Uncle Billy’s Alternative Vote…!

Last week, Uncle Billy (97) received his postal reminder for the Alternative Vote referendum, which is being held in the UK on 5 May 2011. In short, it’s a NO or YES choice for the electorate, about changing our present voting system.

With the current system, the person who comes first in an election wins (and becomes your MP). With AV, you rank your candidates by order of preference (or not as the case may be) and the person with the most votes wins. HOWEVER, if there is no clear winner with AV, those with the lowest votes get knocked out of the election (not literally though) and their votes redistributed amongst those remainding. This goes on until there is a winner. Still following me? In theory though, the least popular candidate like a member of the BNP (British National Party) could become your local Member for Parliament!

Anyway, Uncle Billy’s ‘actual’ postal vote arrived today and I explained the two different systems to him, as I understand them (like above) and for him to make his decision. Funnily enough… literature also came with the vote (separately of course) for the NO campaign, but I’m yet to see any for the YES campaign – even in my home area.

Having explained the case or not for the AV system, Uncle said to me “you decide for me?” “We think the same!” How sweet, he’s 97-years old and compared me to himself. He though, is a living legend and you’ll know this if you’ve read any of my previous blogs about him! I told Uncle Billy that as much as I would like to make the choice for him, he has to decide himself and after a while, he ticked away! I can’t tell you which way he voted naturally, but it’s not hard to guess…

Before I left his home, I took the time to read the NO campaign literature and it did make for an interesting read. Obviously, it’s only one side of the argument, BUT facts are facts. This is what I learned…

  • The money that would be spent on changing the present system, could be better used elsewhere, considering the financial climate we are in. More doctors and nurses come to mind!
  • If no candidate gets over half the votes with AV, the least popular candidate is knocked out (as I said) and their votes redistributed. This goes on until one candidate has the most votes. A good example of this is the Labour Leadership Election – I remember watching it. David Milliband should have WON (in theory) but because of AV, Ed Milliband won. Like I said, the candidate you ‘actually’ vote for might not get the job. You vote David and you get Ed instead! Both Milliband’s though…
  • With the present system One Person, One Vote – the candidate who comes first is the winner. Is this fair?
  • Only 3 other countries in the world use AV: Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea! Apparently, in Oz it is very unpopular with the electorate and many want to go back to the old system, like the UK’s current one.
  • This referendum is being held because, it was one of the deals struck between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives in their Coalition Government agreement. The Lib Dems are the only major party behind the YES campaign!
  • It’s true that a YES vote will help the Liberal Democrats in future elections and I guess this is why they have wanted it. My thinking though… that they are unlikely to find the support (now anyway), giving their performance in government. It’s no secret that many of their promises made at the last General Election, have been broken… like job cuts and the controversial tuition fees.

I wrote a recent blog about the party ‘What do the Lib Dems stand for?’, but I don’t want to influence you! Mr Clegg knows that his party is going to get a bashing at the next general and possibly local elections, so a YES vote will help the bruises.

So, like Uncle Billy the choice for a YES or NO to the AV is yours. But like Uncle Billy, do try and vote as it should be us who decide our future, not politicians. Even at his grand old age of 97, Uncle Billy believes ‘his’ vote matters! It does.

This has been a ‘slightly’ (towards the end anyway) not-so impartial ‘View from the Bottom’, but at least I’ve admitted it – more than I can say for some!

Enjoy your VOTE and the beautiful weather, Max x

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© Kevin Maxwell Film, Media & Performance 2011 – Published by My Mum