Jonathan Freedland in today’s Guardian tells us why we need to vote yes to the Alternative Vote on May the 5th. Most people in favour of a proportional system of electing our government will fully acknowledge that it is in Nick Clegg’s words a ‘Baby step on the way to Electoral Reform’. But it is a crucial step, it is the first step on the way to meaningful reform and if we do not take it, there will be no more steps for a long time.
We can argue the merits of Single Transferable Vote over the Additional Member System ’till we are blue, red, yellow or green in the face. We can agree that either would be infinitely superior to AV, but what we can’t do is refuse to vote for AV because it doesn’t give us everything we want.
Jonathan Freedland concludes with this lesson from Australia:
Of course AV is miles from perfect, even if it does allow voters to express more fully their true preferences; most reformers would prefer PR. But it’s naive to think that defeat next week would keep progressives’ powder dry, allowing for a future push for full-blooded electoral reform. That’s rarely how politics works. It’s success, not failure, that breeds success.
That lesson was taught in 1999, when Australia held a referendum on whether to remove the Queen as head of state. The alternative on offer was another “miserable little compromise” – with MPs, not the people, electing a new head of state – and some republicans preferred to let it fail and wait for something better. They’re still waiting – and Elizabeth II is still Queen of Australia.
Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good