A few quick points on Toby Young’s arguments against AV

“AV is more likely to lead to hung Parliaments” – We’re already in a hung parliament. FPTP has given us hung parliaments several times in the past 100 years whereas in Australia AV has delivered one hung parliament in the past 28 elections. With a decrease in traditional voting ‘tribes’ and an increase in people voting for other parties this is going to become more frequent, not less (though I’m intrigued by the idea of a return to traditional two party politics with an implosion of the Lib Dems, I think getting rid of Clegg would soon right that circumstance).

“It will give small, extremist parties the whip hand in coalition negotiations” – Extremist? Unless you think the Liberal Democrats and occasionally the Greens are extremist this is wholly inaccurate. AV helps prevent extremist parties get elected because they simply cannot garner enough support (through second and third preferences) among the community to get elected. As for the ‘whip hand’ – he ignores the situation in Scotland, where the SNP have successfully governed as a minority government for several years now (I define success here as not collapsing rather than endorsing any specific policy!).

“It will lead to the end of our two-party system in which voter have a clear choice between two alternatives” – 24% of people voted Lib Dem in the 2010 General Election, only 65% of people voted for one of the two parties in our supposed ‘two-party system’. The parties currently represented in the House of Commons include Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, SNP, Green, DUP, SDLP and Plaid Cymru. If this is the product of a two-party voting system that strikes me as a very weak argument (though admittedly the smallest five parties don’t even match the Lib Dems in number).

Young is upset because the ‘No to AV’ campaign is focusing on cost, but perhaps the reason they are is because the arguments they could use, that Young spells out, are generally inaccurate or false.

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