Why? You ask.
Mr Nick Clegg famously described AV as “….a miserable little compromise….”
In the context in which he made that remark he was absolutely right! Let us face facts: AV is not PR (Proportional Representation). In fact it is nothing like PR!
What Mr Clegg wanted was a system called the Single Transferable Vote (STV). This is the system used in the Irish Republic and is commonly considered by those who make a study of electoral systems – and there are many – as the “Rolls Royce” of PR systems. STV is considered the “Rolls Royce” of modern democratic electoral systems as it combines the advantages of the voters being represented by a constituency member and also the significant degree of “proportionality” – which is dependent upon the size of the individual constituencies which are multi member. In other words one could have a larger number of constituencies with few members (say three) or a smaller number of constituencies with more members (say twelve). Thus for instance whereas the planned number of single member constituencies at Westminster is said to be 600, a STV based system with three members per constituency would be 200 and with twelve, 50. Generally speaking, it is considered that the optimum numbers of members per constituency is between 5 and 7. Thus were we to take the mean of six members per constituency, that would mean the UK would be divided up into 100 multi member constituencies. Such a system is not perfect. No system is or can be.
The problem with the above proposal is that whilst six member constituencies are OK for London and the south east, they are not OK for sparsely populated areas such as the far north of Scotland. To solve this problem, the British Gazette would suggest that the authority to decide how Scottish (and Welsh) MPs are elected should be transferred to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments.
The British Gazette agrees with those who would say that this would represent a very good outcome. But that is not what is on offer. The British Gazette would suggest that the central objective that the reader should have in mind is this: which system (FPP/AV) will better assist our primary objective of restoring lawful government to this formerly sovereign kingdom by freeing it from the intolerable over-lordship of the never to be sufficiently damned abomination that is the European Union.
The answer to that question is AV: which of course is why Mr Nigel Farage of UKIP wants it!
Why is Mr Farage so keen to have AV? Is it because it will make the election of a UKIP member any more likely? No! Mr Farage’s enthusiasm for Mr Clegg’s “….miserable little compromise….” is for the same reason why Mr Cameron of the Tories is so desperate to keep FPP. Because AV will damage the Tory Party!
The damage done to the Tories by the adoption of AV will be subtle and cruel as it will shed much light on what is in the collective mind of the voter. This is the singular aspect of AV. To understand why Mr Cameron is so frightened of AV one has to understand the way the present First Past the Post system works in practise. At present, we have the concept of the “wasted vote.” Anyone who has ever campaigned for a British political party will understand this concept. It is essentially very simple and brutal. It is this:
In most constituencies there is going to be one winner. This will be Labour or Conservative. The day after polling day, the country will have a government that will either be a Labour government or a Conservative government. The choice, dear voter you have to make is which do you prefer, or more prosaically, which do you dislike more. Voting for a candidate of any of the smaller parties (Liberal Democrat, UKIP, BNP, Green) is a “wasted vote” as they have no hope of winning and therefore not voting Labour/Conservative will only result in letting in the Conservatives/Labour – and you don’t want that do you?
If AV was to be implemented, then the voters would be free to vote for their first preference certain in the knowledge that by doing so they were in no danger of “letting the other side in” by indicating the Conservative or Labour candidate as their second preference.
This is of course why Mr Cameron is afraid. Very afraid.
If presented with AV huge numbers of traditional middle class well off voters across the south east of England and in the “Tory shires” would be free to vote for the UKIP candidate as their first preference and the Tory candidate as their second preference. This would mean that large numbers of Tory members would have only been elected on second preference votes. This will be hugely significant as it will shown in harsh detail just how much the traditional Tory voters will have parted company with the Europhile elite of that party.