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Is the 'Yes To Fairer Votes' campaign encouraging BBC bias?

    Whilst searching the web yesterday, I came across a very odd blog post on the Yes To Fairer Votes website.

    It was titled ‘Standing up to the BBC: 10,000 voices and counting’, and was a petition aimed to badger the BBC into “using the word "reform," when making reference to May's national referendum” on whether to change the UK’s voting system

    Not only does this appear an act of desperation; it actively encourages the BBC to be biased in reporting coverage.

    For forgive me if I am wrong, but the definition of the word reform is: to improve by alteration, correction of error, or removal of defects; put into a better form or condition.

    It therefore appears completely appropriate that the BBC should be actively NOT using the word ‘reform’.  

    The BBC has a responsibility to remain impartial in the decision on how we elect our parliamentarians– and suggesting that a move to the Alternative Vote would represent an ‘improvement by alteration’ clearly compromises the BBC’s duty to remain unbiased.

    And, the criterion by which Yes To Fairer Votes campaigners are judging AV an improvement on First Past the Post is unclear to me.  For whilst the AV system would maintain constituency links and allow voters the ability to make judgements on all candidates, it doesn't meet the one criterion which ‘fairer’ votes campaigners have always desired – PROPORTIONALITY.

    In fact, the Jenkins Commission  on electoral systems clearly states

    “It offers little prospect of a move towards greater proportionality, and in some circumstances… it is even less proportional than FPTP. Simulations of how the 1997 result might have come out under AV suggest that it would have significantly increased the size of the already swollen Labour majority…..The Conservative 30.7% of the votes should strictly (under PR) have given them 202 seats. Instead FPTP gave them 165 or 25% of the seats, whereas AV would have given them on one estimate only 96 (or 14.6% of the seats)”.

    Now, I don’t happen to think that having a proportional Parliament is as important as the Yes To Fair Votes Campaigners. After all, when I cast my vote last May, I was trying to elect a Conservative government and did not give much thought to the make-up of Parliament. But given that AV does not guarantee a more proportional system, what makes them so eager for it to be called a reform

    The answer is that some campaigners see it as a stepping stone to AV+ or STV.

    Which makes it all the more ironic that Pam Giddy, Chair of the Yes To AV Steering Committee is quoted as saying:

    “There are those who argue that AV could be regarded as the first stage in the reform process (…) these people are misguided.”


    (AV is a) “voting system which will not really offer more choice to voters or open up the political system.”

    These quotations prove what we already knew – AV is the one system that nobody really wants. It's the second or third choice system which may just win. 

    This is ironic, because it also may well deliver the people's third choice candidate as your constituency MP....

    Ryan joined the Centre for Policy Studies in January 2011, having previously worked for a year at the economic consultancy firm Frontier Economics.

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