This is a guest post by Polly

Last week I received an envelope in the post which informed me on the outside that it contained ‘important papers’. Ooh, I thought what could it be – “at risk” letter? (I expect to receive one daily). Anyway I opened it and it turned out it was a letter from ‘Yes to fairer votes’.

Their leaflet informs me:

“Dear Polly

In a few weeks time you can make politicians work harder for your vote.

After the expenses scandal we can’t let MP’s return to business as usual. Voting Yes will change the way they get their jobs – forever.

The Alternative vote is simple. Just rank the candidates 1,2,3… and you can show your support for anyone who you think is up to the job.

A YES vote means

All MPs will need to aim for 50% support in their constituency. No more winning power with just 1 vote in 3; they will all have to do more to win – and keep – our support.

Ranking candidates means if your favourite doesn’t win, you can still have a say. The only people shut out are extremists like the BNP”

This is misleading on so many levels, I am currently trying to work who I can complain to about it. Advertising Standards Authority? The police? Can anyone enlighten me here?

Well lets start out with – the alternative vote isn’t simple and it isn’t just about ranking the candidates 1,2,3.

From the Telegraph: ‘What would be the impact of the Alternative Vote?

And it doesn’t shut  out extremists like the BNP at all. Their supporters would still have an influence on the final result. But there’s no actual reason the BNP couldn’t win under this system (or indeed first past the post).

But it gets better – the real reason I should support AV apparently is because Colin Firth, Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Honor Blackman, Tony Robinson, and Stephen Fry are supporting it! Oh that’s really made my mind up. When I’m stuck for how to make a decision on the future of our electoral system, I think ‘what would Colin Firth do?’. I mean I actually OWN the DVD’s of ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason’!

It turns out however, that the leaflet I have received is slightly different to the leaflet that ‘Yes to fairer votes’ have been sending out in London. Which instead of Tony Robinson had poet Benjamin Zephaniah saying he was saying ‘yes to AV’

Now much as I respect Zephaniah for turning down an OBE I still don’t think he’s going to make up my mind. But even if that had been the case, ‘Yes to fairer votes‘ presumably thinks I’m the kind of racist who would prefer the opinion of someone who’s on erm,  Time Team, to somebody who’s actually a noted poet, but um – a bit brown. Isn’t that the kind of thing the BNP would do?

Ah the BNP – another tack the ‘yes’ campaign are taking is that the BNP are against AV, so I should vote for…

Let’s put it this way: Operation Black Vote, the Muslim Council of Britain and a host of similar groups are backing the yes campaign. The BNP is backing the no campaign. People can draw their own conclusions.

Yes and the conclusion I MIGHT draw is that the BNP are opposing the alternative vote because they want proportional representation instead, because that gives them an even better chance of getting elected. And I would as it happens be right – http:// /news /general-election-2010-analysis-bnp-leader-nick-griffin [note from Cath - I'm not linking directly to the BNP site from here, so copy and paste this link into your Internet browser and get rid of the spaces if you want read Nick Griffin's analysis of the 2010 election]

And ‘yes to fairer votes‘ STILL hasn’t explained how the MPs elected by AV are going to be mysteriously any less likely to fiddle their expenses than those elected by first past the post.

So the conclusion I am drawing is that ‘yes to fairer votes‘ are a patronising bunch who think I am a simple minded racist who’s obsessed with actors. Either that or they’ve got a really crap marketing department.

I still haven’t  heard directly from ‘No to AV‘, though Baroness Warsi, in the no camp, claimed that AV would give power to fascists. Which isn’t really strictly true either.

Oh noes, I’m still confused, who can I turn to for the truth?

Channel 4 to the rescue – ‘Exclusive Poll: What difference would AV make?

Well AV would make a slight difference then. But we would probably have still ended up with a condem government.

Actually I’m voting no (though maybe I should be allowed to vote yes as second choice? Or don’t know?). I’m voting no for two reasons. The first is that I struggle to find one party I want to vote for most of the time, let alone three. And AV seems a crap system that will have a marginal difference. That just might include letting in more extremists, and can still produce anomalous results.

But the second is that a no vote is the only way we are going to get rid of Nick Clegg – ‘Nick Clegg orders rebrand amid rumours of leadership challenge

And I’ll vote for that any day.

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