An arrogant atttitude to AV

The strongest argument for each side in the forthcoming referendum about our voting system is provided by some of the people promoting the opposite point of view.

As someone who expects to be campaigning and voting for a "No" I have to admit that one of the things which makes me most uncomfortable with that position is some of the politicians who will be taking the same view on the most tribal of grounds. (Don't waste your time posting suggestions about who I might be thinking of here unless they are genuinely funny.)

But while I was impressed with Andrew Rawnsley's first article on the subject back in November, which you can read here, I was much less impressed with this article which he wrote in the Observer yesterday which started with some interesting points but then appeared to describe working class opponents of electoral change as "the stupid vote."

His new article is called "The cynical enemies of electoral reform think we're stupid" and he starts with some legitimate points about how it is not actually all that difficult to rank candidates in order of preference.

But he completely lost my sympathy - and I note from reaction in the blogosphere, that of many other people on both right and left - when he went beyond the argument that some arguments against Alternative Vote understate the intelligence of the British electorate (with which I agree) to arguing that the leaders of the AV campaign think their own supporters in the DE social classes are thick, and even came dangerously close to giving the impression that he, Rawnsley, thinks they're right.

How else can you interpret comments like

"The polling suggests that AB voters, the more affluent and generally better-educated segment of the population, are more inclined to support reform. DE voters, by contrast, are more likely to be persuaded that we should stick with the status quo. If the turn-out is low, the DEs will be the ones staying at home. So the no campaign now believe it suits their cause that the referendum will be on the same day as the May elections because that ought to boost turn-out.

"We will see whether they are correct in this cynical calculation that the British can be persuaded that they are too dimwitted to be able to count to three ...

"Does the campaign to keep first past the post think that most Britons are stupid? Yes. Not only that, they are relying on the stupid vote to win."

A Tory politician who published an article which inferred that because the polling evidence suggested that people in the D and E social groups supported something, this was taken as evidence that the "stupid vote" were behind that position, would be rightly pilloried in newspapers like the Guardian and the Observer (for which Rawnsley writes) as an insufferable snob.

For a more amusing account of the AV argument, (not suitable for children) see the Daily Mash article, "Cameron and Clegg clash over how to elect greedy, incompetent freaks."


Popular posts from this blog

Nick Herbert on his visit to flood hit areas of Cumbria

Quotes of the day 19th August 2020

Quote of the day 24th July 2020