In Which I (Partly) Disagree With PJ Byrne

Master Byrne in many ways manifests my own thoughts on AV in this article: that it matters little how we vote when we have no real choice over who we vote for and to what extent they control how we live our lives:

Despite the best efforts of the belligerents, I still struggle to care. The facts are these: the referendum will not end debate on electoral reform, since the twin bugaboos of proportional representation and reform of the House of Lords lurk still in the wings. Nor will the referendum, regardless of outcome, make our system "more democratic"-- not that this would be a good thing, since for seventy years "more democracy" inevitably meant more bureaucracy, unsustainable deficits and a lot of unwanted, oppressive and inflexible laws, with negative implications for day-to-day life. So why on earth are Libertarians talking about AV at all-- which seems, by comparison, such an inconsequential issue, a procedural tweak of a right we exercise for thirty seconds every five years?
Libertarians seek to minimize the existence of masters generally, particularly the state, a goal which currently no major UK political party is prepared to adopt and we are, therefore, only notionally able to participate in mainstream policy debate; free elections of whatever major party will not change the fact that in Britain, the tax-to-GDP ratio hovers around 40%, the state gags private citizens and the media over trivial information and singing Carl Douglas constitutes a hate crime. In this context, the central question for all reform of any kind -- electoral, fiscal, penal, or otherwise -- must be: will this reform emancipate individuals? And if not: what position can we adopt to try to steer public debate in our direction?

The answer is not to lose hope, to keep writing and keep moving; as put by Sam Bowman, to "'stand athwart history, shouting'... Faster!" For everywhere we look-- Greece, Spain, Japan, here in the UK, and even in the United States-- the onslaught of circumstance operates to prove libertarians right: global economic shifts, individual empowerment, demography and the structure of democracy itself conspire together to undermine the foundations of the western welfare state. As the catastrophe unfolds, the conventional wisdom will cling to the old ideas, the quartet will play the same familiar tunes-- "our institutions are sound," "our way of life is sustainable"-- despite a growing recognition from all quarters that Western governments will, one day this century, no longer wield the coercive and economic power to meet the obligations they set themselves in the last one.

In the meantime, however, I suggest getting used to being told you're wrong.

Quite, and whilst PJ isn't necessarily agreeing/disagreeing with the concept of the currently mooted electoral reforms, stating rightly that it doesn't really matter how we pick our masters, I disagree with him saying AV is a bad system.

That is not to say I am siding with the #Yes2AV cretins as a vehicle for greater Lib Dem recognition at elections.

My interest, as I stated in an earlier post, is that AV does enable a disaffected electorate to essentially derail election results effectively voiding results.

If the outcome of the entire libertarian philosophy is to point out how our western welfare statism will eventually fail for the sheer balk at reality that it is then why not merely underline it by upsetting the electoral system a bit?

Currently the FPTP enables governments to wield absolute power on not very many votes; New Labour royally screwed over the country on the basis of a little over 1 in 4 people voting them over the last decade and it seems Euroslime Dave couldn't even muster that kind of support; he had to bribe Clogg with a European Commission role when he is summarily ejected from his Sheffield Hallam constituency, just like Bliar had to do when Mandelson indicated he knew where the bodies were buried.

If AV offers anything, it gives us the chance to show how ultimately nonsensical an idea it is to give some idiot ultimate power over our lives, particularly when we are vehemently against the idea or have simply accepted their existence is at best unnecessary, as most NOTA voters have done.

And wrapping politicians up in knots and forcing them to pander to a wider community, then watch as there election is voided for lack of voters, is just too tempting.

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