I’m voting Yes in the referendum tomorrow, but I’m not happy about it. Why? Let me tell you why…
AV is – to quote Nick Clegg in April 2010 – a “miserable little compromise” or, to quote me, “piss weak”. (To be fair to Nick Clegg – not something you hear much these days – the Lib Dems originally backed AV but then Clegg decided he wanted AV+ and dismissed Labour’s pre-election coalition offer of AV with the oft quoted, er, quote. And then he accepted it anyway from his mate Dave.)
AV is a bit better than FPTP, but it’s not hugely better. It’s not proportional, like AV+ or the Single Transferable Vote. But it’s all that’s on offer.
If I vote No, I don’t get to say why I’m voting No. The assumption will be that the country wants no change, when in fact I want more change. It’d be lovely to think that in the event of a No result, Parliament will toddle back and say ‘ah, the country rejected our piss weak little offer because they demand a far fairer voting system! Let us immediately embark on another referendum, offering the people the choices they want!’.
This will not happen. This is our only chance of voting reform for a generation. It’s depressing, but it’s this or nothing.
At first, I really, really wanted to vote No to give Clegg a kicking for giving up all his promises in return for such a piss weak choice. But this would mean voting with Cameron, and that thought makes me physically sick. I also reminded myself that this referendum is not about personality, and to stop being such a fucking child.
Back when I was toying with voting No, the No campaign turned me off with its insulting lying lies about AV’s ‘complexity’. London elects its Mayor using the Supplementary Vote system; there’s been three elections now and I haven’t spotted anyone fainting from brain overheat at the ballot box. STV is used in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales uses a form of proportional representation that requires more than one vote. And you know? We all cope. There hasn’t been a case of an election being obviously wrong because an entire populace hasn’t got its head round the voting system, despite what I would love to believe about Boris Johnson. It’s not a positive reason to vote Yes, but it’s still a reason.
So there. I will vote Yes tomorrow, but I will scowl as I do it. I hate to back such a piss weak option (is it too late to get a t-shirt made with this phrase?) but, given this is the option in front of me, I will do it. Just a word for Clegg: don’t you start thinking this means I like you again.