A rough guide to where the parties stand on AV

Ok, the graphic above is just a general illustration of broadly where the leaders, officials & representatives of the major & minor parties stand on the issue of whether to adopt AV or stick with the current system. I shall now try to quickly say abit more about these positions!

(the basis for much of this information comes from this helpful article on the BBC News website, as well as my own & others experiences over the past few months. If you have any more knowledge about the position of any of these parties, or ones I’ve missed then please leave a comment!)

Labour

Their Leader, Ed Miliband, is fully supportive of AV & the “Yes” campaign. Many other leading Labour figures & many MPs, MEPs & councillors support making this change too, but prominent Labour “No to AV” figures include the likes of John Prescott, David Blunkett & Margaret Beckett. Some just want to stick with FPTP, while others, such as Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart steadfastly want more proportional systems such as the Additional Member System & view AV as the wrong compromise. Labour is by far the most openly split of the major parties on this issue, though it’s thought the majority of Labour members favour AV over the current broken system. The party has looked into electoral reform before & a referendum on AV was a policy in their 2010 manifesto (& was worded like they were officially in favour of AV too).

Conservatives

Largely against any move away from FPTP, despite agreeing to the referendum as part of the coalition agreement. Along with some of the Labour people mentioned above, they form the backbone of the No campaign. I’ve positioned their logo slightly touching the “Yes” side because there is a small group of Conservatives that are in favour of voting reform & think AV is a much needed step forward as it empowers voters & allows them greater choice.

Liberal Democrats

Strongly in favour of the Alternative Vote, & have been historically big supporters of electoral reform. AV still is a compromise for many Lib Dems though, as their longstanding system of choice is the STV (Single Transferrable Vote) form of proportional representation. They view AV as a significant step forward that will benefit voters though, & fully back the “Yes” campaign.

The Green Party

They will be supporting AV & Yes To Fairer Votes, after deciding & voting overwhelmingly to do so at their party conference in Birmingham last September.  Their ideal system would be the Additional Member System(AMS) of PR & their leader, Caroline Lucas MP tried to get AMS & other options added to the referendum question in an unsuccessful amendment to the voting reform Act- interestingly Labour’s Gisela Stuart, who as mentioned above is a strong supporter of AMS, decided to abstain when voting on this amendment, despite it containing her preferred system.

UKIP

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, has described the current FPTP system as a “nightmare” & UKIP have decided to throw their weight behind the “Yes” campaign.  UKIP’s system of choice would be “AV+”, which was drawn up as a potential “best of both worlds” method by the late Lord Jenkins in his report on electoral reform in 1998, that retains the direct MP-constituency link while also giving a greater degree of proportionality to the result of the votes cast.

SNP and Plaid Cymru

Plaid have officially said they back the “Yes” campaign but won’t be able to take an active official role in pushing for the change to AV because of the Welsh Assembly elections happening at the same time.

The SNP leader, Alex Salmond, is thought to be in favour of AV, though he doesn’t think it goes far enough as a reform & has been critical of the timing of the referendum as it falls on the same day as elections for the Scottish Parliament.  Both the SNP & Plaid Cymru are strong supporters of the Single Transferrable Vote.

Northern Irish Parties

Both the SDLP & The Alliance Party support the “Yes” campaign, though the SDLP ideally want the STV system.

The DUP are against the Alternative Vote & most likely would choose FPTP above all others as they are against any system that would reduce the overall representation in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein currently appear to be undecided though they broadly support electoral reform with a preference for some form of PR.

BNP

The British National Party (BNP) will be on No2AV’s side campaigning against AV & to keep the current FPTP system, though their preferred voting system is in fact the “Closed party list” form of PR we currently use here for the EU elections. Under the Closed-List system voters just vote for a party rather than the actual candidates, & the seats are allocated using a regional quota system once a party has reached a certain share of the vote to qualify for seats.

Respect

Still officially appear to be undecided on AV. They are strongly against the current system of FPTP though as they believe it artificially distorts results in favour of the 2 largest parties (Conservatives & Labour), & ideally want a fully proportional system where the MPs elected are directly equal to the votes cast.

English Democrats

The English Democrats appear to be pretty supportive of AV, despite really wanting STV- they view AV very much as a step in the right direction though.

Christian Peoples Alliance

The CPA view AV as the first step towards a truly proportional electoral system (rather like the English Democrats, Scottish & Welsh Nationalists, Greens & others). They decided last year to fully back the “Yes” campaign after voting on it.

Pirate Party UK

The Pirate Party are in favour of adopting AV & are supporting the “Yes” campaign, as outlined on their website. While they acknowledge that for some of their members AV does not go far enough, they recognise that the referendum is a vital opportunity to move towards a fairer system that makes politicians more accountable to the public.

Jury Team

Despite being supporters of electoral reform & greater use of referendums, Jury Team are opposed to changing to AV. Jury Team believe in greater independence from party control for MPs & think that AV will not help achieve this. They favour a 2-stage referendum where the best alternative is chosen before deciding whether to adopt it or to stick with FPTP.

Communist Party of Britain

They want voters to treat the referendum as a referendum on the current coalition government, & oppose any change to AV while preferring STV.

I couldn’t find anything about whether the Monster Raving Loony party or (my favourite) Bus-Pass Elvis party are for or against AV. I think they’ve probably got more important things to consider…

Well, that’s where the parties are with it,  & it’s interesting that apart from the bulk of the Conservative party, some Labour members (along with their Union backers) & probably the DUP all of the other parties appear to be in favour of moving away from the broken system we currently use. Ultimately the decision of FPTP or AV lies with us voters though, & it should be about what’s best for us & our representation locally & nationally, not what’s best for the politicians & their parties.  I believe that FPTP badly fails us in terms of representation of the votes cast & that’s one of the reasons why I’m Yes to AV.

You can read John Hemming MP’s original post about the party positions on AV here

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5 Responses to A rough guide to where the parties stand on AV

  1. I really like this diagram and I’m going to cross link it to my own post on the Rainbow Nature of the Yes to Fairer Votes, Yes to the Alternative Vote campaign.

    The situation with the Greens is a little more complex than I think you have. The Green Party of England are in favour, as are the Scottish Green Party

    http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/news/show/6433/scottish-greens-to-back-av-vote-while-campaigning-for-pr

    but I think the Green Party of Northern Ireland are against the Alternative Vote as they think it doesn’t go far enough. Not sure how you represent this without making the diagram busier.

  2. Dicky Moore says:

    This is a brilliant article. I’m glad you mentioned that AV was in Labour’s manifesto. It’s a shame that it’s this issue that they cannot hold party unity on.

    One thing I would like to see mentioned, however, is that it is the Conservative Party who have handed us the opportunity to adopt AV, the single biggest party opposed to it.

    We all know that the Liberal Democrats want a transition to STV, but the Conservative party ruled this out during the coalition negotiations. This is why it’s so hypocritical for Conservative MPs to argue against AV “because it’s not even a proportional system” and “because it’s not even what the Lib Dems wanted”.

    If the Conservatives couldn’t stomach STV, perhaps they should explain why they can stomach AV.

  3. @fairervotesedinburgh- thanks for the compliment & please feel free to cross-link & use the diagram graphic on your blog if you wish. My “get-out” for the Green Party is that the logo used is that of the Green party of England & Wales- I suppose to be completely correct I ought to have put the Scotttish Greens up on there & also the Irish Greens (about which No2AV made a big gaffe a few months back when they announced that the Green Party were in fact against AV without realising it was just the Northern Irish wing of the Irish Greens). I had heard that the Scottish Greens were supportive, though like many of the parties listed their longterm goal is a much more proportional system, but is the Scottish Green Party a completely different entity to the England & Wales Green party? I must admit this whole campaign has been a bit of an eye-opener about the range of parties out there & the ways in which some parties (big & small) operate!

    @Dicky – cheers, really glad you liked the post! You’re right about the double standards of the arguments of those who are against any change to the current system (mostly Tories but also quite a few Labour people too, but then the “Big 2” have done very nicely out this FPTP fix of a system!) . One thing we try to be careful of on here is that for the most part we try not to make our case for this electoral reform a party political one, especially as in the local Fairer Votes groups across the West Midlands we do have supporters who are from a broad spectrum of the mainstream political parties, as well people who have no party connection (some of whom don’t particularly like any of the parties). My feeling is that for the Conservative leadership this referendum is a slightly unpleasant but necessary price for getting back into government via the help of the Lib Dems & that AV (instead of a broader choice of systems or straight choice between STV & FPTP) was a calculated gamble they could take that wouldn’t be a total disaster in the eyes of their party membership if they lost the vote. To rally the right-wing into fighting to keep FPTP, Cameron & co have had to paint AV as a disaster for them though & give it the “worst of all worlds” tag, even though most studies don’t paint it as such a nightmare for them.

  4. Pingback: Review 1 – Alternative Vote Referendum « alternativevotereview

  5. I’m pleased to say that the this article has been included in the first edition of the Alternative Vote Review.

    If you have any more articles on the Alternative Vote Referendum that you’d like us to include in future reviews please nominate them.

    http://alternativevotereview.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/review-1-alternative-vote-referendum/

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