Why Did AV Lose?

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
The debate was long, hard and bitter - but the end result was a decisive crushing for the 'Yes' campaign. The BBC has the first of many articles on the subject of why AV lost.

It seems many Lib Dems are all ready attributing the outcome to David Cameron who they say "campaigned hard for a 'No' vote despite agreeing not to take a leading role". This seems a bizarre comment - how can you criticise a Conservative Prime Minister for campaigning in Conservative interests? It almost seems as if the Lib Dems didn't want an opposing argument to be made for FPTP.

The 'Yes' campaign also suffered - allegedly - by the huge news stories that dominated the campaigning period/ The Japanese earthquakes/nuclear disaster, the death of Osama bin Laden and the royal wedding. Whilst this undoubtedly took the limelight away from the AV debate, I don't think it did so significantly. We have known this referendum was coming for a year and there has been plenty of opportunity to make the case for AV.

Finally the 'Yes' campaign said they were undone by a string of "lies" about AV emanating from the 'No to AV' camp. Lots of silly posturing by Lib Dem MPs - most notably Chris Huhme - followed. Again I reject this argument absolutely. The 'Yes' side was equally awful and dishonest - they attempted to latch a 'Yes' vote onto the MP expenses issues and kept on saying that AV would make MPs "work harder". I, like many others, were repulsed and disgusted by the 'Yes' campaign material such as that attached that showed people talking to MPs at point blank range through loud speakers.

The 'Yes' campaign lost because they didn't make the case. And I think this has come as a surprise to many 'Yes' supporters because they believed so totally in their case that they assumed everyone else would "see sense and vote Yes". The electorate were smarter than that though and showed, as they do every now and then, that democracies can show great wisdom at times. The former 'Yes' supporters must accept this and move on.
 

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DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
A great summing up. :thumbsup:

I agree totally, though I will add the rather obvious comment that the electorate rejected it simply because they didn't want it; for whatever reason they prefer FPtP.

I suspect that despite the protestations of simplicity and the various attempts to explain it in the media, most people didn't try to understand it and saw it as too much faffing about.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
The debate was long, hard and bitter - but the end result was a decisive crushing for the 'Yes' campaign. The BBC has the first of many articles on the subject of why AV lost.
It is far from the first- Dan Hodges was undertaking a post mortem whilst the Yes campaign was still coughing up blood on the wednesday. The evaluation is similar but with the results called, there are some interesting additional facets.

First, a 69% no vote has to demonstrate to all but the most deluded, that the No campaign was not simply a Tory one. The numbers don't add up and put pay to the suprisingly robust lie that it is only the girls and boys in blue are opposed to electoral reform. A big chunk of the politically motivated part of the UK looked at the offering, retched and rejected it. The number of people going on here and elsewhere about the nasty "Tory driven" No campaign (ignoring the fact that the famous attack ads that got Huhne all shouty were the creation of Labour Uncut editor Dan Hodges who I linked to at the top of the page) but the truth of it was that the Yes campaign was equally awful in construct and far less effective at reaching people.

The reason for this?

The "P" word. Over the last 18 months, the word "progressive" has been wheeled out roughly every ten minutes by one part of the press or media. It has become a de facto term of derision that those who are not defined as "progressive" (and I'm going to keep using the inverted commas because the definition of the word in this new use is so opaque as to defy easy explanation) were enemies of "the people."

The move to AV was "progressive" so obviously better- couldn't you see that? Well if you couldn't you were obviously a thickie, a racist or worse than either, a Tory. You were voting for change which was "progressive" so obviously better. There were two problems with this. The first is that suitably chastised, some people went "do you know what? I might not be quite so "progressive" this time" and stepped off. And the other problem was that there were nowhere near a many "progressive" centre left people around as was assumed in the first place.

Paul Staines, a.k.a Guido Fawkes, hit the nail very firmly on the head yesterday with this short piece. Whether they like it or not, the UK showed a mile wide streak of social conservatism (small "c"- somewhat removed from the party of the same name). The Yes vote was set up as a sort of "progressive" litmus test by the Yes campaign and it recoiled with ferocious effect. If you think that nasty right wing Paul Staines is simply wearing his Tory boots, you might want to consider the opening section of this piece from "progressive" HQ, The Guardian.

As to what the outcome of this will be, I'm not sure. I have an unprovable gut feeling that the party that might have suffered the most long term damage yesterday is Labour. Many Labour supporters committed themselves to fighting the next few elections with the existing system. They did so on the same day that huge swathes of Scotland seemingly decided that they weren't going to automatically vote for the suit with the red rosette any more. To add to the malaise, the boundary reforms- that go some way to removing the advantage that Labour currently enjoy in vote to seat breakdown- are likely to go through fairly quickly now the AV vote is out of the way. Many Labour pundits are confident that supporters in Scotland will return for "the main event." Given that devolution (the most inexplicable decision Tony Blair evey made) has granted the SNP the mechanics to ensure that last night was actually Scotland's main event- I'm not so sure.
 

EarthRod

Distinguished Member
I agree with what's been said. Occam's Razor springs to mind - keep it neat and keep it simple.

IMO the 2nd, 3rd and 4th choices under the AV system amounts to a bodged cascade of diminishing returns.

By all means let the politicians make attempts to change the existing FPTP system for something better. But AV was not the right choice - someone did not do their homework.
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
I think the 'Yes' vote failed because of it's close association with the LibDem party.

The local elections showed that LibDem voters are annoyed with the party, presumably because they have generally renaiged on their election promises and appear to toe the Tory line all the time.

As a Tory voter I must admit that I have been very disappointed by the LibDem subservient attitude - I don't agree with all their policies but I think some have lots of merit. But instead of challenging and pushing for these they sold them all out for an 'AV' vote.

Unfortunately this has backfired on them because at the time of the elections the electorate are fed-up with the LibDems and see AV as a LibDem objective.

Several LibDems have said 'no more mr nice guy' but I think it is too late - decisions have been made and I don't think LibDems will be able to reverse them - perhaps all they could do if break up the coalition and force an election.

I do feel some sympathy for the LibDems. In reality they are a small cog in the coalition so it would be difficult and uncomfortable to fight their cause. But I also suspect that many of them were drunk with the prospect of being in power and looking after number one (as politians of any colour are inclined to do) rather than the good of the country.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

Jamezinho

Distinguished Member
I think most of the ellectorate in this country are intelligent enough to make up their own minds and realise that AV is a pointless exercise.

There has been a lot of talk about the ineffectual yes campaign, and the retaliatory vote against Clegg and the Lib Dems. I resent both of these reasons for such a unanimous 'no' victory.

Quite simply the public know a bad thing when they see it.
 

Wild Weasel

Well-known Member
Well put Ed. Some of the 'yes' campaigners came across as whining little bitches. You lost, get over it. I get the impression they want an EU-style vote where we keep going until they get the 'right' result. :rolleyes:
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
The move to AV was "progressive" so obviously better- couldn't you see that? Well if you couldn't you were obviously a thickie, a racist or worse than either, a Tory.
This has to be quote of the year! Spot on summary of the approach taken by the 'Yes' campaign.
 

dazza74

Novice Member
I'm not fussed either way, only thing I would say though is that I do believe more of the media was putting out the "No" message than the "Yes". I live in a constituancy which is traditionally lib dem, only literature I see through the door was telling me to vote "No".

I honestly think worrying about something that will come into play in 4 years time is the least of most people worries at the present time in this country.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
I said a few weeks ago "NO" will probably win because people do not care or do not know [enough] about the "YES" argument. When presented with two such choices, human instinct dictates most will fall back on what they know rather than leap into the unknown

Quite apart from that, the entire way in which the Lib Dems conducted the campaign meant they were on the back foot because it never really got going until the final week. If the campaigning had been like that throughout April then the vote might not have been a waste of money. The fact the Lib Dems were going ahead with the referendum after the whole tuition fees episode as well shows how naive and stubborn they are. They clearly do not listen to the electorate because they presented everyone with a popularity vote to let Clegg know what the country thinks of him!

Saying all of that whilst FPTP is not perfect, neither is AV. I don't particularly fancy choice 2 getting into office even though I stomach him more than choice 3 or 4. So we continue with floating voters in key marginals deciding the PM of this country. And so the world keeps spinning...
 

EarthRod

Distinguished Member
... So it will, concur with that. In general, people are conservative (small 'c') by nature, especially older people (I am one of them) and will fall back on what they know. That for sure is one factor.

The campaign was weird. Both YES and NO leaflets came through the door the day before the voting and that was it. I think both parties were trying to save money. Most of the campaigning took place on this forum, arguments flying back and forth! Good old AVForums.

No doubt now the Lib/Dem snipers will start shooting one liners from the hip - the little darlings.
 

kav

Distinguished Member
Must admit, I got far more relevant opinion and valid argument about the AV/FPTP discussion here than I did from the campaign itself, so thanks to people on both sides of the discussions here for your input.

Obviously there are multiple reasons for why people voted, but in my experience, the vast majority of the No voters were firm Nos either because of what Steven said - FPTP is what they know and trust - or because they are party-biased in their voting and always tend to vote the same way (whether blue or red), and did not want to upset the equilibrium. Certainly most people I discussed it with (all Labour voters bar one) had an "if it ain't broke, why fix it" point of view, which is why I was fairly sure No would win. Yes was simply not convincing enough to sway people, and having the Lib Dems as its main supporter was simply the final nail in the coffin for the campaign. Had either Labour or the Tories supported it, I suspect the outcome of the election could have been different. Anyway, fuss over, time to move on. :)
 

Citizen J

Novice Member
Because people are stupid.
It's clear you are disappointed by the result to put it mildly; however 13 million people rejected it. That is a resounding rejection of the AV system to say the least. 13 million people cannot be characterised as stupid and I believe the electorate are smart enough to see through the scaremongering camping's instigated by ‘newspapers' such as The Sun and the Evening Standard to name a few.

I think there was a significant amount of scaremongering campaigns by both camps, however the Yes was doomed from the outset as the referendum took place during local elections. This was a fundamental mistake. You simply cannot have a national referendum muddled with local elections, especially when you are asking the electorate to change a voting system. It creates confusion and a clear lack of focus for the campaigners. No voting referendum for over 30 years and this was the time chosen in which to ask the electorate to make a decision? Laughably bad.

Additionally one has to ask is AV actually necessary, or better put is it the best solution? A fundamental part of AV is that it is deemed to be more representative of society as whoever gets into power will normally have received 50% of the vote unless in exceptional circumstances. However in the 2010 elections 1/3 of MPs who got into power obtained 50% of the vote in their constituency; would it actually have made much difference? The notion constructed by the Yes campaign that MPs jobs would be under higher scrutiny is also ridiculously tenuous. This should not have formulated such a fundamental part of their campaign when it was constructed on an unfounded assumption.

The Yes campaign also suffered from a lack of credibility in terms of who was representing their campaign. You hear stories of Chris Hume kicking up a fuss over the fact that the Tories were allegedly condemning the Yes campaign by utilising David Cameron as the figurehead. Chris Hume kept on harping on about this as intrinsically wrong and unacceptable when in fact the wider public couldn't care less. The Lib Dems have lost an immense amount of credibility since May 2010 so the complaints of Hume were simply seen as misplaced ranting. One has to think if David Cameron is a spawn of the devil as some Lib Dems seem to insinuate why they don't disengage themselves from the coalition and trigger a general election? I guess they don't fancy the humiliation they received within the local elections councils being replicated on a national scale.
 
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Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
Because people are stupid.
the article I linked to earlier said:
The voters aren't stupid. The Yes campaign was at least right about that. And they're wary of politicians. Yes were right about that too. So when someone like Nick Clegg turns up on their doorstep and says, “I know you don't like people like me. But trust me. I've got just the thing to change all that”, you'd better be damn sure they're buying what you're selling.
Of course this has been the problem with the Yes campaign from Day 1; "Vote for us, we're obviously better you plebby thickies, its progressive for goodness sake."

They got the kicking they richly deserved.
 

Garrett

Moderator
Because people are stupid.
Because apart from 1 broadcast on its behalf I don't think there was much realy to explain it, as said on an other thread there wife voted no yet when they were pointed to the BBC site and read it and what in involved said they would have voted yes.

I even was told today that some one said I did not want to keep gong down to the polling station to re vote although it could have been voting twice for the political and AV, but when I explained they only needed to vote once using AV and just number there preferences in one go they agreed with me it was a good idea but already voted no.

Also the majority of the press was against it and yes a lot of people are gullible and are swayed by propaganda that's the whole point of it.

If you don't understand something your not going to vote for it.

Cameron played a blinder the way hes got his own way, the FPTP favours the Torys most of all there not going to alter the status que.

Also having it at the same time as political election people tagged it onto the displeasure of Nick Clegg rather than treating it as separate issue.
 
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Stuart Wright

AVForums Founder
Staff member
It's so depressing. I feel like one of the unwashed plebeian masses in Julius Caesar, being totally manipulated by the orators, believing their lies hook, line and sinker and doing exactly what they want us to do.
And then David Cameron comes on the TV and smugly, slimily says that the voters had sent a clear message to government. As if we had decided and he would carry out our wishes. No. *He* had decided how he wanted people to vote, arranged the bull for the NO campaign, and we, the voters did *exactly* what *he* wanted.
Like the predictable, stupid masses we are.
It's sickening.
People are stupid.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
People are stupid.
We certainly are.

I like to play a game when in a restaurant of betting how many people will walk past the 'Wait here to be seated' sign and just wander around the restaurant.

I voted, but felt my home cinema was decent enough, so didn't need another AV system.
 

Jamezinho

Distinguished Member
I highly doubt nearly 70% of the turnout voted 'No' because David Cameron told them to.
 

Soundburst

In Memoriam
Because it's stupid.

People want to vote for someone. . .they don't want to be afraid of not making secondary and tertiary votes just to prevent someone they REALLY don't want getting in.

They vote for the one they want. . . the one who gets the most votes wins.

With this AV nonsense you get people voting for the guy they actually want. . .and then being afraid of someone they REALLY DON'T want getting in, and as such. . put other pointless votes in for other candidates. . that may actually result in those candidates winning due to everyone thinking "i'll put these as secondary to prevent this guy from definitely getting in".

Plus. . .it's complex. . .look at NI haha. Yesterday it took us pretty much 36 hours to count 2 votes (council and assembly) due to the fact that only ONE vote carried over. Imagine having to count votes where votes carry over until someone has reached 50%!

We'd be here for years!
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
And then David Cameron comes on the TV and smugly, slimily says that the voters had sent a clear message to government. As if we had decided and he would carry out our wishes. No. *He* had decided how he wanted people to vote, arranged the bull for the NO campaign, and we, the voters did *exactly* what *he* wanted.
Like the predictable, stupid masses we are.
It's sickening.
People are stupid.
I highly doubt nearly 70% of the turnout voted 'No' because David Cameron told them to.
I agree with Jamezinho - I don't think you can suggest 'No!' won because David Cameron somehow brainwashed the electorate into voting against AV. Cameron was honest and upfront about it from day one of the coalition - he didn't like AV and said he would campaign against it. He did this. As did many other politicians from left and right.

The press probably didn't have that much influence either. Firstly, whilst most were against AV, not all opposed the change. The Independent for example carried the headline 'Just Vote Yes!' - much more blatant than any of the 'No!' sided papers. Secondly the entire circulation figures for all UK National newspapers combined (including those that supported 'Yes') is 9 million. The 'No!' result though consisted of 13 million votes!

IMHO the 'Yes' camp lost because what they didn't do at any stage was to make a clear case for change. Instead they went for 'mass appeal', e.g. people shouting at MPs through loudspeakers, attacking them for their expenses claims, saying they should "work harder". In truth all that was irrelevant and AV wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference. At no stage did the 'Yes' camp stand up and say "this is what Parliament would have looked like now had we had AV at the last election". And the reason they didn't do that was because if they had the prediction would still have had Gordon Brown as Prime Minister. Perhaps the electorates rejection of AV wasn't so "stupid" after all?
 

ChildOfRarn

Active Member
I find it curious that if the majority had voted yes, we would have still ended up with a first part the post system.

The "post" as I understand it is the number of seats required to form a majority government.

The no campaign seemed to be arguing that constituencies should keep a system where the "post" moves dependant on the votes cast.

Surely, at constituency level, a "first past the post" system should require each wining candidate to at least reach the wining post.

As a Yes voter myself I just find it weird that so many voters seem to want to keep a system where 2/3 of MPs never got past the post :confused:
 

Garrett

Moderator
Plus. . .it's complex. . .look at NI haha. Yesterday it took us pretty much 36 hours to count 2 votes (council and assembly) due to the fact that only ONE vote carried over. Imagine having to count votes where votes carry over until someone has reached 50%!

We'd be here for years!
Only complex for the counting not the voting and I dont think it would take years for tham to tot it all up.
 

Garrett

Moderator
The press probably didn't have that much influence either. Firstly, whilst most were against AV, not all opposed the change. The Independent for example carried the headline 'Just Vote Yes!' - much more blatant than any of the 'No!' sided papers. Secondly the entire circulation figures for all UK National newspapers combined (including those that supported 'Yes') is 9 million. The 'No!' result though consisted of 13 million votes!
I've not got the figures in front of my but think it was something like 2/3 No 1/3 Yes. For the yes to win that did not need to win an other 1/3+ votes but only needed 17% of the No to switch to Yes which is about 2.2 million which i think the readership of the No papers greatly out numbered the Yes papers. And I think the readers of The Independent a Yes paper were more likely to make an informed vote Yes or No that a larger circulation paper like the Sun which ran a No campaign I think every day.
 

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