AV Abstention?

Lord Tyler

I am looking forward immensely to the AV contest on 22nd March.

No, not the referendum clash between Margaret Beckett and Lord Prescott (for the “No” campaign) and Helena Bonham-Carter and Colin Firth (for “Yes”) on 5th May.

Instead I have in mind the by-election for a Hereditary Peer to replace the veteran Labour Lord Strabolgi, who died just before Christmas. As Lady Murphy explained here on 11th February, this election has to use the Alternative Vote process. This will not only be identical to the AV system which has been debated exhaustively for well over 100 hours in the Lords in recent weeks but also to many other electoral arrangements in and out of Parliament.

What will be especially intriguing will be to note how many Peers – having declared their undying contempt, hostility and outright rejection of AV in the these debates – will abstain on principle in this poll. So many Labour Peers have so declared, despite their own Leader’s advocacy of AV, that consistency would suggest mass abstention. Conservative sceptics of the merits of AV may be more pragmatic. After all, the replacement for Lord Strabolgi does not have to be a Labour supporter…

19 comments for “AV Abstention?

  1. Carl.H
    17/02/2011 at 6:23 pm

    Now you’re just being silly.

    There is no need to abstain at all just vote for one candidate alone this way you are NOT giving an Alternate Vote.

    Why on earth do Lib-dems think they can gloat when their leader and party have lost all credibility in the eyes of the electorate !

  2. 17/02/2011 at 6:52 pm

    Re Carl.H

    In 4 years time our leader might be seen widely as the brave and principled visionary that we hope and believe he is. The economy will be the decider, followed by political reform, freedom and the environment.

    You might say that we will be disappointed. I might say that it will be you.

    • maude elwes
      17/02/2011 at 7:13 pm

      So, John M, what you’re saying is, we are all buying a pig in a poke. We have to cross our fingers, as ‘they’ don’t know what the heck will happen or what it is they are selling us!

    • Carl.H
      17/02/2011 at 7:38 pm

      Then again I may just sit and wonder if to hysterically laugh or wonder on the state of your sanity.

      that we hope and believe he is

      Which? Hope or believe ? You don’t sound convinced ? And after the 4 years when Britain is once again Great and all is the Garden of Eden in this fair land, I expect he’ll be off to solve the rest of the Worlds problems !

      In brief.

      The economy: Cuts too far, far too fast. There will be a massive double dip.

      Political Reform: A system that is unknown and is likely, on the roadmap so far, to form coalitions with no mandate from the electorate and be deeply unpopular.

      Freedom: is just another word for nothing else to lose. Or was that Kris Kristofferson.

      The Environment: Won’t get better as it needs money to improve and we aint got none.

    • MilesJSD
      24/02/2011 at 7:51 am

      JohnM please note serious cracks in your armour:
      (1) You fail to name your (plural/ collective) “leader”.

      NB Anyway, There is no genuine and effectively-co-constructive leader in the World; nor in Britain nor even in Westminster; nor do billions of other ostensibly responsible human-beings around the world, including other so-called FirstWorld peoples such as Europe, USA, Japan, and possibly up-and-coming Brazil, Russia, India and China, and Other improver-nations; which is because we have (there is) no one showing us 24/7 how they are individually succeeding in living healthily, citizenlike, environmentally-supportively, and happily, on only £200 per week income without extra assets.

      and showing

      how I/we followers (i.e. would-be followers) could be making our £200 per week ‘go further’ (too).
      (2) The economy is fundamentally flawed in formulae and equation: so that part of your conflation is not even a true premise.
      ((cf Prof David Smith “Continent In Crisis” author and tutor in Australian TV Universities’ 26 week course “Environmental Studies” (c. 1998))).

      (3) Ability (enablements) must precede Empowerment(s).

      (4) Your closing ‘you’-message, that we (the other lot that I, milesjsd, belong to out here, but not you JohnM and your lot ‘in-there’) might say that your-lot in-there will be disappointed;

      followed by your pseudo ‘I’-message “I might say that it will be you (out-there, the lot that milesjsd belongs to and all other lots except the one in-there that JohnM belongs to) who will be disappointed:

      (not us in-here because we have a “brave and principled visionary leader” ((already known to be being decided (a) by the economy (b) by political reform (c) by freedom and (d) by the environment;

      all of that, JohnM, is such a tangled web of deception that it is worse than being mere ‘practise’, and at our (the out-here public’s) expense. It has outrightly evil content, and consequences.
      The three basic and lasting principles of both good communication and good hinest argumentation are
      1. Clarity.
      2. Charity.
      3. Self-correctibility.

      Weston’s 4th edition “A Rulebook for Arguments” would be a further help to any honest thinker & public-commenter.
      How do you answer, sir ?


  3. Carl.H
    18/02/2011 at 10:24 am

    Who stated clearly that AV was a miserable little compromise.

    Answer: Nick Clegg

    Mr Clegg says under the current system most people are represented by someone most people did not vote for.

    That is true of any system where the turnout is low. It’s not the answer to get everyone to vote for all candidates, AV is foolishness not representative at all and a very long way from PR.

  4. Carl.H
    18/02/2011 at 10:47 am

    Mr Clegg also hinted in an interview with the Independent that Labour’s promised referendum on switching from a first-past-the-post voting system, to the “alternative vote” (AV) would not be enough to win Lib Dem backing in a hung parliament.

    He said the system proposed was “a baby step in the right direction”, and said he would not settle for “a miserable little compromise thrashed out by the Labour Party”.


  5. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    18/02/2011 at 2:15 pm

    I’m completely thrown by the by-election for Lord Strabolgi’s place. I hoped to be able to avoid these elections simply because like almost everyone in the House I regard them as an anachronistic way of perpetuating the hereditary principle by giving a veneer of spurious ‘democracy’. Best thing to do is not vote I think and continue to press for the end to these silly elections as soon as possible.

    • maude elwes
      19/02/2011 at 12:03 pm

      The last thing to do is not vote! If you don’t use it, you lose it.

      Vote for an alternative, or, an independant. Vote for something you feel you can live with, even if only in the short term, until something more palitable comes along.

      I often think I will not vote, as there appears no one to vote for, under any stratch of the imagination, but, I never give in to it. I always find someone I can select. Even under duress.

    • Matt
      20/02/2011 at 5:21 pm

      Baroness Murphy –

      I for one am perfectly happy with a system which drafts in the most engaged/engaging 92 people, from a body of some 750 people (ie, the hereditary peerage).

      I am not at all happy with a system which drafts in all 687 people, from a body of 687 people (ie, the life peerage).

      You have a nerve to criticise.

  6. Lord Tyler
    Lord Tyler
    18/02/2011 at 3:09 pm

    I strongly sympathise with Lady Murphy, though of course I feel similarly about First Past the Post. However, until the system is changed, if we don’t vote, others will, and we may end up with an even less satisfactory outcome!

  7. baronessmurphy
    21/02/2011 at 2:11 pm

    Matt, you mean a little bit of election is better than none at all? Well it’s a point of view but not one I agree with. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate many of the elected hereditaries, in fact as they say, some of my best friends are elected hereditaries! Since coming into the House I have learnt to appreciate them, as you say, so often engaged and engaging.

  8. Matt
    21/02/2011 at 5:00 pm

    Baroness Murphy,

    That’s near enough to what I was trying to say, yes. If the results are satisfactory, then why quibble with something just because it looks out-dated or anamolous?
    I would go further than that and say that it provides us with a working precedent.
    So I respectfully ask you and others to consider whether or not you would make it into the ‘Top 92’ of the life peers, if your numbers were reduced by a similar mechanism.
    Pre-Blair, the general standing of the hereditaries was in disrepute, due to the excessive numbers of conservative ‘backwoodsmen’. This is no longer the case. Indeed, with Blair, the standing of the life peers went into decline, due to excessive and blatant ‘cronyism’.
    I do not dispute that you and many other ‘lifers’ make a fine contribution to the house. But, without naming names, you must acknowledge that there are several coachloads of other peers which the house could do quite happily without!
    So my case is a very practical one – keep the baby, but throw out the bathwater. I don’t think it’s worthwhile to get too precious with the theories – concentrate on the results. I think you’ll find that most people rather like the fact that we’ve still got some old-style aristocrats in the house, with ancestors who got drunk with a certain monarch etc. They’re certainly altoegther more palatable than some of the new establishment figures.

    22/02/2011 at 9:03 pm

    I actulaly think all the Hereditary peers need to be brought back. There is nothignmagical about voting, and it certainly dons’t prodice greater effects.

    Its not mroe legitimate either.

    Why on earth is the Hereditary Principle bad?

  10. Twm O'r Nant
    23/02/2011 at 10:41 am

    I actulaly think all the Hereditary peers need to be brought back.

    Actulaly Zarove needs to spend more time with his/her family, on the strength of recent such comments.

    There are more than 1000 for a start. If they want to get elected to the commons then they may do that as Mr So-and-so. Some may even be given a life peerage for the purpose of membership of a good club.

    As they say in France, “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.”

    We are all human.

  11. Matt
    23/02/2011 at 1:32 pm

    Zarove –

    Please re-read my previous comments here.

    I was arguing in favour of hereditaries, ESPECIAlLY now that we have a reliable way of ensuring that the useless ones are discounted. Oh for a similar way of filtering the life peers …

    For the record, Twm O’r Nant, there are an estimated 750 hereditary peers, of whom only 200-and-something have registered on the ‘I’m interested in having a seat’ list (from memory).

  12. ZAROVE
    23/02/2011 at 7:57 pm

    Matt, I wasn’t specifically referign to you, just the general mentality that somehow Hereditary peerages are bad.

    Tim, I still don’t see why thee is animosity towards the Hereditary Principle or any real reason why election is seen as the only valid system.

    • Matt
      25/02/2011 at 2:01 pm

      Well said, Zarove.

  13. MilesJSD
    24/02/2011 at 7:53 am


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