current affairs film politics

Battle of the referendum videos, yes vs no

This week, both sides of the voting reform debate will screen TV spots putting forward their arguments either for or against the Alternative Vote. Both portray politicians as untrustworthy idiots, the No video portrays voters as idiots too. Otherwise they’re quite different. Here’s the yes video:

Misrepresentations in this video:

1) AV is a “small change that will make a whacking great difference”. Not really. It’s a small change, and it makes an equally small difference. I’m still voting for it, but let’s not get carried away.

2) AV is the same system that the parties use to elect their leaders. Not quite. Labour have an electoral college with blocks of votes. The Lib Dems use a Single Transferable Vote, and so does the house when selecting a speaker (STV can look a lot like AV when used to elect one candidate, but would use multiple seat constituencies if used in a general election). The Conservatives have run-offs that whittle it down to two candidates. Again, a process that AV vaguely replicates without the need for further rounds of voting, but not the same  thing.

And here’s No:

Misrepresentations in this one:

1) AV will mean more coalitions. Not so. The Institute for Public Policy Research has shown that declining support for mainstream parties makes a hung parliament more likely under first past the post.

2) AV means that politicians who come third could still win. True in theory, but Australia used AV and that has never happened, so that’s just scaremongering.

3) AV isn’t ‘one person one vote’. Nonsense. Your vote is only ever counted one time. If you vote for a minority candidate, your first vote is discarded and your second preference counts instead – but it’s still only one vote.

Since neither side has made an entirely honest video, I’m going to have to go with the Yes video because it’s got a duck in it.


  1. I hate both these spots. They’re both insulting, unrealistic and totally untrue. The most dramatic is the no2av one, which concerns me, because its also the one with the most lies in. They basically say that the second or third place person will win. That’s not true at all. The winner has to get the most votes, via either first, second or higher preference votes.

    The worst thing about AV, which neither mention, is that the party which is the best compromise between all the voters may be dismissed at the first round, because they had few first preference votes, but a much larger proportion of second preference votes than any other party.

    Still, I’ll be voting for AV on the 5th, because it reduces the need to tactical vote, because you can just put your tactical vote down as your second or third preference, behind whoever you really want to get in.

    1. Yes, I got a flyer through the door today from No to AV. It has a picture of a race, and a big arrow pointing to the guy coming in third place saying ‘the winner under AV’. But then no matter how unexciting AV is as a reform, there are so few arguments for FPTP that I’m not surprised they’ve had to stoop to shameless scaremongering.

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