead to an eternity of weak, squabbling, coalition governments…
Not it wont! Firstly, its still possible for a government to form an overall majority under AV if they get enough support. Tony Blair would have won the latter in both of his first two elections, as would the Torys under Thatcher. Also on the core policies of government youll often find widespread cross party support for most things (e.g staying in the EU, staying out of the Euro, fighting climate change, about 70% of all economic and health policy, going to war with the French if they invade, etc ;D.). Its only the details of how these policies are implemented, or other less urgent issues that usually slows things down, and in a crisis such squabbling can be easily deferred to another day. Up here in Scotland the SNP, despite being a minority government with no formal coalition agreement, has got by okay.
Also generally in any coalition, one party, usually the largest dominates things. The partner gets a few of his key policies tied into the government manifesto, but aside from that, theyre only real power is the ability to effectively veto policy if the bigger party begins to misbehave. Or bring down the government if the larger party starts to abuse its power. The AV will limit the powers of governments charge is actually a good thing rather than a bad thing. The truth is we want to limit the power of governments. There are many occasions where majority governments will drive through legislation that they know is immensely unpopular with the people, and indeed their own party, but by virtue of their majority they can just ignore having to have a democratic debate about the matter and use the whips to enforce party discipline.
Take the Iraq war. Had Labour been in a coalition at the time, its very likely this coalition partner would have dug in the heels and said No! :no: or demanded a more in depth debate both in parliament (the official debate here only lasted a few hours) and in public. A more in depth debate about policy often leads to flaws in the policy being quickly identified, the recent bill on selling off the forests was a good example. In the case of the Iraq war, its probable the sexing up of the Dodgy Dossier would have been exposed. Which not only decreases the chances of Britain going to war, but also means that Congress wont have voted for it once news travelled across the pond that Bush was telling porkies. In short it is this first past the post system that gave us the Iraq war and 8 years of Bush (and if youre a Tory 14 years of Tony Blair).
There are indeed situations in Europe where its taken an inordinately long time to form a government or where they have formed weak governments that have collapsed quickly. This is, I would argue, more a matter of internal politics in these countries than anything to do with AV. Take Belgium (please take it away! ;D), the reason they are having problems is that secretly a lot of the people on both sides want to split the country in two and they have an agenda to undermine the powers of the Belgian central government :**:. I can all but guarantee you that if they re-ran the election under FPtP theyd end up right where they are now.
Like I said, AV is a no brainer. The only people campaigning against it are the usual suspects of safe-seat in
competents cumbents :zz: who fear redundancy once people start to realise that politicians have to work for a living. I wont be surprised if Dave Cameron secretly agrees with AV, but has to campaign against it as his own party would roast him alive if he didn’t.