17 March 2011

Winston Churchill on the Alternative Vote (1931)

Wonderful post by Harry Phibbs on ConHome:
The plan that they have adopted is the worst of all possible plans. It is the stupidest, the least scientific and the most unreal that the Government have embodied in their [Representation of the People] Bill. The decision of 100 or more constituencies, perhaps 200, is to be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates.
There may well be a multiplicity of weak and fictitious candidates in order to make sure that the differences between No. 1 and No. 2 shall be settled, not by the second votes of No. 3, but by the second votes of No. 4 or No. 5, who may, presumably give a more favourable turn to the party concerned. This method is surely the child of folly, and will become the parent of fraud. Neither the voters nor the candidates will be dealing with realities. An element of blind chance and accident will enter far more largely into our electoral decisions than even before, and respect for Parliament and Parliamentary processes will decline [even] lower than it is at present.
. . . when I see this Bill and know, as I do perfectly well, all the forces, all the misunderstanding, all the stupidity, all the cunning, all the desperation, which have brought it about, it is impossible not to feel profoundly anxious.


  1. This sounds a lot like the PRSTV system we "enjoy" here in Ireland. Am I anywhere near the truth?

  2. Oh dear me no.
    Here is AV: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/article.php?id=55
    Here is PRSTV: http://www.eoni.org.uk/index/faqs/pr-stv-voting-system-faqs.htm
    That's single v. multi-member constituencies. As the EU takes over legislating, national MPs will find their role akin to social workers.

  3. More in common than you think... you still rank candidates, instead of selecting a single one and the premise is still supposed to be that the population, as a proportion, are more fairly represented.

    In Oz you HAVE to rank every candidate. This I disagree with, as it allows the inaccurate boast that everyone is being represented, in some way shape or form, even if they do not wish it.

  4. Thanks for that clarification - BUT: once you adopt multi-member constituencies, it makes it very much more difficult to throw a particular rascal out. Note the single result at Redcar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redcar_%28UK_Parliament_constituency%29) in response to the Labour regime sacrificing their steel plant on the altar of global warming.