The No to AV campaign is going all Phil Woolas on our asses

When any politician goes in for extreme negative attacks, it’s always the last act of a desperate campaign. Phil Woolas engaged in his unique brand of slurring when it was obvious he was going to lose. This week marked the start of that type of campaign from the No2AV camp, with this blog and this advert:

For a start, the £250m is a meaningless figure. The No camp might as well have said that AV will cost us all four hundred squillion billion trillion million pounds, and that if we say Yes to AV then disembodied zombies will rise up from graveyards and devour our babies. Now I come to think about it, that is basically what they are saying.

Secondly, they seem to misunderstand how government spending works. Money isn’t being taken directly from maternity wards, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings (literally) and instead being spent on referendum publicity, or on vote counting machines. It’ll come out of the budgets for the relevant government departments that run elections.

Also, complaining about cuts would be more convincing were the No campaign not comprised of groups (such as the Conservative Party and the Taxpayers Alliance) who are in favour of, and are carrying out, massive cuts to public spending that will affect poor and vulnerable people. If you want a proper debate over public spending, then the AV referendum is a red herring. Also, they seem to have based their claims on the wrong electoral system.

Let’s face it, this figure of £250m is farcical. Apparently it comes from a report commissioned by the No to AV campaign. Which obviously means it’ll be a balanced, impartial figure. Maybe the Yes campaign should commission their own report saying that the referendum will only cost £3.50, and we can spend the referendum arguing over the cost of the campaign rather than the actual issues involved.

For this is what the No campaign are ignoring. They already seem to have given up trying to give us reasons to retain First Past the Post, and the referendum campaign hasn’t even really begun yet.

Of course, bringing in AV will cost some money. Probably not as much as £250m, but it will cost something. Yet surely cost is irrelevant compared to bringing in a voting system that will lead to a more pluralist politics, greater choice to voters and ensure that MPs have a proper mandate?

Except the No campaign refuses to engage in debate with the Yes campaign. Conservative groups who are in favour of AV have even been banned from the Tory conference, for goodness sake. What does that say about the No campaign’s commitment to a fair, open debate?

There are important constitutional issues at stake in this referendum that will affect how every single Briton engages with politics forever. Rather than debating these issues, the No to AV camp has decided to go for scaremongering. It’s immoral, abhorrent and shameful.

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8 Responses to The No to AV campaign is going all Phil Woolas on our asses

  1. eastmidsfairervotes says:

    £90 million of it comes from the cost of the referendum, which will be spent even if there’s a No vote.

    Another £130 million comes from the assumptions that Britain will need to invest in counting machines, even though Australia does fine without them.

    So £220 of the claimed £250m that would be saved by voting No is an outright lie…

  2. Laura says:

    “Our Country can’t afford it.” Brilliant – we can’t afford a fairer system of democracy. I may consider this a valid point for a nanosecond, if only I lived in Zimbabwe.

    Some things really don’t come down to finance. And anyhoo, £250 million is being referred to as a drop in the ocean of government finances when we talk about the new tax on the banks – IT CAN’T BE BOTH!!!

    Gosh, I’m getting angry in my old age.

  3. DBirkin says:

    Want to explain why if the Yes campaign are committed to an open and fair debate that the ERS erased all criticism of AV from their website at the exact time the general public were trying to get a balanced view?

    That sounds a bit ‘dishonest’ don’t you think?

    I found your claim that money isn’t taken out of other departments, just the one it affects. Oh good, so all departments have a surplus of cash do they? they never have to move money around…? Is that what you are really claiming??

    The other point I got from this is you have NO idea how much it will cost. As the proposers of the change shouldn’t it be YOUR job to tell us how much it will cost?

    At the end of the day, the cost does take a back seat IF AV was a fairer system ( which I think is plain to see that it isn’t), but for all those that are #meh2av or don’t really know how they feel. Is it worth a possible £250 million? i.e. the same cost as 16.5 million hursing hours, to find out?

    • I don’t speculate on what the cost will be, because I haven’t done any research into it. Unlike the No campaign I wouldn’t want to enter a debate in which I haven’t done my homework. I refer you, however, to the first comment on costs. Also, the debate should be about: is this a better electoral system? Therefore I find such arguments tedious anyway.

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