Voting using the AV system.

Baroness Murphy

The death of Lord Strabolgi (pronounced Strabogie) an hereditary peer who sat on the Labour benches, (see Lord N’s blog about him)  has triggered a by-election within the House to elect a new hereditary peer. Usually the vote is held within party groups of hereditaries and we appointed ones don’t get to vote but this time we will because Lord Strabolgi was a Deputy Speaker. Are you following this? I honestly don’t understand the reasoning but I suppose there will be some rationale which is not immediately obvious to the likes of me. Anyway, the funny thing is we shall be using the AV alternative vote voting system to elect the new peer. Odd that half the Chamber is hoping we won’t have a referendum on such a system for the Country while presumably thinking it’s a good system for us.

14 comments for “Voting using the AV system.

  1. Rich
    11/02/2011 at 3:02 pm

    I believe the reason for life peers joining in the election of the Deputy Speakers is simply that they serve the whole House, therefore the whole House should have a voice. Of course, it’s never been clear to me why Parliament chose to save a group of hereditaries as Deputy Speakers. Maybe during passage of the House of Lords Act it was felt it desirable to give life peers some voice in the process? That’s the best I can do.

  2. Carl.H
    11/02/2011 at 3:16 pm

    You have to love this complex system that cannot even be explained properly:

    “In order to be elected, the successful candidate must receive at least as many votes as all the other candidates put together. In the event of this not happening after first preference votes have been allocated, the votes of the candidates receiving the lowest number of first preference votes will be shared out according to the second preference marked on them. This will be repeated until one candidate has at least half of the total valid vote.”

  3. Maude Elwes
    11/02/2011 at 3:34 pm

    It may be they kept a section of hereditary Peers because they individually spent many years working alongside governments, so, their expertise may be considered necessary to keep it on an even keel.

    I believe many of them work quite regularly and deserve their positions.

    That aside, if they are so diligent and want the positions they hold, they should let the public know what they do and seek election, as should the rest of them.

    After all, Democracy, is for us all equally!

    Otherwise it may be felt that to rid the Lords of its aristocrats altogether could reduce the position of the Crown.

    However, it won’t be long before that will be an oxymoron, as William’s children will be very lacking in Royal blood.

  4. Matt
    11/02/2011 at 6:50 pm

    Surely you must know that the 15 elected by the whole house were the first to be elected, in recognition of their ability/willingness to be of service to the house.

    It is an excellent method of co-option.

  5. Lord Soley
    Clive Soley
    12/02/2011 at 12:40 am

    Baroness Murphy. I know you got rather angry about the way the Bill was fought but I don’t recall anyone being against a referendum on AV. There were Peers for and against AV and a number of us, myself included, very strongly opposed to the gerrymandering in the Bill but almost everyone was in favour of a referendum.

    • Maude Elwes
      12/02/2011 at 1:36 pm

      Yes, a referendum is the right of the people.

      As long as there are clear options of what form it must take. Example: would you prefer one man one vote?

    12/02/2011 at 6:37 am

    My solution is the same as ever and not popular these days. Why not just reinstate all the Hereditaries and eliminate the complexity?

    I don’t care abotu Democracy, I care about how our constitution works. It worked for centuries and there was no good reason to change it.

  7. Twm O'r Nant
    12/02/2011 at 9:18 am

    You have to love this complex system that cannot even be explained properly:

    So somebody who is not so much as a member of the house of lords at all, but on the Register of Hereditary peers, who would like to do the job and get elected, may put his name forward and become Elected Deputy Speaker.

    A couple of hundred newly introduced members will be impressed by that!

  8. Chris K
    12/02/2011 at 2:49 pm

    Like a lot of the anomolies left about by Blair’s constitutional vandalism, it is a bizarre situation. However, I think we’re all agreed a much higher quality new member will result from this process than from most partisan appointments of the past decade.

    I’m in no hurry to see an end to hereditary by-elections.

    Lord Soley: Gerrymandering? I fail to see how equalising constituency sizes is in anywhere a gerrymander. (Although feel uneasy about IoW and Scottish Islands, I don’t think exceptions should be make – but that’s only 2 seats).

    I have very little time for people in the Labour Party who complain about this – what did they do when in government about lack of voter registration? Nothing. Because it didn’t suit them to.
    Smaller Labour seats = more Labour MPs. About time it changed. Gerrymandering by inaction.

  9. Lord Norton
    Lord Norton
    12/02/2011 at 7:10 pm

    Lord Strabolgi was not a Deputy Speaker at the time of his death. He was one of fifteen hereditaries elected by the whole House to be available to serve the House as a Deputy Speaker or in any other office should that be required. The fact of election as one of the fifteen does not mean one will necessarily become a Deputy Speaker.

  10. Senex
    16/02/2011 at 11:09 am

    Free at last! Lord Rooker’s amendment:

    “( ) If less than 40% of the electorate vote in the referendum, the result shall not be binding.” and others

    Has caused the Electoral Commission to ask the executive for a legal definition of ‘Electorate’ and ‘Turnout’ according to the proceedings of the ‘Political and Constitutional reform Committee’ Feb 10, 2011. Jenny Watson Chair of the Electoral Commission said in reply to Chair Q5, “If there is to be a threshold, so that we are able to tell Parliament whether the threshold has been reached, we will need clarity about the definition of the electorate and the definition of turnout”.

    The difficulty arises from the electoral system being based upon ‘Trust’ and the ability to register in two constituencies but only voting in one of them. There are difficulties too with the lack of a central electoral register.

    Also, EU residents will be allowed to vote in local elections but will not be able to take part in the referendum as they will not have been sent the referendum slip. Questions are raised as to the need to personally identify ones self at polling stations as is the case in Northern Ireland.

    Professor Ron Johnston, Professor of Geography, University of Bristol also gave some fascination evidence on the 7.5% tolerance on constituency size and the ripple effect that would sweep through all constituencies under very specific circumstances.

    The business of this bill has to conclude by Feb 24, 2011 but because Parliament will be in recess business must conclude by Feb 16 in order to meet May 5 deadlines. Perhaps recess should be cancelled until matters are resolved?

    Look, listen or read and sigh!

    Ref: Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill
    Clause 1: Referendum on the alternative vote system:
    Amendment A1: 7 Feb 2011: Column 16.
    Political Reform Committee: MPs have taken evidence on the Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill on 10 February 2011.
    Political and Constitutional reform Committee
    Uncorrected Transcript of Oral Evidence
    To be published as HC 804-i

    • maude elwes
      17/02/2011 at 7:00 pm

      If the electorate doesn’t turn out, it is the direct fault of politicians and their parties. And they know it.

      Politicians hold surgeries, they attend meetings and they speak to the public. If they cannot represent the people as they pretend they will, the result is always loss of interest and apathy. No votes is the direct responsibility of those who said they could sort out the problems. When they can’t, and they put themselves up again, with the same old party line, what do you expect?

      If you ask the people to vote on what they care about, they will turn out in their droves. If they find there is no connection between them and those who serve them, they will shun any kind of communication.

  11. Eran Adams
    11/03/2011 at 1:57 pm

    The AV system is really a bad voting system.

    An important claim of the supporters of the AV is that “It penalises extremist parties, who are unlikely to gain many second-preference votes.” Well, yes, if you assume the following:


    You are a Labour voter. Therefore, you are not in any way going to vote for Tories. So you are left with the option of voting for the LIB-Dem, or any other party – all of which are extreme in one way or the other – may it be the Greens, the BNP or the Loonies.

    So, if you decide that voting for the Lib-Dem is not your wish, you will be voting for a party that have one major theme engraved in it’s manifesto that is close to your heart. That will also be the epitome of Tactical Voting – You will be trying to pass your party a message that this or that issue is important for you.

    That will put to shame the other claims of the yes campaigners for AV: “It eliminates the need for tactical voting.”

    Now, how stupid can the UK voters be! You are lead into the best laid down trap: The Lib-Dem said that the AV is a compromise instead of having the proportional voting system.

    This is not true. The AV is a lot better for them than the proportional voting system – as many UK voters will indeed avoid voting for a small extremists party – so they will vote for the Lb-Dem – they will think that they really do not have another choice for the second preference. The Lib-Dem will than be piggy carried to victory in many constitutes with the combined second choice of the two main party’s voters.

    And at the same time, we will have some small and extremist parties in our Parliament – just like in the proportional voting system.


    With two thirds of the MP’s lacked majority in their areas, one should not be blame to think that the Lib-Dem will become the biggest party in the Parliament. Now, that may not be a bad thing, you might say. Well, the fact is that if that happens, it means that the Lib-Dem won because they where the forced ‘there is nothing better to vote for as second choice’ for most voters.

    Well. ‘nothing better’ is not really a political endorsement.

    The Lib-Dem went to government for the AV and the AV alone – and not for the ministerial jobs at the current government, as James O’Brian from LBC claims. That calculation is the long term motivation. It promises all the current Lib-Dem MP’s government jobs in the future.

    That is nothing less than the biggest political fraud ever. It is only one step down from a military putsch by the Lib-Dem, with the same effect of a revolution.

  12. Matt
    12/03/2011 at 2:08 pm

    @ Eran

    Can you give us one likely illustration from the last general election, from one particular constituency, where either a Lib Dem or an extremist would have been ‘piggy-backed’ into victory?

    And can you show us how this would have constituted a worse / more disagreeable outcome than what actually happened, under FPTP??

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