Friday, 18 February 2011

The AV Referendum - a lesson in distraction politics

Have you noticed that at the height of job losses and service cuts that the focus is now being shifted to the discussion over whether we want the Alternative Vote or not?

As much as constitutional reform is required, the pro-reformers themselves admit that AV isn't the change which they want. AV is a fudge. It is a make-do attempt by the Conservatives to appease the Liberal Democrats and keep them in the government. [I suspect the trappings of 'power' would have done that ... oh and the Ministerial chauffeur-driven cars.]

But AV isn't what the vast majority of Lib Dems want. They want Proportional Representation - and AV isn't PR. But they have accepted the offer for a referendum because a little like marijuana on the spiral into drug dependency, they think that AV will lead onto stronger forms of voting reforms.

Now don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against AV. I've got nothing for AV. I've attended endless talks and debates wanting to hear the argument which will help me see why it is worth spending £9.3m on the referendum before forking out £250m on installing it.

But I've still to hear that killer argument. I await convincing.

Anyway ... what does all this add up to?

Well, it all adds up to distraction politics.

So what David Cameron is going head to head with Nick Clegg on one issue they disagree on.

An issue which the vast majority of the British people couldn't care less about. What the British people do care about is rising unemployment, rising inflation, increased VAT, petrol prices, axed council services, and so on, and so on.

The AV v FPTP debate is taking the focus away from the issues that really matter in people's lives.

I can understand why the Liberal Democrats want to direct attention on the red herring of a debate. I can understand why the Tories do.

But why the Labour Party is dedicating any of its energies on this is beyond me.

Prepare yourself for the endless yellow-headed leaflets calling on you to 'Say YES to AV'. What you should be saying is 'NO to job losses and cuts to vital public sector services'.

If you really want to take your mind off the cuts and job losses, you can read BBC News' take on Where the parties stand here or BBC News' fairly interesting Q&A on Alternative Vote referendum here.

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