Monday, 28 February 2011

The No2AV Reasons Debunked: Complex and Unfair

From No2Av:
The winner should be the candidate that comes first, but under AV the candidate who comes second or third can actually be elected. That’s why it is used by just three countries in the world – Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea. Voters should decide who the best candidate is, not the voting system. We can't afford to let the politicians off the hook by introducing a loser's charter.
We have no idea why it's only used by just 3 countries in the world. Perhaps, like the UK, a lot of countries with an FPTP system have 2 parties who would like to keep it that way and never get the opportunity for a referendum. Some have chosen STV or PR systems instead. I personally think STV is better or some form of multi-seat representation. 

As for the rest of it, the point of AV is that it's actually a more accurate way of choosing who the best candidate is because it allows for more expression over choice. It allows us to see what people's general leanings are, what sort of philosophy they sign up to, which means that two candidates with similar philosophies don't see votes getting split and another candidate winning.

One of the stupid parts of the FPTP system is that one of the best ways to spend a few grand in politics is to fund a party with a philosophy similar to your opponent and hope that it then splits away your opponent's vote, letting your favourite candidate win. Think about that, and tell me it actually makes any sense.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Irish Election News

bit obvious, I suppose.

The NOtoAV Reasons debunked. 1: Cost

From the NotoAV site
The change to AV will cost up to an additional £250 million. Local councils would have to waste money on costly electronic vote counting machines and expensive voter education campaigns. With ordinary families facing tough times can we really afford to spend a quarter of a billion pounds of taxpayers' money bringing in a new voting system? Schools and hospitals, or the Alternative Vote – that's the choice in this referendum.
OK, let's use their own costs:
The total cost of the referendum will be up to £250 million. The spending breaks down as: the referendum itself costs £82 million with the cost of voter education ahead of the referendum at £9 million. Should AV pass, the cost of electronic vote counting necessitated by AV will be £130 million and the cost of voter education with AV will be £26 million.
OK, so the best number they have is actually £247 million. Let's break that down:-

  • Referendum of £82 million. That's a sunk cost. Whether you vote for, against or don't even bother to turn up, you're going to spend that.
  • Voter education of £9 million. Again, that's sunk. It's going to get spent anyway.
  • Electronic vote counting of £130 million. The use of the word "necessitated" here is a lie as there's absolutely no necessity to use voting machines for AV. The Australians don't use it.
  • Voter education of £26 million. OK, that's an actual cost, assuming it's correct.

So, the actual cost if you vote for AV is either £26 million or £156 million*.And that's mostly a one-off cost. £3-4 each. Once. For a better voting system that gives us politicians that will be more responsive to what people want. I think it's a cost we can spare, especially as most of those supporting the No2AV seem to be members of political parties that repeatedly vote for EU membership which costs us each something like £2000/annum.

*If we introduce voting machines, it also has to be considered that this then reduces the cost of paying overtime to people to work as counting staff.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

AV and Extremism

One of the common refrains you'll hear about AV is that it's a system that allows extremism (see last post). The bogeyman of the BNP will be dangled.

However, it's actually FPTP that can deliver an extreme candidate, and less likely to be AV.

If you have a parliamentary seat with enough candidates, the vote can be so diluted across sensible candidates that a more extreme candidate can win. That candidate doesn't represent what most voters want, but because they happen to get the most of any individual candidate, they win.

Let me present a simple example using the real world: you, and a group of 9 friends are going to go to dinner together. 7 of you like a full choice of dinner including various dead animals. 3 of you are vegetarian. There's 1 really excellent vegetarian restaurant in town, and a choice of various dead animal restaurants (which also serve veggie food). You each vote for a restaurant, and the votes are tallied as:-

The Wholefood Gaia Vegetarian Restaurant: 3 votes
Gourmet Burger Kitchen: 2 votes
Harvester: 2 votes
Beefeater: 2 votes
Frankie and Benny's: 1 vote

So, under FPTP, they all go to the vegetarian restaurant, despite 7 of them really not wanting this, and in fact, it is probably their least favourite restaurant option. In practice, the Harvester, Beefeater or Gourmet Burger Kitchen people would pick one of those options and win. The vegetarians would have to settle for slightly less choice but overall, we'd have a more contented group whose choices had been more fairly represented.

And thing is, under FPTP which actually have seen something not too far from my example in the seat of Brighton Pavillion where the results were as follows:-

Green: 31.3%
Labour: 28.9%
Conservative: 23.7%
Lib Dem: 13.8%
UKIP: 1.8%
Others: 0.4%

So, 68.7% of people in Brighton didn't vote Green. Are they OK with that? Well, under FPTP we don't know. They might think that the Greens are bunch of loons who want to send us back to the middle ages. Many Labour and Lib Dem people might quite like them as they're going to expand the state, so while they'd prefer Labour or Lib Dem, they're not too unhappy.

Personally I think that even in somewhere as boho as Brighton, people of the Con/LD/Lab persuasion don't generally want the Greens. That in reality, most LD voters would pick Labour as a 2nd choice and many Green voters would pick Labour as a 2nd choice and you then have a Labour win. Maybe I'm wrong, but the only way to actually find out is with a system that gives us more information.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Sorry, but I don't have a problem with this

From Progress Online:-
It's not hard to believe that the BNP, like all small parties, could expect a higher vote under AV. Someone tempted to vote BNP now may resist doing so in favour of choosing between the top two candidates in his or her constituency. Under AV they need have no hesitation voting BNP number one and then transferring their vote to a more respectable party. Having two or three bites of the cherry is a luxury AV affords the supporters of extremist parties, but not the supporters of mainstream parties.
This does not mean the BNP would be any more likely to win a seat in the Commons under AV than it does now. But it would make the party more influential. The major parties would want to win transfers from people backing the BNP. It's not hard to imagine how ugly that would be.
What I'd like people like Joan Ryan to explain is why the people who support the BNP shouldn't have some say in the formation of government. Surely democracy is about getting a parliament that represents them best, and if that means that people who like what the BNP are about get some sort of say in how the country gets governed?

Note: Joan Ryan was the third highest claiming MP who also flipped her home and voted to keep her expenses secret. Under an AV system, a lot more of those MPs would have found themselves being destroyed at the ballot box by alternative candidates.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Cultural Significance of Angry Birds

From The Next Web:-
We knew Angry Birds was popular – it has surpassed 50 million downloads on mobile platforms and recently launched on both PC and Mac. What we didn’t realise is just how much time is spent playing the game worldwide; some 200 million minutes are spent on Angry Birds titles each day.
That's a figure coming from Peter Vesterbacka, the head of Rovio who develop Angry Birds, so obviously can't be verified, but it has been downloaded 50 million times, so maybe 4 minutes per day average is not far from the truth.

But let's put this into TV terms: 200 million minutes per day is the equivalent of a TV show that gets 6 million viewers every day. And I doubt there's a daily show in the US or anywhere else that gets that.

What I'm trying to say is that I think the rest of the media completely underestimates the size of gaming, that it's still considered as something nerds do, while they tell us all about plays which are attended by a couple of thousand people per day.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Newspaper Circulation...

Checked my copy of Metro this morning, and apparantly 1.3 million copies are circulated every day, with a readership of around 3.4 million. That's more than the Independent and the Guardian combined.

Why do I mention this? Well, I'm just really curious about stuff that doesn't seem that big, but actually is. If I was running a political party, I think I'd be offering free columns...