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  • The BNP and AV

    by Rumbold
    21st April, 2011 at 9:14 am    

    There has been a lot of debate about whether introducing the Alternative Vote (AV) would make it more likely that a BNP or similar candidate would be elected. Given that AV is not a proportional representation system, I think that this is unlikely, but, more importantly, it shouldn’t matter.

    The problem with the BNP and other extremist groups is not that they might send a representative or two to a legislature (where they usually behave badly and often fail to get re-elected), but that support exists for them at all.

    If the BNP/EDL have, say, 5% support nationally, then that is what needs to be addressed, not worrying which voting system will best keep them out of power. It is in day to day life that this matters the most; the BNP are a racist, anti-immigrant party, so it will be local non-whites and immigrants who bear the brunt of living in an area where people support the BNP.

    Having no BNP representatives at any level doesn’t mean that support for them has disappeared. No one should be happy if a BNP representative is elected, but that is a symptom of the problem, not a cause.

                  Post to

    Filed in: Current affairs,Party politics,The BNP

    34 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. sunny hundal

      Blogged: : The BNP and AV

    2. MartinLeJeune

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : The BNP and AV - good stuff

    3. Dr Eoin Clarke

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : The BNP and AV

    4. ClareSaxon

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : The BNP and AV

    5. the_no

      RT @sunny_hundal Blogged: The BNP and AV < #yes2av #no2av

    6. Sol Smith

      True->RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : The BNP and AV

    7. Nishma Doshi

      RT @the_no: RT @sunny_hundal Blogged: The BNP and AV < #yes2av #no2av

    8. George Readings

      Rumbold makes key point about AV and BNP: We should address BNP support, not choose voting system to deny them power

    9. Helen Lambert

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : The BNP and AV

    1. Joe Otten — on 21st April, 2011 at 9:20 am  

      Where BNP candidates do get elected already it is often with 30% or so of the vote, with the anti-nazi vote being split among a number of candidates.

      AV would put the winning post at 50%, much harder for the BNP to reach.

    2. Shamit — on 21st April, 2011 at 9:25 am  

      Spot on Rumbold.

      I would vote NO to AV but not because that AV would somehow let BNP/EDL types win.

      To be fair, FPTP system could in theory let a BNP member of Parliament in but not AV unless the majority of a constituency are massive BNP supporters and I have more faith in the electorate than that.

      And Rumbold is right about this focusing on the symptom and not the cause.

      Saying all that I hope people would vote NO to AV based on the merit of the case - had to do a little camapaiging and irk Sunny.

      Sorry Sunny -

    3. Mark Richardson — on 21st April, 2011 at 9:34 am  

      AV represents a consolidation of pluralist accounts of political power within the context of bourgeois dictatorship (aka ‘liberal democracy’). How AV might help or hinder a party like the BNP will very much vary with the varying interests and fortunes of the ruling class. Any attempt to say absolutely ‘AV will be bad for the BNP’ or ‘AV will be good for the BNP’ depends upon the interests and fortunes of the ruling class remaining the same… Which, given the value of this assumption to the ruling class, makes me wonder who exactly is gaining here from this debate. Hmmmm…

    4. Hermes — on 21st April, 2011 at 11:02 am  

      Mark Richardson,

      Do you want to try explaining that a bit more please…this time in English!!!!!

    5. MaidMarian — on 21st April, 2011 at 11:45 am  

      Rumbold - agreed. Even if it was possible to forsee the effects of a change in system, its impact on one party or the other is not an argument.

      There are more than enough good reasons to vote NO to AV. The BNP angle is nonsense.

    6. Carl — on 21st April, 2011 at 12:12 pm  

      Absolutely correct. In fact supporting non-proportional systems is an incentive for politicians to sweep such problems as extremism under the carpet.

    7. Rumbold — on 21st April, 2011 at 12:42 pm  

      Thanks everyone.

    8. cjcjc — on 21st April, 2011 at 1:09 pm  

      Actually perhaps one should be happy if a BNP-er were to be elected since any that do always make total arses of themselves.

    9. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells — on 21st April, 2011 at 2:53 pm  

      The BNP are irrelevant, have been since last May.

    10. Optimist — on 21st April, 2011 at 3:04 pm  

      Only reason I would argue for a NO vote is that if the NOs won then it will keep open the possibility for a real proportional system. If the YESs won then that possibility will disappear for another generation. As most people agree that AV is fudge, a scrap thrown to Clegg by David for all his treachery and he hopes to wear it as fig-leaf, if he wins.

      As regard to the BNP, as some others have already mentioned, there is no substitute to opposing them actively as was done in Barking. They had won 12 council seats under first pass the post system, but were all defeated when hundreds of members of the UAF together with other anti-racists turned out, day after day, week after week to speak to the people and explain to them what these nasty bunch of people really stood for – and surprise, surprise, people listened and kicked the fascists out, all of them!

    11. Don — on 21st April, 2011 at 3:08 pm  


      That’s comforting to know.

    12. Sarah AB — on 21st April, 2011 at 3:55 pm  

      I would have thought AV might might the election of a BNP candidate less likely (for the reasons given by Joe) but it’s hugely unlikely even under fptp - and AV would boost their number of first votes (people won’t fear their BNP vote will be wasted) and might also encourage other candidates to try to win the BNP second preference votes - which, given that the BNP is happily unpopular might actually count for something in an AV system, if their candidates will be knocked out early on. I am against AV - and agreed with todays’ Times leader that both campaigns have been ‘tawdry’.

    13. Don — on 23rd April, 2011 at 4:35 pm  

      Both campaigns have been disappointing, with the No campaign being the more dishonest.

      Johann Hari’s piece is worth reading.

      I’m voting yes, but not with any great optimism.

    14. Sajn — on 23rd April, 2011 at 7:27 pm  

      I’m voting no. Simply because of Clegg.

    15. KB Player — on 23rd April, 2011 at 8:26 pm  

      The Hari article is worth reading. I’m still swithering on this.

      I read a novel about a convent once, and it’s how the sisters voted for the Abbess. You kept on eliminating the losers until you voted between two final contenders.

    16. KB Player — on 23rd April, 2011 at 8:35 pm  

      Can anyone explain whether the AV system is supposed to remove tactical voting. In FPTP I might vote for the Labour guy even though I’d prefer to vote Green, to keep out the Tory guy. Under AV, I would give my first preference to the Labour guy, to give him a better chance of defeating the Tory guy, even if I’d rather the Green guy won. I would figure that the Green guy is unlikely to win and that voting first for him again splits the centre left vote. Am I misunderstanding this? I’m doing a calculation that my first preference is worth 4, my next 3 and so on.

    17. douglas clark — on 24th April, 2011 at 1:51 am  

      KB Player,

      I have no idea.

      Can I tell you how complicated it is to vote for a Hollyrood SMP?

      No I probably can’t.

      It is to do with something called the d’Hont formula or something.

      As far as I can tell it is deliberately designed to ensure that no-one can ever get an outright majority.

      And yet, the formula is on the edge of being bust.


      It is amusing that no-one here really knows that Scotland might be on it’s way out of the Union, and cares less.

      Still, at least you won’t have these daft Scottish Labour MP’s voting against Tory legislation that doesn’t effect them in the slightest?

      Y’know, ’cause it just doesn’t. And still you let them vote.


    18. Sarah AB — on 24th April, 2011 at 6:46 am  

      KB Player - I’ve also hesitated on this one and think I’ve moved from a 60/40 position in favour of AV to 60/40 against. But I think one of the positive things about AV is that you *can* vote Green yet know your vote won’t be wasted as (assuming Greens don’t do that well) your second preference vote might well count to ensure a Labour victory. But I suppose there might be circumstances in which a tactical vote for Labour would work better even under AV.

    19. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells — on 24th April, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    20. Boyo — on 25th April, 2011 at 8:50 pm  

      @17 well, that we agree on…

      I’m voting no to AV because I do agree with the sentiments of their B’stard ad about any manifesto being even more meaningless and basically guaranteeing lickspittle Lib Dems one way or the other forever - it will lead to an even more corrupt, “professional” core of politicians who stand for nothing but themselves.

      That’s not to say FPTP is good, but it is just better than that.

      I would stick with FPTP BUT make manifestos legally binding with perhaps the proviso that if they wanted to change their promises like this bunch they would have to put every main change to a referendum, which is a close to real democracy as we could get.

      Re the BNP/EDL - well, they’re bogeymen I suppose…

    21. Joe Otten — on 26th April, 2011 at 11:07 am  

      SarahAB@12 - I take the point about parties looking for transfers from the BNP. But there will always be more anti-fascists voters to appeal to for transfers. If one party appeals to the BNP for second preferences, they lose second preferences from everyone else. Such a candidate is then less likely not more likely to win.

      douglas@17 - you would vote Green 1 Labour 2. If the Green is then knocked out, your whole vote transfers to Labour. It is not a question of 4 points for that one and 3 for the other, that’s not how it works at all. AV is one person one vote, and the difference is that you have to power to transfer your vote from who you really want, if they have come 3rd, 4th, etc, to the first or second placed candidate to try to influence the result.

      Let me say that again. AV is one person one vote. The No2AV leaflet is a barefaced lie.

    22. Ravi Naik — on 26th April, 2011 at 12:09 pm  

      I am firmly on the AV camp, because it is far more democratic than FPTP. If that means that the BNP has a better chance of winning then so be it, it is merely the expression of the people.

      What I really like about AV is that candidates have to work harder to appeal to larger sections of people because having a second or third vote in preferences may be what it takes to win it. I also think that people would want to learn a little more about their candidates, since they can express their votes in a more comprehensive way.

    23. Boyo — on 26th April, 2011 at 7:44 pm  

      Really, I think you AVers are really quite naive. It will simply lead to a political class that is even more corrupt. Unless you want a career as part of it, I can’t see why on earth you want to assist it.

    24. Shamit — on 26th April, 2011 at 11:13 pm  

      Spot on Boyo.

      Why is Ed Miliband pushing for AV Yes?

      That’s the only way he can get to No. 10 especially when about 50% of the country does not think he is capable of being the Labour Leader let alone the Prime Minister.

      Why is Nick Clegg?

      The only way he can remain leader of the Lib Dems and enjoy ministerial jaguars.

      Yeah AV is about democracy - my ass.

    25. Shamit — on 27th April, 2011 at 8:34 am  

      Peter Mandelson got it right and got it wrong.

      Yes Cameron is the biggest threat to Labour’s electoral chances in the General Election but voting to change the election system just to kick Cameron.

      So its got nothing to do with democracy - its got all to do with securing power through the back channels - so we have to reward politicians for failing to persuade.

      Just VOTE NO.

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