diamond geezer

 Thursday, May 05, 2011

Today sees the UK's first referendum since 1975.

Some people will be answering this question.
At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead? [YES] [NO]
But I suspect they'll be in the minority.
Most people will be answering a different question.
The 'alternative vote' - do you really care? [YES] [NO]
And most people don't care, not at all, which has left the door open for a deeply patronising and negative campaign by politicians and the media.

They've appealed to simplistic base emotions.
Do you want to allow the Nazis, the BNP and cheating MPs with duck islands to run the country? [YES] [NO]
They've tried to make the alternative vote system sound over-complicated.
Can diddums cope with ranking candidates in order? [YES] [NO]
They've whittled down the issues to a supercilious clash of personalities.
Would you like to kick David Cameron? [YES] [NO]
Do you support that liar, Nick Clegg? [YES] [NO]
They've appealed to the nation's inner conservatism.
Change is scary. Do you want change? [YES] [NO]
They've courted the apathetic with unremitting zeal.
We know you don't give a damn about this 'alternative vote' thing. But would you mind voting 'NO' anyway? [YES] [NO]
And they've discovered that a substantial proportion of the population are perfectly willing to do what they're told even if they don't quite realise why.
Are you capable of independent thought? [YES] [NO]
Indeed the entire referendum debate has been woefully shallow, persistently condescending and unremittingly depressing.

So, which way to jump? A month ago I was torn between 'NO', 'YES' and abstain, each of which seemed equally imperfect. A 'NO' vote would mean backing an appalling campaign of misinformation. A 'YES' vote would be recommending electoral reform that wasn't in any way proportional. And abstaining would be a complete abdication of personal responsibility. But now I think I've finally made up my mind.

A month ago, Britain might have voted 'YES'. Today it's almost certainly going to vote 'NO' by a landslide. My vote will therefore have absolutely no consequence on the national outcome, whichever way I swing. But if I vote 'YES' I can reduce the size of that landslide, by one, so that the decision is fractionally less clear cut, the establishment's victory is fractionally less great and the PR argument is fractionally less dead. Voting 'YES' means I'll have no guilt over maintaining the status quo, but also no responsibility for instigating a change.

So today I've decided to answer this question.
Will 'YES' come second? [YES] [NO]
Vote 'YES', get 'NO' - it's the only alternative.


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